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  1. #151
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Wonder Woman #2 is sending off Diana, Etta, and Steve into space in ”Mars, The God of War”! Feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on this story! Next Saturday, 25 May, we will go on to ”The Earl of Greed”, also from Wonder Woman #2.

    Wonder Woman #2 opens with a one-page prose introduction and background to Mars, Aphrodite, and their relation to Wonder Woman. As a modern European reader, there is a lot of this that feels dated, like the focus on the Greeks as the founder of modern science and medicine, as well as the idea that if the USA wins the war, peace will return with happiness for the world.

    Mars is on the side of the Axis, and complains that all their spies in America have been caught by Wonder Woman, and order trevor to be kidnapped. I must say that later writers have missed the beat to not use General Destruction—that name is awesome.

    When Steve receives new orders, Diana changes clothes to Wonder Woman, with stockings flying and wiggling toes. As Steve leaves on his secret mission, she provides him purple healing ray tablets. After several days with no news, Diana prays to Aphrodite, who arrives in a cloud and advises Diana and provides her with the means to reach Mars via astral travel. Her soul is chained by Mars’s men and is taken to Mars on an interspace convict ship.

    She poses as Etta Candy, and breaks all the sorting tests for strength. She befriends the Martian girl Tiva who gives a clue to Steve’s whereabouts. We are propery introduced to Lord Conquest, the Earl of Greed, and the Duke of Deception, as a tournament is held with all the strong captives. Wonder Woman the women’s tournament, but then has to face a tactically proficient Martian gurd. But Wonder Woman notes that ”no man is going to spank me”, breaks her ankle chain and spanks the guard. Then she has to face Satan, the Saturn winner of the men’s tournament.

    I note that the Duke of Deception is living up to his name, full ready to deceive Mars at the drop of a hat. He also makes up a convoluted plan with no real goal on how to handle Wonder Woman. Also, Martian guards have spears and cuirasses, but also tanks and heavy guns. Diana is unchained, gets a banquet in her honour, and receives the former wife of Lord Conquest as her personal slave. Diana refuses to give ex-Lady Conquest her daily beating, but gets her to lead the way to the palace dungeons, where Steve is kept.

    An unshaven Steve is freed, and they escape towards the high tower of the space ships. Somehow, he manages to shave while running. At the ship they are ambushed by Mars and his guards, but Wonder Woman makes the ship tilt so they fall off, and Steve and Diana fly back to Earth. It appears that Steve’s pilot was a Japanese spy, who shot him and then tossed him out of the plane, but Steve was saved by the purple healing ray tablets. Diana wakes up in the arms of Etta Candy, and later on Diana compels Steve to never go into danger without her with the Magic Lasso.

    Ex-Lady Conquest decided to stay on Mars, so she could be conquered again by Lord Conquest.

    Not much to say about this issue, even if it introduces several characters who would be important later on. It’s rather clear that Marston has a rather binary good-versus-evil view of the Greek gods. It also continues with the idea of astral travel to other planets, but I note that Marston still had to include an Axis spy in the narrative. Wonder Woman also has low thoughts on Steve’s thoughts about other women.

    Characters introduced: Mars, General Destruction, Lord Conquest, Earl of Greed, Duke of Deception, Tiva, Satan

    Expressions: ”no man is going to spank me”, ”for Aphrodite and the Amazons”

    Concepts introduced: Mars as the ruler of Mars, soul collecting

    Bechdel / Reverse Bechdel tests: Yes / Yes
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  2. #152
    Incredible Member Fuzzy Mittens's Avatar
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    Ah the introduction of the Duke of Deception. One of my favorite Wonder Woman villains.

    Honestly I find the implications of this issue to be fascinating as it establishes that Ares has his soldiers travel to every place of war 'in the universe' to collect the dead to bring back to Mars as his slaves to grow his forces.

  3. #153
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Yeah, I like how the Duke of Deception is portrayed. He is clearly the smartest of Mars's lieutenants, and capable of deceiving and outsmarting everyone—including himself, it seems. On the other hand, I can't shake the feeling that he is depicted as Jewish stereotype. At least those stereotypes are definitely avoided with the Earl of Greed.

    The idea of collecting souls might be from Norse mythology; it certainly has no basis in Greek mythology. And having Deception and Greed associated with Mars feels more Christian than classical Greek.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  4. #154
    Extraordinary Member AmiMizuno's Avatar
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    Marston did myth other myths in Wonder Woman. Should the Greek Gods ever be rulers of planets again ?

  5. #155
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    We get a direct followup from last week in ”The Earl of Greed” from Wonder Woman #2! Feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on this story! Next Saturday, 1 June, we will go on to ”The Duke of Deception”, also from Wonder Woman #2.

    Mars is not happy, since according to him, ”for the first time in history my power has been flouted”. Guess he hasn’t read his Homer. He tasks Lord Conquest, the Duke of Deception, and the Earl of Greed to capture Wonder Woman, but the first two decline the task, so Greed is sent to Earth. He sends a mental radio message to Hitler—known as Slave NZ-I—on the plans to be enacted. Need I mention that Hitler gets to chew the rug?

    In Washington, Colonel Darnell receives a message from agent X49 in Berlin, and sends Trevor to assist. True to what was said in the last issue, Wonder Woman turns up and offers to take Steve to Berlin in time for the rendezvous, so he can keep his promise from the previous story. They land in Berlin and meet up with X49, aka Jim Blake, after a minor misunderstanding. Diana and Steve eavesdrop on the Nazi meeting and notice the Earl of Greed being there as well: apparently both of them now have ”astral vision”.

    They learn of a Gestapo (and Earl of Greed) plan to raid the American treasury, but everything gets unstuck when a bomb explodes in the conference room. Diana rescues Steve and escapes, but so did Hitler.

    We then switch to the B plot, as Etta Candy storms in on Diana and telling her that Holliday College is about to close, and that things are fishy. Wonder Woman investigates, and sets out to raise enough money to keep the college open. A fund-raising baseball game is organised between Pup Ball Club (the newly crowned ”world champions”) and an all-womens team, that includes famous girl athlete ”Babe” Williams (no idea who that would be), Etta, and of course Wonder Woman. After some baseball stuff, Diana gets to bat an explosive ball. The dazed Diana is drugged and taken to the Holliday College infirmary, where she drugged and cast into a block of solid gold.

    The nurse at the college infirmary—who sadly is unnamed—had been tied and gagged, but still manages to phone for help, asking for the police and for Etta Candy.

    Steve checks the US gold reserve, but is ambushed and taken captive. This propels Diana into activity, breaking the solid block of gold she is captive in, rescues Steve, and drives away all of the German spies. Their leader turns out to be Prexy Deacon, who wanted to close the Holliday College. Then US anti-aircraft artillery manage to shoot down the Earl of Greed’s spaceship.

    It ends with Holliday College and the US gold reserve saved.

    Expressions: ”Great Aphrodite”, ”greedy nastis”

    Characters introduced: Jim Blake (Agent X49), Goebbels, Hitler, Jake Dough, ”Babe” Williams, Dr. Deacon

    Concepts introduced: Cosmic ray drive, FTL travel, astral vision

    Bechdel / Reverse Bechdel tests: Yes / Yes
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  6. #156
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Wonder Woman #2 continues with another following but independent story, with ”The Duke of Deception”! Feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on this story! Next Saturday, 1 June, we will go on to ”The Count of Conquest”, also from Wonder Woman #2.

    Marston’s prose prologue is still going strong, and it’s use of language is interesting in how it portrays the characters and people. The Japanese are described as ”the black-brained, yellow shadows of the Rising Sun”, while Hitler is described as ”the addled Adolf”. It certainly fits into the racism of the time, where the Japanese were demonised to a degree that the Germans never were, and Hitler still was viewed as somewhat of a clown.

    Then we have the descriptions of the Duke of Deception with his ”crafty brain and evil genius” versus Wonder Woman herself, ”a simple unsuspecting girl” but with ”powerful muscles and dauntless courage”. Here being smart is being portrayed as a sign of evil, while being a hero and a good person is tied to being physically able. I’m glad those particular tropes are gone now—or are they? (Evil Oracle, I’m looking at you.)

    In the aftermath to the previous story, the Earl of Greed is punished for his failure, and it falls to the Duke of Deception to try to capture Wonder Woman. He has a huge factory of people making up fake news and strange plans, reminiscent of the much later fake news networks. The Duke of Deception also tries out the phantasm he made of Wonder Woman’s body in the first story of the issue. We get a short intermission where Wonder Woman encourages people to support the war effort, but she is then framed for the murder of Naha, an oriental dancer from Hawaii. Apparently, all exotic girls are the same.

    Wonder Woman is put into custody, where she is confronted with New York accents and comments on the sturdiness of the prison. The lawyer mr Bost posts bail for her and brings her lasso back, but at his house his Japanese servant tries to drug her. Instead she lassoes Bost, though she was given a counterfeit. Instead Naha, who is Not Dead, lassoes Wonder Woman with the real magic lasso. Naha turns out to be an effective guard, but when she is left alone in the cabin Wonder Woman sends a mental radio message to Etta Candy. She also breaks the adhesive tape covering her mouth, but doesn’t manage the same with the tape covering her eyes. Not because her eyelids aren’t strong enough, but because her ”female vanity won’t let me pull out my eyelashes”.

    Wonder Woman breaks the chains on her bed, opens a porthole, and swims away, pursued by Naha. Wonder Woman proves the stronger swimmer, but swims in a circle since she can’t see. However, the Holliday girls turn up, and Naha is captured and spanked by Wonder Woman until she turns to the side of good by obeying Wonder Woman.

    Naha shows the Wonder Woman phantasm, hitherho unused, and Diana makes a plan to use it. Wonder Woman, Etta, and Naha go to Hawaii using the invisible plane, where the Duke of Deception is planning a cunning invasion. Etta’s astral body in the Wonder Woman phantasm is welcomed at a festival, where she comments on the dance:

    ”That’s hot! You gals cut a wicked rug!”

    The development of language there has made that phrasing far more lewd than it was in 1942…

    The counterfeit lasso is stolen and ”Wonder Woman” kidnapped by ”sly little men from Nippon”, but their leader is in turn captured by the real Wonder Woman with the real magic lasso. The Japanese attack on Hawaii is ambushed and turned back, with heavy losses for the Japanese. However, Etta’s astral body in the Wonder Woman phantasm is still a prisoner. Diana and Etta change places, and they both beat down on the Duke of Deception in general Hammis’ body, until the Duke leaves for Mars in fright. In the process, Diana also destroys his huge space torpedo.

    We get quite a bit more bondage imagery here, and I must say that I think Naha is a character I’d like to see more again of later. The usual sapphic undertones have probably become stronger with time in this time, due to the change of the meaning of the phrase ”cut a rug”. The fake news factory was really fun to see, and arguably far ahead of its time. But the racism in this story was worse than usual.

    Expressions: ”good Hera”, ”more punch than Tony Galento”

    Characters introduced: Scribla, Naha, mr Bost

    Concepts introduced: False propaganda & fake publicity factory, Phantasms

    Bechdel / Reverse Bechdel tests: Yes / Yes
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  7. #157
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Wonder Woman #2 concludes with Wonder Woman facing off against ”The Count of Conquest”! We will also tick off the short two-page spread with her campaigning for buying war bonds and stamps. Feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on this story! Next Saturday, 15 June, we will go on to ”Wonder Woman Is Dead” from Sensation Comics #13.

    Mars is still on Mars, and catches the Duke of Deception as he tries to sneak by him in a group of convicts. This causes a diplomatic upset between Italy and Japan, since Hirohito abandons his treacherous deceit, but it’s not so bad it doesn’t cause Hirohito to ask the Italians to attempt to capture Wonder Woman, and for the Italian embassador to promise to help.

    On Mars, it falls to Lord Conquest to make a final attempt. One of his prisoner slave girls advises him to use the Italians: ”Girls go crazy over dark handsome men with titles!”

    A very exaggerated version of Mussolini, influenced by Lord Conquest, orders Count Crafti and Mammotha, an eight-foot giant, to capture Wonder Woman, and Lord Conquest’s astral form immediately invades Mammotha making him even stronger. They go to America via Spain where they infiltrate both the boxing circles and high society.

    Mammotha really feels like an early idea that would later develop into Giganta.

    It’s also interesting how Wonder Woman spends a lot of time helping the war effort selling war bonds. This is something that was a plot point in Captain America: the First Avenger, but I’m not sure how much it was a presence in other superhero comics at the time.

    After various feats of strength Mammotha boxes against Sailor Mahan, the Navy champion, and wins easily. Mammotha and Count Crafti are attempting to entice Wonder Woman into the fight, which succeeds. I like how Diana uses a hand mirror to check the final pieces of her transformation to Wonder Woman. She also does this in a telephone booth, which I think is a direct callout to Superman—I'm not sure when that particular trope was introduced.

    Mammotha manages to give Wonder Woman a match, but in the end she knocks him out. Count Crafti lures Wonder Woman to his office, where he manages to paralyze her using electricity. In a way, half of the fun of reading these comics is to check out the new and strange plans and traps the villains concoct in order to capture Wonder Woman. Steve is also captured, and Wonder Woman’s bracelets are chained together by a man. After transportation to Mars, Wonder Woman sends a mental radio message to Etta Candy to use Aphrodite’s golden elixir to travel astrally to Mars.

    Etta frees Wonder Woman, and they set out to trash Mars’s palace before returning to Earth in a space ship. With Etta and Diana meeting on the second to last page, the story finally manages to pass the Bechdel test. Diana has to use some circumlotions in order to not give away her weakness to masculine-welded chains to Etta.

    The adventure was only eleven pages versus the normal thirteen, so the rest is filled out with Wonder Woman selling war bonds and stamps, and how buying them can buy the equipment needed to save the life of American soldiers and sailors. As I mentioned above, it gives off a strong vibe of Captain America: The First Avenger, and I’m not sure that type of activity was for the American superheroes in stories.

    Expressions: ”Hammers of Hephaestus”, ”Upsadaisy”

    Characters introduced: Mussolini, Count Crafti, Mammotha

    Bechdel / Reverse Bechdel tests: Yes / Yes
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  8. #158
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Note: I'm going to be at this year's Swecon—Replicon 2019—this weekend, so we'll have to see if I can manage to get something up this Saturday. Feel free to chime in anyway, it's been somewhat alone here for awhile!
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  9. #159
    Spectacular Member greymoon's Avatar
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    I actually never realized how goofy, campy, and cringy the Golden Age comics were. Jeez. It’s best to leave this in the past.

  10. #160
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Sorry for not getting back here earlier, but I haven't had the time or state of mind to do my regular post yet.

    However, there are plenty of good and worthwhile reasons to go back to the "roots" of a genre or a character at times. Sometimes you want something more goofy, campy, and possibly more innocent. Sometimes you want to see first-hand how the times have changed, and then you need the cringiness. And it is interesting to see how old some of the current elements of the character are, what are later additions, and most especially what elements of original Wonder Woman we have lost along the way.

    A lot of those elements we are better without, but there are some that I wish DC would be ready to bring back and embrace.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  11. #161
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    I’m still here! Just waited until we finished the entire issue #2 to post because, to me, it was basically one long story broken up into four parts. That’s one thing I’ve noticed that Marston did differently from his contemporaries at the time. In looking back through my Superman and Batman Golden Age collections, I noticed that for those guys their books mostly consisted of four separate stories that weren’t really connected to one another while Marston tells an over-arching (“novel-length” if you will) story divided into four chapters, the one in this issue focusing on one of Mars’ underlings and their attempts to capture Wonder Woman.

    Back in WW #1, Mars’ role was basically relegated to a couple of panels where he argued with Aphrodite but here, he gets a larger role as the issue’s “big bad.” I enjoyed that he had his minions (Greed, Deception and Conquest) do his dirty work rather than sully his hands having to get directly involved himself. I thought this gave him more of a “godfather” quality (no pun intended, I promise!) I’ve always thought that the gods (Greek, New or otherwise) should take an indirect approach when it comes to involving themselves in human affairs, working behind the scene and manipulating circumstances rather than actively engaging. Whenever Mars has confronted WW directly, he becomes less of an all-powerful god figure and more of a typical comic book super villain.

    I find it interesting that of Mars’ three lieutenants it’s The Duke of Deception that ends up having the longest shelf life as he goes on to make appearances up through the end of the Bronze Age. I guess it’s because his stock and trade is lies and deception where as WW deals with the truth. Interesting juxtaposition. He’s another Golden Age character that I wish modern writers would bring back and use. He was made for this era’s social media culture and 24-hour news cycles where nobody is telling the (whole) truth!

    Yes, there were moments that made you cringe when you go back and read these with at 2019 mindset, but I always have to go into these stories knowing they are from another time and try to enjoy them in their historical context. As kjn said, it’s worthwhile to go back and see these characters in their beginnings. I’m sure there’s a lot of stuff in the Superman and Batman stories of the era that invoke the same kind of reactions. I don’t know how many of you subscribe to the DC Universe streaming service, but that’s where I’ve been pulling these issues up and reading from and they have a disclaimer stating that the stories are presented unaltered to give historical context. A lot of the comics of this time were also straight up wartime propaganda and you can clearly see that in some of the stories presented here.

    One thing that jumped out a me, was the name of the senator who comes to help WW after she’s been framed for the murder of the Hawaiian girl. Senator Deal. He never gives his first name, but I wonder if that’s Arthur Deal who shows up in the first episode of the WW television series as the senator who works with Paula Von Gunther to frame Steve Trevor for sabotage. Probably not, but the episode was just on Me-TV recently, so it was fresh in my mind when I ran across that!

  12. #162
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The I.A.D.C. View Post
    Back in WW #1, Mars’ role was basically relegated to a couple of panels where he argued with Aphrodite but here, he gets a larger role as the issue’s “big bad.” I enjoyed that he had his minions (Greed, Deception and Conquest) do his dirty work rather than sully his hands having to get directly involved himself. I thought this gave him more of a “godfather” quality (no pun intended, I promise!) I’ve always thought that the gods (Greek, New or otherwise) should take an indirect approach when it comes to involving themselves in human affairs, working behind the scene and manipulating circumstances rather than actively engaging. Whenever Mars has confronted WW directly, he becomes less of an all-powerful god figure and more of a typical comic book super villain.
    Pretty much agree here, and one of the things I'm pondered here was that it is really only possible to banish Ares, not kill him. That can be one reason why Diana had such problems with Ares in Wilson's opening arc: Ares was in Man's World in such a way that he couldn't be banished.

    Quote Originally Posted by The I.A.D.C. View Post
    I find it interesting that of Mars’ three lieutenants it’s The Duke of Deception that ends up having the longest shelf life as he goes on to make appearances up through the end of the Bronze Age. I guess it’s because his stock and trade is lies and deception where as WW deals with the truth. Interesting juxtaposition. He’s another Golden Age character that I wish modern writers would bring back and use. He was made for this era’s social media culture and 24-hour news cycles where nobody is telling the (whole) truth!
    Yeah, the fake news factory was a delight to see! I'm not sure he works as-is, and the ties to Ares felt rather off to me, but there should be a decent way to modernise him, just as Doctor Psycho ought to be modernised along the lines of Robinson's take on the character.

    Quote Originally Posted by The I.A.D.C. View Post
    Yes, there were moments that made you cringe when you go back and read these with at 2019 mindset, but I always have to go into these stories knowing they are from another time and try to enjoy them in their historical context. As kjn said, it’s worthwhile to go back and see these characters in their beginnings.
    Another important piece here is that our view of our past is frequently wrong, misinformed, or prejudiced, which is why it's helpful to go back to the primary sources at times. Because things could be way more diverse or even progressive by our standards.

    Over in science fiction fandom, some years they do a Retro Hugo Award for old sf stories, and Cora Buhlert has done a great reflection on how the Golden Age of science fiction was less monolithic and more diverse than most people think. Well worth a read, and I've noticed some of the same thing here while doing this project. Saladin Ahmed did a great piece on the diversity of early comics as well: How Censors Killed The Weird, Experimental, Progressive Golden Age Of Comics.

    Which I'm aware isn't for everyone, but then what is?

    Quote Originally Posted by The I.A.D.C. View Post
    One thing that jumped out a me, was the name of the senator who comes to help WW after she’s been framed for the murder of the Hawaiian girl. Senator Deal. He never gives his first name, but I wonder if that’s Arthur Deal who shows up in the first episode of the WW television series as the senator who works with Paula Von Gunther to frame Steve Trevor for sabotage. Probably not, but the episode was just on Me-TV recently, so it was fresh in my mind when I ran across that!
    Great catch!
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  13. #163
    Incredible Member Electricmastro's Avatar
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    Another Wonder Woman Golden Age classic:


  14. #164
    Incredible Member Tzigone's Avatar
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    So, I decided to read. Wow, is that woman terrible at comforting - well, I guess she isn't trying to comfort, to be fair. "Buck up, you suck!" is not an appropriate attitude for a coach.

    Lots of use of the word "submit" - subtlety is not Marston's thing, I guess. Not submitting makes you evil. Still some of the uses don't even make sense to me.

    Steve's more jerkish than I'm used to seeing in the Golden Age, but he's not wrong about leaving the briefcase as she did.

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