Wonder Woman is a very complex character, which is a thing I feel comfortable in suggesting because, according to Wonder Woman vol.1 No.211 (May 1974) – a comic we may subtitle “How Amazons Shop” – we learn that her shoes have a secret origin.
This 100-page giant-sized spectacular reprints several seemingly classic stories of what Amazons do when their island doesn’t get QVC. To be fair, Wonder Woman was very much created in the mold of mythological heroes, and heroes of myth very often have origin stories for their weapons and signature gear. Hercules, for instance, bought his socks at T.J.Maxx, little known fact that!
I also like to think of this issue as the Volcano versus Iceberg 100-pg Spectacular! I have never SEEN so much hot (or cold) Volcano-on-Iceberg action in my short life!
Story by story, let's go:
|Sur-r-r-re you will.|
If you read enough Wonder Woman, you'll notice some common themes. For instance, there’s that old chestnut of an alien world where the genders shared all power and responsibility fairly, only one day the men get a wild hair and decide to oppress all the women, then Wonder Woman beats them up and puts the women in charge and the women are all “Okay, don’t worry, we’ll be totally fair and treat them super-good, trust us.”
The fun all starts with Wonder Woman and her superhuman sorority sisters collecting cosmic matter from inside the safety of the invisible jet, via BASKETS ON STICKS! If it helps to reinforce the scientific basis for that behavior, keep in mind that the sticks are very long.
A minor catastrophe occurs which draws the invisible jet into a collision course with the sun, freaking out the Amazons because while they apparently don't have a problem floating through the freezing, airless void with the windows open and their diaphanous togas on, god forbid it gets hot.
Rather than sizzle alive, the ladies end up on the planet Mercury, ruled by the cruel King Celerito (trans: “Little Celery”) who – along with his doughty, carrot-topped male cohorts – have conquered and enslaved their once-equal female cohorts. They did this by tricking them into doffing their super-powered sandals and going barefoot. I think that might be a metaphor.
After trying to kill Wonder Woman with a steam-shovel – oldest trick in the book! - Celerito is handily overthrown by the Amazing Amazon and stomped to death by his planet's women like in the ending to the Stepford Wives.
Volcanos vs Icebergs: 0-0 (We’re still in the pre-game)
|This is ... This is ... Someone spent a LONG timeworking out the perspective for this shot. I SIDE|
WITH QUEEN ATOMIA!
Wonder Woman sure swears a lot.
Here's your Silver Age Wonder Woman drinking game: Every time she exclaims “Suffering Sappho,” “Merciful Minerva” or “Great Hera” (or, I dunno, “Pulchritudinous Persephone!” or “Leapin’ Lucy Lawless!”), you take a shot. By page 5, you'll be on your ass. Heck, on the third page of this story, she busts out all three in three consecutive panels! Language, Wonder Woman, language!
To be fair, I’d probably be swearing too if I’d been caught in this bummer of a story. Falling into a volcano/black limitless void, Wonder Woman discovers a sub-atomic world ruled by the evil Queen Atomia, who would have been here sooner except it took so long to think up a name for her.
Inside the magenta-skinned tyrant's realm, we discover that protons are actually tiny, cruel women and neutrons are equally tiny (but not cruel) blue robots. Electrons are apes I think, and the strong and magnetic forces of the universe are actually midgets and lobsters. Beyond that, it gets a little theological for me, and all I can really say for sure is that Amazons are in serious need of a physics lesson.
Queen Atomia somehow shrinks our gaily-garbed girl golem into pint-size, along with a handful of her Amazon amigas, and transports them to her miniature kingdom with the plan of turning Wonder Woman into a 'super-powered proton' which will be sent back into our world and wreck stuff. Rather than a life of subatomic servitude, Wonder Woman THINKS REALLY HARD and it makes the blue neutron robots go nertz and smash up the evil kingdom. Adults wrote this story, try to keep that in mind.
|Wonder Woman, your ... your foot is swearing|
vengeance. Does this happen a lot?
Volcanos vs Icebergs: 0-0, but the Volcano threatened to eat the Iceberg's children at a press conference.
|How can you tell? IT'S INVISIBLE.|
Here we go! This one starts with the notorious Waterfront Gang making a 'fortress' out of a carnival Ferris Wheel (which is to say that they were sitting in the cars and shooting wildly). I'm not really sure what their plan was, or who put it together, BUT GIVE THAT GUY A RAISE!
As a point of order, a Ferris Wheel makes for a lousy fortress. For one thing, it's pretty much wide-open, no matter how much you hunker down in the seat. Secondly, no matter how fast you're traveling, anyone chasing you can just draw a bead from the cotton candy machine and plug you between verses of 'Let Me Call You Sweetheart' on the mechanical pipe organ. This being said, this Waterfront Gang pretty much has everything to lose and nothing to gain.
No small surprise then that Wonder Woman up-ends the wheel-bound owlhoots and drops them off – criminal carnival attraction and all – in the local penitentiary. My mental image of this is hundreds of hardened convicts getting really excited that they now have rides! I bet they have to trade cigarettes for tickets, though.
All this mildly brain-damaged hullabaloo leads Diana to reminisce about the origins of her invisible robot plane, because you don't think she pushed the thing to jail, do you? (Also, Invisible Robot Plane is only one adjective short of being the next big internet fetish. Farm, that's the adjective it needs, Invisible Robot FARM planes' ... HOT TEENAGE Invisible Robot Farm Planes ...)
In flashback, Wonder Woman is sent by her mom (the reigning MILF of Fantasy File Island) on a series of Byzantine quests to recover the three pieces of her amazing invisible robot plane. Invisible TELEPATHIC robot plane! She finds the cockpit (for the first time in her life) tangled in the carnivorous leaves of an man-eating, undersea plant, which raises the question of how exactly a plant develops a taste for human beings when it's at the bottom of the sea. (My guess: A steady succession of luckless Amazons diving for plane parts).
Directed by engraved instructions upon the body of the plane segment (Was ... was the lettering invisible? How did she read it?), Wonder Woman then retrieves another segment from the bowers of an electric tree - I guess trees can do that - and then the bowels of an active volcano, which brings us to the first round of VOLCANO VERSUS ICEBERG – in which Diana uses the iceberg as a toboggan to retrieve the tail section. Hopefully she also picked up the the black box, explaining exactly how the hell the invisible plane got into this situation in the first place. Oh, I'm sorry, I mean invisible black box ...
Anyway, It's a good thing she won her invisible plane, because otherwise she would have had to settle for an odorless go-cart.
Volcanos vs Icebergs: 1-0, Iceberg just didn't have the stamina.
|Athena makes exceptions for total tools.|
Teenage Diana and Hippolyta – Wonder Woman's slender Nordic mother from the Greek Myths - are watching the GROWN-UP Diana performing super-deeds as Wonder Woman via some big-ass HDTV which sees into the future. You follow that so far? If not, you'll want to start diagramming the rest of this.
Teenage Diana grows envious of her grown-up self's awesome costume, and so begs her mother to let her have one of her own. Because you don't get nothing for free on Amazon Island, it's decided that (surprise) Diana has to perform THREE DANGEROUS FEATS to earn the right to wear a costume of her own.
Accompanied by half-fish/half-idiot Ronno the Merboy, Wonder Girl has to tangle with, among other things, a 'cannibal clam.' Technically speaking, a cannibal clam is just a clam which eats other clams. Frankly, it doesn't sound that menacing. Worse for Diana are the mythological Roc, a big swordfish and – oh, hey, VOLCANO!
In the end, Diana has a star-spangled skirt, an eagle-emblazoned blouse and a magic lasso apparently similar- but not indentical-to her modern day lariat. Oh, and unfortunately, Ronno the merboy found out where she lives and he watches her from the shrubs sometimes when she undresses to shower.
|One of the things I learned from this story is that|
Amazon Island has a Suggestion Box.
Volcanos vs Icebergs: Still 1-0, this was sort of a team-up between Wonder Woman and Volcano. Volcano was better written.
|Amazon Island also has competing newspapers.|
Wonder Woman's tiara - which she explains is the symbol of her status as princess among the Amazons - goes up for grabs! See, apparently, she also must compete against all the other Amazons for the right to wear the tiara. Which symbolizes her status as princess. And she's a princess cause her mom's the queen. And the tiara is symbol of that. But ... she ... could not have ... princess.
Heaven forfend this should turn into yet another story where Wonder Woman undergoes three tremendous trials in order to pad out her wardrobe, oh no. No, in THIS story, Wonder Woman undergoes three tremendous trials AFTER also participating in a bunch on athletic competitions with the other Amazons. And she has to do this every damn year! You think taxes are bad ...
In the end, against all odds AND after dousing a volcano with an iceberg, Wonder Woman gets her tiara back. This seems to me like a lot of work to get back something you had when the whole mess started.
Volcanos vs Icebergs: 1-1, it's sudden death!
|Oh lord, now he's dancing.|
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I can hardly express how much I hate Wonder Tot and Mister Genie. This is a hatred for the ages, and it burns so bright that I would frankly make a better villain for Wonder Woman than, say, I dunno ... Angle Man. The guy who was really into angles. I don't even know anymore.
Anyway, this is one of those horrible Wonder Tot stories starring the apple-cheeked Amazonette committing acts of marauding mischief on an unsuspecting world. This time around, it actually leads up to the origin of Mister Genie, which is as good a reason as any to declare DC Comics a part of the Axis of Evil.
Wonder Tot gets 'banged' out of bed (their words, not mine) by a strong gale, and then surfs the currents for a while, ending up on an island of golden apple trees protected by a serious-ass dragon who is not there to play around with your ass. GO DRAGON! I'm with you!
Unfortunately for my sense of good taste, the mighty sprite flings the dragon to kingdom come and then floats off to find a strange desert island, where a treasure chest captures her attention. Opening it, she frees the poor, belabored Mister Genie from millennia of imprisonment, only to find the genie to be a wrathful entity who intends to imprison his liberator for an equal amount of time.
Besides being an apt metaphor for our current troubles in the Middle East, Mister Genie's strict 'Imprison Wonder Tot Forever' policy really appeals to me.
Sadly, he's a dope, and falls for a little ventriloquism. Wonder Tot lives, and she and Genie become best pals, chasing down a distant star to use as a clasp Wonder Tot's beret. I hope it collapses her noggin. Or, alternatively, I hope anonymous space aliens come out of nowhere and shoot at them, WHICH DOES HAPPEN. I additionally hope they enter some time anomaly which causes Wonder Tot to grow up into Wonder Woman, though I don't know why, and also that actually doesn't happen, and then she goes back to normal.
Hopefully, you now see why I hate this stuff.
Lastly, Wonder Tots sound delicious.
Volcanos vs Icebergs: 1-1. Still. I'm running out of jokes for this.
|"I'll just wear my New Balances."|
Boy, just like a woman to have an origin for her shoes, am I right fellas? C'mon, back me up here, this guy knows what I'm talking about, this guy here. Hey, nice tie fella, someone guess your weight?
Seriously though, it's starting to get ridiculous. You think there's a secret origin of Wonder Woman's magical Amazon underwear coming down the pike? Did she have to endure three mythological challenges in order to get her Ortho-Tricyclene refilled? WHAT MANNER OF BEAST DID YOU DEFEAT IN ORDER TO GET THAT HILARIOUS REFRIGERATOR MAGNET, WONDER WOMAN?
Diana is brought barefoot to stand before her mother, the Queen, who sets her daughter out on a challenge to get some damn shoes on. Good thinking, Hippolyta, she's gonna catch a cold running around like that.
High on my list of personally hilarious moments is when Diana – again, I mention that she's barefoot – ponders aloud as to what accoutrement exactly her mother implies is missing from her ensemble. Just a thought, honey: Shoes. You're not Doc Manhattan, you know.
Hippolyta takes Diana to an Amazonian telephone wire, over which a pair of diminutive sandals has been flung. I'm not kidding about the diminutive part, they're teeny-tiny, for rilla. The Queen then explains that these sandals are magic sandals which reflect upon the courageous deeds of their owners, and grow appropriately. This is called 'the hard sell.'
I guess I'm not following this. Apparently, the shoes grow in size every time the wearer performs some marvelous deed. Wonder Woman's been around for, like, eight-thousand years or something, and I'm thinking a week's worth of battering Egg-Fu senseless with his own handlebar mustache would be sufficient to get those things to proper size. By now, they ought to look like clown shoes, and require a passel of smaller amazons to carry.
Immediately upon hearing the caveat associated with her crime-fighting bunny slippers, Wonder Woman – and I say this with all due respect – promptly begins bitching loudly about how long it's going to take for some catastrophe to come along and require her delicate touch of justice. At which point a volcano explodes under Amazon Island. Happy Birthday, Diana.
Wonder Woman saves the island, resulting in one shoe getting all big and the other staying tiny. Please keep in mind that this is the emotional crux of the story, whether or not the shoes get big. It's very dramatic.
In the end, Wonder Woman whups ass on some other menace, I specifically forget what it was, and then her sandals are normal size. This one had me on the edge of my seat, worrying that her footwear might be uncomfortably small. It was the thrill of a generation, these freaking sandals.
What sticks with me in this story is the possible moral dilemma inherent in deed-relative morphing shoe sizes, that being a situation where you'd avoid doing good deeds just because your shoes are finally broken in. I mean, if you had to protect an island from an undersea volcano just to make your shoes fit, don't you think you'd let a kid get run down by a bus in order to keep 'em there?
|A timeless struggle.|
Volcanos vs Icebergs: Iceberg on a technicality, the volcano's mistake was fighting a war on two fronts, just like Hitler.
|Sorry baby, no fat chicks!|
This one ends with an ALL-NEW story, which makes it EXTRA ALL-STUPID, which I suppose is fine. Fine for Wonder Woman, fine for the era, fine for comic books, how smart do we really want these things to be in the first place?
Remembering that Wonder Woman is a mythological Greek champion imbued with the might and power of a half-dozen gods of legend and who has entered the modern world in order to fight for the rights and freedoms of all people under glorious equality, you won't be surprised to find out that she spends most of this story chasing men and looking like a fat balloon.
The brief of it is that Diana, man-crazy and predatory, is dying for some attention from otherwise-lovestruck Col. Steve Trevor, who won't stop blabbing about Wonder Woman's pulchitrudinous patriotic package. Abashed by her alter-ego attracting more affection than her dowdy done-under day disguise, our Amazon princess does what any ditzy dame from a sixties sitcom would do and goes blubbering off to momma for some adroit advice.
Hippolyta - leader of a nation of self-sufficient Amazon warriors whose legendary escapades predate the birth of Christ - fills her daughter in on a sneaky, passive-aggressive manipulation of her own making. BE PROUD, WARRIOR WOMAN!
On Momma's advice, Wonder Woman turns up the flirt on Col.Steve, accompanying him to a seaside carnival. Okay. Little does Steve know, though, that Diana has rigged up a series of magic funhouse mirrors around the joint. Trust me, this is all an important part of the plan.
The magic mirrors transform Wonder Woman first into an elongated, giraffe-necked freako, and then into an ovoid mass of feminine blubber. STILL PART OF THE PLAN!
Apparently hungry for woman, ANY woman, Steve rounds a corner at full tilt and almost mows down Wonder Woman in her civilian identity of Diana Prince. Practically tripping over his own engorged rod, he begs for a date, only to have Diana reveal that she's already got a date with Superman. Who's right there. Meaning Trevor not only lost his erection, he lost it so fast that it sucked his testicles up his spinal column. Lesson learned. I guess.
|Judging by that extra-creepy leer on his face, so does Superman.|