Tuesday, October 27, 2015


This is straight up terrifying.

While other DC superheroes of the era got hoaxes, dreams and imaginary stories, Wonder Woman and her Amazon family only ever received "Impossible Tales," the rudderless ship of Silver Age DC. 

It's possibly only because three-fourths of the Wonder Woman Family was just Wonder Woman at different ages and sizes, like a living matryoshka doll in star-spangled pants. Having Wonder Tot, Wonder Girl, Wonder Woman and their mother - Wonder Queen, for the record - all hanging around simultaneously already stretched credulity, and this is in a book where one of the major villains was a giant L'eggs Egg doing a Charlie Chan impression.

The Impossible Tale probably also held some fascination for the writing and editorial team because Wonder Woman was otherwise such a tame book. While everyone at DC was getting the same stories of apes and sudden dramatic changes to their bodies or their powers getting transferred here or there, Wonder Woman lacked the grim stories other heroes got. You could have Superman Under The Red Sun or Robin Dies At Dawn, but mostly one time Wonder Girl got chased by a rhyming nocturnal emission from space and that's as serious as it ever got.

"Also I'm pretty sure this is a metaphor for something, but I can't figure it out just yet."
For instance, in Wonder Woman vol.1 No.142 (November 1963, "Captives of the Mirage World") the device which launches the story is just that the Wonder Family has decided to go hunting for butterflies together. THRILLING STUFF. They'll sell you the whole seat, but you'll only need the edge - and since this thing only cost twelve cents, that's like you wasted a whole dime!

Within panels of starting their bug hunt, the Wonder Ladies encounter a floating mirror-like mirage window. Possessing the canny skills of warrior women whose craft dates back 4,000 years, they dismissively go into it like idiots.

What they find on the opposite side is a world of giants, including a quartet of porcelain-cheeked, mad-eyed duplicates of themselves, built at whatever the opposite of H/O scale is. Worse yet, the forever-grinning, utterly silent titans are pursuing the Wonder Family as though they themselves were bugs! Listen, I said Wonder Woman never got a serious story, I didn't say she didn't get a terrifying one.

Uh-oh, this just turned into an issue of Bondage Fairies.

Our four heroines dash around the woods in different directions for awhile, each pursued by their giant doppelgangers, and no one really thinks to question why this happened or what's going on. Personally, I know it's been established in previous stories that Wonder Tot has a pet genie, and there's a chance she wished all of this into existence. I have now just given more thought to the plot of this story than anyone involved in making it.

Relying on bug allies, the book betrays a pretty solid misunderstanding of what bugs do or how they works. Wonder Girl agitates a hive of wasps and then beams at he good luck when they fly overheard, treating her like "just another bug." If they were doing that, they would've paralyzed her and injected her with their eggs to slowly eat her alive while they hatched. What do they even teach in Amazon Entomology class? 

Ultimately, the four Amazons escape, and that's literally how this story resolves - they just leave the mirage world and no one ever asks again what the hell happened. Still, if you're worried about the elephant in the room, allow me to set your mind at ease: of course there was tons of bondage in this story! Mirage-Hippolyta gets bound by roots, three of the Amazon quartet are pinned like bugs, and everyone gets caught in a net once or twice. Oh, plus there's choloroform! NOW it's a party!

All of that being said, this is a beautifully constructed page.


BillyWitchDoctor said...

I presume that once our heroines have escaped, the conclusion involves throwing their own nets to the ground and abandoning their hobby because they've seen how the other side lives/dies. I WILL HUNT BUTTERFLIES NO MORE FOREVER.

Strangely enough, the thing that disturbs me most about that cover is the shitty weak title logo.

James W. Fry 3.0 said...

Ah, Ross Andru. Nobody drew mad-eyed motherfuckers quite like Ross Andru. Andru's crazy people used to scare the shit out of me. Look at freaking Wonder Tot on that cover. LOOK AT HER!!! Brrrr! Now that I think of it, Gil Kane was no slouch in that department either.

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