Saturday, February 07, 2009

Insane Comics Moments, Part Five

Wonder Woman in the 60s. Really, I could probably just stop there, since the entire series was one long non-stop cavalcade of sheer wall-to-wall insanity, but let's just go ahead and narrow it down to a single issue that could probably sum up the madness that was Bob Kanigher's take on the character. Trust me, though, when I say that they were all like this.

Issue #135 (January 1963) featured Wonder Woman, her own teenaged self ("Wonder Girl") and herself as a small child of three or four ("Wonder Tot") all together with their mom on Paradise Island like siblings. No time travel necessary, here--Kanigher just labeled it an "impossible tale" and left it at that. She's hanging out with her own past selves pretty much because the readers wanted to see it. Suck it, continuity!

She picks out a letter from one of her many fans (Wonder Woman Words of Wisdom #1: "Nothing could be fairer than to select the first letter that fly alights on as the winner!") and takes that teenage girl, Carol, and her dog to visit Paradise Island as a gift. But first, she makes her a new dress out of her drapes! No, really. This actually happens in the issue. Carol's dress gets wrecked by the dog, so Wonder Woman just rips the drapes right off the window and sews them into a new dress at super-speed. Carol is thrilled to head off to Paradise Island after that, presumably because she wants to get Wonder Woman the hell out of her house before she decides to turn other parts of the furnishings into little craft projects. ("Look--I made paper dolls out of your carpet!")

Then, while passing a volcano, Carol comments that Wonder Woman's invisible plane obeys her every command "like magic!" To which WW responds, "The magic of science, Carol!" This is bitterly ironic, given that less than ten issues earlier Kanigher had explained that Wonder Woman's plane was made when a magical cloud turned a flying horse into an invisible airplane. But she goes on to explain that little computers in the plane make it obey Wonder Woman and only Wonder Woman, just like even smaller computers in the lasso do the same thing! (Those of you going, "Huh?!?!?!?" should probably take a little break from reading this. It doesn't get any better.)

Unfortunately, Carol's daytrip to Paradise is spoiled by Multiple Man--no, not that Multiple Man, the DC one. He can turn into anything, and today he's decided to become a huge ice giant and freeze Paradise Island. Luckily, Wonder Woman, Girl, Tot, and their collective mom break free of the ice, and Wonder Woman figures out that she can stop him by throwing the volcano at him.

Yes, she picks up a volcano with her lasso and throws it at him.

Let me just repeat that: She throws a volcano. (At one point, this was really just going to be the only sentence of the whole recap.)

This melts Multiple Man, but he reforms by turning himself into a giant metal ball that rolls along the ocean floor and rams the base of Paradise Island, causing earthquakes. Luckily, having numerous Wonder Females around proves handy in a crisis, and Wonder Tot saves Carol and her dog before finding the metal ball and hurling it into space. I'd point out the terrifying physical strength needed for a three-year-old to chuck a ball of solid metal some two hundred times her size all the way out of Earth's gravitational pull, but after the whole volcano throwing incident it just doesn't seem like there's much point.

Naturally, at that point Multiple Man turns into a swarm of flaming meteors and rains back down on Paradise Island (if you're expecting some explanation of Multiple Man's motives for dicking with the Amazons, brother, are you reading the wrong comic.) Wonder Girl cools the meteors down with a handy iceberg that happens to be nearby (I'd go into questions about what part of the world has volcanic islands and lone icebergs floating around in otherwise open sea, but again, "throws a volcano") while Carol flirts with Wonder Girl's boyfriend, Mer-Boy. Wonder Girl should probably remember this for the time in her life when she becomes Wonder Woman. Then again, maybe she did. Maybe that was why she decided to dress Carol up in an outfit that could blend into the wallpaper.

After defeating Multiple Man once and for all, they dress Carol up in scuba gear and take her to visit Mer-Boy as she requests (the hussy!) But they all fall afoul of Multiple Man's latest form, a giant clam with a giant pearl inside it! And by "fall afoul", I mean "all spot the pearl and decide to climb inside, all together, to get a closer look at it." Really, did this even need to be Multiple Man's latest form for it to be a bad idea? Is it ever a good idea to all try "clam-stuffing" as your next college prank? (The clear answer is "no", as going up to any college girl and explaining that you want to try "clam-stuffing" with her is bound to get you slapped.)

Luckily, Wonder Woman's lasso was dangling outside the clam, and so she commands it to wrap around the clam tight enough to crush its shell (remember how she said that her lasso obeyed her voice, an ability it has never displayed before or since? Yes, it's all coming together now...) After being freed,, pretty much they only have two panels left, so there's one panel of the clam bits washing away in the current, and one panel of bringing Carol home. Why this particular tactic proved to be devastating to Multiple Man, or whether Carol ever got more chances to two-time with Wonder Girl's boyfriend, is left up to the reader. Carol tells her friends that the tale of how she wound up hanging up with Wonder Woman is, quote, "some story!"

It sure is, Bob Kanigher. It sure is.


MissE said...

You know, I think I lost brain cells just reading that post. They may have committed suicide out of sheer desperation.

What on Earth would have prompted such an awful tale to be foisted upon the unsuspecting "Wonder Woman" reading public?

I take that back. I don't want to know the reason. More of my precious brain may kamakazi.


Tom Clancy said...

Just to clarify: crush his shell without harming any of the 5 occupants.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that it was identified as an imaginary story.

I think the writer was attempting to replicate dream logic, in which throwing a volcano would make sense.

Let's be fair about this: if the author had stated for the record that Wonder Woman and her younger selves could co-exist because this story was imaginary (i.e. a dream or a daydream or a tall tale) rather than a part of the DC Universe's authorized continuity, then relying upon dream logic is a perfectly valid response.