Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Top 20 Wonder Woman Covers of the 1960s

The sixties were probably Princess Diana's worst decade in comics. The evangelical fire and brazen oddness of the Golden Age was gone, as was the sweet romance of the fifties. In its place were gimmicks, endless love dodecahedrons, a Steve Trevor you wished terrible ill upon, and closing out as a non-powered Emma Peel knock-off. Hopefully you don't weary just over the course of the top 20...

Honorable Mentions:
Wonder Woman #112 (February, 1960)
Wonder Woman #185 (November-December, 1969)

20 (tie) Wonder Woman #183-184 (July-October, 1969)

While there are elements of each of these covers deserving of attention, they are equally weak. The seeming death of Diana's mother is strong material, but the execution is rather weak. Meanwhile, Diana falling in battle is potent, but not when she and her all-male cohorts are indistinguishable from any random sword & sorcery comic.

19) Wonder Woman #122 (May, 1961)

A King Kong-sized Wonder Woman has run a normal sized one up to the very tip of the Empire State Building. Do I have to explain this?

18) Wonder Woman #177 (July-August, 1968)

The Amazing Amazon and her opponent Supergirl look great, but then you've got this dillhole in the middle taking up valuable space. This is an A-B throwdown, so see your way out, K?

17) Wonder Woman #176 (May-June, 1968)

This is another one of those "let's show Wonder Woman humiliated in the most misogynistic and sexualized possible under the Comic Code" cover, and yet it works.

16) Wonder Woman #118 (November, 1960)

Nice to see dudes in distress, but how the hell did Mer-Man get on top of a plateau in the first place?

15) Wonder Woman #126 (November, 1961)

I find that one of the easiest ways to validate my choices is to simply say them aloud. Wonder Tot punching a meteor while riding Mister Genie. Who needs to elaborate on that?

14) Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #93 (July, 1969)

On the one hand, it's kinda wicked to see Diana Prince judo-up Lois Lane while Superman cheers her on. Yet, since when is Diana a trained monkey, and where's the honor in walloping a perpetually imperiled reporter unskilled in the martial arts? Finally, Diana's only really recognizable attribute is her hair, which is not a progressive means of identification.

13) Wonder Woman #155 (July, 1965)

She married a monster. It's kind of a big deal.

12) Wonder Woman #181 (March-April, 1969)

I love the skier's P.O.V. and the weird masks, but the nondescript Diana Prince is the weak link of the image. I Ching seems awfully tall, as well.

11) Wonder Woman #175 (March-April, 1968)

There's something very weird and wrong about a comic where Wonder Woman attacks a child, even when the child is in fact Diana and the Wonder Woman is a serious see you next Tuesday from another dimension. I did a lengthy write-up of this story years ago for another blog, and haven't run it here because it would take forever to remove all the foul language and angry tirades.

10) Wonder Woman #124 (August, 1961)

Another great metatextual image, as the Amazing Amazon had to juggle all manner of contrivance across the decade, including competing with her own toddler and adolescent selves for page space.

9) Wonder Woman #151 (January, 1965)

Possibly the most striking non-Titans Wonder Girl image of the decade, though I believe this is the Diana version, or else it would have run in Donna's countdown.

8) Wonder Woman #179 (November-December, 1968)

Kind of a wimpy Diana, and this image would have had a lot more impact without the tears or coming before her heralded "permanent" reversion to Diana Prince, rather than after.

7) Wonder Woman #159 (January, 1966)

Pure salesmanship. The art is simple and buried in text, but the hype compels you to read on.

6) Wonder Woman #129 (April, 1962)

An excellent image to sum up oodles of stories from this decade. Wonder Tot and Wonder Girl in the foreground, Wonder Woman way in the back, all in peril, and the latter failing to save her mother. The only way it could be more representational is if Hippolyte was dropping Diana instead.

5) Wonder Woman #156 (August, 1965)

Deeply uncomfortable symbolism here, especially with Diana's splayed legs and vacant eyes. Still, you'll never forget it, right?

4) Wonder Woman #180 (January-February, 1969)

Somehow, both in-your-face sensational and subdued. That lime green border really makes it pop in a way only the sixties could get away with.

3) Wonder Woman #125 (October, 1961)

Only a Wonder Woman comic could revolve around a physical and emotional tug-of-war between Steve Trevor, Mer-Man, and Amoeba-Man over marriage. Again, a dick, a fish, and a giant sentient amoeba are romantic rivals. Just to bring it all home, let's stage all that before a fuchsia background.

2) Wonder Woman #160 (February, 1966)

Cheetah swung by the tail into a mass of monkeys with damned ugly human faces. So much awesome in one cover, including an advertized rare Dr. Psycho reprint. Such a glorious Golden Age throwback. Finally, one word: purple.

1) Wonder Woman #178 (September-October, 1968)

Despite the misgivings of some, can you honestly say that this wasn't the most shocking, iconic, and memorable Wonder Woman cover of the decade? No more secretarial work, pining for Steve, or running around in circles under mommy's command. There may have been a lack of outright wonder, but for the first time in too long, there was a woman behind the wheel.

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Aaron said...

Great list, and I like all the critiques of the covers. I'm a fan of the Wonder Tot stories, I must confess.

Diabolu Frank said...

I haven't formed an opinion on Wonder Tot stories yet. I've only read one or two, and I'm not sure that I've read any legit Silver Age ones.