Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wonder Woman #112 (February, 1960)

Col. Steve Trevor dragged Lt. Diana Prince from her desk at military intelligence to see Wonder Woman at the filming of a television broadcast. Prince used her super speed to race away from Steve, change into Wonder Woman, and return to take Prince's place on Trevor's arm. Wonder Woman then explained that Lt. Prince had dropped off into the secretarial office while Steve was busy talking. How that protected-- and in fact how it didn't completely compromise-- her dual identity is a mystery to me.

Wonder Woman announced on TV a contest with no stated prize, which drew tons of submissions. Meanwhile, country girl Bonnie Bates and her Riccianly enormous brow/receded hairline was tending a flock of sheep in the rain. Two children she knew were swept up in a raging river, so young Bonnie dove in after them. The red-haired heroine kept the children's heads above water until they reached a bank, then performed mouth-to-mouth to start them breathing again. A random photographer recorded the act, sent in the pics a day before the contest's end, and saw Bonnie win three wishes from Wonder Woman. No, she's not a genie.

Bonnie's freakish cranium thought feverishly, until she asked to visit Paradise Island. The Amazons greeted the pair warmly, offering a fresh meal and clothing. Diana showed where the Amazons answer distress call from throughout the solar system, and their subliminal learning tapes used as they slept.

The Amazons held a contest where they would glide on air currents through a series of rings. Bonnie wished Wonder Woman would win in her thoughts, and lost her second wish when it came true. What a rip-off! While Bonnie tried not to think her way out of her final wish, Diana showed her where the Amazons could interpret every language, "from caveman to Martian!"*

Bonnie went swimming, and was nearly drowned by a giant freak water spout. Wonder Woman saved her, then lassoed together the snouts of four hungry sharks lying in wait, and ride back to shore on their backs. Diana dropped Bonnie at a nice quiet library to collect herself, where Bates decided her third wish was to "spend a few hours with you-- when you were my age... When you were Wonder Girl!" The wayback machine was set up, and so it went.

Wonder Girl took Bonnie on an unaided float on air currents, and when asked if she could be taught this skill, "You could-- if you were an Amazon!" Faced! Next the Teenage Amazon showed Bonnie a machine that produced such great cold, it caused objects to shrink. Wonder if that will come up later?

The girls put on transparent diving suits which allowed them to breath underwater and communicate through "a unique thought-wave transmitter built in!" Bonnie wanted to meet Diana's friend Mer-Boy, whom Wonder Girl managed to catch by detecting a giant clam "breathing." Mer-Boy invited the pair to help him explore a sunken Spanish galleon ship, but Diana ordered Bonnie to stay on deck over safety concerns.

Mer-Boy found a treasure chest, but an octopus had found him. The Amazon Teenager tied the octopus' tentacles together pair by pair until it was "disarmed," and in gratitude, Mer-Boy surrendered the chest. On the beach, the girls opened it, and out sprang metallic lotus-like insects. The creatures grew to giant size, and emitted a gas that knocked out all the Amazons. These were alien invaders who had crashed on Earth and been contained by our water. Upon exposure to oxygen, they grew, and exhaled gas. Only the girls were unaffected because of their diving suits, which also allowed them to hear the aliens' thoughts.

Wonder Girl lured the alien insects into the freeze chamber, which shrank them back down to nothingness. "I'm trained to withstand temperature as low as this..." Eat your heart out, Batman!

The Amazons were woken up and Bonnie Bates sent back to the present. Wonder Woman flew the girl and her accompanying forehead home in her invisible plane, while Bonnie wished Diana would offer more kids a chance to enter contest to spend time with the Amazing Amazon. "I'd like to hear from the readers about it first, Bonnie! I can be reached care of Wonder Woman, National Comics."

"The Chest of Monsters" was by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru, Mike Esposito, and gin & tonic.

*No relation.



LissBirds said...

Wow. I don't think you can get more "Silver Age" than this story. And people pick on Silver Age John Jones?

You know, I think if Steve Trevor was brought back to current Wonder Woman comics I'd start reading them, and would probably find them quite interesting. From what I gather, Steve is to Wonder Woman like Diane Meade (Silver Age) is to J'onn J'onzz. Somehow, a layperson partner/buddy/love interest/best friend who's not in on the secret identity just sells any comic for me. Plus, he was an undercover freedom fighter spy in the JLU cartoon, and nothing's cooler than that, not even ninjas.

Diabolu Frank said...

Wonder Woman stories from this period are the high water mark of Silver Age Insane. I prefer Golden Age insanity, which is defined by its perversity and nonlinearity. Manhunter and WW stories are insane because of plot convolutions and left field devices. We'll break open the Neapolitain, and I'll take the vanilla if you take the chocolate, and we'll split the strawberry (unless there's seeds!)

Steve Trevor somewhat resembles Meade, but he's much more Lois Lane. He's around constantly, and is often mean-spirited, abusive and utterly clueless. Again, I like my Trevor with '40s flavored femdom.

LissBirds said...

I don't like seeds, either! But chocolate sounds fine.

Clueless I can take, mean I can't. I bet I'd like the Golden Age version of Steve, then, and also because I find Golden Age stories pretty entertaining. I think having a love interest sort of humanizes her (in the right kind of way, not the "gritty," "realistic" way of humanizing superheroes), plus it gives her a chance to have a civilian identity.