Saturday, October 8, 2011

DC Retroactive: Wonder Woman - The '80s #1 (DC, 2011)

A young girl was nearly run down in the street by a luxury sedan barreling through a red light at her. The car was caught and flung about by Wonder Woman, who learned the man responsible was some fat cat who felt above the law. Diana inflicted grievous bodily harm on the man and his driver, which even under the circumstances came across as excessive. Good thing Wonder Woman could just fly off before any police looked at her cross-eyed.

Major Diana Prince (she got promoted) returned to work at the Pentagon, and nagged Etta Candy about not sticking to her diet. No sooner had she arrived than a news report about the earlier incident sent her right out the door again. You see, that Wonder Woman was not Diana Prince. The Amazing Amazon was soon in her invisible robot plane, searching for her impersonator.

Inside a water tower, the "little ersatz Amazon" returned to the concealed lab of Dr. Psycho. A few weeks earlier, a plot by Ares to kill Wonder Woman through his newly created proxy Silver Swan had overlapped with Dr. Psycho's exploitation of Steve Trevor to create a perfect body for himself. Both plots ended in defeat. Silver Swan was left the powerless ugly duckling Helen Alexandros, but Dr. Psycho recognized that she still had usefulness. Using his Electroplasmotron, Psycho temporarily turned Helen into Wonder Woman, and promised to make the change permanent for a price.

Colonel Steve Trevor paid a visit to Major Prince's office, but finding her absent, asked Lieutenant Candy's advice: "How do I make Wonder Woman fall in love with me?" Etta had no answers, and with his efforts frustrated, Trevor blew off steam joyriding in a fighter jet.

Dr. Cyril Psycho's certified I.Q. of 237 had allowed him to devise a device to observe the invisible plane clearly. With the Electroplasmotron fired up, the false Amazon could pursue the true one. Further, if Alexandros were to kill the real Princess Diana, Helen could permanently absorb her essence. That's not to mention Alexandros' retaining some of her powers of flight from Ares, making her "Wonder Woman two-point-o!" Well, except Helen still bore the old eagle breastplate, while Diana had moved on to the "'Winged-W' sigil." The predictable fight ensued, with the unwanted telepathic encouragement of the doting Dr. Psycho in the former Silver Swan's head.

Diana had the advantage of experience, but Helen had more raw power. The deal-breaker was the invisible plane, spinning out of control, on a collision course with Steve Trevor's jet. Helen insisted on being the one to save him, recalling her infatuation with Captain Wonder. However, Helen was reminded that Steve was "only the pale prototype Psycho used to create him," and tossed the Colonel aside.

Diana had used Helen's reliance on brute force and lack of forethought against her, recalling the robot plane and catching Steve Trevor in midair. Since Psycho had experimented on him, Steve couldn't get Wonder Woman out of his mind, but assumed she could never love a man that she had to rescue all of the time. While Steve sulked, Helen smashed into Dr. Psycho's lab, sneering over her unwillingness to follow through on their deal. Rather than becoming the trophy wife of Psycho as agreed, Helen admitted that she was only ever in it for Captain Wonder, and in his absence, she was out. Dr. Psycho pleaded with her, but was backhanded for his simpering. Helen believed that she could still kill Wonder Woman, take her place, and search out a truly worthy mate. She shouldn't have showed her hand to Psycho prematurely then, because he caused the Electroplasmotron to self-destruct. The explosion killed Dr. Psycho, and the sudden loss of its power sent Helen Alexandros falling to her own death. Unable to hear her screams as the robot plane flew on, Steve Trevor noted, "Who could ever be a threat-- to the one and only Wonder Woman?"

"Double, Double..." was by Roy Thomas, Rich Buckler, Tim Smith 3, Carlos Rodriguez, Joe Rubinstein, Jack Purcell, and Norman Lee. That's six artists for twenty-six pages of story. It starts out pretty well with Buckler and Rubinstein offering an unusually ripped but otherwise classic Bronze Age Wonder Woman. Thomas' script is cute, drawing on plot threads left over from his run, although he clearly should have reread his own scripts. He seemed to forget how his creations worked, and amidst all the flashbacks might have explained how the villains were reunited. Unfortunately, the good artists ditch on page fourteen with seriously cruddy replacements in the second half. If fact, the art is so terrible, I suspect Thomas had to rewrite those pages, because the story quality seems to deteriorate around the same point into a dunderheaded slugfest. The grim coda is jarring, in part because Rubenstein returns to own those last two pages. A nasty little retroactive cap on Thomas' run.

DC Retroactive

No comments: