In reviewing the 100-page DC Super-Spectaculars of the early 70s, we now take a step out of sequence.
This issue is cover-dated May 1974 but I got it in mid-August, according to my memories of contemporaneous British Marvel comics:
We were on holiday in a caravan near Borgue, a village close to Kirkcudbright (where this 100-pager was doubtlessly bought):
Borgue village, very like Chapelton where I grew up
Wicker Man country!
It must have been a desperate move born of scarcity because, a couple of years later, I would still balk initially at buying my first issue of Ms. Marvel: surely this was a comic for (ugh) girls?
The Maniacs of Mercury: A whimsical satire echoing the stories of the 40s. The giant men of the planet Mercury are indolent male chauvinists thanks to transmissions of US tv!
The Mystery of the Atom-World: The villainous Queen Atomia is the antagonist in a retelling of a fanciful Forties story. Like Mercury, the art is by Ric Estrada. It’s appealingly cartoony with a flavour of 60s Pop Art .
The Origin of the Amazon Plane: The secrets of the robot plane revealed in a 40s original.
The Gods of the Amazons: an illustrated mythological text feature.
Wonder Woman: Amazon Teen-Ager: In the first of several stories about costumes, the Wonder Girl here of course is not Donna Troy but the teenage Diana. As we saw in the last ‘optikon, that error lead to years of obfuscation.
Donna doing the Batusi
Ronno the Merboy introduced in this story is a more primally mythological and symbolic figure than Jerro, Supergirl’s Atlantide crush.
Wonder Woman’s Costumes: I learned the word “culottes” from this feature. I also think that the de-powered Diana Rigg version of WW is both more appealing and more interesting.
The Winning of Wonder Woman’s Tiara: another prettified Golden age tale by Harry Peter, I think.
Wonder Tot and Mr. Genie: Ross Andru pencils a charming fairy-tale about the Amazon as a young child. With the eponymous comedy djinn, a dragon and a hostile spaceship, it’s like a Ray Harryhausen movie on the page.
The Secret of Wonder Woman’s Sandals: a forgettable 40s fable about Amazon footwear.
The Mirage Mirrors: this was my first sighting of the Angle Man, in a bizarre and silly story where Diana is jealous of WW. It’s drawn by the Andru/Esposito team: the quintessential Sixties artists for the strip.
Princessions: the letters page discusses The Great Step Backward ( the end of the “Mod” Wonder Woman) and promotes WW’s trials to rejoin the JLA. It also claims that Donna Troy is in “the limbo of discontinued comic-book characters”. Plus ca change…
I have to say that, re-reading this comic. I found little to enjoy, aside from the Atomia and Wonder Tot stories. It reads like the general public’s perception of a super-hero comic with its daft plots and simplistic art. It’s redolent of the camp craze for the 30s and 40s that riddled pop culture in the 70s from Paper Moon through to Manhattan Transfer.
A few months later, the title would emulate the tv show and adopt a wartime setting, which I liked a little better. Towards the end of the Bronze Age, I bought the comic regularly because the Huntress was a back-up feature. When not a period piece, the WW I prefer is the recent spy/espionage version of the late Noughties:
I don’t have many memories of that holiday, aside from learning to ride a pony. At home in Glasgow, I have a couple of Polaroids where my brother and I are posed, small and solemn and many feet away from the camera. I’m wearing a brown anorak with a little football emblem. I re-visited Kirkcudbright during the Easter holidays of 2010 but apart from the River Dee, I didn’t recognise it.
Coming soon: “Wipe the Blood off my Name!”
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