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This is one of the most famous comic book covers of all, time, from Wonder Woman #7, Winter 1943.  However, the stories inside are less well known, although they were reprinted back in 2002 in Wonder Woman Archives, Vol. 3.

The whole issue is a classic from cover to cover, written by Wonder Woman's creator, Dr William Marston and her original artist, Harry G. Peters . The first story starts with Wonder Woman being woken at 3am. "Who can be calling me at this hour?" she asks herself, "Huh - I'm getting the silly man's world habit of sleeping all night". It's her mother with an invitation to a festival back home. Wonder Woman shows up in her navy uniform and reports: "Your majesty! I beg to report that women are gaining power in the man's world!" Her mother then lifts her up like a baby. What follows is a series of stories set in a distant future when "men and women will be equal. But women's influence will control most governments because women are more ready to serve others unselfishly!" There no law that says that men can't run for office, though, so the bad guys come up with a scheme to run Steve Trevor (who walks around in a tight T shirt and jockey shorts) for president, in the hope that his good looks will get him elected. Of course, Wonder Woman not only puts the kibosh on this plan but winds up getting elected president herself (and is sworn in by a woman Chief Justice). She does, however feel sorry for Steve. "Silly girl," her mother admonishes her, "Steve and all men are happier when their strong aggressive natures are controlled by a wise and loving woman."

Although well-received in 1943, it is difficult to imagine such stories being published today. What is truly strange is how what must have seemed reasonable ideas of what the future might hold seem ludicrous now while the more off-the-wall ones seem eerily true.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
17th Sep, 2005 03:52 (UTC)
What is truly strange is how what must have seemed reasonable ideas of what the future might hold seem ludicrous now while the more off-the-wall ones seem eerily true.

Utopian vs dystopian, perhaps?
17th Sep, 2005 09:23 (UTC)
Marston wanted it to be seen as utopian and took steps to avoid the reader misinterpreting a world where the sexes are equal as a kind of Bizarro world where everything is wrong.

There are several ideas in the story that must have seemed very strange in 1943 but much less so half a century later. One I mentioned; the idea of a politician's physical appearance being important. Marston specifically links this to television. He knew that people would then be able to see their politicians rather than merely hear them on the radio or read what they has to say in newspapers and he foresaw the impact that this would have.

Now, Steve Trevor himself is an important part of the whole Wonder Woman mythos. Wonder Woman was not the first costumed superheroine but she was the first to have a sidekick. And Steve Trevor, while having most of the important characteristics of a sidekick (ie he's a bumbling buffoon who requires the occasional lengthy rescue) also is a carefully crafted epitome of masculinity (although in this story that gets a bit weird). That's why Marston made him an army officer - and a pilot at that! (Fifty years before he would have been a handsome cavalryman.) Marston knew full well that the male readership would identify strongly with Steve and he always took every opportunity to rub their noses in it.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )