Thursday, July 8, 2010

Back Issue Box Review: Wonder Woman #177

With all the Wonder Woman talk still buzzing around the comic world, I figured why not head into the back issue box and look at one of the few Wonder Woman/Supergirl team up stories.

While the two heroes have interacted in some big cross-over stories with lots of other characters, they haven't had too many adventures with just the two of them. Wonder Woman #177 is one of these rare stories. To be honest, it is most famous for being the last issue before the 'depowered Diana Prince' Denny O'Neil stories took over the title. Still, it is worth a peek to see how these two heroic females worked together in the Silver Age, as they save the entire planet Earth when it was in peril.

The cover, drawn by Irv Novick, actually does a good reflecting the internal story. That's right, Wonder Woman and Supergirl are going to fight each other for the right to marry Klamos!!

The story, titled 'Wonder Woman and Supergirl vs the Planetary Conqueror' was written by comic legend and Batman icon Bill Finger with art by Win Mortimer.

The story opens up deep in space where Klamos, the imposing figure with the big K on his armor, is shown conquering planet after planet. No one seems to stand a chance against his sheer might. His toady Grok, the small robed man beside him, is always present and seems to be Klamos' mouthpiece.

With a galaxy under his thumb, Klamos decides it is time to get hitched. He sends out his troops to the far corners of the universe to find him a suitable queen.

One group of his followers heads to Earth where they find not one ... but two suitably strong women who fit the bill. That's right, both Supergirl and Wonder Woman have the right attributes to be a perfect Queen for Klamos.

But given their powers, how can the soldiers capture them to bring them before Klamos?

It turns out that Klamos' men have both cunning and some serious technology on their side.

First, they fire a ray into the Earth's sun turning it red. Under the red sun, Supergirl becomes powerless and is easily captured.

Then, they trick Wonder Woman into putting a necklace around her wrists. The necklace is actually cleverly disguised handcuffs. As was true back then, with her wrists bound, Wonder Woman also becomes powerless.

Helpless, the two heroes are taken aboard Klamos' starship and brought to his homeworld.

Once there, they are informed of their reasoning behind their capture. They are but 2 of many strong females from around the universe, picked to battle for the right to become Klamos' queen, ruling the galaxy beside him.

Neither Wonder Woman nor Supergirl seem to thrilled with this idea.

Surprisingly, Wonder Woman thinks she has an easy answer to their problems. It smacks a bit of Silver Age silliness.

Diana thinks the easiest way out is to simply not fight. When the dust settles from every other woman fighting, they will be rejected and sent back to Earth ... easy as pie. Supergirl wonders if it is a good plan. I love the line 'golly, I hope you're right.'

Of course Diana's plan also means that the other women will fight each other to the death and one will be forced to marry Klamos. It seems as though Wonder Woman is only worried about herself and Earth. I mean, I think the current Wonder Woman, should she ever find herself in such a bizarre predicament, would lead a rebellion of all the women and overthrow Klamos.

Interestingly, when the arena bell is rung, the other women go at each other tooth and nail. Maybe they want to marry Klamos. In what must have been relatively rare for 1968, there is actually a 2 page splash of the brawl.

Unfortunately, Wonder Woman's plan works a little too well. While they say out the fight, the other women eliminate each other. This leaves only Kara and Diana standing. Ironically, rather than being rejected for sitting out, they have instead become the finalists.

When they refuse to fight again, Klamos ups the ante. Either they fight ... with the winner becoming his bride ... or his fleet will open fire on Earth destroying it. With no other choice, the two heroes realize they need to fight.

It looks like we might actually answer the age old question 'who would win in a fight, Wonder Woman or Supergirl?'.

At first it seems clearly answered ... Supergirl. She pummels Wonder Woman and uses a devastating 'airplane spin' wrestling throw to incapacitate Diana. With her limp form on Klamos' dais, the reader is left to wonder ... 'are we witnessing the end of Wonder Woman?'

Hmmm ... and why is Grok always present? Always. And why are his hands always hidden?

It turns out the whole fight was a planned hoax by Supergirl and Wonder Woman. They also wondered why Grok was always there.

Wonder Woman was only pretending to be hurt. With grace and speed, she tosses Grok to Supergirl who finds a control module strapped to his arm. Pushing all the buttons at super-speed, she shorts the device out ... resulting in the destruction of Klamos who simply explodes.

That's right, the two heroes deduced that Klamos was nothing but a powerful robot figure head under the control of Grok. That's why he was always present, and why his hands were always hidden. He was using the remote to guide Klamos.

Grok admits that he had delusions of grandeur ... dreams of ruling the known universe. But his small stature always limited him so he created Klamos to act as the leader while he made all the decisions. Talk about a Napoleon complex.

With Klamos not around to enforce Grok's will, the two super-heroes officially free all the worlds that Grok was ruling. Everyone is free once more!

While not a particularly strong story, it does have a lot of Silver Age silliness - from the concept of the two fighting in a marriage tournament to Wonder Woman's initial laissez-faire solution. Add to that the fact that it was written by Bill Finger, a true comic behemoth, and I think it is a pretty decent issue to have in a collection. From a Supergirl collection point of view, this is one of only a couple Wonder Woman team-ups so I feel it is of medium importance for a Kara collection.

Overall grade: B


Nikki said...

There are a few appearances from Wonder Woman in Supergirl when she goes through her powerless faze. Didn't she do some of the costume making?

I do love her dialogue in this, [about the plan] 'The only trouble with it was-- it didn't work.' Isn't it always the way wondie?

Anonymous said...

Nice art from Win Mortimer, back when he could draw but the plotline here is meshugginah! Kara had one other team up with Diana back in the SA and that was the infamous "Revolt of the Super Chicks" in the Brave and Bold #63, this Lost in Space plotline and all is actually an improvement.
Seems amazing to see Wonder Woman more or less jobbed out to Supergirl in the amazon's own book, granted it was a ruse but still...

John Feer

Anj said...

There are a few appearances from Wonder Woman in Supergirl when she goes through her powerless faze. Didn't she do some of the costume making?

That is true. In the Sekowsky issues of Adventure, Diana showed up in her 'dress maker' identity and helped make some of the mod new Supergirl costumes from those issues.

Anj said...

Kara had one other team up with Diana back in the SA and that was the infamous "Revolt of the Super Chicks" in the Brave and Bold #63, this Lost in Space plotline and all is actually an improvement.

That is such a goofy issue, the two heroes giving up heroics to live the high life in paris as models, that I couldn't review it here.

I keep thinking it would make a good April Fool's Day post.

TalOs said...

Heh, nice nostalgic 'oldie but goodie' Wonder Woman/Supergirl team up choice, Anj. :-)

Diabolu Frank said...

Thanks for recapping this story. I hate Silver Age Wonder Woman comics, but was always drawn to that cover and pairing of heroines. It doesn't sound as awful as most of the WW stories from that period, but I greatly prefer hearing the short version.