By Jacobus Dixon

With the war effort in full swing, every comic book superhero from Captain America to Superman was pitching in to further the cause of U.S. interests. Wonder Woman especially was not sitting out the wave. The star-spangled Amazon had been growing in popularity, so naturally Superman-DC gave her her own title. Now, like Batman and Superman, she was appearing in more than one magazine, which pretty much constitutes the big leagues as far as comic book popularity is concerned.

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Like Superman #1 and Batman #1, the cover focuses on her (she is the star of magazine after all). Unlike those previous debuts though, this image stands out more because it’s not just a portrait of Wonder Woman doing something routine like Superman flying (or leaping a tall building as he technically did not fly yet) or Batman and Robin swinging on their bat-ropes. She is actively engaged in fighting Axis troops (whether they’re German or Japanese is hard to tell, but they all appear to have Hitler mustaches, so I’d say German) which puts her at the forefront of an enemy of the here and now. She is also not alone, as what appears to be a squad of army rangers is close behind her. It’s not that she needs their help particularly, but (as it was on the cover of Superman #14) it’s meant to show that this beacon of power is one that fights on our side as we fight the Axis.

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Like some muse of war, she dramatically leaps headfirst into danger. This is not a gal to be taken lightly, and these Axis guys know their number is up as soon as her horse’s hooves hit the ground. She, in her star-spangled regalia, alludes to the idea that this is the spirit of America in female form that the Axis have declared war on, which they will learn to their bitter sorrow. Essentially just another “Don’t f*** with America” slogan (a very popular message in media circles during a war). This cover’s got everything going for it. It’s dramatic, it’s iconic, it’s in the here and now, but does the interior wither under the heavy promise of the cover?

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As the cover promises, the stories do in fact deal with Wonder Woman fighting the Axis. It’s mostly Axis spies that are encountered throughout the book, but one in particular stands out. Paula von Gunther had already established herself as a recurring Wonder Woman baddie from her first run-in with the Amazon princess in Sensation Comics #4. She was beautiful, ruthless, and crafty, the perfect agent to run a Nazi spy ring in America. This particular appearance had her running a spy ring through the guards of the prison she was in. She not only steals Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth, but frames Wonder Woman for killing one of the prison guards. Once she’s locked in the prison (she allows herself to be, naturally) Wonder Woman is able to figure out which prison guards are von Gunther’s and which are honest guards. Teaming up with the honest guards, she’s able to smash von Gunther’s spy ring and send the Nazi agent to a prison where she has no influence.

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Wow, talk about espionage suspense. The other stories had less memorable, but equally Axis-y villains. Namely, Japanese soldiers as they attempt to launch an attack from a base in Mexico and Japanese agents (that are actually Burmese working for Japan, because…y’know willingly aiding a country that has forcefully invaded yours makes all sorts of sense) that are sabotaging a circus by poisoning the elephants (those bastards!). Both stories weren’t as engrossing as the Paula von Gunther spy story, but all three were equal in their flag-waving sensibilities and devotion. Wonder Woman’s origin was also retold just in case new readers who hadn’t caught her previous appearances could be introduced to her. But there was also a segment of the magazine devoted to famous women in history who made a difference. This first outing was Florence Nightingale, who was usually credited as the founder of modern nursing. So not only did we get to see Wonder Woman kick ass, but we got a taste of real women that kicked ass.

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Right from the cover we the audience get the feeling that this magazine is going to be a flag-waving patriot-fest. The stories inside live up to the patriotic hype, but also deliver a bit of feminism by celebrating great women of history (it’s not much, but it’s more than would be found in most comic book magazines of the day).  And while two of the stories feature generic Axis villains, we get a nice little espionage thriller with the memorable Paula von Gunther. Throughout all the stories though, we’re treated to Wonder Woman doing what she does best, which is mopping the floor with her enemies and helping her friends and their friends too.

The views expressed herein are solely those of the writer, and not Midtown Comics. Additionally, Midtown Comics makes no representations as to the accuracy of any of the information expressed herein.

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