First Published: December 2009
Contents: Wonder Woman #138 (May 1963) to #156 (August 1965)
Key Creator Credits: Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru, and Mike Esposito
Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Wonder Woman Vol. 2
Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Wonder Woman Vol. 4
Overview: Beautiful as Aphrodite, Wise as Athena, Swift as Mercury, and Strong as Hercules, Wonder Woman continues her journey as an ambassador of peace to the “Man’s World”.
These stories cover a two-year period in the mid-1960s. Wonder Woman faces a variety of threats, such as the Duke of Deception’s attempts to take over Earth from his base on Mars; the Academy of Arch-Villains competing to take down the Amazon princess; or the mysterious Fisher-Birdmen from another dimension.
The highlight in this volume has to be the first story from Wonder Woman #144, titled “Revolt of Wonder Woman”. Our star has been pushed so much lately that she is running on exhaustion. Between protecting Paradise Island from an attack of flaming characters, saving Mer-Man yet again, keeping a crashing airplane aloft, and other challenges, Wonder Woman is at her physical breaking point, and just walks away from everything in a catatonic state. She breaks out of her stupor long enough to rescue a blind girl by the name of Mary Jane. Not knowing who rescued her, Mary Jane befriends Diana based on her kindness. Mary Jane gets the chance to even the score when her acute hearing picks up a rattle snake in their path, and she steers Diana away. Finally, the two women are caught in a lightning storm. Diana protects Mary Jane with her bracelets, but the lightning flashes burned away the blindness from Mary Jane’s eyes. The two vow to remain friends, yet we never see Mary Jane again.
Why should these stories be Showcased?: You know, I really do try to remain positive about these reviews. There is no need for me to dump all over stories published before I was born. That said, I do not think that these stories should be in a Showcase Presents. The stories are poorly written and very repetitive. A lot of the stories just involve Steve Trevor, Mer-Man, and/or Bird-Man trying to win the hand of Wonder Woman in marriage. They even extend those stories back to Wonder Girl, with a teenage Steve Trevor (still in the military!), Mer-Boy, and/or Bird-Boy competing for Wonder Girl’s affection. When she does fight a villain, they tend to fall into the lame end of the spectrum: Mouse-Man, Multiple Man, Angle Man — see a pattern here? When people argue that female characters are used poorly, it is these issues that are given as examples. Even if you are a Wonder Woman fan, this does not need to be on your bookshelf.
(Full disclosure time here! I read Showcase Presents Wonder Woman Vol. 3 sometime back in 2014 and wrote this review shortly after finishing it. This post has been sitting in my queue waiting for it to come up in the rough order-of-release schedule that I try to follow. Reviewing this post prior to publication, I was concerned that my comments may have been too harsh when writing the review immediately after I finished the book. So I pulled the book off the shelf this past weekend and flipped back through it again. And my position still stands – bad stories, bad premises, bad representation. This is not the Wonder Woman book we should be reading!)
Footnotes: Please see my review of Showcase Presents Teen Titans Vol. 1, where I try to make sense of how Wonder Woman, Wonder Girl, and Wonder Tot can all appear in one story together.
If you like this volume, try: Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth, by Paul Dini and Alex Ross from 2002. In 1999, Dini and Ross started collaborating to release a series of treasury-size original special featuring one of the key characters of the DC Universe. This gave us Superman: Peace on Earth in 1999, Batman: War on Crime in 2000, and Shazam!: Power of Hope in 2001. Wonder Woman’s turn came the following year. In this story, Wonder Woman finds that her appearance, while appropriate for Paradise Island, does not work in the real world. Blazing into a scene with the armored one-piece suit, her beauty, and her heritage keeps her at arm’s length from the rest of humanity. At the suggestion of Clark Kent, Diana disguises herself in other costumes and identities, so she can travel the world and see how the world really is. Dini has proved time and time again that he is an outstanding comic writer, and in particular, a brilliant writer of female characters. Ross’ painted artwork shines brighter with this oversized format. The four specials were collected by DC in 2005 in a hardcover title The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes. Please check out this or any of the other Dini/Ross collaborations.