First Published: December 2011
Contents: Wonder Woman #157 (October 1965) to #177 (August 1968)
Key Creator Credits: Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru, Mike Esposito, and Irv Novick
Key First Appearances: Egg Fu, Doctor Psycho
Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Wonder Woman Vol. 3
Overview: Merciful Minerva! Wonder Woman finally faces off against the one foe she cannot stop. The mightiest foe of all time – the dreaded, all powerful DC Comics Editor. Because the pen is truly mightier than the sword. Welcome to Showcase Presents Wonder Woman Vol. 4.
The volume starts off with an Egg Fu story that covers all of issue #157 and part of the #158. But what drives this collection is the second story in issue #158. The crew of the Wonder Woman title (Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru, and Mike Esposito) makes cameos as DC decides to streamline Diana’s supporting cast. Many of the supporting characters, such as Wonder Tot, Mer-Boy, Birdman, the Glop, and others, are cast off into limbo. Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor, and Hippolyta survive, and the editors promise that beginning with the next issue, Wonder Woman would return to her Golden Age beginnings.
True to their word, beginning with Wonder Woman #159, we see a retelling of the origins of the Amazons, and how Diana came to be created. We see the challenge of the Amazons, which would determine who would leave the island to go live in Man’s World. We see Col. Steve Trevor crash near Paradise Island, and how Diana nursed him to health before returning him to the United States, where she took over the identity and life of Lt. Diana Prince, a nurse in the army.
Firmly establishing herself as a hero, Wonder Woman battles the familiar foes such as the Cheetah, Doctor Psycho, and Angle Man – why wasn’t Angle Man sent to limbo?!?!? Towards the end of this volume, less emphasis is made that these are Golden Age stories, but rather they are set in the Silver Age proper. For example, the final issue in this volume, #177, features a team-up between Wonder Woman and Supergirl. That issue teases us with a promise of Wonder Woman going in a new direction in the next issue, but that is a story best saved for a future volume, we hope!
Why should these stories be Showcased?: So, of the four Showcase Presents Wonder Woman volumes to date, this is probably the most readable of the bunch. That said, it’s still not a very good collection of stories. Once the DC Editorial hits the giant cosmic reset button in issue #158, the stories become simpler without the convoluted character histories. The stories focus on Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, with the occasional visit to Paradise Island to see her mother. The caption boxes tell us that these are Golden Age stories being told in the current (Silver) age. We get to see more familiar villains, such as Cheetah, Giganta, and yes, Egg Fu. Diana Prince’s military rank fluctuates from issue to issue between lieutenant and captain, with the occasional issue where she is still a military nurse. Towards the end of this volume, once Ross Andru leaves the book, the stories start to feel more like Silver Age stories, current with other books of that era. I cannot wholeheartedly recommend this book. But if you feel the need to possess one of these Wonder Woman collections, this is the one you should own.
Footnotes: Among the characters wiped away in the reset in issue #158 is Wonder Girl, the teenage version of our title character. However, Wonder Girl still continued to be an active and key member of the Teen Titans. For more on that complicated character, please see my review of Showcase Presents Teen Titans Vol. 1,
If you like this volume, try: the Wonder Woman TV series from the 1970s. For so many people, this version of Wonder Woman was their first encounter and remains the best representation (to date) of everyone’s favorite Amazon. Starring Linda Carter and Lyle Waggoner, the series ran for three seasons. The first season was set in the World War II era of the 1940s, following the earliest adventures of Wonder Woman. For the second and third season, the series was reset to place the characters into the 1970s. (Trying to set a TV show thirty years in the past was getting expensive for this type of show!) Carter’s take on Wonder Woman remains legendary but don’t expect riveting television here. The shows remain campy and are full of plot holes. You don’t have to own these – check out the series on Netflix or some other platform, or check the ME-TV programming guide. It’s worth seeing at least once.