Out of the Vault – Wonder Woman, Social Worker

Short one this week, sliding in under the wire.

Like Betty Boop, way more people know the image of Wonder Woman than have any real familiarity with the character. For all that Wonder Woman is considered one of the Big 3 iconic DC characters, writers have often been at a loss as to what to do with her. The advent of women’s lib in the 70’s made her an especially troubling figure, given all the bondage fetish stuff in her early stories.

After DC imploded their continuity in Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985, artist George Perez took over the writing chores on Wonder Woman‘s relaunch, tying Wonder Woman in with the Greek myths that had featured as part of her origin in the same way that Walter Simonson had done with Norse myths on Marvel’s Thor.

In 1992, William Messner-Loebs took over the writing, following a long stint on The Flash that I had really liked. Loebs decided to ground Wonder Woman more in the real world, with a more feminist feel and less emphasis on superpowers and costumes (though he didn’t go so far as to completely take away her powers and costume, turning her into a secret agent as had happened in the 70’s).

Which brings us to Wonder Woman #81, from 1993. Wonder Woman is in the hospital, having been shot in the head by super-fast assassin Mayfly the issue before. The bullets have caused nerve damage, leaving her unable to fly. Diana leaves the hospital with best friend Etta Candy and next door neighbor Donna Milton (secretly an agent of Aries set on destroying her).

Donna takes Diana to Taco Whiz, a fast-food place where Diana is working for minimum wage while she tries to collect back pay from the Justice League. Outside the Taco Whiz, Diana runs into co-worker Hoppy, who has just received the worst news ever–her daughter has been accepted into a ritzy private school, which she can’t afford, especially since her ex has never paid a penny of child support.

Yeah, seriously. Although I wouldn’t blame you for being skeptical. So are these guys.

You see, Hoppy’s ex is working for the Mob. So Wonder Woman convinces the mob boss to pay the child support, and then Donna Milton, evil lawyer, helps Wonder Woman collect her back pay from the Justice League. Everybody’s happy, until Aries sets his master plan into motion. But even the master plan ends up not with a huge mythic battle, but with Diana delivering Donna’s baby while her Sisterhood of the Traveling Lasso saves them from a cave-in.

I liked the art by Lee Moder and Ande Parks and the gorgeous Brian Bolland covers, and Loebs often did interesting things with his characters, but ultimately, the mundane feminist elements and the superheroics felt awkwardly shoehorned into the same story. I gave up reading after a year or so.

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