Retro Review: Wonder Woman #124 (August 1961)

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We’ve seen multiple attempts to fix the continuity of Wonder Girl, but have you ever wondered how it got so messed up in the first place?  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Wonder Woman #124 awaits!


Writer: Robert Kanigher (as Charles Moulton)
Penciler: Ross Andru
Inker: Mike Esposito
Letterer: Gaspar Saladino
Editor: Robert Kanigher
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 10 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $280.00

Previously in Wonder Woman: In recent years, fans have been upset that Wonder Woman’ origin (being built out of clay by Hippolyta and animated by the gods blah blah blah) was changed, but that’s not without precedent.  In 1958, back in Wonder Woman #105, it was revealed that Wonder Woman was in fact born (presumably the the traditional human way) before the Amazons settled on Paradise Island.  She was then raised by the Amazons as a tribe and had several teenage adventures as Wonder Girl and, as this issue reveals, as a toddler known as Wonder Tot.  This issue opens with an impossible discovery: Cave Paintings of Wonder Woman and her other selves, along with Hippolyta, having an adventure together, causing her to think back to how it happened.  It started on Paradise Island…

Using Amazon magical technology, the Queen of the Amazons splices together footage of the younger Wonders with her adult self, creating an “Impossible tale” of her daughter at three different ages interacting together, starting with the Wonder Family seeing a mushroom cloud (!!) and setting out to investigate.  Out of the heart of the explosion comes a shape-shifting Multiple Man who transforms into a torpedo and streaks towards the nearest island: Their home!

That scary torpedo would have given me nightmares as a kid, but now I can’t help but think how much it resembles a lost member of the Metal Men, which Andru and Kanigher would co-create about a year after Wonder Woman #124.  The creature’s attack throws our various-aged women of Wonder into the ocean, where they are eaten by a giant clam.

Which totally happens all the time, I’m sure…

Fortunately, regardless of age, Princess Diana is whip-smart and brave as all getout, allowing Wonder Tot to take the initiative and save her mother and her other selves.

Wonder Tot even uses one menace to trump another, causing clam and torpedo to explode into a hail of shell-shards, but even that can’t destroy the Multiple Man’s threat.  The explosion gets the attention of the Atlantean Mer-Boy, who shares a mutual crush with the teenage Wonder Girl, and the teenage heroes engage the nuclear monster to save both Paradise Island and Atlantis.

Hippolyta brings the creature down with a shield of lead, but forges part of it into a bracelet to alert her if Multiple Man awakens, which he totally does a few pages later. forcing Hipplyta to transport him back to the distant past to dispose of him.  After kissing her daughter(s) goodbye, the queen sets off, only to have Wonder Woman, Girl and Tot follow her to the past just in time to help when Multiple Man once more awakens and shape-shifts into his most dangerous form.

“Nothing can stop me!” is a bad catch-phrase for a villain, as it practically dares the hero to defeat them, and this is no exception.  After Diana, Diana, Diana and her mom destroy the monster, the cave-people who witnessed the attack offer to make them a gift, which turns out to be the painting discovered at the beginning of the issue.  Strangely, Wonder Woman remarks IN THE STORY that she hopes that fans who wrote in asking to see Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl in action together are satisfied, which is both weirdly meta and condescending.  Wonder Woman #124 is one of those Silver Age stories that keeps topping each ridiculous moment with one even more outre, with some charismatic-but-stiff art from Ross Andru, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  It wouldn’t be much longer before writer Bob Haney, who hadn’t really paid attention to the “impossible tale” (the equivalent of a Superman Imaginary Story) part, brought Wonder Girl in as a member of the Teen Titans, creating the need for decade after decade of retcons.

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Clever, but odd...

It's mostly interesting because of what came afterwards, but Kanigher's plotting is like a well-constructed clockspring and Andru's Wonder-Family is adorable.

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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