I was researching Wonder Woman trivia on Wikipedia for another post, reminiscing about those '70s issues where WW lost her powers because the Amazons moved to another dimension, opened a "mod" clothing boutique, and fought crime as a white-pants-suited karate woman under the tutelage of her blind Chinese martial arts mentor, I Ching (not making any of this up), when I came across this little tidbit:
During this period, Samuel R. Delany took over scripting duties with issue #202. Delany was initially supposed to write a six-issue story arc, which would culminate in a battle over an abortion clinic, but Delany was removed reportedly due to criticism from Gloria Steinem, who, not knowing the content of the issues Delany was writing, was merely upset that Wonder Woman was no longer wearing her traditional costume.
Waitaminnit, "Chip" Delany? The guy who wrote Dhalgren? I was reading Wonder Woman back then, and I had no memory of any of this! (In my defense, I was twelve at the time.) And Gloria Steinem nuked his run? Okay, Wikipedia, you have officially piqued my interest...
Googling "Samuel R. Delany writing Wonder Woman" led me to Marooned, where blogger "Paul" reprints part of a 1980 interview Delany did with The Comics Journal. His comments confirm the Wikipedia article:
But there was this nostalgia surge to take her back to her fifties incarnation. D.C. used a chance comment Gloria Steinem dropped while being shown through the National offices to throw out all of Wonder Woman's concerns for women's real, social problems. Instead of a believable woman, working with other women, fighting corrupt department store moguls and crusading for food cooperatives against supermarket monopolies — as she'd been doing in my scripts — she got back all her super powers ... and went off to battle the Green Meanies from Mars who were Threatening the Earth's Very Survival. ...
I wasn't interested in that. So I pulled out.
Wow. If Delany's description of his scripts seems a bit... odd for even a de-powered Diana Prince, you have to recall the watch-words for DC in the 1970s were "Social Relevance". And, after all, even the famous O'Neill/Adams run on Green Lantern/Green Arrow around the same time looks a bit over-earnest and cheesy to modern eyes. Excited to see what I'd missed by blowing my 20 cents (!) on The Phantom Stranger or Lois Lane or some damn thing, I checked out Wonder Woman Vol. 1 202 on dc.wikia and...
...it opens with Diana and Catwoman fighting Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser in Newhon.
Holy Crap, I had this issue! Thought it was pretty cool, too! (Again, twelve.) The only thing I can even remotely compare it to is that issue of Marvel Team-Up where Mary Jane Watson gets possessed by Red Sonja (one word: Claremont).
In Delany's defense, this issue was the second of a two-parter begun by Denny O'Neill, about I Ching's evil daughter Lu Shan kidnapping Johnny Double to get one of a pair of magical gems that when united would... eh, I forget. Point is, the storyline was already in progress. Let's move on to issue 203...
As you can see above, the cover trumpets, "SPECIAL! WOMEN'S LIB ISSUE". And it has Diana about to be attacked from behind by what appear to be werewolves, or possibly albino Dobermans. Well, hell, you expected stuff like that on DC covers back in the day. What about the actual story?
I... I think I'm just gonna paste the dc.wikia synopsis below without comment:
After Cathy Perkins starts a fight with some wolfish "admirers" of Diana (and Diana ends it), the now-homeless Diana moves in with her former assistant, whom she learns is now enrolled in a women's liberation group and is taking karate lessons. Diana is offered a job at Grandee's Department Store by Mr. Grandee, its owner, who wishes to pay her big bucks for appearing in ads for his store as the symbol of the new liberated woman. Unfortunately, Cathy's group learns that Grandee is paying his all-female staff below minimum wage, which he can do because he buys goods from local sweatshops, thus avoiding the legal entangements of dealing in out-of-state goods. When the group holds a meeting about the situation, some thugs hired by Grandee attempt to break it up but are defeated by Diana. Nonetheless, they hold Cathy hostage and manage a retreat. Diana trails them back to Grandee's store, defeats them and Grandee, and frees Cathy. Nonetheless, at the next meeting of the group, a contingent of women storms in and angrily accuses them of causing the unemployment of 250 women who worked at the now-closed Grandee's Department Store.
I've said it before, I'll say it again: making me grow up in the '60s and '70s was just a mean thing to do to a little kid.
(images from dc.wikia.com)