Wonder Woman: Enemy Of Freedom
by Nicolas Juzda
Sure, she was dressed in tights (more or less), but was the Golden Age/Earth-2 Wonder Woman really fighting for your rights? Or was she engaged in a nefarious plot to destroy the American way of life?
I'm not here to judge or condemn. That's the job of each and every one of you. My aim is simply to lay out the facts in a clear and unbiased manner, until you can make an informed decision about the depths to which this hellspawned harpy has sunk all on your own.
Let us begin with Paradise Island, the birthplace- no, sorry, the place where Wonder Woman was molded from clay and brought to life by the heathen magic of pagan gods. That's right, Wonder Woman isn't a human at all, but an advanced artificial humanoid replicant, much like the pod-people of the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers. [Source: All Star Comics #8]
But her origins as a freakish mockery of life shouldn't bias us against her. Forget I said anything.
Paradise Island had a society that was blatantly at odds with many core American values. It was not a democracy, but a monarchy, controlled absolutely by unelected ruler-for-life Hippolyta. There was no lawmaking body but the Queen. No voices of political opposition were ever heard. There was no mention of an independent free press. It was, in short, a classic totalitarian state.
Capitalism seemed also absent from Paradise Island, which had no system of currency and no evidence of a free market at all. The monarchy notwithstanding, Paradise Island may have been communist.
Princess Diana was selected to represent this island to the outside world as its Wonder Woman, a protector, an envoy, an ambassador, a teacher... and a spy.
Immediately upon arriving in America, Wonder Woman secretly replaced United States Army nurse Diana Prince, assuming her identity. A short time later, she used her usurped credentials to maneuver her way into a position at the heart of Army Intelligence. [Sensation Comics #1 and #3]
An agent of a foreign power, under an assumed identity, working clandestinely in Army Intelligence.
Working for what sinister purpose?
We can only speculate. It seems self-evident that whatever background check the real Diana Prince's life must have borne up under would likely have screened out Princess Diana. The elaborate multi-stage ruse that led her to Army Intelligence resulted in her obtaining access to reams of classified information, information that she could not possibly have had access to otherwise, information that likely could have seriously compromised the United States Army if it fell into the wrong hands.
And are the hands of Wonder Woman, envoy of a totalitarian communist regime, the right ones?
Was the final result of this chain of events a mere coincidence or was it something much more sinister? Was finding herself in Army Intelligence of no significance to Princess Diana, or was it her goal all along? Am I acting too rashly in labeling her a spy? Before you decide, there are other factors that should be considered.
Let us examine Wonder Woman's invisible robot plane. This vehicle was virtually undetectable by conventional means.
Does that sound useful when fighting criminals? It's not counter-productive, exactly, but is it actually useful? Do mob bosses normally have radar sets hidden in their lairs? Did Dr. Psycho and the Cheetah employ surface-to-air missiles to defend themselves?
Wonder Woman used this airplane to fly, undetected and unmonitored by the US government, wherever she wanted. It was the perfect spy-plane.
But hey, if she says flying an invisible spy-plane through domestic airspace is necessary to fight Giganta the Gorilla Woman, who are we to question her?
After capturing alleged criminals, Wonder Woman would sometimes bring them (usually without benefit of trial) to Transformation Island (sometimes called Reform Island). There, Amazons would teach them "Aphrodite's Law" and "loving submission to authority". I'm not making up the latter phrase. It is used, in a few minor variations, constantly throughout early Wonder Woman stories. It was a basic tenet of the Amazon way of life. [Comic Cavalcade #9, 11, 12, Wonder Woman #26, 28, and on and on]
This was all helped along by "Magic Venus Girdles" which rendered the wearer passive and suggestible. [Wonder Woman #12 and elsewhere]
So, these people were taken from their homeland, held captive, subjected to mind-numbing external implements, and taught to "lovingly submit" to Amazon authority while being indoctrinated in their way of life ("Aphrodite's Law" is a series of guiding principles as opposed to a legal code).
Brainwashing is an ugly word, but when the shoe fits...
The Amazonian Candidate has a nice ring to it, don't you think?
Wonder Woman's questionable activities couldn't go unnoticed forever. Eventually, she and the other members of the Justice Society Of America were brought before the DC Universe's equivalent of HUAC. While the other Justice Society members almost certainly did not deserve such persecution and reacted with justifiable and righteous anger, one can imagine Diana had a compelling motive of her own: cold fear that her position as the worm at the core of Army Intelligence would be exposed. Before that could happen, one of the JSA members (which one is a bit unclear) teleported the group away. [Adventure Comics #466]
Though it's never been stated, they must all have been cited for Contempt Of Congress. That's a crime, and you can go to jail for it. People who had convictions but lacked power rings did just that. The JSA members spent the next several years out of the spotlight because they were, presumably, fugitives.
This recitation of the sordid facts of Wonder Woman's early career is almost done. But first there's one last detail.
Wonder Woman's closest friends included a Nazi war criminal.
Baroness Paula von Gunther first appeared as a foe of Princess Diana. She battled the Amazon numerous times as an agent of the Gestapo. She murdered many many individuals, kept a small group of women as personal slaves and tortured them routinely, was for a time the leader of all Gestapo operations in the United States, forced American citizens into becoming Nazi spies, and once tried to monopolize America's milk supply so that its people would have weak bones and fall before the stronger-boned Nazis. She was, in short, pure evil. [Debut in Sensation #6, milk plot from Sensation #7, numerous other appearances]
Eventually, it was revealed that her gleeful reign of terror, her callous and frequently unnecessary murders, her S&M thing with the slave girls, and all the rest, were all because her daughter was being held hostage. [Wonder Woman #3]
Is that really plausible? It's not for me to say. But consider the following facts.
She'd never (to the best of my knowledge) even hinted that she wasn't having the time of her life being the big bad before then, never gave the slightest clue. She never hesitated in her heinous deeds, never tried for a second to figure out how to do the least harm possible. She often went out of her way to commit some nefarious act that she could have easily avoided, even arranging in advance to be brought back from the dead to continue her reign of terror.
Furthermore, it seems highly unlikely that someone who was being blackmailed into the job would be selected for such a powerful and sensitive post as head of all Nazi subversive activity in the United States. I know that there are many documented cases of people being forced to act against their will and support the Nazis in some way or another. But no one in a position on this level was so selected. Any regime that did so would have been acting in a manner that was literally unbelievable.
And, really, the milk thing: you don't come up with ideas like that unless you're way too much into being evil.
But it's okay, said Wonder Woman, because her kid was in trouble. Allegedly. It wouldn't, I venture, have been hard for such a cunning and highly placed agent of the Nazis to set up a ruse for just such a contingency. Theoretically speaking, of course. Don't mind me.
Von Gunther went to trial, but Wonder Woman acted as her defense and got her off on a technicality. The Baroness had already been tried once and found guilty and even executed [Sensation #7] and double jeopardy prevented her from being tried for those crimes again. Never mind that she had committed numerous others since, was probably wanted for war crimes around the world, and that executions are meant to be permanent and not temporary inconveniences.
Thereafter, Paula Von Gunther lived on Paradise Island. She served as their chief scientist, in the Amazon version of Project Paperclip, and became one of Wonder Woman's closest friends.
Wonder Woman: princess of a totalitarian pseudo-communist regime, friend of a Nazi war criminal, the ersatz Diana Prince who has infiltrated Army Intelligence, shown Contempt Of Congress, flown a spy-plane wherever she wanted, and brainwashed American citizens.
Consider her a hero if you wish.
But think before you do.
And be grateful that there's no Magic Venus Girdle preventing you from freely drawing your own conclusions... yet.
Fiction editor Nicolas Juzda
is currently studying law in Saskatchewan. He fills the void that was left in
his soul by contributing to Fanzing. He has twice been among the winners in
the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest for bad writing.
All characters are DC Comics
This piece is © 2002 by Nicolas Juzda
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