—All-Star Comics #13 (1942) by Gardner Fox & Jack Burnley
Let’s talk about the time Wonder Woman joined the Justice Society — only to be sidelined as their secretary, who chronicled their adventures but rarely participated in them. Is that sexist or what?!
Well, yes and no.
First of all, consider the format of All-Star Comics, where the JSA originated. It wasn’t really a team book. The JSA would meet together in the beginning and then quickly split up to pursue individual but loosely related cases — each chapter featuring an individual hero, usually drawn by a different artist.
Second of all, consider that Wonder Woman’s creators, William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter, were already producing Wonder Woman solo features for three other titles.
According to Tim Haney, “When another author wrote Wonder Woman in one of her first Justice Society appearances, Marston was fairly irate. He demanded to rewrite the story and wanted complete control of the character after that, which he was given. But seeing as he and H.G. Peter were busy producing Wonder Woman stories for Wonder Woman, Sensation Comics, AND Comic Cavalcade, it ended up that All-Star Comics fell by the wayside. […] Usually Wonder Woman just appeared in the first few pages, had a line or two, and then stayed behind while the rest of the team went off to fight the bad guys.”
In other words: “Wonder Woman was relegated to the background because Marston wanted to be the only one to write her. Ironically, the demands of Wonder Woman’s feminist creator led to Wonder Woman taking a very unfeminist role” with the JSA.
Third of all, why secretary? To this I can only point out that Marston himself had already made her a secretary to the Army in her secret identity as Diana Prince — it was 1940s America, after all.
But I would also point out that Marston frequently sent Wonder Woman to fantastical places were women were queens, warriors, scientists, evil villains and benevolent rulers — once she even went to the future where Wonder Woman herself was president of the United States. There was no lack of female role models in Marston’s Wonder Woman stories, and that’s pretty goddamn progressive feminism for the 1940s if you ask me.
After Marston died in 1947, Wonder Woman took a more active role in the JSA, but even that didn’t last long — All-Star Comics was canceled in 1951.
Wonder Woman was the only character whose solo series survived.
Now, as to why this secretary nonsense continued in the 1960s when Wonder Woman joined the JLA? I mean come on, Snapper Carr is just SITTING THERE and you’re making freakin’ Wonder Woman take notes?! Ugh, sexism plain and simple.
Why I Love Golden Age Steve Trevor
There are from Sensation Comics #1, 1942.
Do your duty.
—Sensation Comics #8 (1942) art by H.G. Peter
The important question nobody is asking: With Hostess gone, WHO WILL SAVE US FROM COOKY LA MOO?
The next time anyone says that Wonder Woman or the Amazons are fundamentally warriors, I will punch him or her in the face. With love.
(from Wonder Woman vol. 2, no. 14)
This is the best Scarecrow story ever written.
(from DC Super Friends #8)
I really love the idea that Sazia read a bunch of Golden Age Wonder Woman strips to research her opponent, even if that makes absolutely no sense in-story.
(from Wonder Woman vol. 2, no. 95)
“The Fir Tree’s Story” originally appeared in Sensation Comics # 14 (DC Comics, February 1943). The story was written by Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, and drawn by the inimitable Harry G. Peter.