Money Can’t Buy Me Love


On Wednesdays I look at various chapters in Wonder Woman’s history. Click here for previous installments.

Not the superhero Black Lightning, mind you. He didn’t debut until seven months later.

Not the superhero Black Lightning, mind you. He didn’t debut until seven months later.

Wonder Woman#225, DC Comics, September 1976.

So in the middle of writer Martin Pasko’s run of Wonder Woman, Elliot S! Maggin steps in to pen a fill-in issue. A frequent Superman scribe, Maggin had written a few issues of WW during the Twelve Labors arc, but this story would be his last Wonder Woman comic. And it’s an odd one.

“Maximus, Emperor of Hollow Mountain!” is a story about, well, Maximus, Emperor of Hollow Mountain. Like Diogenes Diamandopoulos in Maggin’s previous story in issue 216, Maximus is a rich and powerful man who just wants to be loved.

So who’s this Maximus guy? Well, Maximus is one suave motherfucker, who likes to impress women by having incredibly rare and expensive wine delivered to him by helicopter when he’s on a date and boasts of telling off the president. In conclusion, he’s kind of a dick.

So I says to Dickie, I says...

So I says to Dickie, I says…

He also has his own supervillain base in a hollow mountain north of Washington, DC, named, um, Hollow Mountain. It’s been emitting radio signals that have been jamming communications worldwide, so Diana Prince has been assigned by her UN boss to check it out as “an immediate threat to world peace.” So of course she does check it out, but as Wonder Woman, because she’s never put all that much effort into the whole secret identity thing.

Once she gets there she gets attacked by that weird black lightning bolt we saw on the cover, which isn’t really lightning at all but something more solid that can be lassoed and ridden and…you know what? Never mind. Nothing I say about it will make it make any sense. Suffice it to say that it eventually knocks her out, and she’s captured by Maximus’s goons. And by goons I mean, in this instance, robot duplicates of himself in the colorful garb of many nations that he calls Pseudo-Maxes.

Not to worry, though, because Steve Trevor’s coming to the rescue!

Faithful readers may remember that a couple of issues ago, Steve was raised from the dead. Ever since then he’s just been hiding out in Diana’s apartment twiddling his thumbs, because the world outside still thinks he’s dead. (He learned Wondy’s secret identity in the afterlife.) And now it’s probably no surprise that he’s going a little stir crazy. Steve’s a man of action! He doesn’t like being coddled like some helpless do-nothing! So now he starts raising a ruckus.

No time for your nonsense, little man!

No time for your nonsense, little man!

Steve goes to get a job as a spy by confronting a spy about being a spy. How does he know all this if he never even leaves the house? Probably by spying on the spy with Diana’s “mental radio” that she just leaves lying around, because we did see him poking around in her business (so to speak) with it while she was gone.

This is how I apply for all my jobs.

This is how I apply for all my jobs.

So now I guess not only did Steve somehow get hired with that approach rather than tossed into some government brig, but he immediately got sent out to help handle that whole Hollow Mountain situation. What luck!

Apparently all this was concocted to lure Wonder Woman here—the radio signals, the black lightning, all of it. How Maximus knew that she’d be the first responder to come check out the situation is a mystery, but he needs Wondy for two reasons. One, he’s madly in love with her. Two, he wants to dissect her to extract her charisma.

Wait, what? Yeah, you read that right. It seems that even though Maximus is the richest and most powerful man in the world, everybody thinks he’s an asshole. In a fruitless quest to be admired, he built his legion of Pseudo-Maxes to go do nice things in public for him, and yet still everybody thought he was a schmuck. But you know who have a shit-ton of natural charisma? Amazons!  So he’d just have to get him one of them so he can steal her mojo.

And he wonders why nobody likes him.

And he wonders why nobody likes him.

When Wonder Woman starts fighting his duplicates, Max becomes weirdly cooperative, telling her where the power source for them is, showing Steve the way out, even shrugging off the destruction of his base. He doesn’t really seem to give a crap about his half-baked, incoherent master plan at all.

And really, none of it makes sense. What were the radio signals supposed to be about? How did he know Wonder Woman would investigate? If he did know she would, why did he seem to be surprised to find that his new prisoner was her? Why’d he get so cooperative as soon as she started to fight back? Why’d he invite Steve to flee with him, only to make an incredibly halfhearted attempt to attack him with some kind of test tube? What the hell are the test tubes about, and why’d he just happen to be wearing a utility belt full of them?

Max only really gets huffy when Steve and Diana arrest him, boasting that there’s no jail that can hold him for even a minute, because he’s so rich and powerful and all. What’s funny about this is that there’s an editor’s note saying that Maximus’s imprisonment will prove to be a problem for Wonder Woman in a future issue, and that is in fact not true at all. This is the last we’ll ever see or hear of Emperor Maximus.

You haven’t heard the last of me! Oh wait, yes you have.

You haven’t heard the last of me! Oh wait, yes you have.

Steve is in fact invited to join the spy agency that that spy guy is spying for. It’s a top secret service called S-O-S, for Spy-on-Spy. (Don’t look at me; I didn’t come up with the name.) Steve doesn’t use his real name to join, being dead and all, so on the spot he and Wonder Woman incredibly unsubtly come up with the fake name of Steve Howard. This doesn’t bother his new boss “Sullivan,” because they all have fake names there, and background checks are for jerks. Welcome back to the espionage game, Steve Howard—hope you survive the experience this time!

About author

No comments yet.

Be first to leave your comment!




Your comment:

Add your comment