On Wednesdays I look at various chapters in Wonder Woman’s history. Click here for previous installments.
The Brave and the Bold #87, DC Comics, January 1970.
In the middle of Mike Sekowsky’s run on Wonder Woman, featuring a non-powered, karate-chopping Diana Prince, he stepped in to write and draw an issue of The Brave and the Bold, Batman’s team-up title (horning in on Bob Haney’s territory). And who does Bats team up with but Diana herself?
It doesn’t have much of anything to do with what was going on in Wondy’s own title other than the inclusion of I Ching, her philosophy-spouting blind Chinese mentor who dresses like a lost member of the Blues Brothers. Diana and Ching stop by some big car race in Europe, probably France. (It could be the Grand Prix for all I know, but it’s not named.) One of the racers is millionaire Bruce Wayne, with his own Wayne Special racing car. Diana doesn’t know Bruce is her old teammate Batman, so he decides this would be an excellent opportunity to hit on her.
They learn from a crusty old mechanic that one of the other racers, a German who drives a car called the Widow-Maker, has a history of would-be winners of the race mysteriously dying in accidents every year he’s competed. And sure enough, Diana overhears the German racer, Willi, telling his mechanics to sabotage Bruce’s car. Or rather she sees him tell them, because apparently they’re deaf. She doesn’t speak German—which is quite a departure from Golden Age Wonder Woman, who knew all Earth’s languages—but she does understand sign language (though she calls it “finger-talking”), and Ching knows German.
You’d think Diana would know German, considering how much time she spent fighting German spies, but this seems like another case of sacrificing some of her usual capability to make Ching look wise.
Bruce catches the goons trying to sabotage his car and is in the course of kicking their ass when Diana comes in. So now he has to pretend that they’re kicking his ass, so she won’t suspect he’s Batman. But then he decides he’s too macho to be saved by a woman and a blind man, so maybe he’ll have to fight for real after all, but oops, he’s clocked by a wrench and out for the count. Silly Batman.
Bruce isn’t allowed to race with a head injury, so Diana volunteers to race in his place. But macho Bruce isn’t going to allow that, so he pretends to place an international call asking Batman to come race in his place, using the old finger on the hangup button trick.
So Batman shows up, cocky as can be, and hilariously wearing a Batman baseball cap over his cowl. It may be supposed to be a racing helmet, but it doesn’t look much like one. And now Willi has even more reason for wanting his opponent dead, because his father was some Nazi war criminal whose ass Batman kicked. (Or so we’re told; it’s not a callback to an actual Batman story or anything like that.)
Sure enough, Diana again sees Willi and his goons plotting to kill Batman, so she and Ching jump in her rented convertible and race around the exterior of the track while the race is going on to take out any would-be assassins.
Mind you, Batman’s racing with his massive cape just flapping out behind him, which seems like it’s just asking for an Isadora Duncan-style accident. But Willi tries every other trick in the book, from snipers ready to shoot out Bats’s tires to blades that pop out of the Widow-Maker’s hubcaps to made-to-order oil slicks. He’s like Dick Dastardly on Wacky Races.
Finally one of the saboteurs manages to get the drop on Diana and Ching and hold them prisoner while he does his dirty work—but it’s late for that particular trick and Willi isn’t expecting it and is trying to take Batman out some other way, so it’s the Widow-Maker that gets caught in a banner and catches on fire, not the Waynemobile. That’s the last we hear of Willi, so I guess he’s dead, but nobody really gives it a second thought. They’re too preoccupied with all the hubbub about the car that Diana took off in, which actually wasn’t her car at all. So she’s off to the pokey for grand theft auto. Oh, silly woman, can’t you do anything right?