Witches and Hippies and Slaves, Oh My!


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

Man, she’s way too proud of whatever the hell she’s doing to Lois.

Diana Prince: Wonder Woman vol. 2, DC Comics, 2008.

Wonder Woman has fought gods and monsters, mole men and milk barons, but isn’t it high time she fought the real enemy? Yes, I’m talking about hippies. It’s time to go back to the swingin’ mod era of Wonder Woman, when Diana had given up her powers and learned karate from a philosophy-spouting blind Chinese guy named I Ching.

No, she’s not fighting giant ants, but it would be cooler if she were.

Wonder Woman #185, DC Comics, December 1969.

Hey, remember when it was barely mentioned that Diana now had her own mod clothing boutique? Well, apparently she barely remembered it herself, what with all the interdimensional travel to team up with heroes of legend. In fact, she’s kicking herself for neglecting her retail duties when she opens her shop door for the first time in a while to find a scared young woman hiding there—hiding, she says, from “Them!”

I love that “Them!” is always printed in big red letters.

Who are Them!? Them! are awesome, that’s who they are. They’re a dandyish trio of hippies who make this girl and others wear dog collars as their slaves. The most flamboyantly dressed of them is their leader, a woman in a pink cape and top hat who calls herself, well, Top Hat.

But oh man, are they groovy!

She’s accompanied by a hulking androgynous brute named Moose Momma and a leering skinny woman in a cowboy hat. They look like a psychedelic female version of Spider-Man’s old foes, the Enforcers, only less formidable, with no apparent fighting skills.

I’m not wrong.

Diana objects to the whole slave-collar thing on principle, which is a big change from her stance on the matter back in the 1940s, when all she cared about was whether you had a good master or a bad one. She kicks their ass pretty easily, because after all they’re just a bunch of hippies, but they vow revenge.

Diana gives young Cathy a bath to help her stop being such a dirty hippie (and to give writer-artist Mike Sekowsky a chance to draw pretty women bathing each other. Cathy tells her sad, sad tale of these three chicks who let her crash at their pad, only to steal from her to make her dependent on them and proceed to make her their slave.

It’s the oldest trick in the book.

The revenge of Them! turns out to be just making nuisances of themselves. They get a friend to bump into Diana while she’s carrying groceries! They get other dirty hippies to visit her shop and ruin the clothes she’s selling!  Those fiends! But some dude shows up and gives them a stern, disapproving look and they back off. Who is this guy? What’s his secret?

They just can’t handle his manliness.

Finally Them! get serious and sets Diana’s shop on fire. The mystery guy, Tony Petrucci, lets Diana and Cathy stay at his mother’s place, in his sister Angela’s room. When they ask about Angela, Mrs. Petrucci gets really squirrelly about it, saying she’s away. More mystery!

Not wanting to cause Diana more trouble, Cathy goes back to Them!, willingly enslaving herself again. But Them! aren’t satisfied with that, wanting to make Diana their slave too. They have Diana badly outnumbered with a small army of burly beatniks, but Tony’s brought some of his own neighborhood goons to intimidate them into standing down. Whatever works, I guess.

There’s no problem that can’t be solved with goons.

Having successfully intimidated and publicly humiliated Them!, Diana reunites Cathy with her parents, whom she called on the sly without consulting the girl, and then hires her to work in her shop. But wasn’t that burned down? Well, in the scuffle with Them! some stolen goods tumbled out of Top Hat’s top hat, and the reward for them will pay for Diana to rebuild her shop. So it’s a happy ending all around, although we still don’t know who the hell this guy is whom Diana and Cathy are staying with or why the neighborhood toughs are so scared of him. And what about Angela? I kept thinking that it would be revealed that Top Hat was Tony’s strayed little sister, but I guess not. It’s not clear yet whether this is foreshadowing or just loose ends. I guess we’ll see.

But is she a good witch or a bad witch?

Wonder Woman #186, DC Comics, February 1970.

I Ching shows up out of the blue, freshly returned from his vacation with the Amazons on Paradise Island. So now the Petruccis let him stay with them as well—it’s getting to be a pretty freaking full house!

You’d think Cathy wouldn’t be making slave jokes so soon after actually being one.

No sooner has Diana rebuilt her boutique than Cathy has some friends come over who need help. You’d think that if she had any friends they might have helped her when she was enslaved by a band of hippies, but never mind that for the moment. Anyway, Abbie and Millie have a problem. Well, what they have is a frog, and they seem to think it’s the boyfriend of one of them. It’s had to tell which one because we don’t yet know which of the young women is which, but I think it’s Abbie.

He was… my BOYFRIEND!

This is all pretty hard to swallow, at least until the frog jumps up and starts telling the story himself. College student Henry thought he’d entertain the ladies by trying out a ritual from an old book he found in a used bookstore—just for kicks, you understand, not because he actually believed in it—and accidentally conjured up an ancient witch who turned him into a frog.

I don’t know how many times a frog has said that to me.

The witch is Morgana—yeah, as in Morgan le Fay, but this isn’t her; it’s actually her daughter, or so I Ching says. Of course he’s been terribly wrong about this sort of thing before, as when he thought Doctor Cyber was a male cyborg, but let’s just go with it.

Man, he sure knows a lot about the psychological profile of someone who lived 1500 years ago.

Now Morgana’s on the loose in the modern world and they have to go and find her. Worse still, they have to do it in a bizarre car that Henry built with what looks like two bathtubs for seats, with lawn umbrellas over them.

Fortunately, she’s not too hard to find.

Aided by her shapeshifting cat Frimost, Morgana’s wreaking havoc all over the city, making men joust in cars, making a barber’s scissors chase him, and bringing stuffed animals to life. Fortunately, although he’s never mentioned it before, Ching knows sorcery and convinces her to get lost with a few invocations. Well, OK then!

Well, that’s convenient.

Oh, and Henry? Well, it turns out the usual way of restoring people who have been transformed into frogs still works just fine.

I have to say, Diana’s not doing a lot of saving the day these days. Tony and his buddies were really the ones who stopped Them!, and I Ching stopped Morgana. The best Diana’s been able to do is get some kicks in before they’re taken away. Being human doesn’t seem to have done wonders for her agency.

Next up: Wonder Woman kicks Lois Lane’s ass and steals her man.

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