Jerry Lewis, Warrior Princess


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

A little while ago, when I was writing about the nonsuperpowered “mod” era of Wonder Woman in the late 1960s, I included various team-ups and guest appearances she made in other series, as collected in the four Diana Prince: Wonder Woman trade paperbacks. But they and I omitted to mention perhaps the most notable team-up that Diana made during that period, a clash of the titans such as we’ve never seen before, in which Wonder Woman meets…Jerry Lewis?!


The Adventures of Jerry Lewis #117, DC Comics, March-April 1970.

Now, I’ll just say this right off the bat. I don’t give a damn about Jerry Lewis. When I was binging on Jekyll/Hyde movies a few years ago, I tried to watch the original The Nutty Professor, but I didn’t find it the least bit funny, just annoying. But I do have an soft spot in my head for some of DC’s wacky humor comics of the 1960s, like The Inferior Five, Plastic Man and Angel & the Ape, so when I found out that Wonder Woman had guest-starred in The Adventures of Jerry Lewis, I just had to check it out.

Note that this was issue 117 of DC’s Jerry Lewis comic. Not only did DC at one time publish a Jerry Lewis comic, but it did so on an ongoing basis for nearly 20 years, from 1952 all the way to 1971 (until 1957 the title was Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis). What’s more, it wasn’t even the only ongoing comic DC was publishing starring a real-life comedian: The Adventures of Bob Hope ran from 1950 to 1968. The mind boggles. They were both bimonthly series, and at least DC staggered them so that only one was published each month.

There are no credits in the book, but some guy on the internet said it was written by Alan Riefe and drawn by Bob Oskner, and that’s definitely Oskner’s art. Nobody drew pretty women and goofy guys quite like Oskner.

So Jerry goes to some theater where Wonder Woman’s appearing to try to get her autograph. It doesn’t matter that at this point she wasn’t even calling herself Wonder Woman and wasn’t doing any kind of public performances; something tells me this series isn’t particularly concerned with continuity. In this story Wonder Woman’s main role is as the Amazon princess, a shtick her own comic was avoiding at the time. You get the impression that the Jerry Lewis comic folks just wanted Wonder Woman as a guest star, as they’d done with Superman, Batman and the Flash in the past, and didn’t much care if she was still wearing her costume or what.

Jerry has some crabby, wisecracking nephew with him who I’m sure is an ongoing character, but never having read the series before I couldn’t tell you. About halfway through the issue it’s mentioned that the kid’s name is Renfew, and sure enough he’s Jerry’s usual sidekick. His function seems to be to comment on what a freaking idiot Uncle Jerry is at every opportunity, and of course Jerry gives him ample opportunity on every page.

To wit: Jerry tries to save Wonder Woman the trouble of walking through a puddle by lying down in it himself and letting her walk on him. (Maybe “letting” isn’t the right word—he’s probably into that sort of thing.) But she slips and falls anyway and hurts her leg. She declares that she can’t let just any doctor examine it, because criminals would learn about her injury and take advantage of it, so she has to go back to Paradise Island and see Dr. Bratwurst. I’m sorry, Doctor who? No, not Doctor Who, Dr. Bratwurst! I think this comic is getting to me already.

In fairness, I’d probably react the same way.

In fairness, I’d probably react the same way.

Suddenly some kind of dimensional wormhole opens up to bring Wondy back to Paradise Island, but Jerry and the brat are whisked away with her! Who knows what kind of hijinks might ensue?

So remember that thing about how no man must ever set foot on Paradise Island or else all the Amazons will die or lose their powers or fall in love with him or something? Well, forget all that. Jerry and this nephew and Dr. Bratwurst are all running around the island and nobody seems to care. So who the hell is this Dr. Bratwurst anyway? Just some old quack who washed up on the island years ago and set up his practice there. Funny that Queen Hippolyta has never mentioned him before; she must have forgot. And see, it’s funny because his name is Bratwurst. Also because he forgot to wear pants.

So everybody knows he’s a dangerous lunatic and they let him play doctor anyway? Oh, those dizzy dames!

So everybody knows he’s a dangerous lunatic and lets him play doctor anyway? Oh, those dizzy dames!

Speaking of Hippolyta, a couple of Amazons come rushing in to say the queen has been kidnapped by the evil Zodor, who wants their magic pearls or something. But Diana can’t rescue her mother because of her pesky knee injury. But wait! Jerry accidentally drank wayyyy too much painkiller, because he’s an idiot, and now he’s completely impervious to pain! So clearly he has to be the Amazons’ new leader, because there’s nothing an island of warrior women needs like a man to lead them! It’s not like their whole culture is based on a vow never to let men dominate them again or anything. Oh wait.

The fat Amazon is called Brawnhilde, by the way. Because of course she is.

The fat Amazon is called Brawnhilde, by the way. Because of course she is.

And sure enough, more wacky hijinks ensue, as cowardly Jerry runs away from Zodor’s immense champion, the Mighty Bulque…

Oh, that Jerry.

Oh, that Jerry.

…and finally has to dress up as Wonder Woman because the Amazons won’t follow a man. We even get a glimpse of Amazons begging off because they have to do their hair or catch up on their ironing, or wait for their nail polish to dry. One even frets that she has a roast in the oven. Ah, sexism.

Renfew is having so many feelings about this.

Renfew is having so many feelings about this.

Oh, and Dr. Bratwurst screws up the pain immunity potion when Jerry needs another dose, so now he starts burping fire. Between his wacky firebreathing, Renfew’s li’l slingshot, and that army of Amazons, they manage to save the day and rescue the queen, with lots of little jokes about how silly women are along the way. But I suppose the men are way sillier, so at least there’s that. It’s not particularly true to anything about the Wonder Woman mythos, but it’s much more silly than it is actually funny, so I can only guess it’s pretty true to the Jerry Lewis oeuvre.

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  1. 2 / 20 / 2015 3:07 pm

    Hi Sam Hurwitt! It’s a shame this Jerry Lewis comic #117 has never been reprinted, because it’s just as good a story as “The Widow Maker” team up with Batman in Brave & Bold. Even though the Amazon mythology is compromised and the character of Brawnhilde is just wrong, Diana Prince is written in character and Jerry’s cross-dressing, cowardly antics are perfectly in keeping with his comedic persona. The story is self-contained in its absurdity, with a dream-like logic. The art is energetically big-footed fun from start to finish. Compared to the Avengers appearing on David Letterman, this comic is first rate!





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