Wonder Woman seemed to have a lot of problems with the Justice League in the 1970s. Not only were the members bizarrely suspicious and confrontational with her, but the writers weren’t particularly welcoming either.
At one point she is allowed to re-join the League on a trial basis only. It gets so bad that the League members actually become the narrators of Wonder Woman’s own solo title, in which they discuss her trial status:
This goes on for 11 issues — nearly a full year of Wonder Woman’s solo title is narrated by JLA members debating whether she’s worthy of the League. No League member has ever been subjected to such scrutiny before or since.
Top: Justice League of America #138 (1976) cover by Ernie Chan (as Ernie Chua).
Bottom: Wonder Woman #212 (1974) cover by Bob Oksner
The worst part is that Diana devised the idea for the trials herself. Then, when she felt they continued to test her, she went apeshit, was overtaken by the Construct, and beat the crap out of Superman. It was satisfying to see as a kid, but not so fun to realize they had to make her an angry feminazi type to make the story work.
Green Arrow, who was an antagonist to both Wonder Woman and Hawkman at the time, and fomented the Diana-goes-apeshit episode, eventually buried the hatchet with Carter, but there was never any resolution with Diana.
It’s interesting that the whole mind-control, identity-crisis thing was a very popular trope with female superheroes in the ’70s. Diana’s trials with the JLA stemmed from the fact that she seemed unsure of her own mind and memories.
The same thing was happening with Ms. Marvel at the time, who was having a Kree-induced identity crisis and was also mind-wiped by MODOK:
I seem to recall Black Widow having similar problems after being brainwashed by the Russians, and then not trusting herself:
Spider-Woman also went through a pretty traumatic period of missing memories, never sure of who she was:
Hell, even Valkyrie, the mythical fucking spirit of vengeance, didn’t know who she was:
Black Canary was having a slightly different issue — she knew who she was, but she was actually afraid to use her superpower because she couldn’t control it properly:
Was this a backlash against increasingly vocal and, in some cases, radical feminist movement? Unconscious bias on the part of male writers, who felt unsure of themselves in writing women? Maybe both? Anyway it was a huge trend in the 1970s that women were not allowed to be strong and also know who they are and be sure of themselves.
Warren Ellis is back to writing comics I didn’t know I needed in my life until after the fact and he’s brought Declan Shalvey, Jordie Bellaire and Chris Eliopoulos along for the ride.
"Smile" is my favourite page of the year so far, both for the grand unified theory of Moon Knight that makes all past interpretations of the character equally canon, and the low key cosmic horror.
Get in on it.