I know that it often takes a few issues for the most iconic superheroes to become the characters we know and love today. In his early appearances, Batman didn’t have his no killing rule, nor did he have any qualms with using guns. In fact, he let the chopper spray on occasion. Superman didn’t so much fly and he did leap in his debut. Back then, get this – Captain America wasn’t a Nazi.
Too soon? Yeah, probably always going to be too soon. Very sorry.
I knew Wonder Woman would be a slightly different character in Sensation Comics #1, her starring title following her debut in All Star Comics #8, than the star-spangled hero of today’s comics. Nothing could’ve prepared me for what was waiting for me in this issue, though. This Wonder Woman is special… because she’s gloriously insane.
Yes, the Wonder Woman of Sensation Comics #1 is a sassy, deranged hero who blazes through an unfamiliar adventure in a way that wouldn’t be out of place in today’s Harley Quinn comics. A simple plot recap of the 13-page issue will show you what I mean. Wonder Woman, having found Steve Trevor crash landed on her home of Paradise Island, brings him to an American hospital. brings Steve Trevor to a hospital, she leaves the doctor with no information besides Steve’s roughed up body before trolling him as she runs away, she stops a robbery in the streets, races a car, takes a job showing off her bullet deflection skills on stage in front of a live audience, quits abruptly and then hangs her boss on a telephone pole, easily convinces a random army nurse to sell her identity because of reasons, nurses Steve back to health as she poses as this woman, joins Steve on his next mission, infiltrates an army base, and then goes back to posing as the nurse again after Steve is injured once more.
Written by William Moulton Marston (who enjoyed a joyously eccentric and storied life himself) and drawn by Harry G. Peter, Sensation Comics paints a picture of a confident fish out of water who really likes messing with people. A lot of it comes down to plot convenience, but really the majority of it is Wonder Woman using her incredible powers to do… well, pretty much whatever she wants. She answers to no one – literally. Every time someone besides Steve asks her a question, she hits them with a sick burn and runs away at 80 miles per hour. It’s not the exact type of badassery I expected when looked back at the first Wonder Woman story, but I love it.
Jokes aside – though I do genuinely think the subversive, light, and “haha humans are funny to screw with” tone of this issue is fantastic – Sensation Comics introduced one of the most iconic and important characters not only in comics, but in any form of storytelling. It’s fun to look back and smile over how different Wonder Woman is these days, but when I really think about it, what amazes me isn’t this specific issue… or any issue, really. It’s the legacy of Wonder Woman, which means more than any one story can hold. But even so, it all started here, with Sensation Comics #1. It’s difficult to get anything made in comics and it’s even more difficult to create something that lasts, so now, as we’re finally about to get a Wonder Woman movie, perhaps THE single most overdue film of our lifetimes, all I can do when looking back is marvel at Wonder Woman’s legacy and wonder what might come next for this hero of heroes.