Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Night Fights: Hands Of Stone - Round 9: Down With The Patriarchy Edition!

So you may have heard the most recent Wonder Woman news this week. If you've been paying attention to the comics blogosphere, you'll know that a lot of comics fans are...quite distressed by this latest bombshell, including yours truly.

So for tonight's round of Friday Night Fights: Hands Of Stone, I thought I'd provide something to lift everyone's spirits a bit.

I picked up the Wonder Woman: 12 Labors trade this week. Long story short, Wondy went through a period where she lost her powers, ditched the WW suit, resigned from the JLA, and went all Diana Rigg. The editors decided years later to bring back her powers and costume. Some continuity confusion ensued and new editor Julius Schwartz and writer Len Wein created the 12 Labors arc. The premise was that Diana's mod period was totally blocked from her memory. When she explained this to Superman and the other Justice Leaguers, they welcomed her back with open arms, but she didn't trust her mental state enough to rejoin immediately, so she insisted on 12 trials ala Hercules' 12 labors, where a different Leaguer would observe her on a mission or case and determine her fitness.

These 12 missions were, to put it mildly, extremely cracktastic. She faced the Cavalier, a swashbuckling old Batman foe with Mandrill-like powers; stopped Mars, the God Of War (they conflated Greek and Roman gods a lot in the 70's), fought a size-changing Statue of Liberty; fought old foes Dr. Cyber, Felix Faust, and the Duke Of Deception; revealed (to us) the secret of why men are forbidden on Paradise Island (hoo-boy, it was a doozy!); and thwarted Chronos when he essentially turned everyone in Manhattan into Hunter from Morning Glories. Also, one story featured a powerless Hal Jordan running around in a Ren Fair costume.

And then there's tonight's tale from Wonder Woman#219, "The Planet Of Enslaved Women!", by Martin Pasko, Curt Swan, and Vince Colletta. The premise: The world's leading feminists are literally disappearing into thin air. Wonder Woman, in her pre-Crisis civilian identity of Diana Prince,  is assigned to investigate.

She observes a tennis match between Billie Jean King Betty Jo Kane and Bobby Riggs Willy Wrigley.

Billie Jean Betty Joe goes to hit the ball and...

Ok, now here's where I have to give you a warning: This story took place back in 1975. The feminist movement was in its infancy. Unfortunately, comics' UNDERSTANDING of the feminist movement....

.....was still in its FIRST TRIMESTER.

(A little expectant dad humor!)

Anyway, Diana investigates Billie Jean's Betty Jo's locker room and finds...

Wait, feminists never get their hair done????

Ahh, it's the Bronze Age, just roll with it. Anyway, Diana goes to the Consciousness III salon and finds..

In the process of interrogating the sneaky stylist, Di gets some shampoo splashed on her and...

.....ends up on the other-dimensional world of Xro. When she learns that all the kidnapped Earth women are imprisoned, her reaction is...not what you'd expect.

The dude in the funny hat is Xro's ruler Mchsm. (Once again, just roll with it.) He explains about the history of Xro.....

So "Stnm" and "Frdn" (once know the drill) take a dimensional portal to Earth, where they learn the secrets of Earth's feminist movement. However, there's one little side effect, which they learn about the hard way after a falling piece of building hits Stnm.

 Mood reversals. Yes, this comic actually went there!

Anyway, Frdn returns to her home dimension and spreads Earth's feminist "mystique" to Xro's women, leading to revolts against their oppressors. Mchsm and his patriarchal pals learn that traveling to Xro has the same...uh...mood-reversing effect on Earth women as vice-versa. (The men of both worlds are unaffected because, as Ralph, who'd also gotten splashed and teleported, explains: "Nature is sexist.") So Earth's feminists become anti-feminists whom Mchsm sends out to persuade the Xro women not to revolt.

But now, with Wonder Woman in their hands, Mchsm finds a more effective means to persuade the Xro women: The magic lasso. (Yes, this is the pre-Crisis lasso, which compels complete obedience, as opposed to the post-Crisis lasso, which just makes you tell the truth.)

However, he still has to get the lasso. And with that, let's end the exposition and get on with our feminist fracas.

Wonder Woman uses her wonder-willpower to resist the...uh...wild mood swing...through concentration. While she's doing this, Mchsm's men flank Wondy and...

How'd she do that? Well, right before the male Xronian commanded her, Diana had stopped resisting the...mood-reversal effect, and when he commanded her to submit, it registered in her mind as "resist", and ...Voila!

And now for Mchsm.


And that's the story of how Mchsm becomes Xro's first MRA.

Tonight's empowering fight music comes from the late, lamented "Big Man" himself, Clarence Clemons.

For more patriarchy-smashing punch-em-ups, click here. And don't forget to vote!

(Special thanks to former FNFer J.K. Carrier, from whom I got the scans I needed, as some current home remodeling has left my scanner temporarily out of commission.)


At 7:32 AM , Blogger SallyP said...

Firstly, congratulations!

Secondly...oh my God. That's just bizarre. But it still beats being Superman's sexy sidekick!

At 6:56 PM , Anonymous Sam said...

Nice review! :)

Feminist movement actually started in the late 18th century with the first suffrage movement... which actually makes the comments about the DC authors chauvanism even funnier... unless they were deliberately trying to be ironic, which, given Mchsm's hat, wouldn't surprise me. ;P

This other planet also seems to be the world of "names without vowels", so MCHSM would obviously be "Machismo" ... I can't for the life of me figure out what FRDN and STNM are supposed to be, but I assume they're the same... probably words having to do with something that's considered stereotypically female.

But the big plot hole in this story seems to be that the Xro women return to Xro at all... they come to Earth because they really want to learn about earth feminism and bring it back to Xro... but if their emotions were reversed upon reaching earth, then they would have suddenly wanted nothing more than to stay on Earth and become dutiful housewives here. And the people on Xro would just wonder what happened to them. But then that wouldn't have been as funny, so... ;P

At 6:30 PM , Blogger notintheface said...

Valid point about sufferage, Sam.

Mchsm is indeed "machismo". I've no clue what "Xro" means. Marty Pasko and I actually follow each other on Twitter, so maybe I can ask him.

Who are Stnm & Frdn? Look back to the part where they're introduced and look at this sentence: 'So "Stnm" and "Frdn" (once know the drill)'
Their names have hyperlinks to wikipedia entries for the real women they're based on, feminist authors Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, respectively. "Frdn's" link is the Wiki entry for "The Feminine Mystique", a book by Ms. Friedan and also the inspiration for my 'Earth's feminist "mystique"' joke.

That tennis match actually happened in real life, except the lady tennis player DIDN'T get teleported to another planet.

At 7:56 PM , Blogger notintheface said...

Also, the "mood reversal" DID have some inconsistencies. At the start of the story Diana corrals an (unknown to her) Xronian woman with her magic lasso and instructs her to return to her home, which the Xro woman immediately does. Under the same plot logic as Diana's lasso escape, the Xro woman would've told her "Piss off, I'm staying right here."

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