When flipping through DC’s recent Showcase Presents Wonder Woman trade, the reader is often confronted with far, far more questions than they get answers to. Questions like…
Why is Wonder Woman’s marriage to Steve Trevor entirely contingent upon her wrestling a shark?
And perhaps most importantly…
Why are all of these stories about Wonder Woman shrinking?
If you think about it though, the answer should be pretty obvious: Because Bob Kanigher. That’s why.
Once that little bit of logic is applied, everything else makes a lot more sense–relatively speaking–but there are still stories in there that stick out even when you consider that they were written by the guy who brought us the Metal Men and managed to out-crazy even Bob Haney with stories like The Gunner is a Gorilla. Take, for instance, 1958’s “The Fun House of Time” from Wonder Woman #101.
Whenever a Fun House shows up in a super-hero title, it’s not going to be any fun whatsoever. It’s one of the last unbroken rules of comics, and as someone who grew up in South Carolina and attended the County Fair on a number of occasions, I’ve never once gone into one of those things and ended up fighting for my life against a series of deathtraps, each more diabolical than the last.
Clearly, I’ve been missing out.
Wonder Woman, however, suffers from no such problem:
The whole shindig gets kicked off when Wonder Woman and her reasonably useless and vaguely militaristic sidekick Steve Trevor head out to one of the charity carnivals that one can assume were held weekly back in the late ’50s. See, they’ve been invited out to be the first couple to test out the ride by the friendly (yet Cryptkeeperesque) proprietor of the Fun House, Ty M. Master. And yes, they have to say his full name–including the completely unnecessary middle initial–like five times and still have to be told that he’s actually the villainous Time Master.
Anyway, once entering, they find themselves confronted with a room full of doors and, after picking one out and going through it, end up in the time of dinosaurs fighting a giant pterodactyl.
Now, one would assume that this would be the point where all traditional logic would go rocketing out the window, but beleive it or not, Kanigher managest to actually top his own crazy within three panels:
His pistol doesn’t work… because it hasn’t been invented yet. “But Chris!” you may well be saying to yourself at this point, “Clothes hadn’t been invented either, and they’re not walking around naked! Why doesn’t–”
Because Bob Kanigher. That’s why.
Wonder Woman’s able to save them by lassoing a convenient meteor and using it to create a smoke screen, and once they’re teleported back into the room with all the doors, they start to suspect that something fishy’s going on. Time Master pops in to tell them that he plans to destroy them, blah blah blah, and their only chance is to find him hiding behind one of the doors. So they pick one, and end up in the middle of the ocean circa 1492, being sucked into a whirlpool along with Christopher Columbus’s flagship.
The Pinto, hm? Looks like that whole Wisdom of Athena thing’s working out pretty well for you.
Anyway, Wonder Woman sets things right with Columbus & Co., and once she heads up to the future to harness the power of 1.21 gigawatts of electricity…
…she figures out that she can easily defeat the Time Master by vibrating her molecules so that she can go through the doors without actually opening them. This was, for the record, the method by which every single DC comics super-villain was defeated in the ’50s. “Vibrating your molecules” was the “sentient nanotechnology” of its day.
Thus, evil is defeated once again, we’re left with a pretty incomprehensible moral to send us on our way:
Yes, children of the ’50s, evil will always be defeated, because the world is like an eternal amusement park. Strong words, Mr. Kanigher. Strong words.