Wonder Woman – Volume 1 – 203


Wonder Woman – Volume 1 – 203

General Info

Issue No:
203
On Sale Date:
September 1972
Cover Date:
November-December 1972
Era:
Bronze Age
Story Title:
The Grandee Caper!

Creative Team

Cover Artist:
Jeff Jones
Writer:
Samuel R. Delaney
Penciller:
Dick Giordano
Inker:
Dick Giordano
Letterer:
John Costanza
Colourist:
N/A
Editor:
Dennis O'Neil

Characters

Main:
Diana Prince
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
N/A
Olympians:
N/A
Amazons:
N/A
Other:
Mike, Cathy Perkins, Philip Grandee, Jonny Double, Margo, Lorna, Dr. Fisher
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In Dennis O’Neil’s swan song as Editor, we are presented with a special “women’s lib” issue. Whether this was a last minute attempt to placate the feminists who had so derided the de-powered version of Wonder Woman, or whether this was a final act of defiance by O’Neil to show that this version of Diana also had those same feminist ideals is unclear. Either way, the very obvious “anti-men” tone comes through very loud and clear!
O’Neil signs off the issue by announcing that from #204, new Editor Robert Kanigher would be taking over the reigns and doing “a whole other thing”. The abruptness and ramification of this editorial change would only become truly apparent to the reader once they had seen the following issue, because not only did it see the return of the original William Moulton Marston version of the Amazon Princess, with super powers, tiara, golden lasso and star-spangled costume of red, blue and gold, but there would not even be a resolution to this issue’s cliffhanger ending!

The changes made to Diana had split fans right down the middle and as time had worn on, cries to return Wonder Woman to the version envisaged by her creator became more impassioned – and not just from comic book fans. It took Gloria Steinham’s famous first edition of Ms. Magazine, with the original William Moulton Marston version of the Amazon Princess proudly displayed on the cover, to remind the American public just why Wonder Woman had been created as a character in the first place and just what she represented. An article in this new Women’s Lib magazine entitled “Wonder Woman Revisited” denounced the recent changes in the comic as part of an “evil male plot” to water down the mighty Amazon Princess. The campaign to establish the traditional red-white-and-blue image of Wonder Woman as the emblem of feminism continued with the 1972 ‘Ms. Books’ publication of a hardcover book called “Wonder Woman”, containing a collection of reprints from the Amazon’s earlier adventures.

The famous cover of Ms. Magazine.

The public’s positive reaction to this and the Ms. Magazine cover finally helped persuade DC to re-appoint Robert Kanigher as editor of the “Wonder Woman”, who subsequently undid everything that had come before, taking her back to her original roots! In his editorial, Kanigher described his comeback as “a sentimental return of the Amazing Amazon to the unique origins that made her so celebrated for decades”.

And she has not looked back since…

Synopsis

Diana Prince is walking down the street minding her own business when she starts to get the unwelcome attentions of a group of men. They taunt her about how good looking she is and how aloof she seems. She tries to ignore them but they persist and she realises that if she simply smiles and says nothing they will continue to follow her and come on stronger, but if she ignores them and walks on she will rile them up even more!

She decides to confront them cordially and turns round to face them. She asks them to lay off and acknowledging that there are six of them and only one of her, that still does not allow them to treat her like “a side of beef”! They cannot believe they will get anywhere coming on to her like that anymore than she does! As one of them meekly replies “We were just having some fun” Diana tells them that it is no fun for her and having said her piece, she turns to leave.

As the other men sheepishly prepare to leave too, one of them defiantly says that he will show this “uppity dame a thing or two!”. Before he can make a move though a blond girl races out from the alleyway and barges into him! The other men turn on her, assuming she is after a fight and seeing that the situation is getting out of hand, Diana is forced to intervene with her fists! The blond girl is knocked down by one the men before the Amazon Princess sends them sprawling. Realising they are out of their depth the men run away leaving Diana to help the girl to her feet.

She suddenly realises that the girl is none other than her friend, Cathy Perkins! Surprised, she asks what the girl thought she was doing and Cathy replies that she has never done anything like this before. She had been coming from her Women’s Lib Group meeting when she had seen the “muggers” threatening to rob Diana. Although she has only been taking karate lessons for three months, Cathy had figured she would try to stop them. Diana responds that the men were not muggers at all but simply street punks. She also reminds Cathy that it takes more than three months of karate to master the art! The next time she may get hurt if she tries something like that again!

Just then Cathy spots one of the men’s wallets lying on the floor after the scuffle and picking it up, removes a note. She smugly shows it to Diana who sees that it is on “Grandee’s Department Store” headed paper and is addressed to a man called Mike. It reads “Your first job. Get W.W. for me! Signed Philip Grandee”.

Cathy tells Diana that these “punks” refer to her as “Wonder Woman” and had been waiting to jump her. The Amazon Princess is unconvinced and replies that the “W.W.” referred to in the letter could mean a lot of things. Perhaps they were sent to bring back a “Windshield Wiper” she suggests sarcastically!!! However, she agrees that it does seem an odd coincidence.

As the two women continue down the street passing an advertising billboard that announces the grand opening of Grandee’s Department Store, Cathy asks where Diana had been heading to. The Amazon replies that she had been trying to figure out where she was going to stay now that she has sold her Boutique and the apartment above it. The young girl offers to put her up until Diana can find her own place, adding that apartments are always becoming available in her own building.

Ten minutes later they are at Cathy’s apartment and the young girl offers Diana her bedroom but the Amazon says the couch will do fine. Suddenly they hear a row from the married couple who live up above. As the husband complains how the place is a pig sty, the wife responds that she had told him before they had got married that house work was not her strong point! Listening to them, Diana muses that the wife could do with the help of Cathy’s Women’s Group. Cathy replies that they had tried to get her to join but the husband “doesn’t buy this women’s lib stuff” and the wife does not want to upset him!

The next morning as Cathy prepares to go to her job at the Social Service Centre and leaves Diana the keys, they hear a knock at the door. Diana opens it and is surprised to see one of the men from the gang standing there! He introduces himself as Mike and says that he had been told this was where Wonder Woman, or Diana Prince as she now refers to herself, could be found. She tells him that she is Diana and he apologises for his actions the previous day. He had not realised who she was last night and she is someone who he has always really respected. She asks him what he wants and he says that he knows she has quite a reputation in the neighbourhood. People notice her – including Mr. Philip Grandee.

The store owner had asked Mike to fetch her in order to offer her a job. As Cathy rushes off to work she suggests to the incredulous Amazon Princess that this might be the answer to all her money problems.

Still dubious, Diana accompanies Mike to the new store and as they pass queues of women waiting to be interviewed he explains that the new store is still taking on sales staff for the grand opening next week. However, Mr. Grandee wants to see Diana about her job personally! Mike enters Grandee’s office and tells his boss that he has found the “Wonder Woman”. Grandee welcomes her and says it is a pleasure to meet such a respected woman. She is a woman with so much to offer them and they too have so much to offer her. She clarifies that her name is Diana Prince now and asks what the job entails? The store owner replies that he has a scheme that will make her fortune and add a bit to his own!

He then leads her to an easel which is covered. He explains that Wonder Woman is going to endorse Grandee’s Department Store, “where the modern woman comes to buy her clothes”. With that he reveals the poster hidden under the sheet which depicts a drawing of Diana modeling an outfit with the strap line”Wonder Woman knows where it’s at!”. He explains that she will wear the store’s clothes, go to the best places and even appear on Johnny Carson! When people ask her how she became the fabulous “Wonder Woman” she will casually mention Grandee!

He then asks Diana where she currently lives and she replies in a tenement on the lower East Side. He tells her that they will provide her a luxury penthouse apartment on Sutton Place at no expense to her, together with a salary of one thousand a week! Diana cannot believe her ears as Grandee continues that she is already well known and now Grandee will help her live up to the image she has created as the “ideal of every woman”.

Suddenly, several of the guard dogs Grandee had hired to watch over the merchandise charge into the office with fangs bared! As they leap at the terrified Grandee, Diana grabs one of them by the leg and hurls the animal into the other dogs. She then grabs their leashes and orders them to “Get Down!”. With the dogs now under control, Grandee and Mike emerge from their hiding places and once the dogs are safely in their pens again, the impressed store owner asks Diana if she has made up her mind regarding his job offer.

Having had time to think about it she agrees and he asks her to wait downstairs while he discusses a few things with Mike, “Man to Man”. As she leaves she wonders to herself if this Grandee guy is for real – but if he is prepared to pay her that kind of money just to wear his clothes then why not work for him? Once she has left the office however Mike chortles that his boss has hooked the “Prize Fish”. A smiling Grandee says that he had told Mike his plan would work and that the naive Amazon Princess obviously has no idea how much her publicity value as “Wonder Woman” is truly worth – certainly far more than one thousand a week that’s for sure! Women never have any business sense, he tells Mike. Mike asks if the “liberated woman” stuff Grandee had spouted to Diana was all for show and the store owner smirks that he will do anything if it puts money in his pockets!

Later that evening Diana stops by the office of her friend Jonny Double and tells him how she thinks the job sounds too good to be true. He replies that he has always figured she underestimated herself. They then go back to Cathy’s apartment and find the young girl waiting excitedly after returning from her Women’s Lib Group meeting. She tells them that they will never guess what she has learned about Philip Grandee. Diana replies that Cathy in turn will never guess the job she has been offered. Unperturbed, Cathy continues that the female staff at the Grandee Department Store are apparently earning a quarter an hour below the legal minimum wage! On hearing this, Jonny says that it is illegal to pay men and women different wages for the same job. Cathy explains that at Grandee’s store there are no men!

Diana then says that only businesses that do not involve interstate commerce can pay less than the minimum wage, so how on earth could Grandee run his store without goods from out of the state? Cathy responds that Grandee’s whole operation is shady. He is only selling cheap, locally made clothing from the down town sweatshops but Cathy and the other members of the Women’s Lib Group have outfoxed him! She goes on to explain that Margo, one of their group, owns a kennel where Grandee rents his dogs. Last night she had left a cage open! An angry Diana tells Cathy how she had nearly been trounced by the escaping dogs and that she happens to like what Grandee is offering her.

Cathy responds that Jill, another member of the group and one of Grandee’s secretaries, had told them about how the store owner planned to use Diana. The Amazon Princess snaps back that Cathy is being ridiculous. Grandee may be a little coarse but he is all for liberated women. Cathy suggests Diana comes along to the Group meeting to hear for herself. Diana replies that while she is all for equal wages she is no joiner and she would not “fit in” with the young girl’s group, especially as in most cases she does not even like women! An incredulous Cathy reminds Diana that she is a woman too and what she is saying is that she does not like herself.

As things get frosty Diana asks if Jonny can talk some sense into Cathy. He replies that he agrees with Cathy and feels it is time he left. As she watches him walk out Diana muses to herself that it is typical of a man to leave in an emotional situation! She then confronts Cathy, saying that after just three months of karate training and having pulled some pranks, the girl is behaving as if she is angry with the Amazon. Cathy replies that it is no act. She has been told to be a whole person but never fight, build or envision – only respond! Perhaps she is incompetent and unsure but at least she is conscious of it and enraged at anyone who says she must stay that way! She reminds Diana that the Amazon is a Wonder Woman – skilled enough to overcome some of these problems that other women face or lucky enough to avoid others. But at least Diana knows what all of them are. She then dares Diana to walk away from her anger.

Diana says “Okay…I will” and turns towards the door. She walks over to it and opens it before pausing, then slowly turning back to face Cathy she rushes back to the young girl with her arms open saying “No, I…Cathy, everything you said is true!” As they hug each other tightly she adds “I’m not that big a coward.”

The emotional moment is interrupted however by another argument from the couple upstairs. As the husband complains about his wife’s overspending, Diana says that Grandee does not help women like that – he preys on them. Cathy realises that Diana has at last figured it out.

A day or so later an angry Philip Grandee finds a complaint letter form the Women’s Lib Group. Seeing that the letter is addressed from Mike’s neighbourhood, he asks what these “hysterical women” are protesting about. Mike replies that he has seen posters about the Women’s Lib Group and asks whether his boss has taken a look outside his window yet? When Grandee looks down onto the street below he sees the women holding placards congregated outside the store. Grandee orders Mike to stop them and is told that the group is the laughing stock of the guys in his neighbourhood. He will ask a few of his friends to put the frighteners on the Group!

Later that evening Cathy takes Diana to the meeting where her Women’s Lib Group is about to report on their latest activities. The Amazon Princess is introduced to Margo, the kennel owner, and then to another woman named Lorna, who is Cathy’s karate instructor. Finally Diana is led over to Dr. Fisher who has been doing a study on women’s problems. Dr. Fisher greets Diana and explains that her study had begun as a psychological one but has evolved into an economic and political one it seems.

As the women take their seats and the meeting is called to order though, a group of men with dogs suddenly burst in led by Mike. As they start to tear down posters and upturn tables and chairs one of the women tries to intervene but is cruelly slapped down! Instantly Diana bursts into life and floors Mike and taking her lead, some of the other women including Lorna use their martial art skills to take down the other men. During the commotion Margo recognises that the dogs are the ones from the store and orders them to turn on their handlers. Diana realises that this must all be the work of Grandee and chastises herself for ever having considered working for him!

Meanwhile the men decide that if they can take down the Amazon Princess they will have evened up the odds considerably. As they charge she uses her skills to easily take them down but suddenly she sees that a couple of the others have captured Cathy. They order Diana and the other women to back off while they take the young girl as a hostage.

A few moments after they have made good their escape Margo has an idea and says that they can track the men with the dogs. Diana says she has a pretty good idea where they are heading and with that Diana, Margo and Lorna race off down the streets following the dogs. They soon arrive outside Grandee’s Department Store which is in darkness and try to find a side entrance. A minute or so later they find a door left open and creep inside a store room. As she looks up at the ceiling Diana muses to herself that something is missing and believes she has finally found a way to nail Grandee.

Margo then indicates that the dogs have picked up a scent and they head down a corridor towards a room at the end. Inside a smug Mike stands over a bound and unconscious Cathy as he tells his boss how the Women’s Lib Group will not be bothering them anymore. Suddenly Diana and the others burst in and a fight breaks out. The women’s karate skills prove more than a match for the surprised men and Grandee tries to make a run for it. But Diana catches him and grabbing him by the collar, tells him that he has no legal sprinkler system in his store rooms; nor does he have sufficient fire exits either.

As Mike and the other men sheepishly say they were “just having some fun with you girls….weren’t we?”. the police arrive and lead them away. Cathy shakes her head in disbelief as she says that even after breaking and entering, destruction of property, bodily harm and even kidnapping, the men still did not think they had actually done anything wrong! Diana replies that this is how a lot of men feel about women, but that they are learning.

The next night a victorious announcement is made at the Women’s Lib Meeting. Diana and the others are told that Grandee’s Department Store has been closed by the authorities and that the mayor is setting up a committee to review the wage situation of working women. Suddenly though the door bursts open and another group of women enter, armed with clubs. They point at the surprised Women’s Lib members and snarl that they are accused of putting 250 women who worked at Grandee’s store out of a job!

Diana wonders what the Group can say in response and whether they will even have time to, because the intruders look like they mean business…