50 Years Ago, Wonder Woman Had Her Infamous “Women’s Lib” Number



Today, we go back 50 years to see when Wonder Woman had her infamous “Women’s Lib” issue, where we learned that, in most cases, Diana “don’t even like women.”

This is “Look Back”, where every four weeks of a month I will highlight a single issue of a comic that has appeared in the past and talk about this issue (often on a larger scale, like the series as a whole, etc.). Each spotlight will be a look at a comic from a different year that was released in the same month X years ago. The first spotlight of the month takes a look at a book released this month ten years ago. The second spotlight is on a book released this month 25 years ago. The third spotlight looks at a book that came out this month 50 years ago. The fourth spotlight looks at a book released this month 75 years ago. The occasional fifth week (we’re looking at weeks in a broad sense, so if a month has five Sundays or five Saturdays, that counts as having a fifth week) look at books from 20/30/40/60/70/ 80 years old.

This turn, we are heading towards September 1972 for wonder woman #203 (by Samuel R. Delany and Dick Giordano, in conjunction with editor Denny O’Neil), for Wonder Woman’s infamous “Women’s Lib” issue.

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Even in 1972 Samuel R. “Chip” Delany was a successful science fiction writer, so it was unusual to see him do two issues of Wonder Woman, but Denny O’Neil had taken over the editing duties of the series and Delany was friends with O’Neil, the author explains to Gary Groth in a 1979 interview published in 1980 in The comic book newspaper what was his thought process at the time:

Gary Groth: I read that you scripted Wonder Woman. I was not aware of this. How did it happen?

Samuel R. Delany: For two questions, I think. This was when National was at the end of its “relevant” phase. They had tried to make the track relevant with a number of standard titles: Green Lantern (with Green Arrow) was, of course, the big hit. But now they were trying the same thing with Wonder Woman. Only it wasn’t working. It was mainly because the people who wrote it just didn’t make much sense for the women’s movement. Unless you had a female writer for the show who did it (don’t ask me why they didn’t put energy in that direction!), no one could come up with anything. So at one point I said to Denny [Dennis O’Neil]: “I think I have more than one sense of this thing. Why don’t you let me do a few?” So I did. A couple.

Gary Groth: Was it while Denny was riding it?

Samuel R. Delany: Yes. Of these two issues, there have actually been some very good returns. But then there was a big change. National decided to put Wonder Woman back in their American false flags and bring back the balls and bracelets. For the previous ten years, she basically wore a gi and was a super expert in karate. It was much more realistic and much more conducive to stories with some social bite. But there was that rush of nostalgia to bring it back to its 1950s incarnation. DC used a casual comment that Gloria Steinem dropped while shown in the national offices to dismiss all of Wonder Woman’s concerns about real social issues for women. Instead of a credible woman, working with other women, fighting corrupt department store tycoons and campaigning for food co-ops against supermarket monopolies – as she did in my scripts – she got all her superpowers… and set off to battle the Green Meanies from Mars who were threatening the very survival of Earth. … I was not interested. So I withdrew.

Delany was far from sure how long Diana had been without her superpowers (it had only been four years at this point), but otherwise he captured it pretty well, including the fact that Wonder Woman returned to the ” normal” in the next issue. from the Serie.

This last issue was specifically titled a special “Women’s Lib” issue and…well…it didn’t go over well…

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The issue opens with guys calling Diana, and she scolds them. One of them, however, decides to attack her when suddenly, out of nowhere, another young woman shows up to help Diana fight off the guys…

Diana and the other women kick ass, but then we get the first idea that Diana doesn’t necessarily have the most accurate opinions on things when she berates the girl for thinking the guys were threats. He literally attacked you, Diana!

There’s a note that shows the men may have been sent by a local department store, Grandee’s (in a future post I’ll talk about which is based on Grandee), and when Diana looks at him, he offers her a job paid. gave him a thousand dollars a week to be the main spokesperson for the store. She is very intrigued. The conversation, however, is interrupted by dogs attacking…

Wonder Woman subdues the dogs and then leaves, where we see Grandee talking about Wonder Woman and women in general…

When she returns to Cathy, Diana denies wanting to take the job. Cathy gives him heartbreak, and then Diana drops one of her most infamous lines, about how in most cases she doesn’t even like women…

There’s definitely something to be said for characters who make mistakes and then come out on top, and Delany has Cathy rip a new one from Diana and Diana quickly apologizes for being so cowardly, so it’s is fine, but for her to even say it in the first place was not a good idea.

Anyway, in the end, Diana, Cathy and some of their friends then take Grandee down, proving it was all one big scam (fake clothes, fake everything)…

At the end of the issue, Delany gives the book a thought-provoking ending by pitting Diana against the people (mostly black women) who are now out of work because Diana shot Grandee…

Again Wonder Woman went back to “normal” next issue and there was a new writer so it was never resolved but you sure can’t say Delany didn’t try some bold ideas and daring in its short passage on wonder woman. In fact, as I noted in an old Comic Book Legends Revealed, Delany eventually pushed this storyline to the point where Wonder Woman had to defend a local abortion clinic! Imagine if THIS had been released in 1973!

If you have any suggestions for the October (or any subsequent month) 2012, 1997, 1972, and 1947 comics to spotlight, message me at [email protected]! Here’s the guide, though, to book cover dates so you can make suggestions for books that actually came out in the correct month. Generally speaking, the traditional time lag between cover date and release date of a comic for most of comic book history has been two months (sometimes it was three months, but not during the periods we discuss here). So the comics will have a cover date that is two months before the actual release date (so October for a book released in August). Obviously, it’s easier to tell when a book from 10 years ago came out, because there was internet coverage of the books at the time.

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