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Sunday, 18 June 2017

All New Collectors' Edition C-54 - Superman vs Wonder Woman

With the previous issue, a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer one, Limited Collectors' Edition changed its title to All New Collectors' Edition. C-54 (1978) was the first of these to feature super heroes, pitting the Earth-2 Superman and Wonder Woman against each other in a story set during World War 2.

No effort is made to alter the costumes of the main characters to fit the time period, but honestly, the Gerry Conway/Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez/Dan Akins tale is so good that I am willing to overlook such things. Superman gets the opening chapter, stopping an attack by Japanese planes on the coast, and figuring out that this was a diversion to sneak in Japanese sub. Of course, Superman stops the sub as well. Lois Lane gets a small role in the chapter, but Superman keeps her out of the loop as he finds out the Japanese are trying to sabotage something called the Manhattan Project.

Then it's Wonder Woman's turn. In Washington DC she also stops a blatant attack by Nazis, as well as the real purpose of the mission, to kill Albert Einstein. Later, as Diana Prince, she tries to learn more about the reason for the attack, but finds it is all being covered up.

The third chapter introduces us to the villains of the piece. This is a joint Nazi-Japanese mission, and each contributes a super powered soldier. Baron Blitzkrieg represents Germany, and the issue gives a recap of the fairly recent battles he has had with Wonder Woman in the pages of World's Finest Comics. Sumo the Samurai makes his debut in this tale. While Blitzkrieg's powers are very dynamic, channelling his energy in different ways to endow him with various super powers, Sumo has his fighting skills, but also a degree of mind control. Their plans are larger than the bits Superman and Wonder Woman have uncovered, and they have already learned the locations of two sections of the nuclear bomb that are being constructed.

Wonder Woman, as Diana Prince, is able to sneak into the Pentagon and finds what she is looking for, the secret of the Manhattan Project. The entire concept horrifies and disgusts her. She heads back to Paradise Island to discuss this with her mother. Hippolyta is also shown inaccurately, the Earth-1 blonde version. Wonder Woman decides that she has to stop the Manhattan Project from being completed.

This sends her to Chicago, and her attack gets reported. Superman flies out to stop her. Superman has also learned about the development of the atomic bomb, but he trusts in the government's decisions and actions. So the fight between them is not a misunderstanding or the result of a villain's manipulations. It's a genuine conflict over whether the US should build the bomb. They agree to fight it out on the Moon, where no one can get injured. This actually just leaves the door open for Blitzkrieg and Sumo, who launch their attacks and steal their parts of the bomb.

An SOS gets flashed to the two fighting heroes, who give up their quarrel and return to Earth. Wonder Woman winds up in battle with Sumo, who explains how he was given a special potion that enhanced his senses and training.

Superman has to square off against Baron Blitzkrieg. Unlike Wonder Woman, he is unaware of the Baron's hysterical fear of being blinded, and just tries to out fight him.

Still, the two heroes triumph. Then they make the dumb mistake of bringing together the villains, as well as the two parts of the bomb. Blitzkrieg gets free and puts the bomb together, while Sumo tries to take it away from him.

All Superman and Wonder Woman can do is flee at super speed as the atomic bomb goes off, presumably killing the two villains (although we will see Baron Blitzkrieg again in later years).  Wonder Woman is far from pleased about the destruction that they have created. The news of the remote explosion is covered up, and the heroes part as friends. 

The fact that they disagree about the bomb really makes this work, and it looks great throughout. This story would be retold, poorly, without Superman and Wonder Woman in Young All-Stars, as Atom an Evil.

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