The Time Wonder Woman Was A Space Pirate OR The Early 1990s Were Weird

I’ve been rereading early 1990s Wonder Woman comics, and came across a bizarre story I had forgotten all about.  After William Messner –Loebs took over the writing duties from George Perez, his first major story sent Wonder Woman into space.  Beginning in Wonder Woman #66 with artist Paris Cullins, Wonder Woman wasn’t just an astronaut, she was a space pirate!!

When a Russian cosmonaut was trapped in space and running out of air, Wonder Woman was her only hope.  So she spacesuited up in this classy outfit:

And took to the stars to rescue her.

But it was a trap!!  Wonder Woman had been set up.  Her ship exploded after she’d docked with the cosmonaut’s vessel, sending them hurtling into the depths of space.  And things just got worse from there.

They were picked up by an alien vessel, sent to a prison camp, and forced to do slave labour.  Of course, Wonder Woman wasn’t having any of that.  After a few initial scuffles, she launched a successful attempt to seize a ship.  Once off the planet, did Wonder Woman and her cosmonaut pal head home to Earth?  Nope, they set out to shut down the entire slave labour organization.  Wonder Woman declared:

The KREEL made their empire out of DEATH and RAPINE and CHATTEL SLAVERY… and I mean to stop them!!

Thus was born Wonder Woman, space pirate:

Wonder Woman traced the slave trade back to the Sangtee, a race that had previously been all male but who were now producing females too.  They sent the females away when they were kids to train them to be like men and use them as slaves, and Wonder Woman was not at all pleased with this.  But instead of busting up the emperor, she explains how the Sangtee’s hatred of women had led them down a dark path to slavery and genocide that was rotting the empire from within.  And just like that, the emperor decides to end the slave trade, and Wonder Woman returns home.

Amusingly, Messner-Loebs followed up this epic space adventure with an extremely down to Earth tale.  When Wonder Woman returned, she learned that the Amazons had disappeared during her long absence.  Not wanting to impose on her friends, Wonder Woman got a job at the local fast food restaurant, Taco Whiz, so she could support herself:

It was quite the juxtaposition.  Comics from the early 1990s were bizarre.

Going from space pirate to taco jockey in the span of just three issues was an impressive turnaround.  And there was more to come in the Messner-Loebs era, including Wonder Woman losing her title to Artemis and the debut of artist Mike Deodato Jr. and his penchant for having the briefs of female characters pulled up to about their ribcage.  After her time gallivanting through the stars as a space pirate, Wonder Woman spent a good chunk of the 1990s dealing with a perpetual wedgie:

Luckily that didn’t last for too long, and John Byrne soon took over the series.  Byrne is his own special kind of crazy, but that’s another story for another day.

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2 Responses to “The Time Wonder Woman Was A Space Pirate OR The Early 1990s Were Weird”

  1. Titong Says:

    You didn’t like Loebs’ run? I count his as a favorite (along with Perez), including the space pirate saga (which I thought ended poignantly). I’ve been re-reading old issues a while back, and I thought his stories aged quite well. Loebs had the human touch and a sense of humor. Giving the Joker a taste of his own medicine is a classic in my books.

    I actually sense a similarity between the current run and Loebs’. Azzarello’s Diana is not too far off from Loebs’ version, especially when she was stripped off her title. Loebs also disposed of the Amazons early on, and portrayed them as flawed, not perfect. Azzarello has his mafias (although in the form of gods), so did Loebs’. His run was also beset by criticism from fans, that one of the editors dubbed the “Perez complex”.

    Cheers!

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      I don’t dislike Loebs’ run, and at times it’s crazy in interesting (albeit not terribly good) ways. It’s not one of my favourites. I think my feeling about Loebs’ run gets coloured by the Deodato art near the end and how the whole Artemis thing went down, with Hippolyta acting so weird and everything being hyper T&A. The art isn’t on Loebs, but the story is.

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