The Legend of Wonder Woman has been a delightful remix of Wonder Woman’s Golden Age adventures thus far, a new take on her original stories that references the classic tales while telling its own story. It’s great on its own, a fantastic introduction to the character for new readers, but for those of us familiar with Wonder Woman’s 1940s beginnings, there are all sorts of fun references and tweaks. We’ve seen kangas, a tournament to determine the Amazons’ champion, and last week we met Etta Candy. Any comic book that includes an Etta Candy that’s true to her original incarnation is aces in my book..
If Etta was the only classic Golden Age character De Liz and Dillon brought back, I would have been a happy man. But with this week’s issue they’ve gone even more obscure with a rad deep cut, bringing back an old character in a new way, and I am beyond delighted. The Duke of Deception is back!
For those of you not steeped in old timey Wonder Woman comics, the Duke of Deception was an underling of Mars, the God of War. He was part of a triumvirate; there was the Earl of Greed, Lord Conquest, and the Duke of Deception, but the Duke was the only one who really caught on. The characters were classic William Moulton Marston feminist zaniness, personifications of the worst aspects of patriarchal society who encouraged men to do terrible things. For example, the Duke essentially created Doctor Psycho, preying on his hatred of women to lead him to become a supervillain.
The original Duke of Deception was a sniveling little weasel in an over-sized Roman helmet. He also lived on the planet Mars, where he kept legions of female slaves. In short, he was a ridiculous character, but in that amusing, Golden Age way. And very much cemented in that time period; he was SO Marston, and H.G. Peter’s design fit his unique style but really hasn’t stood the test of time. I mean, look at this dude:
There’s a reason he hasn’t been around much since, relegated to only a handful of appearances over the past several decades.
But De Liz and Dillon are bringing him back! They’ve updated the character in a cool frightening way; he now stalks the battlefields of Europe, raising dead Nazis to fight Allied soldiers. Here is a sketch of the new Duke of Deception, in a tabloid newspaper that Etta only picks up for the romance stories:
First, a sidenote; Ray Dillon did the art for this sketch, and it’s gorgeous, as are the newspaper sketches on the previous page. There’s one of a Nazi sasquatch that’s just spectacular. Dillon inks De Liz’s pencils throughout the book, and does a great job, but it’s fun to see his own art too. I like that they worked him in this way, and I’d be glad to see some more of it in the future.
It remains to be seen who or what this Duke of Deception is. He may be a minion of the God of War again, or his own evil presence. Diana dreamed of him, briefly, at the start of the issue in another of her ominous nightmares, connecting him to the darkness that threatens Themyscira and the world. I don’t even know if the Duke of Deception moniker will stick, or if he goes by another name and this was just a fun throwback reference; it’s certainly a very tabloidy name. We’ll find out all of that soon, but what I do know is that he’s ominous and I am very intrigued.
Aside from all the Duke of Deception fun, this issue has some KILLER Etta Candy moments. At one point, she declared her destiny: “I’m to travel the world, dazzling the masses with my dulcet tones and savvy entrepreneurial instinct!” She’s a delight, and there’s pages and pages of gold like this. Just go read the book, gang. It’s worth getting this series for Etta alone.
So the villain is starting to become clear, though many questions remain, and Diana is keen to get to the warfront; the Duke is reportedly wielding an amulet that belonged to Hippolyta, which may mean disaster has befallen the Amazons! Things are getting serious! Plus Diana and Etta are heading into Boston next issue, so that should be a lot of fun. This book is so enjoyable.