If there's one thing you can say about Wonder Woman comics of the 70's and 80's, it's that they are no damn good. I don't know what happened, but somewhere along the way Wonder Woman morphed from creator William Moulton Marston's naughty lesbian bondage queen into a generic, androgynous super-hero. Her gender is almost irrelevant in these comics, which, depending on your point of view, could be a good thing. I'm here to tell you that it isn't.
Here’s Wonder Woman #276, which is included in Kobra Week because it’s the beginning of the “senses-shattering QUEST for Kobra!” Published in 1980, this is the pre-Crisis version of Wonder Woman; you can tell because a) she flies in her invisible jet, b) she has a secret identity, Capt. Diana Prince, and c) she looks like a DUDE!!!
"I’m not saying that Wonder Woman has to be drawn like a pin-up girl, but … wait a second, actually, I am saying that."
During the 70’s and early 80’s there must have been some editorial mandate regarding Wonder Woman’s appearance – artists were told she had to look like a Soviet women’s track and field athlete with a wig. Seriously, there must have been a conscious effort to depict Wonder Woman as an eerie, sexless mannequin. I think the DC editors sent out pictures of Golden Girl Bea Arthur to all their artists as a photo reference. Now I’m not saying that Wonder Woman has to be drawn like a pin-up girl, but … wait a second, actually, I am saying that.
In this story, Wonder Woman uncovers a sinister plot by the doomsday Kobra Cult, a shadowy organization that has been the cause of her recent woes. They Kobra Cult plans on hijacking a super-nuclear bomb from the top secret Cobalt 93 project and fucking shit up big time (my words, not theirs). The leader of the cult is none other than King Kobra, a fun pre-Crisis version of Kobra.
Regardless of the name, we know it’s our man Kobra. Who else dresses like that? Who has the balls to pull of that pimp Kobra Vibe? Check out this panel of King Kobra striding through his crib – the Kobra Vibe is in full effect here!
Kobra stays in the background during this issue, leaving Wonder Woman to fight Kobra’s minions. The Kobra Cult is the DC version of HYDRA, basically – a never-ending font of generic goons who spill forth whenever the plot demands a fight scene. Goons like this are as incompetent or as dangerous as the writer needs them to be – for instance in this issue Wonder Woman fights a single Kobra goon and has a hard time, but ten pages later she wipes the floor with a whole squad of the same guys.
Wonder Woman has awkward dialogue and a deeply illogical thought process to match her stiff, featureless physique. She has a weird habit of narrating everything that is happening during a fight. It’s like she is high or something. Here she is in battle with a Kobra goon:
Later Wonder Woman dopes out the location of a secret Kobra Cult lair: in Carlsbad Caverns! She flies her invisible jet into the caverns themselves (!) and quickly finds the location of the secret lair: it’s the only cave that has a big fence and a CLOSED sign. I’m serious.
Beyond the fence in the middle of Carlsbad Caverns, Wonder Woman finds a secret Kobra lair full of high-tech stuff and Kobra Bling like snake-motiff torch holders and shit.
The hideout is deserted – perhaps their security was compromised by one of the 250,000 Boy Scouts who visit the National Park every frickin’ year – but the wily Kobra has left some goons behind as a trap for the Amazing Amazon! But, if you hadn’t figured that out, Wonder Woman explains it to you as she is attacked:
Ahh, Wonder Woman: Mistress of the Obvious.
This issue is presumably a big lead-up to a showdown between “King Kobra” and androgynous mannequin Wonder Woman; I just don’t happen to have any of the subsequent issues. I’m sure it’s great – after all, if it has Kobra, it must be good!