|Nick Cardy, Teen Titans #1 (February 1966)|
This gorgeous Nick Cardy panel of Wonder Girl showing up the rest of the Teen Titans appeared in Teen Titans #1, way back in February of 1966. Those were not simpler times. John F. Kennedy had been assassinated almost three years earlier, the Vietnam War raged in Southeast Asia (the same month this comic came out saw both the Tay Dinh and the Go Dai massacres), John Lennon made his infamous claim that the Beatles were "bigger than Jesus" and a gunshot felled James Meredith during the March Against Fear to encourage African Americans to register to vote. War, assassinations and riots lay ahead in the next few years as a nation threatened to tear itself apart. Above it all soared Wonder Girl, held aloft by the hopes of youth in post-war America, amid the fast-fading ghosts of Camelot, the dreams of the Civil Rights Movement, the high-tech hopes of the Space Race, and the attempt at making a Great Society.
How could you not love Wonder Girl? In fact,* will fist fight at high noon on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Pine Street any sucker who doesn’t like her. All right, I’m just kidding. I never get up that early. We’ll have to fight sometime later in the afternoon, or perhaps just before dinner time.
No, really, Wonder Girl really is a wonder. Out of all the Teen Titans, she gets the biggest kick out of having powers, being young, being a girl. The latter would be difficult for the others as they’re all boys, but all gender considerations aside, the 1960s Wonder Girl is pure joy. She’s a pleasure seeker who finds pleasure almost everywhere, in the smallest things. Like simply being able to fly. That’s the kind of true happiness that doesn’t require a lot of extraneous elements; the rest of us—those who aren’t vivacious young Amazons capable of flight-- can get that a similar feeling from running (if we’re runners) or drawing (if we’re artists). Or whatever it is we like to do with the least fuss.
Her self-confidence is refreshing, as well. Being a Titan means she’s probably not the smartest person you’re likely to meet. She’s more into dancing than reading, for example. She probably favors Frankie and Annette beach musicals over French Nouvelle Vague cinema, the British invasion over minimalist composers. There’s nothing wrong with any of that. It all just goes to show Wonder Girl is comfortable within herself. And that makes her a positive role model in my book. A girl to learn from. Love who you are, love what you do, love life itself.
In the vintage Teen Titans, which are generally easy, breezy, carefree reads about teens who want to help the world rather than tear it apart, Wonder Girl is by far my favorite character. If DC should ever bring her back, they need to bring back this version or someone similar. More light. That’s what’s needed. More light, fewer shadows.
*Not in fact. But you can treat me to lunch.