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Wonder Woman w/o Powers Pt. 20: Wonder Woman #194

What’s this? TWO Diana Princes? But how can that be? We all know there is only one Diana Prince! It must be a trick of some kind… or is it?

In the tiny, fairy tale-like country of Daldonia, Diana stops at a café to rest her sore feet and or a cold and refreshing drink.

Suddenly, she’s the victim of an attempted abduction. She dispatches of three gunmen fairly easily when she’s escorted to safety by an officer that refers to her as “your highness.” Before she can explain that she’s simply a tourist, she’s whisked to the palace to meet with “the general.”

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At the palace, just as the general is scolding “Fabiola” that she was never to leave unaccompanied, a doppelganger appears…

Meanwhile, in another part of the castle…

Someone plots to foil Fabiola’s impending wedding.

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As Diana and Fabiola become fast friends, the general whisks Diana out of the room so that the two are not seen together, especially by cousins Helmut and Frieda, whom the general does not trust. They’re apparently next in line for the throne should anything bad happen to Fabiola.

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General Rudolph invites Diana to stay for a few days longer, until after the wedding. Then, Fabiola gets a bad case of the nerves at dinner and is carried to her bedroom. When she goes missing overnight, General Rudolph asks Diana to take her place…

Soon, Diana meets Fabiola’s fiancée, Prince Rupert. As he kisses her, Diana thinks, “Mmm – lucky Fabiola!” Rupert can tell that she’s an imposter, but agrees to participate in the plot until the real princess is located.

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The villains can’t tell who is who, so decide to eliminate both women, first the one at the wedding and then the one they abducted earlier.

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The next day, Diana is dressed for the wedding and is escorted to the ceremony when one of the guards pulls his sword and shouts, “Death to Fabiola!” Diana’s lightning-like reflexes save her… even in her wedding gown. She follows the villain to the area where Fabiola is being held captive, spars with him/her, then rips off this/her mask. It’s Frieda…

As Diana watches the wedding take place, she wonders what it would have been like to be a queen. The next morning, she flies home where she’s greeted by Cathy and Ching, not sharing her story because she thinks they’d never believe her.

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Thoughts

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A pink box at the top of page two reads “Adapted from a story by Anthony Hope Hawkins.” The story to which this refers is the 1894 novel, The Prisoner of Zenda. The plot is similar, with the gender reversal of the main characters: King Rudolf V of Ruritania and Princess Fabiola. (Some of the names are also shared, but assigned to different characters.)

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It’s an entertaining one-off, built on the coincidence of Diana being in the right place at the right time. Once again, she contradicts the intentions of the book. She’s supposed to be an all new feminist, yet comments on how lucky Fabiola is to be marrying a hunk like Rupert and how wonderful it would be to be a queen. On the other hand, she also makes a point of letting innocent bystanders at the café know that she’s the one who wiped out her three attackers.

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I’ll admit I was a little surprised about the identity of the villain. I assumed right off the bat that it was Cousin Helmut. The hair in the silhouette of Frieda when we don’t know it’s her matches the shape of Helmut’s hair. A point is made that he knew nothing of his sister’s plans (although he nevertheless went into exile with her at the end of the story.)

With this issue, the name of the letters column changes from The New Wonderful World of Wonder Woman to Wonder Woman’s Write-In. It offers mostly positive comments, with two unique letters about Wonder Woman’s costume. In the first, Dennis Rule asks:

I’d like to know why you don’t have Wonder Woman in costume fighting criminals. She has proven herself to be good without her superpowers, so why not make her a costumed heroine again? Black Canary does it!

In the second, Laurie Madonick writes to Wonder Woman directly:

I have never had my name printed in your wonderful comic book. I like you best of all the super-heroes. If you can, would you send me your old costume since you no longer use it?

Title: Wonder Woman

Issue #: 194

Cover Date: May/June 1971

On Sale Date: March 2, 1971

Writer: Mike Sekowsky

Penciller: Mike Sekowsky

Inker: Dick Giordano

Editor: Mike Sekowsky


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