In the opening lines of one of the biggest hits released by James Brown during his storied career, the famed Godfather of Soul cries out in his signature tenor that: "This is a man's world!" But he promptly amends the patriarchal proclamation by saying that this so-called man's world wouldn't "be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl."
Similarly, for nearly 80 years now the cartoon universe of DC comics has also been a testosterone-fueled man's world. As such, the focus has been primarily on the Y chromosome carrying likes of Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Plastic Man, etc. Nevertheless, like the real world in which we live, DC's also wouldn't "be nothing, nothing" without a Wonder Woman or a Wonder Girl.
A Blunder Of Epic Proportions
Since her first brief appearance in 1941 in the pages of All-Star Comics #8, followed a few months later with a more thorough introduction in Sensation Comics #1, Wonder Woman has been one of the most popular characters on the DC Comics roster. In fact, she's the most successful comic book heroine of all time and DC's best-known superhero after the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight.
But if her recent box office smash is any indication, Wonder Woman's star-spangled profile may be on the rise. After having conquered comic books since the 1940s, followed by live-action TV in the 1970s and now film in 2017, the only thing missing from the resume is a Wonder Woman cartoon. And how TF that happened in anybody's guess.
This isn't to say that Wonder Woman hasn't been featured in cartoons. Since the early 1970s shes been regularly included as a character in various incarnations of 'toons like The Super Friends and Justice League but, strangely, not one of her own. Meanwhile, other DC Comics characters — even a few that have never been nearly as popular — have had cartoons with their names in the title. (Who will this woman have to knockout to wake the television execs up?)
The New Adventures Of Everyone Else
As early as the 1941, two years after DC's hit superhero Superman first appeared in the pages of Action Comics #1, the character quite deservedly received the animated treatment. The comic book hero was featured in a series of animated shorts produced for movie theaters by Fleischer Studios, the famed animators of Popeye the Sailorman and the creators of Bettie Boop.
Twenty-five years later, a time in America when most households had at least one television, Superman returned with new animated exploits. This time in a series of six-minute shorts produced for the small screen by Filmation. In varying forms, The New Adventures of Superman ran for four seasons, the first incarnation running from 1966 to 1967.
When The New Adventures of Superman aired, it shared its 30 minute time slot with a feature depicting the Man of Steel as a young lad in the The New Adventures of Superboy. The format included two Superman segments sandwiched around one Superboy segment. In Seasons 2 and 3, new superheroes took the place of Superboy, including one that may surprise you.
From 1967 to 1968, DC's King of Atlantis starred in his very own very cartoon series, sharing the spotlight with Superman in the Filmation-produced series The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. The then 60-minute program was likewise made up of a series of six-minute adventures mostly featuring Aquaman and Superman, but spicing it up with other segments that featured "guest stars" like the Atom, Green Lantern, Hawkman and the Flash.
Remarkably, The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure also featured the Teen Titans, but a smaller team made up only of Aqualad, Kid Flash, Speedy and Wonder Girl (yes, Wonder Girl made it into cartoons before Wonder Woman, who she's based on). In fact, Wonder Woman wouldn't make the leap to cartoons until guest starring years later on Scooby-Doo in 1972, followed after by a long running inclusion in The Super Friends (1973-1985).
The replacement of Aquaman with Batman in 1968 was a no-brainer. Unlike Aquaman, who'd been in comics since 1941 but didn’t have his own comic until 1961, Batman had his own books since 1940. And with the success of the live-action Batman show in 1966, kids couldn't get enough of the Caped Crusader. So Season 3 became The Batman/Superman Hour of Adventure.
Then, for the 1969 to 1970 TV season, The New Adventures of Superman reverted back to a 30-minute show comprised of only of Superman and Superboy stories. But a few years later, while still a part of The Super Friends, Batman would also get his own standalone show with 1977's The New Adventures of Batman. But he wouldn't be the only DC superhero to get one.
Believe it or not, for the first two decades of his existence, Plastic Man wasn't even a DC Comics superhero. Plas, who first appeared in 1941 in Police Comics #1, was actually the star of a book published by Quality Comics, one of DC’s many competitors. In the 1950s, Quality shuttered its doors and eventually DC acquired the rights to several of the publisher's costumed crime fighters, including Plastic Man, who was probably the most popular hero on Quality's roster.
In 1966, DC launched its short-lived Plastic Man comic book series, which was canceled two years later due to poor sales with Issue #10. In 1976, the title resumed publication with Issue #11 but again saw cancellation with Plastic Man #20. Incredibly, despite Plas never having proved commercially viable for DC, the character still somehow managed to star in his very own Saturday morning cartoon show titled The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, which ran from 1979 to 1981.
After Captain Marvel's first appearance in 1941 in the pages of Whiz Comic #1, this Fawcett Comics character promptly proved to be the most popular superhero in comics. For years, his comics outsold every other superhero, including Superman and Batman. But financial woes in the 1950s (mainly from lawsuits filed by DC claiming that Captain Marvel violated their Superman copyright) soon spelled the end for Fawcett and the character fondly known as the "big red cheese."
In the early 1970s, DC acquired the rights to their former newsstand nemesis and launched the Shazam! comic book in 1973, which ran for 35 issues until 1978. Notably, apart from Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and the Hulk, Captain Marvel/Shazam is the only other comic book hero to have been featured in both a live-action TV show (1974–1977) and a Saturday morning cartoon titled The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam!, which aired from 1981 to 1982.
And Yet She Persisted
Inexplicably absent from the short list of heroes that have been featured in both live-action TV shows and cartoons is Wonder Woman. In the 1970s, the character was the star of a popular show starring Lynda Carter, which ran for three seasons from 1975 to 1979. And though she's been a regular presence on long running 'toons like The Super Friends and Justice League, Wonder Woman has never been a cartoon frontwoman, and herein a poignant analogy exists.
As has long been a true in the lives of countless women in real life workplaces (oh, and politics), Wonder Woman's promotion to the cartoon spotlight has been passed over in favor of male heroes, including some who were less "qualified." In contrast to DC comic books with Aquaman, Plastic Man and Shazam, Wonder Woman's adventures have been published continuously since 1941. Only Superman and Batman comics have been in print longer, and not by much.
Her Time Is Now
Wonder Woman does, however, have one claim to fame that Superman and Batman do not: In 1941 she became an official member of Justice Society of America, the world's first superhero team. Superman and Batman are only honorary members. Then, in 1960, along with Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Hawkman, the Flash and Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman also became a founding member of the Justice League. So this lady deserves all the geeky R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
To say that Wonder Woman deserves to have her own cartoon is a powerful understatement. Even Spider-Woman, a character from DC's rival Marvel, had a cartoon bearing her name back in 1979, and Spider-Woman didn't even exist in comics until 1977! The senses-shattering fact that Wonder Woman has yet to have a cartoon devoted to her own heroic adventures is a crime against both comic books and common sense. But with all hope, this won't be the case for much longer, because this Amazon has butts to kick.
Now what say you, Super Friend? Do you agree that it’s time for a Wonder Woman cartoon? Let us know in the box below!