Last night, during a DC Super Hero Girls/Teen Titans Go! watch-along with my dear friends in Harley’s Crew (there’s a second part to that watch-along on Wednesday, 6/29, if you’re interested), I watched the Teen Titans Go! episode “Superhero Feud.” In the episode, they make a joke listing some ridiculous DC plots/moments as “the most horrible crimes.” It was a good bit! I laughed. However, one of the things listed is something that I actually think isn’t a joke at all: When Wonder Woman fought to lower the price of milk in Sensation Comics #7 from July, 1942.
To start, I completely understand and appreciate why this story is kind of funny. It treats us to scenes like Diana Prince being tortured by thugs with the threat of being drowned in milk:
Soon after, when Wonder Woman inevitably escapes, the milk truck they held her in is mobbed by a riot squad of cats:
So, yeah, a lot of this is admittedly funny! We’re not talking about a grim and gritty drama. Wonder Woman isn’t facing down some cosmic threat for the fate of the galaxy. The price of milk sounds like a pretty middling problem. Why are you saying this isn’t a joke, Moth, you beautiful idiot?
The answer is that because it sounds like a middling problem and Wonder Woman takes it on anyway is exactly why I think she’s so important. Let’s focus on why she took on the price of milk in the first place. As Diana Prince, she runs into a woman on the street who just lost a child to malnutrition because here family could no longer afford milk.
And let’s stop here because, at face value, this may sound a bit melodramatic. However, let me point out that the United States is currently going through a baby formula shortage that is putting the health and safety of mostly underprivileged infants at risk. Now, this price of milk issue is not exactly the same thing (and, for the record, DON’T try to substitute baby formula with cow’s milk). That being said, both issues are a concern for a particularly vulnerable population: impoverished mothers and their children. What makes Wonder Woman special is that’s exactly why she is taking this problem on head-to-head.
You know me, I’m a Golden Age comics guy. I have a lot of favorites from this era, but only one of them would take a case like this on. My boys Blue Beetle (Dan Garret) and Daredevil (Bart Hill) aren’t touching this. Batman? Ha! Even Superman, who was a big social crusader back then, wouldn’t have this issue on his radar. Only Wonder Woman was this keyed in on the struggles affecting the nation’s most vulnerable.
That’s why this particular story is not a joke. Are there some funny parts? Yes. Is the entire world in grave, immediate peril? No. However, stories like this point out that some of the most important issues society faces are seemingly small ones that go unnoticed. When these seemingly small issues multiply and combine, they can break the backs of people that society should have a responsibility to protect. That path leads to the more immediate, dire crises, and Wonder Woman gets that. That is what makes her special and that’s what makes this story no joke.
(Moth does not actually think that milk is the perfect food and does not necessarily condone the consumption of dairy products).
Also, I’ve been thinking of starting my own blog that covers comic topics like this and more. Would anyone actually be interested in reading something like that on a semi-regular basis?