Little-known sci-fi fact: Originally, Wonder Woman was the JSA's secretary

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Jun 4, 2013, 11:21 AM EDT

One of the most powerful heroes in the DC Comics universe was once relegated to staying in the office while the boys did the work.

In the early 1940s, well before the Justice League was a thing (they didn't show up until 1960), the top superhero squad in DC Comics was the Justice Society of America. The team, which featured heroes like Hawkman, Starman, Sandman and Doctor Midnite (among others), conducted their evil-fighting adventures in the pages of All-Star Comics, the same publication where Wonder Woman debuted in the December 1940/January 1941 issue. It wasn't long before she met the Justice Society. In All-Star Comics #13 (October-November 1942), Wonder Woman joined the society to help out as an honorary member. By the end of the adventure, the society was so impressed with her that they offered to hire her ... as secretary.


So, by All-Star Comics #14, Wonder Woman had joined the JSA masthead, but only as "secretary to" the society.


Adding to this indignity, she wasn't even allowed to go fight Nazis and such with the other society members. Whenever the boys left to deliver a big dose of justice, it seemed Wonder Woman had to stay behind.


Even for the early '40s, this whole leaving-the-woman-at-home-while-the-big-boys-do-the-work thing seems a little weird. Wonder Woman's a superhero, after all, and she'd already proved herself capable of fighting alongside the rest of the JSA. So how did this happen? Well, it's actually kinda the fault of Wonder Woman's creator, William Moulton Marston. When he found out that someone else was scripting stories for her in the pages of All-Star Comics, he got angry and demanded that he have full control over the character. He even asked to rewrite those early Justice Society stories, and he got his wish. Trouble was, Marston was already busy writing or co-writing Wonder Woman stories for three other comics, and couldn't make time for a fourth. So, the secretary storyline was devised to keep Wonder Woman on the sidelines of All-Star Comics, merely making cameo appearances at JSA headquarters while she showed the full range of her abilities in the pages of Wonder WomanSensation Comics and Comic Cavalcade. So as it turns out, Wonder Woman's somewhat sexist role in the Justice Society was actually the fault of her feminist creator, who wanted her all to himself.

When illness began to take a toll on Marston's writing duties, Wonder Woman got a chance to take a more active role in the JSA again in the hands of other writers. Marston passed away in 1947, and Wonder Woman became a much more important member of the society, even bringing in a second female member in Black Canary. By 1951 All-Star Comics was canceled, but the JSA kept right on kicking with an ever-evolving roster of heroes. You can still find them today in the pages of DC books like Earth 2 and World's Finest. And as for Wonder Woman, she went on to become a founding member of the Justice League in 1960, and remains one of the DC "Trinity" alongside Superman and Batman.

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(Via Tim Hanley)