The Marstonesque Science of Wonder Woman's Baroness Paula von Gunther

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Wonder Woman villain Baroness Paula von Gunther is a unique character even by the standards of the DC Comics Golden Age.  She's often characterized as Wonder Woman's first recurring villain, which is true enough, but she spent more time as an ally of the Amazons and a semi-regular recurring Wonder Woman cast member.  The character she ultimately became is typified very well by her appearance and purpose in Comic Cavalcade #16. There's a Comic Cavalcade #16 (DC, 1946) CGC VF+ 8.5 Off-white to white pages available in this week's 2021 June 13-14 Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation & Art Select Auction at Heritage Auctions.

Comic Cavalcade #16 (DC, 1946) Paula von Gunther scene.
Comic Cavalcade #16 (DC, 1946) Paula von Gunther scene.

The arc of Paula von Gunther's character development has some general parallels to certain historical aspects of World War II. The character debuted as a spy and super-scientist in Sensation Comics #4 (cover-dated April 1942) the service of the Nazis. During her capture and "rehabilitation" in Wonder Woman #3 (Feb-March 1943) she revealed that she served the Nazis out of fear for the safety of family. After some rocky moments during which her allegiance to Wonder Woman and America were put to the test, she was ultimately set up in a secret lab in America to continue her scientific research as the war drew to a close.

It's in this lab where we find her by the time of Comic Cavalcade #16 in 1946.  Paula von Gunther is used as an obvious extension of Wonder Woman co-creator's William Moulton Marston's ideas about the psychology of human nature in this sequence. She uses an "introspection machine" to show a juvenile delinquent the battle of desires between dominance and love playing out inside his own mind.

Marston died less than a year after this Comic Cavalcade #16 hit the newsstand. An interesting look at Marston's thoughts on psychology from late in his career via the lens of the character Paula von Gunther, there's a Comic Cavalcade #16 (DC, 1946) CGC VF+ 8.5 Off-white to white pages available in this week's 2021 June 13-14 Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation & Art Select Auction at Heritage Auctions.

Comic Cavalcade #16 (DC, 1946) with Paula von Gunther appearance.
Comic Cavalcade #16 (DC, 1946) with Paula von Gunther appearance.

Comic Cavalcade #16 (DC, 1946) CGC VF+ 8.5 Off-white to white pages. Square-bound issue. E. E. Hibbard cover. H. G. Peter and Paul Reinman art. Overstreet 2020 VF 8.0 value = $659; VF/NM 9.0 value = $1,130. CGC census 6/21: 3 in 8.5, 5 higher.

View the certification for CGC Certification ID 3727616007 and purchase grader's notes if available.

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About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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