Wonder Woman Joins the Fight in Sensation Comics #1, Up for Auction

Even without being Wonder Woman's first appearance, Sensation Comics #1 is undeniably a major Golden Age comic book key.  Hitting the newsstands just two weeks after the character's first appearance and origin in All-Star Comics #8, Sensation Comics #1 features iconic and now-famous Wonder Woman artwork by H.G. Peter on its cover, and much more.  It arguably completes the origin story told in All-Star Comics #8 by telling the saga of Wonder Woman's journey to Man's World with Steve Trevor, introduces her alter ego Diana Prince, and debuts her invisible plane.  An important comic book key featuring one of the world's most iconic fictional characters, there's a Sensation Comics #1 CGC 8.5 Off-White to White Pages up for auction tonight at ComicConnect.

Sensation Comics #1 (DC Comics, 1942).
Sensation Comics #1 (DC Comics, 1942).

Of historical interest, some fascinating info about the marketing of Wonder Woman in Sensation Comics came to light in 2016 when ComicConnect auctioned the Wonder Woman #1 "Solicitation Copy".  The auction included a promotional packet sent by DC's All-American Comics branch associate editor Alice Marble — at that time, perhaps the most famous female athlete in the country with 18 Grand Slam tennis championships to her credit, and the US women's #1 ranked player from 1936 to 1940. Originally hired by DC in what was essentially an athlete's endorsement deal to promote the character, Marble went on to also write the "Wonder Women of History" feature in the title as well.  As part of her promotional efforts, she sent this particular copy of Wonder Woman #1 in a promotional packet to the editors of Harper's Magazine.

A note in this material that Wonder Woman had appeared as one of eight stories in Sensation Comics and was selected by reader poll — "80% chose "Wonder Woman as their favorite over seven male characters" — seems to be an attempt to parallel Superman's path to success.   As DC Comics owner Harry Donenfeld explained in a high-profile Saturday Evening Post piece from June 1941 on the rise of "Superman, Inc", Superman was also purportedly chosen as the favorite by reader poll (which appears in Action Comics #4).  That polling story was also outlined in DC v Bruns. However, the notion that Wonder Woman received her own series due to overwhelming popularity in a Sensation Comics reader poll appears to be a polite marketing fiction. A succession of popular sports stars of the day — Jack DempsyGene Tunney, and finally Alice Marble herself — have written endorsements of Wonder Woman that appear in successive issues of All-Star Comics, which culminates in the poll in Sensation Comics #5 asking readers to send in their choice for favorite of the Sensation characters — and receive a Wonder Woman button as a thank you.  All-American Comics' publisher  M.C. Gaines also filed the Wonder Woman logo with the US Patent and Trademark Office long before the reader vote.

One can forgive the slight marketing fib on this point, though — history certainly proved the character created by William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter to be iconic.  The debut of Sensation Comics also features the first appearances of the characters Wildcat and Mr. Terrific as well.  Notably, there are only 4 listings on the CGC Census higher than CGC 8.5.  One of the most important comic books in DC Comics history, there's a Sensation Comics #1 CGC 8.5 Off-White to White Pages up for auction tonight at ComicConnect.

Sensation Comics #1 (DC Comics, 1942).
Sensation Comics #1 (DC Comics, 1942).

H.G. Peter cvr/art; 2nd Wonder Woman, 1st cover; origin & 1st app. Wildcat, Mr. Terrific and the Gay Ghost
It's not the first appearance of Wonder Woman, but it's the most famous WW issue there is, and it's her first cover appearance as well — an undeniably big moment in comics history, as William Moulton Marston's revolutionary and cagily subversive heroine explodes onto the Golden Age comics scene, thereby officially establishing the "trinity" of DC's hero stable, and promoting a role model and avatar for millions of girls and women all over the world. This classic cover debuts H.G. Peter's trademark style, which combines the crude grace of ancient Greek artists with the flowering majesty of storybook illustration. This strip looked and felt like nothing else before or since, and is a milestone in comics history. Also of note in this issue, Wonder Woman assumes the persona of her alter ego, the helpful nurse, Diana Prince.

Wonder Woman was quickly given her own feature anthology after her debut in All Star Comics #8, making Sensation Comics #1 her first cover appearance and an important key of DC's Golden Age. There are just over 100 copies of this issue on the CGC census making the book a very rare commodity, with fandom for the Amazonian heroine reaching new heights in the modern era, the sky's the limit for this important publication. This CVA-certified, original condition copy is quite impressive, remaining in very sturdy shape despite its 80+ years of existence.

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Mark SeifertAbout 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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