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Did a Major Wonder Woman Character Receive Their Name From a Mistake?

In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, learn whether a major Wonder Woman character received their name as a mistake.

In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, learn whether a major Wonder Woman character received their name as a mistake.

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and forty-fourth installment where we examine three comic book legends and determine whether they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends. Click here for the first installment of this legends.

NOTE: If my Twitter page hits 5,000 followers, I’ll do a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed that week. Great deal, right? So go follow my Twitter page, Brian_Cronin!

Wonder Woman’s mentor during her powerless “mod” period, I-Ching, received his name as a misreading of how he introduced himself.

I’m Going With False

As I discussed in a legend a while back (oh, you know, just over FIFTEEN YEARS AGO), one of the issues with the production of comic books is that there is very much a case of the left hand not necessarily knowing what the right hand is doing when it comes to some of the major characters. In the case of Superman, what began as a regular feature in Action Comics soon became an Action Comics feature, plus a Superman solo series (and the way that comic books were done back then was large anthology style, so if you had a 60-page Action Comics, with Superman one of six or seven features, a Superman solo series now meant 60 pages of ALL Superman stories) and also a daily Superman comic strip. A comic book writer, in general, can likely be able to fit all of that work into their schedule (and even there, it is difficult), but for a comic book ARTIST, it is nearly impossible to do all of that work by yourself, so Superman’s co-creator, Joe Shuster, pretty soon began to employ other artists to help him. The way that National Comics (now DC) saw it, so long as Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster provided the company with a new Superman story, National didn’t care HOW it was provided (and eventually, National just started hiring its own Superman artists directly once it became clear Shuster could no longer handle the production of the art himself).

The issue, of course, with employing multiple artists like that is that consistency is almost impossible to maintain. In Action Comics #23 (by Siegel and Shuster, with Shuster assistant, Paul Cassidy, providing inks for Shuster), we met the villainous Luthor for the first time…

If you read the issue closely, you’d notice that Luthor was the redheaded guy, but the bald guard was so oddly prominent that if you gave the story just a quick read, you could easily think that the bald guard WAS Luthor.

That story was quickly followed by a return of Luthor in Superman #4, by Siegel and Paul Cassidy and once more, a bald underling of Luthor was prominently featured in the story…

And as you can see, the bald underling is actually more heavily involved in the actual plot of the early parts of the story than Luthor himself, who barely appears in the story in the early panels (but then becomes the major villain of the back half of the story)…

While I cannot state with a certainty that those two usages of bald villains in Luthor’s first two appearances were the reason why the change happened, I suspect that that must have been what was going through Wayne Boring’s mind when the early member of Joe Shuster’s studio drew a Superman comic strip later in 1940, featuring a baldheaded Luthor…

The Superman comic books and the Superman comic strips were produced under basically the same system. Same editors, same creators, etc. So the people involved tended to not differentiate between doing a comic strip story or a comic book story. Because of this, once Wayne Boring had introduced a bald Luthor into the comic strip, it was only a matter of time before another artist also drew a bald Luthor in the comic strip and Leo Nowak was that other artist and then, in Superman #10, Nowak brought the bald look to the comics…

And when you’re dealing with a sort of assembly-line of artists, the next guy just copies the previous guy and so Luthor was now bald in the comics. I repeat this story to reiterate that yes, mistakes like this happened frequently. One artist makes a mistake and then everyone follows that artist’s mistake and then the “mistake” was no longer really a “mistake,” it was just the status quo.

RELATED: How Jonah Hex’s Creation Was Inspired by…a Medical Chart?

Keep that in mind when it comes to Wonder Woman #179 (by Mike Sekowsky and Denny O’Neil), where Wonder Woman, having surrendered her Amazon powers, meets a new mentor who trains her in martial arts so that she can continue to be a hero, just without a costume or superpowers. Look at his introduction…

This is the man who would train Diana to become a martial artist expert and serve as her mentor throughout this era…

Reader Jeff P. wrote in to share a piece of trivia that he had found on the TV Tropes website, namely:

Diana’s martial arts instructor in the late 60s-early 70s was initially called Ching, not I Ching. When he introduced himself in WW 179 (November ’68) he said “Permit me to introduce self. I *CHING!*”, that is, I am Ching. Diana addressed him as Ching in that and later issues, and the narration boxes also had his name as Ching. “I Ching” was probably a mistake by one of the writers. Perhaps they went with it because it sounded more inscrutable.

And sure enough, as he talks to Diana, the caption boxes DO say “Ching” instead of “I Ching”…

And when he discusses his personal history with the villainous Doctor Cyber, he refers to himself as “Ching”…

So is that the case? That people just misread some clumsy dialogue with an Asian guy saying “I Ching” instead of “I am Ching” and simply adopted that as his name by mistake?

RELATED: Which Extremely Obscure Marvel Superhero Nearly Had His Own Cartoon Series?

I don’t believe that’s the case, no.

First off, in the next issue, there IS a caption box that refers to him as “I Ching”…

More importantly, though, the cover of Wonder Woman #181, which would have been in production well ahead of time, uses “I Ching” prominently on the cover…

Even beyond THAT, obviously, the I Ching is a famous Chinese divination text (here is a print from a Song dynasty edition of the I Ching, circa 1100 AD)…

Finally, Denny O’Neil was interviewed by Andy Mangels in TwoMorrows’ Back Issue #17 for Mangels’ article about this period in time, and he had to say, “”I certainly meant no disrespect to 50,000 years of Chinese culture, but I can understand why people saw it like that. I had, and have, a virtual livelong interest in Asian philosophy. I f I had to do it again, I would at least have made the Asian character a woman andI would not have named her after the great Chinese classics.”

So no, I don’t think that I Ching receives his name by mistake. It seems clear that he was always meant to be I Ching, just that he referred to himself by “Ching” mostly early on.

Thanks for the suggestion, Jeff!

In the latest Movie Legends Revealed – Learn how the film, Dirty Dancing, came about due to a scene that was cut from a mostly forgotten Michaal Douglas romance film from the early 1980s

Check back soon for part 3 of this installment’s legends!

Feel free to send suggestions for future comic legends to me at either cronb01@aol.com or brianc@cbr.com

CBR Senior Writer Brian Cronin has been writing professionally about comic books for over fifteen years now at CBR (primarily with his “Comics Should Be Good” series of columns, including Comic Book Legends Revealed).

He has written two books about comics for Penguin-Random House – Was Superman a Spy? And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed and Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? And Other Amazing Comic Book Trivia! and one book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, from Triumph Books. His writing has been featured at ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Times, About.com, the Huffington Post and Gizmodo.

He features legends about entertainment and sports at his website, Legends Revealed and other pop culture features at Pop Culture References.

Follow him on Twitter at @Brian_Cronin and feel free to e-mail him suggestions for stories about comic books that you’d like to see featured at brianc@cbr.com!

CHECK OUT A MOVIE LEGENDS REVEALED!

PART THREE SOON!

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