The Secret Lives of Villains #304

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Golden Age Showcase: Etta Candy


Today is the third day in our coverage of the new Wonder Woman movie, which comes out this Friday!

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I am so goddamned pumped for this movie!

Now, while it would probably make sense for us to talk about Wonder Woman this week we’re not going to.  Don’t worry, an in depth discussion of Wonder Woman is coming next week but for now I want to talk about a member of our heroine’s supporting cast.  She’s a redheaded (sometimes blonde) powerhouse who takes no lip from anyone and if this was any other comic book movie she would probably be the focus instead of the heroine.

Today we’re talking about Etta Candy.

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Origin and Career

So remember when I said there would be foul language in this article?  It’s mostly here.

The character was conceived by Wonder Woman’s original creator, William Moulton Marston.

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She made her first appearance in Sensation Comics #2,

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the issue that also gave us Dr. Poison who we talked about last week.

Her backstory is pretty simple.  She was  skinny, scrawny girl who Wonder Woman met in a hospital, waiting to get her appendix removed.  When she was cured she put on a few pounds.

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How do I describe Etta as a character?  Simple.

Etta Candy gives no fucks.

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Etta Candy takes no shit.

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Etta Candy once helped defeat an ENTIRE NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMP with nothing but a box of chocolates because she heard there were starving children being held there.

Etta knocks out a Nazi guard as she takes down the power grid.

Etta Candy is amazing.

Some of the more eagle eyed readers might observe that Etta Candy is a rather large women, some might even say she isn’t all that attractive.

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Etta hears your comments and doesn’t give two shits about what you think.  She’s large and damn proud of it.

You will also notice that Etta has something of an…unhealthy obsession with sweets.

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I love how in this universe filled with super humans, monsters, and legitimate gods that walk the Earth, Etta takes it all in stride and treats it just like nothing is out of the ordinary.

She needs no gods or men,

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chocolate is the only god she needs.

Despite her awesomeness, even Etta realized that she can’t take on the entire Nazi war machine alone, so she brought along some help in the form of her sisters from the fictional Beta Lambda sorority of Holliday College.

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Naturally, Etta was their leader.

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The girls proved to be incredibly helpful to Wonder Woman’s mission and kicked all sorts of ass.

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They would have given Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos a run for their money.  Why the Allied war effort even bothered to send regular troops to Europe is completely beyond me.

We even got to learn a bit more about Etta’s life after the war.  It turned out she had a family who lived on a Texas Ranch.  She even had a boyfriend.  His name was Oscar Sweetgulper.

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Are you picturing these two getting it on?  Because that is what I’ve been imagining for the past week.

Naturally, Wonder Woman brought Etta back to her home, where she was adored by her sister Amazons.  Also, she had no trouble going up against the more mythological creatures and villains of the comic series.

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In short (pun not intended) Etta was one of the greatest sidekicks in the early days of comics and remains one of Marston’s most fantastic creations.

So what happened?

You see this man?  The one smoking the pipe?

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That’s Robert Kanigher, a comic book writer who took over writing the Wonder Woman comic from Marston when he died in 1947.

Now, Kanigher is pretty well known and did some cool stuff over his career.  He wrote some of the early Blue Beetle adventures and he wrote what is widely considered to be the first Silver Age comic, which saw the introduction of Barry Allen as the Flash.

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However, when Kanigher took over Wonder Woman not only did he barley use Etta, he changed the character to the point where she was no longer the leader of her sorority and she was insecure about her weight.

To make things even worse, she was relegated to the position of idiot secretary in the Wonder Woman tv show, where she was played by actress Beatrice Cohen.

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She became so obscure that I can’t find a picture of her from the 1950’s all the way to the 1980’s.

Thankfully, the writers and creators at DC realized what they had done and managed to bring Wonder Woman’s best friend back from the grave…sort of.

In 1987 artist writer/artist duo Greg Potter and George Perez revamped Wonder Woman for the modern age and brought Etta back.

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She was no longer a large woman, but she was a capable Air Force officer and an aid to Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman’s former love interest.

I say former, because Etta and Steve wound up getting married.

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She still had reservations about her weight and even developed an eating disorder.

During the New 52 revamp, DC brought Etta back again.  This time she was a black lady who was Steve’s secretary and close personal friend.

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She would also make a comeback in DC’s Rebirth series, where she’s still Steve’s secretary.

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That’s how she’s appeared in the main continuity of DC comics.  Some of it was good, most of it made it seem like DC was embarrassed of the character which is just…a crying shame.

Thankfully there were plenty of spin offs and interpretations of Wonder Woman that brought Etta back into her original role.

For example, here she is in the non continuity of DC’s Earth One timeline.


and more recently the comic series The Legend of Wonder Woman brought her back to her original Golden Age appearance.

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She will be portrayed by British actress Lucy Davis in the Wonder Woman film,

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and if the trailer is any indication, I think she’ll be amazing at it and do the character justice.

Etta is an amazing character and a good friend to Wonder Woman.  In an industry that gets a lot of flak for not being very friendly to women, especially large women, Etta takes those critiques and smashes them over the head.  All with grace, poise, and a box of chocolates in hand.

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Crowdfunded Comics that deserve more attention: Dealing with the Apocalypse.

So it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these but in my defense, it has been a busy couple of months.

Today we’re going to look at a Kickstarter project that was created by a good friend of Cambrian Comics and has a rather…interesting look at one of modern literature’s favorite scenarios.

Let’s take a look at Dealing with the Apocalypse.

What is it?

Dealing with the Apocalypse is a collection of short stories about the end of the world and what comes after.

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The Kickstarter project is being run by Jack Holder and his company: Arcane Inkdustries.  seeking $1000 in funding to publish their fist book.

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The book is about life after the apocalypse and sets out to tell a series of stories from different perspectives and events such as the return of magic, a single girl trying to protect her town, and the story of the first colonizers of Mars after they find out that Earth is no more.

It is worth noting that the project has already reached its funding, has already been written, and simply needs the funding to pay for the first print run.

Kickstarter link:

Why I like it.

I like this project because I am a terrible person.

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Let me explain.

The end of the world is a pretty popular topic in popular culture, in fact it has been for quite some time.

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That being said, while I’m sure our ancient ancestors gleefully awaited the end of the world as we know it, it seems that the coming apocalypse has taken on a new meaning in this day and age.

Everything from books,

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to movies,

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to comic books,

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we love stories about the end of the world.


Well, I can’t speak for anyone else but I love reading these stories because I like to think that I wouldn’t just survive in this new world, but thrive and become the awesome human being I always knew I could be if it wasn’t for pesky things like society, and rules, and common decency.

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To be honest, I probably wouldn’t survive a second out in the wilderness without electricity and running water, but I like to think that I could.

It’s fun to imagine ourselves being able to live without rules and become immortal bad assess of the wasteland and many authors, artists, and directors know this.  As a result, a lot of post apocalyptic literature tends to focus on the journey and trials of an individual or a small group in a narrow space of time.  Just a person, a group, or a town surviving the near end of the world.

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That’s what I like about Dealing with the Apocalypse, it’s not afraid to broaden the scope of the genre and explore different types of stories.

Sure, you’ve got stories about people surviving and trying to protect themselves during the end of the world,  but you also have stories about the birth of magic what happens centuries after the apocalypse instead of decades.

Apparently, in the universe that this book creates humanity colonized Mars just before the world ended.  That’s a really interesting story that hasn’t been told yet and personally, that’s the one I’m most excited to read.

Why you should donate

Two reasons:

First, the book is already completed and ready for print.  There are almost no risks involved and you are guaranteed to get what you pay for.

Second, the team that put these stories together is top notch and deserves nothing but good things and good press.

Besides the literary talents of Jack Holder, there is a small army of great artists involved with the project.  Here’s a sample of some of the artists and their artwork.

Ed Bickford


Carlos Bonardi


Hansel y Gretel

Cari Dee

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and there are a whole bunch more.

If you like any of the art you see, or want to learn more about the universe this book is creating, I highly recommend donating to this Kickstarter, it is well worth your money.

Kickstarter link:

Cambrian Comic’s Friday Showcase: “It Couldn’t Have Been the Pay: A Life of Teaching and Learning Public Schools” by Irving Rothstein

Today we begin another blog series that I find incredibly exciting.  Part of Cambrian Comic’s mission is to explore and share a wide variety of ideas, stories, and points of view.  Starting today, every Friday will be a time to share and explore something that someone else has made.  It could be a comic, a film, or in this case an excerpt from a book.  

For our inaugural post we are pleased to present an excerpt from 

It Couldn’t have been the Pay: A Life of Teaching and Learning in Public Schools

a memoir by Irving Rothstein.  It’s a strange and funny little story about a professor teaching a science fiction writing class and learning about a strange local legend in the city of San Francisco.  The way I see it, this story is proof that the core of the science fiction genre isn’t rooted in grim and gritty visions of the future but rather a strange and almost playful fascination with the weird and impossible.  But enough from me, sit back, relax, and enjoy this excerpt from a wonderful book.

Anachronisms, Epiphanies and Aliens 

“Strange is only what you don’t understand.”

– Kenny Miller, Old Friend

In 1998 El Niño is kicking up a fuss in the Pacific and California is being inundated. The city approves an 80-foot Coca Cola bottle in the Giant’s new ballpark and state officials are investigating whether or not Kaiser Permanente’s refusal to cover the cost of Viagra violates a state law. The human genome project is in full gear and the kids are all walking around with cell phones. No one is ever out of touch.

To the English teachers at Lowell, Science Fiction and Fantasy—as I teach it—is a non-academic course, but it is a great take-off platform for connecting disciplines. Time machines allow us to travel back and forth in time to explore how the past influenced the present. We explore ecology and human values through stories about robots, androids, cloning and other forms of human engineering. We deal with value systems as we examine possible, probable and preferable worlds. We discuss and debate economic systems and above all the necessity to change as futuristic technology creates an ever-changing world both in fiction and in fact. The UFOs, space aliens and the various characters around San Francisco make it real.

It is May when a book by Robert Heinlein, Stranger in A Strange Land, prompts Anthony to kick off a story. Anthony is a slender Latino surfer dude. “Space aliens? I see one all the time. This dude

wrapped in aluminum foil is always hanging out on the beach where we surf.” Anthony pauses and hums the theme of Twilight Zone.

Tanya, a blonde Russian immigrant who makes her own clothes and looks like a model in Vogue, chimes in. “I see him near the end of California Street. He wears an aluminum suit and a weird aluminum helmet with an antenna.”

Their anecdotes make me curious. I ask, “Is there any relation between him and that house out there with aluminum foil on the windows? I pass that house on my way out here.”

Fong, a self-confessed video game nut perks right up. “I’ve never seen the house but I’ve seen that dingy dude. He’s tall and thin with a white beard and tanned face. He’s got those light blue eyes, kinda like those white Husky dogs. He looks like Gandalf the Gray, a wizard in an aluminum suit.”

Anthony says, “He’d scare the sh—uh, the stuff outa’ you if he didn’t have that smile.”

Tanya laughs and adds, “He’s really got a great smile and walks quickly for an old man. Do you really think he lives in that house?”

I’m really curious now. I say, “I really don’t know this guy you’re talking about. Fill me in some more.”

Anthony responds immediately. “We call him Aluminum Man, and he hangs down at the beach. One time he even came in to surf with us, but he never took off that aluminum helmet. He’s hella good on the board.”

“Did he tell you why he wears the helmet?” I ask.

Tanya laughs. “He’s an alien! The helmet shields him from space rays and messages that tell him what to do. Like that funny guy on Third Rock from the Sun.

Fong picks up on the description. Aluminum man tells people he was born here, the son of a space

alien father and an earth mother. He says his father went back to a planet on some distant galaxy, I forget the name he gives it, and left him here to soak up earth culture. He says his pop is trying to reach him and beam him up to his planet but he doesn’t want to go. The helmet protects him from the beam ray.

The discussion goes on and on. Is there intelligent life on other worlds? What would they be like? Are there people with ESP? Would creatures on alien worlds look human, and could they make babies with humans?

A cell phone rings and Tanya is apologetic. “I’m sorry you guys. I forgot to turn it off.” Her face is red as she fumbles for the phone and the buzzer.

Hamid, an East Indian born in Guatemala, riffs away. “Maybe he’s related to the same aliens that invented the cell phone and planted it on earth. They can monitor our conversations and learn all about us.”

Hamid stops and wiggles his little finger. “He’d be redundant, an anachronism. Who would need a human spy if you had technology? He’s probably afraid they’ll terminate him.”

Sylvia, who is from Mexico, loses no opportunity to tease her friend Tanya. “I hope they don’t monitor Tanya when she calls me. They’ll think that all we think about are clothes and guys.”

Everybody laughs, including Tanya, at the period buzzer. To be continued tomorrow.

For me this story doesn’t end at the bell.

It is about four o’clock after school as I drive along Great Highway at Ocean Beach. The day is beautiful. The wind is blowing and the sun makes reflecting beacons as it bounces off the waves.

I think about how my wife won’t be home until seven as my car climbs up Geary Boulevard. Suddenly I get the urge to pull into the parking lot just below Sutro Park. Don’t ask me why. It is one of

those impulses. It’s as if I’m supposed to do it.

I park and climb out of my old, dented Subaru and hike across the boulevard. Between the Cliff House and Louie’s Restaurant there’s a rutty asphalt path leading down a steep hill between some manzanita trees and baby pines to where the Sutro Baths used to be. I’m thinking about the day’s discussion, space aliens, UFOs and aluminum foil when suddenly a friendly voice slips into my reverie.

“Nice day isn’t it?”

I must be dreaming. The guy walking beside me has pale blue eyes and is covered from head to foot in shiny aluminum foil. He is tall, slender, tanned, with a white beard, about my age and wearing an aluminum foil jacket, pants and helmet. The helmet has two antennae coming out above his eyebrows. The kids described him and his rap to a T.

I flash him a friendly smile and he falls into stride with me as if we are old buddies. We talk about the weather, the water, the 49ers and the history of the Sutro Baths. He tells me how the aluminum keeps out the tractor rays from his space alien father who planted him in his earth mother’s womb.

In minutes we are sitting on the wall staring out at the Pacific and he’s confiding to me he’s going to stay right here on earth. He can do more good here than on his father’s planet because here he just feels more comfortable. It is about five now and the sun is hanging lower on the horizon. I see a freighter riding low in the water as it approaches the entrance to the bay and wonder where it’s been and what stuff it’s bringing.

“Besides,” he smiles, “I love to surf and there are no waves on my father’s planet.” Then, as if on cue, the wind picks up and whips the tops of the waves into white-capped riders that spin themselves up against the shore and explode into light spraying on the jagged rocks and over the both of us.

There is the sudden sound of laughter behind us and he and I spin around to see three kids chasing

after a rubber ball across the broken cement where in the 50s people still warmed themselves at the baths. Thirty or 40 yards behind them a man and woman come into view. They are two walking as one in a loving embrace. They stare tenderly into one another’s eyes and glide toward the wall where we are sitting. The woman is slender and tall, wearing jeans and a red sweatshirt. The man is a few inches taller than she is, his hair neatly combed and lacquered into place

Abruptly the man reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a cell phone. He flips it open and begins talking to an unseen somebody. The girl tenses in his arms. Her jaw tightens as she reaches up and yanks the phone from his hand and runs purposely to the wall and, like a quarterback in the last seconds of a close game, spirals the phone up and over the rocks. The phone hits the water and surfs to the break of a small wave and sinks.

Time stops. The man looks back at her in surprise and anger. I’m thinking, Better do the right thing buddy. Your whole romance is riding on this one.

He breaks into a laugh. He shouts against the wind, “I’m sorry.” He really looks contrite as he opens his arms and walks toward her. I think they’ve been through this one before. She meets him halfway and they hug and kiss. The scene is sweet and schmaltzy.

I turn to my left and the Aluminum Man is gone. I look around the whole area but he’s nowhere to be seen. As I hike back up the hill toward the street I keep looking back. Wow, that was strange, I think as I drive home past the house with aluminum foil on the windows.

The next day at school I tell the kids about my adventure. They don’t seem too surprised. Anthony tells me, “That’s just where he usually hangs out.”

Hamid laughs and goes theatrical. “I told you. It was the cell phone. He had an epiphany when he saw it in the air. He ripped off the suit thinking they don’t need him anymore and then they beamed him


The class breaks into laughter. We get a great deal of smileage out of the story as we discuss epiphanies, anachronisms and aliens, the space kind.

Irving Rothstein began his teaching career in 1963 and taught mainly in the San Francisco Public School District until he retired in 2002. This excerpt is from his memoir, It Couldn’t Have Been the Pay: A Life of Teaching and Learning in Public Schools, published by Rocín in 2015. His writing has appeared in Tai Chi Magazine and the anthology Why I Teach. He is a lifelong member of the California Federation of Teachers. He still teaches Tai Chi and is an active member in San Francisco’s Jewish Community.