Wonder Woman’s Mentor, I-Ching, Did Not Receive His Name From a Mistake

Find out if a major Wonder Woman character got her name wrong in the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed.

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

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COMIC LEGEND:

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

STATUS:

I go wrong

As I discussed in a legend a while ago (oh, you know, a little over FIFTEEN YEARS ago), one of the problems with producing comics is that the left hand doesn’t necessarily know what the right hand is doing, when it comes to some of the main characters. Which, in the case of Superman, started out as a regular feature film action comics soon became one action comics function plus a superman Solo series (and the way comics were done back then was in the style of a big anthology, so if you want a 60-page action comicswith Superman one of six or seven features, a superman Solo series now meant 60 pages of ALL Superman stories) and also a daily one superman comic strip. A comics writer can generally probably fit all of this work into their schedule (and even there it’s difficult), but it’s almost impossible for a comics artist to do all of this work alone, so pretty soon Superman’s co-creator Joe Shuster began hiring other artists to help him. The way National Comics (now DC) saw it, National didn’t care HOW it was provided as long as Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster provided the company with a new Superman story (and eventually National started hiring its own Superman artists directly, when it became clear that Shuster could no longer handle the production of the art himself).


Of course, the problem with employing multiple artists is that it’s almost impossible to maintain consistency. in the action comics #23 (by Siegel and Shuster, with Shuster’s assistant Paul Cassidy providing Shuster’s inks), we first met the villainous Luthor…

If you read the issue closely, you’ll see that Luthor was the redheaded guy, but the bald guardian was so oddly prominent that if you just read the story briefly, you could easily think that the bald guardian WAS Luthor.

This storyline was quickly followed by a return from Luthor superman No. 4, by Siegel and Paul Cassidy, and once again a bald-headed subordinate of Luthor featured prominently in the story…


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

While I can’t say for certain that those two uses of bald villains in Luthor’s first two appearances were the reason for the change, I suspect that’s exactly what Wayne Boring must have had in mind as the early member of Joe Shuster’s studio drew a superman Comic strip later in 1940 with a bald Luthor…


The Superman comics and the Superman comics were basically produced using the same system. Same editors, same creators, etc. So the people involved tended not to distinguish between a comic story and a comic book story. Because of this, after Wayne Boring introduced a bald Luthor in 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 into the comics…

And when you’re dealing with some sort of assembly line of artists, the next guy just copies the previous one, and that’s how Luthor was bald in the comics now. I repeat this story to reiterate that mistakes like this are common. An artist makes a mistake and then everyone follows that artist’s mistake and then the “mistake” wasn’t really a “mistake” anymore, it was just the status quo.


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Keep that in mind when it comes down to it wonder woman #179 (by Mike Sekowsky and Denny O’Neil), where Wonder Woman, after giving up her Amazon powers, meets a new mentor who trains her in martial arts so she can continue to be a heroine, just without a costume or superpowers. Check out 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 to share a little something he found on the TV Tropes website, namely:

Diana’s martial arts teacher in the late ’60s and early ’70s was originally named Ching, not I Ching. When he introduced himself in WW 179 (November ’68) he said, “Allow me to introduce myself. I *CHING!*”, meaning I’m Ching. Diana addressed him as Ching in this and later editions, and the story boxes also bore his name as Ching. “I Ching” was probably a mistake by one of the writers. Maybe they went with it because it sounded more inscrutable.

And sure enough, when he talks to Diana, the labels 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 misunderstood an awkward dialogue with an Asian man saying “I Ching” instead of “I am Ching” and just accidentally adopted that as his name?

TIED TOGETHER: Which extremely obscure Marvel superhero almost had his own animated series?

I don’t think that’s the case, no.

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

But even more important is the cover of wonder woman No. 181, which would have been in production much earlier, uses “I Ching” prominently on the cover…

Furthermore, the I Ching is apparently a famous Chinese divination text (here is a print of 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 the period and he had to say, “I certainly didn’t want to disregard 50,000 years of Chinese culture, but I can understand why people would have seen so. I had and to have, a practically lifelong interest in Asian philosophy. If I had to do it again, I would at least have made the Asian character a woman and not named her after the great Chinese classics.”


So no, I don’t think I Ching got its name by accident. It seems clear that he was always meant to be I Ching, except that he mostly referred to himself as “Ching” early on.

Thanks for the suggestion Jeff!

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PART THREE SOON!

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

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