Wonder Woman’s Mentor I-Ching Didn’t Get Her Name From Mistake

In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, find out if a major Wonder Woman character got her name by mistake.

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

NOTE: If my twitter page reached 5,000 subscribers, I’ll be doing a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed that week. Good deal, right? So go follow my Twitter page, Brian_Cronin!

COMIC CAPTION:

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

STATUS:

I go with false

As I discussed in a caption a while ago (oh, you know, a little over FIFTEEN YEARS ago), one of the problems with comic book production is that there really is a cases where the left hand doesn’t necessarily know what the right hand is doing when it comes to some of the main characters. In the case of Superman, what started out as a regular feature in action comics quickly became a action comics function, plus a Superman solo series (and the way comics were made back then was a big anthology style, so if you had a 60 page action comicswith Superman one of six or seven feature films, a Superman solo series now meant 60 pages of ALL Superman stories) and also a daily Superman Comic. A comic book writer, in general, can probably be able to fit all this work into his schedule (and even then it’s hard), but for a comic book ARTIST it’s nearly impossible to do all this work by yourself. , so Superman co-creator Joe Shuster soon began employing other artists to help out. The way National Comics (now DC) saw it, as long as Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster provided the company with a new Superman story, National didn’t care HOW it was provided (and ultimately National just started hiring his own Superman artists directly once it became clear that Shuster could no longer handle producing the art himself).


The problem, of course, with employing multiple artists like this is that consistency is nearly impossible to maintain. In action comics #23 (by Siegel and Shuster, with Shuster’s assistant Paul Cassidy providing inks for Shuster), we first met the villainous Luthor…

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

This story was quickly followed by a return of Luthor in Superman #4, by Siegel and Paul Cassidy and once again a bald underling of Luthor featured prominently 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 main villain of the back half of the story)…

While I can’t say for sure that those two uses of bald villains in Luthor’s first two appearances were the reason the switch happened, I suspect that must have been what went through Wayne’s mind. Boring when the first member of Joe Shuster’s studio drew a Superman comic later in 1940, featuring a bald Luthor…


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

And when you’re dealing with some 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, errors like this have happened frequently. 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.


RELATED: How Was Jonah Hex’s Creation Inspired By… A Medical Record?

Keep this in mind when it comes to 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 hero, just without a costume or superpowers. Watch his presentation…

He is the man who will train Diana to become an expert in martial arts and will serve as her mentor throughout this era…

Reader Jeff P. wrote in to share an anecdote he found on the TV Tropes website, namely:

Diana’s martial arts instructor in the late 60s and early 70s was initially called Ching, not I Ching. When he introduced himself in the 179 war (November 68), he said “Allow me to introduce myself. I *CHING!*”, i.e. I am Ching. Diana referred to him as Ching in this and subsequent issues, and narration boxes were also named after him as Ching. “I Ching” was probably a mistake by one of the writers. Maybe they accepted it because it seemed more inscrutable.

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

And when he discusses his personal history with the evil Doctor Cyber, he calls himself “Ching”…

So is this the case? That people just misinterpreted some awkward dialogue with an Asian guy saying “I Ching” instead of “I’m Ching” and just mistakenly adopted that as his name?

RELATED: Which Extremely Obscure Marvel Superhero Almost Got His Own Cartoon Series?

I don’t believe that’s the case, no.

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

More importantly, however, the coverage of wonder woman #181, which would have been in production well in advance, uses “I Ching” prominently on the cover…

Even beyond THAT, of course, 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 issue 17 for Mangels’ article on this period, and he must have said, “‘I certainly meant no disrespect to 50,000 years of culture Chinese, but I can understand why people saw it that way. I had, and have, a permanent virtual interest in Asian philosophy. If I had to do it again, I would have at least made the Asian character a woman and I wouldn’t have named her after the great Chinese classics.”


So no, I don’t think I Ching got his name by mistake. It seems clear that he was always meant to be I Ching, just that he referred to himself as “Ching” especially in the beginning.

Thanks for the suggestion, Jeff!

DISCOVER A FILM LEGENDS REVEALED!

In the latest Movie Legends Revealed – Find out how the movie, Dirty Dancing, was born out of a cut scene from a mostly forgotten early 1980s Michaal Douglas romance film.

PART THREE COMING SOON!

Check back soon for part 3 of the legends of this episode!

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

About Frank Torres

Check Also

Interesting name speaks at WWE SummerSlam Week tryouts

Another familiar face made an appearance in Nashville this week when WWE held SummerSlam tryouts. …