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Paula von Gunther

Baroness Paula von Gunther
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Sensation Comics #4 (April 1942)
Created by William Moulton Marston, Harry G. Peter
In-story information
Abilities Brilliant strategist and scientist; Amazon training

Paula von Gunther (also known as Baroness Paula von Gunther) is a fictional character appearing in DC Comics publications and related media. Created in 1942[1] by William Moulton Marston as an adversary for his new comic book heroine Wonder Woman, the Baroness would become the Amazing Amazon's first recurring enemy.[2] Though in her earliest appearances she was a cold-blooded Nazi spy and saboteur,[3] the Baroness would reform into one of Wonder Woman's most trusted allies, appearing in Wonder Woman stories throughout the Golden and Silver Age of Comics.[4] In 1998, the Baroness was returned to her roots as a villainous Nazi mastermind,[5] re-imagined by Wonder Woman writer/artist John Byrne as a devotee of the occult who placed her mystical knowledge at the service of the Third Reich.

Contents

  • Fictional character biography 1
    • Pre-Crisis 1.1
      • Golden Age 1.1.1
      • Silver Age 1.1.2
    • Post-Crisis 1.2
  • Powers and abilities 2
  • In other media 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Fictional character biography

Pre-Crisis

Golden Age

A member of the noble class in pre-Republican Germany with the rank of Baroness, Paula von Gunther first appeared as a foe of Wonder Woman. She battled the Amazon numerous times as an agent of the Gestapo. She murdered many individuals, kept a small group of women as personal slaves, tortured them routinely, was for a time the leader of all Gestapo operations in the United States, in her first appearance forced American female citizens into becoming Nazi spies at a spy school using drugs and hypnotism on some of them, attempted to kidnap a Colonel using an invisible ray on a ship while impersonating a high-society lady enabling a U-Boat to capture the people, stole Wonder Woman's lasso while she was in prison and tried to steal secrets from security officers after her previous attempts of hypnotism failed. She suceeded in capturing Wonder Woman with it and bound her hand and foot to a wooden pole using it. However Wonder Woman got of the pole and broke open a cage freeing a young boy. He untied her hands, but Gunther returned and stopped Wonder Woman by pointing a gun at her back. However Freddy lassoed Gunther, and Wonder Woman defeated her plan. She once tried to monopolize America's milk supply and charge high prices for it so that its people would have weak bones and fall before the stronger-boned Nazis after buying all the milk of a company for five years with seven million dollars. She discovered Wonder Woman's weakness in her first appearance, that if her bracelets were chained by a man she became as weak as an ordinary woman. While monopilizing milk, her men lassoed Wonder Woman and bound her hand and foot with chains. She was bound to a railway truck, but freed herself.

Von Gunther was finally captured and revealed that she had worked for the Nazis because they held her daughter Gerta captive. Von Gunther reformed and pledged her loyalty to Wonder Woman after Gerta was rescued. Von Gunther even put her own life in peril to save Wonder Woman from a burning munitions plant, suffering third-degree burns and a horribly scarred face.

Von Gunther went to trial, but Wonder Woman acted as her defense and got her off. Murder charges had to be thrown out on double jeopardy, because Paula had previously been tried, convicted... and executed for that crime in the electric chair, but her henchmen had revived her with an electrical machine she had invented after the Doctor gave her body to them(Sensation Comics #7). Wonder Woman also dramatically revealed Paula's scarred face to the jury, which was moved by Paula's heroic self-sacrifice and acquitted her of the remaining espionage and sabotage charges. (Wonder Woman (vol. 1) #3.)

Paula returned to Paradise Island with her former slave girls and her daughter to live and undergo Amazon training. Queen Hippolyte molded fine features on Paula's face, which the goddess Aphrodite blessed and magically converted into Paula's new face. Paula became the Amazons' chief scientist, spending part of her time on Paradise Island and part aiding Wonder Woman from a hidden underground laboratory beneath Holliday College. Her daughter Gerta also was a scientific savant, although her experiments sometimes led to accidents that needed Wonder Woman's help to fix. Gerta's enlarging ray, for example, was instrumental in helping Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor return to human size after escaping Atomia's atom world, but also accidentally unleashed the menace of the Bughumans. At one point her devices revived Wonder Woman, and another time the Justice Society of America.

Silver Age

Her Earth-1 counterpart differed only slightly, as Baroness Paula von Gunta. The Earth-1 von Gunta appeared in Wonder Woman (vol. I) #163 and 168, before presumably following a similar path as the Earth-2 Paula and moving to Paradise Island to become an adopted Amazon and chief scientist.

The Earth-1 Paula was asked to replace Hippolyta as Amazon queen during a coup d'├ętat, which was abruptly ended when the goddess Kore appeared to enlist the Amazons in a battle against the Anti-Monitor during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Post-Crisis

Following the events of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, it was revealed that the Baroness fought Hippolyta during the time-traveling queen's World War II adventures as Wonder Woman.

This Von Gunther was a mistress of the occult and became the human host for the evil wandering spirit, Dark Angel. Dark Angel became a dedicated foe of Hippolyta and was inadvertently responsible for the origin of Wonder Girl (Donna Troy).

Donna Troy was able to defeat Dark Angel, and at some point Dark Angel separated herself from von Gunther. The Baroness was last seen living among the Amazons.

Eventually it was revealed that Dark Angel was not a mystical spirit but an extant multiversal doppelganger of Donna Troy.

Powers and abilities

Pre-Crisis, Paula von Gunther had standard Amazon powers, such as superhuman strength capable of breaking chains and leaping great heights, speed and stamina enough to deflect bullets and other projectiles from her Amazon Bracelets. She was also a skilled hand-to-hand combatant.

Post-Crisis, von Gunther was empowered when possessed by Dark Angel, who had vast powers and was able to perform a variety of feats including mind control, altering her size, teleportation and altering the time stream.

In other media

  • Baroness Paula von Gunther was one of only two enemies from the comic book to appear on the Wonder Woman TV series. She was portrayed by Christine Belford.
  • Baroness Paula von Gunther appears in the opening segment of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Scorn of the Star Sapphire!" voiced by Eliza Schneider. She attempts to launch missiles at a meeting of world leaders in Geneva, Switzerland, but is defeated and captured by Wonder Woman and Batman. During von Gunther's brief fight with Wonder Woman she activated a suit of cybernetic armor she was wearing, which gives her enhanced strength and durability; appearance-wise it is very similar to the suit of armor worn by another classic Wonder Woman enemy, Doctor Cyber.

See also

References

  1. ^ Sensation Comics #4, DC Comics, April 1942.
  2. ^ Daniels, Les. Wonder Woman: The Complete History. Chronicle Books, 2000, p. 35-36.
  3. ^ Beatty, Scott. Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Guide to the Amazon Princess. DK Publishing, 2003. p. 113.
  4. ^ Jimenez, Phil. The Essential Wonder Woman Encyclopedia, Del Rey Books, 2010, p. 170-173.
  5. ^ Wonder Woman #131 (volume 2), DC Comics, March 1998.

External links

  • Scans and recap of WW#21, Paula as Amazon scientist
  • The Unofficial Baroness Paula von Gunther Biography
  • Wonder Woman Meets Baroness Paula von Gunther
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