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Dr. Poison

Contributed by Ronald Byrd

In 1942 Doctor Poison (AKA Princess Maru), who disguises her gender via a bulky hooded costume and mask, was the leader of a Nazi spy ring whose ultimate goal was to wreak havoc in the US Army by contaminating the army’s water with “reverso,” a drug that “confuses the brain centers…[making] soldiers do the exact opposite of what they are told.” This plan is foiled by the Amazon heroine Wonder Woman and Doctor Poison is imprisoned, but she later escapes and, in 1943, now working for Japan, grounds all US planes along the front of China via a “green gas” which “enters the carburetor and stops the engine.” Wonder Woman halts this scheme as well, and Doctor Poison is imprisoned on Transformation Island, the Amazon penal colony. She is not seen again until 1948, when she and seven other female super-villains escape and pool their talents as Villainy, Incorporated; led by the Saturnian slaver Eviless, the evil eight are again defeated by Wonder Woman. Throughout most of her first appearance Doctor Poison was believed to be a male due to her disguise, and she retained this “drag king” garb in her later appearances; whether this guise was simply a necessity of assuming power within the male-dominated Axis governments or indicative of something else is difficult to say at this late date.

In Wonder Woman #151 (volume #2), an unnamed grandchild of the original Dr. Poison appears in league with the demi-goddess Devastation. Dr. Poison’s gender remains ambiguous, the only clues being long fingernails and a lipsticked grimace somewhat like the Joker’s. While the continuity of most golden age Wonder Woman stories remains unspecified, it is made clear that Hippolyte, Wonder Woman’s mother, did fight Doctor Poison during the time Hippolyte spent as a heroine in the 1940s. Whether or not the rest of Wonder Woman’s original golden age rogues’ gallery has similarly been re-established into existence is unknown at this time.”

Doctor Poison possessed no superhuman powers but was a chemical genius. She was a spy, Chief of Nazi Poison Division, and Chemical Research Chief of the Japanese army. Since neither Nazi Germany nor Imperial Japan was ruled by a monarchy, precisely what Doctor Poison, a.k.a. Princess Maru, was princess of is unclear.

The Golden Age Dr. Poison first appeared in Sensation Comics #2 (1942) and is later seen in Sensation Comics #24 and Wonder Woman #28.  A descendant of the character appeared in several issues of Phil Jimenez’s run of Wonder Woman starting with #183 and also transitioned to film in the first Wonder Woman movie.

Doctor Poison created by William Moulton Marston and Harry G Peters. Art by Harry G Peters from Wonder Woman #28 and Phil Jimenez from Wonder Woman Secret Files #3.

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