(This is a repost from my own blog from 2016. I see no need to re-evaluate my 2016 assessment of Egg Fu).
So having finished Showcase Presents Wonder Woman Vol. 3, I started volume 4, and the first story is so mind-blowing (not in the good way) that it deserves its own blog post. Plus I just got back from Cheesecake Factory so deep analysis ain’t on the agenda.
The first part of a two-part story, “I—the Bomb,” is by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito (Andru/Esposito also did both covers) and introduces us to one of the most batshit concepts Kanigher ever came up with. Kanigher wrote some seriously weird monsters into Wonder Woman before this, but nothing quite as insane as the diabolical Chi-Com (Chinese Communist for those to young to remember) genius, Egg Fu. Who, as you can see from the images below, is literally a giant egg. With mustaches that serve as tentacles. And a fiendishly cunning Chinese brain filled with fiendish Chinese cunning because of being so fiendish and cunning and Chinese.
Tech-wise, he’s created a super-missile with which China will wipe out the U.S. Pacific fleet, and an anti-aircraft gun that fires automatically if it detects the sound of a camera from a spy plane, which is why the 11 American agents who attempted to scan Egg Fu’s lair have not returned. Steve’s quip, when called on to do his duty, is that if he’d been 13th, he’d be worried, but 12th? No problem!
Actually he’s worried enough that he desperately wants to see Wonder Woman for a farewell date. In a bizarre scene, he asks Lt. Diana Prince to pretend to be Wonder Woman for an hour, so that he can sweet talk her and kiss her, reminisce about past dates … seriously, what makes Steve think any woman would put up with that? Though Lieutenant Prince — who is, of course, Wonder Woman — does exactly that.And then we get to the weirdness of Egg Fu, the super-genius, super-evil giant Chinese egg. Egg Fu is so weird he makes this story weirder than it is racist, and it is plenty of that. There’s the typical for the time treatment of Asians as incapable of distinguishing R and L so we get heavy lisping as Egg Fu gloats “Steve Tlevor, I have turned you into deadly human bomb!” and the like (not a direct quote, but you get the gist). And constant, repeated emphasis that the Chinese are inhuman fiends who think nothing of sacrificing lives as if they were corn flakes. The idea that Chinese see life as cheap is a stereotype with a long history—Sax Rohmer made the same claim in the first Fu Manchu book.
The idea that China was a far more monstrous threat than the USSR was a common theme in pop culture and political commentary at the time. The movie The Doomsday Machine, for example, assumes China’s government has no qualms in going nuclear and wiping out the human race. The movies Earth 2 and The Bamboo Saucer show the US and the USSR can set aside their differences, but China will remain The Enemy. You Only Live Twice has China plotting to provoke the USA and USSR into a mutual exchange of nukes so that China can then rule the world. This idea wasn’t unique to the Bond films as I remember reading an article in Reader’s Digest that proposed this as a serious geopolitical possibility.
But the fact Kanigher wasn’t out of the mainstream politically doesn’t make the story taste better, nor does it make Egg Fu any less loonie. Though Kanigher apparently thought him worthy enough that even though the Amazing Amazon smashes him to eggshell fragments, his successor/clone, Egg Fu the Fifth, shows up in Wonder Woman, plus a lookalike villain, Dr. Yes, in Metal Men.
I’d say Egg Fu was a textbook example of something that hasn’t aged well but let’s face it, he wasn’t that good to start with.