Celebrating 75 years of Wonder Woman
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of the Wonder Woman comic.
Wonder Woman is making her big screen debut this month, however she made her first appearance as a comic book heroine back in 1941 in the All Star Comics (issue #8). She was soon given her own stand-alone series with the Wonder Woman comic book series debuting in 1942. Nearly 700 issues later Wonder Woman comics are still in demand.
Wonder Woman was the embodiment of the era’s unconventional, liberated woman. She was created by the American psychologist and inventor (of the polygraph lie detector) William Moulton Marston, and artist Harry G. Peter. The character was inspired by the strong, feminist women in his life. His wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston earned not one but three degrees – including a law degree – in an era when women rarely were able to earn one degree. It was Elizabeth’s idea for William to create a female superhero. And the inspiration for Wonder Woman’s bulletproof bracelets came from the pair of bracelets that Olive Byrne, Williams’ live-in lover, wore.
An Amazon warrior and princess, Wonder Woman lives in Themyscira, a fictional island that is inhabited only by women. Her origin story is tied to Greek mythology; she was sculpted from clay by her mother Queen Hippolyta and given life by Athena, along with superhuman powers as gifts by the Greek Gods. In her homeland, she is Princess Diana, and outside of her homeland, she is known by her secret identity as civilian Diana Prince.
The original Wonder Woman comics may seem quaint or campy now. Including such catchphrases as:
- Aphrodite aid me!
- Great Hera!
And, best of all…
- Suffering Sappho!
However, Wonder Woman has always been a radical character. Many stories depicted Wonder Woman rescuing herself from bondage, therefore defeating the damsels in distress stereotype that was rampant in comics during the 1940s.
This strong, independent female icon was given a resurgence when feminist activist Gloria Steinem placed the character on the cover of Ms. magazine in 1971.
In recent years artists have expanded her profile:
- Artist George Pérez gave her a muscular look and emphasized her Amazonian heritage
- Artist Jim Lee redesigned Diana’s costume to include pants
- She inherited Ares’s divine abilities, becoming the personified “God of War”
- Writer Greg Rucka clarified her sexual orientation as bisexual, giving her a
- backstory that includes positive relationships with women.
If you’re looking for a some fascinating backstory (including risqué topics for the time, including bondage and submission, polyamory, homosexuality) on Wonder Woman’s comic book journey check-out Wonder Woman’s surprising history:
Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore
All the world’s waiting for you,
and the power you possess…
Change their minds,
and change the world….
You’re a wonder, Wonder Woman.
Lynda Carter fans take note! DC recently introduced a special 2 volume line of Wonder Woman comics hearkening back to the glory days of the 1970s TV show. Enjoy the nostalgia with this fittingly titled series: Wonder Woman ‘77
Can’t get enough? Here’s even more Wonder.