Wonder Woman Tales

In recent months, fans have seen a lot more of their favorite super heroines.  The new Avengers movie features both Black Widow and long time favorite the Scarlet Witch.  WB Games has announced that the character of Batgirl will be playable in a “story expansion” within downloadable content for the game Batman: Arkham Knight.  And this fall will see the debut of DC Super Hero Girls, focusing on super women ( including Supergirl, Wonder Woman, and Katana) in their teen years.

With all of this girl power excitement going on, one can`t help but ask: where is the Wonder Woman movie? Does Hollywood really still think she can`t carry one by herself?  She is supposed to have a small role in this summer`s Batman vs. Superman, so we`ll see how that goes.  In the meantime, here is a rundown of some notable WW stories ( and there are many others)  that could be source material for a possible film.

1)  Wonder Woman Chronicles ( re-issues of Golden Age WW tales-first vol. 2010). Written by Charles Moulton Marston, art by Harry G. Peter.   These stories are the true origin of the character of Wonder Woman.  Back in 1941, psychologist Marston created a strong female hero specifically for DC Comics.   He felt that women had positive qualities and strengths  which were sadly neglected in modern society, and wished  to “create a feminine character with  all  the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.”   Wonder Woman was thus endowed with not only super strength, but beauty and a dose of kindness and compassion.

Marston`s run on Wonder Woman presented all of the tropes  that would be used in later versions.   The 40`s comics introduce her as Diana, princess of the all-woman, Amazon-run Paradise Island, who leaves her female affirming home to help mankind.   Admittedly, her initial interest in our realm is because of handsome Steve Trevor, an Air Force pilot who crash lands on the island. Other important characters include  Diana`s chubby but energetic friend Etta Candy and her lovely and accomplished mother, Queen Hippolyte.

These stories  also feature the first appearances of WW`s trademark red, white, and blue costume and her famous Magic Lasso, which compels anyone  caught by it to tell the truth.     And  Wonder Woman herself always finds time to  interact directly with people, whether she`s giving career advice to other  “girls” or telling children about nutrition and exercise.  In general, the early stories are action-packed and have a lot of surreal humor, some of which is unintentionally supplied by the sexism of the male characters.

2)  Wonder Woman: Gods and Mortals (1987-1992).   Written by George Perez, Len Wein, and Greg Potter, art by Perez.    Although Wonder Woman had continued to re-surface in comics throughout the 1960`s and 70`s, it was Perez who eliminated the campier elements others had given her and successfully re-established a powerful image of the character.  His version  opens in Mt. Olympus, home of the ancient Greek gods, who are faced yet again with the aggression of Ares, the god of war.  They create the Amazons in order to have an opposing force, a race of strong, bright women who will eventually help humanity.

This help comes in the form of Diana/WW herself.   She`s sent to 1980`s Boston for the purposes of acclimating to “Man`s World” and  aiding the US Army as Ares makes trouble for everyone.   Perez`s imagination is hard to beat:  he keeps the reader interested whether he`s writing about mythic  characters or  people and events in the modern world.  Diana is portrayed as a strong figure  who is also a bit vulnerable, and this makes her easier to relate to than earlier versions of WW.

During the Perez  run, Wonder Woman successfully fought against Ares, encountered old enemies like the Cheetah, and provided encouragement for all of the female characters she met.  Many new people are introduced,  notably Greek scholar Dr. Julia Kapatelis and her daughter, Vanessa, who  provide Diana with a place to stay and help her get used to life in a new locale.

An interesting take on  Steve Trevor is that he is now more of a brotherly figure than a love interest, which seems to make more sense.   Later tales focus on life on Paradise Island, now called Themyscira, and the  Amazons` attempts to explain their culture to Man`s World.   The Perez version of Wonder Woman is positive and exciting, a true original take on her story.

3)  Wonder Woman Amazonia (1997).  Written by William Messner-Loebs, art by Phil Winslade.   This graphic novel is part of DC Comics` Elseworld  series, in which characters are placed in other times or alternate worlds.  Messner-Loebs takes elements of the Wonder Woman mythos and re-tells them in a scary alternate version of Victorian England.

Wonder Woman is depicted as Diana Trevor, an amazing circus performer who is trapped in an oppressive marriage with one Steven Trevor.   She tells her children bedtime stories about  an all-female island where everyone lives “in perfect harmony and joy.”   It develops that Diana`s confusing memories of this island are based in reality:  when she was a child, Trevor and the British army invaded her home and slaughtered most of the Amazons.

Despite these downbeat elements, Diana`s powers grow- she finds that she can fly- and the story builds to a positive ending.   Amazonia is unique for its well-crafted ability to combine a superhero/adventure story with some real truths about female oppression and liberation.

Winslade`s shadowy, etching-like drawings leap into vivid color whenever the action focuses on Diana.  He gives her iconic costume a 19th-century look by making it a red dress with the gold eagle on the front, combined with elbow-length gloves and high black boots.  Amazonia demonstrates that Wonder Woman`s story, like all classics, can be changed without losing important components.  It would be great to see any of these versions adapted for the big screen-or a compelling mini-series.




pixel Wonder Woman Tales

More fun articles: