Tomorrow is a big day. A day where only one name will be on everyone’s lips….Wonder Woman. That’s right, tomorrow is the official release of director Patty Jenkin’s long awaited vision to the public. I, for one, am beyond excited to witness the Amazon’s return into the current zeitgeist. This resurgence of all things Diana has breathed new life into many people, and not just Wonder Woman fans. The original Warrior Princess has represented a broad spectrum of things for a wide variety of people. So the pre-release popularity of her first live action film comes as no surprise. All the world truly has been waiting for her. In this case, three quarters of a century. Interest in the Amazing Amazon has been reignited, and in some cases ignited. As a lifelong Wonder Woman fan, I’ve been receiving a lot of inquiries about her. As of late, I’ve received requests for ways to find out more about Wonder Woman, and with this I am honored to assist.
We live in the age of technology. Information is at our fingertips. We can easily google ourselves into digital bliss to fill the informational void. Yet, for a topic with such a broad history and multiple incarnations, as with Wonder Woman, it can be invaluable having a guide. Therefore, I’ve put together an easy three step template to assist those who are jumping on board for the first time.
UNDERSTAND HER ORIGINS
Wonder Woman’s character is complex. It is more complex than one might think. Therefore, I believe that understanding her origins are at the crux of properly comprehending her character. The first thing to do is research her creator the Harvard educated psychologist, Dr. William Moulton Marston III. He imbued Wonder Woman with many of his psychological theories (like the DISC profile), and his other philosophies regarding various topics in life. A simple Encyclopedia Britannica search of him should give you the general overview. As you desire to find out more about him, he has many published works which are heavy to digest, but fascinating and eyeopening to his intention for Diana none the less.
However, after you finish reading your general over view either via Wiki or Encyclopedia, there are two books that are a must. They are a collection of his original Wonder Woman stories from the 1940s. After reading them, you will have built your foundation. They are Wonder Woman: The Complete Dailies, and The Golden Age Wonder Woman Omnibus. Begin at the beginning.
Begin at the beginning. That’s what I always say, and I believe that the combination of these three will give you a good foundation.
UNDERSTAND WHO SHE IS TODAY
The Wonder Woman of today is a modernized representation of who she was in the 1940s. Comic books are the place from whence everything about this character originates. So for me, when referring people to materials, comic books are usually the default. The current writer Greg Rucka is just about to finish his run on Wonder Woman, and I must say his run has revitalized our hero, and in turn her fans. Sometimes it feels as if he is channeling her creator Dr. Marston, as many of Rucka’s writings are modernizations of Marston’s original vision; both in concept and design. Therefore, I always recommend that a great next step would be to read the most recent and best comic book story arc. In this case it’s Greg Rucka’s The Lies and The Truth which are being collected in graphic novel format.
UNDERSTAND HER EVOLUTION
Wonder Woman’s evolution is just as complex as her psychological roots. Since the typical person asking to find out more about Wonder Woman is not a comic book fan, I feel that it is first important to explain to them three things:
- There are two major comic book companies: DC Comics and Marvel Comics. DC Comics owns characters like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. While Marvel Comics owns characters like The X-Men, Wolverine, Captain America, Iron Man, The Avengers, and Thor.
- Comic Books, like real life history, is separated into eras: Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age, Dark Age, Modern Age, & New Age.
- In comics there are giant crossover events that happen, and the effects will reverberate throughout that entire universe. For DC Comics (who own Wonder Woman), one of their practices is to have a particular type of crossover event every so often; usually in approximate 5 year increments. One property of these particular types of crossover events, are that it will completely reset the universe and allow all of the characters to be reimagined.
Now that you have some basic structural knowledge of comic books, I can now recommend the next book. It’s the recently released Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Guide to the Amazon Warrior. This book explains her creation, background, weapons, and also takes you through each era and incarnation of her character. An overview in the truest sense. And what better way to get caught up on 75 years of history than a look at the big picture!
Last but surely not least, if you want to understand her evolution, there’s another aspect that should be taken into consideration, that which consists of her live action and animation roots. Lynda Carter is the iconic female actor who imprinted the character on many of our hearts, minds, and souls. Often times the mere mention of Wonder Woman will illicit the response of, “You mean, Lynda Carter?” Although, there have been others to portray the role, it was Lynda Carter who’s was iconic. Therefore, I always recommend watching at least watching two episodes from the 1970’s Lynda Carter series Wonder Woman. One episode from season one which is set in the 1940s, and another episode from either season two or three, which are both set in the 1970s.
And that about does it. There is so much more that I’d love to share, but these are great places to start. They’ll give you a fantastic overview and strong foundation to who she is. I’m so happy to live in an era of Wonder Woman, and am looking forward to her being shared with the rest of the world.
Should find yourself really wanting more after you’ve gone through the previous, then you could also dive into her animation history which consists of the SuperFriends, Justice League, and the Justice League Unlimited animated series, to name an important few. She also made appearances in many of the DC Universe’s animated films like her Wonder Woman animated film of 2009, and several of the Justice League animated movies. to read some of the more memorable and powerful Wonder Woman stories ever published. A few of my more modern favorites consist of: Wonder Woman by George Perez Omnibus, Wonder Woman #170 by Phil Jimenez, JLA: A League Of One a one shot by Christopher Moeller, The Hiketia by Greg Rucka, The Circle by Gail Simone.
Happy Wonder Woman Week!
Check out Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot in theaters everywhere tomorrow!