Another classic character today. Does being iconic automatically get you on the list? Let's check it out. (Archive.)
303. Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman is one of the most recognizable superheroes in the entire world. She's become a feminist icon. So why hasn't she been in any good stories? Why's Wonder Woman so hard to write?
I'd thought Wonder Woman first appeared in Sensation Comics #1, but it turns out she debuted in the pages of All Star Comics #8. She was created by William Moulton Marston (originally calling her 'Suprema'), who later contributed to the creation of the lie detector (evidenced in WW's lasso of truth) under the pseudonym Charles Moulton. He seemed to want to bring in a new heroine that would "enhance the female archetype" or somesuch. I don't think he did the best job-- the Wonder Woman stories of the golden age became a strange outlet for Marston, as Wonder Woman constantly found herself in bizarre situations of a sexual nature-- particularly bondage, which was revealed as her weakness. It was a really sexist book.
The character went through a variety of changes over the years-- Golden Age adventures with Steve Trevor and Etta Candy; silly sci-fi madness under the pen of Bob Kanigher, fighting such enemies as Egg Fu; being a powerless Emma-Peel type in what proved to be the greatest era for WW stories, as she teamed up with the biggest pimp in comics, I-Ching; tying into Greek mythology under George Perez; and more. And somewhere in here, I've got to mention the Invisible Plane, as I love it so.
Numerous directions haven't served the sales well; while Diana Prince has had her bright spots, her title's usually ignored by most readers. It seems DC publishes the book of out necessity, sometimes. The reason everyone remembers Wonder Woman is from the wacky, lovable Lynda Carter TV show (dig that explosive twirling transformation!), all lasso, bracelets, and bustier. She's got her fans who love her fiercely, though, and I think she's perfectly capable of starring in good comics-- I think Gail Simone, if left alone by editorial, will do good things with her.
But is Wonder Woman a Reason to Love Comics? Well... sure. Why not? We (by which I mean I) here at Reason Central believe that potential is an incredibly important factor in a character, and Wonder Woman's got plenty. The problem seems to be that she lacks an exciting subgenre, or something to make her unique in an industry dominated by spandex-clad characters. The Greek mythology angle is neat, but there should be more to her than that. A bold creator with a clear vision could easily take her to new heights. I like her as a feminist and an ambassador. While she's a woman of peace, she's also a mighty warrior. If she's about one thing, though, it's truth, and a lot can be done with that.
If it seems I'm wishy-washy on Wonder Woman, it's probably because I was never a big fan of the character. I appreciate her importance, however, and I'm constantly rooting for a Wonder Woman comic to knock my socks off. And secretly, very very secretly, I keep awaiting the return of Egg Fu and Dr. Domino. They don't need to shy away from the silliness; they just need to come to terms with it and rework it into for the contemporary audience.
I still wish she'd put on some pants, though.
More on the amazing Amazon at the Wonder Wiki.