Wonder Woman : a retrospective

Credit where it’s due dept.: This article was inspired by my fellow kibbitzer d. Galloway’s retrospective on The Incredible Hulk, which you can find elsewhere in this forum. Thanks, d! :smiley:

That said, this is a matter that has been bugging me for a while: what is wrong with Wonder Woman?

A movie based on her has been in production for years- but it’s still not ready, mainly because of “script problems.” Which made me wonder what those problems could be. Is it with her origins? That in turn led me to think about WW’s origin- and then I realized how little the general public (as opposed to fans like me) actually know about the character.

As most of you probably know, she’s one of the most famous fictional superheroes, in fact, probably THE most famous female superhero of all time (though not necessarily the most famous female character; Xena or Buffy are probably better known today, but neither of them are (strictly speaking) superheroes.) And yet, despite being a contemporary of heroes like Superman and Batman, she’s just not as well known (quick: can you describe her origin? Her powers? Her enemies? etc.? Thought so.) This despite her being around for over 60 years, having appeared in her own TV show and various cartoons, and her costume being sold in costume shops around the world. Even in the comics, she has undergone some rather odd changes over the years, as if the writers just don’t seem to know what to do with her. Why is that? Let’s look at the various versions of the character, and see if we can find a clue.

First, we need to determine which versions we’ll cover. I’m only going to cover the ones who have starred in their own series, not EVERY WW version there has ever been- so no Evil Duplicates, parodies, or anything like that. For this article’s purposes, we’ll cover:

  1. The Original Wonder Woman from the comics, also known as the “Golden Age” Wonder Woman, and also as the “Earth-2” WW (I’ll explain what these unusual terms mean soon.)

  2. The “Silver Age” or “Earth 1” WW;

  3. The TV show Wonder Woman;

  4. The “Post-Crisis” Wonder Woman (again, I’ll explain the term later)

  5. The cartoon WW (mostly from the Super Friends and Justice League cartoons.)


To be honest, I don’t know that much about this version, because she starred in comics from before I was born, and was semi-retired by the time I discovered comics. Worse, there is some confusion as to exactly when the “Golden Age” Wonder Woman’s adventures ended and the “Silver Age” ones begin; this is because WW’s comic has been in publication, uninterrupted (except shortly during the ‘80s) since 1941- making her the only comic book hero (besides Superman and Batman) to have such a long run. The rest of DC comics’ superheroes were canceled in the late ‘40s, with some being revived -in new, unrelated versions- during the late 50s. To distinguish between versions, fans have taken to refer to the the periods before and after the cancellations as “Golden Age” and "Silver Ages’ respectively. Originally, the new versions of the characters were simply assumed to replace the old ones, but it was later decided that all of them existed in the SAME universe- only on separate versions of Earth, that were invisible to each other (what is known as “Parallel Earths” in Science Fiction.) Thus, it was stated that the Golden Age heroes existed on “Earth-2” while the new heroes existed on “Earth-1”. (Why not the other way around? No reason, other than to remind the fans that the New versions were the ones that mattered now!) This therefore meant that there were two Wonder Women as well, one for each Earth. However, telling exactly when the original’s adventures end and the new one’s begins, is tricky because her series was never cancelled.

Let’s look at the differences between their origins:

In the original version, Wonder Woman begins as Diana, daughter of Hippolyte, Queen of the Amazons of Paradise Island. These are assumed to be the same Amazons from Greek legend, a nation of female warriors. In this version, they moved to the magical Paradise Island (where they did not age) and developed an advanced civilization, in both culture, physical and mental abilities, and even technology! (in the very first story, Diana is shown using a “purple ray” machine that can heal wounds!) So, these are not primitive warriors anymore, they are our betters in many ways! When American pilot Steve Trevor crashes on the island, Diana falls in love with him at first sight (that happened all the time in the old comics. :stuck_out_tongue: ) The goddess Aphrodite then tells the Amazons that it’s time for them to send a champion to “Man’s world” to help battle the menace of the Axis Powers (America had just gotten involved in World War II at the time.) The champion will be decided by a tournament. Diana wants to participate but her mother forbids it (biased much?) so Diana, wearing a mask, participates anyway, and wins (question: why would an Amazon be allowed to participate masked on such an important event… and how come Hippolyte never wondered if that was her daughter?) after which Hippolyte has no choice but to let her go. So, Diana becomes Wonder Woman, and takes Trevor back to America. (Another question: why would her costume wear such obvious American symbols on it? Even if the Amazons already knew about America, shouldn’t she have sported her homeland’s symbols?) This is where the story gets REALLY hard to believe, though: Diana meets an EXACT LOOKALIKE of hers, a nurse named Diana Prince! After saving her life, this lookalike conveniently decides to disappear and allows Diana to take over her identity! Even more unbelievable, she arranges things so she can work close to her love interest, Steve- WHO DOESN’T RECOGNIZE HER AS WONDER WOMAN! I know, I know, Clark Kent syndrome and all that. Let’s chalk it to magic and move on.

So, what are the differences between this version and the second one? Well, from what I can tell:

-I’m not sure about this, but the fact that Diana was actually a clay statue of a little girl brought to life by the gods (as a reward to Hippolyte for her faithfulness) was introduced later, to explain how come Diana could have been born in an island with no men. (I guess other options, such as her being the fruit of Hippolyte’s dalliance with Hercules, were probably too controversial back then.) So I don’t know if it applies to the original WW.

  • One thing I’m sure of, is that the source of her powers Is different: In the first case, all the Amazons were superhuman due to some training they invented; in the later version, Diana was given her powers by the Greek gods. (However, it was eventually established that ALL Amazons, not just Diana, had these powers! Though only Diana received the Lasso of Truth.) The reason for such “gifts” was not made clear.

-Another major difference: while the original Amazons apparently came to Paradise Island willingly, to form their own, fair civilization, the Silver Age ones were sent there by a goddess (I can’t remember if it was Aphrodite or Athena) when Hippolyte prayed to the gods to free them from slavery, in which they had fallen after Hercules tricked her (this is correct in the original myths, btw.) While the gods may have agreed to free the Amazons and empower them, they also required them to wear their metal bracelets as a proof of their submission; If they ever took them off, they would go berserk! Also, if the bracelets were bound together, they would lose their powers (Gee, how nice of the gods, huh? Btw, the original Wonder Woman ALSO had this weakness, though as far as I know it was unexplained. Note; the early WW stories have been accused of having a bondage element to them… and certainly, Diana found herself bound a LOT, and she herself tied up a lot of people! Also, her creator (William Marston, better remembered today as the inventor of the Lie Detector (!) was into some kinky stuff himself (not sure if that included bondage, but he certainly had TWO willing lovers at the same time!) so maybe there was some truth to that…

-As far as I know, there was no Diana lookalike for the second Diana to replace, she just came up with the identity on her own. And she wore glasses as Prince; not sure if the original did.

-The original Wonder Woman eventually married Steve; though this was revealed only after the Earth-2 business was established. The latter Diana… well, it gets complicated. I’ll cover that next time.

((Note: comments and corrections are welcome. :wink: ))

That in turn led me to think about WW’s origin- and then I realized how little the general public (as opposed to fans like me) actually know about the character.

That’s true. My knowledge of her doesn’t extend beyond “oh, the old-school woman superhero”.

I know enough about her basic origin, but not about, say, her secret identity and lovers of the time. And sadly, I can’t think of any villains she’s had at all - except maybe the Cheetah that’s always appearing in Superfriends cartoons?

I forget, is it the Earth-1 WW that survives the Crisis? or do they come up with someone all together different? Yeah, I know I’m skipping ahead, but it’s bothering me :confused:

This was actually pretty informative. I never really knew much about Wonder Woman’s origins (except that she was an Amazon), and I had NO idea that her secret identity was so idioticly conceived in the Golden Age. (Heck, she didn’t even bother disguising her first name! At least Superman has the decency to create an entire pseudonym so he can dick around those he loves.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to this.

Part 2 is not ready yet, but I’ll answer some of your questions now:

-VE: That’s correct, unlike Superman and (especially) Batman, WW doesn’t have that many well-known enemies- and most of the ones she has aren’t terribly good. (Why this is so is another unanswered question.) The Cheeta is indeed the best known; she’s been her foe since her WWII days, though there have been different versions of her over the years as well.

-Taran: The Post-Crisis Wonder Woman is a whole new character- a new version of Diana, but it’s gotten reinterpreted several times in less than two decades. Definitely the most confusing version. I’ll try to explain as clearly as possible when I get to her…

A few minor bits I forgot to add last time:

-Another difference between the two WWs is that the famous (or infamous?) Invisible Plane, was originally a propeller-type plane, like most other aircraft of the time, while the later model was a jet, adjusting to the technology of the times.

-WW wore a skirt in her costume (as seen in the cover) for only one or two issues- then she started wearing short pants, which got shorter and shorter over the years… :wink:

Next Section soon!

As this section of Superdickery demonstrates.

In any case, that as a very informative read. Young as I am, I never read a lot of the classic comics, or even very many comics period growing up.

Ah yes. You know a character isn’t very well known (I can name at least three Robins, just from “pop-cultural osmosis”: Dick Grason, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake) when everything you know about them comes from Superdickery.com

Jeezus! I knew about Superdickery. com, of course, but I hadn’t seen its Wonder Woman section. Well, I guess there’s no denying from those images that (at least the early WW stories) had a whole submissiveness/bondage thing to them. At least the later versions, as much as they got bound to titillate the audience, never actually SAID they liked it…

(Also, those images helped to confirm two other things: 1) The Golden Age Diana DID wear glasses (So THAT’s why Steve didn’t recognize her!) :hahaha; and 2) the Silver Age Hippolita, unlike the original, was blonde (probably so she wouldn’t look so much like Diana.) So thanks for that, GG!

…And Egg Fu… God, I’d forgotten about it… Most. Absurd. Villain. EVER! Can hardly believe he was a WW foe… yeah, her Rogue’s Gallery SUCKS.

So who has worse villians: WW or The Flash? >_>

On another note, having read the Crisis on Infinite Earth novel, I’d like to think I have a general idea of what went on, but geez, some of the stuff that happened afterwards is just messed up.

On a random note, what are your thoughts on the Death and Return of Superman novel? I liked it, but my knowledge of comic books is not enough to fill a thimble.

Okay, that’s enough derailing this thread.

Most of what I knew about Wonder Woman actually came from Superfriends - I mean that old, old Superfriends show, back when apparently it was illegal to draw someone punching another person. So you’d get retarded fight scenes. Like this one.

That … was as awesomely stupid (or stupidly awesome) as this idea I had for a movie where actors play superpowered versions of themselves, i.e. Keanu Reeves had Neo’s powers, and Mr. T was his TheObiWan, to use a TVTropes term (“So, what are you saying, that I can throw a giant robot ‘helluva far’?” “No, foo! I’m sayin’ when the time comes, you ain’t gonna hafta!”), and the final fight would be against Willem Dafoe in like a Metal Gear or something. And Mr. T would be MadeOfIron, and the other good guys would all invoke the MyNameIsInigoMonotoya trope (Ask-a-Ninja style rambling ends here).

Oh, and now I remember why I kept thinking “Hippolyta Hall” every time you mentioend Hippolyta: that’s the “civillian” name of The Fury, who has a large degree of plot significance in The Sandman.

Part Two: The Silver Age Wonder Woman

I mentioned last time that it’s a bit difficult telling where the adventures of the “Old” Wonder Woman end and the “New” one’s begin, because they were featured on the same comic and changed gradually over the decades, rather than having clear cut off and start points like most other DC characters. Well, as I researched this section, I realized that determining were the second version ends as well isn’t that clear, either.

Oh, sure the Wonder Woman comic was cancelled in 1985, to be relaunched the next year as part of DC Comics’ 50th Year celebrations (more on that later), that’s certain enough. The thing is, there’s evidence that there were TWO versions of the character between these periods!

The end of the Silver Age, you see, is not very clear in DC comics. The reason is that, thanks to those pesky Marvel Comics, a whole new approach to superheroes- less silly, more dynamic, and more realistic- was in vogue since the 60s. DC took its time to catch up, but by the 70s, Superman and Batman’s adventures were no longer goofy (as seen in sites like Superdickery.com) but became their better known, modern versions. This certainly applied to Wonder Woman as well.

The thing is, despite having a storytelling device that could have been used to justify such changes (the Parallel Earths concept mentioned above) DC never officially separated the Silver Age characters from their modern versions, and in fact, continuity between old and new stories was upheld. So technically, those wacky heroes from the 50s and 60s WERE still the stars of their comics- as if they just woke up one morning and decided to be more serious from then on!

Therefore, officially, while it would make more sense to split this section into “Silver Age” and “Bronze Age” versions of the character, I cannot do so. But the differences are obvious. Let’s see:

WW’s adventures in the late 50s and 60s gravitated from the original’s more, err, bondage-oriented stories to more fantasy (and Sci-Fi) oriented ones. For example, it was established that (apparently due to being situated in the Bermuda Triangle) Paradise Island was close to some rift in time and space, which allowed Diana to have adventures in other dimensions, meet mythological creatures, etc. Not being content with this, the writers at the time decided to start featuring “imaginary” stories, where Diana’s mother, Hyppolita, started dreaming up how her daughter’s life would have been different if she’d always been Wonder Woman all her life. This was, of course, a storytelling device to introduce teenage and even infant versions of the character- Wonder Girl and Wonder Tot! Yes, seriously!

That wouldn’t have been too bad- except the writers took it TOO far. Soon Hippolyta was “imagining” all three versions of Wonder Woman meeting, perhaps in imitation of similar “Superhero Families” in other comics. But remember: it was all in her head (I guess she had a lot of free time as Queen of a Perfect Society! :stuck_out_tongue: )

…And then came the big goof: when it was decided that the sidekicks of all the major current superheroes would join together and star in their own series (as the Teen Titans), the heroes selected were Robin, Aqualad, Speedy (Green Arrow’s partner), Kid Flash- and Wonder Girl! Uhh, apparently, nobody sent the TT writer a memo to remind him that the character was IMAGINARY!

Thus, a Wonder Girl, who was exactly like Diana except for being a teenager, was introduced to the DC Universe- and nobody caught this goof for years! And then -in what was only the first example of Wonder Woman’s poor handling- somebody eventually wrote an origin for Wonder Girl. They established she was a little girl whom Diana had rescued from a burning building. Now an orphan, Diana decided to take her to Paradise Island to be raised, were she eventually became a second Wonder Woman. Not that bad an origin- except for one detail: this would mean that Diana had been WW for over a decade at the time, making her older than the rest of her fellow superheroes. Oops!

This mess was eventually resolved when it was decided that it had been the Titans (the gods who preceded the Olympians) who had rescued the girl, and empowered her; thus she was no longer directly connected to Diana except for using the same costume and name. Even these were later changed, and she became “Troia.” This event alone hints of the earlier and later Silver Age WW tales being incompatible, but as I said, it’s not official.

Hey, at least we didn’t have to suffer with having Wonder Tot brought into continuity! :stuck_out_tongue:

Let’s look at the later, “Bronze Age” Wonder Woman now:

She became a true superhero by then. Powers better defined; more respected among other heroes (the Golden Age Wonder Woman joined the first superhero team, The Justice Society, as their SECRETARY!) It was this version that influenced all the ones that came later. She still, unfortunately, dragged some of the goofy concepts from earlier times behind her: she still lost her powers when bound -which led to lots of (non-sexual) bondage scenes); she still had some loser villains (more on those in a second) and worst of all, she still had Steve Trevor for a boyfriend.

Trevor is probably the best example of a PATHETIC superhero love interest ever. First, he had no personality; second, for a military man, he got captured a LOT, just so Diana could rescue him (though that was typical of such characters at the time). Worse, he was actually KILLED once or twice (!) only to be revived later (obviously, this was a case of writers wanting to get rid of him only to be countered later.) And at one point, he was turned into a male Wonder Woman. Yes, a MALE WONDER WOMAN. You see, one of Wonder Woman’s enemies, Dr. Psycho, had the power to (effectively) turn other people’s wishes real, and he turned Trevor into his ideal hero- Captain Wonder! (Not Wonder Man, probably because Marvel Comics already had a character under that name.) He looked ridiculous, though not as much as you’d think. Ultimately, Trevor was a boring character; even Lois Lane, who at the time was a *itch, constantly trying to learn Superman’s identity to force him to marry her, was at least funny in her absurdity, but when Trevor was gone, only Diana missed him.

Speaking of enemies, let’s take a look at Diana’s and see why they work (or don’t). In the WWII days, as you can imagine, she had plenty of Nazi foes; Her main enemy was Mars, the Greek god of war, who was supposedly behind the Axis powers, and his minions; however, most of her enemies were female, kinda dikeish, and had attitudes designed to be reprimanded by WW, so she could sermon them to death about what a woman’s role should be. This included The Cheetah, a Catwoman rip-off who became a villain out of sheer jealousy towards Diana (!), Clea, a Queen of Atlantis (not the same underwater Atlantis that Aquaman came from); Giganta, a female gorilla transformed into a woman (!) and the Silver Swan, an ugly girl granted beauty, wings, and powers by Mars, but only if she battled Diana. A male villain from that era was Dr. Psycho, a midget with the power to hypnotize people and extract “ectoplasm” from their minds, creating creatures from their imagination. As you can see, most of these really worked well only in their original period (though all except Clea were reintroduced later.)

The Silver Age brought few memorable new villains. If anything, it added the absolute WORST one ever: Egg Fu, who was a Chinese Communist villain who happened to look like a GIANT EGG WITH A FACE, and who attacked with his mustache! (Groan) Not only was this ridiculous, but it was also a terrible racial slur. Thankfully, he was not used more than a couple of times. An almost-passable villain was Dr. Cyber, a female Mad Scientist who wanted revenge on WW for (accidentally) scarring her face. I say almost because, if the concept sounds familiar to you, it is because it was totally ripped-off from Marvel’s DOCTOR DOOM! Where they getting desperate for ideas, or what?

Ironically, one minor villain that would come back (in a later version) to become much more important in Diana’s life was Circe, the sorceress from Greek myth who turned men into animals. (see the Post-Crisis section.)

Also ironic was the fact that, technically speaking, Hercules was a villain in this series. Shown elsewhere in DC as a hero (even starring in his own series once) the demigod was reminded in this comic that Hyppolita had beaten him in combat when he tried to take her Belt of Strength (as in the actual legends) and he had to resort to treachery to steal it (which in turn led to the Amazons being enslaved as mentioned above). He tried to regain his “honor” by beating Diana once, and got his ass handed very much deservingly to him.

Ok, before we move on to the next section, I have to mention a period of this WW’s career that was truly unusual: what we fans call her “Emma Peel” period. (Emma Peel was the female co-star of the British TV action series The Avengers, and the very personification of the “Mod Girl” type from the 60’s.) When Superman and Batman were reworked to be more serious in the 70s, somebody decided that what Diana needed was a “New Direction” and that she should become more modern. Thus came the first of WW’s arbitrary direction changes: Paradise Island was lost in another dimension, which somehow caused Diana to lose her powers, and she took a blind Chinese Man named I-Ching as a martial arts teacher, and became a hip, modern (for the 70’s) woman, even dropping her costume and wearing contemporary fashions. In short, she was Wonder Woman in name only! Now, I’m not saying the stories in this period were bad –at least they weren’t goofy anymore- but she was for all purposes a new character. Ironically, she was restored to normal when the publisher of a famous women’s magazine protested to DC over the change, pointing out (rightly) that all they had done was make her less powerful than her peers. So Paradise Island came back and so did Diana’s powers and identities.

I should also mention that this Diana eventually changed her costume’s bustier (that had always been in the form of a golden eagle) to be in the shape of a double-W, making her more easily distinguishable from her Golden Age version (whom she met in a number of occasions.)

Next: The Post-“Crisis on Infinite Earths” Wonder Woman- a good reinterpretation that was soon messed up.

Hmm. That last section was too long. Maybe I should’ve split into two parts after all. Oh well.

While I ready the next section, I’ll answer some of Taran’s comments:

Worse villains: Flash or WW? Wonder Woman, by a long shot. Egg Fu alone drags her down. :thud: The others aren’t so bad, but they’re nothing special either. No Luthor or Joker equivalent here.

I’ll address the mess that was The Crisis (and its handling ) soon.

I have not read the novel version of the Death of Superman, but I did check out the comics at the time. My first reaction was,“Yeah, like they’'re really gonna kill their most famous character. He’ll be back in a year.” (I was wrong; he came back in 9 months.) Also, having Superman die by fighting a mute monster no one had seen before felt anticlimatic. You’d think he would die saving the World or something.

Still, in general the story was handled well; in particular, I liked the idea of introducing FOUR new versions of Superman (one for each of the Superman titles in publication at the time) to extend the story and keep us guessing which one was the real one. As it turned out, none of them were, but those characters turned out to be interesting enough to have lasted until today. Overall, an OK storyline. The only annoying thing was how much the public actually believed this was truly Superman’s final sendoff. Yeesh, and they call us nerds naive! :stuck_out_tongue:

VE: You are correct that the old cartoons had imposed rules preventing such things as punching your foes. Remember He-Man? How he would defeat most of his enemies… by tossing them into convenient mud puddles?? (At least they allowed him to punch out robots and such.)

Yar: Hippolita Hall was originally Hippolita Trevor- the daughter of the WW of Earth 2 and her husband, Steve! She was a superhero under the name of Fury. But since after the Crisis, her parents didn’t exist anymore (and never did- yes I know it’s confusing) she was made the daughter of a new heroine (the first Fury.) She married Hector Hall (the son of the first Hawkman) who died and went to the realm of dreams, and from there they get involved with the Sandman. Their son becomes the new Dream. It’s rather convoluted.

Hey, looky here! While googling around for RPG websites (as I often do) I found an adaptation of the Original Wonder Woman for the DC Superheroes RPG! This is very informative (it explains details such as WW having her origin changed only 6 months after her debut, and her being a Genius inventor! And check out those quotes! Yep, definitely into bondage.) Check it out, guys (ignore any RPG Jargon you aren’t familiar with, just read the descriptions.) Go to this site and type “Wonder Woman (1942)” into the Search slot:


Gaah, double post. X_X

Fun fact: Egg Fu still exists, albeit with a bit of a makeover for modern times.

GG: He’s still a FREAKIN’ egg. Did somebody challenge the writer of that series if he could make the worst villain ever even moderately passable? Bleh.

Speaking of writers, I forgot to give credit (or blame) where it’s due: the early WW stories were done by William Moulton Marston, her creator, and as you can see, he projected his beliefs about feminism (and “loving submission”) into the character.

The Silver Age WW was written first by Robert Kanigher- a man who invented many weird characters for DC (such as the Metal Men)- and who had a reputation for playing fast and loose with continuity. He’s probably to blame for the Wonder Woman/Girl/Tot mess (though I don’t know for sure.)

The “Mod” version of Diana was the work of Dennis O’Neal, who was responsible for modernizing Batman into his “Creature of the Night” style (and away from his Campy TV show image). He hit it right with Bats, but although his attempt to make Diana more modern and relevant was good, it just was not what the character needed.

Ok, on to the next section!

Part Three: The TV Show Wonder Woman

Yeah, I know I said last time I was going to do the Post-Crisis WW, but I was getting ahead of myself- the TV version came out in the 70’s, so I should cover her next.

This is probably the version that most people who are familiar with the character remember. Mainly because of the actress who played her: Lynda Carter. Man, did they get the right person for the job! Carter not only looked like Diana, she acted the part straight, not campy (though the show had a campy feeling at times; it was not as bad as “Batman”, though.) She WAS Wonder Woman! I’ll admit she was my boyhood crush, even more so than Charlie’s Angels. (And she still looks GREAT, btw!) Also costarring in the show was actor Lyle Waggoner as Steve Trevor; his charm made the character far more likable than the nobody he was in the comics. The catchy show theme probably helped as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_blOQEu9ws

If you ask, “which version of Wonder Woman was the show based on?” the answer would be BOTH the Golden and Silver Age versions. How so? The series (in its first season) was set in WWII! I have no idea why, since at the time WW existed in the present in the comics. Maybe it was a matter of taste for the writers; as a sort of female Captain America, Wondy fits better in those more idealistic times. Fortunately, this WW didn’t have an unhealthy obsession with getting tied (it was a family show after all.)

The wartime setting didn’t last, though- by the second season, they’d shifted it to the present, by simply revealing that Diana went home to Paradise Island at some point (not sure why) where she did not age, and where she eventually met Steve’s SON (played, again, by Waggoner!) who enticed her to return to America as Wonder Woman. Again taking the Diana Prince identity, both Steve and her now operated as agents for an American Secret Agency, and even had a talking computer for an ally. How modern! :stuck_out_tongue: That’s something they did that was different from the comics; Diana would not become a government agent until recently (but more on that later.) Other differences included that they never said Diana was a transformed statue (probably a good idea); and that her powers came from her Magic Items (her strength came from her Belt, which is presumably Hyppolita’s girdle from the legends.) The famous “spinning transformation sequence” was also invented for the show.

Ironically the show influenced the comics! They actually started writing WWII stories on the WW comic (starring the Earth-2 Wonder Woman, in a most unexpected revival) but they switched back as soon as the show stopped using that setting. Though WW started using her magic Lasso to change clothes, perhaps inspired by the TV show.

Another major difference, was that the show had no supervillains. Well, no big loss there, considering how poor most of her Rogues’ Gallery is. She fought mostly Nazis, Aliens and Spies. (Well, there was Formicida the Ant Woman, a character invented for the show, but she only appeared once.)

The show is still fondly remembered, and (in my opinion) Mrs. Carter should have a cameo on the Wonder Woman movie (if it EVER gets made) or better yet, the role of Hyppolita!

There, that was short and sweet. :slight_smile: Ok, next time: the Post Crisis Wonder Woman, for real!


No, Diana didn’t suffer a breakdown and spent time at the Betty Ford clinic. :stuck_out_tongue: The term refers to the fact that this version was created after the comic book event known as “The Crisis on Infinite Earths” which I will explain now.

In 1985, DC Comics decided to celebrate its 50th Anniversary with a special 12-issue miniseries. They also intended to start their fictional universe all over again, because after 5 decades, it was getting hard for writers to remember who did what to whom. (Remember, back then there was no Internet to help with research.) I also suspect they wanted to get rid of the sillier stuff, like those Wonder Tot stories.

The Crisis was a fairly complex affair, but I’ll try to summarize it here: Basically, the Anti-Monitor, a being from the Anti-Matter Universe, decides to destroy ALL Parallel Earths so only antimatter would exist. All the superheroes of the multiverse join forces to stop him, and succeed (though many got killed in the process); but then he tried another thing- he went back in time to the moment of Creation and tried to change it so only antimatter existed in the first place! Again, the heroes stopped him… but something went wrong, and history DID get changed- now, only one universe existed, and nobody remembered the Multiverse!

During the final battle against the Monitor, the Earth-1 Diana was KILLED. It was planned that way since WW was one of the heroes who were going to be completely rebooted. The Earth-2 Wonder Woman, though technically she now never existed, did survive (along her husband Steve) thanks to a blessing of the gods, though they could never leave Olympus (obviously, this was done out of respect for the character.) Oh, and the Silver Age Diana and Steve DID get married, right when her comic was cancelled. (Sure, Steve, wait until the End of the Universe to decide to marry the most perfect woman you would ever meet. LOSER!)

The next year, the new Wonder Woman (the Diana of this merged Earth) debuted in her own series:

This series was mainly the product of famous comic book artist George Perez (a fellow Puerto Rican! :wink: ) who wanted to give Diana a more logical origin and a more definitive mission. Sit down and grab a drink, folks, because this is going to be LONG (and this time it isn’t my fault!)

The new origin of WW begins with showing how the goddess Gaia (the Earth) stored the souls of women who had been killed by men (!) in her “womb” (err, it’s a cave in this case) don’t ask me why. Then by the time of the Greek gods, Ares (the god of war- note how Perez used the original, Greek names of the characters, instead of the later, Roman ones) argued with the female goddesses that women could never be the equal, much less better, than men. To prove their point, the goddesses decided to create an all-female race, using the souls stored in Gaea’s womb, with bodies made of clay (and turned to flesh.) (Ok, logic check: I’m a deity. I want to create the perfect race. So I decide to use- THE SOULS OF WOMEN WHO WERE BRUTALLY KILLED BY MEN?? Yeah, I’m sure they wouldn’t have any issues! I don’t know what Perez was going for here. Unless he wanted a “See? They were murdered, and they STILL chose to renounce vengeance and dedicate themselves to Peace!” statement. Except it never quite worked that way…)

As in the myths, the Amazons eventually encountered Herakles (Hercules) in one of his Twelve Labors, which was to confront them. (Note: in the myths, Hyppolita is the daughter of ARES, and it was him who gave her the Girdle of Strength. That doesn’t fit with this version.) Hercules ended up RAPING Hippolyta and enslaving the Amazons (Yeesh, more female abuse? Was that REALLY necessary? In the myths he seduced her!) As in the Silver Age version, Hippolyta prays to the gods for help, and they are transported to an island named Themiskyra (after the Amazon’s homeland in the myths) where they could live forever- in exchange for keeping an eye on all the monsters sealed inside! (I guess it’s not a Paradise anymore…) Note that now, the Amazons did not receive any super powers (when they could really have used them) but at least they didn’t have to wear those odious bracelets of submission either. These Amazons did also not develop advanced technology (well, this isn’t consistent, they were later shown using things like the Purple Ray, but I will cover that later.) In other words, despite 3000 years of existence, the Amazons were still a nation of barbarians. No cultural superiority, either- in fact, a splinter group of Amazons left the island. That would come back to bite them in the butt…

But let’s get back to Diana. Only ONE soul remained in Gaea’s womb: the unborn soul of Hippolyta’s daughter (yes, she was pregnant when she was killed.) Missing her, Hippolyta created a clay statue of a little girl, and the gods brought it to life with the baby’s soul inside. (So I guess the whole deal was just a convoluted way of explaining the clay statue thing- and giving Diana a real soul?) From there, the origin is more or less the same: Diana grows up in the island, Trevor crashes there, an oracle claims it’s a sign that a champion must be chosen, and the contest to choose which one it will be is held. (And yes, again Diana is forbidden to join and again she has to participate masked. This silly bit they couldn’t get rid off?) Diana wins and is granted powers by the gods now (which makes more sense than before.) One important difference: it turns out that Ares is causing problems among mortals, and could trigger World War III unless stopped- that IS Wonder Woman’s new mission in the World of Man.

More changes in this version: The Wonder Woman costume is originally an ARMOR; it does have the symbols of America, but those were taken from a woman who had crashed on the island years before and was killed saving the Amazons- Steve’s mother, as it turned out (Holy Serendipity, Batman!) She would receive an actual costume after arriving on America (from a woman who became her “agent”.) Diana never assumed a secret identity (she was officially Themiskyra’s ambassador). Steve never became her love interest and he was made older than her anyway (I guess Perez wanted her single.) New cast members (besides her agent) were introduced: a female anthropologist and her daughter, whom Diana moves in with. Ultimately, Wonder Woman defeats Ares by binding him in her Lasso of Truth- which forces him to realize that a new World War would destroy the world, including the gods!

All in all, not that bad of a reboot (other than the horrid new origin for the Amazons.) One thing that went wrong: Perez starts Diana’s adventures in the present, rather than stating that she had been a hero for years, which means that Superman, Batman etc, had been around long before she did. This meant, for example, that Diana could no longer have been a founding member of the Justice League! This wasn’t really Perez’ fault; the original plan for ALL the post-Crisis comics was to start them all over FROM THE BEGINNING, with no references to any pre-Crisis story at all; but, apparently due to disagreements between the DC editors, some rebooted but others did not, and as a result, some unexplained conflicts like Diana being a new hero in a world of old ones resulted. They tried fixing this in various ways over the years, but none really stuck. But more on that later….

Next: We continue with the Post-Crisis WW, as we examine the numerous attempts to give her a New Direction after Perez’s run on the comic.

“Hi, my name is Spider-man and all I can do is web-swing into people.”

We now continue with the Post-Crisis Wonder Woman examination. (You know, that’s an awful term. I think I’ll call her “Modern version” or “Actual version” from this point on.)

The Perez run on WW lasted for a few years, and in general, it was very good; for the first in a long time, Wonder Woman was admirable as a hero: powerful, wise, and in touch with current matters. It was also a little controversial- this was a WW who was willing to kill her enemies if the situation was desperate enough, which makes sense considering she was raised as a warrior. And, for the first time, it was admitted that, yes, SOME (not all) of the Amazons were lesbians! (I wondered for a while if denying WW a male lover was intended to be a setup to establish her as gay or at least bisexual, but, far as I know, it never happened.) The lost tribe of Amazons was also found, and they were shown to have degenerated into man-hating slavers, so Perez wasn’t afraid of showing the flip side of the coin.

Many of her old villains were reintroduced, usually in better versions: Mars (as Ares) was now a dark, frightening god; The Cheetah was now a werecat, and the Silver Swan a victim of atomic radiation. Circe, in particular, became an evil mastermind who was behind many (TOO many) of the plots against Wonder Woman. Still, in general, I feel none of them really shine like say, most of Batman’s villains do.

But it all worked. It’s arguably the best version of WW to date.

So what went wrong?

Perez eventually left the book (rumors say, annoyed because DC would not give Diana the same exposure as other heroes.) Since then, several writers tried their hand at the character, and took her in a ‘new directions’- sometimes perplexing ones.

At some point (I’m not exactly sure when) Diana lost her new supporting cast. Trevor married (Etta Candy, of all people; a WW supporting character not seen since the Golden Age era!); her agent, Mindy Mayer, was murdered; and the Kapatelis (the archaeologist and her daughter) were also written off. (The daughter would be reintroduced later- as the new Silver Swan!?) Diana even moved to a fictional city (Gateway City) and was given another mother-and-daughter team as friends (how original!); the girl would eventually become the (current) Wonder Girl. Diana actually had a boyfriend, for a while, some cop whose name I can’t even remember, but he was eventually killed. (That sounds familiar…)

The Amazons fared worse. Themiskyra was attacked by invaders several times; the Amazons were slaughtered in great numbers; the island itself was lost in another dimension (that’s familiar too) and even destroyed completely (only to be recreated later.) The Lost Tribe eventually merged with the originals, which only brought dissent and a greater tendency for violence to the race. Recently, in a miniseries titled “Amazons Attack!” the Amazons, well, attacked America, supposedly in defense of Wonder Woman after she was arrested (see below) but in reality just trying to conquer the USA, manipulated by Circe and the goddess Athena (actually the alien goddess Granny Goodness in disguise, who- get this- had secretly CAPTURED ALL THE GREEK GODS!) At the end of this widely-panned series, the Amazons are wiped of their memories by “Athena” and banished across the World, so currently there are no Amazons anymore (for, I think, the third time in the Modern WW’s history.)

As for Diana? She didn’t fare so well either. One of the things I never liked about the Perez version, was her devotion to her gods. Now, it makes sense, especially given how she owes them her very existence. But they’ve done nothing but exploit her. Zeus tried to rape her once! (Though that was part of a villainous group’s plot.) Still, you’d think Diana would be less trusting after that. But no, Hermes (Mercury) decided to go live among mortals and have Diana as his handmaiden, and she reluctantly accepted! At least Hermes wasn’t a SOB like Zeus, but still, after all the work re-empowering the character, this felt like a return to the 40s. Later, when Athena (who had modernized herself a lot, even using laptop PCs) led a coup against Zeus, accusing him of being outdated, Diana also helped her (she really should just have let them mess with each other.) Her reward was being mistreated by Athena later on (though that was Goodness in disguise, as mentioned above.) If I were Diana, I’d be an atheist by now.

There was also the whole business with her mother. You see, Hippolyta was given a prophecy that revealed Wonder Woman would soon die. Knowing Diana would never willingly quit, she secretly engineered a plan to have her replaced. She called for a second contest for the title, and arranged it so Diana would lose and Artemis, one of the Lost Tribe Amazons, would be chosen in her place. Artemis made a poor WW (even the other heroes didn’t respect her.) Diana continued adventuring, just not using the WW name or costume. Eventually, Artemis was killed as in the prophecy. The truth of the deal came out, however, and Diana had to rescue Artemis’ soul from Hades, bringing her back to life. Diana ended up DYING anyway, but the gods rewarded her by reviving her as a goddess- Diana, goddess of Truth! Meanwhile, Hippolyta was punished by being sent back in time- to World War Two, were she became the FIRST Wonder Woman!!! (Note that this retcons the already-retconned Diana into having been the second.) The god thing didn’t work out because Diana could not resist using her new powers to help humanity, so eventually she was made human again. Hippolyta eventually returned from the past, only to be killed during one of those big DC comics crossovers…. Only to be raised by Circe and used during the Amazons Attack thing. Confused yet?

Speaking of crossovers, there was one in 2005 titled “Infinite Crisis” which was a sequel to the first Crisis. Shortly before it, Diana is forced to kill a mind-controlling villain (on live TV) because he had taken control of Superman. This was a blow to her role as ambassador and peace monger; she was actually tried for it (and exonerated) but her reputation was ruined. During the new Crisis, the pre-Crisis Golden Age WW appears to Diana, to give her the message that she should find her human side- note how DC pretty much is admitting here that the character had no real direction- and then she vanished (she could not exist if she left Olympus, remember?) So, after this Crisis was over, Diana decided to quit as WW for a year to “go find herself.” Sure, Diana, no time like the aftermath of a Crisis that killed millions of people (DC is pretty brutal these days) to go on a sabbatical! (To be fair, Superman and Batman ALSO quit for a year, though at least in Superman’s case, he’d lost his powers.)

Diana eventually returned in a new series (her third) where it was revealed she now worked as a government agent- named Diana Prince! This version of the comic was coming out VERY LATE (the third issue came out half a year after the second) due to the writer having “other priorities” (read: writing for TV). I can’t believe DC allowed the relaunch of the character to be ruined because they were butt-kissing a writer “from outside comics.” Yeesh! That the Amazons Attack fiasco happened during this interval did not help matters much. Anyway, WW is back in regular publication, and now being written by a WOMAN (Gail Simone, a writer acclaimed for writing other female superhero characters.) Let’s hope she finally does SOMETHING with the character that actually sticks!

Next: The Animated Versions of Wonder Woman