Fast and Easy History Minute: Wonder Woman
“From her humble beginnings as a lowly secretary, to a hero all little girls and boys can look up to…”
Wonder Woman kind of falls into the same category as Superman with me; I’m not really a huge fan of the character, but if there’s a real good story involving her, (and there are quite a few out there) I do enjoy reading them.
I’ve only recently started to read a lot of the WW stories to get more familiar with the character. Especially since I haven’t read a lot of her stuff outside of things like Justice League where she’s not necessarily the focus of every story. So, I thought It’d be a good idea to do some research on the character with the release of the movie rapidly approaching.
Wonder Woman, also known as Princess Diana of Themyscira or simply Diana Prince, was created by William Moulton Marston and artist Harry G. Peter (who remained uncredited until just recently). Her first appearance was in All Star Comics #8 which was published in October of 1941. And as many now know, she was the first mainstream female superhero in comics. A feat especially impressive since she was introduced only 21 years after women gained the right to vote in the United States.
As part of her awesome power set, she has the lasso of Truth, two indestructible bracelets, and a tiara she uses as a projectile. She’s also an amazing fighter who Batman once called the “best melee fighter in the world.” Like most DC characters, she’s gone through various changes and origins. So to simplify things, I’m going to break it down briefly by comic book era (age).
The golden age of comics is when Wonder Woman’s original origin was told. This is also the time period that Wonder Woman’s mother, Queen Hippolyta, sculpted her out of clay and used magic to bring her to life. At some point, Steve Trevor (a US intelligence agent) crash landed on Themyscira, and the Amazons had to find a champion to return him to “man’s world.”
As it just so happened, Princess Diana won that right, and she eventually took Steve Trevor back to fight crime and the Nazis (a common theme among most WWII comic heroes). During this age she would eventually join the Justice Society of America—as the team’s secretary. Understandably, this infuriated WW creator William Marston.
This was the first of many revamps to the Wonder Woman origin—with writer Robert Kanigher taking the honors. This new origin played up her mythological roots and would make her destined to be “beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, as strong as Hercules, and as swift as Hermes.”
Near the end of this era writer and DC artist Mike Sekowsky would end up depowering Wonder Woman. This surrendering of power was done so Diana could remain in “men’s world” while the other Amazons left for another dimension. This is also when she took the name Diana Prince and received weapons and fighting training by her newly found Chinese mentor by the name of I Ching. Her comics would send her on many adventures through many genres such as espionage to mythology during this period.