She's the most widely known female superhero the world has ever known. She stands toe-to-toe (and in some cases towers over) Batman and Superman. She's Wonder Woman — but do you really know her?
Since her creation in 1941, Wonder Woman has held a unique position in the world of DC Comics and the medium as a whole. She was later adopted as a feminist icon by none other than Gloria Steinem, and starred in her own television show that is second only to Adam West's Batman in terms of mainstream popularity of a super-hero show. Her recent revamp by J. Michael Straczynski, Jim Lee and Don Kramer spurred alot of talk about the character inside the comics and out, and the upcoming TV show helmed by David E. Kelley promises to bring that conversation to a new boil when it debuts later this year.
With that in mind — of if you've been on the sidelines waiting to jump in — iFanboy has come up with six key storylines and graphic novels that can give you a definitive primer on DC's Amazon Princess.
Wonder Woman: Down To Earth: In this story, Wonder Woman acts as the ambassador to the outside world on behalf of her homeland of Themyscira. Down to Earth begins the story being a public hero and a role model with the world as a stage. This is the first of six collections of writer Greg Rucka's run on the character, and his long track record of excellent female-centric stories seen in Queen & Country and Batwoman is on full display here.
Wonder Woman Archives: One of the best ways to get to know someone is to find out about where they came from, and for Wonder Woman what better place to start than her earliest stories from the 1940s. Debuting in the dawn of World War 2, Wonder Woman quickly went into service fighting the Nazis just like Captain America, but her stories contained an underlying (and sometimes) overt subtext of female empowerment. Creator William Moulton Marston envisioned Wonder Woman not as a trend-setting equal to her male counterparts like Superman but as superior to him, and others, in many ways.
JLA: League of One: Although it says 'JLA' in the title, make no doubt about it… this is a Wonder Woman story. The story centers around Wonder Woman receiving a glimpse of the future where her teammates in the JLA are killed destroying a monster rampaging Europe. To prevent this eventuality and save her team-mates, she takes them out of the battle by taking them on one-by-one in order that she may face down the monster on her own. Much in the same way Mark Waid showed the lengths Batman would go to plot out and out-smart his allies in a worst-case scenario, JLA: League of One shows just how rounded Wonder Woman is to be able to match wits, muscle and who knows what else to take down Superman, Batman, the Flash and others one by one for their own safety.
Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia: Arguably one of the most controversial Wonder Woman stories in modern history, The Hiketeia shows Diana acting out rituals of greek culture in an intense relationship with another woman and standing toe-to-toe (and toe-vs-toe) with Batman. This is the second selection in our list by Greg Rucka, and this standalone story really boils down the mythological heritage and ideas of female empowerment that the character was founded on.
Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth: Although she's been around for over seventy years, it's proven hard for comic creators to get a real grasp on her — but this book does that. This book stresses the peacemaker side of Wonder Woman without making her any less of an action hero. Part of a series of graphic novels by writer Paul Dini and artist Alex Ross focusing on DC's top tier characters, Spirit of Truth really shows how the character stands apart from Superman and Batman and how that's a good thing.
Wonder Woman: Gods and Mortals: Anytime someone lists the best creators ever to work on Wonder Woman, George Perez is without argue in the top 5 — some would say the top of the top, even outpacing her creator. This volume collects the story-arc of Perez' long run writing and drawing Wonder Woman, painting her story in grandious style and mythical structure. This story shows a Wonder Woman who is just getting used to the modern world, but she's no girl scout.