Wonder Woman: Where Do I Start?

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.

Comments

  1. Also should be noted one of the writers on this site (WonderAli) co-host a Wonder Woman site cough: http://www.invisiblejetcast.com/ Cough:. 

  2. widowmaker widowmaker says:

    If you can’t afford the Archives, they’ve started releasing the Wonder Woman Chronicles trades, which cover the same material in a cheaper format. The first one is out and another one appears to be coming in December.

  3. joeislive joeislive says:

    I wish they would keep all the Rucka trades in print…or better yet release Rucka W.W. Omnibuses…. c’mon Geoff Johns can’t have all the fun.

  4. Excellent list. I’ll be looking into some of these.

  5. widowmaker widowmaker says:

    At least they’ve collected all of Rucka’s run. That’s more than even Perez has managed.

  6. Heroville Heroville says:

    I’d also throw out that, though she is a secondary character, The New Frontier has one of the best (or at least my faorvite) and all encompassing depictions of Wonder Woman. We see in her all her aspects and truly excelling in each.

  7. Josh Flanagan josh (@jaflanagan) says:

    @Heroville  I agree completely.

  8. joeislive joeislive says:

    Oh and also. in the vein of New Frontier- Kingdom Come… one of the first times I ever saw W.W. as a bad ass warrior.

  9. JNewcomb JNewcomb says:

    I read Legue of One and Hiketeia. Both pretty good, I prefer Hiketeia. I’ll check out those other stories.

    For folks who can read comics from the 80s and take them for what they are, I’d say George Perez’s run on WW is good. But it’s got some purple prose here and there and the pacing is entirely different than modern comics.

  10. srh1son srh1son says:

    Don’t forget Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.  I loved that characterization of Diana.  And her relationship with Bruce was engaging.

  11. Ali Colluccio WonderAli (@WonderAli) says:

    I really love Perez’s Gods & Mortals origin. It’s a great set-up for the character and I like how Steve Trevor is part of her origin without being a romantic interest. Hiketeia, while I can’t pronounce it, is really fantastic.

    Also, what @Heroville said – 1000 times.

  12. kennyg kennyg says:

    @joeislive  Agreed – Rucka was my favorite WW writer, Perez a close second. Both those guys really get her. I like how Rucka tied in so many mythological aspects in new ways.

  13. Chuckenigma Chuckenigma says:

    Nit pick:  uh, if we’re talking about the JLA storyline where Batman figured out how to individually take down all of his teamates one-by-one (Tower of Babel or something, I believe), then that was Mark Waid, not Grant Morrison.

    While I don’t know if any of his stuff is traded and readliy available, Phil Jimenez’s run, while mired a bit by the lack of consistant art, is really THE definite modern run of Wonder Woman, if Perez’s run could not be considered “modern”.  Even more than Rucka’s run was.

  14. zattaric zattaric says:

    As a long time WW reader my fave runs were Perez Jimenez & Rucka. I really wish DC would have left Rucka on WW instead of canceling the title due 2 infinite crisis & then giving us the Heinberg & Picoult disasters

  15. JNewcomb JNewcomb says:

    I love Wonder Woman. She’s so cool.

  16. electricv01 electricv01 says:

    This is a great list.  I usually tell people to start with The Hiketeia and then move straight into Rucka’s run on the title if they really want to know who Diana is and what Wonder Woman is all about.  Plus, the fight with Medusa is probably one of the more brilliant and emotional battles ever put on the comic page.  

  17. electricv01 electricv01 says:

    @zattaric  I agree with you 100%.  Taking Rucka off the book and canceling the title was the worst thing they could have done.

  18. froggulper says:

    I always liked the John Byrne run, at least the first year of it.