Ricky Church reviews Wonder Wonder: 80 Years of the Amazon Warrior Deluxe Edition…
This year marks a big milestone for DC’s superheroine Wonder Woman as she celebrates the 80th anniversary of her introduction into comics. Much like the 80th anniversaries of Superman, Batman, Robin and other heroes, DC has released Wonder Woman: 80 Years of The Amazon Warrior, a collection of some of Wonder Woman’s most famous and influential stories throughout the decades with features detailing what is so special about Diana and her publication history. It is a great book looking back at Wonder Woman’s earliest adventures and where she is now, though it is a bit lacking in the amount of creators that were chosen to be included in the book.
Collected here is the very first issue of Wonder Woman’s introduction in All-Star Comics #8 from her creator William Moulton Marston. The presentations of those early issues are excellently remastered with the clear imagery and bold colours. It really shows how well-defined Harry G. Peter’s artwork was in those formative years and how his style evolved as Peter not only continued to draw Wonder Woman well into the 1950s, but worked alongside several female artists like Helen Schepens-Kraus who coloured his work and others who worked on backgrounds and inking. One story even credits Joye Hummell, Martson’s former assistant who wrote several scripts for Wonder Woman through the 40s and 50s. Seeing the evolution of both the art and writing style over the decades is part of the book’s fun along with Wonder Woman’s first battles with The Cheetah, Dr. Psycho and other villains.
When the book gets to the modern stories starting with the 1980s reboot from George Pérez, it’s interesting to see which elements of Wonder Woman’s history are changed or re-imagined. Of note, though, is how she stays very much the same as her determination, compassion and empathy are still the root of her characteristics. Pérez’s climactic issue of Wonder Woman’s battle with Ares, the God of War, is a particular standout even to this day as the fight ends in an unexpected way as Diana and Ares come to an understanding about mankind’s capacity for violence and her role to curb it. Another issue from Phil Jimenez in Wonder Woman #170 doesn’t even feature any action, but is instead an extended interview between Diana and Lois Lane about Diana’s day-to-day activities as a superhero and ambassador for Themyscira, even in the wake of her being expelled from the island by Themyscira’s new government. Jimenez touches on the many contradictions of her character as a warrior, peacemaker, demigod and near-perfect being while Lois tries to find out what really makes her tick. Wonder Woman’s modern adventures go all the way up to DC’s recent Future State and what will come next for the character.
As great as it is to see stories from modern writers like Pérez, Jimenez, Brian Azzarello and Mariko Tamaki, the one perplexing thing about the book are the names not included in this anniversary celebration. Greg Rucka only has one short story from Wonder Woman #750 featured despite having two very successful runs on Wonder Woman, one of which is a story of Diana in a memorable battle against Medusa and the other a re-imagined origin in DC’s Rebirth initiative with Wonder Woman: Year One. Another strange omission is Geoff Johns’ work on Wonder Woman in the New 52’s Justice League, specifically Justice League #12 which not only introduced a new origin for Cheetah, but saw Wonder Woman and Superman begin a romantic relationship that lasted almost the entirety of the New 52 from that point on. Despite the controversy around that pairing, it still marks a significant moment in both Wonder Woman and Superman’s histories.
Of notable absence though is any material by Gail Simone who wrote Wonder Woman from 2007 – 2010, the longest any woman has written the title. Simone has had a long career in comics, redefining classic heroes and groups in titles such as Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Batgirl and more. Her tenure on Wonder Woman brought Diana back to her roots after the events of Infinite Crisis and began with Diana facing off against new enemies trying to take control of Themyscira, diving into unexplored aspects of her birth. As one of DC’s most prolific writers, it seems an odd choice not to include any story from Simone much less an essay from her on Wonder Woman’s importance.
Of the essays in the book there is really only one from artist Trina Robbins, the first woman who drew Diana in the Wonder Woman title. She writes a pretty interesting piece about the various women behind Wonder Woman, from Marston’s wife Elizabeth and their partner Olivia Byrne to Hummel and tennis player Alice Marble, who had quite an interesting role with the title and a life story of her own. As short as Robbins’ essay is, she packs in plenty insight about these women and their contributions to Diana’s history. The other three features are Q&A’s with Wonder Woman actresses Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins on Wonder Woman’s relevance and popularity. Each of them provide nice insight into their individual approaches and perspectives to Diana and her legacy. Carter especially holds quite a bit of passion in her answers and makes clear how much she still not only loves Diana, but her fans as well.
Wonder Woman: 80 Years of The Amazon Warrior is an interesting look back at Wonder Woman’s history and evolution. The stories collected are exciting and the features from Robbins, Carter, Gadot and Jenkins are well written with their takes on Wonder Woman’s legacy. It would have been nice though to have had more essays from other comic writers and historians as well as additional stories from other creators, particularly Simone, to show how Wonder Woman has adapted to the times. Even still, it is a good look at Wonder Woman’s past and what may lay in her future.
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