When it comes to the 4-color heroes, as respected as she is, Wonder Woman may not top the list of favorites for most people… but she tops mine. But just as all of her Justice League counterparts have transitioned across time from their original versions, so too did the Amazon Princess. There’s something so alien about the original Golden Age comics versions of much-beloved heroes. Whoever said these things were for kids never actually looked at them and knows nothing of the subject matter.
To fully appreciate Wonder Woman, especially in this time frame, you have to know something about her creator. William Moulton Marston is the pen name for Dr. Charles Moulton: psychologist, creator of the lie detector test, and feminist. He lived with his wife, his mistress, and all of their children. He was into bondage, which is why Wonder Woman would lose her powers whenever she was tied up, and she frequently was, often with her own Lasso of Truth. In spite of this, Dr. Moulton truly believed that if a woman stepped forward who was beautiful enough and strong-willed enough, any man on the planet would willingly follow her into death itself. The largest audience for those comics were American soldiers. When comic books were brought forward in the 1950s as examples of anti-culture in the House Un-American Committee Hearings, Superman was accused of being a fascist. That didn’t stand up. Batman’s need to live with an underage boy and constantly put him in danger needed a bit of defending. Wonder Woman, on the other hand, was held as a shining example of everything wrong with what impressionable kids were being taught, and the arguments against her were water-tight.
My, how times have changed. That’s why collections like this one are so alien. But it’s not only about innuendo and feminism. There are also Nazis to fight! Wonder Woman is first and foremost a product of her time, first debuting in December 1941. Politically correct wasn’t even remotely on anyone’s radar back then. This book is pure propaganda for everything Dr. Marston believed in. Ladies and gents, I give you America’s first superheroine in all of her star-spangled glory. And to think, she’s spent most of her long career being accused of being nothing more than a female version of Superman. Bah.
What’s in this book are the original newspaper strips, penned by her original creator, and rendered by her original artist. This is about as close to her first comic book appearances as you can get, and in a way these are even more… well, more of everything that was ever found in the pages of the comics, missing perhaps only the obligatory bondage cover art. It’s weird. It’s goofy. And it is guaranteed to be unlike anything you’ve ever read before, unless you’ve read Wonder Woman’s original comic books.
And if you haven’t, after this you’ll never see this character the same way again.