The Essential Wonder Woman Encyclopedia by Phil Jimenez and John Wells

As with the Superman and Batman companion volumes to this, this book was published in 2010.  This date means something to me.  That was the year J. Michael Strazcynski scrapped all that had gone before and remade Wonder Woman into something she was never supposed to be — a dangerous and bratty teenage girl with a revenge motive — for a story arc that should have lasted only a year.  After giving us Babylon 5, I expected something far, far greater from him.  At the very least I expected him to understand the concept of a warrior.  I was wrong.  To make matters worse, he walked away from the title mid-story, and sales went through the roof in spite of the replacement writer.  I walked away before he did.  Not only did DC keep this version of Wonder Woman, but the entire universe got rebooted accordingly a year later with the abysmal New 52, a concept so egregious they’ve already abandoned it without actually fixing any of the problems it caused.  Go figure.

As I say, this book was published in 2010, just as the new version of Wonder Woman was hitting shelves.  What this means is this book is a time capsule of everything in the Amazing Amazon’s history before that point.  It’s put together by Phil Jimenez, one of the  truly great WW creators who carried both the legacy and the torch for Wonder Woman with the same level of respect and understanding as George Perez, Eric Luke, and Greg Rucka.  This is a book by a serious creator, for the serious fans, designed to honor everything in Diana’s past and everything she stood for in a time when any of that meant anything.

To be fair, Diana’s stories and creative teams had been hit or miss at virtually every part of her history since her debut in 1941, and she’s always sold just well enough to hang on by her fingernails.  I just happened to be fortunate enough to discover her after George Perez re-sculpted her into something truly wonderful.  He set a much higher bar for those who would follow.

Think of this book as a hardcover version of a DC wiki, where characters and concepts from the decades of comics are compiled into a sort of Encyclopedia Amazonia, if you will.  Want to know more about her creator?  He’s in here.  Want to know about some of the goofier concepts from days gone by such as Egg Fu and Wonder Tot?  That’s in here too.  Parallel universe versions or character legacies where different characters inhabit a given identity?  All here, referenced both Pre- and Post-Crisis.  It’s an excellent resource for fans of any level of knowledge or interest from beginner to expert.

5 stars

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