She’s been in publication for 75 years in the pages of DC Comics beginning with All-Star Comics #8, then Sensation Comics #1 published in January of 1941, but it is 2016 that marked her first appearance on the big screen in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. She is Wonder Woman, the fictional personification of woman’s liberation. She is beautiful, strong, and intelligent. Just as it is every boy’s dream to be Superman, it is every girl’s dream to be Wonder Woman; to live without insecurity or fear, to be confident and independent, and to hold the high moral ground and stand against oppression and inequality. She’s arrived in a fierce and furious way this year and we’ve only gotten a tiny peek at her full potential and origin before we see the release of Wonder Woman in 2017.
Wonder Woman was created by William (Charles) Moulton Marston, a psychologist famously known for his discovery of a connection between high blood pressure and emotion, which ultimately led to the creation of the polygraph or lie detector test. So much of Marston’s personal and professional life can be recognized in the character of Wonder Woman, from a polyamorous relationship with his wife and a live-in romantic partner, to his DISC theory which categorizes people in four different quadrants of human behavior: dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance. Marston created the female Goddess and superhero from an advanced and modern way of thinking (that is still very prevalent today) and from the lore of ancient Greek mythology. His comic book creation sparked a whole generation of women to break the chains that restrict them and discover their full potential.
Wonder Woman’s origin has been told through a variety of reboots and rebirths over 75 years of publication history, yet some consistencies still remain and will never change. She was once shaped from clay and blessed by the Gods with the beauty of Aphrodite, the wisdom of Athena, the speed of Hermes, and the strength of Hercules as told in the relaunch of the Wonder Woman series by George Perez in 1987, after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths. In 1968, in issue #178 (vol.1), Wonder Woman renounced her title and powers to live among Man’s World as a mod boutique shop owner and martial arts crime fighter, however this story was short-lived, and Wonder Woman ultimately returned to her role as an Amazonian warrior princess from Paradise Island a.k.a Themyscira by issue #204 in 1972.
Wonder Woman: Earth One is a modern retelling of Wonder Woman in the world of comics outside of DC Comics’ regular continuity of titles. The Earth One series began with J. Michael Straczynski’s Superman: Earth One in November of 2010 and quickly led to two more volumes, as well as two volumes of Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns and a Teen Titans: Earth One by Jeff Lemire. Other Earth One volumes that are in the works and are scheduled to be released in 2016 include The Flash and Aquaman. Grant Morrison, the wildly imaginative comic book writer from Scotland responsible for the reboot of Animal Man and Doom Patrol in the 1980’s and for breathing new life into the Justice League of America in the 1990’s, is the architect responsible for Wonder Woman’s Earth One debut. Morrison recognized and understood that a character’s backstory should not be tampered with when he set out to write Wonder Woman: Earth One. However, because of this aspect, the story lacks the Morrison touch, those quirky and bizarre nuances that make his storytelling so surreal and strange.
Wonder Woman: Earth One begins with Wonder Woman returning to Paradise Island after her journey to Man’s World and after defying the law of her mother, Hippolyta, which states that no man or outside influence from Man’s World is allowed on the island. But Diana Prince a.k.a Wonder Woman is an indignant and resistant young woman, and when Steven Trevor, a United States pilot crashes on Paradise Island, she harbors him in a secret cave, allowing him to heal, then transports him back to his homeland where Wonder Woman makes her debut appearance to the world. She is a Goddess among “small and sickly” men and women and she doesn’t understand the manufactured lights and sounds that exist in Man’s World. She describes the men of Man’s World as thus…
These are men? They look to me like girls. Sweet and beardless, youthful round-eyed faces, made to kiss, not harm or hurt.
It’s a nauseating and disappointing experience and Diana runs from it, returning to Paradise Island and leaving the people of Man’s World wondering…who was that woman? What is most exciting about Morrison’s Wonder Woman: Earth One, and the Wonder Woman from previous generations, is the tiny winks and nods at sexual behavior. Wonder Woman is overtly sexual and she doesn’t even realize it, that’s what makes her such an appealing character for writers. She is desirable, yet she does not succumb to man’s foolish vows of love and lust because she does not understand those emotions. The Wonder Woman of Earth One is naive, yet she is independent of being owned by anyone and she walks a path that is all her own, outside what is considered acceptable womanly behavior.
The Wonder Woman in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice is already familiar with Man’s World. She has been living in it for decades (maybe even centuries), hiding her powers until the moment is right when she can reveal herself. However, Diana Prince is hard to miss among the ordinary citizens of Metropolis and Gotham City. She is extraordinary and her beauty, confidence, and stature catches the eye of Bruce Wayne before she even dawns her Amazonian costume. A featurette of 2017’s Wonder Woman was recently released online and by the look and sound of it elements of the original story of the warrior princess are in place, yet updated for a new movie-going audience. However, time will tell if she is anything like William Moulton Marston’s original creation from 75 years ago.