Wonder Woman

By “Charles Moulton” & HG Peter (DC Comics/Tempo Books)
ISBN: 0-448-14531-6-125

Here’s another delightful pocketful of memories in a much-missed (by me at least) format: resized strips as paperback books reprinting a selection of the best stories money could buy. Released in 1978 to capitalise on the popular TV series starring Linda Carter, this dandy little black and white paperback was part of a continuing drive by DC to get out of the down-market newsstands and place their characters regularly onto the shelves of bookstores.

Of course this was before they gave up trying to fit their major asset – visual impact – into a limited format and went the European route of albums with such spectacular results that you’re now reading one of many, many blogs dedicated to reviewing graphic novels, trade paperbacks and items of related interest.

And just in case you were wondering why periodical publishers kept trying?

At its best, a comics title could reach about a million unit sales through magazine vendor systems whilst a book – any book – had the potential of reaching four to twenty times that number…

This collection opens with a re-presentation of one of the Amazing Amazon’s earliest exploits with ‘Wonder Woman’s Lasso’ (1942), an engaging yarn of World War II in which the world’s premiere female costumed foe of injustice (written by controversial psychologist and creator William Moulton Marston) battled spies and sister Amazons to win a magical lariat that could compel and control anybody that fell within its coils.

Too much has been posited about the subtexts of bondage and subjugation in Marston’s tales – and frankly I don’t care what his intentions might have been – I’m more impressed with the skilful drama and incredible fantasy elements that are always wonderfully, intriguingly present: I mean, just where does the concept of giant battle kangaroos come from?

Moulton died in 1947 but his fellow creator, artist Harry G Peter, continued until 1958, although the heroine (one of only three costumed characters who maintained a star presence from the Golden to Silver Ages of comics: the other being Superman and Batman) found the outlandish tenor of her adventures considerably subdued under the editing and writing aegis of Robert Kanigher.

From 1955 ‘The Bird Who Revealed Wonder Woman’s Identity’ found her trying to preserve her secrets after a gabby Mynah bird overheard a revealing conversation to mimic, whilst ‘Wonder Woman’s Wedding Day’(1954) is a charming, traditional romp of wicked thugs and wily mad scientists.

Psychological warfare is the subject of 1953’s fascinating ‘The Secret Invasion’ – a plot by the nefarious Duke of Deception, whilst both ‘The Talking Tiara’ (1954) and the concluding entry ‘The Origin of the Amazon Plane’ (1955) reveal the hidden stories behind Princess Diana’s fabulous accessories in tales rife with dinosaurs, aliens, sea monsters and fantastic quests.

Wonder Woman is rightly revered as a focus of female strength, independence and empowerment, and the welcoming nostalgia and easy familiarity to these tales is a delight for all types of reader but the true value of these exploits is the incredible quality of entertainment they provide.

Although there are excellent and comprehensive collections of her earliest adventures the post-War years of the Amazon have been woefully neglected, and are long over due for some serious compilation attention. Until that time little gems like this are all we can turn to…
© 1978 DC Comics, Inc. All Rights Reserved.