<i>By <a href=http://twitter.com/sizzlerkistler>Alan Kistler, Newsarama Contributor</a></i> <p>Seventy years ago, William Moulton Marston created a superhero icon. Meant to be a female response to Superman, Wonder Woman became a new kind of hero with a unique perspective and atmosphere. On Themyscira, the Paradise Island, a society of Amazons lived and thrived, blessed with agelessness and kept hidden by the goddesses of Olympus. As the legend goes, Queen Hyppolyta asked the goddesses for a child, and they granted her wish. The Queen formed a baby out of clay and mud from the beach and it was given life, as well as various gifts and powers from Olympus. <p>Sharing a name with the goddess of the hunt, Princess Diana was raised to be a fierce warrior but also a gentle one, a woman who didn't shy away from a fight but knew that there were other ways to solve conflicts. As she entered adulthood, Diana wondered about the outside world, and fate intervened when an American pilot named Steve Trevor crashed onto the island. It was decided that an ambassador would go there with Trevor, an Amazon who would spread their teachings and make sure women knew the power they possessed. A contest was held and Diana won. Dubbed Wonder Woman by the media, she's been a founding member of the Justice League and has protected Earth many times against everything from demonic entities and mad gods to time traveling terrorists and alien conquerors. <p>Recently, Wonder Woman's title has been relaunched as part of DC's "The New 52" initiative. But for those who are curious about her older stories, here are ten selections that really show what Diana is all about. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>
This is a simple story that works as an introduction to Wonder Woman, while also showing her relevance in the modern world. Beautifully painted by all-star artist Alex Ross and scripted by Paul Dini of <i>Batman: The Animated Series</i>, this tale begins with a quick recap of Wonder Woman's origin from her mother's perspective. After that, we see Wonder Woman stop a group of terrorists, speak as an ambassador for her people, and then deal with whether or not she can truly affect how women are treated in some parts of the world. <p>It's a simple story but a powerful one and shows many aspects of Diana's life. It's been out of print for a while, but hopefully that will change. In the meantime, you can still find used copies through online retailers.
See where it all truly began. In the 1940s, William Moulton Marston wanted to create a hero that girls could emulate and idolize as much as young boys did with Superman and Batman. Combining ancient myth with the backdrop of World War II, we got Diana, Princess of Paradise Island, chosen to go into Man's World to spread her society's teachings of peace and understanding while also taking time to kick some Nazi ass. <p>This collection includes the earliest Wonder Woman stories, many of which were pretty groundbreaking for the time. Marston told a reporter in the 1930s that he believed our best bet was to put women in charge, and that we'd surely have a matriarchal society in 100 years so his stories were definitely charged with female power and liberation.
After modernizing and revising her origins, George Perez and Len Wein threw Diana into her newly rebooted life. Having just started getting used to living in Patriarch's World, Diana is dealing with suddenly being a celebrity when she encounters a new archenemy, the Cheetah. Whereas Diana wishes to share her gifts with the world, the Cheetah is willing to sacrifice everyone and anyone for more power and her sights are set on stealing the power of Wonder Woman. <p>As if this weren't bad enough, Diana must face the rivalry of fellow Amazons and has to deal with the Zeus, king of the Greek gods, deciding that she'd make a good wife. And when the Amazon warrior turns him down, the results aren't happy. And just why does Wonder Woman's costume resemble the US flag?
This one-shot by Christopher Moeller has Wonder Woman faced with a prophecy: a menace is coming that will destroy the JLA. When an ancient dragon begins to stir awake for the first time in many years, Diana realizes the prophecy is coming true and decides the only thing to do is to make sure only one member of the JLA is around to confront the beast. <p>If you never thought of Wonder Woman as that formidable compared to the likes of Superman and Green Lantern, here's the book that shows you how wrong you are. Through a combination of power, battle savvy and keen intellect, Diana neutralizes all of her teammates, all in the hopes of preventing their deaths even if it means they'll hate her for it.
Phil Jimenez (joined by co-writers J.M. DeMatteis, George Pérez and Joe Kelly) brings an interesting collection of stories that can't be classified by one genre. It begins in Gotham City. Diana has faced the god of war Ares and his children before, but now these dark creatures have a new strategy: join forces with some of the most dangerous criminals on Earth. The Joker, Poison Ivy and Scarecrow were deadly before but now they've all been joined by the essence and power of Greek gods. Wonder Woman and her allies must join forces with Batman and his apprentices against the new gods of Gotham. <p>Afterwards, Wonder Woman must face a civil war happening amidst the Amazons. Can she stop it when she refuses to raise a hand against any of her sisters? This collection of stories also includes the fan-favorite Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #170, where Lois Lane learns what it's like to live a day in the life of Diana.
Superheroes face their own tragedies, and Diana is no exception, as a war for the sake of humanity itself results in the sacrifice of her mother. Later, as the Earth licks its wounds, the witch Circe makes her play. Deciding that her old trick of turning men into animals was a fun idea, she now takes it to a new level. The male superheroes of the DC Universe are transformed into mindless, savage beasts but that's OK. It just gives Wonder Woman an excuse to call together a small army of Earth's female superheroes. <p>This collection of stories by writer/artist Phil Jimenez combines high-flying action with intense emotion. Between Diana dealing with the loss of a parent and later comforting Superman in a scene meant to evoke the feelings of the then-recent events of 9-11, this shows Diana's many dimensions.
In this graphic novel by Greg Rucka, the Dark Knight of Gotham City is in hot pursuit of a criminal. But things get complicated when the suspect in question turns out to be a woman who knows a thing or two about ancient customs and uses that knowledge to gain Wonder Woman's pledge of protection. So when Batman comes calling, Diana makes the situation clear: stop pursuing a fugitive, or get ready for a fight. <p>Can one of the world's most formidable fighters beat a super-powered Amazon warrior who can bruise Superman? Probably not. And it leads to some interesting scenes between these two forceful personalities.
Themyscira, a.k.a. Paradise Island, has moved its location and now resides near the U.S. coastline, which means Diana, as ambassador, must deal with new political ramifications and fears over national security. It's a complicated mess, which means it's the perfect time for Wonder Woman's enemies to join forces. Plans are put into motion and Diana is forced into a battle against the most famous gorgon of them all, Medusa. How do you fight a monster when looking at her turns you into stone? The answer's pretty obvious. <p>Meanwhile, a coup is happening on Mount Olympus and it looks like Wonder Woman is going to have to decide who's side she's on. All this and an increasing number of sacrifices from the characters make this a serious story arc that doesn't let up, all thanks to writer Greg Rucka.
After a few mediocre stories, writer Gail Simone began a new run with a story arc that revisited Diana's origins and revealed that not all were happy about her birth. In fact, a group of Amazons believed that the birth of a child among the ageless women of Paradise Island was a curse, a dragon to be put down before it destroyed everything. <p>Along the way, Diana meets intelligent gorilla warriors, fights neo-Nazis led by a superhuman psychotic, and has to deal with the fact that she has no powers now when she's in her secret identity. But as Wonder Woman proves in this story, she doesn't need powers to take down even the worst and most powerful foes humanity has to offer. It's a fun story arc that also works as a pretty good introduction to just what kind of warrior Diana is. And hey, who doesn't like talking gorillas? <p>As if that weren't enough, a follow-up story has Diana recruited to help with troubles on an alien world. She's happy to do it but no one said she'd also have to fight a member of the Green Lantern Corps!
This is not a book, but it's worth mentioning and owning. There are folks in Hollywood who say it would be too difficult to make an entertaining Wonder Woman film today. They are dumb. The proof is right here. <p>This animated film stays true to the original while making the characters seem fresh. And while the comics have never been sure what to do with Diana's occasional love interest USAF pilot Steve Trevor (he's been killed twice and then was rebooted to be more of an older brother so writers wouldn't have to deal with him as a lame boyfriend), this film actually gives him a strong and charming personality. <p>This film was directed by Lauren Montgomery (<i>Legion of Super Heroes</i>, <i>Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths</i>, <i>Batman: Year One</i>) and has an all-star cast. Kerri Russell (<i>Felicity</i>), Nathan Fillion (<i>Castle</i>), Alfred Molina (<i>An Education</i>), Rosario Dawson (<i>Rent</i>), Virginia Madsen (<i>Justice League</i>), Oliver Platt (<i>Bored to Death</i>), and Marg Helgenberger (<i>CSI</i>) all bring this story to life with their vocal talents. Epic battles, fun banter and Diana going to a bar to out-drink Steve there are many live-action films that could take notes from this animated adventure.