The Ages Of Wonder Woman (No. 2) edited by Joseph J. Darowski (book review).

January 19, 2015 | By | Reply More

After ‘The Ages Of Superman’, you would think it strange to go onto Wonder Woman rather than the more obvious Batman, however, as the next two books in this series is going to focus on two Marvel’s X-Men and Avengers, I suspect the Dark Knight will get his opportunity soon enough.


In the meantime, we have ‘The Ages Of Wonder Woman’ with nineteen essays about the Amazon warrior and how she’s changed over the years. None of these writers observe any difference between the Earth-1 and Earth-2 versions, the latter actually dealing with her pre-60s tales, although all incarnations are covered. Although I didn’t really read ‘Wonder Woman’ until the mid-60s and then not very consistently, after all, you would think her target audience was a female not male audience and what was a boy doing picking up a girls’ comic? A lot of the time I was wondering what language she was speaking when certain exclamations were in symbols. In later years, discovering that they represented swearing, I thought she had a bit of a potty mouth for a few years. Both pieces of information that don’t actually come out in this book or they’ve been restrained in the reprints.

A lot of what I can infer from these essays stems on several things that they don’t appear to work out why the ‘Wonder Woman’ comic didn’t sell as massively as its male counterparts, despite staying on the shelves throughout the 50s and the Wertham witchhunt declaring her to be a lesbian or at least not adhering to his ‘ideals’ that she should be home, married and doing the chores. Only the Illuminatii would know had Wertham lived long enough to see the feminist movement taken hold and how out of touch he really was.

Looking at the plot descriptions these writers give, Wonder Woman seemed doomed to repetitive plot syndrome, rescuing the love of her life, test pilot Steve Trevor, or/and battling giants or life on Paradise Island. I suspect what readership the title had initially stayed there for a few issues before drifting on but enough to maintain a core audience. Although they all acknowledge that after her creator William Moulton Marston died, editor/writer Robert Kanigher wrote ‘Wonder Woman’ for twenty years, not letting anyone take over the spot which might have contributed to firmly entrenching these plot issues and making it tougher for change later, even when the loss of Paradise Island to another dimension, lost her powers and the death of Steve Trevor. Having her dating or falling for other men regularly must have made her look very easy. Although pointers are made in their text, this part of the analysis seems to missing from their analysis, nor is there any comparison to other female super-heroes, although they were thin on the ground with the nearest comparison being Black Canary, who quickly became partnered to Green Arrow. I should point out that in one of the later essays, this is addressed. It’s a shame that only one of them picked up on her appearances in the Justice Society and Justice League where Wonder Woman also did secretarial duties at meetings which should have been at odds with her warrior status. In fact, it seems a shame that most of her JLA activities aren’t covered in this book or the fact that she killed Maxwell Lord when he was controlling Superman which I would have thought was a significant event in her career, especially as she stepped down from crime-fighting for a time afterwards.

A lot of these articles overlap with a heavy dose of feminism discussion. If anything, there is far too much story breakdowns compared to analysis for three-quarters of this book. I suspect most of these writers weren’t old enough to have read them originally and were still absorbing the material. Although this is useful if you haven’t read the stories, it does feel like padding. It’s also rather ironic that the depowered ‘Wonder Women’ stories were turned into the equivalent of the ‘Dallas’ shower scene at a stroke than integrated into continuity but DC Comics weren’t that strong on that back then.

It isn’t until Wonder Woman # 300 that the title even had a female writer and even then it was only as co-writer as Dann Thomas joined her husband, Roy. I did stop then to compare the number of sexes writing about here and it about a 50:50 split. Unlike the comicbook, It isn’t until much later that any female artists were allowed to interpret the Amazon.

Although it’s a mote point now when the current Wonder Woman doesn’t have a secret identity, the discussion about the type of career Diana Prince had off-duty compared to other super-heroes like Batman and Superman is rather telling. Then again, we are looking at a woman written by male writers and how they see their roles in society. Is it any wonder that the depowered Wonder Woman ran a fashion boutique as a cover?

The look at ‘Kingdom Come’ and Wonder Woman’s relationship with Superman does seem to focus on her sexuality far more than the effect and how these writer saw on the wide range of readership.

Wonder Woman has always been seen as one of the leading DC characters who just happened to be female, despite patchy sales. An inherited title from longevity than persistent good story-telling in its early years. Those who’ve created her career and continually spun her in different directions must surely indicate that they don’t really know what attracts a steady readership. Even with the 52 varieties, when you compare her to the other DC heroes, who’ve stayed more or less stable across the realities, Wonder Woman has had the most changes has to illustrate this showing few have had a real fix on what she is really about, although I doubt if feminism was top of the list like these writers think.

Although I’m not too sure at where the writers of this book are going, it did make me think about Wonder Woman and in that respect, they have achieved that goal.

GF Willmetts

January 2015

(pub: McFarland. 240 page indexed small enlarged paperback. Price: £33.50 (UK), $40.00 (US). ISBN: 978-0-7864-7122-5)

check out websites: www.mcfarlandpub.com and www.eurospanbookstore.com

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Category: Books, Comics, Culture

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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