Hey, Wonder Woman’s first solo film is coming out this month! Finally! Here’s hoping it was worth the wait — the long, long, loooong wait that some of her fans have endured wondering if they would ever get to see their favorite star-spangled sister headline her own movie.
But before we break out the popcorn and obsess over the movie, let’s take a look back at the classic Wonder Woman comics that made it all possible. And when I say “classic,” I mean… well, you know, “classic.” As in, “They sure don’t make ’em like this anymore, and maybe that’s a good thing.”
Because when you get right down to it, a lot of those early Wonder Woman comics, if one is inclined to judge them solely by their covers, were downright weird.
What do I mean by that? Well…
1. Wonder Woman spends a lot of time being tiny…
“How did I get here? How did I become… THE WOMAN IN THE BOTTLE!” Good question, Diana. Another good question: How does shrinking to the size of an action figure qualify as “microscopic size”…? Also, is the”DANGER UNTAMED HUMAN” sign for the benefit of the fleas performing in the flea circus? Has her captor not only perfected a shrinking ray but also trained insects to read purely for shits and giggles? The people deserve answers!
2. … when she wasn’t being a giant.
So Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, had a few, ah, interesting ideas about the roles of men and women in society. Just as an example, here’s what he wrote in a 1943 magazine article about the popularity of comics: “Give them [male readers] an alluring woman stronger than themselves to submit to, and they’ll be proud to become her willing slaves!” So maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised to find a few examples of Wonder Woman literally looming large over other people.
3. And then you had the times when she was both tiny and titanic in the same cover.
Having trouble deciding between a giant Wonder Woman who can crush you into submission or a tiny Wonder Women you can bend to your will? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. (And is anyone else getting a serious White Walker vibe from the freaky-looking giants in the third cover? Brrr.)
4. A lot of times, she was her own worst enemy. Like, literally.
Grappling with one’s doppelgänger is a long and storied tradition among comic-book superheroes, and Wonder Woman is no exception. But what’s weird is how often she was forced to fight robots who look just like her, or someone (or something) who just happens to look like her. And what’s this business of the robot Wonder Woman “winning” Steve Trevor if it beats Diana? What exactly does the robot have in mind when it claims Steve as its prize? And more to the point, how much do you think Steve will resist?
8. …or fantastical giant creatures at sea.
I mean, I get it. You’re cranking out comic covers month after month, of course some months you’re going to run short on cover ideas. And in the early years, the superheroes got up to all kinds of crazy things to attract readers’ attention: doing spring cleaning, subbing for Santa, planting gardens, being dicks to each other, you name it. And yes, in between the lighter fare and the super-villain battles, chances are very good they would test their strength against a typical wild animal or oversized monster. But Wonder Woman couldn’t seem to get away from them. Hell, she couldn’t even go shopping without running into a dinosaur looking to rumble. I bet that really pissed her off sometimes: “Oh, gee. Another giant monster. And look who has to clean up the mess. No, no, Batman, I insist. I totally understand your surveillance of Harley Quinn’s hideout is super-important.”
9. Come to think of it, she spent a lot of time underwater.
Fun fact: Paradise Island is surrounded by water. “Well, duh, it’s an island,” you say. I only bring it up because I’m at a loss trying to figure out why else Wonder Woman spent so much time fighting criminals and monsters down in the briny deep. Let me put it this way: her main mode of travel is an invisible plane. It makes almost as much sense putting her in undersea adventures as it does putting Aquaman up on a horse and telling him to go patrol Montana. Speaking of which, how do you think he felt about Wonder Woman always stepping on his turf? Do you think he got bitchy about it at Justice League meetings? “How’s crime in the ocean, you ask? Oh, I don’t know, why don’t you ask Diana over there, since she seems so concerned about the crappy job she obviously thinks I’m doing down there.”
10. She’s constantly forced to prove herself in trials.
A big part of the Wonder Woman lore is that she had to earn the right to travel to Man’s World by kicking the butts of her fellow Amazons in a series of competitions. That’s kind of cool because it shows she’s strong enough and determined enough to deserve her superhero name. But man, when does the poor girl get to stop auditioning for her job? Superman doesn’t have to put up with this crap. Batman doesn’t have to put up with this crap. Green Lantern — okay, maybe he gets regular performance reviews from the Guardians, who knows. My point being: it kind of sucks that of all the superheroes, she has to keep jumping through hoops (sometimes literally) just to show she’s still up to the task or wrestling giant eagles and clams.
11. Somebody involved in this book had a serious issue with trains.
We all know “more powerful than a locomotive” is Superman’s calling card, but it’s not like he holds the trademark on superhero/train battles. Even so, what exactly is the deal with Diana’s apparent obsession with trains? If she’s not riding on top of them or running away from them, she’s running headlong into them. Almost as if she has, you know, issues with trains. I mean, I don’t want to get all Freud up in here, but… well, it’s just interesting to note, is all. Very interesting, if you catch my drift. (Then again, maybe a train is just a train.)