This past Saturday, February 20th, would have been the 123rd birthday of Elizabeth Holloway Marston. She’s not exactly what you’d call famous, but you’ve probably guessed who she is from the headline and illustration above.
Elizabeth Holloway Marston was a psychologist, and the wife of fellow psychologist William Moulton Marston, who’s credited with creating Wonder Woman. At least, she was one of his wives, depending on how you look at it. She was his legal wife, to be sure, but the two lived with a third partner, Olive Byrne, and each woman bore two of Marston’s children.
It’s easy to complain about Wonder Woman, who made her first appearance in a story in All-Star Comics #8 by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter published on October 25 1941. Many deride her as an empty symbol; something to emblazon T-shirts with rather than a character to read about. She’s been bloated by the past century’s worst attitudes towards women. Her outfit is often embarrassing and exploitative. She’s not a warrior, a peacemaker, a queen, or a diplomat, but something indefinable and eternally in-between. If complaining is the comic community’s greatest pastime, picking apart Wonder Woman is our baseball.
Many of comics’ most popular heroes have been around for decades, and in the case of the big names from the publisher now known as DC Comics, some have been around for a sizable chunk of a century. As these characters passed through the different historical eras known in comics as the Golden Age (the late 1930s through the early 1950s), the Silver Age (the mid 1950s through the late 1960s), the Bronze Age (the early 1970s through the mid 1980s) and on into modern times, they have experienced considerable changes in tone and portrayal that reflect the zeitgeist of the time.
With this feature we’ll help you navigate the very best stories of DC Comics’ most beloved characters decade by decade. This week, we’re taking a look at Wonder Woman.
DC has a Wonder Woman problem. Or perhaps more accurately, Wonder Woman has a DC problem. The idea of Wonder Woman as a feminist icon is so imprinted in her history, and in analysis of the character, that separating her from feminism should be near impossible. But that hasn’t stopped people trying.
Much has been written over the years about the ebb and flow of feminism in the Wonder Woman comics, the relative feminism of her appearances on the small screen, and her role as an icon for the movement. A recent interview with the new Wonder Woman creative team of Meredith Finch and David Finch has brought the topic back into focus.
In the Golden Age of Comic Books, newspaper strips were still considered to be the dominant and far more respectable form of sequential art. They had, after all, been around for a while before Action Comics #1 rolled around and introduced the superhero, producing enduring and beloved characters like Flash Gordon, Prince Valiant, and even helping to popularize Mickey Mouse. As a result, the creators of these upstart superhero comics were pretty keen to get in on the deal, resulting in newspaper strips based on Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, often produced by the creators of the original comic books.
The Batman and Superman strips have been reprinted over the years, but the Wonder Woman newspaper strip, which ran from 1943 to1944, never has, until now. IDW Publishing has announced that it's collecting the strip's entire two-year run into a single hardcover, set to be released later this year.
In official DC canon, Superman and Wonder Woman have always remained just really good friends --- that is, until this October's Justice League #12, in which Geoff Johns and Jim Lee will see the two heroes begin what's promised to be a substantive relationship.
Following our exploration of some of Superman's former flames, it's time to check out the Amazing Amazon's past dance cards.
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