Jun 24, 2017

Wonder Woman to Read When You Want the Best

Wonder Woman to Read When You Want the Best…
Pop Medicine
Travis Hedge Coke

There is no single best Wonder Woman comic, no Wonder Woman comics you must read before or after you watch the movie or don't watch the movie. There is, however, over seventy-five years’ worth of good and excellent Wonder Woman in comics.

I want to share with you my favorite examples of seventeen elements of Wonder Woman, for when you feel like reading the best portrayal of Etta Candy or the coolest costume-change spins. Maybe, in 2018, I'll do eighteen elements, and include Wonder Woman vol 2 #170 by Phil Jimenez and Joe Kelly as the “best summation.” Or, I’ll wait three years, and do twenty-one.

Most of my examples will by runs or single-volume stories, relatively easily purchased, mostly still in print. I don’t want you think think, “Oh, I’ve read these two dozen issues and I’m done now.” The worst thing I could leave you with, is the impression that having five trade paperbacks on your shelf is a requirement or cut-off limit for quality. I don’t want to limit Wonder Woman to a half season of tv, a feature film, or even a Little Golden Book, no matter how awesome Flower Power! is (and it is; you should read it).

Bullets and Bracelets

The game/technique of deflecting bullets using only a pair of bracelets has been there since the beginning, but it’s often been justified as a defense against the outside world’s weapons or a cargo cult sport. Originally, though, it seems the Amazons simply invented guns for no other purpose than to play a game. And, that is awesome.

Inventing gunpowder and firearms solely for nonlethal recreation is an amazing cultural point that defines the Amazons as different from, at the very least, American and anglophone societies the world round. - Sensation Comics #1 (Charles Moulton - aka William Marston, Olive Byrne, Elizabeth Marston, Harry G Peter)

Born from Clay

The drive and love that Jill Thompson works into her pages of a queen wishing soil into becoming a baby, creating a child from desire and hope is far beyond other portrayals I have seen. The idea that Diana was once clay that has been made alive seems to upset some people quite a bit, but honestly, anyone who thinks that a woman making a baby is weird or inhuman isn’t actually thinking it all the way through. - The True Amazon (Jill Thompson)

Best Etta Candy

Etta has been a lot of things, though she’s almost always one of Wonder Woman’s closest friends. A number of her portrayals, though, have not necessarily aged well for me, so my favorite ends up being a relatively recent take by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette. Their Etta is excitable, smart, and warm. She’s embracing life and still a bit silly, without dipping over into offensive stereotypes or veering so off-model she might as well be some other woman entirely. - Wonder Woman: Earth One (Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette)

Best Hippolyta

Parents are hard to write well in adventure stories where they’re not the focus. So many superheroes and adventure protagonists are orphans for just this reason. When Hippolyta has a life of her own, a history, a present, agendas, fears and desires, she blooms big. She can ring true. - the Jimenez run and The True Amazon (Jill Thompson)

Best Donna Troy

Donna is Wonder Woman’s almost-identical twin and real come to life imaginary friend, who everybody loves but gets less than a tenth of the press of her famous and more iconic sister. And, Phil Jimenez makes her shine like nobody else. - (Wonder Woman: Donna Troy, The Return of Donna Troy, and many other things)

Best Spirituality

I’m fonder of the casual-and-continual portrayal of spirituality and religious philosophy, than by a Wonder Woman who just knows some guys, and they’re magical, and they talk to each other, there’s some boons. Gods should reflect larger than anthropomorphisms, and religion should be philosophy and sociology as well as a financial system. - Convergence: Woman Woman (Larry Hama, et al) and Greg Rucka’s second run (Wonder Woman vol 5 #1-25)

Best Profession

Wonder Woman has had many jobs, but being outreach to the outside world has been the most frequent and probably the truest to her core. She was an ambassador long before that word seems to have been directly applied.

I think, Greg Rucka’s two runs have done the most towards showing her as a professional, but credit to the Moulton agglomerative authors for presenting this as a serious and significant goal from Sensation Comics forward. - Sensation Comics #1 and beyond

Read More Below...

Best Politics

The best politics in Wonder Woman have been those that hit head on, rather than being gentle and conciliatory. I don’t as much care if they’re one hundred percent agreeable or workable, but that they spark something relevant and motivating to reality. - the Moulton run, The Once and Future Story (Trina Robbins; Colleen Doran), the first Greg Rucka run (Wonder Woman vol 2 #195-226 and others)

Best Nostalgia

Trina Robbins and Kurt Busiek closed out classic/pre-Crisis Wonder Woman with a gorgeous four issue reflection of all good and amazing with Wonder Woman comics, that also constantly kept its eye on tomorrow. - The Legend of Wonder Woman

Best “Man’s World”

Wonder Woman not knowing how to pump gas or how much a tank is going to cost is the best shorthand, to me, to the difference between here and there. There are more politicized and more didactically loud examples, but that one is clear and direct. The sugar and gas emissions in the air, from Year One, come a close second. - Love and Murder (Jodi Picoult and Terry Dodson) and Year One (Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott)

Best Costume With Leggings

Meredith and David Finch had a beautiful run that gets critically bashed for reasons I don’t understand coupled with reasons that make me a little upset. But, hopefully, we can all agree that the alternate Wonder Woman costumes, including the excellent God of War costume pictured are pure win. - Wonder Woman vol 4 #36-52 (Meredith and David Finch)

Best Spins

The spin is one of those things adapted from television coping with awkward special fx and it is glorious. - Wonder Woman vol 2 #164-188 (Phil Jimenez, et al)

Best Mother and Daughter

- The True Amazon (Jill Thompson)

Best High Science

The Moulton run, aside from a brief highlighting in Earth One, made the best presentation of Amazon culture as spiritually and politically and scientifically far beyond and way different than other Earth cultures. - Sensation Comics and Wonder Woman vol 1 #1-22

Best Deep Mythology

The Post-Crisis Wonder Woman took advantage, more than many titles/sub-worlds of the DC Universe, to put together something solid and considered. And, that comes down to one man and his mission. - Wonder Woman vol 2, #1-62 (George Perez, et al)

Awesome Feats We Don’t Actually Get to See

When Wonder Woman attacked a city-sized chariot of violent angels, we got a little flicker of light in the distance and Aquaman making a pithy statement. In Final Crisis, when Diana lassos the world’s population to free them from Darkseid’s shame and domination infection, we see her kinda swinging her rope around above possessed victims for one whole panel. Grant, when are you going to really help us out‽ - Grant Morrison in JLA, Final Crisis, and elsewhere

Best Encouragement

Mutual action figure admiration. - Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special (Gail Simone and Colleen Doran)

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