I read The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore some years ago, so I was familiar with the creator of Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston, and his proclivities and motivations, but this book goes beyond the creation of Wonder Woman and brings us a full history of her legacy. It dives deeper into the way that Wonder Woman has been received by the masses and talks about each of her writers, in comics and on screen. Except, of course, for the new movie that is still out in theaters.
I’d been wanting to read this book for a while and had been waiting on hold for it. I’ve also been a follower of Tim Hanley here on WordPress and his blog, Straightened Circumstances, which was how I came to be familiar with this book in the first place. He’s actually written on Lois Lane and recently published a book on Catwoman as well. In this book, and I imagine the others, he takes a really deep look into the feminism that Wonder Woman has had and that she hasn’t had. He looks at the way her character has been idealized at times and turned into a role model at other times and what exactly she’s modeling.
There’s a lot to love here. First of all, Hanley goes into the evolution of Wonder Woman, which means that he starts at the beginning and works through each writer and artist and discusses them and their growth as writers of Wonder Woman. Second, in order to do this he also displays some great feminist terminology and herstory. I get that Wonder Woman’s compatibility with feminism isn’t always the greatest but I like to think of her as a Bad Feminist in much the same way so many of us are. Imperfect at what we do but always striving toward progress, even when we hit a few snags. There’s also the way he paints the contrasts with other characters throughout the years to give context to what was happening with Wonder Woman and why it was or wasn’t the most palatable thing for audiences. I love the delineation of the Ages of Comics, which was not something I was well versed in and would have been lost without. Also, the many changing origins are annoying and seem to have digressed, especially having watched the movie and seen what they did there. I like the original better.
Overall, a great book about a great character. I look forward to reading the other two and probably whatever else he puts out. Hanley does post reviews for new Wonder Woman comics as they come out on his earlier mentioned blog and if you read this and get curious about his take on the movie, he’s got a review up there too. For a preview of his writing, he has been posting about the new Catwoman book, but here‘s a link to the movie review.
I got Wonder Woman Unbound from the library, like most of my books, and if you want to add it to your Goodreads profile, click here.