Next Friday Wonder Woman makes her long anticipated big screen debut. Many people know about Wonder Woman – she’s a goddess, she’s a feminist, she’s powerful, – but the popular image of her ends there. While she’s been a comic book character for 75 years, the fact of the matter is that very few people have actually read all, or even most, of her comics. Let alone her numerous TV appearances (both live action and cartoon).
So, where is a person to turn if they want to know more about Wonder Woman? Especially if they want to learn more about the context in which she was created? The answer is, of course, a book.
There are two books about Wonder Woman and her origins that were written somewhat recently. Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine by Tim Hanley and The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore. Which one you should read depends on how in depth you want to go.
Hanley’s book is a quick read that glosses over some of the details and attempts to sensationalize others. The book is just 300 pages and the writing is breezy and easy to read. If you just want a taste of Wonder Woman’s history and development as a character, this book is the one for you.
If, instead, you’d rather get a detailed look at every possible influence behind the creator of Wonder Woman, then Lepore’s book is the one you should read. The book starts off with the parents of Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston and traces the strands of influence from the Suffragette movement to Wonder Woman. Everything about Wonder Woman is accounted for. From her clothes to her weapons to her all female society.
Can’t decide which of these books to read? You could always do what I did and read both. It’s interesting to read two books on the same topic and see where they agree and where they diverge. While there is a lot of overlap in information between the two books, the author’s distinctive voices makes reading them together anything but boring.
You can find these books and more at your local library.