After being highly eager to get my hands on Wonder Woman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told trade paperback, I finally bought my copy yesterday. Thank God. On my way out of the store, I lovingly eyed the gorgeous Alex Ross cover with glee. “Please let this be excellent”, I repeated to myself, over and over.
I like it alright. There are some excellent choices that are representative of the Amazon princess, but there are a few odd ones as well. If I had never read a story about Wonder Woman, it would have intrigued me a bit, while confusing me a tad as well.
I respect that it must have been quite difficult to choose which stories would best typify such an icon. There is so much back story to choose from, and there have been many continuity turns and twists. It made me really wonder why DC couldn’t have taken the same approach with Wonder Woman that it had taken with Superman and Batman and split the greatness into decades. Trying to shove 11 tales into one tome is ominous as it is. Knowing that there are sixty plus years of history makes it seem impossible.
To start with, I was surprised that DC used the Paul Dini/Alex Ross origin of Wonder Woman rather then the original tale told in All Star Comics #11. Maybe for space limitations? Or because the continuity would have been confusing or the story deemed sexist? Hell, I don’t know. It just surprised me. I think that it would have dovetailed nicely into the first featured story, which showed Wonder Woman’s first exposure to America in 1942.
The second tale highlighted Wonder Woman’s battle with Villainy, Inc. Published back in 1948, the multi-part tale featured Wonder Woman’s top villains, the Holliday girls, and of course Steve Trevor and the Amazons. It is a true classic in every sense of the word and I could find no quibble with its inclusion.
The next three stories were all by Robert Kanigher with classic art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. From 1958 to 1966 these gentlemen worked to forge a more modern Wonder Woman then the one created by William Moulton Marston. During this period, Diana is much more emotional and her romance with Steve is at its height. My favorite of the three stories was “Wanted: Wonder Woman” which I remembered reading a reprint of when I first starting collecting the title. I was happy to see this era so well represented.
“Wonder Woman’s Rival” is a landmark tale for many fans. It is the story where Diana Prince evolves from stoic military woman to groovy chick. Steve Trevor is accused of murder and Diana helps him where Wonder Woman can’t. It is a crucial evolutionary step that prepares Diana to drop her costume all together and fight crime in fashionable threads. Love or hate that era, it is critical to her history.
A story that really surprised me was “Wish Upon a Star”, which guest starred Green Lantern. It is during the period in which Wonder Woman undertook 12 “labors” like Hercules to prove her worth in the Justice League. This particular story always fascinated me, but it isn’t the one from the labors I would have selected. I would have picked the Black Canary hosted tale or the Aquaman story where Diana fights Mars (Ares). Both are stories that I read over and over growing up.
One story that always made me get a bit teary is featured in this book. It is a lesser known read called “Be Wonder Woman… and Die!”. An unknown actress, Amy Kelly, tries out for the role of Wonder Woman in an upcoming movie only to be turned down. By a sad turn of events and sheer human determination she gets the role, only to see life end too quickly. It is a heart churning tale that many young girls read and were touched by.
From this era’s incarnation of Wonder Woman, only two tales are featured. The first is the already classic “Who Killed Mindi Mayer” story by George Perez. I have always enjoyed this story but was surprised to see it instead of the suicide tale. I have a tremendous love for Perez’ storytelling, so his inclusion here is a must. The final tale featured is She’s A Wonder!” by Joe Kelly and Phil Jimenez. Easily one of my favorites by Jimenez, the story guests Lois Lane. It is a very telling look at where Diana’s life is at following the events of the Amazon Civil War and it also introduces Trevor Barnes, Diana’s brief love interest.
I was happy to get a copy of Wonder Woman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told for myself. It was a nice stroll down memory lane. While not perfect, it tried to show Wonder Woman in every incarnation. I would have enjoyed seeing Wonder Woman #300 included or seeing one of the tournaments in which Diana loses her title for a brief time, but it was not to be.
Here is crossing my fingers for a second volume, or for a more decade centered book in the future. I am thrilled that DC is trying to bring Wonder Woman back stories to the forefront, and will be there cheering the entire way. My next step is to get the book into new reader’s hands and spread the word of Wonder to a new generation of sisters.