IDW Publishes Complete Wonder Woman Newspaper Strips

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Wonder Woman The Complete Newspaper Strip 1944 1945

When you have someone list three superheroes off the top of their heads, without thinking, they usually recite the holy trinity of heroes by rote: Superman, Batman...and Wonder Woman. They've been on top of the media since they began, not just in comic books, but also in newspaper strips and (later) animated cartoons.

Wonder Woman's newspaper strip didn't have what one could call a lengthy run, but it certainly was an interesting one. William Moulton Marston, inventor of the polygraph and dabbler in polyamory and bondage play, introduced the need for a feminine hero while he sat on the editorial board for DC Comics. Tasked with creating the character, Marston gave the world Wonder Woman -- an Amazon princess with powers from the Greek gods.

Marston's heroine was a hit in the comics, and the adaptation of her stories to strip format gave them more of an episodic, soap opera feel. She is introduced as a sort of mystery woman, showing up to stop tragedies and giving a newspaper editor fits because his reporters can't dig anything up on her. When the editor finally suffers a nervous breakdown, his hospital nurse -- Diana Prince -- delivers a parchment to him that details the origin of the Amazon's and of Wonder Woman.

After that, we follow Diana's growth on Paradise Island, where she is not just a strong and swift athlete, but also a technological genius, developing an invisible plane and a purple healing ray which she uses to resuscitate a dying Steve Trevor, found off the coast of Paradise Island. Taking him to America, she dons the disguise of a nurse to stay close to him (she passes our rather simple nursing tests in minutes), then moves into a position as a secretary for Trevor's boss in Army Intelligence after impressing him with her dictation and code-cracking abilities.

Keeping Steve Trevor out of danger (and out of the arms of hungry women) is a full time job for a Wonder Woman. As Diana Prince, she is the target of jealousy from Steve's own secretary, Erna Dollar. As Wonder Woman, she battles the likes of the Comtessa and the Cheetah. And with alarming frequency, she finds herself mummy-wrapped, straitjacketed, spread-eagle bound, and otherwise restrained and gagged -- sometimes allowing it as a ruse, since she can break free at any time, and sometimes truly caught as having her wrists bound together by a man causes her to lose her Amazon powers.

Filling out the cast are characters like Etta Candy -- an anorexic young girl Diana Prince meets in the hospital, and who is cured by Wonder Woman who prescribes a box of chocolates for her low blood sugar. Through Etta, Wonder Woman meets up with the Holliday Girls, students who attend the Holliday school where Erna Dollar gets hypnotized by a disguised Svengali to betray the country to the Comtessa.

This is a fun and eye-opening look back into the history of a comic book superheroine, courtesy of IDW. I daresay that a modern reinterpretation of these past stories would come under some uncomfortable scrutiny. That they were deemed harmlessly acceptable back in the day says as much about the culture of our society at the time as it does about the beliefs of her creator.

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0