Diana of Themyscira. Princess of the Amazons. Wonder Woman. She is a character that has transcended the comic book medium and become not only a pop-culture icon, but a powerful symbol of compassion, strength, and feminism. Despite her fluctuating status in the mainstream consciousness, her presence in comics remains strong and unwavering. To further drive that point home, the staff of Infinite Comix presents 15 stories that anyone with an interest in Wonder Woman should check out.
1. JLA: A League Of One
Wonder Woman’s heritage as an Amazon has lead to her dishing out some tough love over the decades. Perhaps no story better encapsulates this than JLA: A League of One, written and illustrated by Christopher Moeller. After receiving a prophecy that her JLA colleagues will perish saving the world, Diana not only takes out each member of the team on her own, but winds up confronting the Earth-rattling threat on her own. Featuring beautiful, painted artwork, JLA: A League of One swiftly quashes the notion that Wonder Woman can’t stand side-by-side with the boys.
2. Wonder Woman and Sensation Comics by William Moulton Marston
The stories written by Wonder Woman’s creator William Moulton Marston are among the most innovative comics ever created. Both a psychologist and inventor of the precursor to the polygraph, Marston believed that future, peaceful societies would be run by women, which was a common theme found in his writings – including Wonder Woman comics. Having written the character for 113 issues between Wonder Woman and Sensation Comics – most of which have been reprinted in various collected editions – Marston’s Wonder Woman stories should be relatively easy to track down.
3. The Twelve Labors
After her stint in Denny O’Neil’s controversial Diana Prince: Wonder Woman, DC made the wise decision to return Wonder Woman to her full glory. With her powers restored but a shaky memory, writer Cary Bates and artists Irv Novack and Tex Blaisdell put Diana through the “dodekathlon”, a series of twelve trials of atonement as a means to reintegrate her to the world of superheroics. The resulting tale is one that features the version of Wonder Woman closest to most identifiable to mainstream audiences.
4. Gods and Mortals
Following the universe-shattering event Crisis on Infinite Earths, writer/artist George Perez was tasked with redefining Wonder Woman’s new status quo. His first story arc – “Gods and Mortals” – not only updated her origin for modern readers but also saw her take on Ares, the God of War. It’s a strong start to a run that would define Wonder Woman for the next twenty years.
5. Challenge of the Gods
In the follow-up to “Gods and Mortals”, George Perez reintroduced one of Diana’s oldest and famous foes, Cheetah, in “Challenge of the Gods”. After revealing herself to the world, Wonder Woman is faced with challenges from both the political and spiritual realm. With her mission of peace at a crossroads, Diana must face judgment from Zeus and the gods of Olympus. Here, Perez and his supporting creative team craft a tale to test Diana’s mettle, both physically and psychologically.
6. The Contest
The name may be unfamiliar to modern readers, but William Messner-Loebs was at one time one of DC’s most prolific writers. In a period where DC had killed Superman and crippled Batman, Diana was put through the proverbial wringer by Messner-Loebs and artist Mike Deodato Jr. in “The Contest”. Forced to defend her mantle of Wonder Woman against a challenger, Diana must emerge victorious by overcoming an eager enemy, judgment by the gods, and herself.
7. Spirit of Truth
Paul Dini and Alex Ross’s tabloid-sized graphic novel manages to cut to the core of its titular character in the brief span of 64 pages. Spirit of Truth’s strength lies is Dini’s script, which demonstrates Diana’s strength and compassion through the diplomatic scenarios she faces as Themyscira ambassador to the world. If not that, Alex Ross’s beautiful, painted illustrations alone is worth the money.
8. The Hiketeia
Greg Rucka’s celebrated run with Wonder Woman did not begin in the pages of her ongoing series, but with this original graphic novel, illustrated by Final Crisis artist J.G. Jones. A young woman comes to Diana seeking her protection under the rite of Hiketeia, which only leads to more trouble for the Amazonian Princess. Torn between her responsibility to uphold the ancient laws and following a more modern justice, The Hiketeia remains one of the single best graphic novels DC has ever released.
9. Down to Earth
Following the critical and commercial success of The Hiketeia, Greg Rucka would embark on a four-year run writing Wonder Woman’s ongoing series. For his first story arc, “Down to Earth”, Rucka tried to avoid getting inside the heroine’s head – which he found “murderous.” Rather, Rucka would use his run to let the circumstances highlight Wonder Woman’s various qualities. In “Down to Earth”, the release of Diana’s book “Reflections: A Collection of Essays and Speeches” is the source of much of the arc’s conflict.
10. Eyes of the Gorgon
Wonder Woman vs. Medusa; that should be all that’s required to sell anyone on this story arc. Diana has always been a character rooted in Greek mythology, and here she gets to play a part in one of its most famous legends. Despite inconsistent art due to multiple artists, Rucka’s tale manages to straddle the line between Diana’s superhero and ancient roots without compromising one or the other.
11. Gimme Shelter
Following a four-issue arc as part of DC’s One Year Later, writer Will Pfeifer stepped in to deliver one of the single best Wonder Woman comics ever written. With Diana working undercover as part of the Department of Metahuman Affairs, she is tasked with investigating a shelter for battered women for a connection to Wonder Woman, who is still mistrusted by governments following her murder of Maxwell Lord. What she uncovers reflects her role in the real world – Wonder Woman is an inspiration and source of strength to women all over the globe, regardless of race or creed.
12. The Circle
Surprisingly, the one thing Wonder Woman lacked through the mid-2000s was a female writer. Then suddenly, she was the beneficiary of back-to-back runs. Following a brief stint by novelist Jodi Piccoult, acclaimed comics scribe Gail Simone would kick-off a lengthy run on the title with “The Circle”. A new writer usually means a good time to jump on. If you’re into Diana battling psychopathic gorillas and ageless Nazis, Simone’s initial arc is right for you.
Teaming DIana with one of the stars of Gail Simone’s other notable work, Birds of Prey’s Black Canary, “Warkiller” sees the titular character having to face another legend of Greek mythology – Achilles. Meanwhile, the aforementioned pairing of Wonder Woman and Black Canary leads to an undercover mission amongst the scum of the DC Universe.
Easily the most divisive entry, J. Michael Straczynski’s Wonder Woman run was met with outrage, but eventual earned acclaim from both fans and critics alike. Both longtime and new readers will find the opening chapters both frustrating and confusing. This version of Diana and her surrounding world is unlike anything that has come before. However, those that can endure are rewarded with a beautiful deconstruction and reconstruction of one of comics’ most culturally significant creations.
15. New 52 by Azzarello, Chiang, Sudzuka, and Atkins
DC’s handling of its 2011 relaunch has been called both “sloppy” and “mismanaged,” yet one series has risen above the others to be one of the comics being published, not just at DC but industry-wide. Though Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang had delivered an outstanding sci-fi tale in Doctor 13: Architecture of Morality, they were primarily known for their street-level stories – particularly Azzarello. However, the pairing of these two creators, with contributions from Goran Sudzuka and Tony Akins, has resulted in a magical 36 issue run (plus a #0 issue) that concludes in October. Without revealing too much, it’s brilliant.
Note: This article was originally published at InfiniteComix.com