Wonder Woman: 80 Years of the Amazon Warrior
Writers: William Moulton Marston (writing as Charles Moulton), Joye Hummel, Robert Kanigher, Samuel R. Delaney, Cary Bates, Roy Thomas, George Pérez, William Messner-Loebs, Phil Jimenez, Joe Kelly, Allan Heinberg, Amanda Conner, Brian Azzarello, Mariko Tamaki, Greg Rucka, Becky Cloonan, and Michael W. Conrad
Artists: Harry G. Peter, Ross Andru, Mike Esposito, Dick Giordano, Don Heck, Vince Colletta, Gene Colan, George Pérez, Bruce Patterson, Romeo Tanghal, Jill Thompson, Lee Moder, Ande Parks, Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning, Gary Frank, Jon Sibal, Amanda Conner, Cliff Chiang, Elena Casagrande, Nicola Scott, Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad
Credited Color Artists: Adrienne Roy, Tatjana Wood, Nansi Hoolahan, Matt Hollingsworth, Patricia Mulvihill, Dave McCaig, Paul Mounts, Matt Wilson, Sunny Gho, Romulo Fajardo Jr., and Jen Bartel
Credited Letterers: John Costanza, Richard Starkings, Rob Leigh, John J. Hill, Jared K. Fletcher, Deron Bennett, and Pat Brosseau
Additional Art and Covers: Harry G. Peter, Everett E. Hibbard, Ross Andru, Mike Esposito, Dick Giordano, Nick Cardy, George Pérez, Brian Bolland, Adam Hughes, Cliff Chiang, and Jen Bartel
Dust Jacket Art: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair
Articles and Commentary: Trina Robbins, Gal Gadot, Lynda Carter, and Patty Jenkins
Review by Steve J. Ray

Summary

Wow. When Penguin Random House and DC Entertainment announced this amazing book and its contents I was blown away, but that didn’t compare in the slightest to actually receiving and reading this wonderful book. Wonder Woman: 80 Years of the Amazon Warrior was a complete joy to read, a revelation, and an education.

Positives

I’ve always loved Diana and her world, but this book has provided the largest dose of Golden and Silver Age Wonder Woman I’ve ever had, and these tales have impressed me considerably. I’ve read and/or own the majority of the Bronze and Modern Age stories collected in this tome, but the early tales really amazed me.

However controversial William Moulton Marston and his personal life may have been, his skills as a writer cannot be ignored. The 1940s stories in this book were revolutionary back then, and are impressive even today. The man was a forward thinker, a feminist, a scientist, and a teacher. His grasp on technology, much of which was pure science fiction in his day, is astounding. The love and respect he had for women could still teach the men of today a thing or two.

Wonder Woman was an awesome creation from her first appearance, so it’s no wonder that she’s the only female character in history who has had new stories featuring her adventures printed every single year for nine decades, and counting. Yes, I know that her own book has been on hiatus more than once, but she has appeared in the ages of Justice League, Justice Society, DC Comics Presents, and as a guest star in the books of other DC legends even when she didn’t star in her own book.  Let’s not forget her own TV show, and animated classics like Super Friends.

Classic Art

H.G. Peter should be given as much credit for Diana’s success as Marston himself. Looking at the visuals he created for Wonder Woman in the 1940s it’s clear that he was a talent simply leagues ahead of many of his peers. It’s no secret how much I love Batman and Superman, and the work of Joe Shuster, Jerry Robinson, and Bob Kane. Looking at the Golden Age stories collected in this gorgeous volume it’s clear that Peter was as good as, if not better than some of these aforementioned legends, yet he’s rarely spoken about with the same level of reverence. His eye for design, storytelling, anatomy, and action was simply wonderful, and I now want to add more of his works to my own comics collection.

More Positives

This book doesn’t just collect classic Wonder Woman stories, it also features commentary and articles by some of the great storytellers who made them, as well as the two actresses most associated with the character, and the director of both her smash hit cinematic outings.

The Legend of Wonder Woman was one of the first mini-series I ever purchased with my own money, and I love it even more, now that I’ve read the stories that inspired it. Her contributions to comics are already extremely well documented, and even though her own work on the character isn’t included in this collection, the fact that her thoughts and feelings are makes me very happy. If she hadn’t had any input in this book, I would’ve been very disappointed indeed.

Frequently when anniversary and commemorative editions are published they collect stories deemed to be “important” or “ground-breaking” over others that are just great stories. I’m delighted to report that Wonder Woman: 80 Years of the Amazon Warrior isn’t one of those books. Every single tale collected within these 416 pages is great fun, thought-provoking, action-packed… or all of the above. Of course, this is hardly surprising when you consider the incredible talents who created these timeless tales.

The fact that there are comics from the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, 10’s and as recent as Wonder Woman #750 and the complete Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman, shows quite clearly why Diana, the first, and still the greatest female superhero, remains as powerful, inspirational and entertaining as when she first burst off the printed page. She is one of only four American comics characters to have appeared in over 750 issues of her own title, and that’s awesome in and of itself.

Negatives

I’m really, really nit-picking here. Even as a child and teen, I found it frustrating that some of the pre-Modern Age Wonder Woman stories told readers about her Greek origins, yet gave some of the deities from her history and myth their Roman names; Mars, Hercules, Mercury, etc. It’s common knowledge that George Pérez’s legendary tenure on the title in the 1980s changed all that, and corrected the errors of the Golden, Silver, and Bronze Ages. I’m glad that the old tales have only benefitted from digital remastering, and haven’t been ret-conned though, as their more up-to-date cousins have more than made up for those minor errors.

Verdict

Wonder Woman: 80 Years of the Amazon Warrior should be in every comics fans’ collection. People who love Diana will no doubt pick it up, but I strongly urge readers who aren’t fans to get it too, because I guarantee that there’s at least one story in this book that will appeal to them. I even think that it may even make a fan out of those who previously may not have liked, or understood the character.

This anniversary hardcover collects stories from All-Star Comics #8, Sensation Comics, #1, Comic Cavalcade #11, Wonder Woman (vol. 1) #5, #78, #98, #124, #162, #203, and #206, Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #6, #57, #73, and #170, Wonder Woman (vol. 3) #1, #13, #600, Wonder Woman (New 52) #13, Wonder Woman #750 (2020), and DC Comics Presents #41, along with new historical essays and a new cover by Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex sinclair.

This is a book I will pick up, read and re-read a lot in years to come. Highly recommended.

Review Copy Courtesy of Penguin Random House, Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment
ISBN: 978-1-77951-157-7


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