Wonder Woman has taken the world by storm! People all over the world want to know more about the Amazon Princess, but with over 75 years of history it’s hard to know where to start. Maybe you’ve seen her new movie, watched one of her numerous animated appearances, or loved the Lynda Carter TV show as a kid. Regardless, here is a handy guide to starting becoming a Wonder Woman comic book aficionado!
Comic Book Runs:
In 1986, after many missteps in the 1960’s and 70’s, DC wanted to get their premiere heroine back on track. George Perez and his team were chosen for the task, and they created the modern version of Wonder Woman that we know today. They redid her origin story and brought her back to her roots in the Greek pantheon with a strong sense of cultural identity that most other comic book characters lack. Diana is a true hero and beacon for humanity, and we follow along as she learns the joys and harsh realities of the world while protecting it from a collection of mythology-inspired villains. They created a new backstory for the Amazons that is a poignant and powerful statement to the history of women throughout the ages, and perfectly explains their solitary island existence. This is also when Diana’s home was named, Themyscira, the actual name of the Amazon’s home in Greek mythology, instead of just Paradise Island. With a multiracial nation of Amazons and an almost all female supporting cast, even after Diana comes to “man’s world”, Perez & Co. pushed the boundaries of 1980’s comics, and were rewarded by being honored as one of the greatest comic runs in DC Comics history. It is the gold standard that all other Wonder Woman comics are measured against. It is also the Wonder Woman that I first discovered as a child, and the source that Patty Jenkins pulled from the most when she created the Wonder Woman movie.
Get issues #1- #14 as a single book on Comixology, Kindle or order a printed version on Amazon! (Ignore the horrible cover art they picked for this printing! WTF were they thinking??) Individual issues are available digitally or through the DC Comics app. Perez himself was the artist on issues #1- #24, but continued as a writer on Wonder Woman until issue #62. As with all comic series, jump in and stay for as long as you want. There is no “end” so it’s easy to just read until the story arch that you like ends.
Wonder Woman: Year One by Greg Rucka (2016)
This is the most recent reboot of Wonder Woman by A-team creators Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott, and Liam Sharp. It is part of Rebirth, a complete DC reboot that was designed to give DC movie fans a clean starting point to jump into reading the comics. It brings Wonder Woman back to the roots that George Perez’s team created in the 80’s, but with some modernizations to both Amazon culture and man’s world. Rucka and Scott have wildly successful histories with Wonder Woman comics, and both are able to capture her joy, compassion and power with their exceptional work. No big changes to her backstory here, although another type of milestone is reached when Diana is FINALLY shown to be involved a same-sex relationships on Themyscira. Because duh. It makes perfect sense that a character who is all about love would be able to like women and men, and Rucka deals with this in a classy, matter-of-fact way that feels genuine. As a major Wonder Woman fan and purist, I loved this retelling of her origin story and highly recommend it for someone just starting their Wonder Woman journey.
Reading this run is a little tricky, because Rucka alternates between Diana’s origin story in even numbered issues, and her life many years later in odd numbered issues. I suggest new readers start with reading her origin story issues first, which you can get as a single book called Wonder Woman Vol.2: Year One. This run is only a year old, so once you catch up you can easily pick up new issues as they are released at your friendly local comic shop or digitally!
Graphic novels are stand alone stories that aren’t (usually) tied to the stories happening in a character’s main comic runs. Sometimes they are completely different takes on a character than will ever appear in the series of the comics. The biggest advantage is that you get the whole story in one place!
The Legend of Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Origins by Renae de Liz (2016)
This is a stunning reimagining of Diana’s origins on Themyscira and her arrival in man’s world during World War II. It’s not “canon”, which means that other comics don’t use or recognize this story as Diana’s past, but it is really enjoyable to read and captures the heart of Diana beautifully. This story takes a lot of time to focus on Diana’s childhood in a society where not all of the Amazons are immortal. I would have liked to see a bit more racial diversity with the Amazons, but I really love how they incorporated Wonder Woman and the Greek gods into World War II. Renae de Liz is both the writer and illustrator for this story and she knocks it out of the park! Sadly, although this limited series became a hit, DC decided not to move forward with the planned Vol. 2. It’s still an amazing story with a lovely conclusion. I wish the source of her powers in this story WAS canon! Get the full run as a single book on Comixology or Amazon!
The Hiketeia by Greg Rucka (2003)
One of the most acclaimed Wonder Woman graphic novels ever written, this story was Rucka’s first shot at writing Wonder Woman and it earned him a spot as one of her greatest creators. Teaming up with artists J.G. Jones, Wade Von Grawbadger, and Dave Stewart, Rucka explores the strange path that Diana walks as the sole member of an ancient culture in our modern world. It is NOT her origin story, but is a slice of her life after she is an established hero in man’s world. We see Diana balance her role as a super hero with her responsibilities as the Themyscirian ambassador and representative to the United Nations. It gives you a perfect taste of Diana without going through her backstory again. Compassion is the force that drives her in all things. Batman is a featured character in this story and acts as Diana’s opponent when they take opposite sides in a case involving the crimes of a young woman. It’s an interesting exploration of what super heroes might do when faced with moral gray area… with some supernatural elements mixed in!
Since it’s original version is out of print, you will have to pay a hefty price for a paper copy of it. It is available digitally in a compilation of Greg Rucka’s Wonder Woman stories called Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Vol. 1 for a much better price. It is the first story in the book, so it’s easy to find.
Based on the successful cartoon, this graphic novel is drawn by Yancey Labat and written by Shea Fontana (who will be taking over Wonder Woman’s Rebirth run after Greg Rucka leaves after issue #24). It’s not normally what I’d recommend, but I think it’s really important to have options for younger fans on this list! It’s a group story about teenage DC characters, including Harly Quinn, Batgirl, Supergirl, Katana and more, but Wonder Woman features prominently. The story takes place in Superhero High School where the group faces challenges related to their education and villains that show up to crash the party. It’s lots of fun and DC fans will love seeing kid-friendly incarnations of their favorite characters, including my favorite, Principal Amanda Waller. I really appreciate that DC is finally channeling energy into creating high quality content that is meant to inspire kids, especially young girls. You can get this in digital or paperback and it seems to be the first of many such books!