Each week, one of Biff Bam Pop’s illustrious writers will delve into one of their favorite things. Perhaps it’s a movie or album they’ve carried with them for years. Maybe it’s something new that moved them and they think might move you too. Each week, a new subject, a new voice writing on… something they love.
I’ll be talking about my love of the amazing Amazon, Wonder Woman. She’s not the first female superhero, or even the first patriotic hero, but she’s the first lady of superheroics, and I love her. Meet me after the jump, for some of my favorite stuff.
Born of Bondage
Wonder Woman was an angel born in the mind of a man obsessed with truth, feminism, and yes, some out of the box sexual practices, but still William Moulton Marston created an icon and role model for the ages. He was originally a psychologist who monitored the output at DC Comics, making sure it was palatable for the kids. He could have been another monster like Fredric Wertham, but instead Marston was a force for good. He thought girls needed a role model in the comics, a super-heroine, so he created one – Wonder Woman.
Marston believed in the power of women, and also believed that a hero was needed who could solve problems and defeat enemies not with fists or force, but with love and reasoning. This new super-heroine would not only be a role model for girls, a teaching tool for readers, and even a positive patriotic symbol during wartime, but the stories would also carry the themes that Marston believed in at home. Anyone looking through the Golden Age Wonder Woman stories can plainly seeing the concepts of bondage and even spanking throughout, some in plain sight like the heroine’s weaknesses of being bound by a man, or having her bracelets chained together.
The tale of Wonder Woman begins on Paradise Island, in later versions called Themyscira, where the Amazons have lived for centuries hidden from the rest of civilization. One day during World War II, pilot Steve Trevor washes ashore and an emissary must be chosen to return him to ‘Man’s World.’ A contest is held to choose a champion, and the queen’s daughter wins.
The princess is no normal Amazon, as she was destined for greatness, the first child on the island of women in centuries, magically created and bestowed with the powers of the gods – she is more than special. Learning of the Axis evils which threaten mankind (and womankind) in the outside world, she is sent there with an arsenal and a mission to not only save Man’s World, but keep its ills from infecting their paradise. Dressed in the colors of the United States, the forces of good in the war, Princess Diana became Wonder Woman.
Powers of the Gods
At birth, actual creation from clay, Princess Diana was blessed by the gods and goddesses with strength, speed, wisdom, and beauty, among other talents. The whole mythological background of the stories was grounded by the almost Grecian urn art style of HG Peter back in the Golden Age, lending a surreal feel to early tales that seemed to take place both in the real world and in the lands of myth. And mythic is how I would describe Wonder Woman’s powers. She was strong, fast, and nearly invulnerable, depending on the version. She has been able to go toe to toe with Ares and even Darkseid when needed, but this is by no means the extent of her powers.
Despite the public opinion that she needs an invisible jet, it’s really only for the long haul, as Diana has always been able to leap great distances, glide on air currents, and later outright fly. There have been oddities like super breath and cutting steel with her fingernails, but others make more sense like being omni-lingual and having empathy with animals. Other major powers include telepathy, astral projection, magic resistance, and mental communication with others through her Mental Radio.
First and foremost of Wonder Woman’s arsenal against evil is her golden lariat, also known as the Lasso of Truth or the Lariat of Hestia. The magic lasso, made from material of and forged by the gods. Anyone caught in its coils is not only compelled to tell the truth, but will obey the commands of Wonder Woman as well. Most folks know her other big gun, her invisible jet. Over the years it’s been referred to as the Robot Plane, and later the WonderDome, which could configure into any form, both instantly reacting to Wonder Woman’s mental commands.
Wonder Woman’s every accessory has a use. Her ‘bathing suit’ costume is actually an armored breastplate, her Amazonium tiara could transform into a razor-edged boomerang, and her earrings allowing for breathing in outer space and underwater. During the time she was stripped of her powers, her earrings were also mini-explosives. In later years she has used a sword forged by the gods so sharp it could cleave atoms, along with various armors and other costumes, and even the Sandals of Hermes to allow her advanced flight, speed, and dimensional travel.
Bullets and Bracelets
The only ‘weapons’ left out of the above listing would be Wonder Woman’s Amazonium bracelets, with which she plays the deadly game of ‘bullets and bracelets.’ You might ask, why an Amazon, gifted by the gods, and obviously bulletproof herself (another reason for her lack of armor) would need to perform such a stunt. Why? I’ll tell you why – to scare the crap out of her opponents. And man, does it work.
Back in the Golden Age, the Flash used to catch bullets, just pluck them out of the air. Cool trick, but impressive only to those who could see it – and not many could as he did it at super speed. Superman and Captain Marvel had the true superhero bullet stunt, letting them bounce off their chests. That definitely would intimidate the shooter. But think on this. When a chick in a bathing suit runs at you and deflects your bullets with her bracelets, laughing and smiling like it’s a game – that’s intimidation! I love the bullets and bracelets trick.
Forget Spider-Man, Batman, and Dick Tracy, when it comes to bizarre rogues galleries, Wonder Woman has one of the most bizarre, as well as the most underused with the most untapped potential. Many of her foes are associated with the gods, the foremost of those types of enemies being Ares, the god of war. She frequently clashed with his minions, mainly the Duke of Deception. Most well known would be the Cheetah, of which there have been at least three, but also the Angle Man, Giganta, the Silver Swan, the Mask, and the diabolical Doctor Psycho – how crazy and badass do you have to be to call yourself Doctor Psycho??
Then there are the truly bizarre villains like Mouse Man, the racially offensive Egg Fu, the Crimson Centipede who gives new meaning to the term ‘human centipede,’ and the Blue Snowman, not the first (or even the first to fight Wonder Woman), but one of the first transgender super-villains. And don’t forget Villainy Inc., one of the first groupings of villains united against their superhero enemy. This all female team included Doctor Poison, Hypnota (also transgender), Eviless, Queen Clea, and Zara of the Crimson Flame, as well as the aforementioned Cheetah, Giganta, and Snowman.
Here’s the thing about Wonder Woman and her foes. This isn’t a situation of Batman taking the Joker to Arkham and him getting out two months later ad infinitium. Wonder Woman had Transformation Island, where her enemies were reformed and made decent members of society. One of her earliest foes was the Baroness Paula Von Gunther, who later became scientist Paula, a happy well-adjusted resident of Paradise Island.
And those are just a few of the reasons I love Wonder Woman so much. I may be back to rant my love for the Amazon Princess more by exploring the white jumpsuit years, as well as the twelve trials, and the George Perez version. To paraphrase a friend of mine, I do Wonder Woman right.