After so many iterations of Batman and Superman portrayed on film and television, it seems like Hollywood is finally ready to catch up with the third member of the DC Comics Trinity – the legendary Wonder Woman.
The arrival of the 2017 DCEU film Wonder Woman has kicked off a great moment for the character as fans can see her become the very first female superhero to headline a solo live-action movie. The film also opens the doors for children and adults who were unfamiliar with Wonder Woman to look back at some of her greatest stories in the comics and discover what makes this character so special not only to DC fans, but to the comic book landscape overall.
While it is safe to say that there is no unanimous "best" version of Wonder Woman, she has been taken in many great different directions in the comics since she was first introduced in 1941, giving the character a wide range of possibilities and stories for every type of fan to enjoy.
It is time to look back at the 18 Most Essential Wonder Woman Comics and dive into all the adventures, changes, and origins of this DC Comics superhero.
18 WONDER WOMAN: BLOOD
Wonder Woman: Blood is an incredible comic book series written by Brian Azzarello for DC Comics’ The New 52 continuity reboot. It was masterfully illustrated by Cliff Chiang (and later Tony Akins, who unfortunately didn’t do as great of a job).
The premise of the Blood storyline and the Wonder Woman movie are very close, perhaps being the material that filmmakers were inspired by the most during the film’s production. In both the comic and the DCEU movie, Diana is lied to about her origins, about who she really is besides an Amazonian, and eventually she leaves Paradise Island for London.
Unlike the film, however, Diana is driven out to the world because she feels completely betrayed by her own mother, Queen Hippolyta, for having lied about her past. The comic book’s main villains are Hera – who Hippolyta was trying to protect Wonder Woman from – Hades, and Apollo.
17 THE LEGEND OF WONDER WOMAN
Even though 2016’s The Legend of Wonder Woman was halted by DC Comics before a second part could be released, many fans deem this comic book as a great starting point for newcomers to get into Wonder Woman’s mythos.
This critically-acclaimed comic is definitely a fan favorite, and there is even a petition to push DC Comics into releasing a follow-up. The Legend of Wonder Woman focuses on explaining the Amazons and their internal conflicts, which is something the Wonder Woman film also explores, and retells the origins of Diana as a strong and mighty superhero. Author Raene De Liz also conceptualized a much less sexualized Wonder Woman in this storyline, which comes as a major highlight and a welcome change for the character and her fans.
16 WONDER WOMAN: EARTH ONE
It is fair to say that, through the years, the character of Wonder Woman has been heavily sexualized in several of her different incarnations. While this is not deemed as awful by many, it felt very important for the Wonder Woman: Earth One graphic novel to come out in 2016, attempting to reconcile Diana’s image as a feminist character above all else.
The novel, written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn, already kicks off by showing Queen Hippolyta defeating Hercules and freeing the Amazons from his detention. Like the Wonder Woman film, there are references to the wars started by “men” (gender-specific) in the world.
While Diana remains true to her Golden Age and Silver Age iterations, she is a much more empowered and feminist character in Earth One, setting the tone for several other stories that came after it.
15 WONDER WOMAN: YEAR ONE
Keeping pace with the 21st century rebranding of Wonder Woman that began in Earth One, 2017’s Wonder Woman: Year One makes yet another bold move.
In the storyline’s conclusion with issue #14, fans were led to expect a violent battle as Wonder Woman faced Ares, the main villain of the comic. While the ending definitely features some great action, author Greg Rucka also presented a much more diplomatic side to Diana, showing that she’s a hero who can also fight using her intelligence and honorable beliefs.
This is in line with DC Comics’ marketing strategy to brand Wonder Woman as the ultimate comic book role model for women of all ages around the world, and it felt important to watch Diana use a different strength within her to defeat an old enemy.
14 WONDER WOMAN: THE TRUE AMAZON
Every great character also happens to have flaws, which is precisely what 2016’s Wonder Woman: The True Amazon explores.
Written and illustrated by Jill Thompson, The True Amazon completely dismisses Steve Trevor from Diana’s story and presents Wonder Woman as a powerful yet selfish character who is not essentially caught up with Amazonian standards such as humility and honorability; reintroducing her as flawed, imperfect, and real character.
This graphic novel discusses what happens when an immortal and extremely strong warrior also happens to be kind of a brat. Diana is a work-in-progress, to say the least, and she is forced to come to grips with her own shortcomings as a person. It’s a compelling narrative, featuring gorgeous artwork, and completely reimagines the early years of Wonder Woman.
13 WONDER WOMAN: SPIRIT OF TRUTH
Author Paul Dini’s Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth is remembered as a very compelling take on Diana’s existence in the modern world. She acts as an ambassador, stops terrorists, and even evaluates her place as an agent in favor of women’s rights around Earth. Because the world outside of Themyscira is so new to Diana, her naivetée plays a big role in this storyline, which is part aggravating, part captivating.
Spirit of Truth doesn’t spend too much time on Wonder Woman’s origins. It is remembered as a beautifully illustrated (by Alex Ross) graphic novel that places Diana in modern society and tries to define her importance in it. In a way, it resembles what Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice did, as it introduces Wonder Woman to a contemporary world.
12 WONDER WOMAN: THE HIKETEIA
Before 2017’s Year One, there was 2002’s Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia – author Greg Rucka’s incredible first run writing for Wonder Woman.
The Hiketeia features a less nuanced version of Diana that focuses more on the observation of her character than on the psychology inside her head. In the tragic graphic novel, Wonder Woman is sworn to protect a girl called Danielle who, later in life, goes on to murder the drug dealers who killed her sister.
As Batman is in pursuit to capture Danielle, who he sees as a murderous criminal, Diana has to keep her oath and protect the girl, even if it means that she will have to face the Dark Knight himself. It’s another case of “how can Batman really match up to a nearly indestructible character?”
11 WONDER WOMAN: EYES OF THE GORGON
Another Wonder Woman story by Greg Rucka, 2005’s Wonder Woman: Eyes of the Gorgon pits Diana against one of the most fascinating and well-known characters of all time: Medusa.
The premise of Eyes of the Gorgon is that Themyscira has moved its location – it is now situated near the United States. While numerous political and diplomatic issues come up to keep Diana busy, some of her villains decide to get together and forge a plan to defeat the Wonder Woman.
Besides emotional intelligence and strategic thinking, Diana’s greatest weapon in Eyes of the Gorgon is a mirror since, according to Greek mythology, she can’t face Medusa directly without being turned into stone. Their fight is one of epic proportions, and it even features a summoning of Ares.
10 SUPERMAN: SACRIFICE
As Maxwell Lord mind-controls Superman into believing his friends are actually his enemies, there is only one hero out there who can realistically stop him.
Even though Superman: Sacrifice is technically not a Wonder Woman story, this comic book is in many ways more about her capabilities than Superman’s. Any time heroes are pitted against one another, you can count on controversial opinions among fans, and Sacrifice is no different. Unlike The Hiketeia’s Wonder Woman vs. Batman conflict, however, Wonder Woman vs. Superman doesn’t last for as long as one would assume in the storyline.
Superman: Sacrifice leads up to DC Comics’ Infinite Crisis and is an extension of 2005’s The OMAC Project. It had quite a number of authors, including Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, and Mark Verheiden.
9 JUSTICE LEAGUE: A LEAGUE OF ONE
Want to see an even better story about how Wonder Woman matches up to the rest of the Justice League members? Christopher Moeller’s Justice League: A League of One, published in 2000, is the absolute best comic for it.
The premise of A League of One is simple: a menacing ancient dragon named Drakul Karfang is waking up, putting at risk the entire JLA team, and only Wonder Woman is aware of that prophecy. As she is urged to run for cover and leave the Justice League team altogether, Diana does the exact opposite – she locks her teammates into rocket-like capsules and launches them into space for protection.
The selfless and mighty Wonder Woman faces Drakul Karfang on her own, hence the title of this storyline. It is a great read for those who still doubt Diana’s powers in comparison to other DC Comics heroes.
8 ALL STAR COMICS #8
The All Star Comics series was a rocky start for Wonder Woman. At one point, for instance, she was merely the Justice Society’s team secretary. But that is the character’s first origin story. This is an essential read that, while certainly outdated and problematic, introduced her to the Golden Age era of comic books along with Flash (the original one), Hawkman, and Sandman.
It is important to note that All Star #8 is only eight pages long, but somehow it finds the time to also introduce her love interest Steve Trevor and Lasso of Truth.
7 WONDER WOMAN #1
As today we celebrate Wonder Woman headlining a major summer blockbuster in 2017, it was back in 1942 – one year after her introduction – that the hero got to headline her own comic book series, Wonder Woman, Vol. 1, #1.
It’s interesting to note that the Wonder Woman film will be set in World War I because the Wonder Woman #1 comic book was set in World War II. War is definitely a recurring theme in Diana’s mythos, and it is nice to see that her live-action feature film will sort of reference the character’s first ever solo comic book.
This storyline also introduces her nemesis Ares, even though he starts going by his Roman name, Mars, in Wonder Woman #2. He didn't go back to being called Ares until 1987.
6 WONDER WOMAN VOL. 2, #1-24
DC Comics’ Crisis on Infinite Earths event changed everything within its comic book universe. Wonder Woman Vol. 2, #1-24 followed that event, and is not only credited as the story that rebranded Mars as Ares -- therefore giving Wonder Woman the great villain that she deserved -- but is also responsible for introducing several of the basic characteristics we have come to associate with Wonder Woman. It was only in Volume 2 that Wonder Woman’s Amazonian values and her heavy association with Greek mythology became important factors to the character’s mythos.
This storyline, created by Greg Potter and George Pérez, also dismissed several elements that had surrounded Wonder Woman for over 40 years, such as her invisible jet and her secret identity. Also, for a while, Steve Trevor was no longer Diana’s love interest at all.
5 WONDER WOMAN: THE CIRCLE
Author Gail Simone’s first ever story for Wonder Woman came in Wonder Woman, Vol. 3, #14, also known as Wonder Woman: The Circle. Gail would eventually become the longest-running female writer for the Wonder Woman character in history, but she never delivered quite as incredible of a story as The Circle again. The storyline features genetically-enhanced gorilla warriors who can talk, which is pretty awesome on its own.
There is a reason why DC Comics and Warner Bros. made sure they hired a female director such as Patty Jenkins to direct the DCEU Wonder Woman movie. While Diana was brought to life through several incredible stories by male writers and illustrators, there is always something particularly compelling and special about the Wonder Woman stories told by female authors.
4 THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD VOL. 1, #28
The Brave and the Bold Vol. 1, #28 marks the introduction of the Justice League in 1960, and Wonder Woman was there as a founding member along with Superman, Batman, The Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter.
It is incredible to see Wonder Woman as such an important and foundational force in the formation of the Justice League, especially when one remembers her rocky start in the 1940’s as a secretary for the Justice Society. The Brave and the Bold Vol. 1, #28 is an essential read for anyone who wants to understand Wonder Woman’s place in the JLA and the original dynamics of this team as a whole.
As the DCEU sets up its own Justice League in a series of live-action movies, Wonder Woman is once again an essential force to bringing together such different heroes of various shapes, abilities, and origins.
3 WONDER WOMAN VOL. 1 #312
Antiope is an essential character to Wonder Woman’s mythos who was first introduced in Wonder Woman #312 in Volume 1. She is a fierce Amazonian warrior who often attempts to overthrow Queen Hippolyta, Diana’s mother. In the DCEU Wonder Woman film, she is played by the phenomenal Robin Wright – a choice that couldn’t have been more perfect.
Wonder Woman #312 is an essential read because it introduces a major character that would later be present in several of Wonder Woman’s stories, sharing a great importance to Diana along with Steve Trevor, Queen Hippolyta, and Ares.
Volume 1 ends in 1986 with issue #329, which also means that issue #312 (which came out in 1984) is very close to the end of Wonder Woman’s very first volume of comic books.
2 WONDER WOMAN: CHALLENGE OF THE GODS
George Pérez is credited for having added new ideas and dismissed several elements that were related to Wonder Woman in the past. After playing around with her origins for quite some time, Pérez came out with Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Gods, which furthered the hero’s story instead of being stuck on rebranding her identity.
In Challenge of the Gods, Diana is already accustomed to the “man’s world” she had been unaware of during her time at Paradise Island, and even happens to be a sort a celebrity, which is a factor that the character would deal with again and again as she is introduced to modern society. Wonder Woman has to fight a new villain, Cheetah; manage Zeus, who is assessing if Diana would make a good wife; and even pacify internal conflicts among the Amazonians.
1 THE WONDER WOMAN CHRONICLES
If the previous seventeen essential Wonder Woman comics still haven’t been enough to satisfy your interest in Diana Prince, then The Wonder Woman Chronicles collection of stories is certainly a way to go about it.
Divided in Volumes 1, 2, and 3, The Wonder Woman Chronicles are collections of every single one of the early Wonder Woman stories that were published in the 1940s, which can rarely be found in their original comic book editions. Besides her headlining series of early Wonder Woman books, other highlights are the All Star Comics, the Sensation Comics, and the Comic Cavalcade series.
DC Comics released these collections between 2010 and 2012 in an effort to make available these original Wonder Woman stories that would otherwise be lost with time.
Which Wonder Woman comics do you consider must-reads? What comics do you think could be adapted into Wonder Woman sequels for the DCEU? Let us know in the comments below!
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