Friday, August 23, 2013

Wonder women, real and imaginary

"Invented by a psychologist with a love of bondage, Wonder Woman has become an all but forgotten superhero," writes The Guardian. "Now Grant Morrison, writer of Batman and Superman, is hoping to resurrect the Amazonian." His manner of doing so is a graphic novel titled The Trial of Diana Prince. It seem to have been be a week for comics here at the Glean, but except for Fletcher Hanks' exceedingly strange Fantomah, we seem to have forgotten to "remember the ladies" as Abigail Adams cautioned us. So back to WW's intriguing origin story, as recounted by The Guardian:
Wonder Woman, for those not in the know, is an Amazonian warrior princess, known in her homeland as Diana of Themyscira. Dreamed up by US psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston in 1942, the superhero's interests are justice, love, peace and sexual equality. To help her achieve these goals, she has a boomerang tiara, indestructible bracelets and a lasso of truth (Marston also invented the lie-detector test). She occasionally flies an invisible plane, too, presumably being careful to remember where she parked it.
Morrison spoke to me briefly about Marston at last year's book festival. "William Moulton Marston was basically a kind of proponent of free love," he said. "So he and his wife had a lover called Olive Byrne, an 18-year-old, and Olive was the physical model for Wonder Woman. They created the character because they felt Superman represented a kind of blood-curdling masculinity. They wanted to introduce somebody more feminine."
Marston had some other colourful kinks: "He had this idea that the world would be better if men would just submit to women's complete instruction. But he took it all the way – not just submit to instruction but get collars on, and get down on all fours, and just admit that's where you belong, guys. So a lot of the Wonder Woman stories had this thread through them, this idea of bondage. But Marston called it 'loving submission'."
An un-inked panel from Grant Morrison's forthcoming graphic novel The Trial of Diana Prince.
Thinking about female heroines put me in mind of the biography Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias. What a phenomenal athlete! The collage below shows just a few of the sports at which she excelled. In fact, I think there were very few sports at which she did not excel! "I didn't know a whole lot of things about Babe (1911-1956) until I picked up 'Wonder Girl,'" wrote Mike Downey in the LA Times, "a biography .... about one of the most remarkable (and remarkably unappreciated) women who ever walked (and ran) the Earth.... So do you know who made the Top 10 when ESPN chose its 50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century? Here they are: (1) Michael Jordan. (2) Babe Ruth. (3) Muhammad Ali. (4) Jim Brown. (5) Wayne Gretzky. (6) Jesse Owens. (7) Jim Thorpe. (8) Willie Mays. (9) Jack Nicklaus. (10) Babe Didrikson Zaharias. So do you know what this means? It means the Babe — the female one as well as the male — was a greater athlete than Joe Louis, Carl Lewis, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Hank Aaron, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Montana, Mark Spitz, O.J. Simpson and Secretariat, all of whom placed back in the Top 50."

"'Wonder Girl' was what some called her, but a wonder woman is what she was, no costume or magic lasso required."—Mike Downey, LA Times


  1. I hear that Wonder Woman: The Movie is coming out in September. Already the controversy begins--over her new wardrobe!