MAGS AND BOOKS
Date and Issue: Volume 1, Number 1, July 1978.
Pages: 4 pages.
Pictures: 1 full-page and full color picture of Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, and 2 color picture of the Wonder Woman from the comics.
Article: 4-column article on the character.
Author: Garland Voss.
Country: USA.
Wonder Woman in the flesh. Actress Lynda Carter plays the super-heroine on the popular CBS-TV series. When Wonder Woman was born 37 years ago, the comic book world was strictly a man's domain. Motivated by the masculine point of view of their creators, comic book heroes relegated women to the supportive roles of wife, mother and girlfriend, Like Superman's lady love Lois Lane, comic book women were helpless onlookers never capable of accomplishing the incredible feats of the men who dominated them. Lois Lane, for example, seemed to exist solely to thank Superman for saving her from the latest villain, while spurning the attentions of Clark Kent.  
     America was about to join the battle of World War II when Wonder Woman bounded onto the comic book scene and changed all that, Her first appearance was in All-Star Comics #8, Dec. 1941-Jan.1942, and she was shifted later to Sensation Comics #1, which continued the previous story.
     Of course, Wonder Woman relies as much on myth as science fiction to provide our super-heroine with adventures.
Her power of mental telepathy was called "mental radio" - a term coined by Upton Sinclair, and a mental radio set was used. This is more SF than mythic, while the lasso, made from links taken from Hippolyte's magic girdle, is mythic, not SF. Her healing power is an SF touch also, for she used a ray-machine (the purple healing ray). Her bullet-glancing bracelets have no special powers, for it is Wonder Woman's skill in using these reminders of the enslavement of the Amazons by men that makes them effective.
     With the phenomenal success of Superman and Batman in the late 1930's, comic books had become one of the most profitable branches of publishing. Of all these cartoon demigods, only Superman, Batman and - of course Wonder Woman have survived until now without interruption.  
     Somehow, Wonder Woman never seemed militant or threatening to juvenile male readers who made up the majority of the comic book audience. Paradoxically, years later Wonder Woman's real life feminist sisters would elicit cries of outrage and panic from the same readers, now grown up.  
     But Wonder Woman's message was softened by her dark-haired beauty and by the sexy costume she wore - a strapless top emblazoned with a patriotic American eagle and tight blue, star-studded shorts. How could any man resist her? And too, Wonder Woman could always be gotten to through love, the male-female kind, her one weak spot. That was the reason she had left the sanctuary of Paradise Island in the first place, to look after her true love, a pilot named Steve Trevor who crashlanded his fighter plane on the island.
     Moreover, when Wonder Woman was created women were encouraged to do the work of men as a matter of government policy. In one early sequence, Wonder Woman fought the arch-villain Dr. Frenzi who had disguised himself as an apparition of George Washington to urge America's women to refrain from working in war-time munitions plants because they were too weak.  
     Wonder Woman quickly dispatched Dr. Psycho and his facist traitors (the caricatures smacked of propaganda and seem somewhat racist today, but this was the 1940's). His wife/partner-in-crime was set free and she bemoaned her sad fate: "Submitting to a cruel husband's dominations has ruined my life. But what can a weak woman do?"
     "Get strong! Earn your own living," Wonder Woman urged, setting her straight. "Remember - the better you can fight the less You'll have to do." In an earlier sequence, Wonder Woman expressed shock when confronted by the United States' patriarchal system where men are in control, In those days it was perfectly safe to voice such sentiments in comic books, which were not taken seriously.
     To that end, Wonder Woman was never allowed to actually kill anyone, nor was she, allowed to use violence except in self-defense or the defense of others. Love was - and still is - the key to Wonder Woman's strength, and it is this positive quality that makes her superior to the men she encounters. When Wonder Woman vanquishes the enemy, she also makes it possible for the villain to see the error of his (or her) ways and to be rehabilitated, even her magic golden lasso has an additional beneficial effect it not only renders a wrong-doer helpless, if forces the lassoed person to tell the truth.
     In fact, the person lassoed must obey every command of his or her captor, including Wonder Woman herself who has occasionally lost possession of her magical tool.
     "This man's world of yours," Wonder Woman points out, "will never be without pain and suffering until it learns respect for human rights." The way Marston-Wonder Woman saw things, men were the originators of evil. Woman's function was to put matters right, and to reeducate the male half of the population.
     Marston borrowed Wonder Woman's birth legend from ancient Greek mythology, Wonder Woman was not born, but sculpted from clay by Hippolyte and brought to life by Aphrodite. All Amazons were eternally young. And said to have been a race of independent, strong female warriors who had little use for men except for reproduction purposes. In Marston's version of the legend, the Amazons have escaped the bondage of their male captors in Greece, and have settled in a remote corner of the world known as Paradise Island.
     All Amazons there are trained to be totally self-sufficient, to excell in everything they do, and to compete fiercely with each other in the pursuit of excellence. Winning is not the primary goal of the women on Paradise Island, where the authority of Queen Hippolyte (Wonder Woman's mother) is based on kindness and the "inspiring of affections." The masculine idea that one must be either victor or vanquished, that one is either a winner or a loser, is totally alien to the Amazons.
     Although Marston explains how his women come to Paradise Island, he never tells us how the Amazons manage to give birth to the many young women who live there. One explanation may be parthenogenesis - cloning duplicates of themselves in a scientific "virgin birth" process. John Wyndham explored this idea in his novel, Consider Her Ways (1956), which told of a future society in which men have become extinct due to a mutated virus. The all-female society clones its replacements, and eventually they learn how to clone a male from a female body. The idea is soon discarded, however, for the women can think of no good reason for bringing back the male sex.
     Marston died in 1947 and consequently Wonder Woman began to change character. In keeping with the times, she became less powerful, almost ordinary, mirroring the post-war role of women who were expected to return home from the factories - and independence - to cook, clean and bear children.
     The Wonder Woman of the 1960's concerned herself with purely "female" pursuits and wore trendy clothing. Her boots had been replaced by high heels with anklestraps and her coiffure was restyled into a Jackie Kennedy look. She no longer had her invisible plane or her special healing and telepathic powers. She was more vulnerable now, more easily fooled and swayed by the male sex. She seemed to have gotten younger instead of older.
     In 1973, D.C. comics restored Wonder Woman to her former glory, gave her back the plane and a new pair of red boots. Two years later, the television series starring Lynda Carter (whose beauty more than matches the cartoon image) was born and Wonder Woman herself had become a legend.
     It might have surprised even Wonder Woman that she had been chosen as a symbol of the rising Women's Liberation movement in the early 1970's. Feminist Gloria Steinem, editor of Ms. magazine even wrote about her childhood heroine and what she had meant to her. "Her creator had also seen straight into my heart and understood the secret fears," Steinem wrote in the introduction to Phyllis Chesler's Wonder Woman (Bonanza/Crown 1972), "Here was a heroic person who might conquer with force. But only a force that was tempered by love and justice...
     Perhaps Wonder Woman is a miracle worker after all. Somehow she has managed to do the impossible: she is a shining example to militant feminists, unliberated women still like her, and men and boys continue to find her sexy and appealing.
1978 by Reliance Publications, Inc.
All articles and images are 1978 by their respective proprietors, agencies or photographers and are used here with informative purposes and do no intend to infringe any copyrights.
Any graphics, pictures, articles or any other material contained within this site may be copied for personal use only and may not be used or distributed within any other web page without expressly written permission. All rights reserved.
GUESTBOOK E-MAIL