26 years ago - 6-year-old Diana, lonely on an island of adult women, is granted an enchanted mirror that creates a playmate from her own reflection who is named Donna.
22 years ago - 10-year-old Diana tried to close Doom's Doorway when the adult Amazons try to fight off the escaping creatures. Sensing her strife, Her mirror-sister Donna sacrifices her immortality to assist her. Donna is welcomed by the Amazons and acknowledged as Hippolyta's daughter and Diana's little sister.
12 years ago - 20-year-old Diana wins Hippolyta's tournament in disguise, winning the right to leave Themyscera and act as the Amazon's champion to stop the impending war between Circe and Ares, taking her mother's mantle as Wonder Woman. She chooses to stay in Man's World, becoming roommates with 20-year-old Etta Candy at Gateway University, taking the name Diana Prince. Begins working with Dr Helena Sandsmark to study Amazonian influence on the outside world, first meeting her young daughter Cassie Sandsmark. Soon she joins the Justice League.
11 years ago - 21-year-old Diana Prince is captured by Doris Zeul who tries to siphon her spinal fluid, leaving her magically empowered. Donna Troy comes to visit her and chooses to become a student at Gateway University.
10 years ago - 22-year-old Diana leads Etta Candy, Barry Allen & Hal Jordan into Themyscera to stop Felix Faust from siphoning the magic from the island She is victorious, but is banished from the island for bringing men to it's shores. She also graduates from Gateway University.
9 years ago - 23-year-old Diana establishes her own Amazonian embassy after the collapse of the Justice League with financial help from 23-year-old Etta Candy.
6 years ago - 26-year-old Diana casts aside her powers and, with the help of Donna Troy, undertakes the labors of the gods so that she can overcome the barriers of Themyscera and save it from Amazons corrupted by Ares. She is continually attacked by a newly empowered Doris Zeul.
5 years ago - 27-year-old Diana participates in a new tournament to select the amazonian champion, losing the title to Artemis. She chooses to return to exile. When Artemis is taken by Ares Diana battles him directly, sacrificing her life to free her sister. Hippolyta sacrifices her life to free her from the underworld, and Diana usurps the mantle of the Goddess of Love to battle Ares, finally casting him from the material plane. She is called to Themyscera to serve as queen but instead chooses to elevate Antiope, her mother's sister from the lost Amazon tribe. Grodd attacks the Themysceran embassy & Doris Zeul helps repel his forces, earning a pardon.
4 years ago - 28-year-old Diana begins working with Dr Helena Sandsmark on a book about Amazonian history. Her daughter Cassie Sandsmark steals Amazonian artifacts to become Wonder Girl. When she returns them she manages to gain an audience with Zeus & impresses him, gaining her powers. Diana and Artemis agree to help train her on Themyscera.
3 years ago - 29-year-old Diana is among the Justice League reservists that form the Watchtower after the White Martians decimate the League. Felix Faust manipulates the spells affecting Siobhan McDougal & Valerie Beaudry and uses them to attack Diana until they work together to overcome Fausts spells and their own possession.
now - 32-year-old Diana and the rest of the Watchtower head into space to save Superman from Warworld.
There is a LOT to unpack with Wonder Woman, and most of that is because she is the lone female character of her stature in all of comics. That's not necessarily a condemnation of comics in general, mind you, because there are very few characters of her stature, period. Batman and Superman are basically it, and neither of them serve as the loan representation of their gender. Wonder Woman holda an incredibly prestigious position in the history of comics, and it is incredibly important how we handle both the character, and the character's legacy.
Wonder Women's Comic History
Already-prominent psychologist William Marston was interviewed for Family Circle Magazine in 1940 when he spoke about the potential for the medium of comics. He became a educational consultant for DC, and settled down to put his money where his mouth was by creating a character that fufilled that potential; a character who solved problems not with their fists, but with love.Diana's origins becomes even more interesting, because Marston was in a polyamorous relationship with his wife Elizabeth and their mistress Olive Byrne, both of whom served as inspiration for the unconventional, liberated woman he intended to create.
This means that to understand Wonder Woman, there are really two main points that need to be explored. The first is that the character's status as a sex symbol was intentional, but that Mastson didn't see it as an impetiment to her empowerment. Perhaps the best clue is that his main visual inspiration for Wonder Woman was the pin-up art of Alberto Vargas. The fameous "Vargas Girls" were featured in Esquire magazine and on countless American and Allied World War II-era aircraft. While undeniably sexual, the Vargas girls are all clearly also confidant and in complete control of their sexuality. This implementation of sexual agency is actually a pretty advanced idea, something third-wave feminism is still exploring.
The second point is probably a little more controversal but necessary; we need to understand some rather challenging ideas about what Marston believed about love. He is quoted in many places describing a "willing submission to loving authority". He often included themes of submission and bondage in Wonder Woman's stories. She would lose here powers when she was tied up, but then she would have to overcome those bonds and reclaim her own power. Her primary weapon was a lasso. Her enemies were constantly being tied and forced to submit. These were meant to be parables of feminst strength, but there's really no denying that there are pure fetish elements there too. To ignore this cuts out a huge part of who Wonder Woman is, because these themes are part of her origin.
There is just so much going on in these early versions of the character. It's a fascinating blend of early feminism and fetishism, all the while creating a heroic archetype that holds true today
Wonder Woman's Evolution
When Marston left the book, it's not surprising that a lot of his particular ideas didn't translate over to new writers. Of course, Wonder Woman has remained a feminst icon, but the book was almost always written by men and not all of them had a clear idea of what that meant.
There were several writers who seemed to inherently understand the complex formula of ideas that made her so special. George Perez wrote a seminal run seeped in ancient greek myth and monsters, Greg Rucka has crafted whole mythologies for the character more than once, each time seemingly from scratch. Alan Heinberg & Gail SImone both had short but enduring stints with Diana, all full of love and compassion for the character.
Of course, there are two huge interpretations of Wonder Woman that have to be mentioned if you're going to address the evolution of ther character, and neither of them are comics. Linda Carter's Wonder Woman TV series was a downright feminist revolution, and it's influence touches literally all of pop culture like the gravity of a sun. Likewise, Patty Jenkins 2017 feature film starring Gal Gadot is perhaps on of the greatest depictions of a superhero that has happened since Christopher Reeves Superman. I said it. Fight me.
Our Wonder Woman Story
Wonder Woman has had her origin and her overall story tweaked and retold several times over the years, and that can often make it difficult to settle on a single framework for her timeline. As is often the case, the Justice League series gave us a nice clean starting point. We tried to use the simplest and most traditional version of her story wherever we could.
The larger structure of her timeline actually pointed out two concepts that had to be solidified. The first is Diana's role in the larger world. We understand that Bruce Wayne is a playboy by day and vigilante by night. Clark Kent is a reporter who becomes a superhero when he's needed. It's not actually clear just what Diana does with her time. We made her a student at first, but she evolves to devoting herself to learning about the Amazons interaction with the rest of the world and collecting Amazonian artifacts. Then she chooses to create her embassy, a bastion of Themysceran teaching and a refuge for women. This becomes a hub of her story as it moves on.
Second, it's her relationship with Themyscera itself. Writers LOVE to alter the status of the island and it's inhabitants. We chose to actually continually alter her standing with her island nation, making her sometimes an exhile, sometimes the heir to the throne. It fed a lot of stories as she has to earn her place with her people in order to keep them safe. Her home and her sisters are a huge part of her story, and those relationships need to be nurtured.
Wonder Woman's Costume
This was a much more complicated issue a few years ago. Comics struggled constantly with the fact that Diana is basically wearing a bathing suit, thinking that was rediculously sexual, wanting to desexualize their character and alter the costume.... and then realizing just how ICONIC that bathing suit is. Even removing the red shorts from Superman's costume was a bridge too far, how are you going to get away with putting Wonder Woman in pants?
As we said earlier, Wonder Woman IS a sex symbol. It's part of her original design. That doesn't mean she's any less empowered, and the problem seemed to be that no one could figure out how to depict a sexually empowered character without being making her a sexual object.
Of course now the movie has happened, and it's kind of made that entire conversation look a little rediculous. Still, the decisions at play are actually a little bit more subtle than one might expect. Traditionally, Wonder Woman's costume was pretty clearly a bathing suit at best... or in the case of the failed pilot starring a would-have-been-very-good Adrianne Palicki, pleather bondage-wear. Gal Gadot and the other Amazons in the movie were obviously wearing ARMOR, That simple tactic took costume designs that had been around for 75 years and made them new and exciting and 100% appropriate. Suddenly, questions about just how to go about depicting this icon of heroic feminism seems to have competely vanished. You depict her like a superhero.
Wonder Woman's Future
Our Timline doesn't leave Wonder Woman on the cusp of a dramatic change in her story, and this is largely deliberate. The character in the comics has a long history of altering her place in the world completely from one storyarc to the next, and what we want is to see her settle into a steady rhythm, as familiar as the Daily Planet or the Batcave. We want to see her realtionships with her friends and family grow stronger, see her find new ways to integrate her life among the Amazons on Themyscera and her friends in man's world. As she grows in wisdom, we imagine that her role as the daughter of Hypolyta will mean that she takes on greater leadership among the Amazons, possibly being joined by more of her sisters. Perhaps, she might one day be Queen herself? In any case, she will continue to be a vision of feminist power; a character that is strong, compassionate, fierce and beautiful... a direct, bold-faced challenge to the patriarchy.
Wonder Woman rules!