For many people, the first time they discovered Wonder Woman was as a child. Renowned writer and artist Trina Robbins remembers discovering the DC Comics hero when she was a big reader as a kid. She read everything from books to comics to the back of cereal boxes to subway ads, and it was taking her allowance to the corner candy store to get comics that she would buy Wonder Woman.
“I loved her. Wonder Woman taught me about Amazons. I had not known that there was a race of beautiful warrior women. I learned that from Wonder Woman,” Robbins told Blastr. “And that they lived on an island where no men were allowed. Living in a world where everything was boys and no girls allowed, that was very exciting to me.”
Robbins’ story is one that many can relate to. In fact at San Diego Comic-Con, everyone I spoke with about the warrior princess had a similar tale of discovering her as a kid, whether they were comic creators or fans. Writer Amanda Deibert can’t remember a time when she was not aware of Wonder Woman.
“As a little girl she was always the hero that you wanted to be, that you wanted to play, and in a world full of mostly boy heroes she was the one I grew up idealizing and wanting to be around,” Deibert said.
It’s a sentiment echoed by writer Amy Chu, who told Blastr she also grew up with Wonder Woman, who is part of her DNA like so many women. It’s why Chu said it’s a little intimidating working on her now. All three of these women have contributed in memorable ways to the legacy of the character. Both Chu and Deibert first worked on Wonder Woman for issues of Sensation Comics while Robbins’ first Wonder Woman work was the four issue series The Legend of Wonder Woman in 1986 followed by a standalone comic Wonder Woman: The Once and Future Story in 1998. Now all three are contributing to Wonder Woman ‘77, which focuses on the Lynda Carter version of the character from the ‘70s TV show.
Through the years there have certainly been many different versions of the character, and her history was celebrated to the fullest at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend. DC Comics commemorated her 75th anniversary not only with a panel dedicated to her, but by displaying the original costumes of Carter and the newest Wonder Woman Gal Gadot at their booth in the exhibit hall. Also on display at the booth were pitch boards and costume illustrations, and beyond the convention center itself DC even allowed fans to jump into the cockpit of the hero’s invisible jet in an area that also featured art inspired by her. Add to this the many Wonder Woman cosplayers, those wearing Wonder Woman apparel both young and old, and the other ways she was being immortalized on the convention floor — like in Lego — and it’s clear her place amid the ranks of our most iconic heroes is as strong as ever.
Robbins, who said it has been a dream come true to work on Wonder Woman, saw first hand at the convention how Wonder Woman is still impacting and connecting fans no matter their ages.
“I was waiting on line outside the convention to go on one of those things you wait on line for and there was a little girl in front of me,” Robbins said. “She had a Wonder Woman T-shirt on and she looked at my Wonder Woman lanyard and she said ‘you like Wonder Woman too?’ I said ‘I love Wonder Woman.’”
Seeing her history on display at Comic-Con was also a reminder of how the character has changed over the years. With so many writers and artists working on her character, some portrayals have been better than others. Robbins feels it’s kind of sad Wonder Woman is not a real person and is just paper because unfortunately everyone who gets a hold of her can change her.
“She has been changed very badly in the past mostly by guys who said ‘ah it’s my turn! I can do whatever I want with her!’ You know? So she’s been put into horrible outfits, she’s lost her powers in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, but what is so nice is that now I feel she’s Wonder Woman again and so many women are writing her and drawing her. In the beginning, in the old days, it was all guys,” she said.
Robbins is not alone in the belief that Wonder Woman lost her way and is now finding her way back again. Brandy from Los Angeles, CA has been a fan of Wonder Woman ever since she saw the Lynda Carter show when she was seven. Brandy has tried to keep up with Wonder Woman ever since and thinks they have dropped the ball with her at points.
“I think they took away from her as an individual, as her own character, and interjected her into stories where she’s almost a part of this ensemble instead of letting her stand on her own,” she said. “So it will be interesting to see what they do with the upcoming movie to see if they really support the actual character again.”
That doesn’t stop her from thinking Wonder Woman’s had a positive impact on comics and the fanbase. Brandy felt a personal positive impact seeing such a strong female character.
“I’d like to see that again, be a positive role model for other girls and that’s why I’m hoping they can bring it back to give the character power on its own instead of needing to put her into other storylines and always make her a part of other things,” she said.
Deibert sees the changes made to Wonder Woman from an optimistic view and said it’s fun to see the different variations.
“I think that it’s cool when a character is so iconic that she can become a part of every generation [that] is the positive side, that she’s grown and changed as society’s grown and changed but still can represent good. The changes that need to happen and to occur,” she said. “She still represents this feminine power in a world that still doesn’t respect that in the same way that the masculine power is presented.”
To Chu, even with these changes the inherent core to Wonder Woman has remained consistent, or at least people have tried to keep it consistent, though you can see the intrepretations.
“I think it’s extremely positive and I think this is why Sensation Comics and Wonder Woman ‘77 is going to be seen so positively. We have female talent who are writing her in a certain way and I think people really dig it,” she said.
It’s not just girls that Wonder Woman appeals to of course. Men and boys are also fans of the character and have been impacted by her through the years. Austin Green of Santa Monica, CA became a fan of her when he started reading comics at 13. Green told Blastr that she’s a great role model for everyone.
“She has such an incredible story, going through the ups and downs of a superhero,” he said.
Deibert has heard firsthand from male fans about the impact of Wonder Woman thanks to her Sensation Comics story, which saw Wonder Woman helping a young boy being teased and bullied for liking a woman hero.
“I wrote it with my nephew in mind, but I didn’t expect how many grown men came up to me and were like ‘I wish this story had been out when I was a kid. I had such a hard time with my love of this character’ because she means a lot to women. She also means a lot to a lot of men, a lot to a lot of people,” she said. “It was really touching to me how many men were like ‘she means so much to me and I love her so much and I loved her so much as a little kid and I had a lot of conflicting feelings about my masculinity and how I could like this character’ and that was surprising and cool. What’s amazing about her is she’s beloved across the board. You never hear anyone be like ‘I hate Wonder Woman.’”
That perhaps is Wonder Woman’s strongest legacy. Unlike many other heroes, she has left a positive mark with everyone. No matter who you are you can relate to Wonder Woman. She still stands out in this respect even as she’s paved the way for many other memorable female characters in comics through the decades.
“She made the others possible by being the first strong super heroine,” Robbins said. “Now there are so many, but to me she still reigns.”