Wonder Woman - the undisputed first lady of superhero comics - is celebrated in grand fashion in a new coffee table book, "Wonder Woman. Amazon. Hero. Icon."released today by Rizzoli, under the publisher's Universe imprint.
Written by veteran writer and editor Robert Greenberger, the 9x12 hardcover history provides a comprehensive look at the amazing Amazon princess, who was created William Moulton Marston and first appeared in "All Star Comics" #8 in 1941 - three years after the debut of Superman and just two after Batman's.
"Wonder Woman. Amazon. Hero. Icon." contains more than 250 Wonder Woman illustrations, including covers, interior comic art, and sketch treatments, beginning with her inception in the early 1940s to present-day treatments of the character. Featured artists include Alex Ross, Jim Lee, Brian Bolland and George Pérez, who wrote the book's foreword.
Greenberger, a lifelong fan of comic books and science fiction, began his career with "Fangoria" before becoming Associate Editor for "Starlog." While at "Starlog," he created "Comics Scene," the first nationally distributed magazine to focus on comic books, comic strips. Greenberger joined DC Comics in 1984 and worked on various DC Comics' projects including "Who''s Who," "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and "Secret Origins." Currently, Greenberger writes for such clients as "Weekly World News," Platinum Studios, scifi.com, DC Comics, and Marvel.
Greenberger spoke with CBR News about his "wonder" project and he also shared news about the upcoming "Who's Who" series, which he is writing for DC Comics.
CBR News: There are really two sides to the coin for most people: you either liked Batman growing up as a kid or Superman. Where does Wonder Woman fit into the mix?
Robert Greenberger: That's a real interesting question. We all like Wonder Woman but I think we like the character more than we've liked a lot of the runs in her books, going back to her inception. She's always been a little goofy compared to Superman and Batman. And she's definitely not Superman or Batman.
What do you think it is about her character that has kept her seated atop the food chain as part of DCU's Trinity for nearly 70 years?
First of all, there is always something said for coming first. She was the first major heroine from one of the big publishers back in the early days of the Golden Age of comics. I think that mythology has a lot to do with it. I believe there are a lot of people who just love the idea of Paradise Island and the Amazon women blessed by the gods with their immortality. And all that peacefulness that Wonder Woman is out to protect by coming to man's world arguably as an ambassador, but she keeps getting into trouble before she can spread the word of peace and love.
And I think people love the gimmicks like the magic lasso and the invisible jet. There are also going to be some who love the character because of all that William Marston/Harry Peter bondage stuff from the forties and there are going to be people who love her from different eras. There is going to be as many who love her from the Emma Peel look of the late sixties as there are going to be those who love her from the George Pérez reboot in 1986.
How did this project come about? Were you sitting around one day and said, "You know what needs to be done? The complete history of Wonder Woman." Or was this a project you had been thinking about for a while?
Honestly, I don't know all of the origins, but Universe, which is a division of Rizzoli, distributed by Random House, cut a deal with DC Comics to do a coffee table book about Wonder Woman. [Then,] one day last summer, my editor Chris Cerasi got in touch with me and said, "Did I want to write about the character?" And I was like, "Yes, please."
Largely because I have not done extensive writing about her previously. It's given me an excuse to do some homework and some thinking about her and trying to encapsulate her comic history for mass audiences, not just the fans.
A big part of her history - and perhaps how she's best known to the public at large - is the Lynda Carter live action TV series from the seventies. Do you delve much into her non-comic appearances?
Well, no. This is supposed to be about her comic book origins and her comic book history and the comic books' impact on culture to a degree, so we only make a glancing reference to the Linda Carter era or "Super Friends" or any of the merchandise. This really is comic book-centric.
You mentioned that you hadn't done a whole lot of thinking about Wonder Woman prior to this assignment - outside of the classic elements like the magic lasso and the invisible jet. Was there anything that you learned in your research about the character that really surprised you? I mean, for one, didn't William Marston invent the lie detector?
Yes, William Marston is credited with having done a lot of the early work on what became the lie detector. He is not the sole father of it ,but he has gone down in legend as the creator of the lie detector. A lot of that extended from his college work. Honestly, during my research, I learned that he had done a lot of work on feminist issues prior to Wonder Woman. And he wrote this horrendous Julius Caesar novel that eventually, more or less emasculated him in favor of women being the power behind the throne, so to speak. So yeah, he definitely had women on the brain early on, and Wonder Woman was a perfect outlet for him to espouse his beliefs.
Is Wonder Woman's story told chronologically in the book?
No, we avoid the chronological history in the same way that Les Daniels did in his Wonder Woman history 10 years ago. We did it more thematically. There are her origins, a look at Paradise Island, a look at her weapons and then a look at her life as an ambassador - so we segmented it differently, but the history comes through in each chapter.
Since the book was done with the blessings and cooperation of DC Comics, how much access did you have to the archives, as well as editors and creators who have worked with Wonder Woman in the past?
Well, unfortunately, a lot of the real significant players like [William] Marston, [Robert] Kanigher, and [Harry] Peter, they're all gone. I will admit, I relied heavily on the various collected editions of Wonder Woman stories through the years, Les Daniels' book, as well as other histories of the comic book field. Plus the fact that I read the character for over 45 years, so a lot of that has been absorbed. A lot of this knowledge has been used in other works that I've done, such as, any of the Wonder Woman-related histories that have appeared in the "Essential Batman" or the "Essential Superman Encyclopedia." Or the "Who's Who" that I've done through the years.
And I consulted heavily with John Wells who is co-writing the "Essential Wonder Woman Encyclopedia" at the same time.
A nice added bonus to the book is a foreword by George Pérez.
Yes, the publishers reached out to George to write the introduction, which really helps show some of the enthusiasm from a creator's standpoint.
Due to an outcry from fans of the character, DC Comics has decided to take the three volumes of Wonder Woman's ongoing series and renumber them as one "Wonder Woman" ongoing series, beginning with #600 in June. It's also hotly rumored that Wonder Woman might be the next character to be featured in a big screen adaptation, following next year's "Green Lantern." Are we entering a new Golden Age for Wonder Woman?
It's a good question. I think after the release of "Wonder Woman" #600 and she gets a new creative team, it's going to kick off a new era.
Her movie is long overdue, and I'm hoping the new leadership team at DC continues to keep interest in the character high so that Hollywood is more encouraged, but clearly, she's on the drawing boards right after "Green Lantern." It's either going to be Flash or Wonder Woman, who is my personal guess as to who is going to be the next hero to make it to the screen. Joel Silver has been kicking this project around for so long, I really hope he puts the right people together and gets it done.
Who in Hollywood do you think would make a great Wonder Woman?
Oh, good question. I'm going to guess that the movie will be an origin story, which means this has to be somebody who is an adult but is probably in her mid-twenties, so that she is ready to enter the workforce, if they do set her up as Diana Prince, working for some form of the military.
I would have to do a bunch of homework to figure out which actress would be the right person to step before the cameras, two or three years from now by the time this gets shot. Nobody immediately comes to mind right now as perfect. The last time I had thought about this was when I saw Catherine Zeta-Jones in "Entrapment," I thought, watching her do all of the acrobatics in that outfit, I was like, "Alright. There's Wonder Woman." But that was so long ago.
What are you working on next?
It's the new "Who's Who" for DC Comics, which will be coming later this year. Beyond that, the "Essential Superman Encyclopedia" is due out in August, co-written by Martin Pasko, who wrote "Wonder Woman" by the way. So it's all very synchronous. And I have stories in the upcoming Moonstone anthology, "Captain Midnight Chronicles" and "Green Hornet Chronicles." And then more stuff in the hopper.
For "Who's Who," are you writing specific entries?
I am its sole writer at the moment. Having done it 25 years ago, I certainly know how to get it done. I've already written the first four issues, so, so far, so good.
When will we see the first issue?
Right now, it's not currently scheduled because of all the management transition that's been happening, so they're reviewing the schedule for the back half of the year. So I'm going to expect, hopefully, late summer or early fall, but right now I don't have the date.