Celebrating the Mighty Wonder Woman

by Tee Tate

Wonder Woman Unbound –
The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine
Tim Hanley

Chicago Review Press
Release Date:  April 1, 2014
ISBN 978-1613749098

College level English classes are one my daughter’s least favorite scholastic experience, but I love ’em, because I get to play research assistant for her papers.  She learns organization, thesis concepts, citation usage and all sorts of structural skills, and I learn new stuff about interesting topics.  So I was especially excited when the topic for her newest assignment was “It’s Time for a Wonder Woman Movie”, because I got to learn about – you guessed it – Wonder Woman!

During our search for reference material, we came across the book Wonder Woman Unbound – The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine by Tim Hanley, and oh, my – while I normally scan books obtained for reference, this one grabbed me from the onset and I found myself devouring the entire thing, regardless of its applicability to my daughter’s needs.  Poor thing, my daughter!  I think she  had to draw on quite a bit of patience as I regaled her with story after story of not only Wonder Woman’s comic origins and development, but also how it played in with – or against – societal movement and pop culture development.

Author Tim Hanley is quite the subject matter expert when it comes to Wonder Woman, but he does it in an effortless, conversational and enthusiastic  way that makes what could have been somewhat dry material instead a very intriguing and entertaining read.  He is able to pull in lots of elements – comic book development, the growth (and in some cases, the decline) of the comic book publishing industry, the whims and triggers of society and historical elements – and blend them in a thoroughly engaging and easy to follow read that not only shines a light on Wonder Woman but our society as a whole.  He obviously is a fan, but one who is able to share his enthusiasm with devotee and novice alike.

“In Wonder Woman, Marston (psychologist William Moulton Marston, creator of Wonder Woman in 1941) presented a brand-new kind of character.  While his ideas about female superiority never really caught on, the long-term impact of the first powerful, independent female superhero cannot be understated.  In a genre that so rigidly enforced typical gender roles and relied on a very narrow view of femininity, Wonder Woman shattered those expectations for millions of young readers each month.  It’s sometimes hard to see the ingrained societal structures that dictate daily life, but by inverting these structures Wonder Woman comics shed a light on the tenets of these systems, along with a sharp critique.”

Whether you are a Marvel Cinematic Universe buff, a DC comics die-hard, a Wonder Woman fan or simply someone who likes to gather knowledge, Wonder Woman Unbound would be a great read for you.  Fun, captivating, charming, and chock full of information, stories, and clear deduction, Wonder Woman Unbound will not only expand your horizons, but give you a greater appreciation of this trend-setting industry that birthed not only one of our greatest cultural heroines, but harbors one of our most enduring pastimes – the comic book universe.

~ Sharon Browning

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