On Comic Books And Women Heroes From The Creator of Wonder Woman

We loved this essay by William Moulton Marston, who created Wonder Woman back in 1941. The essay is 73 years old, but resonates with us today. More than anything, he not only points to the same value in comic books that we can see in today's tellings of superheroes, but also his then-contemporary justification for the Wonder Woman character at all. The sensibilities of the time he considered? Those weren't even kept quiet like today's version of polite misogyny (with a smile!). Yes, we cringed at some of the language and argument, and yet we know what can be done when women and those who don't subscribe to the binary are given the proper treatment and support. 

My suggestion was met by a storm of mingled protests and guffaws. Didn’t I know that girl heroines had been tried in pulps and comics and, without exception, found failures? Yes, I pointed out, but they weren’t superwomen ... After five months the publishers ran a popularity contest between Wonder Woman and seven rival men heroes, with startling results. Wonder Woman proved a forty to one favorite over her nearest male competitor, capturing more than 80 per cent of all the votes cast by thousands of juvenile comics fans. ... So there’s the latest formula in comics—super­ strength, altruism, and feminine love allure, combined in a single character.

But it also reminds us of some of the modern odes to comic books. When Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote on Doom and his own love of comic books, he nailed what the genre means for us:

Comics are so often seen as the province of white geeky nerds. But, more broadly, comics are the literature of outcasts, of pariahs, of Jews, of gays, of blacks. It's really no mistake that we saw ourselves in Doom, Magneto or Rogue.

We couldn't have said it better if we tried. Comic books and the movie genre have a long way to go, but there's a reason we stick around to watch. Because we can relate, and we can aspire to a better world, too. 

More: https://theamericanscholar.org/wonder-woman/