So You Loved Wonder Woman? Read These Comics Next

From Gal Gadot & Patty Jenkins to Greg Rucka & Jill Thompson

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So You Loved Wonder Woman? Read These Comics Next

Wonder Woman’s biggest fans have to admit: the Amazon princess and global icon doesn’t have nearly as many landmark standalone runs as Batman and Superman, her peers in DC’s “Trinity.” For years, Diana’s most beloved runs were longer, ongoing tales written by Greg Rucka, or written and drawn by George Perez and Phil Jimenez: heavy investments that have fallen in and out of print over the years—and in and out of continuity as DC repeatedly revised Wonder Woman’s origins. Otherwise beloved DC events have often shunted Wonder Woman to the side, or leaned into her warhawk persona at the expense of the character’s compassionate qualities. With the undisputed worldwide success of Patty Jenkins’ film adaptation starring Gal Gadot in the titular role, Paste compiled a primer of 10 accessible, iconic, (relatively) self-contained Wonder Woman stories that will hit familiarly inspiring beats for fans of the film while pulling readers deeper into Diana’s print mythology.

new frontier dc.jpgDC: The New Frontier
Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke

Wonder Woman doesn’t dominate the page count of Darwyn Cooke’s ‘40s-through-’60s-set nostalgic superhero magnum opus, but her portrayal here is among her most memorable ensemble roles. Fans of Gal Gadot’s performance will find echoes of that Diana in New Frontier’s boisterous, on-the-frontline warrior, celebrating victories with her troops and refusing to place apart above the rank and file. The eclectic cast, a mix of DC stalwarts and largely forgotten Silver Age heroes, also scratches the same itch as the film’s ragtag band of misfits. Cooke’s wartime setting provides a sleek, modern opportunity to see Wonder Woman in a historic battle without digging deep into her charming, yet dated, ‘40s source material. While New Frontier is its own distinct continuity, Cooke provided a defining scene for the Amazon: Wonder Woman standing toe-to-toe—and towering over—Superman. It’s a small moment, but one that says volumes about Diana’s true role in DC’s iconic trinity. Steve Foxe

league of one.jpgJustice League: A League of One
Writer/Artist: Christopher Moeller

Putting Diana into a team book can be a fraught exercise. Plenty of writers have used her as a nagging female foil instead of understanding the role she plays as part of a larger group. Christopher Moeller’s JLA: A League of One is a prime example of just how strong a team title can be when it centers Wonder Woman in the story, and as a one-shot, offers a perfect introduction for new readers. Moeller both wrote and illustrated the book, and he has a painterly style that’s unlike most of what’s available on shelves. It feels lush and textured, more like a Vertigo book than a mainstream DC outing, the pages sparse in terms of dialog but absolutely packed with motion and visual detail. Alerted to a threat that endangers the JLA, Diana spends the entirety of this book doing her best to protect her friends and colleagues (mostly from themselves). It’s an action-packed outing that could have become a joke about Wonder Woman beating up everyone she knows, since that’s exactly what she does. But because her motivations are driven by love and the need to protect, even in the face of reasonable concerns that she’s risking all of their lives, Diana comes off as full of grace and heroism. JLA: A League of One is the perfect demonstration of the Gail Simone quote: “If you need to stop an asteroid, you call Superman. If you need to solve a mystery, you call Batman. But if you need to end a war, you call Wonder Woman.” A book in which Wonder Woman dropkicks Superman because she cares about him is an excellent distillation of what the character is all about. Caitlin Rosberg

legend of ww.jpegLegend of Wonder Woman
Writer/Artist: Renae De Liz w/ Ray Dillon

One of the best things about Wonder Woman as a character is that she offers two very distinct opportunities for an origin story, one on Themyscira and one caught in the chaos of Europe during World War II (or WWI, in the film). Though they’re clearly linked, and the character could not exist without both formative experiences, many iterations of the character have neglected her wartime origins. Thankfully, Renae De Liz’s The Legend of Wonder Woman gave readers an in-depth look at both sides of Diana’s origin. De Liz focused not just on Diana’s youth and training, but also the sense of loss and confusion she feels when she finds herself in the world of man, surrounded by the worst of what we inflict on ourselves. She doesn’t allow Diana to wallow, giving the character a much-needed outlet for her sense of duty and justice. De Liz also gave Etta Candy a triumphant return to the page, the perfect foil for Diana’s serious and stalwart concern for both of her worlds. De Liz’ art is just as strong and stunning as her writing, clean and focused on motion and character. Though not officially part of the main Wonder Woman canon, The Legend of Wonder Woman, along with DC Bombshells and Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman, came at a time when the main title was lukewarm at best, and paved the way not only for better, more emotional and character-driven Wonder Woman books, but also the film. Caitlin Rosberg

secret history ww.jpgThe Secret History of Wonder Woman
Author: Jill Lepore
Publisher: Scribe Publications

Princess Diana of Themyscira is not just a female version of Superman, which is at least 35% of the reason why the Wonder Woman movie came out after Ant-Man and Deadpool (the other 65% is systemic misogyny). The nerd creators of basically every other mainstream superhero melded pre-existing genre archetypes in order to entertain other nerds. William Moulton Marston—a bohemian, ivy leaguer, huckster and practitioner of polyamory, but not a nerd—forged Wonder Woman for the explicit purpose of distributing progressive propaganda to the youth. Diana remains utterly peerless in that respect, as did the mind that summoned her into existence. Jill Lepore’s definitive Secret History of Wonder Woman isn’t a comic, but it uncrates Marston’s singular life with a razor-sharp sense for storytelling. Frankly, I never expected to learn so much about the origins of American reproductive rights from a book with a Justice Leaguer on the cover. Barry Thompson

sensation comics.jpgSensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman
Writers/Artists: Various

Like any anthology, Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman has high highs (like James Tynion IV and Noelle Stevenson’s teen-sisterhood tale) and low lows (we’re too polite to mention those by name), but the pure breadth of tone and topic available in this digital-first series demonstrates Diana’s flexibility and her value as not just a strong character, but as a timeless icon. Fan-favorite author Gail Simone (who scripted a well-liked run on the main title, including the popular “The Circle”) helped kick off the series, and creators including Alex de Campi, Marguerite Sauvage, Phil Jimenez and Barbara Kesel offered enjoyable short contributions. As this list unfortunately shows, women have not often had the opportunity to steer Wonder Woman’s creative destiny, which makes Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman’s grab-bag of talent an excellent chance to experience a full range of self-contained interpretations of Diana and her heroism. Steve Foxe

ww vol 2.jpgWonder Woman Vol. 2: “Down to Earth”
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Drew Johnson

Greg Rucka’s first monumental run on Wonder Woman is most often represented on best-of lists via The Hiketeia, a standalone story masterfully illustrated by JG Jones that pits Diana’s loyalty to Doing the Right Thing against Batman’s unflinching interpretation of justice. While Rucka’s first ongoing arc doesn’t offer art that’s quite so polished—Drew Johnson’s workmanlike line isn’t complemented by either the inking or the now-dated coloring—the story itself is a surprisingly timely push-pull between Diana’s idealism and the modern day’s murky political reality. In “Down to Earth,” we meet Diana’s latest underpaid assistant, tasked with balancing her U.N. ambassadorial duties against her superheroic responsibilities—as well as her often-spontaneous decisions to fly off and right wrongs. His job, and Diana’s, is made more difficult by a Lex Luthor-esque self-made woman with a vendetta against Wonder Woman’s popularity. With the full force of a well-paid publicity firm against her, Wonder Woman faces all-too-familiar opposition to her “progressive agenda” (i.e. peace and love) as well as the return of an ally who’s been twisted into a dangerous mechanical foe. Rucka’s entire first run is required reading for hardcore Wonder Woman fans, and “Down to Earth” lays out his mission statement in perfect form. Steve Foxe

ww vol 3.jpgWonder Woman Vol. 3: “Who is Wonder Woman?”
Writer: Allan Heinberg
Artists: Terry & Rachel Dodson

Allan Heinberg is the sole credited screenwriter on Wonder Woman, although almost certainly not the only writer in the mix—nor is the film Heinberg’s first time writing Wonder Woman. This 2006 relaunch kicked off with Diana’s Teen Titans protégé Donna Troy taking up the mantle of Wonder Woman while Diana embraces her white-clad Diana Prince, Secret Agent persona. Despite the run lasting only four regularly numbered issues and an annual, Heinberg’s tenure suffered from major delays due to his television screenwriting schedule—something new readers won’t need to worry about, as the story reads in retrospect like a slick, compact best-of. The art team of Terry and Rachel Dodson brings its trademark powerful-woman A-game, as well as a modern eye to redesigns for some of Diana’s fiercest foes, including Cheetah and Giganta. Heinberg handed writing duties over to bestselling prose author Jodi Picoult after this, to mediocre results, before Gail Simone finished out this volume’s run with several popular arcs. Steve Foxe

ww vol 4.jpegWonder Woman Vol. 4 (The New 52)
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artists: Cliff Chiang, Tony Akins, Others

DC’s 2011 reboot initiative “The New 52” struggled immediately with fan frustration as DC threw canon out and started over piecemeal, keeping parts of continuity and starting fresh elsewhere. A handful of titles were strong enough to avoid the bulk of the criticisms, among them was Cliff Chiang and Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman. Though some fans had problems with Wonder Woman’s new origins as a daughter of Zeus, what made the book work was the combination of Azzarello’s brutal, character-driven storytelling and Chiang’s strong, sharp style, which went from great to exemplary thanks to Matt Wilson’s colors. In just 35 issues, Azzarello and Chiang (as well as guest artists like Tony Akins) dove deep into what makes Wonder Woman who she is, driven by justice and protecting those who she believes need it, flawed and overprotective but constantly striving to do her best.

In battling what felt like the entire Greek pantheon, Diana became War itself and was courted by her uncle Hades in an arc that was both deeply unsettling and a visual feast thanks to Chiang’s designs for the king of the underworld. Specifically with the difficult implications of the new origins of the Amazons, which for the first time integrated men into one of the most famous female-only spaces, the book did an excellent job avoiding tropes that would have sidelined and marginalized Diana and her sisters. Instead, Azzarello and Chiang delivered a book that was full of nuanced female characters on every end of the moral spectrum, many of them fighting hard to protect themselves and what they believe in. Filled with family drama on a global scale, it’s modern mythology at its finest, and an excellent Wonder Woman story that continues to influence the character far beyond these pages. Caitlin Rosberg

ww vol 5.jpegWonder Woman Vol. 5 (Rebirth)
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artists: Nicola Scott, Liam Sharp, Bilquis Evely

Wonder Woman is one of the heroes to benefit most from DC’s Rebirth initiative, with the return of fundamental Diana scribe Greg Rucka alongside the powerhouse rotating art team of Nicola Scott, Liam Sharp and Bilquis Evely. Rucka and crew took a distinct alternating approach to DC’s twice-monthly shipping schedule, with Scott handling the “Year One” origin story and Sharp taking over “The Lies,” a modern-day tale that largely undoes the controversial New 52 revisions to the character. While it’s a shame to see Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s Vertigo-esque story “undone,” even its most ardent defenders must admit that it works better as a contained story. Rucka masterfully blends the more classic side of the character, established by iconic contributors like George Perez and Phil Jimenez, with the edgier modern DC world, much like Patty Jenkins’ more emotionally genuine take on the cinematic “Snyderverse.” Rucka recently announced that he’ll wrap up his run with issue #25, which gives new readers time to catch up before this saga concludes and the new creative team of Shea Fontana and Mirka Andolfo leave their mark on the now-even-more-famous icon. Steve Foxe

ww true amazon.jpegWonder Woman: The True Amazon
Writer/Artist: Jill Thompson

For fans of Patty Jenkins’ film who felt that the Paradise Island portions flitted past too quickly, Jill Thompson’s gorgeous watercolor exploration of an impetuous Diana’s teen years should scratch that Themiscyran itch. Thompson’s Diana isn’t quite Wonder Woman yet—or even that wondrous. Raised as an anointed child and given special treatment, this Diana is a bit of a brat. She expects deference and instant forgiveness for her bad behavior. It takes a stubbornly stoic fellow Amazon to force Diana to self-reflect, and a true tragedy for Diana to grow as a person. The Diana of The True Amazon is a far cry from the inspiring idealism of Gal Gadot’s version, and Thompson’s bravery in showing such an unlikable protagonist—as well as her stunning painted rendition of Themiscyra—offers readers a peek behind the curtain of Wonder Woman the icon and a chance to meet Wonder Woman the all-too-human. Steve Foxe

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