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Wonder Woman: Amazon, Hero, Icon

A colorful, career-spanning book featuring rare and unpublished illustrations of America's favorite super heroine

by CH Contributor in Culture on 10 May 2010

by Sam Hatmaker

When we heard about Rizzoli's new book "Wonder Woman," celebrating the original female superhero, we called on NYC-based fan Sam Hatmaker to lend his perspective on the icon who inspired his extensive collection. Read on to learn more about one of the more comprehensive books on the leading lady published to date.

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With punchy illustrations popping off the pages, "Wonder Woman: Amazon, Hero, Icon" spans the history of the most popular super-heroine in the world of comic books. Author Robert Greenberger, a former editor at DC Comics, breaks the book down in sections: The creation of the character, her Amazonian origins, her arsenal of weapons and gadgetry, her allies and her adversaries.

Enthusiasts and aficionados will find unpublished design art and rare, alternate pieces, mostly by artist Terry Dodson, a fan favorite. But none show the actual "birth" of Wonder Woman being carved in clay (or stone) by the Amazon Queen. The book also gives cursory treatment to many of her major friends and foes, with few mentions or pictures and no real history or descriptions to help readers unfamiliar with these characters.

In fact, Greenberger barely revisits the 1970s live-action television series, the only version familiar to many audiences. Omitting even a single image of actress Lynda Carter in that famous star-spangled outfit (although perhaps for legal reasons), makes the book more suited to those looking for a fresh addition to the coffee table or for true obsessives. Wonder Woman completists will find that the trade paperback's reprinting of the first three "Modern Age" story arcs by illustrator and writer George Pérez, who wrote the foreword, sell for a comparable price.

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For the casual fan, "Amazon, Hero, Icon" packs a good deal of information and trivia, with vividly reproduced, thoughtfully organized artwork. But it seems that Greenberger really couldn't decide what he wanted the book to be. If he wanted it to tell the unabridged story of Wonder Woman through her history in comics, he skipped too many aspects that have shaped the character. If he wanted to show her cultural relevance—why Wonder Woman continues to captivate fans old and new alike—then he needed to explore the ideals of the comic series and how they relate to the real world.

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Even after 208 pages, you would still need a faithful comic reader to explain why so many people find this Amazon fascinating, hold her as their hero, or think of her as an icon. See for yourself by getting it from Amazon or Powell's in hardcover.

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