Sunday, September 4, 2011

Book #59

The Offical Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes, vol 2: Wonder Woman, by Michael L. Fleisher. Paperback.

Similar to, although shorter than, the Batman version I read earlier in the year. Arranged as an encyclopedia, in alphabetical order, with mostly brief (and a few long) articles about people and events that occurred in Wonder Woman adventures from her introduction in late 1941 through about 1968. The book took years to compile, being released in 1976. The library version I read is a reprint from the mid-2000's.

I didn't know much about Wonder Woman reading this, being familiar only with a 100-issue (or so) run that I had from the late seventies, so a lot of this was new to me. I didn't realize there were so many puns, especially in the Holliday College locale -- Deans named Strikt and Picklepuss, Professors named Astronimo, Calculus, Chemico, and Toxino -- but other characters have punny names, as well. It was a reminder that these books wree definitely aimed at 8- to 12- year olds, as opposed to comics today with an older readership.

William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman, was an interesting man with interesting ideas, especially about men, women, and relationships. I appreciate that the encyclopedia talked about odd part of the story, which manifested in common story themes of slavery and bondage, romance, marriage and submission.

I love the conceit of these encyclopedias, the notion that the compilers are academic researchers, and that the comic stories are texts to be investigated and interpreted. In light of the DC relaunch, it is a testimony to the continuity and consistency of the first 30+ years of comics that such an attempt to synthesize and organize the material is even possible.

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