Review: Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine

Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History
of the World’s Most Famous Heroine

I listen to a lot of odd books thanks to the Audible daily deal. Because I go through almost a book a day in audio format I’m always in the market for an interesting read. When I can pick up a book for a couple of bucks on sale and it sounds even remotely entertaining, I go for it. That leads me down wild paths sometimes, and this book is one of those times.

As the title states, this is the history of Wonder Woman – from her sex fetishist creator to the simpering idiocy of the 50s and 60s and barely touching on her glorious recreation in recent years. Along the way we hear a lot about other women in comics, especially Lois Lane, and the contrast between the comic life of Wonder Woman and the struggles women were facing in the real world. It was an interesting, if not fascinating, journey.

Let me just say that the man who created this character, William Marston, was not the kind of guy you expect to find in the 40s. He seems like the guy who lurks in the darker part of the internet, actually. He was involved in a polyamorous marriage with two women and he was more than a little obsessed with bondage and female dominance. His main purpose in creating Wonder Woman was to prepare young boys for the coming of the matriarchy. However, his beliefs and his portrayal of Wonder Woman in the comics were at odds with each other. Even though he believed in the superiority of women he spends a lot of time putting Wonder Woman into bondage. The author does a thorough job of proving that WW spends approximately more than 10 times the time in bondage than any of her male counterparts so it’s not just a hero getting endangered. Also, other women in the books spend more time in bondage than the men in the books. There are other glimpses into the man’s psyche and work outside of the Wonder Woman comics that I could have done without. The man was out there.

After Marston left the comics things took a turn for the silly with Wonder Woman getting obsessed with Steve Trevor and losing her independence and strength. That continued even while women in the real world were fighting for their rights to be treated like people and not second-class citizens. Then Gloria Steinman of Ms. magazine got involved and things turned around again. They took away her superpowers and kept changing her back story, too. Imagine if they had done that to Superman. No no, he’s not really from Krypton and he doesn’t have superpowers. He’s actually just Clark Kent and he is obsessed with marrying Lois Lane but we still want to write a comic book about him for some reason? It made no sense. There is a reason that few people have actually read Wonder Woman comics and only know her from the Justice League or from the TV show starring Linda Carter.

This book was a lot longer than it had any right to be. Most of the stuff about Lois Lane, Superman, and so on just felt like padding and I didn’t need a history lesson about the women’s movement in the 70s. I enjoyed the new Wonder Woman movie a lot, in my opinion it’s the best DC movie so far, but the character has always been boring to me. The story, especially the early years, was intriguing but it got old long before the book got over.

I would say I got my money’s worth and it isn’t a bad book. It just sags in the middle, kind of like Wonder Woman’s career. A little tighter editing would have made this a four star book. It was totally worth the two or three bucks I paid for it, but not much more.

Four stars for the beginning and end, two or three for the middle.

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