There can't be many popular superheroes who, despite what people believe, they know little about. I always thought I knew all about Wonder Woman. Sadly I actually knew very little.
Wonder Woman first appeared in 1941 as a centrefold in All Star, the product of Charles Moulton. The pen name of psychologist William Moulton Marston.
Paradoxically, the first contact that Marston had with the comics was through criticism. Marston was a professor at Columbia University and the author of such essays like "Integrative Psychology: A Study of Unit response", "The Art of Marriage", "Obey That Impulse", "Take Your Profits From Defeats" and above them all "The Lie Detector Test". In fact, Marston was responsible for the creation of the polygraph, better known as the lie detector.
It all began when Marston attacked the content of comics in one of his articles. This article gained the attention of the All American publisher, M.C. Gaines, who offered Marston the role of a comics advisor. Later Marston recalled: "I was retained as consulting psychologist by comics publisher to analyze the present short-comings of monthly picture magazines and recommend improvements". Soon after that Marston would be writing comics using his knowledge of psychology, and creating the first female superhero, a true symbol of feminism.
WW was popular and she became the lead for Sensation Comics when it appeared at the start of 1942, and on to her own series in the summer of 1942. For the fashion concious she wore a pleated tennis skirt at that time.
With the death of Marston and the departure of the original artist, Harry Peter, in 1947, Wonder Woman entered a period of lighter stories by Robert Kanigher and the art of Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. This first series continued without major changes, apart from the loss of the skirt, until 1968.
With the boom of superagents and spies on its peak, Wonder Woman was turned into a plain-clothed and Emma Peel-like sort of agent for which Mike Sekowsky (creator of Supergirl) was responsible. Along with Samuel R. Delany, Sekowsky envisioned Wonder Woman as a powerless agent who is teamed up with a blind Chinese mentor named I-Ching in Wonder Woman #179 (October 1968). In spite of being charged with a lot of action, undoubtedly this was the worse period, leaving this "New Wonder Woman" unrecognizable, and even going to the extreme with Steve Trevor's death in February 1969.
In 1972, Miss magazine made a compilation of Wonder Woman stories, somehow recalling the "real" character. In 1973, there was a Wonder Woman coup. I-Ching is killed and Wonder Woman's power are restored by Queen Hyppolite and thanks to the "Amazon Memory Chair". Steve Trevor is brought back to life.
After many contradictions with the character, some explanations are given in a loose-end tying issue in July 1974 and which would set the path for the following issues edited by Julie Schwartz. Wonder Woman continued a rather "normal" run until February of 1986. In Wonder Woman #329, in a Crisis cross-over issue, the Silver Age Wonder Woman weds Steve Trevor and marks the end of the first series after a continuous 44-year run, making it probably the longest single superhero comic runs.
1987 saw DC doing what it has a habit of doing and WW's first major reinvention, revising her origins to the popular form known today.
I don't suppose I could get away without mentioning the 70's TV series with Lynda Carter. So now that is done. I should also comment on the 1974 film with Cathy Lee Crosby in the title role: Dire. Also the neurotic and narcistic Wonder Woman in the 1967 'Who's Afraid of Diana Prince', which is indescribable. The pictures remind me of Russ Abbots 'Blunder Woman'. http://lacosa.sion.com/ww/index2.htm