Wonder Woman is an icon and symbol of Western culture and I would even go as far as stating that after Superman, Batman and Spider-Man, she is the most popular superhero of all time. And she is the most popular female superhero by a large margin. Everybody knows who Wonder Woman is and they are at least somewhat familiar with the core elements that made Princess Diana of Themyscira who she is.
So it’s always interesting to see that not a lot of people are familiar with her best stories when she is compared to the likes of Batman or the X-Men. That is why I have decided to make a list of what I consider the best Wonder Woman comics and the ones that I believe are the best representations of the character throughout the years.
You may agree, you may disagree, but the important thing is that we’re all here to enjoy good stories, so let’s do this!
10. Spirit of Truth (2001)
Back in the late 90s, writer Paul Dini (one of the architects of the DC Animated Universe in the 90s and 2000s) and artist Alex Ross (Kingdom Come) decided to create a couple of miniseries with the main DC characters. That is how we got Superman: Peace on Earth, Batman: War on Crime and Captain Marvel: The Power of Hope, and especially, Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth in 2001.
This story deals with Diana’s struggles in the current world due to the fact that her mission of understanding and peace are not working as much as she would like, so she ends up in a conflict with a junta, which pushes her forward to discover who she is in this day and age and what represents in this world.
I think I’m actually doing a disservice to Dini and Ross’ story; Spirit of Truth is a very strong series that shows why Wonder Woman’s mission is so important and the lengths she is willing to go through in order to make a difference in this world. It’s a very honest and heartfelt representation of what the character stands for and it’s delivered in a great manner.
9. The Hiketeia (2002).
Greg Rucka may not be the best the writer he once was, but back in his heyday he wrote some of the most interesting Wonder Woman stories that you can find and during her early 2000s run we also had a very fascinating graphic novel called The Hiketeia, which is focus on Diana’s sense of honor and elements of Greek tragedy.
A woman named Danielle is escaping from Gotham due to the fact that someone wants to murder her and asks Wonder Woman to protect her through the pact of the Hiketeia, which means that Diana has to protect Danielle regardless of wanting that or not and Danielle, in exchange for protection, has to work for Diana. All of this gets even more complicated when Batman shows up because he is after Danielle and wants to bring her to justice.
Rucka does a very good job in establishing an interesting moral conundrum for Wonder Woman and at the same time allows the reader to have a better glimpse of what the character does on a regular basis in the DC Universe, which is always fascinating because so many different writers have different takes when it comes to Wonder Woman. He also establishes the main moral differences between Batman and Wonder Woman, which is also definitely worth your time.
8. Earth One (2016).
When DC did the first Earth One books with the likes of Batman and Superman a few years ago, they were hoping to create an alternate universe where talented creators could offer different takes with their most beloved characters. And while I think the books that were made for the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight were actually very good, the Earth One line didn’t have the results they wanted on a commercial level and that alternate universe never had the development they wanted to reach.
But in 2016, legendary writer Grant Morrison was given the chance to work on an Earth One book about Wonder Woman and he decided to offer an alternate take to her origin story, ironically taking a lot of the elements from her first issues written by her creator, William Moulton Marston, but with modern sensitivities and with very good art by Yanick Paquette.
So, if you are familiar with Diana’s origin story, here you are going to find a very similar take in the most general of manners (Steve Trevor lands on Themyscira and Diana has to take him to the world of man), but now with a few twists and turns that Morrison executes in a somewhat restrained way (at least compared to his usual writing) and with a very good understanding of what the character represents, which is something essential when it comes to the Wonder Woman character.
I often feel that DC relies way too much on writing alternate takes to their heroes’ origin stories, but I think Morrison does a very good job here and the story is entertaining and at the same time offers a very solid representation and modernization of the material Marston did way back in the early 40s, so I recommend this book (both volumes) for you.
7. Blood (2012)
When DC decided to reboot their whole line with the New 52, many characters got different takes and were reinterpreted for this new era. And depending on whom you may ask, writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang’s run on Wonder Woman for the New 52 is one of the best things that ever happened to the character in recent times or one of the absolute worst.
I personally fall somewhat in the middle, finding very good and very bad stuff in this run, but Blood, the opening storyline is a very good place to start and see if this take on Diana is of your liking or not.
Hermes visits a young woman named Zola and gives her a key that teleports her to London, where she finds Wonder Woman and asks her for protection. Turns out that Zola is pregnant with a child from Zeus and this results in the former being hunted by many evil beings, thus kick starting this new run on Wonder Woman.
Azzarello is a very divisive writer because he tends to offer very different takes on established characters, with Superman’s For Tomorrow being a prime example of how controversial his can potentially be. And while I’m not the biggest fan of his Wonder Woman run, Blood it’s definitely a good entry point for people that perhaps are not very familiar with the character and want to read something different about her.
Cliff Chiang’s art, on the other hand, has never been much of my liking. He is a very good storyteller and you can tell what is going on in each page without much context, but I prefer something more detailed and intricate. Having said that, this is just my personal opinion and you may feel different regarding his work.
New 52 didn’t leave a lot of positive things for DC fans, but Azzarello and Chiang’s Wonder Woman run is still remembered in a positive light, so I think it deserves a read so you can make your own judgment.
6. War of the Gods (1991)
Writer and artist George Perez is the definitive creator when it comes to all things Wonder Woman, responsible of creating some of the best stories that the character has enjoyed throughout the years. You cannot fully understand this character without reading Perez’s run, which started after 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths event.
But in the early 90s, Perez wrote and drew (at least a few parts; the rest was done by multiple artists) this miniseries, War of the Gods, which is focused on the gods from multiple different cultures (Roman gods, Olympian gods, African gods, Norse gods and so on) waging war against humanity and the heroes of the DC universe, led by Diana, need to stand up and fight in one of the most fascinating events that this company enjoyed during the 90s.
War of the Gods is one of my personal favorite Wonder Woman stories because it gives her a very central role in an epic event and it shows the potential of her mythos when written right, instead of focusing solely on superficial aspects. We also get the opportunity of watching and reading about many of our favorite DC characters, such as Superman or Captain Marvel/Shazam.
George Perez is the ultimate Wonder Woman writer and I think I can safely say that this run is definitely worthy of your time, with War of the Gods being great proof of what you can achieve with this character in terms of scope and storytelling.
5. William Moulton Marston’s entire Wonder Woman run (early 40s)
Okay, I admit I’m kind of cheating here, but I have to say that it was much more efficient to have this option in just one position.
William Moulton Marston’s entire Wonder Woman run is remarkable when you consider the era in which it was done and I would even go as far as saying that this run holds up very well compared to many comics of the time. It is also very interesting to see how groundbreaking this comic was in the context in which it was made, thus showing that even then we were already seeing strong female characters and this was something that was only going to become more normal in DC as they introduced the likes of Batgirl, Catwoman, Supergirl, Zatanna and Black Canary.
It is also worth pointing out that Marston was a psychologist and he used his knowledge on the matter to create a character that was loved by both men and women. I mention this because Wonder Woman has a lot of male and female fans all over the world, so it is interesting that Marston had such an understanding of what the two genders find appealing and created a character that was, in a way, the best of both worlds.
Is it the best entry point for new Wonder Woman readers? It depends on how seasoned you are with comics. If you are new to comics in general, I don’t think it would be much of your liking because comics were different back in the day and consumed in a different manner, so I advise you to read this run if you are more familiar with the medium.
4. JLA: A League of One (2000)
I think this is a story that has been somewhat forgotten by the fans throughout the years and I find that to be a shame because there are a lot of positive elements in this storyline and it’s one of the most fascinating looks on the character of Wonder Woman.
This story is a one-shot of the Justice League centered around a major threat that only Wonder Woman can face or at least that’s how she feels, much to the chagrin of the rest of the League. The story then develops in Diana finding a way to defeat this new threat without his teammates getting involved, which obviously deals to a lot of conflicts.
I often feel that this is one of the most underrated Wonder Woman storylines and that it doesn’t get the credit it deserves. I don’t know why: it shows the lengths Diana is willing to go through in order to protect those that she cares about and her relationship with different members of the Justice League. And while it doesn’t mean a lot to you, this is quite likely my favorite version of the League.
3. Paradise Lost (2001)
Writer and artist Phil Jimenez was one of the most talented creators to take over the Wonder Woman title in the early 2000s and one of his most famous storylines was Paradise Lost, where he had the support of some of the industry’s most capable artists and writers such as J.M. DeMatteis, Devin Grayson, Joe Kelly, Adam Hughes, Andy Lanning and perhaps the definitive Wonder Woman creator, George Perez.
We find out in this story that Batman’s home, Gotham City, is under one of the biggest threats it has faced in recent times (and this being Gotham, it means that is a very big threat): it is turning into a land that resembles ancient Greece in a lot of things and gods are taking over with obviously evil motives.
One of the most interesting elements to take into consideration when talking about this story is that many of the gods that are taking over Gotham are also combining their own essences with some of Batman’s greatest foes, thus getting more powerful and enhanced versions of the Joker, Scarecrow or Poison Ivy, to the point that the Dark Knight cannot deal with this threat on his own and calls Wonder Woman, who is obviously specialized in this area, to help him deal with this situation.
Phil Jimenez always had a very special knack for writing Wonder Woman and you can clearly tell in stories like this that he has a deep appreciation for the character and how she can connect with the rest of the DC Universe, especially when it comes to such a unique character like Batman.
Paradise Lost could be viewed as a Wonder Woman-centric event and not only Batman is part of the situation at Gotham; we can also see the likes of Nightwing, Wonder Girl and Robin teaming up with the two main characters in one of the most fascinating and bizarre adventures during this era of DC.
2. Challenge of the Gods (1987-88)
Challenge of the Gods is a very fun story arc in the Wonder Woman mythos and also the second one written and drawn by George Perez (although it’s worth pointing out that Len Wein contributed as co-writer) in his wildly acclaimed run in the late 80s and early 90s, which is why I always recommend this period in Diana’s history: there is simply too much quality storytelling and brilliant art in this era of Wonder Woman.
When it comes to the story itself, Challenge of the Gods is a combination of multiple threads that have been developed in the previous arc, with some of them involving Diana dealing with the ghost of Steve Trevor’s daughter, the first appearance of the post-Crisis Cheetah (one of her biggest villains and this version definitely being the best so far) and we even get to see Wonder Woman coping with a confrontation against Zeus himself.
As you can see, this story is not an overarching plot but rather an episodic structure and I think it works very well because you get a lot more stories for what you would usually get in most modern comics, which tend to be centered around one single plot through multiple issues. You also have Perez’s beautiful artwork, which is always a delight and you can tell by looking at these pages that he was having the time of his life while drawing this run.
Challenge of the Gods is one of the highest points as far as Wonder Woman comics go, but we have the top spot for just one option and the winner is going to be…
1. Gods and Mortals (1986)
Gods and Mortals is definitely one of the crowning achievements in the vast career that George Perez has enjoyed through his many decades in the industry and quite likely, along with Crisis on Infinite Earths and the Teen Titans, the work he is most remembered for. The man is one of those artists and writers that only come in a handful and he is a prime example of what you can achieve with the medium if you put hard work, dedication and a lot of love for what you do.
The Wonder Woman struggled for the first half of the 80s, with writers and artists coming and going without a clear direction for the character to take and without a major understanding of what Diana was capable of in terms of storytelling. It’s so telling that she was so underused and so undervalued that when Perez decided to take over the title after Crisis on Infinite Earths, no one else was interested–he was the only one with genuine interest in making the character great again. And to his credit, he did and even went as far as surpassing everybody that came before and after.
In Gods and Mortals we get the new origin for Wonder Woman and instead of jumping to the world of man in a fast manner, Perez, along with Len Wein and Greg Potter, takes his time to develop the new mythos surrounding the character in order to establish her world in a much more effective manner. That is how we get the conflict between the Amazons and the gods, the birth of Diana and her relationship with her mother, Hippolyta, and the rest of the Amazons as she is growing up in the island of Themyscira.
Perez introduces many of the plot threads that he is going to develop in the coming storylines and we get a more detailed explanation of who the gods are and their impact on the lives of the Amazons.
Add to that the art made by George Perez in his prime and you get one of the most amazing projects in DC’s entire output in the at least the 1980s, but I would go as far as stating that this is the definitive era of Wonder Woman–you simply can’t go wrong with this run.
There have been multiple great Wonder Woman storylines throughout the years, but I still find Gods and Mortals to be the absolute peak in the character’s entire history and a very defined look of her mythos, her archetype and all the core values that make Diana the timeless icon that she is.
which also collects both stories (plus more…) in one really nice looking book.
That’s all for now, friends! As we always say… keep reading good comics!