Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review: Wonder Woman Archives Vol. 1

WONDER WOMAN ARCHIVES VOL. 1(DC, Second Printing, 1998; Hardcover)
Collects Wonder Woman No. 1 and selections from All-Star Comics No. 8 and Sensation Comics Nos. 1-12 (cover dates December, 1940/ January, 1941- December, 1942).
Writer: Dr. William Moulton Marston
Artist: Harry G. Peter
Superb! I rank these as the best of the Golden Age comic books that I've ever read. I read all but Sensation Comics Nos. 10-12 in Wonder Woman Chronicles Vol. 1 trade paperback. These are every bit as excellent on the re-read. DC began blowing out their Archives inventory for ½ off in late 2010, so I asked Santa (my wife) for all six Wonder Woman Archives for Christmas in 2010. It took me a year to get to them in my backlog rotation, but when you are dealing with something that is already 70 years old, what's one more year, right? 
Dr. Marston, under the pen name of Charles Moulton, created a powerful, independent, assertive female hero uncharacteristic for the time. Marston was a psychologist and inventor of the systolic blood pressure test which became part of the polygraph test. He was involved in a polyamorous/ polygamous relationship, and his live-in girlfriend Olive greatly influenced the creation and appearance of the character.
Bondage and dominance/submission are two recurring themes throughout the title, and I find it to be hysterical that kids were reading this stuff in droves. This was way off of middle America's radar in the early '40s. The fashions and Wonder Woman's lasso, which in these early issues make people submit to whatever the lasso holder commands, were a far cry from what I saw on the SuperFriends when I was growing up in the late '70s. 
Everything in this title is excellent, from the writing to the artwork to the lettering. These are just great reads that had me laughing out loud, often unintentionally. If you would like to see what my first impression of these issues were, check out my review here.
The OCD zone- DC Archives are a thing of beauty. The paper has a creamy, ever so slightly off white color, and has a nice texture and weight to it. They have superb sewn binding and lay flat from the front page to the last. The linework and color restoration are excellent. I cannot figure out why DC would do such an about face in terms of quality. Their more recent hardcovers of classic material feature decontented paper and binding. A pity. 

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