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

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  863 ratings  ·  153 reviews
This close look at Wonder Woman’s history portrays a complicated heroine who is more than just a female Superman with a golden lasso and bullet-deflecting bracelets. The original Wonder Woman was ahead of her time, advocating female superiority and the benefits of matriarchy in the 1940s. At the same time, her creator filled the comics with titillating bondage imagery, and ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Chicago Review Press
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  863 ratings  ·  153 reviews

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Crystal Starr Light
Bullet Review:

Absolutely WONDERful!! The highest praise imaginable!!!

Let's go to DC and Hollywood and start demanding a Wonder Woman movie NOW!!!

Full Review:

Wonder Woman. I can just say the name and boom, Lynda Carter is in your mind, lassoing bad guys and cruising in the Invisible Plane.

You're welcome.

But who is Wonder Woman? Where did she come from? Unlike Batman and Superman, whose backstories are second nature (both fictional and nonfictional), Wonder Woman, despite being the premiere female
Jun 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
Another 3.5 star read.

I have hazy recollections of reading Wonder Woman comics as a kid. I'm now wishing that I had hung on to them! I'm curious as to which of three waves of stories I was mostly reading.

The original author, William Marston, was a very intriguing individual and I would be interested in reading more about him if I can track anything down. He was of the firm opinion that women were the superior gender and that women would soon be running the world. He wrote the Wonder Woman comics
Dana Stabenow
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
A fascinating, informative and incredibly frustrating read. Hanley marches us through the history of Wonder Woman, the first woman superhero in the comics, born two and three years after Batman and Superman and in the same year as Captain America. This was the Golden Age of comics, where Wonder Woman helped defeat the Axis. Then came the post-war Silver Age, when Wonder Woman stopped saving Steve Trevor and he started saving her. In the Bronze Age they actually TOOK AWAY HER POWERS, she gives up ...more
Jul 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
Wonder Woman's creator, William Moulton Marston, is a super interesting dude. The polyamorous inventor of the polygraph test and a respected psychologist, he believed that we would live in a utopia as soon as we accepted that women should be in charge of the world. He created Wonder Woman specifically in order to sneak this idea into the minds of children, and also in order to indulge his massive bondage fetish.

Yes, in case you didn't know: those early Wonder Woman comics were basically just ev
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
[Kate Beaton drew this I own nothing.]

This book does what it tells you it was going to do. It is not an uncritical look at Wonder Woman. If anything a lot of it is about how we have projected different ideas onto her while editors and writers neglected her actual books and other media.

So we learn a lot about William Marston and his theories on S&M and his views on female superiority, about his intention to write a feminist book....for young boys that just happened to find a female audience. Whil
Mar 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
Any book that starts with the word "Weee" Will quickly find a way to my discard pile. Read Jill Lepore's Book on Wonder Woman for a much more serious discussion of the heroine and her unconventional creator.
Mar 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World's Most Famous Heroine is a good book if you like Wonder Woman, or are interested in her background, the bondage, the feminism, all those key parts of her history.

But, if you've read The Secret History of Wonder Woman , then it kind of pales in comparison.

Where this one is better is that it seems to deal more with the comic books and comparisons throughout the ages in DC, Marvel and beyond. The fetishism/bondage elements are also handled r
Kath ❅
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a very well researched history of Wonder Woman that I thoroughly enjoyed making my way through. This is basically a research paper but it doesn't read like one - it's much more engaging and interesting to read. I certainly feel very informed about the history of Wonder Woman now. I have read a few of her comics but and I knew a bit of her back story but I was not fully versed of any of it. I knew of Wonder Woman as an icon and this book really helped me understand her complicated histor ...more
Jan 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Not bad a majority of this I knew already but there were some interesting facts about Wonder Woman.

Where this book is sort of misleading is that the primary focus of this book dosent stay with Wonder Woman it tends to focus more on how women were portrayed in the comic books back in the Golden, Bronze and Modern Age. It does talk about how Wonder Woman broke the mould not being the damsal in distress, however it tends to then switch focus to characters such as Lois Lane and goes into alot more a
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: superhero
A quite enjoyable and interesting discussion of the origins and treatments of the character of Wonder Woman across her incarnations in comic books and television (the book predates her recent movie appearances, so doesn't comment on those). The poor character has been rewritten and reinterpreted more times than Madonna has recreated herself.

The main feeling I walked away with is that Wonder Woman must indeed be a superhero to survive all the crap writers and producers have done to her over the
The narrator was dull. The book wasn't extremely exciting so pair that with a boring narrator and you get a bit of a snooze-fest. There is a lot I didn't know about Wonder Woman. Basically everything. So I liked learning about her origins and her creator. But I think it's best if read and not listened to.
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
While it was informative, the book was rather poorly edited with too many repetitions and some sketchy statistics. Moreover, oftentimes it was not very clear what the author is trying to say because his conclusion was lost in his less than appropriate judgmental tone.
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed it immensely. It was well-researched and conveyed all the facts in an interesting way while presenting everything in perspective. I was afraid if the "tone" would be okay with me but the author praised and criticized the same parts I would so I didn't experience any cringes because of that. The audiobook's narrator was excellent. I only wish the more modern series were described/analyzed more thoroughly but it's not like they were ignored – I think I just wished this was longer ov
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wonder-woman
I enjoyed this book and how it talked about the general evolution of comics, Wonder Woman & other female characters. It added to the historical context of her development. I’d love to see an update since the Wonder Woman movie came out. ...more
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
INCREDIBLY DETAILED history of Wonder Woman (and all comics, especially DC Comics for that matter). I listened to this on Audible; otherwise, I doubt I would have read it. No stone left unturned; if you are a comics fan, you will like this book. If not, you may find the level of detail a bit much.
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing! It gives you the history of Wonder Woman and how she affected women's rights, as well as the DC Comic universe. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves comics or is a feminist. It's a little out of date though because it came out before the first Wonder Woman movie.
Interesting history regarding Wonder Woman focusing on her in the actual DC/comic book universe.
Julie Dawson
“She isn’t a great character despite her contradictions but because of them. Wonder Woman has so many facets and incarnations, and within them lies a character who is both bizarre and brilliant. To forget her past is to miss what makes Wonder Woman such a great hero.”
From Wonder Woman Unbound.

I grew up on Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman. The Wonder Woman of my youth was strong, confident, smart, beautiful, and kind. She was, in truth, the role model my generation needed. She encouraged us to take
Aug 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's sort of a shame that this book had to give Wonder Woman her due but her own comics couldn't truly accomplish that for decades. Until recently we haven't had a decent Wonder Woman in a movie and yet she's considered one of DC's big 3, right behind Batman and Superman.

Wonder Woman has an amazing history and she's gone through lots of changes over the decades (Golden, Silver, Modern, New 52, Rebirth) and this book covers a lot of that. It also covers her creation at the hands of a very intere
Feb 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, 2015
A look at Wonder Woman's history from Golden Age to Silver, Bronze and Modern. This is a good companion to Secret History of Wonder Woman, as it does go in depth into Wonder Woman's story with less on her creator. But I also found myself thinking that this author oversimplified things after reading so much in depth about WMM, ha. This was originally a dissertation, and it felt like it. It was interesting to read about what different authors did, and how Wonder Woman ran opposite to pretty much e ...more
Sep 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
I don't actually read any DC comics. I just don't particularly care about them. Still, I respect Wonder Woman as a feminist icon. So I found this book's exploration of exactly what that means to be really interesting. It details the rather complex relationship she's had with feminism - often moving backwards as women pushed forward. It makes for an occasionally depressing read - she's an iconic character who's often treated as an afterthought by DC, and who has a history of problematic presentat ...more
Stewart Tame
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Excellent book! Hanley has an impressively deep knowledge of his subject, including many details of the life of William Marston, Wonder Woman's creator, that were new to me. The book gives an overview of the entire comic book series from the beginning, touching on both the highs and lows, with digressions on general comics history from the various time periods where cultural context is wanted. He also goes into supportive detail on the women's movement from the various eras. While there have bee ...more
Ayanna Dozier
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book offers, perhaps, the most comprehensive research on Wonder Woman (in comics) than any other book out there. However, Tim Hanley lacks the vocabulary to thoroughly engage with Wonder Woman on a critical level. This is most evident when Hanley tries to engage feminist theory and or feminist historiography with Wonder Woman; Hanley ends up failing on multiple levels. This book would work best as an extended blog article on bondage fetishism and Wonder Woman, as this is the one area of the ...more
May 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating and thoroughly researched look at the most iconic super-heroine in comics. Hanley clearly knows his comic book history and did a great job highlighting the contradictions and author agendas that have made Wonder Woman the character is today (as well as all the characters that she has been). There are times when the book is a bit more academic than many readers will appreciate (it has its roots in the author's college thesis), but if you appreciate academic writing and/or c ...more
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Originally written as an undergraduate essay, Wonder Woman Unbound, definitely still reads as a college paper. While there are some interesting parts about the history of comic books in North America and the evolution of superheroes, the book could have been improved with editing. There are sections which are repetitious, some of the footnotes are just side jokes that the author thought were cute, and the writing style didn't hold my attention. I found myself reading faster and faster just to fi ...more
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I would like to know how he feels about the recent Wonder Woman (the new 52 series by Azzarello). As well as her more Barbie like incarnation in the newest issue by the Finch's. Or her new look (my personal favorite) in the most recent Justice League issues. Does he think she might becoming more popular or will she continue to be relegated to side stories.

Does he plan on doing a more in depth look at Batgirl, Ms. Marvel or Thor? Especially considering their new reboots.
Feb 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
The beginning and the end were strong but the middle read mostly as a discussion of female characters and feminism in comic books rather than specifically being about Wonder Woman. I think I would have enjoyed a long piece just about Wonder Woman more. I did enjoy it! just wished it hadn't digressed so much in the middle.
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, 2014
Author Tim Hanley and I are united in our hatred of Wonder Woman silver age comic books.Those Robert Kanigher issues were lousy! Fact: "When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in December 1955, Wonder Woman was playing baseball with a gorilla and fighting a robot octopus in Wonder Woman No. 78.

Full review here:

Sep 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I burned through reading this on a flight. But even if I wasn't stuck in an enclosed area with no entertainment, I think I would have finished this fairly quickly. The writing was engaging, and it never felt repetitive despite covering over 70 years of history of one character. Adding the context of how other characters were written made the development of Wonder Woman easier to follow.
Kate Irwin-smiler
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A history of Wonder Woman's various incarnations, along with the historical context of feminism and comic books. Fascinating.

This is the book the I wanted Lepore's Secret History of Wonder Woman to be.
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Superheroes and C...: Wonder Woman Unbound by Tim Hanley 2 13 Oct 03, 2014 12:27PM  

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Tim Hanley is the author of Wonder Woman Unbound and Investigating Lois Lane. He is also a comic book historian. His blog, Straitened Circumstances, discusses Wonder Woman and women in comics, and his column "Gendercrunching" runs monthly on Bleeding Cool. He has contributed to several comic book sites, including DC Women Kicking Ass and Women Write About Comics.

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