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Carol A. Strickland
Star-Spangled Panties

Up the patriarchy!

Come read about Diana, Princess and Champion of the legendary Amazons, presented in an ever-so-slightly opinionated manner that will explain everything important about the lady starring in Those Movies and comics. She’s been around since 1941, you know, and has seen a lot of changes through the years.

If you take your aspirin when warned, you’ll even learn about her beloved younger sister, Donna Troy, who suffers from the worst continuity in comic book history!

Strickland's cheery guide to the superhero Wonder Woman is also an exuberant manifesto about the Amazon’s meaning and depiction. Drawing on decades of DC comics, she carefully explicates the character's origin, friends, powers, love interests, equipment, and enemies in chummy, breezy language. Rather than simply informing the reader of the twists and turns of Wonder Woman's eighty years of existence, she highlights the eras that most faithfully stick to themes of empowerment, discarding everything else. Strickland espouses an ideal version of the character, and one consistent with the thinking of creator William Moulton Marston, as a symbol of feminist empowerment.

Strickland argues that Wonder Woman’s Amazonian training prioritizes peace and personal improvement rather than violence, and that the hidden Amazon society that created the hero should have no connection to the patriarchy. Her tone is unapologetically fannish, sometimes suggesting an insider posting to other diehards rather than a guide for general audiences. Indeed, the prose is at times message-board casual: The writing is digressive, with abundant personal asides, and Strickland gleefully employs internet abbreviations like “imho” and often uses her catchphrase of “nevah happened” when discussing stories and interpretations that she dislikes. That said, she makes many compelling arguments about how inconsistent storytelling has hurt the character and how it’s diminishing to Wonder Woman to depict her enemies as motivated by simple misogyny. (“Ugh. Nope, nope, nope. No misogyny in the Wondie mythos, please.”)

Strickland's passion is clear, and she works hard to persuade readers of the righteousness of her take on the character. In the end, this is a celebration of Wonder Woman's history, but it's also a condemnation of how recent comics as well as movies and television have let the character down. For Strickland, a Wonder Woman who doesn't work hard for her power and fails to present herself as a role model is joyless--and simply cannot be the world's greatest superhero.

Takeaway: Wonder Woman fans will enjoy this highly opinionated take on what makes the Amazon the world’s greatest superhero.

Great for fans of: Jill Lepore's The Secret History Of Wonder Woman, Tim Hanley's Wonder Woman Unbound.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: A
Editing: C-
Marketing copy: B