When you look at modern Wonder Woman covers by Joshua Middleton or Jenny Frison you typically see a proud warrior. Today’s artists portray her as an Amazonian demigod with astounding speed and strength yet grounded in an ethical approach to the world. Here are some great examples of the warrior princess.
Today’s view of Wonder Woman isn’t that different from how she started in the 1940s. She burst onto the scene, stopping trains and bending steel like Superman, she was an epic hero. Along the way, the writers and artists lost their way. Issue 155 from July 1965 has her marrying a monster which seems more like Lois Lane from the era than Wonder Woman.
During her pantsuit era, she was repeatedly put in bondage. To give you some perspective, Wonder Woman was bound on the cover 9 times before June 1970. Wonder Woman’s own title started in 1942 so that’s 9 times in 28 years or about 1 bondage cover every 3 years. Starting with June 1970 the bondage covers flowed like hooch in a prison block.
Wonder Woman 188 (June 1970) – Mike Sekowski drew her chained to a wall
Wonder Woman 196 (October 1971) – Dick Giordano drew her chained up, her clothes ripped, and a target drawn on her exposed back.
Wonder Woman 199 (April 1972) – Jeffrey Jones drew Diana chained to the wall in a dungeon where a cult leader threatened to kill her in three days.
Wonder Woman 200 (June 1972) – Jeff Jones drew Diana chained to an operating table for some unplanned cosmetic surgery.
Sidenote: Jeffery Jones only did three covers for DC and two of them were bondage covers. While it seems weird to have two bondage covers in a row, they accompany the storyline. Jeffery typically stayed in the paperback covers, Eerie, Creepy, and Vampirella magazines but occasionally went to the superhero genre. Check out Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #3 for the last Jeffery Jones DC cover.
Wonder Woman 203 (December 1972) -This Dick Giordano cover shows Diana rescuing another woman who is bound and gagged on the cover.
Wonder Woman 205 (April 1973) – Nick Cardy drew Wonder Woman chained to a bomb that is aimed at New York City. In this era, Nick Cardy is one of my favorites with amazing psychedelic covers in Aquaman and Teen Titans but this cover bombs. (see what I did there?) It’s one of the most sexualized Wonder Woman covers of all time.
Wonder Woman 206 (July 1973) – Nick Cardy drew Wonder Woman chained to Nubia. This is much more typical for Nick Cardy with an epic match between these two powerful women.
Wonder Woman 207 (September 1973) – Ric Estrada drew Wonder Woman and her mother tied together by other women.
Wonder Woman 209 (December 1973) – Ric Estrada drew Wonder Woman’s mother hog-tied with a young Diana trying to protect her.
From June 70 until the end of 73 there were nine bondage covers as many as in the previous 28 years! 9 out of a possible 21 covers (42%) featured Wonder Woman or another woman in chains or ropes! I wondered why there was such a dramatic increase so I looked at the movies from the early 70s. After looking through movies like Willy Wonka, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, the Poseidon Adventure, and American Graffiti I noticed a darker trend.
1971 – The Big Doll House which shows women in prison taking abuse.
– Women in Cages, the name basically says it all
1972 – Deliverance with its special scenes that begin with a capture
-The Big Bird Cage by the same director as Big Doll House
1973 – The Exorcist with Linda Blair tied to a bed for obvious reasons.
– Papillon which is about men in prison
With such a strong movie influence for bondage, we are probably fortunate that it wasn’t more prolific or graphic. Soon after this time, Lynda Carter would make her debut as Wonder Woman. Her character and beauty were a perfect fit for Wonder Woman and raised the comic as well.
by Ron Cloer