Wonder Woman isn’t the first female superhero ever created. That honor belongs to the Will Eisner Tarzan riff Sheena the Queen of the Jungle. But when Wonder Woman debuted in 1941’s All-Star Comics #1, she soon became the most important female superhero, a position she continues to hold today.
The brainchild of psychologist William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman combined superhero adventure, Greek mythology, and a utopian vision of loving submission to a wise matriarchy. Over the decades that followed, Wonder Woman has shifted form and mission, sometimes portrayed as a regular human with martial arts training and sometimes portrayed as a blood-thirsty warrior. That range has made for some compelling Wonder Woman comics, which still inspire readers today.
1. Wonder Woman #1-7 (1987)
Thanks to major storylines such as Crisis on Infinite Earths and Batman: Year One, the mid-80s saw revisions to almost every major character in the DC Universe. For Wonder Woman, that revision came from George Pérez, known for his amazing artwork on The New Teen Titans, The Avengers, and Crisis.
Working as penciler and co-writer with Greg Potter, Pérez took Wonder Woman back to her mythological roots, imagining the Amazons as women tasked by the gods with guiding humanity toward their best selves and positioning Wonder Woman as their champion. Thanks to clean inks from Bruce D. Patterson, subtle colors from Tatjana Wood, and clear letters from John Costanza, the 1987 Wonder Woman comics reboot puts the Amazing Amazon back at the top of the DC pantheon.
2. Wonder Woman #195 – 200 (2004)
After Pérez, the best writer to work on Wonder Woman comics is Greg Rucka, who made his name writing tough women in books such as Queen & Country and The Old Guard. Rucka put Diana at the center of international politics, emphasizing her skills as a negotiator and diplomat. Penciler Drew Johnson and inker Ray Snyder, working with colorist Patricia Mulvihill and letterer Todd Klein, balance Wonder Woman’s mythic stature with notes of humanity, giving the book grace and humor.
By the end of the arc that begins with Wonder Woman #195, Diana has made her name not just as a hero, but as a compassionate world leader.
3. Wonder Woman #14 – 17 (2008)
Like Rucka, writer Gail Simone came to Wonder Woman comics with a reputation for writing great female heroes, as in the delightful ensemble book Birds of Prey. Starting with Wonder Woman #14, Simone brought her signature blend of adventure and humor to the character.
Simone's first story “The Circle” has its absurd moments, involving soldiers from Gorilla Island and Diana in her secret identity as a spy. But it also has some inspiring scenes that remind readers why Wonder Woman is such a great hero. Penciler Terry Dodson and inker Rachel Dodson draw idealized figures, which fit the story’s slick tone, aided by Alex Sinclair’s colors and Travis Lanham’s letters.
4. Wonder Woman #10 – 14 (1987-1988)
Some might take issue with “The Challenge of the Gods” storyline raking so high on this list, as the second major arc in George Pérez and Len Wein’s reboot gets interrupted by the little-loved crossover Millenium. However, Wein and Pérez still have a lot of energy in their scripts, especially when brought to life by the latter’s pencils, inked by Bruce D. Patterson, colored by Carl Gafford, and lettered by John Costanza.
Under the influence of the trickster Pan, the King of the Gods Zeus makes a demand of Diana that she cannot accept, driving him to punish her with a series of challenges. The titanic challenges prove the perfect subject matter for Pérez, who renders Wonder Woman’s travails in massive, but always legible, action sequences.
5. Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia (2002)
In most cases, superhero-against-superhero battles diminish Wonder Woman, as too much focus on her strength or speed loses sight of her unique qualities. However, the one-shot Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia pits Wonder Woman against Batman with a clash that underscores everything that makes her special.
Writer Rucka and penciler J.G. Jones, joined by inker Wade Von Grawbadger, colorist Dave Stewart, and letterer Todd Klein, find an organic way to make the two Justice Leaguers fight. When a desperate young woman invokes the Themyscarian rite of the Hiketeia, calling for protection, Wonder Woman accepts. However, she learns that the woman needs protection from Batman, who has been hunting her for taking part in a murder, leading to an amazing clash of the heroes.
6. DC Comics Bombshells #1 (2015)
Alternate takes on superheroes are as old as comics themselves, but few have felt as fresh or fun as the DC Comics Bombshells line. Based on a line of figurines that reimagines DC’s heroes as 1940s pin-ups, the Bombshells line mixes wholesome superhero action with a heavy dose of cheesecake and beefcake.
In the first arc of the series, writer Marguerite Bennett, artist Marguerite Sauvage, and letterer Wes Abbott stay pretty close to Wonder Woman’s standard origin. Unlike the baseball star Batgirl or the Russian pilot Supergirl, the Bombshells version of Wonder Woman is still an Amazon who rescues Steve Trevor. However, in this story, Trevor’s arrival drives Diana to gather a team of heroines to combat both the Axis powers and the patriarchy that threatens everyone.
7. Wonder Woman: Year One (2016)
Like Superman and Batman before her, Wonder Woman’s origin never needs much tweaking. Created by Aphrodite and born to the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta, Princess Diana took the name Wonder Woman and left her island home of Themyscira to teach “the world of men” the ways of peace after meeting the downed fighter pilot Steve Trevor.
Writer Greg Rucka doesn’t change those basic points for Wonder Woman: Year One, drawn by Nicola Scott, colored by Romulo Fajardo, Jr., and lettered by Jodi Wynne. However, he does change some of the historical details to set Diana’s departure from Themyscira in the modern day instead of World War II and ties arch-enemy the Cheetah to her origin. Together, these changes give Wonder Woman a fresh origin, a worthy successor to Pérez’s reboot.
8. Wonder Woman #46 (1990)
For as much high-mythology and superhero action that Pérez put into his superhero books, he also had space for smaller, more human stories. The single-issue tale “Chalk Drawings” from Wonder Woman #46 provides a perfect example.
Co-written by Pérez and Mindy Newell, drawn by Jill Thompson and Romeo Tanghal, colored by Carl Gafford, and lettered by John Costanza, “Chalk Drawings” looks at Wonder Woman’s effect on the world. In the aftermath of the death of the best friend of her mentor’s daughter, Wonder Woman wonders about what kind of good she can do in the light of such tragedy. The issue asks hard questions and provides no easy answers, ultimately inviting readers to continue Wonder Woman’s continuing mission for peace.
9. Wonder Woman #1-3 (2023)
Writer Tom King's style doesn’t work for every reader. As shown in maxi-series such as Mister Miracle and Vision, his contemplative approach to superheroes, which often deal with issues such as insurgency and PTSD, focuses on the person behind the mask instead of the icon.
Working with artist Daniel Sampere, colorist Tomeu Morey, and letterer Clayton Cowles, King begins his run on Wonder Woman with an irresistible premise: Diana wanted for mass murder. As he unpacks the event at the center of the mystery, King also explores Wonder Woman’s role on the world stage, looking at how a world very similar to ours would respond to a powerful woman who condemns Western-style government.
10. Sensation Comics #1-3 (1942)
A trained psychologist and inventor of the lie detector test, Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston saw comic books as a means for disseminating his ideology, which held that loving submission to matriarchy would save the world.
Given that mission, one might expect to find a dose of preachy self-righteousness in Marston’s first comics with artist Harry G. Peter. However, the duo instead crafted a string of riveting adventures, among the best of the Golden Age. Much of the credit belongs to Peter, whose bold lines and strong character work lead to clear storytelling, never allowing word balloons and captions to crowd out his panels.
As a result, the first Wonder Woman stories in Sensation Comics work as great superhero tales first and philosophical tracts second.
11. DC: The New Frontier (2004)
Although he roots DC: The New Frontier in the Silver Age, writer and artist Darwyn Cooke takes some modern liberties with his look at superheroes between the end of World War II and the Kennedy Era. Nowhere does that become more clear than with Wonder Woman, whom Cooke imagines as a gregarious warrior, with sometimes violent ways that upset her Justice Society colleague Superman.
Colored by Dave Stewart and lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, The New Frontier presents the Silver Age heroes as figures of hope and optimism after World War II, but Cooke’s Wonder Woman shows wrongerdoers what will happen if forces of injustice persist.
12. Wonder Woman #66-73 (2019)
After co-creating Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel for Marvel Comics, writer G. Willow Wilson jumped to DC, where she took over Wonder Woman with penciler Cary Nord and inker Mick Gray. Wilson jumps in with a tale based on Greek mythology, bringing Wonder Woman against the Titans of Greek myth.
Instead of going alone against the Titans, Wonder Woman gets some help (wanted or otherwise) from others, including the size-changing former villain Giganta. By putting Diana with an odd group of heroes, Wilson sets Wonder Woman apart from other heroes and emphasizes her ability to work with others, even when she would rather work alone.
13. JLA: A League of One (2001)
Despite what its title says, writer and artist Christopher Moeller’s JLA: A League of One is more than a solo Wonder Woman adventure. Moeller and letterer Bill Oakley test Wonder Woman’s commitment to the community with a story that involves a prophecy from an Oracle, which predicts the death of the Justice League in battle with the dragon Karfang. Wonder Woman sees just one way to save her friends: by defeating them all in hand-to-hand combat, preventing them from fighting the dragon.
Much like the heralded JLA story Tower of Babel, in which Batman took down the League, A League of One shows everything that makes Wonder Woman special. However, unlike Batman’s story, it does so by affirming the importance of the team, not by diminishing it.
14. War of the Gods #1-4 (1991)
For some, the Pérez run ended on a down note with the company-wide crossover War of the Gods. Written by Pérez, with art from Pérez and Cynthia Martin, War of the Gods sought to restructure DC’s world of magic with a battle between the Greek and Roman pantheons. Wonder Woman represented the former and Captain Marvel the latter, but the fight involved every hero in the DC Universe, which resulted in Hermes and Mercury racing the Flash and the Phantom Stranger interrupting Animal Man’s family vacation to warn about Circe. So bad were the disruptions that Pérez left DC after the event, feeling mistreated by editorial.
Despite these shortcomings, War of the Gods remains an exciting adventure. Along with colorist Gene D’Angelo and letterer Albert DeGuzman, Pérez and Martin craft an epic tale that takes into account both Wonder Woman’s superhero and mythological sides, putting her at the center of the DC Universe.
15. Wonder Woman #219-220 (2005)
Even those who don’t read Wonder Woman comics may know about Wonder Woman #219, the fourth part of the cross-over storyline “Sacrifice.” Where the previous three parts saw the villain Maxwell Lord use his mind-control powers to capture Superman and set him against his allies, the fourth part climaxes with Wonder Woman ending the threat by snapping Lord’s neck.
But the story doesn’t end there. Written by Rucka, drawn by David Lopez, and lettered by Todd Klein, Wonder Woman #220 deals with the fallout of Diana’s decision. Rather than pat herself on the back for her toughness, Wonder Woman accepts the weight of her actions, reminding readers that she stands for peace, not for killing her enemies.
16. All-Star Comics #8 (1942)
Given her important place in comic history, Wonder Woman had an unimpressive beginning. Most of All-Star Comics #8, written by Gardner Fox and illustrated by Everett E. Hibbard, contains the story “Two New Members Win Their Spurs,” an eight-chapter tale about Dr. Mid-Nite and Starman joining the team.
“Introducing Wonder Woman,” by Marston and Peter, feels tacked on at the end. Despite the inauspicious welcome, “Introducing Wonder Woman” still tells a solid adventure story, thanks to Peter’s excellent cartooning. The tale does a nice job pointing readers away from All-Star Comics, in which Diana will be made the Justice Society’s secretary instead of a member, and toward Sensation Comics, where Marston and Peter do cracking work.
17. Wonder Woman #212 – 222 (1974 – 1976)
After ending an experiment in which Wonder Woman lost her powers and became a martial arts expert (more on that in a minute), DC needed to restore their best superheroine to her former glory.
They did so with the eleven-part story “The Twelve Labors,” by Len Wein, Martin Pasko, Curt Swan, and others. Each issue involved Wonder Woman taking on a challenge set up by one of her Justice League teammates, such as Red Tornado or Aquaman.
In addition to convincing Wonder Woman that she belongs in the League alongside such heavy hitters, “The Twelve Labors” also reassures skeptical readers of Wonder Woman’s important place on the team.
18. Wonder Woman #168 – 169 (2001)
After a long absence, George Pérez returned to the character he made great for Wonder Woman #168 – 169, the two-part story “Paradise Lost.” Co-writing with Phil Jimenez, who also provided art for the story, Pérez revisits themes from his monumental run with a story that involves the heroine Fury wreaking havoc on Themyscira.
Jimenez does his best to mirror Pérez’s character work and layouts, enhanced by colorist Pamela Rambo. The two-part story doesn’t reach the heights of the best parts of Pérez’s run, but it does provide a nostalgic look back at one of the high points in Wonder Woman history.
19. Wonder Woman #6 (1943)
Wonder Woman had already crossed paths with supervillains such as Dr. Psycho, but she didn’t get a proper nemesis until the Cheetah debuted in 1943’s Wonder Woman #6. The story “Wonder Woman and the Cheetah” by Marston and Peter introduces society girl Priscilla Rich, whose jealousy of Wonder Woman manifests in the form of a bitter alter-ego called the Cheetah.
As Diana explains in some very wordy panels, the Cheetah represents everything that Wonder Woman is not, showing the dangers that envy poses to the better society imagined by Marston.
20. Wonder Woman #206 – 210 (2004 – 2005)
As with all the best Wonder Woman stories, the five-part adventure “Stoned” puts Wonder Woman within the context of Greek mythology, pitting her against the witch Circe and the monstrous Medusa. But as he does so often throughout his run, writer Rucka — working with penciler Drew Johnson, inker Ray Snyder, colorists Richard Horie and Tanya Horie, and letterer Todd Klein — keep Wonder Woman within the present.
The story involves not only Wonder Woman’s ancient enemies but also the political pressures she faces as ambassador from Themyscira and from evil CEO Veronica Cale. Together, these threats prove that Wonder Woman’s battle for peace and freedom spans generations.
21. Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #3 (2014)
In the early 2010s, Sensation Comics returned for a new volume, with its greatest hero again at the center. Each issue of the series told a one-off story about Wonder Woman, with a rotating team of creatives.
In the story “Bullets and Bracelets,” writer Sean E. Williams, artist Marguerite Sauvage, and letterer Deron Bennett imagine Diana as the leader of a rock band. Although her music inspires the girls in the audience, it also angers a young man whose crude affections fail to win Diana’s attention.
The story takes a sharp turn toward a tragedy that feels all too real, but the creative team never lets readers forget how Wonder Woman symbolizes hope, in all of her forms.
22. Wonder Woman #1-4 (2006 – 2007)
After the events of the company-wide crossover Infinite Crisis, Wonder Woman returned with a new #1, written by Allan Heinberg, penciled by Terry Dodson, inked by Rachel Dodson, colored by Alex Sinclair, and lettered by Rob Leigh. On a more shocking note, Wonder Woman #1 features a whole new Wonder Woman, as former sidekick Donna Troi, once known as Wonder Girl, takes on the mantle. The story “Who is Wonder Woman?” concerns itself with untangling Donna Troi’s messy backstory. But along the way, it also reminds readers of everything great about Wonder Woman, no matter who has the tiara.
23. Wonder Woman #1- 6 (2011 – 2012)
When the DC Universe rebooted with the New 52 line in 2011, creators took the opportunity to make drastic changes to the company’s characters. Working with colorist Matthew Wilson and letterer Jared K. Fletcher, writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang made one of the more drastic changes to Wonder Woman’s backstory.
No longer a child made of clay, brought to life by Athena and given to the Amazon Queen Hypollita, Wonder Woman under Azzarello and Chiang became the secret daughter of Zeus. The change left a sour taste in the mouths of many readers, as it diminished the feminist aspects of Wonder Woman’s story.
That major problem aside, the run does feature some excellent cartooning from Chiang and an interesting update on the Greek pantheon, imagining them as rich brats in the clutches of ennui.
24. Wonder Woman #178 (1968)
Whatever the problems in Azzarello and Chiang’s Wonder Woman, the most infamous take on the character can be found in Wonder Woman #178, written by Dennis O’Neil, penciled by Mike Sekowsky, and inked by D. Giordano.
Worried that Wonder Woman’s ancient powers and skimpy outfit clashed with her role as a feminist icon, O’Neil reinvented Diana as a human without superpowers, who wore mod outfits while using martial arts to fight bad guys. O’Neil may have meant well, but he met waves of resistance from female readers, who pointed out that taking away Wonder Woman’s powers was not the allyship they needed.
Despite the wrong-headed approach, the issue does offer some value in the form of Sekowsky pencils, which feel like hip fashion illustrations, thanks to Giordano’s inks.