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Wonder Woman

Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948
Noah Berlatsky (Author)
232 pages, 31 illustrations, 6 x 9
Paper, January 2015 $26.95   ADD TO CART
Cloth, January 2015 $80.00   ADD TO CART
Web PDF, January 2015 $26.95   EBOOK VERSION AVAILABLE
Series: Comics Culture
Subject Area:
Film, Media Studies, and Communications, American Studies, General Interest


William Marston was an unusual man—a psychologist, a soft-porn pulp novelist, more than a bit of a carny, and the (self-declared) inventor of the lie detector. He was also the creator of Wonder Woman, the comic that he used to express two of his greatest passions: feminism and women in bondage. 

Comics expert Noah Berlatsky takes us on a wild ride through the Wonder Woman comics of the 1940s, vividly illustrating how Marston’s many quirks and contradictions, along with the odd disproportionate composition created by illustrator Harry Peter, produced a comic that was radically ahead of its time in terms of its bold presentation of female power and sexuality. Himself a committed polyamorist, Marston created a universe that was friendly to queer sexualities and lifestyles, from kink to lesbianism to cross-dressing. Written with a deep affection for the fantastically pulpy elements of the early Wonder Womancomics, from invisible jets to giant multi-lunged space kangaroos, the book also reveals how the comic addressed serious, even taboo issues like rape and incest. 

Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics 1941-1948 reveals how illustrator and writer came together to create a unique, visionary work of art, filled with bizarre ambition, revolutionary fervor, and love, far different from the action hero symbol of the feminist movement many of us recall from television.


"In this smart and engaging book, Noah Berlatsky reveals how psychology, polyamory, bondage, feminism, and queer identities inspired comic books' most enduring superheroine. A fascinating read for anyone interested in comics, pop culture, or gender politics!"
—Julia Serano, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity

Author / Editor Bio

NOAH BERLATSKY is the editor of the comics and culture blog The Hooded Utilitarian. He has written on gender, comics, and culture for many publications, including Slate, Public Books, The Chicago Reader, Reason, The Comics Journal, The Baffler, and The Atlantic.

Table Of Contents



1          The Pink Bondage Goo of Feminism

2          Castration in Paradise

3          Candy You Can Eat

Conclusion: A Future Without Wonder Woman

Works Cited




Surgery Junkies
Victoria Pitts-Taylor
Hollywood's African American Films
Ryan Jay Friedman
Feminisms Redux
Robyn Warhol-Down, Diane Price Herndl
Popular Trauma Culture
Anne Rothe