She appeared from the fiery, blackening mist of an explosion that was meant to destroy her. Yet against all odds she was able to overcome another attempt by the bad guys to take her life. Wonder Woman was a wonder, you see. Exceedingly tall and beautiful with brilliant blue eyes and long raven hair, she was a vision to behold. She was also tough, powerful, spirited, skilled and courageous.
Sound like a trailer for the current "Wonder Woman" movie? Actually, it's not. Instead, it springs from my memory as a 4-year-old looking at pictures of my superhero in the pages of DC Comics. Back when I knew her, which was fairly early on in her existence, she couldn't fly like she can now. But she did have some other super powers. On her head, for instance, was a tiara that was also a projectile, which when used to dispatch a bad guy, would return to her hand like a boomerang. At her hip was a golden lasso known as the Lasso of Truth. This weapon forced whomever was tied up with it to tell the truth. It could also restore memory. And then there were the silver bracelets on her wrists. These were forged from the shield of Zeus and could project lightning blasts and deflect bullets. Pretty nifty.
To my 4-year-old self, all this made Wonder Woman terrifically exciting. Maybe the reason she left such a deep impression on me, though, was because I was seriously ill at the time with polio. The illness occurred just before the invention of the Salk vaccine and, I figure, contributed to my vivid imagination. I remember spending hours in anticipation whenever a new Wonder Woman comic came out. My worried farmer father would time his trips into town so that he would be there to buy the newest issue as soon as it was delivered to the drugstore.
When it came down to it, the real allure was that Wonder Woman was everything I was not, that is, tall and strong and brave and indestructible. Put that image before a 4-year-old who is bed-ridden and afraid of being crippled for life and you have the birth of a life-long idol. Wonder Woman always won and I was determined to win too. Every night after my parents thought I was asleep, I would get up and walk a few steps, just to prove that I could.
It follows that when the movie came out, I of course had to see it. It turns out that the Wonder Woman up on the screen wasn't exactly as I remembered her, but she was close. And guess what? I can still identify with her. I don't possess the Lasso of Truth or the boomerang tiara, but I do imagine that I sometimes wear the silver bracelets. At least, I've been able to dodge lots of bullets in my life, polio being one of them, and I like to think I borrowed some of that backbone from my brave and determined idol.
So welcome back, Wonder Woman.
I missed you.