Wonder Woman Origins
Diana is the daughter of Queen Hippolyta, the first child born on Paradise Island in the three thousand year history that the immortal Amazons lived there. The Amazons had been created around 1200 B.C. when the Greek goddesses drew forth the souls of all women who had been murdered by men. One soul was left behind, the one that would be born as: Diana That soul originally belonged to the unborn daughter of the first woman murdered by a man (whom Hippolyta was the reincarnation of). In the late 20th Century,
here Hippolyta was instructed to mold some clay from the shores of Paradise Island into the form of a baby girl. Six members of the Greek Pantheon then bonded the soul to the clay, giving it life. Each of the six also granted Diana a gift: Demeter, great strength; Athena, wisdom and courage; Artemis, a hunter’s heart and a communion with animals; Aphrodite, beauty and a loving heart; Hestia, sisterhood with fire; Hermes, speed and the power of flight. Diana grew up surrounded by a legion of sisters and mothers. When she was a young woman, the gods decreed that the Amazons must send an emissary into Man’s World. Queen Hippolyta ordered a contest to be held, but forbade Diana from participating. Diana disobeyed and did so anyway in disguise, easily winning the contest and being named the Amazon’s champion. She was given a uniform fashioned from the standard of someone who had visited the island a few decades earlier.D
As one of the longest continually published comic book characters, Wonder Woman’s history has undergone some changes over the years, though a few elements remain consistent in all of her depictions. She is the princess of the Amazons, a race of women who live free of men on Paradise Island (later dubbed Themyscira). After growing up on this island, Wonder Woman (whom the Amazons named Diana) journeys to man’s world on a mission of diplomacy and peace.
Until DC’s New 52 relaunch, there were a few other aspects of the origin story that remained consistent. Her mother, Hippolyta, created her out of clay, and the Greek gods bestowed her with life, making her the only Amazon who was not conceived by a man. She grows up among the Amazons who teach her the skills of a warrior as well as the lessons of peace and love. When Steve Trevor, an American pilot, crash lands on Paradise Island, the Amazons have a contest to determine who should receive the honor of taking him back to man’s world and acting as an ambassador of all that the Amazons represent.
In the golden age this led to an infatuation with Steve Trevor that persisted throughout the golden and silver age versions of the character.
After Crisis on Infinite Earths, the character’s origin was slightly retold by George Perez. In this version the Amazons were in fact reborn from the souls of abused and murdered women from ancient days. In 1200 B.C. a debate occurred in Mount Olympus on how mankind should be made to believe in the Gods. Ares, the God of war wanted to descent upon the world with his army and force mankind into following the Gods.
This was opposed by the others Gods present including Artemis, who wished in peace and wanted to make a new race that would lead men on the right path. Zeus turns his back on them and they decide to proceed without his blessing. With the aid of Charon the ferryman, the gods reach the Womb of Gaea, were the souls of women who were abused and murdered at the hands of men were preserved by Gaea herself. Artemis sends the souls to Greece were they form into adult women. Aphrodite observes that one soul still remains in the Womb to which Athena replies the time has not yet come for that one.The new race in Greece are approached by the Gods who bestow them with the skill of hunting and the purpose of leading humanity in the right path. They appoint Hippolyte and Antiope as the rulers while Menalippe is the Oracle. The civilization is named the Amazons. Stories of this civilization, named as Themyscira by the poets spread throughout Greece and reaches the ears of Heracles who is driven into attacking the city behind the scenes by Ares, who seeks to sabotage the gods’ plan. Heracles approaches the Amazons but is defeated by Hippolyte upon which he fakes friendship and declares the Amazons as allies. When their guard is down he poisons Hippolyte and his army attacks the women in full force taking Hippolyte, Antiope and the other survivors captive. In his cells, Hippolyte is freed by Athena who reminds her of her purpose and asks her to avoid revenge and pursue peaceful means. Hippolyte escapes and frees the rest of the Amazons. She relies Athena’s message to the women but blinded by their thirst for revenge, the Amazons slaughter the men ruthlessly. The Gods appear and tell them they have failed in their purpose and banish them to an Island known as Paradise to guard the terrible evil within as punishment.
They are also granted immortality as long as they do not stray from their new purpose, which would eventually purify their souls. The Amazons build a nation and live there for a millennia. It is during this time that Hippolyte, leader of the Amazons feel an unexplainable yearning. She conveys this to the Oracle who tells her she was the only one pregnant during her death and thus the yearning she feels is the call of her unborn child. As per her advise, Hippolyte goes to the shore at sunrise and makes a clay form of a baby. She then cries out to Artemis. Seeing this the Gods decide it was time for the remaining soul in the womb of Gaea to depart. The soul is sent to the clay form, which then becomes a real child , blessed with Gaea’s gift, life. Demeter grants the baby great strength, Aphrodite grants her great beauty and a loving heart, Athena grants her great wisdom, Artemis grants her the eye of the hunter and unity with beasts, Hestia grants her sisterhood with fire and Hermes gives her great speed and the power of flight. Hippolyte names her after a holy warrior Diana and she grows up knowing the love of a thousand mothers. Thus Diana of Themyscira was born.
The most recent version of the character’s origin (since the new 52) has not yet been told in totality, but certain things are known. It has been revealed how the Amazons replenish their numbers (they do so by kidnapping sailors and using them for procreation before killing them) as well as the fact of Wonder Woman’s divine lineage. Despite the fact that Zeus is her father it does not necessarily remove other facts about her origin from canon (for instance the blessings of the gods) though it remains to be seen how or if this will be incorporated into the ongoing stories. In the Zero month of the new 52 in which DC was planning to tell the origins of the character from the new 52, the story for Diana focused on the fact that she had been trained by Ares when she was a teenager though she eventually rebelled against him. It is as of yet unclear how this factors into her new origin. When Diana first came to man’s world she encountered a group attacking the Pentagon. Because of this she befriended Barbara Minerva who was working there on ancient antiquities and Barbara helped her acclimatize to man’s world.
Wonder Woman did not keep her identity a secret, and she was not at first a “super-heroine”. Indeed, her character was in many ways that of a babe in the woods, innocent and without guile. Diana spoke only Themyscirian, a combination of classical Greek and Turkish. She had to learn English when she arrived in America, rather than knowing the language intuitively. Nonetheless, Diana was trained as a warrior and had no compunction against using deadly force when called for. Diana often dealt with war, injustice, inequality, death, and conflicts involving the Olympian Gods.
Before embarking on her mission, Diana was given the Lasso of Truth, forged by Hephaestus himself. She was also given the Sandals of Hermies, which allowed her to instantly traverse great distances in seconds. Diana’s mission was one of peace, but part of it initially involved defeating a mad plot by Ares to destroy the world. Diana ventured into the world by starting at Boston. There she met a Harvard professor, Dr. Julia Kapatelis, and her daughter, Vanessa Kapatelis, as well as the Air Force Officers Steve Trevor and Etta Candy. Diana stayed with Julia and Vanessa and over the course of a month or two, Diana learned to speak English. She was attacked at their home by Decay, one of Ares’ minions, and after a battle that spilled out into the streets of Boston she first came to the public’s eye and was given the name Wonder Woman. Upon discovering Ares’ plan (one that involved creating a nuclear holocaust), Diana managed to foil it, battling through his sons Phebos and Diemos before finally convincing him the error of his ways with the Lasso. After defeating the God of War, Diana returned home for healing at the hands of Poseidon himself.
Fans of modern day comic book characters would have some difficulty relating to characters from the early golden age, and Wonder Woman is no exception. In her first appearance in the comics, she has obviously fulfilled the role of an icon for readers, but so too did her secret identity, Diana Prince. The character was created in a time when different cultural and societal norms existed in North America.
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Thus although by the modern depiction her accomplishments at the time seem ordinary, in that era they were more so. Diana Prince was originally an army nurse, but quickly attained the rank of lieutenant in Army Intelligence. This was partially a creative convenience so that she could be close to both Steve Trevor and received information which she needed to pursue her superheroics. In the real world though, this role in Army intelligence, even as the secretary to General Darnell, was still a rare position for a woman to hold in society. At this time as well, the character had her only real sidekicks in her history in the form of Etta Candy and the Holliday Girls. These characters gave the Wonder Woman a degree more of levity while also allowing the writers to focus on some issues which were more related to women. When Marston left the character, the strong driving force of the character to act as a strong moral guide and role model for female readers left as well and the character became more sensitive to the forces driving the industry as whole. Thus Wonder Woman changed somewhat to a more stereotypical woman. Her main interest was not always fighting crime, but for a time it became all in the interest of keeping Steve Trevor happy and interested in her for marriage. Also the backup stories featuring the Wonder Women of History were slowly phased out and replaced with features on marriage customs from around the world and trivial facts on random household objects.
By the time that Robert Kanigher took over the character, a change away from traditional comics as a whole was accomplished. He eventually veered completely away from superheroism and essentially only told stories involving the Wonder Family, which consisted of Wonder Woman, her teenage version Wonder Girl, her baby version Wonder Tot and her mother. This eventually proved not very popular and Kanigher was forced to rethink the character and cast her in a more traditional superhero context (he actually explained this decision in comics to the reader with his various creations vying to remain in continuity against his wishes). It was at this time for instance that Wonder Woman saw the return of some characters that had been missing for some time such as the Cheetah or Doctor Psycho. It was also at this time that she became a founding member of the original Justice League of America.
This superhero era led by Kanigher didn’t last long though. The character was mired in the story lines from the golden age and especially her attachment to Steve Trevor. At the same time across the DC lineup characters were being revitalized with a new focus on science fiction. The silver age at DC is often attributed to having been started by the appearance of the re-imagined Flash in Showcase #4 in 1956. This led to a number of DC characters being reinvented such as Green Lantern and Hawkman. The difference with Wonder Woman though is that the character had managed to stay continually published since the golden age and did not get a science fiction retelling in the 1950s and 1960s. This left the character somewhat stilled mired in the past and eventually it was decided that something would be done to break her free of it. When the decision was made though it was decided that she would not have a science fiction background as it would break too much from her background as an Amazon, but that she would be slightly re-imagined as a martial arts based character, more along the lines of Batman. This would allow her to keep her somewhat unique background story, while also being more contemporary and popular. A much stronger emphasis was also placed on her appearance, as her somewhat drab civilian clothes and costume from the golden era were replaced with contemporary fashions of the time. In addition she opened a fashion boutique in trendy Greenwhich Village. This has led some to describe this era of the character as the “Mod Girl Wonder Woman.” While this version of the character did not prove to be consistently popular over the course of her brief run, it did leave some lasting impact on the character once she returned to her usual appearance. Following this she sought out more ambitious careers, for instance as a translator for the United Nations, or as a NASA astronaut and eventually moved back to Army Intelligence where she eventually got promoted to major. Also this period provided the opportunity to sever her from a dependence on Steve Trevor for her stories and her stories for the first time in her publication history became much more in line with what is considered typical of the super hero medium. The introduction of the multiverse made it such that there became two Wonder Womans, the modern version on Earth 1, and the golden age version on Earth 2. For a short time her appearances in her own comic were those of Earth 2 until the contemporary Angle Man accidentally visited her and subsequently the series was returned to modern day. The stories continued much like this for the remainder of the silver age until the end of the first Wonder Woman series with the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths. To provide closure to the character which was destined for a reboot, Steve Trevor returned and following the defense of Paradise Island from Shadow Demons, the two were finally married, though in continuity this lasted less than an issue.
The modern age of the character can be tied to the reboot of the character following Crisis on Infinite Earths. In this the character became defined by the vision of George Perez in a way which the entire concept of the character was defined by his direction. As opposed to the past where the character would get retold origins which would try to make her more contemporary, now she got one which tied her much more strongly to the stories of the ancient gods. For the first time Diana enters man’s world not knowing how to speak English already, and is forced to master the language on her own. In this period she also became much more closely related with modern female issues, and this was usually through her circle of friends – Julia and Vanessa Kapatelis and Mindi Mayer. Such issues as the cultural need for women to be attractive and thin, suicide and the sensationalization of the media as it pertains to women were all addressed. This version of the character also reimagined Steve Trevor as a father figure for Diana as opposed to a romantic counterpart. After Perez’s run on the character, she was taken over for a time by William Messner Loebs, who recast her again in somewhat more traditional superhero stories, though in this case she still explored a different aspect of humanity. After a long space voyage, when she returned home she was forced to work at a fast food restaurant to pay her bills and made friends with a number of people in her “civilian identity.” This built up to the revelation of betrayal of her mother, and of Artemis taking over as Wonder Woman for a short time, but this was soon reversed. The following writer was John Byrne, who when he was writing Superman in the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC universe, had hinted at a relationship between Diana and Superman. This was explored occasionally under his run, but it is probably best known for the death of Diana, and the assumption of her duties by Hippolyta. She was soon returned to life (as she had never really died, instead having been deified). This period also introduced Cassandra Sandsmark, who would go on to become Wonder Girl at a later point. The remainder of this second series is best remembered for by the writing of Jimenez and Rucka, both of whom helped define the character. The latter during the lead-in of events to Infinite Crisis had Diana fighting Superman who was being controlled by Maxwell Lord. Battered after their battle, Diana has managed to stop Superman by using her lasso of truth on Lord, and the only option which she is given to stopping him is to kill him, and realizing this is the case, she does so. This created a controversy both within comics and in the real world, as both fans and characters alike debated the morality of this decision. In comics this also led to strained relations between her and Superman and her and Batman and with the addition of the events of Identity Crisis, helped to lead to the breakup of the Justice League of America at a crucial point right before the main events of Infinite Crisis were about to begin.
Following the events of Infinite Crisis, she disappeared for a year in order to rediscover herself, and took part briefly in the events of 52. In the span of One Year Later, she was re-imagined once again and was forgiven by Batman and Superman while given her third ongoing monthly title. Batman helped her establish a role at the Department of Metahuman Affairs under the name of Diana Prince (paying homage to her golden age alter ego.) She worked alongside Tom Tresser and eventually became romantically involved with him. A move among fans across the different companies occurred with characters reverting to their original numbering of series (this for instance happened to Iron Man at Marvel as well) and the third Wonder Woman series was relaunched with Wonder Woman #600. This was actually accurate at the time as it was the indeed the 600 issue released (not including issues numbered otherwise such as with a zero or a million). Issue 600 was used as a chance to reinvent the character as she discovers herself with no memories and in a new costume. This was a short lived experiment as the entire DC lineup was soon to be re-imagined into the new 52, though certain aspects of her redesigned costume remained.
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The character’s depiction in the New 52 has been mostly along the same lines as the remainder of her modern appearances, though as of yet much remains to be explained about her character. One development with the character in this new universe is that some of the developments which occurred during Flashpoint are occasionally referenced (such as her using London as her base of operations). In her New 52, written by Brian Azzarello, Wonder Woman’s origin is that she is the daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus; no longer is she a golem of clay and earth, but an actual demigoddess.
She has also become romantically involved with Superman, which has stirred some controversy in the fan community. One criticism is that her comic mythology is/will be supplanted by Superman’s, and she will be relegated to the role of supporting character in his mythos. However, Wonder Woman’s popularity and the sales of her solo book run contrary to this theory. Currently she is under the creative team of Meredith and David Finch. Their story arc has mainly focused on Diana’s humanity and how she deals with multiple relationships and responsibilities. She is shown as a character with great hardships in juggling her many “hats” as queen of the Amazons, Justice League Member, and God of War. There has been some dissension on Paradise Island and there is a plan to over throw Diana as queen. Donna Troy has been introduced into the New 52 universe as a being made from Hippolyta’s clay remains and from an unknown Amazon. She is magically made to be Diana’s counter. In upcoming solicitations it is said Donna was specifically made to have her strengths be Diana’s weaknesses, whatever that might mean is still unknown. Her relationship with Superman has been focused more on the Superman/Wonder Woman title and most recently it has shown the trust they have for one another and the compassion and leadership skills Diana wields. She is shown to pick saving helpless humans over helping Superman who is under a magic spell. It is later revealed however, that before she went to save the humans, she placed her lasso of truth on Superman, which broke the spell he was under.
Due to the reboot of the character following Crisis on Infinite Earths, numerous things no longer made sense in terms of continuity as it related to the remainder of the DC Universe. As her first overall appearance was now in continuity around the Legends miniseries, it no longer made sense that she was a founding member of the Justice League of America. This founding position was instead given retroactively to Black Canary. Later it was decided that she should be given this position back and thus both she and Black Canary were considered founding members of the Justice League. In reference to the Justice League though, although she has more than 400 combined appearances therein, she has had most of her character development in her own series.
Relationship with Superman
Although she has traditionally paired with either Steve Trevor or no one as a main romantic lead, and Superman with either Lois Lane or Lana Lang, there has often been the hint of a romance between the two characters. This began in the 1960 in the series Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane which was equal parts romance and action themed. In order to drive along the romance, the theme often came up of Lois Lane believing that Superman really loved Wonder Woman (though this was mostly for the purposes of a case.) In later years the same ideas perpetuated though most in imaginary stories or alternate tellings of the future. Following Crisis on Infinite Earths the characters were briefly linked romantically in Action Comics #600 which was written by John Byrne. Subsequently the characters’ interest in one another was generally portrayed as a strong friendship (this occurred under different writers, primarily Messner-Loebs and Rucka.) Following the reboot of the DC universe into the new 52 the characters once again showed a romantic interest in one another. They found common ground in the isolation which their power give them and shared a kiss in Justice League #12 in 2012. It was later on revealed by Geoff Johns that their relationship wouldn’t last for long and will end badly.