Unearthing Wonder Woman

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As the Blackest Night spreads across the DC Universe, Broken Frontier unearths the histories of several of the players in the event.

SPOILER WARNING: Read no further if you’ve not had the chance to dig into your most recent Blackest Night titles…

Created by William Moulton Marston, a rather eccentric psychologist and essayist, the Amazon Wonder Woman first appeared as a back-up feature in All-Star Comics #8 (December 1941/January 1942).  Molded from clay by the Queen of the Amazons, Diana covertly joined in a competition to become an ambassador from Paradise Island (home of the Amazons) to “man’s world.”  Naturally, Diana won the competition and was granted the title “Wonder Woman.”  Quickly spinning off into several titles including Sensation Comics (January 1942), the self-titled Wonder Woman (summer 1942) and Comic Cavalcade (Winter 1942).  In continuous publication (in at least one title) until February 1986, the character as modern readers know her was revamped in Wonder Woman #1 (February 1987), following the realignment of DC continuity in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Writer Greg Potter, in conjunction with George Perez, Perez’s wife Carol, editors Janice Rule and Karen Berger, DC President Jenette Kahn and Gloria Steinem set a new direction for Wonder Woman, purifying the concept and jettisoning Roman mythology references in favor of Greek ones. One concept that was decidedly non-Greek, was the decision that the Amazons were reborn souls who had their lives cut short by man’s fear and ignorance.  Despite this, the tone of the book was decidedly humanist, as opposed to feminist, as Wonder Woman played the role of stranger in a strange land. The major contrast that the Post-Crisis era heroine introduced was that was a warrior preaching brotherhood and peace. Coming from an isolationist society on Themyscira (Paradise Island), Wonder Woman’s challenge was to serve as an ambassador to “man’s world”, while at the same time adapting and coping with a larger world culture.

Years later Diana, having established herself as a very public figure in the world at large, returned home to a shocking revelation – that her mother had ordered a new contest to determine if she was still fit to be Wonder Woman.  To the shock of many of the Amazons, Diana narrowly lost in the final heat of the contest, and was replaced by a woman named Artemis (Wonder Woman #90-93, September 1994-January 1995).  It was only months later (Wonder Woman #99, July 1995) that Diana (who had remained active in the superhero community) learned the true motivations behind the contest – her mother was attempting to circumvent a prophetic vision in which Wonder Woman was killed.  With this revelation, Diana rushed to Artemis' aid but was unable to prevent her successor’s death.  The two Amazons made peace before Artemis’ passing, allowing Diana to resume the role of Wonder Woman with a clear conscience (Wonder Woman #100, August 1995). 


Over the course of the next several months, Diana had several adventures, including a confrontation with her old foe, the Cheetah (who had made a literal deal with the devil, Neron).  Not long after this, Artemeis returned from the dead, seeking to kill an ally of Diana’s.  The two women clashed in the streets, before the entire battlefield was pulled into Hell by Neron.  Eventually fences were mended and Diana and Artemeis worked together to escape Hell along with all the innocents captured by Neron.  As the Amazons escaped back to Earth, Neron cast a final bolt that struck Diana, leaving Wonder Woman inches from death (Wonder Woman #124, August 1997).  Despite the valiant efforts of both human healers and the superheroes of Earth, Wonder Woman’s wounds proved lethal.  At last the vision proved true and Wonder Woman died (Wonder Woman #125, September 1997). 

The Gods of Olympus took pity on the plight of Diana however, and rather than let her spirit pass on, elevated her to Godhood (Wonder Woman #127, November 1997).  Resurrected as the Goddess of Truth, Diana watched from Mount Olympus as her mother took up the role of Wonder Woman.  Ultimately, Diana was unable to abide by the rules of Olympus, as she aided her mother in saving the life of Donna Troy, Diana’s sister.  As punishment for interfering in the lives of mortals, Diana was stripped of her Godhood and returned to Earth where she once more took up the role of Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman #136, August 1998). 


Since that time, Diana has remained active, both as Wonder Woman and in a newly established secret identity as Department of Metahuman Affairs agent, Diana Prince.  Although not directly involved with initial wave of attacks during the Blackest Night, Diana was part of a brigade of heroes rallied by Barry Allen and Wally West.  Fighting the resurrected corpse forces of Nekron alongside the likes of Superman, The Titans and Green Lantern, Diana was a witness to the Black Hand’s raising of Bruce Wayne.  As the Black Lantern Batman generated a new set of Black Lantern rings, Nekron announced that it was he that allowed many of Earth’s heroes, including Diana, to be resurrected.  With that, one of the new Black Lantern Rings affixed itself to Diana’s finger, as Nekron commanded the resurrected heroes to die (Blackest Night #5, January 2010).

With that, Wonder Woman, was inducted into the Black Lantern Corps, now compelled to aid Nekron in returning the universe to a “quiet, dark order.”


Black Lantern Wonder Woman’s story continues in Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1…

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  • Fletch Adams

    Fletch Adams Dec 4, 2009 at 8:44pm

    So, I finished reading Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1...1) needless to say that occurs chronologically somewhere in the 3rd last paragraph and B) the issue reminded me just how awesome Greg Rucka's run on Wonder Woman was...the next time there's an opening on her regular book, I'd love to see him take another run at it.

  • Eric Lindberg

    Eric Lindberg Dec 6, 2009 at 2:52am

    Rucka's run was indeed awesome. I haven't been following the Blackest Night tie-ins but I bought this one when I heard Rucka was writing it (Nicola Scott on art sure doesn't hurt either).

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