First Issue, Second Series


Issue #1First issue of the reboot: WW #1, Feb 1987. Greg Potter and George Perez are listed separately as script and pencils and together as co-plotters, though by far the primary credit and memory of the first years of this series go to Perez alone; it is regarded as the "Perez WW." Bruce Patterson inks, John Costanza, letters, Tatjana Wood, colors, Karen Berger, editor. The series is credited as being created by Charles Moulton. Wraparound cover by Perez. 32 pp. "The Princess and the Power!"

As this was the first issue of the complete reboot, which left Absolutely Everything Printed Before about WW moot, this entry will be a long one. Please bear with me.

An introduction by Perez explains that though he'd initially been approached to do the rebooted WW series, he'd had to decline due to his schedule. He'd kept watch on WW and found out that though she had an editor, Janice Race, and a writer, Greg Potter, had been assigned, the post-Crisis series had no artist. Inspired by -- let me see if I can type his name -- J... Joh... -- I can do it -- John Byrne and his Superman reboot, Perez volunteered for six months. The editor changed, his commitment changed to unlimited, and he found himself full of ideas.

Perez listed WW's Greek mythology roots and her feminism as the most important elements of the character. He cites Gloria Steinem and DC publisher Jenette Kahn "for a feminist perspective that helped direct this series." (I once spoke with an ex-DC staffer who said that Jenette Kahn didn't have a feminist bone in her body, which would explain this new WW concept.)

Certainly this new WW overflowed with enthusiasm and positive vibes. I applauded her heartily for her loving attitude and though I didn't like the idea that she was in her early twenties instead of being a few centuries old (why not exploit the idea of immortal Amazons?), her youth gave her an intriguing wide-eyed innocence that carried her through the first few years of her new incarnation.

But she got her powers ONLY from the Greek gods now. The series starts off with goddesses as the most important deities for the Amazons, but a decade later this mythological gods concept posted the male Zeus as primary god to the nation. WW's powers increased to be on Superman scale now, and eventually she was named by DC as the second most powerful person in the DCU, though never really dealt with in that fashion in stories. (And low-powered villains often got the better of her.) She never had to sweat or train for her powers (although she did seem to go through training that merely gave her skills and seemed a far cry from pre-Crisis Amazon Training that actually RESULTED in powers); she was just gifted with the powers, shazam. The Amazons were stripped of their advanced technology in this new series, keeping them in a pre-technological era that they couldn't advance though 3000 years were to pass. (Wasn't it convenient that all the enemies the Amazons faced as a nation ALSO were on a sword level of technology? Darkseid's army decimated the nation and so did that of the Queen of Fables. The first used, of course, advanced technology and the second, magic.) And the Amazons were each and every one of them a reincarnated victim of male violence.

So this new WW owed her allegiance to (eventually) a male, showed that she could just luck into her position instead of earning it, came from a society that for one reason or another was shown not to be on a technological level with that of the Outer World (implying negative ideas about the intelligence of women), and was firmly set on a groundwork of male-bashing.

Sigh.

It's to its credit that the series has many times soared above such restrictions, but wouldn't it have been better to add a positive feminist message to the book from the beginning? I hope with all my heart that when DC decides to go through another Crisis it reformats its Wonder Woman along humanist lines.

Plot: An origin story to end all origin stories, dense and longer than normal. We see the origin of the preincarnations who would become Hippolyta and Diana, the origin of the Amazons, the story of how the Amazons came to separate themselves from humanity, the origin of Diana, and the story of how she became Wonder Woman. Whew! Let's break it down:

Origin of preincarnations of Hippolyte (it's spelled with an "e") and Diana: In 30,000 BC a pregnant cavewoman greets her man. He's been mauled by a sabretooth who has eaten his hand, and thus he's been cast out of the tribe since he can't do a man's work any more. In a rage thinking he's lost his masculinity, he kills her. Her soul -- and that of the unborn baby -- follow Gaea's call to some mysterious place. The process is audio and visual; the caveman can sense it.

Origin of Amazons: 1200 BC: "Men WORSHIP the gods -- and THROUGH THEIR WORSHIP, we grow strong," Apollo says at a council of the gods on Mt. Olympus. "WITHOUT their good will, we shall become AS NOTHING in man's world!"

Artemis has proposed that the gods create a new race of mortals to "set an EXAMPLE -- to show man and woman's true place with each other..." She sees such a superior race being all-female (?? Why? Doesn't this negate the whole idea?). Ares counters that the mortals merely need to be crushed into eternal submission by war. Zeus doesn't believe that mankind will ever forget the gods, so he tells everyone to settle the dispute themselves; he doesn't care one way or the other. Hera uncharacteristically sides with her husband.

This leaves Artemis, Athena, Hermes and Apollo to proceed to create this new race, yet the males are left behind for an unstated reason as goddesses meet in Hades. They are joined by Aphrodite, Demeter and Hestia and travel across the River Styx to the Cavern of Souls, also known as the Womb of Gaea, where the "souls of women -- their lives cut short by man's fear and ignorance" spin like lights. "Gaea took them under her care before she LEFT this plane," Athena explains. Though all the five goddess are participating in some way, Athena is singled out as actually triggering the opening of the Cavern of Souls to drop its contents onto Greece.

One soul remains. Athena says, "That one has a SPECIAL desitny. But her time is NOT YET COME!" It is the soul of Diana.

The souls fall into a lake and take on human form. The brunette Hippolyte is the first to rise, followed by the blonde "sister" (that term will be redefined as the series goes on) Antiope, and then a second wave of thousands more. There is a third wave of rebirthed women as well, but this may merely be due to narrative expediency. At this stage we see no non-whites in the crowd, but it may be that the "camera" merely misses them. Certainly the Amazon nation is by far primarily white. (We see the first Amazon of color in the crossing of the ocean to Paradise.)

The five goddesses appear before the nation and give them their mission and gifts: Artemis says, "You are a CHOSEN RACE -- born to lead humanity in the ways of VIRTUE -- THE WAY OF GAEA! Through you, all men shall know us better -- AND WORSHIP US ALWAYS! Therefore does ATHENA grant you WISDOM, that you may be guided by the light of TRUTH and JUSTICE! I, ARTEMIS, grant you skill in the HUNT! DEMETER shall make your FIELDS fruitful! HESTIA shall build you a city and warm your hearths and it is fair APRHODITE who grants you THE GREAT gift of love!"

She adds, "You, HIPPOLYTE, shall be QUEEN over ALL my daughters! ANTIOPE, you shall rule by your sister's side! See to it that these gifts we give are NEVER ABUSED! And wear you BOTH these symbols of our trust -- GAEA'S GIRDLE! Never let it be removed!" (This last was said as two golden belts appeared in front of the two "sisters.")

As the years go by, the Amazons build an all-female city called Themyscira (we are not told why they segregate themselves from the people they were told to teach), filled with compassion and justice but apparently no men. (Yet later Athena tells Hippolyte that the Amazons grew bitter and corrupt. ??) The kings of Greece grow jealous and bribe poets to change their stories to include false "Amazon atrocities -- of murders, wars and theivery!" They are "REGARDED BY ALL MANKIND as different... strange... and EVEN inhuman!"

The downfall of the Amazons: Between his Twelve Labors, Heracles dallies with an unnamed prostitute who, unknown to him, is in thrall to Ares. She tells Herc that the Amazon queen Hippolyte calls him "Eurystheus' trained DOG!" and that he should be leashed. "No longer do I desire to PLEASE women..." Herc declares, "only to CONQUER them!" When he leaves, the hooker burns up as Ares' spirit consumes her.

Hippolyte faces Herc and his buddy Theseus as they approach Themyscira and asks Herc to join the Amazons in peace. He battles her and through her superior skill (she has lesser strength than Herc), she bests him, giving him the option to surrender or die. He laughs and declares that the Amazons are worthy allies, and the two peoples celebrate that night while Menalippe skulks about, confused that she should have had a bad omen about this day. Hippy talks of peace to Herc, that this is what the Amazons are trying to teach (yet Athena contradicts this two pages later).

Heracles bids Hippolyte to drink a toast, but the wine is drugged enough to daze her so he can beat her into unconsciousness. That night many if not all the Amazons are raped or worse and put in bondage, their city torched. Herc himself rapes Hippy while she's still drugged. He wants to stay on to hear her beg and plead, but his labors call him to leave. He takes Hippy's girdle with him.

Hippolyte prays to the goddesses and Athena answers. The goddess claims that the Amazon nation has become "BITTER and CORRUPT," though the only one we've seen this in so far has been Aella, and certainly not Hippolyte. Though Hippy now wants to learn how to take vengeance on Herc, Athena has her cleanse her soul and rededicate herself to the way of Gaea.

Hippy then tricks her guard and gains her freedom, then goes about the city freeing the Amazons and reminding them to remember Gaea's way. Many, perhaps most of them, do not and wreak bloody vengeance upon Herc's army. Antiope displays "eyes of sparkling PLEASURE" as she kills, and when it's all over and the Amazons stand free and victorious, Antiope urges the nation to hunt Herc down and regain Hippy's girdle. When Hippy and Menalippe try to convince her otherwise, Antiope tells her to renounce Athena and avenge the Amazon dead. She declares that they need the god of war to survive -- and then renounces Olympus (?? isn't Ares an Olympian?), gives her girdle to Hippy and tells her that she'll always love her, and takes off with her followers.

Origin of Paradise Island: After a long walk to the Aegean, Hippy and her followers meet with the five goddesses, who say that because they forgot Gaea's Way, they must serve penance. Poseidon (who does this because Ares murdered his son) opens the ocean. As Poseidon leaves, he speaks to Demeter: "The ORACLES tell me that your AMAZONS are MORE than they seem -- that upon ONE of their kind rests not only THE FUTURE OF THE GODS... but of all mankind!"

The nation walk for three months until they come to Paradise Island (yep; it's certainly called that) which sits above an unspeakable evil. If the Amazons become unshirking jailers of that evil, they "shall live as IMMORTALS and your souls shall again become PURE." (So what does that mean now that Doom's Doorway has been removed? Are the Amazons mortal again?) They are instructed to "let no MORTAL MAN trespass its grounds." They must always wear shackles to remind themselves of their sin. As they build their new city of Themyscira, "they never AGE or HUNGER..." but still some die due to battles containing the evil that exists below Paradise. And as centuries pass, they "hear only the voices of the old gods grow more DISTANT -- as if OLYMPUS ITSELF were being SWALLOWED IN THE CLOUDS! Until finally, of ALL who did once commune with the gods, only MENALIPPE remains able."

The creation of Diana: Hippolyte consults with Menalippe, who explains that all "original" Amazons (now, what the heck does "original" mean? The first two waves as opposed to the third? Something else?) are reincarnations, and that only Hippolyte had been pregnant at the time she had been previously killed. She feels the call of her unborn child. Menalippe instructs her as Artemis has ordered: on the shore of Paradise, Hippy shapes a statue of a baby from clay, then opens herself to "fair ARTEMIS -- that the MID-WIFE OF ALL OLYMPUS [?? Gaea?] may enter you."

Five goddesses and one god stand at the Womb of Gaea to send the remaining soul on its way: "I, DEMETER, grant her POWER and STRENGTH -- like that of the earth itself!" "I, APHRODITE, give her great BEAUTY, and a loving HEART!" "I, ATHENA, grant her WISDOM!" "I, ARTEMIS, shall give her the EYE OF THE HUNTER and UNITY WITH THE BEASTS!" "I, HESTIA, grant her sisterhood with fire -- that it may OPEN MEN'S HEARTS to her!" "I, HERMES, give her SPEED and the POWER OF FLIGHT!"

"All this will be HERS as she grows to WOMANHOOD!" Interesting little comment there, don't know which god said it. But later in the narrative, it indeed says that "the more she MATURES... the more she EXCELS," so the powers gradually came upon her, not in one fell swoop as some writers have maintained.

"And blessed, too, shall she be with great GAEA's gift... LIFE!" The statue comes to life and Hippolyte honors her with the name of a "GREAT AND HOLY WARRIOR," Diana.

Interesting, too, that the narrative tells us that little Diana is adored by all Amazons because "she is the ONLY child they have touched in over 30 CENTURIES." This will be contradicted in a few years.

Diana grows under the care of a thousand mothers and is taught by the queen's most learned scholars, who teach her history. The story shows us Diana leaping hurdles and throwing spears. As princess she wears a WW-like tiara, but in later stories as others took the WW mantle we found that the WW tiara is not a distinction of royalty, but of championship.

The creation of Wonder Woman: Menalippe warns that Ares is about to go mad with a power that will destroy the world itself. The gods command the Amazons to choose a champion by tournament and "trial of flashing thunder." "She ALONE can save us and she ALONE shall face Ares in the WORLD OF MAN!"

Diana asks her mother to be included, but she is turned down because she's still a "child" and the queen has no intention of ever losing her. But that night as Diana prays to the gods for purpose to her life, Athena answers her and instructs her to enter the contest.

Two hundred contestants enter, masked so there will be no hesitation to best a sister. Contests involve archery, stick-fighting, racing over hurdles, and pushing giant metal? balls. The contest lasts at least two days. "EACH [athlete] performs as only an athlete of THREE-THOUSAND YEARS' EXPERIENCE can! But ONE thrills more than the others. She is KEENEST OF EYE, most FLEET OF FOOT... and her MIGHT is BEYOND COMPARE!" Before the flashing thunder contest, the queen bestows the Amazon the championship silver bracelets and tells her to unmask.

It's Diana.

Menalippe silences Hippy's protests by telling her that this is the will of the gods, and that night Diana, Hippy, Philippus and Menalippe, along with two others, meet at the Temple of Hades to face the Flashing Thunder. FT is a gun, which Phil points at Diana, who crosses her wrists as if in Amazon salute, and does the first Bullets and Bracelets routine.

Note that Hippy tells Diana of her confidence in her, as well as the gods' confidence in her. (So despite later tales, Hippy did indeed approve of Diana's becoming champion, but the thing she didn't approve of was the danger that Diana was placing herself in.) Menalippe says that Diana was "born into this world [as the plan of the goddesses] to be the MOST HONORED among ALL Amazons!" They gift her with a "STANDARD from which we shall WEAVE that [warrior's] garb," the Wonder Woman bathing suit, based upon that of a heroine of the Amazons.

WW's powers: Are established to have grown in power as she grew up. She bests all the other Amazons despite their 3000 years of experience and skill. She is shown running hurdles, stick-fighting, using bow and arrow, pushing metal balls, and being taught by the most learned of Amazons. She also displays Bullets and Bracelets, being able to fend off shots aimed right at her merely by using her bracelets to deflect them, a stunt calling for great accuracy and speed. And NOWHERE in the text does it say that Diana will lose her immortality by becoming Wonder Woman.

Diana's attitude: We really only have two small panels showcasing Di's personality. "It is so... UNFAIR!" she muses after her mother has denied her entering the Amazon contest. "Was I born only to be CODDLED like some ETERNAL INFANT? Am I not an AMAZON? Am I not a WOMAN?... Though I love PARADISE, I yearn for MORE from my life... I yearn for PURPOSE!"

Amazons: Hippolyte is the first Amazon born. Antiope is referred to as her "sister" and is the second born of the first wave of births. Menalippe is born in the third wave: "she whose ONENESS WITH NATURE shall make her ORACLE of the gods' new race." Also at this time comes Aella "whose courage shall be as the hawk's -- yet whose HEART is so easily swayed." At Heracles' approach to Themyscira, she expresses a hatred for all men, and I assume that that's her standing beside Antiope when Antie declares that she's going rogue and that she goes off with the Antiope Amazons. Yet fourteen years later we see an Amazon named Aella in present day as one of the Themysciran Amazons. We meet Philippus after we see Diana grown to womanhood; Phil's a soldier. Phil's also one of the few black Amazons. We see an Amazon who appears to have Far-Eastern Asian features during the Amazon Contest sequence.

Did any of the Amazons find themselves pregnant after the night of rape? Unknown. Menalippe makes a reference to the "original" Amazons, which implies there are some Amazons running around who aren't the original ones. Perhaps there was a bunch of births that helped replace all the Amazons lost to Heracles' army, and they made up a fourth wave of Amazons. But we never hear of it, and this is merely speculation on my part.

Amazons' power levels: Are shown at this tournament to be almost equal to those of Diana, who by now is at full power.

The Amazon Contest: consists of archery, stick-fighting, racing over hurdles, and pushing giant metal? balls. The contest lasts at least two days. The trial of "flashing thunder" is not considered part of this contest, but is something extra.

Amazon Technology: later to be explained as some kind of anti-technology field placed over Paradise (even though a gun is able to be fired), note that in this story though 3000 years pass, the Amazons' culture and sciences stagnate. Diana is taught only history as an academic subject. The Amazons have everything they need furnished for them. Some fans have said that perhaps the Amazons developed along other lines entirely, perhaps with magic or some kind of techno-magic, but fifteen years after Crisis we have seen little if anything (there are SOME medical procedures that the Amazons use) to support that theory. Other than their fighting ability, it would seem that the Amazons might find sciences and such just too difficult or creative to do -- not a feminist theme at all, since thematically in the DCU the Amazons represent all Womankind. Please note that during the building of Themyscira we do indeed see Amazons using (modern) saws, producing planks of wood, felling trees with axes, reading architectural plans off some kind of paper, and doing sculptural work in stone, and of course they do find ways to keep themselves clothed both for everyday life and for war.

Heracles: shown to be cursed by Hera with madness. Whereas ancient myths would seem to imply epilepsy or something like it in that it strikes on rare occasion and then withdraws, leaving Heracles honestly remorseful about his acts (his Labors were voluntary penance for one such act), this DCU madness seems to burn within Herc constantly and rises particularly high when he becomes angry. When he first comes upon Hippolyte, she tells him that "no mortal is your equal in BRUTE STRENGTH. Yet, in wisdom and the ART of battle, I am your SUPERIOR!" And she goes on to prove that. Note that in classical mythology, Herc was a pretty nice guy.

Theseus in mythology was the real misogynist, but here he's practically invisible. Before the army takes Themyscira he whiles away the evening with Antiope.

Gaea: has left this plane, according to the goddesses at the birth of the Amazons. Yet her power and presence are felt at the birth of Diana.

Pre-Hippolyte's mate: There's been speculation that this was Vandal Savage, but though Vandal has been shown to be immortal since he was a caveman, he hasn't to my knowledge been shown to be able to regenerate limbs. This caveman lost his hand and probably died in days of infection. (Besides, I never liked Vandal. The DCU is too in-bred as it is.) Note: the caveman had brown hair, brown eyes, and was caucasian. I believe Vandal has black hair, blue eyes.

Olympus: an Escher-esque mishmash of all-white Greek temples coming from all perspectives, in which people can walk sideways or upside down with gravity pulling from whichever direction their feet might be pointed.

Areopagus: a mound of temples and cliffs in the shape of skulls, hanging in limbo. Ares claims that there not even Zeus can touch him.

Original Themyscira: an all-white city surrounded by a high, white wall.

wondie homepagenext page
DC Comics
Wonder Woman et al are all trademarked and/or copyrighted by DC Comics, Inc. Buy their comics!