With this final issue of the Crisis on Infinite Earths mini-series DC completely obliterated all that had been before and ‘re-imagined’ the DC Universe anew. Many heroines fell victim to this “out with the old – in with the new” revamp, including well known and popular characters such as the Huntress and Supergirl, but the biggest casualty was surely the iconic Wonder Woman herself.
In this final issue the Earth One Wonder Woman was blasted by the Anti-Monitor and apparently killed. For such an iconic character, her death takes up one small panel and barely registers further mention. This compares with the death of Supergirl, who dies heroically in combat with the Anti-Monitor to save Superman’s life. We even see the world mourning Kara’s loss afterwards and the heroes of the planet attending a solemn memorial service. Poor Diana on the other hand gets zapped and that is that!
However, all is not what it at first seems, because at the end of the issue we are told how Wonder Woman was not in fact killed, but was instead somehow sent back in time, devolving back into clay again which spreads itself across Paradise Island. As time continued in reverse, the rest of the Amazons returned to the Grecian Isle from where they had originally fled. Meanwhile on Mount Olympus, Zeus decided that an injustice had been dealt upon the Earth Two Wonder Woman, and both she and her beloved Steve were brought to the Home of the Gods where they lived happily ever after.
Rumours had been rife at the time that with the cancellation of her book she was going to actually be killed off for good in “Crisis”, never to return. Certainly her recent sales did not seem to justify keeping the character in print any longer. However, DC thankfully realised that she was still a potent marketing icon, being the most famous and recognisable female comic book heroine in the world, and that they could reinvent her to be a heroine fit for the modern world instead of an outdated throwback to World War II.
So instead of letting her die, they thankfully saw the great potential she still had and boldly decided to resurrect and create an entirely new origin for the character. She would, in the process, discard some major elements of her mythos, such as her “Diana Prince” secret identity, her invisible plane, the vulnerability of losing her strength when bound by a man etc. In turn though, she would gain some new abilities – in particular the power of flight, become more powerful and update hers characterisation and costume for the modern age.
Ironically however, many years later, much of this would be subsequently undone – or at least tweaked – and there would be a nostalgic return to some of the “pre-crisis” elements of the character.