After the cataclysmic events of “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, the slate had effectively been wiped clean ready for Wonder Woman’s revival, although DC found that things were not going to plan. Although Superman was being refashioned by John Byrne and Batman had Frank Miller, DC had managed to secure Greg Potter as writer (who as it turned out would only last two issues) but had still not found a major artist. The Amazon Princess’s much heralded re-launch was in danger of turning into a lacklustre affair (Ironically, the second relaunch of Wonder Woman in 2006 following the “Infinite Crisis” crossover would be similarly botched by late shipping and irregular publishing schedules).
Then along came George Perez, one of the key creators of “Crisis On Infinite Earths” who, having heard of Wonder Woman’s troubles, volunteered himself to take over the new book and help get it on its way. Initially, he had only expected to work on the title for around six months but instead stayed for five years! During this time, he created a revitalised Wonder Woman and grounded the title much more firmly in Greek mythology. He also often eschewed heroic exploits in favour of dramas concerning Diana’s explorations of modern society. The title had a more ‘realistic’ feel to it than the pre crisis version and smartly showed how an innocent young Amazon entering Man’s World might be perceived and what issues she might face.
While many fans did not like some of the more traditional pre crisis elements of the character being disgarded, it is generally felt that the Perez run was perhaps one of the strongest eras in the Wonder Woman title’s chequered history and featured some of the best comic book writing in years.
As his five year stint on the book came to a close, George Perez wrote a four issue crossover series called “War of the Gods” which wrapped up loose ends of many of the stories he had told over the previous five years of “Wonder Woman”. Indeed, even to this day “War of the Gods” is the only major mini series that can be classed as a true Wonder Woman crossover event. It paid an integral part to the main book’s plotline and served as a rousing and fitting finale to the Perez run.
This issue therefore is officially the first post Crisis appearance of all the characters in this story. As stated, in the post Crisis DC Universe Wonder Woman’s continuity is completely reestablished. Among the most obvious differences are that Princess Diana did not come to “Man’s World” around the same time Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, or Aquaman began to establish their careers as super heroes either in the Golden Age era or the Silver Age era, thus invalidating her history with both the Justice Society and the Justice League. For now the Golden Age Miss America took the Golden Age Wonder Woman’s place in the All-Star Squadron and the second Black Canary took her place in the Justice League. Another difference is her added ability of flight, given to her by the Greek God Hermes. There are many other differences which will become apparent as her story unfolds. These will be covered in future reviews.
Although this issue is numbered 1, the ongoing numbering from Volume One is shown in brackets as DC decided to return to the original numbering with what would have been the 600th issue Banhad the book not been re-booted several times. Ironically however, this renumbering was to be short lived as the book was once again “re-booted” as all DC titles were effectively “reset” to brand new issue ones with the introduction of the New 52 Universe.
During the late stone age, a caveman is exiled from his tribe for failing a hunt – a failure that has also cost him his hand. His pregnant mate tries to console him, but her pity enrages him, spurring him to attack and kill her. Moments later, the caveman is shocked to see his mate’s corpse twitching, and hears a voice whispering from the Earth.
A blinding light suddenly flies from the cavewoman’s corpse, into the sky above.
Many millennia later, the Gods of Mount Olympus discuss a pressing issue: their worshipers’ dwindling faith. Zeus, King of Olympus, hears competing proposals from Ares, God of War and Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt on the matter. The former proposes cowing man into obedience through force and bloodshed; the latter, creating an all-female race who will enlighten man.
Zeus eventually loses patience with the debates, proclaims the issue beneath him, and leaves; his wife Hera likewise refuses to engage. This dissuades neither Ares, who plots to surpass all Olympus, nor Artemis, who has already allied with five other Olympians: Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest, Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth, and Hermes, Messenger of the Gods. With Hermes’ help, the five Goddesses journey to the Cavern of Souls, a portion of the Underworld where Gaea has housed the spirits of all women unjustly killed by men.
By pooling their divine powers, the Goddesses withdraw these spirits – save one that Athena notes a “special destiny” for – and reincarnate them into grown women. These reborn women, tasked with raising man’s virtue and piety, are dubbed the Amazons and given blessings by each Goddess; the first two reborn, Hippolyta and Antiope, are additionally gifted with golden girdles, crystallisation of Gaea’s power, that mark them as the Amazons’ leaders. Under Hippolyte and Antiope, the Amazons soon build the renowned city-state of Themyscira.
Unfortunately, the Amazons’ success attracts jealousy and suspicion from Greece’s other rulers, which Ares wholeheartedly fans. The War-God’s influence eventually snares Zeus’ son Herkales, who gathers an army and tries to invade Themyscira; upon being outfought by Hippolyta, Herakles feigns surrender and proposes an alliance, which the Amazon Queen accepts. The two parties celebrate well into the night, Herakles romancing Hippolyta while his companion Theseus pursues Antiope. None of the Amazons, save the oracle Menalippe, suspect their new “allies” are giving them drugged wine.
Once the wine takes effect, Herakles and his men easily sack Themyscira and enslave the Amazons. Subsequently, Herakles claims Hippolyta’s girdle as a spoil and rides off in search of new conquests. When the beaten, manacled Hippolyta begs Olympus’ forgiveness, Athena replies, chiding the Amazon Queen for forgetting her mission and isolating her race from the rest of mankind. By Athena’s instruction, Hippolyta forswears any thoughts of revenge and rededicates herself to the Goddesses, regaining the strength to break her chains.
Hippolyta quickly frees the rest of the Amazons, sparking rebellion against Themyscira’s remaining occupiers; and though she repeats Athena’s instructions, many Amazons – chief among them Antiope – embrace their hatred and kill the occupiers to the last man. In the aftermath of this brutal “victory”, Antiope bitterly renounces Olympus, surrenders her girdle to Hippolyta, and secedes from Themyscira with many like-minded Amazons who would later become known as the Bana-Mighdall tribe .
Downcast but still devout, Hippolyta leads the remnants of Themyscira to the Aegean Sea, where the Goddesses have prepared their new destiny. With Poseidon, God of the Seas as their guide, the Amazons travel to a lush, uncharted island, beneath which lies countless demons. To repent for their failures, Hippolyta and her followers must keep these demons confined and keep the island hidden from all mortal men. So long as they maintain this vigil, they will retain Olympus’ favour and no longer age.
Over the next three thousand years, Hippolyta and her followers hold true to their new purpose, building a stronger, grander Themyscira in the process. Though undisputed Queen of this new Themyscira, Hippolyta remains unfulfilled until her deities tell her – through Menalippe – that she had been reincarnated from a pregnant cavewoman, and thus desires a child. At their direction, Hippolyta sculpts a baby from Themyscira’s shoreline clay – which Artemis and her allies bless and infuse with the Cavern of Souls’ last occupant.
Thus is born Diana of Themyscira, first Princess of the Amazons.
As Diana approaches adulthood, Menalippe receives another vision from the Gods: that Ares has grown in both power and madness, and plots to destroy the entire world. There is but one hope: Themyscira must send a single champion, selected through tournament and “Flashing Thunder”, into Man’s World to battle Ares. Hippolyta obeys this edict but, fearing for her daughter’s well-being, forbids Diana from competing in the tournament.
With Athena’s blessing, the stubborn Diana disobeys her mother and enters the tournament, knowing all the contestants will be masked to guarantee impartiality. The disguised Diana out-performs her fellow Amazons and proves herself worthy of being the Champion – much to Hippolyta’s horror. Though remorseful, Diana insists she has only obeyed the Gods’ will, and Hippolyta has little choice but to give her the Champion’s silver bracelets and let her take the final challenge – the Trial of Flashing Thunder.
The “Flashing Thunder” is revealed to be a handgun – a weapon from “Man’s World” wielded by Queen Hippolyta’s chief general Philippus. Diana is ordered to defend herself against it with nothing but her silver bracelets, and succeeds, though not without difficulty. With this final challenge concluded, Diana is officially proclaimed Themyscira’s Champion, attired in the armour of a great warrior from ages past, and readied for her journey into Man’s World.