What Do You Know About America's Best Superheroine?
Well, She Has a Magic Lasso...
Ask anyone and they can probably tell you a little bit about Wonder Woman. They may mention the star-spangled outfit, the lasso of truth, or the invisible plane. Or they might tell you how much they love Lynda Carter. They might even bring up the character’s secret identity, Diana Prince. But did you know that Diana Prince isn’t the only official version of the Amazing Amazon that has been published by DC Comics since the 1940s? This is a series of articles about the many different official iterations of Wonder Woman. Specifically, this second article will cover the several different versions of the character who served as temporary replacements for the primary version, Diana Prince. These iterations of the character have their roots in the Golden Age stories of the 1940s, continuing all the way up to tales told in the new millennium. If you are interested in learning more about the Princess Diana versions of the character, be sure to check out the first article in the series.
Wonder Woman IV
Mother Knows Best
This version of our heroine first appeared in Sensation Comics issue no. 26 (February 1944), in a story of the first (but far from the last) time Wonder Woman’s mother replaced her as the Amazing Amazon. This version was actually Queen Hippolyte, matriarch of the Amazons of Paradise Island and mother to Princess Diana, who foresaw a grim future in her Magic Sphere, one where Princess Diana would be captured by the gangster Duke Dalgan. Hoping to prevent this premonition from coming to pass, Queen Hippolyte disguised herself as Wonder Woman, traveled to Man’s World, and bound her own daughter with the Magic Lasso.
However, Diana could not be easily deterred, and ended up being captured by Dalgan anyway, who actually, no joke, tied her to some train tracks. Luckily, Diana escaped and stopped an oncoming train using her super strength. Princess Diana never discovered the true identity of her replacement, and thus never knew that her mother also had some limited experience as a superheroine.
Wonder Woman V
Ancient Greek Warrior
This version was Artemis, the best friend of Queen Hippolyta. You may notice that the spelling is different for this Queen than it is for the previous entry. That is because Queen Hippolyte existed on Earth-2, and Queen Hippolyta existed on Earth-1. These separate Earths serve as a retroactive explanation for the different versions of Princess Diana: Earth-2 is essentially the setting for the Golden Age WWII-era Wonder Woman comics, and Earth-1 the setting for stories from 1958 to the mid 1980s, when the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover story replaced both Earths with a single continuity (which is where we get the third version of the character).
Anyway, the story of Artemis took place in Wonder Woman vol. 1 issue no. 302 (April, 1983), and recounts the tale of her being given the mantle and weapons of the Amazing Amazon in the time of Ancient Greece. Tragically, she was corrupted by the power of Mars, God of War, and entombed by Athena for her attempt to challenge the Gods of Olympus. So, in short, not the most celebrated version of the character.
Wonder Woman VI
A Brief Champion
Another character from Earth-1, this version was one of the Amazons of Paradise Island. Originally known as Orana, she challenged the second iteration of the superheroine to a contest, won, and briefly became Wonder Woman. This all happened in WW vol. 1 issue no. 250 (December 1978).
Wonder Woman VII
The Amazon of Bana-Mighdall
After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the events that led to the introduction of Orana had echoes in the new streamlined DC Universe. Much like Orana, this character was an Amazon of Bana-Mighdall who beat Diana Prince in a contest and temporarily served as our heroine herself. She was almost immediately killed by the White Magician, but is still fondly remembered as being drawn by Mike Deodato. Her first appearance was in WW vol. 2 issue no. 93 (January 1995).
Wonder Woman VIII
Mother Replaces Daughter...Again
Beginning in WW vol. 2 issue no. 128 (December 1997), Queen Hippolyta, matriarch of the Amazons of Themyscira, temporarily replaced Princess Diana as our heroine, after the princess was slain by the demon Neron. During this time, Hippolyta traveled back in time to World War II and became a member of the Justice Society of America. This had the curious effect of allowing this eighth version of the character to experience many of the same adventures as the first version, so that the original publications now had the retroactive continuity of existing as the stories of the Amazing Amazon’s time-displaced mother (who, as we already saw with the fourth version earlier in this article, was at one point replaced by her OWN mother).
Wonder Woman IX
Donna Troy Steps In
When Diana Prince temporarily renounced her role as the Star-Spangled Amazon following the events of the Infinite Crisis, she was replaced by her adopted sister Donna Troy. During this time, Troy battled several of WW’s most notable foes, including the Cheetah, Giganta, and Doctor Psycho. Troy’s powers were taken from her by Circe, who then became the tenth iteration of the character. This tale began in WW vol. 3 issue no. 1 (August 2006).
Wonder Woman X
The Sorceress Circe
The sorceress Circe briefly became Wonder Woman in WW vol. 3 issue no. 3 (January 2007), after she stole the combined powers of WW III, IX, and Wonder Girl (who will eventually become the eleventh iteration of our heroine, just wait). Using her powers for the aim of completely liberating all women on the planet, this erstwhile antihero freed more than 2,000 women on three continents, but also murdered as many men in her mission. Tracking her to her island home of Aeaea, secret agent Diana Prince tricked Circe into returning her powers, and Diana was able to defeat Circe with the help of Hercules and the Justice League.
Wonder Woman XI
Amazon of the Future
In a story of an alternate future from Teen Titans vol. 3 issue no. 17 (2005), Cassie Sandsmark, also known as Wonder Girl, was shown to take on the mantle and responsibilities of Wonder Woman after the death of her mentor, Diana Prince. This alternate future is typically dystopic, with a police state that is free of crime and disease, but also free will. Whether it will come to pass or not is still unsure, but it seems unlikely, especially now that we have...
Wonder Woman XII
The New 52 Demigoddess
The current incarnation of her heroine, who first appeared in WW vol. 4 issue no. 1 (November 2011). This version of the character is a hard reboot of the character’s continuity with no connection to previous publication history. No longer made from clay, this Princess Diana is the demigoddess daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta.
And those are all the canonical versions of the Amazon Princess (that I know of, at least). Let me know your favorite, or point out if I missed any, in the comments below!