Wonder Woman #1:
Gods & Mortals

by George Perez
(DC Comics, 2004)

After helping Marv Wolfman reduce Wonder Woman to a blob of mud in Crisis on Infinite Earths, writer/artist George Perez set out in 1987 to recreate the iconic heroine from scratch.

He started by largely redefining the entire race of Amazons, their origins and their relationship to the Greek deities who created them. The Amazons, in the new DC Universe, are immortal women formed from the wailing souls of all the women ever murdered; their purpose is to bring an alternative to the warring ways of man and their bloodthirsty god, Ares.

But the demigod Heracles, enraged by his notions of these uppity women, leads an attack against them and, through treachery, his army manages to kill or capture and rape the entire Amazon population. He reserves for himself the debasement of Hippolyte, the Amazon queen and, apparently, the reincarnation of the first female soul to be murdered. Once Heracles gets bored and moves on, the Amazons manage to regain their freedom and, with the gods' assistance, move their city to an unreachable island. To remind them of their shame, they continue to wear the shackles forced upon them by Heracles' men.

Flash forward a few thousand years, to the near past. The gods have decided it is time to reincarnate the last remaining murdered female soul; while the rest of the Amazons were reborn from the water as fully grown and ageless women, this one is reborn from clay, as an infant who ages naturally. Because Hippolyte was apparently the only woman ever murdered while pregnant (an odd plot choice by Perez, seeing as any number of current newspapers prove the lie), she is chosen to be the new baby's mother.

Diana, as she is named, grows into the greatest of the Amazons, even though their experience and training exceeds hers by millennia. Too, she is gifted by the gods with abilities the other Amazons don't have, including great strength and flight. When circumstances dictate that a champion must be sent as an embassy to man's world, it's inevitable that Diana will win the contest and be chosen to wear the red-and-gold bustier and spangled blue shorts that are, apparently, the official uniform of the Amazon ambassador.

What follows is her introduction to a modern world that is strange to her and to a plot by Ares and his kin to lay waste to civilization.

Kudos to Perez for introducing Diana (only later dubbed "Wonder Woman" by the Boston media) to the world in a believable manner. She does not come roaring onto the scene with the confidence one expects from heroes; she is naive and shy, at first, and she doesn't speak the language. Only through the help of the god Hermes, who introduces her to a professor of classical Greek in the vicinity, does Diana communicate with the world at all. Fortunately, she's a fast study.

The revamp also included major changes to Diana's supporting cast, particularly Air Force pilot Steve Trevor, and a redesign to Olympus that looks like M.C. Escher had a hand in its design. All in all, Gods & Mortals (repackaged for 21st-century consumption in 2004) is a fitting rebirth of DC's most enduring and endearing heroine.

by Tom Knapp
5 August 2006

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