A revisited cover to Wonder Woman #178 seen on the Diana Prince: Wonder Woman trade
Recently at Newsarama, we’ve been taking a look at the recurring theme
of super-heroes being replaced.
Whether through injury or apparent
death or the need to take a break , the roles of several heroic icons
have been covered for brief periods by other heroes or, occasionally,
Wonder Woman is no exception to the cycle. In fact, Princess
Diana has frequently had to do a little more fighting to maintain her
role, as you’ll see. Here’s an overview at some of the notable times that we’ve had a Wonder Substitute.
Mod Diana: Here’s one time where the lead essentially replaced herself. In a storyline beginning in Wonder Woman
#178 (October of 1968), Diana opts to forsake her powers when the
Amazons depart Earth to live in another dimension. Along with being
depowered, Diana adopts a (then) trendy “mod” wardrobe (in fact, she
runs a “mod” boutique). By the next issue, she’s teamed with I Ching,
who becomes her new mentor and trainer, honing her into a highly
skilled (though still non-powered) martial artist. This incarnation
actually ran several years, until Wonder Woman #204 in 1973. Spurred by the cover of the first issue of the then-new Ms. Magazine,
upon which Gloria Steinem had featured the traditionally costumed
Wonder Woman (albeit with a couple of modifications), DC restored Diana
to her original incarnation (again, with minor costume alterations).
Wonder Woman #250
Orana: This one I recall fondly from my own youth. Young Troy picked up a copy of Wonder Woman #250 from 1978 on the strength of the cover . . . and it was years
before I saw the second part. Curse you, ‘70s Midwestern grocery store
distribution! Herein, Diana is forced to go through another tournament
for the title. Only this time, partially due to the fact that she
repeatedly shows compassion to save fellow contestants, Diana loses to
a tough redhead named Orana. Orana dons the costume and returns to
Man’s World (RIP James Brown) with Diana following. Unfortunately,
Orana doesn’t prove to be quite up to the task and promptly dies in
action in the next issue. Diana takes up the mantle once more.
Wonder Woman: The Contest
Artemis: If any of the above sounds vaguely familiar, that’s
because it was covered by DC in the mid-‘90s. Just as Batman and
Superman got their grim’n’gritty subs, Wonder Woman got Artemis.
Another fiery redhead, this Post-Crisis Femme Fatale took on Diana in
another contest. This one came about because Hippolyta, after the
Amazons had been trapped in a demon dimension, saw a future where
“Wonder Woman” died. Hippolyta sought to arrange a replacement for
Diana so that she might live. Due to some subterfuge from Hippolyta,
Artemis won the right to be the new Wonder Woman. As in the ‘70s story,
Diana followed her replacement back to the states. After a series of
battles (some real, some arranged by a PR firm), Artemis fell in battle
against the White Magician (himself a demon). Diana took over as Wonder
Woman again. Artemis eventually did return in her own mini-series, and
has sporadically appeared since that time.
Wonder Woman's mom has got it going on
Hippolyta: Well, sometimes Mother is right. Turns out that Diana did
die fighting a demon, but it was Neron. Elevated by the Olympians to
the status of Goddess of Truth, Diana vacates the mortal plane. Her
mother, Queen Hippolyta, no slouch in the warrior department herself,
takes over as Wonder Woman. She joins the Justice League and, due to an
adventure in the past, spends several years as the Wonder Woman of the
Justice Society (thus closing a continuity hole that had been left open
by Crisis on Infinite Earths; more later). Even after Diana’s
return, Hippolyta continued to occasionally operate as the “original”
Wonder Woman. Unfortunately, Hippolyta would die in action, a casualty
of the Imperiex invasion in Our Worlds at War. However, Hippolyta did recently return.
Donna Troy as Wonder Woman
Donna Troy: The current Wonder Woman series, relaunched out of Infinite Crisis,
opened with a new Wonder Woman in place: Donna Troy. Now, to explain
Donna’s full history would take a separate article and a couple of
aspirin; for right now, it’s sufficient to say that in current
continuity she is Diana’s younger sister, and has held the heroic
identities of Wonder Girl, Darkstar, and Troia. After the events of Infinite Crisis,
Diana left her post as Wonder Woman, deciding, essentially, to find
herself. During the Black Adam-ignited “World War III”, Donna first
became Wonder Woman. At the close of the first arc of the new series
(which seemed to take a long time), Donna abdicates the role to Diana.
Continuity Replacements: After Crisis on Infinite Earths,
Wonder Woman presented a bit of a problem. She was killed, removed from
continuity, and slated to make her “first” appearance in the reborn DCU
in Legends. So . . . how to address all those Wonder Woman stories that came before that involved other heroes?
Two attempts were made to address the absence of Wonder Woman in the
revised World War 2 continuity. One, the character of Fury I was
created as part of the Young All-Stars; she would fill the void left by
the loss of the Earth-2 Wonder Woman by being retconned as being the
mother of Fury II, Lyta Hall of Infinity Inc. Secondly, it was noted
that Miss America of the All-Star Squadron took Wonder Woman’s place in
respect to the JSA. However, both of these “fixes” were wiped away by
John Byrne’s arc that inserted Hippolyta back into the “WW2 Wonder
Woman” role. Fury I did eventually return, and found a home on
Themyscira. Miss America was recently seen in the two Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters mini-series.
As for Diana’s role in the JLA, she was replaced as female founder by Black Canary. However, scenes in Infinite Crisis showed that on “New Earth”, Wonder Woman did co-found the League, and appeared much earlier than Legends.
We don’t know how this affects other elements of continuity, so we’ll
gently leave it in the corner where it can’t hurt anybody.
Super Friends: And one more, just for fun: Wonder Woman was once
replaced by The Cheetah! In the Super Friends episode “Secret
Origins of the Super Friends”, the Legion of Doom conspires to go back
in time and change or eliminate the origins of Superman, Green Lantern,
and Wonder Woman. Lex Luthor becomes Green Lantern, and The Cheetah
cheats in the tournament, becoming Wonder Woman. The remaining heroes
eventually discover the plot, and restore their friends to real time.
Batman says something clever, but the Legion of Doom escapes anyway.
Next time, Super Friends!
And there it is. A brief look at some of Wonder Woman’s own replacement
adventures. One recurring theme would seem to be that Wonder Woman
often has to go back to some form of the tournament, thereby “proving
herself”. Whether this is tied to her need to prove herself in the eyes of
her mother or an unintended comment of women striving in traditionally
male work environments, we can’t be sure. We can be sure that Diana
keeps returning to the role because she is the icon, and she ultimately
seems to be whom the readers want holding the lasso.
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