Replacement Heroes: Wonder Woman

Replacement Heroes: Wonder Woman

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, villains.

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.

Related:

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