As this summer's Rebirth event gives DC the opportunity to tweak its comic book universe, it's expected that what emerges will not only showcase the characters and concepts at their "core," but will combine the best of the present universe, the post-Crisis universe and the film and TV universes.
That means the end of the current "New 52" era, which launched a little less than five years in a line-wide renumbering of DC's titles in September 2011.
What If You Missed the New 52?
If you missed the "New 52," you would have missed DC's latest attempt at finding an approach to Wonder Woman that might catch on with modern readers. The character, just before the "New 52," had been wearing pants and had gone through a de-aging process, but with the "New 52," DC tried a new direction by writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang.
Focused on Diana as a powerful warrior with a diverse pantheon of Greek gods who manipulated her world, the Azzarello/Chiang run was 35 issues long — a large part of the "New 52"'s life — and was purposefully anti-cheesecake (although Diana ditched the pants and returned to her more familiar, exposed-legs look).
In the early issues of Wonder Woman, readers found out that Wonder Woman was not made from clay, as readers (and the character herself) had been led to believe. It turned out that Diana was the biological daughter of Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, and Zeus, the Greek god who's well known for his trysts.
"We're not changing her origin," Azzarello told Newsarama at the time. "We're enhancing it. The story of her original origin [as being made of clay] is still there. We're not hurting her at all. We're making her better."
Speaking of Zeus, much of Azzarello's story focused on another one of Zeus' trysts — a woman named Zola who had been impregnated by Zeus. Wonder Woman became her protector, shielding Zola from the jealous gods who meant to harm her and the baby.
Greek God Emphasis
In the "New 52," Diana's life and focus have been very much dominated by the events between various gods within the Greek pantheon — from her oft-enemy Ares to the meddling god Strife and mythical creatures like minotaur. The various gods, who got a redesign by Chiang that modernized them and made them strikingly human yet frighteningly brutal, became one of the more entertaining parts of the story during the "New 52."
That brutality included the new approach to the Amazons and the reason there's an absence of men on their island. In the "New 52," the all-female status on Themyscira is the result of the women of Paradise Island discarding their male babies.
It turns out that the Amazons were actually sirens who sailed the seas, seducing men that they eventually killed. And although they kept their female children, they sold the male babies to Hephaestus, who utilizes them as slaves.
Diana also developed a supporting cast, including the aforementioned Zola and a few other half-siblings who were also fathered by Zeus, including the villainous First Born that became the main nemesis for a portion of Azzarello's run.
Wonder Woman was also featured in DC's top-selling title Justice League, which featured an awkward friendship between Diana and her former love interest, Steve Trevor, who acted as a liaison between the Justice League and the American government. It turned out that Steve hadn't quite gotten over his feelings for Wonder Woman.
But Diana had eyes for someone else, as a high-profile kiss between Superman and Wonder Woman revealed that the two were dating. For the last few years of the "New 52," Diana and Clark Kent have been an item in the DCU, with the two even sharing a title that explored their relationship and co-adventures, Superman/Wonder Woman.
Within the Wonder Woman title, which appeared to ignore the Superman relationship for a while, Diana was also tricked by the god Hades into falling in love with him. The two were actually set to be married, although Wonder Woman of course escaped the marriage despite her induced love for him.
Later in the series, the New God Orion showed up in the Wonder Woman series. And although the relationship between Orion and Wonder Woman was never exactly official, it was clear that an attraction existed, and he became part of her supporting cast for a time.
God of War
At the center of Azzarello's run was the fight over Zola's baby, a boy that she named Zeke. The aforementioned First Born and other gods united against Wonder Woman and her allies, intent on killing Zeke.
Ares, the God of War, became involved and ended up losing to the First Born, so Diana had to kill Ares. As a result, Wonder Woman became the Goddess of War.
"She killed War because if First Born had killed War, which he was about to do, then he would have become the God of War," Azzarello explained to Newsarama at the time. "She really didn't have a choice."
After another battle with the First Born, Wonder Woman takes baby Zeke to Olympus and intends to just place him on the throne already, so the fighting will stop. She defeats the First Born, and as Zola puts Zeke onto the throne, it's revealed that Zola is actually Athena and Zeke is an iteration of Zeus.
Toward the end of the "New 52," the Wonder Woman title was taken over by Meredith and David Finch, who introduced the post-Crisis character Donna Troy. Donna was originally a nemesis for Wonder Woman, but she was eventually given a new role as "Fate."
Meanwhile, in Justice League, Diana met another half-Amazonian threat in Grail, the daughter of Darkseid. She is part of the current storyline "Darkseid War" and was born at the same time as Wonder Woman, the daughter of both Darkseid and the Amazonian assassin Myrina.
And in Superman titles, it's been shown that Wonder Woman has helped the temporarily-depowered Clark Kent fight against Vandal Savage. During the conflict, the two broke up, although the end of the relationship seemed more related to Clark's difficult circumstances than a lack or change of affection between the two.
By the time the "New 52" concludes this spring, Superman/Wonder Woman writer Peter Tomasi promises the pair's relationship status will be clearer.
"As we get to the end of Superman/Wonder Woman," Tomasi told Newsarama, "we definitely put that relationship in a spotlight and answer the questions — in the April and May books too. We make sure the fans get a clear sense of where they've been, and where they are as they come out of the end of the tunnel."
Then after Rebirth begins in June, Greg Rucka is coming back to Wonder Woman. The writer had a previous run on the character that also incorporated the Greek gods, but also had the character acting as a Washington-based ambassador and public figure.
The book, which comes out twice a month, will have stories running simultaneously with different artists. ”Wonder Woman: Lies” with art by Liam Sharp (odd numbers) and “Wonder Woman: Year One" with art by Nicola Scott (even-numbered issues).
Rucka's comments about the new title, though few, have indicated that he intends to keep Diana's "New 52" past, but perhaps make some changes. (For example, on Wordballoon, it sounds like he's not a fan of the Amazons being murderers of men.) So readers should look for something that's not quite a reboot, but is more like the retcon-filled story that most people expect with Rebirth.