Saturday, January 14, 2012

Great Moments :: Wonder Woman No More

The year was 1994, Superman had died at the hands of Doomsday and been replaced by four new characters, all claiming to be the Man of Steel.  Batman had his back broken by Bane, and a psychotic had taken over the mantle of the Dark Knight.  The next obvious idea:  Replace Wonder Woman!

Artemis of Bana Mighdall.  Created by Messner-Loebs and Deodato Jr.

Writer William Messner-Loebs and then breakout star Mike Deodato Jr. created one of the most successful eras in the history of the character, which strangely enough was also the lowest point in her life.  Her worst enemy turned out not to be a monstrous alien, or a criminally insane, venom-pumping villain; it was her own mother: Queen Hippolyta!  The matriarch of the amazons decreed that Diana was no longer worthy of her title as Wonder Woman, and called for a new contest to choose a new representative of Themyscira in the world of man.  Enter the amazon Artemis.

"It's Diana! She's passing everyone! Gaea, she looks tired!"

After dealing with her own mother's intrigues, the indifference of her sister amazons, and avoiding endless dangers such as whirlpools, harpies, and even Medusa, Diana herself and Artemis were the two front runners in the last leg of the deadly contest; but then, the unthinkable happened...

Diana loses the contest, and Artemis wins

Much to the pleasure of Hippolyta, Diana lost the contest and the title of Wonder Woman to the Bana-Mighdall Artemis, who received from her Queen not only the fabled magic lasso of truth, tiara, and bracelets, but also the gauntlet of Atlas and the sandals of Hermes.  This, however, did not stop Diana from being a hero, and she continued delivering justice, if not in the name of the amazons, in her own.

Diana of Themyscira and Artemis, the New Wonder Woman

This saga not only introduced Artemis to the DC Universe, but also gave Queen Hippolyta a huge boost in popularity among readers, to the point that years later she would become Wonder Woman herself; but that's a different story.  "The Contest" and "The Challenge of Artemis" delivered beautiful art, compelling stories full of emotion and drama, and one of the most violent deaths in comics.  Whose you say?  Go and read these great arcs to find out!

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