The Magnificent Matrilineage of Wonder Woman

Comic News

We’re just over a month into 2021, but it’s easy to make an early call for the year’s breakout character: the new Brazilian superhero Yara Flor, who takes up the tiara as Wonder Woman in DC Future State. But while she may be the latest to bear the name, the standard of Wonder Woman has always been a legacy since Diana earned the mantle during that fateful tournament on Paradise Island. Over millennia, many have laid claim to the name, and there may still be more we’ve yet to meet. That’s because while Diana was the first we knew, even she wasn’t the first Wonder Woman. So, who was? And who might be the next to inherit it? For answers, let’s examine the proud legacy of Wonder Woman from the very beginning to the Future State.

Artemis, The First Wonder Woman

Tenure: Wonder Woman #298-310, 1982-1983 (In Flashback)

According to Queen Hippolyta, the first Wonder Woman to walk Man’s world did so 3,000 years before Diana was even born. The ancient Artemis, once the best friend to Diana’s mother, was chosen for the task by the goddesses after a competition with Hippolyta. The winner of that challenge would rule Paradise Island, while the loser would take up the solemn task of spreading the message of love and compassion to the blighted world of man. Sadly, it was not too long before Artemis fell to the corruption of man’s world herself and perished when her wrath and hubris drove her to challenge the gods. Is it any wonder, then, that Hippolyta was so hesitant to allow her daughter to embark on the same mission?

Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons

Tenure: Wonder Woman #128-172, 1997-2001; Endless Winter, 2020 (In Flashback)

Queen Hippolyta herself can be said to be both Diana’s successor and predecessor, thanks to the intricacies of time travel. When Diana achieved apotheosis as the Goddess of Truth for a brief time in the ‘90s, Hippolyta herself took over Diana’s role as Wonder Woman temporarily—but ended up occupying the role far longer than her daughter had up to that point after a sojourn of time led her to serve alongside the Justice Society of America in their Golden Age. (She even struck up a romance with fellow member, Wildcat!) When Diana returned to the mortal world, she and her mother shared the role of Wonder Woman for a time, until Hippolyta and the Amazons were exterminated in the Imperiex War.

Since then, however, Queen Hippolyta has returned, and we have learned that she actually served as Wonder Woman some time before the JSA. It was at least a thousand years back, when she and the so-called “Justice League Viking” united to defeat the grief-mad Frost King in Endless Winter.

Nubia, Real One

Tenure: Wonder Woman #204-207, 1973; Final Crisis #7, 2009 (Alternate Earth); Injustice 2 #15-16, 2017; Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman, 2021

Too few know that when Diana was formed from the blessed clay of Themyscira, she was actually the younger of a set of twins. Diana’s elder, Nubia, was formed of darker clay and by accounts is the true heir to Hippolyta’s throne. As Diana’s better in combat, she may also have inherited the title of Wonder Woman had she not been abducted by the war god Mars as a baby. As it is, Nubia has at best played a supporting role in the history of Wonder Woman, but sometimes inhabits her rightful role in alternate timelines such as the worlds of Earth-23, Injustice and even Future State itself in Immortal Wonder Woman. But we’ll all be getting to know Diana’s lost sister a lot better this February, when the original YA graphic novel Nubia: Real One hits bookshelves everywhere.

Diana, Ambassador of Peace

Tenure: All Star Comics #8-, 1941-Present

You all know this one. Formed from clay—or from a tryst between Hippolyta and the god Zeus, depending on who you ask—Wonder Woman has stood the test of time as one of the central figures of the DC Universe since 1941. There have been many Wonder Women, and there may well be many more, but Diana of Themyscira will always have a place in DC’s pantheon.

Orana, Seeker of Glory

Tenure: Wonder Woman #250-251, 1978

In 1978, the unthinkable happened—Diana’s right to serve as Paradise Island’s ambassador to the world of man was challenged by a fellow Amazon, the envious Orana, who in her desperate struggle for fame and renown actually managed to defeat the erstwhile Wonder Woman in combat. But while Orana’s prowess was great, she ultimately lacked Wonder Woman’s grace and judgment, leaping carelessly into battle against a world she knew little about. Ultimately, Orana gave her life saving New York from a terrorist super-villain known as Warhead, but perhaps her sacrifice need not have been so dear had she exercised humility.

Artemis of Bana-Mighdall

Tenure: Wonder Woman #92-100, 1994-1995

Diana’s battle with Orana wouldn’t be her last loss to a claimant of the Wonder Woman name (nor was it technically her first—Nubia actually defeated Diana squarely in their first meeting in Wonder Woman #204). In 1994’s “The Contest,” prophetic visions of Wonder Woman’s death lead Hippolyta to hold a new contest for the right to bear the standard, fearing Diana may no longer be up to the task. Her precautions prove justified when Diana is defeated by a new rival, Artemis of the distant Amazon tribe of Bana-Mighdall. But Artemis’s time with the title proved short, as Hippolyta’s vision of the death of Wonder Woman was, ironically, of Artemis herself.

Cassandra Sandsmark, Child of Zeus

Tenure: Sins of Youth, 2000; Teen Titans #17-54, 2004-2007 (Possible Future)

Young Cassie Sandsmark, daughter of Diana’s good friend and expert Greek historian Helena, set out at an early age to follow in Wonder Woman’s footsteps. She joined the forces of Young Justice, and later the Teen Titans, as soon as she was able and eventually learned that she was the daughter (or granddaughter, depending who you ask) of Zeus himself. But first, in 2000’s Sins of Youth storyline, this Wonder Girl got the chance to try on the role of Wonder Woman when the ages of Earth’s adult heroes and child heroes were swapped by the mischievous Klarion the Witch Boy—sorry, sorry. Klarion (bum bum bum) the Witch Boy. Visions of the “Titans Tomorrow” throughout Geoff Johns’ Teen Titans comics would show that Cassandra herself would lay claim to the Wonder Woman name for keeps in at least one potential future.

Donna Troy, Titan

Tenure: Wonder Woman #1-3, 2006

Cassie’s early spin and foretold destiny as Wonder Woman alike meant that no matter how you slice it, the younger Wonder Girl had cut her senior in line for the big mantle. Tough break, Donna. But the original W.G. did get her chance eventually—for nearly three whole issues after Infinite Crisis during the “One Year Later” event. After a tenure that barely outlasted Orana’s while Diana left the role behind to find herself, Wonder Woman’s arch-enemy Circe captured Donna, channeling her magic to take up the mantle for herself and cause serious trouble…

Circe, Usurper Witch

Tenure: Wonder Woman #3Wonder Woman Annual #1, 2006-2007

…for another three issues. Then Diana came back and whooped her butt. Tough break, Circe.

Peng Deilan, Wonder-Woman of China

Tenure: New Super-Man #1-, 2016-Present

Not willing to let America monopolize the World’s Greatest Super Heroes, China’s Ministry of Self-Reliance began organizing and engineering their own in 2016’s quite excellent New Super-Man series. Among them was Peng Deilan, the human form of an ancient green snake cast into stone at the bottom of the ocean untold centuries ago. Now one of the pillars of the Justice League of China, Peng Deilan is respected in her role as the nation’s Wonder Woman by a friendly Diana, and has found happiness with her friend Kong Kenan, the Super-Man of China, and boyfriend Wang Baixi, the Bat-Man of China. Who says WonderBat isn’t canon?

Yara Flor, State of the Future

Tenure: Future State: Wonder Woman #1, 2021-?

Little is known about Yara Flor, the Brazilian Amazon who’s taken the world by storm in Future State, except for the fact that she is wearing the hell out of that thigh brace. You keep working it, girl. And you keep reading Future State: Wonder Woman and the rest of the Wonder Woman line in 2021 to find out more!

Yara Flor’s Future State adventures conclude this week in Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman #2 and Future State: Justice League #2, both now available in print and digital. But she’s just getting started! Look for Yara to return this spring in the ongoing Wonder Girl.

Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly “Ask the Question” column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCItyQuestion

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