|First appearance||All Star Comics #8 (January 1941)|
William Moulton Marston|
Harry G. Peter
|Place of origin||Themyscira (Earth)|
The Amazonian people of DC Comics are a fictional matriarchal society of ethnically diverse superhumans, based on the Amazons of Greek mythology. The Greek Gods created the Amazons and bestowed upon them the mandate as guardians to the Man's World; their mission was providing a bridge for humans to obtain greater understanding. When the Amazons were enslaved by their charges, Hippolyta led her people to freedom, and thus ultimately abandon their sacred stewardship.
The Amazonian people founded the nation of Themyscira, adopting isolationist policies, to guard themselves against "the patriarchy". For centuries the women thrived in safety and security apart from what they perceived as a hostile, male-dominated world. Circumstances involving the unexpected arrival of Steve Trevor forced their existence to be revealed to the modern world.
There have been several major incarnations of these Amazons, including William Moulton Marston's original depictions, Robert Kanigher's revised depiction (highlighted by the change of Queen Hippolyta's hair from brunette to blonde), George Pérez's reworking, following the Crisis, and changes subsequent to Infinite Crisis, and The New 52. What these groups have in common is that they are the people from which came DC Comics' superheroine Wonder Woman.
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The Amazons of Paradise Island were first created by William Moulton Marston as allegories of his love leaders and as part of the origin story of his creation, Wonder Woman, who is also an allegory for the ideal love leader. These Amazons were a race of immortal super-women that lived on the magical Paradise Island. Created and favored by Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, the Amazons thrived in peace for centuries, but remained aloof from the world of Man. The youngest, strongest, and most human of the Amazons, Princess Diana, left her protective nation of sisterhood, renouncing her immortality to fight the forces of evil in Man's World as Wonder Woman.
In the days of Ancient Greece, many centuries ago, the Amazons were the foremost nation in the world. In Amazonia, women ruled and all was well. Then one day, Hercules, the strongest man in the world, stung by the taunts that he could not conquer the Amazon women, selected his strongest and fiercest warriors and landed on the Amazons' shores.
Hippolyte defeated Hercules, but Hercules, with deceit and trickery, managed to secure Hippolyte's magic girdle—and soon the Amazons were taken into slavery. Aphrodite, angry at Hippolyte for having succumbed to the wiles of men, would do nothing to help them.
Finally, the Amazons were no longer able to bear their submission to men, and Hippolyte appealed to the Goddess Aphrodite again. This time not in vain, for she relented, and with her help, Hippolyte secured the magic girdle from Hercules.
With the magic girdle in Hippolyte's possession, it did not take long for the Amazons to overcome their masters—and taking from them their entire fleet, they set sail for another shore, for it was Aphrodite's condition that they leave the world of man and establish a new world of their own. Aphrodite also decreed that they must always wear the heavy bracelets fashioned by their captors, as a reminder that they must always keep aloof from men.
And so, after sailing the seas many days and many nights, the Amazons found Paradise Island and settled there to build a new world. With its fertile volcanic soil, its marvelous flora and fauna, and varied natural resources, there was no want, no illness, no hatreds, no wars. And the Amazons would remain eternally youthful, as long as they remained on Paradise Island where they have access to their Fountain of Eternal Youth and Hippolyte retained the magic girdle, and as long as they did not permit themselves to again be beguiled by men to avoid submitting to them.
Just after the Amazons conquered the Herculeans and set sail for their island, they were given the Magic Sphere by Athena, Goddess of Wisdom. Through this device, Hippolyte was able to view events in Man's World from the present and past—and sometimes even forecast the future. With the visions of the future seen from the Magic Sphere, the Amazons were able to far surpass the inventions of man-made civilization. Not only were the Amazons stronger and wiser, but their weapons were more advanced, and their flying machines were faster.
In the mid-1980s a storyline took place called Crisis on Infinite Earths in which all comics in the DC Universe ceased to exist and restarted with all new origins. When this happened it was explained that the Amazons were created by the goddess Artemis from the souls of women who had died at the hands of men, and were given new and stronger bodies, made from clay transformed into flesh and blood. These Amazons, like the Pre-Crisis versions, escaped Heracles (the Greek name for Hercules) and his men to an isolated and magically protected island, this one called Themyscira after the lost capital city of the Amazons' former homeland. In this new land, they were granted eternal youth and beauty. Some Amazons chose to remain behind, however, and, lacking immortality, formed the hidden nation of Bana-Mighdall. Stories featuring the Amazons appeared in Bonus Book inserts in Wonder Woman vol. 2 #18 (July 1988) and #26 (January 1989).
In 1998, at the close of Wonder Woman: Secret Files And Origins #2, screenwriter Eric Luke introduced the 'Code of the Amazons', as follows:
We are a nation of women, dedicated to our sisters, to our gods, and to the peace that is humankind's right. Granted life by Gaea, the goddesses, and the souls of women past, we have been gifted with the mission to unite the people of our world with love and compassion. We are the Amazons, and we have come to save mankind.
Due to the perceived failure of Wonder Woman's mission in Man's World, Themyscira and the Amazons are removed from the earth realm by the Athenian Gods.
The returned Amazons, led by a resurrected Hippolyta, invade Washington D.C. In the end they are stripped of their memories and scattered throughout the earth in mortal identities.
In the reality-changing Flashpoint event, the Amazons are at war with the Atlanteans in Western Europe, after Hippolyta was killed by an Amazon disguised as an Atlantean during a wedding between Diana and Aquaman, causing Diana to become the Queen. They have taken over Britain, killing 12 million in the process. Many female superbeings are shown to be in league with them. It is later revealed the Ocean Master and Diana's aunt were behind this incident.
In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity. In this new timeline, the history of the Amazons was again revised. Themyscira is now called Paradise Island as it was before the Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Amazons are said to have infrequently invaded ships coming near their island and forced themselves on the sailors, before killing them. After nine months, the birth of the resulting female children was highly celebrated and they were inducted into the ranks of the Amazons while the male children were rejected. In order to save the male children from being drowned to death by the Amazons, Hephaestus traded weapons to the Amazons in exchange for them. Their Queen Hippolyta has blond hair and is the biological mother of Diana, whose biological father is Zeus. Hippolyta invented the "molding Diana from clay" story in order to protect her from the wrath of Zeus's wife Hera.
The fiercest and wisest among the Amazons holds the prestigious title "Wonder Woman – the definition of an Heroic Champion and Ambassador-at-Large. Queen Hippolyta was the previous "Wonder Woman" when she freed her people from slavery and led them to "paradise". Princess Diana is the most recent Amazon to hold the title.
As shown in the comic, the Amazons hold several customs and observances. Some include:
When an Amazon wishes to court another, she presents an offering of a coconut. Inside the coconut is a nectarine seed strung onto a necklace and a bracelet made of thorns. The nectarine seed signifies a bounty, hoped for but not yet achieved. The thorn bracelet is partially wrapped in blue, red and gold ribbons. The blue represents hope, the red represents danger, and the gold represents a request to the goddess Athena to provide her blessing. The pursuer then takes out the necklace and says "That thou art full of promise", blesses it with a kiss, and places the necklace around her intended lover's neck. She then takes out the bracelet and says "That thou shall know the heart of another" and places the bracelet on her intended lover's wrist. If the person gifted chooses to accept the courtship, she then agrees to always wear the necklace and bracelet and never remove them until it can be mutually agreed upon to form a lasting relationship together. Until the two Amazons agree to finalize their relationship, the couple puts each other through a series of physical, mental and emotional tests to see if the intended relationship can withstand life's trials.
In 2015, Sensation Comics featured Wonder Woman officiating a same-sex wedding (Issue #48) drawn by Australian illustrator Jason Badower. Inspired by the June Supreme Court ruling that established marriage equality in all 50 United States, Badower says DC Comics was "fantastic" about his idea for the issue. The Amazon people are not to be labelled sexually; Wonder Woman stated "...my country is all women. To us, it’s not ‘gay’ marriage. It’s just marriage"; being a society that was only populated by women, "lesbian" in [the world's] eyes may have been "straight" for them. “No Amazon is going to look at another Amazon and say they are Amazoning wrong. Because that wouldn’t be paradise. The society accepts everyone in it. The requirement is, you’re here and you’re female […] Nobody says a dress is inappropriate. Nobody says, ‘Why are you wearing pants?’ Nobody says you’re too heavy. Nobody says you’re too skinny, or not strong enough.”
One of the most revered observances the Themyscirian Amazons hold dear is called The Feast of the Five. On this day the Amazons pay homage to the five original goddesses who took part in their creation. Aside from constant prayer and worship, the occasion begins with a hunt in honour to the goddess Artemis. A harvest is also celebrated in honor of the goddess Demeter. A feast is then held in honor of the remaining goddesses. This is said to be the Themyscirians' most holy holiday. The Feast of the Five can be seen almost as a holy birthday for each of the Themyscirian Amazons, with the glory of the occasion being placed in honor to their creators.
The Amazons observe an ancient Greek custom called Hiketeia, in which one person supplicates themselves to another in exchange for sustenance and protection. The supplication does not have to be accepted once offered, but when it is accepted both parties agree to take the contract very seriously. Should either the guardian or supplicant ever falter in their duties, the Erinyes, ancient and savage judgement bringers, will slaughter them instantly. When Hiketeia is offered, the supplicant says the following words to their intended guardian: "(Name of potential guardian), I am (name of potential servant). I offer myself in supplicaton to you. I come without protection. I come without means, without honor, without hope, with nothing but myself to beg for your protection. In your shadow I will serve, by your breath will I breathe, by your words will I speak, by your mercy will I live. With all my heart, with everything I can offer, I beg you, in Zeus' name, who watches over all supplicants, accept my plea."
When a female child is lost at sea, the child is rescued from drowning by the goddess Thetis. Thetis would rescue mortal female children she deemed "special" and safely transport them to the shores of Themyscira's Island of Healing. (Male children were taken someplace else.) Once on the island the Amazons' chief physician Epione would discover them and tend to their care. After this the child would be taken to the royal palace where one Amazon is selected as the child's "Guardian of Inspiration". The baby is then granted great wisdom and strength of spirit via a magical kiss. According to the Amazon Pythia, Julia Kapatelis was the last of hundreds of babies to experience this in 1937. This "blessing" in actuality is a subliminal suggestion for the child to teach peace and equality throughout their lives. This blessing can extend to descendants as well. This custom is called "Send Forth". Once this is done the child is considered an Amazon and spiritual daughter to the Amazon who blessed them. After a few days of recuperation and blessings, the child is taken to the island shores again, where she is taken back into the ocean and returned, again by Thetis who magically travels back in time to return the child to the exact point in time when the child first left her homeland.
All Themyscirian Amazons possesses the ability to relieve their bodies of physical injury and toxins by becoming one with the Earth's soil and then reforming their bodies whole again. The first time Diana does this she prays to her god Gaea saying: "Gaea, I pray to you. Grant me your strength. You are the Earth who suckled me, who nurtured and bred me. Through you all life is renewed. The circle which never ends. I pray you, mother Gaea, take me into your bosom. Please, let me be worthy." This is a very sacred ritual to the Themyscirians, only to be used in the most dire of circumstances.
Originally a cavern was built under the Amazons' Temple of the Dead, which is where those dead are remembered. After an Amazon's funeral is completed, the body is lowered into the cavern where it is laid to rest in a city of the dead. Queen Hippolyta assigns the chief temple priestess to remain alone in the city to watch over the dead for a thousand years before a replacement is made.
This tradition was later changed as the Amazons discovered that the priestess often went mad in her solitude. One such priestess brought the dead to life through the use of magic during a mad outburst. The Amazons soon after burned their dead, during which the souls of the slain Amazons took form among the flames before traveling onto the plane of afterlife called the Elysian Fields.
All Themyscirian Amazons possess various degrees of superhuman strength, speed, stamina and extraordinarily acute senses and the ability to glide on aircurrents, as seen in the second competition for the title of Wonder Woman won by Orana. All these were gifts blessed to them by their gods. As shown by various tribe members, they have the capability to break apart steel and concrete with their bare hands, jump over 1,200 feet from a standing position, have a high durability factor, enhanced healing, and the ability to absorb and process a vast amount of knowledge in a short period of time. Themyscirian Amazons also possess immortality that allows them to live indefinitely in a youthful form, but does leave them open to potential injury and death depending on their actions. They also have developed high levels of hand-to-hand combat training, mastered over 3,000 years, and are experts in the use of various hand held weapons.
Themyscirian Amazons also possess the ability to relieve their bodies of physical injury and toxins by becoming one with the Earth's soil and then reforming their bodies whole again. The first time Diana does this she prays to her god Gaea saying: "Gaea, I pray to you. Grant me your strength. You are the Earth who suckled me, who nurtured and bred me. Through you all life is renewed. The circle which never ends. I pray you, mother Gaea, take me into your bosom. Please, let me be worthy." During writer John Byrne's time on the comic it was stated that this is a very sacred ritual, to be used only in the most dire of circumstances.
The Purple Ray is a quasi-mystical healing device used by the Amazons. In the Pre-Crisis continuity, it was invented by Diana herself. It has also been used for other purposes, such as empowering Wonder Girl, and as a weapon.
(All cited Wonder Woman title appearances are from the second series which began in November, 1987.)
|Queen Hippolyta||Wonder Woman #2 (December 2011)||The queen of the Amazons and Wonder Woman's mother.|
|Princess Diana||Flashpoint #5 (October 2011)||Daughter of Queen Hippolyta and Zeus, King of the Gods.|
|Aleka||Wonder Woman #2 (December 2011)||A large, muscular amazon that often picked on Diana when she was younger. She was killed during the battle with the First Born. She bears resemblance to Artemis of the Bana-Mighdall.|
|Derinoe||Wonder Woman #36 (November 2014)||An elderly amazon who had at one point been Hippolyta's lover. She lost her youth due to an encounter with one of Hecate's minions. She later allied herself with Hecate to create Donna Troy in order to turn the Amazons against Wonder Woman. She was killed after trying to stab Diana herself.|
|Dessa||Wonder Woman #2 (December 2011)||A black amazon and one of Hippolyta's most trusted friends. She bears resemblance to General Philippus.|
|Donna Troy||Wonder Woman #37 (February 2015)||An amazon created by Derinoe and the witch goddess Hecate to conspire in rallying the amazons against Wonder Woman.|
|Exoristos||Demon Knights #1 (November 2011)||An exiled amazon who joined the Demon Knights.|
|Hessia||Superman/Wonder Woman #1 (December 2013)||An amazon who, like Diana, left Themyscira and sacrificed her immortality. She was responsible for leaking Diana's relationship with Superman to news sources.|
|Queen Hippolyta||Wonder Woman #2 (September 2016)||The queen of the Amazons and Wonder Woman's mother.|
|Princess Diana||Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1 (August 2016)||Daughter of Queen Hippolyta and princess of the Amazons. Diana won the contest to return Steve Trevor back to "Man's World" and became Wonder Woman.|
|Althea||Wonder Woman #34 (January 2018)||An Amazon who aided Philippus in taking Diana's twin brother Jason to the demi-god Glaucus.|
|Areto||Wonder Woman #2 (September 2016)||An Amazon astrologer and member of the Council of Themyscira.|
|Artemis||Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 (October 2016)||A member of the Egyptian tribe of Amazons that was discovered by Wonder Woman in the past and integrated into Themysciran society.|
|Castalia||Wonder Woman #2 (September 2016)||An oracle and member of the Council of Themyscira. When Diana and Steve returned to Themyscira, Steve questioned where Castalia was, though the amazons had no idea who he was speaking of. This led to Wonder Woman discovering that she had never returned to Themyscira in the past.|
|Epione||Wonder Woman #4 (October 2016)||The Amazons' chief healer. She healed Steve Trevor after his plane crashed onto Themyscira.|
|Hessia||The Odyssey of the Amazons #1 (March 2017)||A high-ranking general of the Amazons. She led several other amazons in search of other amazons in the world outside of Themyscira many years before Diana was born.|
|Io||Wonder Woman #2 (September 2016)||An Amazon weaponsmith who has feelings for Diana. She was one of the finalists in the contest to become Wonder Woman.|
|Kasia||Wonder Woman #2 (September 2016)||Diana's lover on Themyscira. After Diana left the island and became Wonder Woman, she revealed to Steve Trevor that it was difficult to say goodbye to Kasia.|
|Philippus||Wonder Woman #2 (September 2016)||The Amazon general and Hippolyta's lover. She is a member of the Council of Themyscira.|
|Raina||Wonder Woman #2 (September 2016)||A red-haired amazon who often wears a scarf around her hair.|
|Sofia||Wonder Woman #2 (September 2016)||A blonde-haired amazon and friend to Diana. She was one of the finalists in the contest to become Wonder Woman.|
In the Flashpoint reality, the Amazons are shown to be at war with the Atlanteans led by Emperor Aquaman. Besides Queen Hippolyta and Princess Diana, the known Amazons are Artemis, Penthesileia, and Philippus. Following the death of Queen Hippolyta, Princess Diana and her Amazons have caused havoc in Western Europe during their war with the Atlanteans and have conquered the United Kingdom killing 12 million in the process. The Amazons also have a group of female warriors on their side called the Furies that are loyal to Princess Diana out of fear of her which consisted of Arrowette, Cheetah, Cheshire, Giganta, Hawkgirl, Huntress, Katana, Lady Vic, Silver Swan, Starfire, Terra, and Vixen. In addition, Enchantress is depicted as a spy working for the Amazons.
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