Wonder Woman’s Gallery Of Foes
“Oh… hi there, it’s great to see you, I hope you didn’t have a particularly hard time finding your way down here, the majestic mansion of mystery known as Precinct1313 certainly is a notoriously convoluted place… infinite in fact. So kudos for locating this particular annex. Usually, of course, the Precinct’s resident Carrion Crow Of Woe – Eldritch would have guided you here, but, he’s been feeling rather nonplussed since his recent encounter with Supergirl’s cat Streaky, so he is on a rather lengthy corvidae sabbatical right now… “
Though, as long as you followed my implicit instructions, it wasn’t necessarily a huge task to navigate – turn left at the Movie Mausoleum, head directly forward until you reach the Comic Crypts and then turn right and head into the boundless Ancient Amazon Archives, whereupon you will find an additional wing that leads ceremoniously unto the art gallery of the atavistic Greek gods themselves. A small part of which contains an extensive exhibition of malice and enmity, of beings whose one purpose in life is to oppose that which is truth, hope and love… the aspirations that ultimately transform into a celestial persona known as Wonder Woman.
Now, it’s well known throughout comic-book circles that Gotham’s grim guardian – The Batman has the greatest and most eclectic gallery of foes, and without a doubt the most famous of all SuperVillains reside within their ranks, even non comic-book fans have heard of the likes of the Penguin, Riddler, Two Face, and of course the medium’s most memorable and malevolently maniacal nemesis – The Joker.
With that said, the Themysciran Titan also possesses a wild array of distinctive adversaries to challenge her ongoing mission of peace, though maybe lesser known outside of comicdom, they are still most certainly as iconic and maliciously menacing as Batsy’s archive of antagonists.
Silver Swans, Gods Of War, Cheetahs, Psycho Doctors and malevolent Witches, Wonder Woman’s eclectic cast of foes really are as wild and diverse as the Caped Crusader’s… in fact, when you really delve headlong into their malign and pernicious psyche they are a hell of a lot more distinct and disparate than almost any enemies the pointy eared vigilante has in his antagonistic ranks.
ARES – GOD OF WAR
Of course, with Ares having been the prime villain in the 2017 Wonder Woman film he has rocketed up the ranks of Diana’s nemeses, though, if you have been a fan of Ms Prince’s comic for many a year (or literally decades, a la moi) then he has always been one of her most enduring and dangerous foes.
In Greek mythology, Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera and one of the twelve Olympian Gods. Designated as the God of War, Ares revels in the savagery and bloodletting of eternal human combat from whence he derives his power. In the Wonder Woman mythos, Ares (in the post crisis DC Universe) was Diana’s greatest enemy, it was through the actions of this barbaric god that Diana left her home of Themyscira so she could resist Ares’ threat on human kind, as he poised to unleash World War III upon the planet. Ares mercilessly opposed the creation of the Amazon race, who were championed by his own half sister – Artemis, who chose to preach the peaceful idylls of the earth goddess Gaea to the fledgling Amazon race, much to the chagrin of Ares who vowed to corrupt and destroy the immortal sisterhood.
My personal favourite Wonder Woman villain of all time is most assuredly Diana’s principal nemesis – The Cheetah, but did you know that the current holder of that appellation, one Barbara Ann Minerva, is actually just one of many that have held that titular title over the years? no? well read on fellow fans of ferocious felines.
Making her first ever appearance in Wonder Woman #6 was the original variant of the capricious cat – Priscilla Rich, created by the awesome alumni of William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter way back in 1943. This golden age version of Cheetah was a spoilt rich girl with an inferiority complex and split personality, who when shown up by Wonder Woman at a charity event, attempted yet failed to take the life of Diana. Later, falling into the mire of her dissociative identity disorder, Priscilla donned a colourful costume and became the first Cheetah.
Cheetah 2.0 was actually Priscilla’s very own niece – Debbie Domaine, who was very much removed from her aunt personality wise, being an ecology activist and fast friend with Wonder Woman herself. After Priscilla passes away, Debbie was kidnapped by the cult of Kobra, her aunt’s former villainous identity is revealed and through torture and insidious indoctrination, Debbie became the new embodiment of Cheetah.
Currently chowing down on hapless humans and ruining Wondy’s day is Barbara Ann Minerva – former British archaeologist and heiress. Babs inherited her predatory powers from the ancient plant god – Urzkartaga, who, trapped for aeons in the Urzari jungle sought a champion to free him of his imprisonment and herald his way to ultimately raise an army and conquer the known world – this avaricious avatar ended up being Babs Minerva. First appearing in Wonder Woman (volume 2) #170, Babs continues to create chaos for the Themysciran Titan to this day, and recently was the main villain in the celluloid classic that is Wonder Woman 1984. (We also interviewed her a couple of years back – right here)
Witch-Goddess – Circe is next in our iniquitous inventory of villainy, first ushered unto the DC Universe in the 1949 issue of Wonder Woman #37, this original (pre-crisis) version of the character, created by Robert Kanigher and Harry G. Peter was a centuries old sorceress who acquired her immortality from a rare elixir named Vitae, and was eventually banished to an uninhabited island in space known as Sorca, for her crimes against the Amazon race.
Post the DC Comics shake up of their universe in the Crisis storyline, Circe’s previous history was re-written by the great George Perez, though the core of her characterisation remained similar. In this revision of her mythos, Circe is the daughter of the Greek Titans – Hyperion and Perseis and is an immortal sorceress and former princess of the isle of Colchis (legendary resting place of the Golden Fleece) An advocate of the goddess – Hecate for millennia, her powers are myriad including the ability to change and reform reality and matter, she can control minds and raise the dead to fight for her, on top of the more mundane and everyday powers (at least in the comic-book world) of flight and strength. We also interviewed the malefic Circe a few years back – Right Here, though our poor hapless interviewer would really rather forget his calamitous conference with the witchy wonder!
Like felonious feline – Cheetah, the capricious cygnet known as Silver Swan has been inhabited by three very different persona over the decades. A trio of women have inherited the majestic yet melancholic moniker of The Silver Swan, beginning with the tragic tale of Helen Alexandros. Helen was a talented ballet dancer, who oft found herself bereft of balletic opportunities because (or so she believed) of her average looks and physique. Striking a pact with Ares for angelic beauty, Helen was gifted the exquisite form she so desired on the proviso that she destoyed the Amazon champion, Wonder Woman. Mystically enhanced by Ares, she became the Silver Swan, and was granted the powers of flight, super strength and the capacity to unleash powerful sonic blasts using her voice.
Second in line to ruffle her feathers at Diana was Valerie Beaudry, a lonely and dejected personality with low self esteem and severe social anxiety problems. In fact her only connection to societal structure came in the form of a pen pal – Henry Armbruster, industrial head of Armbruster International. Upon meeting for the first time, Henry exploited Valerie’s longing for acceptance and friendship by choosing her for his secretive Silver Swan project. Through experimentation, Valerie emerged as the new face of the Silver Swan, retaining all the powers of the previous Alexandros avian variant. With the succour of wonder Woman, Valerie gradually broke free from the manipulative control of Armbruster, and in due course became an agent of justice, initially joining the meta-human team – The Captains of Industry, and a brief stint in The Suicide Squad.
The swan song of this group of volatile volitants and current holder of the sonic scream is Vanessa Kapatelis, a former adherent and eventual friend of Diana. Yet, Vanessa’s friendship with Wondy and her inherent insecurities were perniciously preyed upon by Witch-Goddess – Circe, who utilised Vanessa’s diffident personality and slowly turned her against the Amazon princess. With the assistance of the diabolical Doctor Psycho, Circe conditioned and transformed the insecure former friend of Diana into the latest form of the Silver Swan. Even after Wonder Woman defeated Circe and released Vanessa from her thrall, her unjustified torment continued as she was summarily kidnapped from recovery at a Buenos Aries hospital by deceitful pharmaceutical mogul – Veronica Cale. Cale modified Vanessa through cybernetic implants and sent her out, once more, to fight her former friend, Diana. With her eventual defeat again at the hands of Wonder Woman, Vanessa retreated to the paradise isle of Themyscira for rehabilitation and solace.
Phew! and that, my astounding Amazonian associates is just the literal tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the astonishing Amazon’s array of aggressive antagonists, I mean I could go on (an on) but this post is already reaching near encyclopedic proportions! Yet, with Wonder Woman’s 80th anniversary on the near horizon (October 21, Wondy fact fans) you can be sure that there’ll be plenty more posts emanating from the Precinct’s Ancient Amazon Archives, celebrating not just our favourite Hellenic herald but also her nearest and not so dearest…
Posted on July 29, 2021, in Comics and tagged Ares, Cheetah, Circe, Classic Wonder Woman, DC Comics, Precinct1313, Silver Swan, Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman 80th Anniversary, Wonder Woman's Gallery Of Foes. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.