Wonder Woman stands beside Superman and Batman as one of DC Comics premier heroes, and has held that spot for decades. As the publisher’s first female super hero, she’s been a member of the Justice Society of America and a founding member of the Justice League of America. The amazing Amazon starred in her own live-action TV series in in the 1970s and has been in constant publication since her 1941 debut in the pages of “All Star Comics” #8. In spite of her popularity and prominence, the rogues gallery for Themyscira’s favorite daughter’s doesn’t exactly rival the likes of Superman and Batman’s.
Though she certainly has had her fair share of cringe-worthy losers like Egg Fu and Angle Man, Wonder Woman has also battled some serious A-list threats. Since Diana burst onto the scene more than 70 years ago, she’s battled Nazis, monsters, crooks and dark gods — here, we highlight the greatest threats Wonder Woman has ever faced.
The struggle between god of war and ambassador of peace stretches back to the first issue of Diana’s solo title, 1942’s “Wonder Woman” #1. Ares, created by William Moulton Marston, was Wonder Woman’s first recurring foe, and the god of war remains Diana’s most potent threat in the eyes of many modern readers. Their conflicts extended well into the Bronze Age, and when legendary writer/artist George Perez relaunched Wonder Woman in her own title in the days following “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” Ares was there, pulling the strings of foes ranging from fellow gods to mortals. Following the the New 52 reboot, Ares remained Diana’s greatest antagonist even while their struggle took place across the landscape of a very different DC Universe.
With Wonder Woman preparing to make her big screen debut in next year’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” followed by her own solo film in 2017, rumors are already circling that Ares will be along for the ride. This seems appropriate, considering he’s been a thorn in Wonder Woman’s side almost since day one.
Many fans who came to comics during the Bronze Age will remember this purr-fect Wonder Woman foe as a member of the Legion of Doom on “Super Friends,” the animated series that launched a million comic fans. In fact, the Cheetah is Wonder Woman’s greatest mortal adversary, a rivalry so potent that more than one woman has worn the iconic spotted costume. Created by William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter, Priscilla Rich, the first Cheetah introduced during the Golden Age, was a debutante who suffered from multiple personality disorder. Her other identity, the thieving Cheetah, would often rise to the surface and force Rich to commit crimes in a gaudy cat costume. Rich’s niece, Deborah ‘Debbie’ Domaine, took over the Cheetah identity prior to “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” which both wiped DC continuity and the old school Cheetahs away.
There was still plenty of room for the Wonder Woman/Cheetah rivalry post-“Crisis,” with the new era introducing two more women to hold the moniker: Barbara Minerva and Sebastian Ballesteros. While the original Cheetahs were costumed thieves, the post-“Crisis” Cheetahs were transformed, lycanthropic beings whose savagery made them the antithesis of Wonder Woman’s compassionate humanity. The New 52 introduced yet another all-new Cheetah in the pages of “Justice League,” extending the rivalry to the present day.
To understand why Doctor Psycho holds such a lofty spot on Wonder Woman’s Mount Rushmore of evil, we need to remember that their creator, Marston, was a renowned psychologist and a devout feminist. Doctor Psycho, on the other hand, is a manipulative psychoanalyst who reviled women and femininity, making the villain, co-created by H.G. Peter, in many ways the anti-Marston.
The dwarfish villain began as an occultist, a terrifying ghoul who struck out at Wonder Woman and her allies because of his hatred for women. Psycho followed Wonder Woman into the Silver and Bronze Ages, and though he shed his occultist tactics over the years, he remained a brilliant and fiendish adversary. Post-“Crisis,” Psycho endured and was reimagined as a mesmerist by George Perez in late 1980s. As time went on, Psycho became increasingly creepy, to the point where he transformed into one of DC’s most terrifying villains. Luckily, Diana is always there to bring down the not so good Doctor.
Circe, the mythological sorceress with a penchant for turning men into pigs, made her first comic book appearance towards the end of the Golden Age courtesy of Robert Kanigher and H.G. Peter. Taking the form of a ravishing blond, Circe was a far cry from the purple-tressed villain who would become the antagonist of many legendary “Wonder Woman” stories in the decades to come. Circe and Wonder Woman battled right up until the “Crisis,” doing everything in her power to embarrass and defeat Diana. In the Golden Age Circe’s first appearance, readers learned the swine-obsessed witch was exiled by Wonder Woman’s mother Hippolyta, and Circe’s quest for revenge created an immortal rivalry. The post-“Crisis” Circe began to resemble her mythical counterpart to an even greater degree, becoming the manipulative hand behind many plots to destroy Wonder Woman and her allies.
Perhaps the villain’s finest hour came in an episode of the animated “Justice League Unlimited,” where the witch transformed Wonder Woman into a pig. To free his comrade, Batman had to do the unthinkable — sing! And thus, the stuff of animation legend was born thanks to one of DC’s greatest string pullers.
While many who first encountered Giganta on “Super Friends” might think the Legion of Doom member was a foe of the size-changing Apache Chief, she first appeared in the pages of “Wonder Woman” and has one of the strangest origins in Diana’s rogues gallery, and possibly all of comics. Giganta, who has gone toe-to-toe with both the Justice League and Wonder Woman numerous times, is actually a mutated gorilla. Who can grow. Really big.
Lest you think all of Wonder Woman’s great foes were created in the faraway days of the Second World War, we present Genocide, Diana’s most violent and brutal foe — If Diana is a being made of peace and love, Genocide is a creature of pure rage and hate. Created by Gail Simone in 2009, Genocide was crafted by Ares along with the technological know-how of mad scientist T.O. Morrow and the magical might of dark sorceror Felix Faust. Ares somehow managed to procure the future corpse of Wonder Woman and imbue it with the blood magic of Cambodia, Auschwitz, Poland, Rwanda and other places where unspeakable horror took place. What was born from this act became Wonder Woman’s own version of Doomsday, the monster that killed Superman.
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