With the recent news that the boxer Ann Wolfe will potray Artemis in the upcoming “Wonder Woman” film, we thought the time was right to dig into the complicated comic book history of the Amazon hero, one of a very limited number of people who could ever say that they were Wonder Woman.
Artemis made her comic book debut in about as dramatic a way possible, as her first appearance was also the first issue of “Wonder Woman” drawn by Mike Deodato, whose debut on “Wonder Woman” made the title a “hot” book for the first time in years, as the burgeoning superstar artist got everyone’s attention with the way that he drew the Amazons in the title. Writer William Messner-Loebs remained on the title, but in that debut issue, “Wonder Woman” #90, he threw the Wonder Woman universe into upheaval with the announcement of “The Contest.” Wonder Woman discovered that Themyscira had vanished for a decade in the lives of the Amazons, while only a few months passed on Earth. In that time, a rival tribe of Amazons (who had never been graced with immortality like the Amazons who lived on Themyscira) had been tricked by Circe into attacking their sisters. Soon, though, both were teleported to a demonic dimension and both tribes had to put aside their differences and fight together to get their way back to Earth. So now that they were back on Earth, the other Amazons, who were more war-like, were being integrated into Themyscira society.
That was the situation when Wonder Woman returned home, only to find out that her mother, Queen Hippolyta, had determined that Diana was no longer worthy of being Wonder Woman and thus ordered a new contest to determine who would become Wonder Woman. At the end of the new contest, Diana just couldn’t manage to pull out the win, so Artemis was crowned the new Wonder Woman and was given all of Wonder Woman’s stuff (the tiara, the costume, the lasso, etc.). Diana, though, decided to continue as a superhero under just her own name (and short shorts, for some reason).
The new Wonder Woman was far more vicious than her predecessor, but she had good intentions at heart. She even took Diana’s place in the Justice League, although Diana soon re-joined on her own, as well. However, as time went by, it became evident that this was just a case of Hippolyta taking a page out of Marvel Comics’ Odin’s book of parenting. You see, Hippolyta had seen a vision of Wonder Woman dying, so she rigged the contest (stripping some of Diana’s strength away to make her weaker) to make sure that someone else would become Wonder Woman and die in place of her daughter. That’s precisely what happened in “Wonder Woman” #100, the final issue of Messner-Loebs’ long run on the series.
However, this being comics, that was not the end of the line for Artemis.
Messner-Loebs wrote a miniseries called “Artemis: Requiem” (with artist Ed Benes) where Artemis fought her way back from hell (well, a form of hell, at least) and became a demon hunter using the superhero name of Requiem.
New “Wonder Woman” writer/artist John Byrne then brought Artemis back into the main “Wonder Woman” series as a combat trainer of Cassie Sandsmark, the new Wonder Girl. This would become a familiar role for Artemis in the next few years, as she saw all of her skills in combat as being best used to train the next generation of female heroes. She famously trained Supergirl as an Amazon warrior after the new Supergirl showed up in the pages of “Superman/Batman” (by Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner)…
(To answer a question you might be having, yes, Artemis does occasionally wear clothes)
However, before Artemis trained Supergirl, first her and her people would get fed up with the other Amazons and engage in a long and drawn-out civil war. It was ultimately resolved and Artemis became the co-head of the Amazons, with Phillipus of the other Amazons, as shown by Phil Jimenez in “Wonder Woman” #177…
Eventually, Artemis and the other Amazons had to actually leave this dimension once more due to an attack by the OMACs during “Infinite Crisis.” The Amazons lived in that other dimension peacefully for a year before returning to the main dimension, at which point they were manipulated into declaring war on the United States. At the end of that conflagration, Granny Goodness (who was manipulating events) cursed the Amazons by wiping their memories and spreading them around the globe. While most of the Amazons were eventually revived and brought back to Paradise Island, Artemis, however, retained her memory loss. We learned that this was because Artemis and her tribe of Amazons were being specifically punished by the United States government for their prominent role in the aforementioned attack by the Amazons on the U.S. (as noted before, Artemis and her people were decidedly more vicious than their fellow Amazons).
She was dressed in her old Requiem costume and an agent was trying to brainwash her, but she kept resisting.
She was rescued by the Secret Six, who helped her return to Paradise Island along with the rest of her tribe.
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In the “New 52,” Artemis really did not have much of a profile, but that changed in “Rebirth,” where we learned that in the past, Artemis’s best friend had been consumed by a magical Bow of Ra. Artemis teamed up with Wonder Woman to stop her friend, but in the process, she was killed and the bow was seemingly lost. However, when the bow showed up again, Artemis dedicated herself to tracking it down.
Meanwhile, Red Hood was also doing the same thing. They thought they had it, but instead discovered a Bizarro, instead. Since they freed him, they felt a responsibility to him. The three now are sort of an odd little team in the pages of “Red Hood and the Outlaws,” as they are each, in their own way, symbols of the famous DC Universe “Trinity,” with Red Hood the Batman of the group, Artemis the Wonder Woman and Bizarro the Superman.
With the “Wonder Woman” movie approaching, it will be interesting to see if Artemis plays more of a role in the “Wonder Woman” comic book series.