Princess Diana of Themiscyra first appeared as Wonder Woman just over 75 years ago in the pages of All-Star Comics #8. Created by William Moulton Marston and artist Harry G. Peter in 1941, Wonder Woman was different from other male heroes of her day in that she would use love to triumph over her enemies rather than conventional fisticuffs. Over the years, she’s strayed somewhat from her original Golden Age intent, embracing her status as the DC Universe’s premiere warrior. She now stands beside Superman and Batman as one of the pillars of DC’s pantheon, forming a trinity of superheroes held in the highest regard by their compatriots.
Originally, Wonder Woman was formed by her mother Hippolyta from a lump of clay, and while the story of her birth has been updated over the years to reflect the times, it seems fitting that so many subsequent heroines have sought to shape their own fictional lives from the mud of Wonder Woman’s proto-origin. As we get ready to watch (and re-watch) the Wonder Woman feature film starring Gal Gadot in the title role, we thought it was the perfect time to run down a list of Princess Diana’s many imitators. Here, then, are 15 warrior women who rode Wonder Woman’s coattails to varying degrees of glory.
SPOILER ALERT! Spoilers ahead for numerous stories produced by various publishers and television producers.
It’s hard not to see the parallels between Wonder Woman and Xena. They are both impressive, empowered women unafraid to cross swords with any adversary, be they male or female. Also, both have roots in Greco-Roman mythology. What’s notable about Xena is that she started out as a villain who fought the legendary Hercules in order to regain her reputation as a bad-ass warrior and leader of armies!
Hercules taught her that there was more to being a warrior than kicking ass and after a brief romance with the Lion of Olympus, she set out on a quest for redemption, aided by her young sidekick Gabrielle. Along the way, rampant speculation among fans raised the question of Xena’s sexual orientation. Riffing on the obvious lesbian subtext in Wonder Woman’s origin, Xena and Gabrielle’s romantic commitment to one another was all but confirmed by the series finale.
With a background rooted in ancient Norse mythology, this Asgardian hammer-chaser’s origins could be said to rival Wonder Woman’s deep ties to Greek and Roman myth. Sif first appeared in 1964 in Journey into Mystery #102. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Sif was Thor’s companion in battle and on-again-off-again lover. She shares much in common with Wonder Woman, not the least of which is her long, black hair and supreme combat skills.
She is widely regarded as Asgard’s most accomplished and respected female warrior. Still, Sif is a supporting character, often depicted as little more than a Thor groupie, pledging her undying love to anyone worthy enough to sling a uru hammer, including the deceased Thunderstrike and Thor’s staunch ally, the horse-faced alien Beta Ray Bill. That’s a shame because she is such an awesome character!
Although initially inspired by Superman, this Filipino superheroine really has more in common with Wonder Woman. Created by legendary Filipino “komikers” Mars Revelo and Nestor Redondo, Darna first appeared way back in 1947 in the pages of Bulaklak Magazine, Vol. 4 #17. A staple of Filipino pop culture with slews of comics, films and TV shows under her belt, Darna’s appearance owes much to Princess Diana and fills much the same role in the native comics of the Philippines.
Blessed with a wide array of powers, Darna possesses super strength, speed, stamina and vast psionic abilities, including telepathy and telekinesis. Although Revelo refutes Darna’s connections to Wonder Woman, subsequent writers and artists have undeniably shoehorned this vibrant Filipina heroine into the role of a Southeast Asian Amazon princess, who preaches peace before violence.
12. JAKITA WAGNER
Jakita Wagner first appeared in the premiere issue of Warren Ellis and John Cassaday’s masterful Planetary, in 1999. Truthfully, less a rip-off of Wonder Woman and more a fulfillment of type, Jakita nonetheless possesses some very Amazonian traits including super strength, speed and durability. The daughter of Century Baby Lord Blackstone (Ellis and Cassaday’s Tarzan analog) and the inhabitant of a lost civilization, Jakita serves as the field leader of the Planetary squad, until founder Elijah Snow regains his lost memories. Easily bored, Jakita relishes Planetary’s expeditions to uncover the world’s secret history, passionately advocating for and protecting its many strange and wonderful discoveries. Not only does she share Wonder Woman’s metahuman skill set, Jakita also possesses her no-nonsense attitude and compassion for those less fortunate than herself.
This Egyptian Wonder Woman debuted on TV in 1975 as the heroine of The Secrets of Isis, paired up with the original Captain Marvel in the Shazam!/Isis Hour. She appeared in comics a year later in Shazam! #25. In her original incarnation, high school science teacher, Andrea Thomas gained vast superhuman abilities from an ancient Egyptian amulet.
In 2002, Isis was closely tied to Wonder Woman as the chief goddess of an offshoot tribe of Amazonians. Later still, Isis was re-imagined as Adrianna Tomaz and became a member of the Black Marvel Family, after marrying Black Adam. A relatively minor member of DC’s pantheon, the character is at her core, little more than a pale imitation of Wonder Woman that exchanges Greco-Roman tradition for Egyptian mythology.
Perhaps not the most obvious rip-off of Wonder Woman on our list, Zealot does share many of the same traits as Diana, if not a similar appearance. A member of the alien race known as the Kherubim, Zealot first appeared in 1992’s WildC.A.T.s #1, created by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi. Stranded on Earth thousands of years ago, this formidable Coda warrior shares Wonder Woman’s ties to Greek mythology and used her peerless combat skills fighting for the Greeks in the Trojan War.
She reportedly gave the wily Ulysses the idea to invade Troy using the infamous Trojan Horse to gain entry to the city. As payment for her efforts, Zealot demanded 99 female babies with which she intended to establish a new order of Coda warriors on Earth. Like Wonder Woman, Zealot is virtually immortal and is one of the most accomplished warriors in the Wildstorm Universe, well-versed in many forms of combat.
Freya was one of the many heroic pastiches created by John Ridgeway and Georges Jeanty for their politically-charged, historical exploration of the superhero archetype, The American Way. Ostensibly a female Thor analogue, Freya is a powerful Asgardian goddess who wields a magical axe in battle. However, her characterization in the eight-issue limited series leans more towards Wonder Woman’s recent depictions as an exceptionally formidable and honorable warrior.
Her handlers in the U.S. government even tried to set her up with the series’ Superman/Captain Marvel analogue Pharos, who ultimately shunned her. The force-fed attempt at romance ended in a violent fight between the two heroes, after the condescending Pharos insulted Freya in response to her overt sexual advances. She was one of the few heroes in the series with redeemable qualities, which made her violent death by decapitation, at the hands of the maniacal Hellbent, all the more shocking.
8. QUEEN MAEVE
Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s The Boys was akin to a full-blown, super-powered kick to the metaphorical knackers of superhero archetypes. Known for its incisive black humor and gratuitous violence, the series unapologetically deconstructed the deconstruction of mainstream superheroes. Populated by scores of vicious, depraved superhero analogues, the series posited a world where the fascination with metahuman protectors had reached crisis proportions.
Queen Maeve was an unabashed Wonder Woman clone with a deep affinity for gin and orgies. Like Diana, she was immensely powerful and at her core, one of the few heroes in the story with any hope of redemption, no matter how slim. She sacrificed her life to save Starlight, facing off against the Homelander, who used his Superman-level strength to punch her head clean off her shoulders. So much for redemption.
7. PLANETARY’S DAUGHTER OF WONDER
Planetary’s exploration of mainstream comics’ innate strangeness and whimsy is chock full of pastiches and parodies of our favorite heroes and villains. Analogues of Nick Fury, Doc Savage, Captain Marvel, the Fantastic Four and a host of others provide new insight into some of comics’ most beloved characters. In Planetary #10, creators Warren Ellis and John Cassaday set their sights on three of DC’s most iconic characters, presenting modern takes on classic versions of Superman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman.
In Planetary’s metafictional universe, their unnamed Wonder Woman pastiche evokes Princess Diana’s original Golden Age mission as an emissary of peace and love more fully than most modern interpretations of the actual character. Alas, in Ellis’ typical warped fashion, such good intent was not to last. Fearing the implications of a hidden civilization of advanced females, the Four assassinated the peace-loving emissary from orbit, ending her diplomatic mission before it began.
A feminist anti-heroine created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema, Thundra first appeared in 1972, in Fantastic Four #129. A genetically-altered Femizon from an alternate Earth where women ruled, Thundra started out as a villain and member of the Frightful Four but eventually emerged as a more heroic figure. She shares a number of traits with Wonder Woman, including vast, strength, speed and stamina and like the Amazon princess, hails from a society of empowered females.
Thundra carries a chain instead of an enchanted lasso, and is known for her brash, reckless behavior and distrust of men. Wonder Woman, on the other hand, refuses to discriminate based on gender. Thundra was last seen in the pages of Squadron Supreme, where she helped the fugitive super team avoid capture by the Avengers Unity Squad.
There have been several different versions of the villainous Wonder Woman rip-off known as Superwoman since her first appearance in 1964’s Justice League of America #29, although they all hail from an alternate Earth, where evil incarnations of the Justice League rule as the Crime Syndicate of America. Both the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths and post-Crisis versions of the character were Amazons, the latter taking the alias of Lois Lane, an attribute later attached to the most recent New 52 incarnation that appeared during Forever Evil.
Superwoman enjoys all of the typical powers of an Amazon but none of the race’s compassion and tolerance. The first two versions wielded a twisted version of Wonder Woman’s fabled golden lasso. In pre-Crisis continuity, the lasso was capable of assuming different shapes of varying complexity, while the post-Crisis version unleashed its victims’ hidden inhibitions.
4. BIG BARDA
Big Barda was created by Jack “the King” Kirby in 1971, debuting in Mister Miracle #4. Born and raised on Apokolips, Barda was groomed from an early age to lead Granny Goodness’ Female Furies, which was, as the name implies, a fearsome squadron of warrior women loyal to Darkseid. Barda split from the group after falling in love with Mister Miracle. She followed him to Earth and eventually married him.
Like Wonder Woman, she is a strong symbol of female empowerment, her physical capabilities far out-classing her husband’s, in what was noted at the time as a reversal of comics’ stereotypical male-female dynamic. Barda is a formidable warrior, powerful enough to battle Wonder Woman to a draw, and has served as a member of the Justice League on a number of occasions (and timelines).
Artemis is a warrior of the Egyptian Bana-Mighdall offshoot of the Amazonian tribe. She was created in 1994 by William Messner-Loeb and Mike Deodato as a replacement Wonder Woman, after Hippolyta mistakenly foresaw the death of her daughter and conspired to save her life by stripping her of the title. Far more brash and violent than Diana, Artemis’ tenure as Wonder Woman was short-lived, ending in her death at the hands of the White Magician.
After a stint in Tartarus, where she was married to a duke of Hell, she returned to the land of the living to help reunite the Amazonian tribe as co-ruler alongside General Phillipus. Although widely considered little more than a pale imitation of Wonder Woman, Artemis is a survivor and can be seen in the pages of Red Hood and the Outlaws, alongside Jason Todd and Bizarro.
2. POWER PRINCESS
Zarda, the Power Princess, first appeared in 1982’s The Defenders #112 as a member of Earth-712’s Squadron Supreme. Created by J.M. DeMatteis and Don Perlin, Zarda was introduced as blatant copy of Wonder Woman, in keeping with established Squadron Supreme tradition. Hailing from Utopia Isle, Zarda was a member of an advanced civilization of women who believe in peace, tolerance and education. When her fellow sisters left for the stars, she remained behind to serve as their ambassador to the people of Earth, residing in Capitol City. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
After battling the Defenders, Zarda returned with the Squadron to her homeworld and helped implement her Utopian ideals despite not actually allowing anyone a choice in the matter. Later, as a member of a new Squadron comprised of members displaced by the events of Secret Wars, she was instrumental in the devastation of Atlantis, killing long-time Submariner adversary Attuma.
Yet another in a long line of bland Rob Liefeld rip-offs, Glory debuted in Youngblood Strikefile Vol. 1 #1, in 1992. The progeny of the Amazonian Lady Demeter and the demonic Lord Silverfall of the Underworld, Gloriana was a formidable warrior with a long heroic career that spanned decades, starting during World War II as a member of the Allies. Alan Moore attempted to inject a healthy dose of mythology and humanity into what was essentially little more than a one-dimensional clone of Wonder Woman. That lasted for a whole one issue.
Much later, Joe Keatinge and Sophie Campbell repositioned Glory as caught up in a war between extraterrestrial versions of the Amazons and Demons. Most notable for Campbell’s dramatic redesign of her appearance as a scarred, musclebound albino, even this distinguished reimagining of Glory still couldn’t save her from eventual cancellation.
We’re “wondering” who we missed in our Wonder Woman rip-off list. Let us know in the Comments!
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