Release: February 1987
Writers: Greg Potter & George Pérez
Pencils: George Pérez
Inks: Bruce D Patterson
The interesting thing about this origin is that I’m reading it shortly after seeing the pilot of the Lynda Carter TV series on a whim the other week. I don’t intend to write about that (yet), but I say it only because it puts a few things into start relief when you compare that origin to the one we’re given in this comic. I don’t actually remember much of the Golden Age origin as presented in those comics, as it’s been quite a few years since I’ve read them, but the TV show offers us a Paradise Island that is magical but not mythical, and that matters a lot in contrast to the origin that we’re given a decade later.
The Vol 2 origin, in contrast, is barely a book about Wonder Woman for most of its 32 pages. It opens with a story of the gods on Olympus, establishing the pantheon and Ares’ scheming, and gives us a crash course in the divine origins of the Amazons as protectors and leaders of men in the ancient world and how they fell from that position through a bunch of bullshit drama, chiefly Hyppolyta being attacked and raped by Hercules (who seems as much a villain in this, and an avatar of masculine menace, as Ares). These amazons, interestingly, are apparently all birthed from the souls of women who were exceptional and then kept in Hades for a rebirth in Amazonian form? Thus leading to them being like the best and brightest of women in the even more ancient world collected together, which is honestly a weird bit of eugenics for Greek gods to be into.
The Amazons are then given a second task of being removed from the world of men and left to guard an ancient evil (I assume this is Ares? The comic isn’t clear, but it was Ares in some of the animated stuff I’ve seen). Removed from the world of men, thousands of years pass, and the Amazons settle into their very prototypical island peacetime, until Hyppolyta, restless, is given one last gift from the goddesses that have overseen this Amazon project: a child, born from the last soul left in the depths of Hades where the Amazons were sired from, a reincarnation of Hyppolyta’s prior life’s unborn child who was sent to Hades with her when she died, which is actually really dark? Like even if the Amazons are all sired from prior women’s souls, Diana is instead the soul of a fetus who had never been given life before, and I dunno … the idea of Wonder Woman being the leftover soul of an unborn child is weird and icky in 2016. It kind of reeks of right to life rhetoric? Buuuuuuuuut, that’s neither here nor there. She’s fashioned from clay, given a soul, and the goddesses themselves grant her their blessings as all her various gifts as Diana is born and raised in the general Wonder Woman origin fashion.
Surprisingly, Steve Trevor doesn’t factor into this origin at all. The Amazons essentially decide that it’s their job to take the initiative and head to the world of men to spread virtue and godliness and other very important Greek-y things, so the whole contest of champions to find the best amazon to send as an ambassador is done more or less without a catalyst. I’ve never heard this version of the origin before, but it’s striking in how it makes the Amazons very proactive in their outreach, even if it is simply one woman and the usual trope of Hyppolyta being aghast when it’s Diana is definitely alive and well here. But even more striking, and lifted directly from the Wonder Woman TV show, the last test involves Diana having her reflexes tested at gunpoint. In the show, this makes sense, as Steve has landed and has a gun, but here the Amazons simply pull out a gun that they’ve kept in their armory, lifted from some unknown source, and its arrival here suddenly pointed at Diana is unsettling after two dozen pages of Greek gods and carved plinths.
With all that out of the way, though, this is mostly just an origin. It’s not until the very last page that Diana takes up her iconic costume, which is a good design but makes even less sense when it’s stripped of the idea that she’s wearing a flag as a swimsuit to blend in with the American livery Steve Trevor brought with him to the island. But hey, you’ve gotta let some things go, and honestly it’s as good a version of the Wonder Woman costume as exists. It feels very true to the character.