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Hail to the Queen

There is no objective version of history.
Neither this one, nor that.
But this... is our story. The Amazons' ἱστορία. And it begins...
Opening narration of the first issue.
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Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons is a DC Comics series released under its Black Label imprint in November 2021. Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Bitch Planet, Captain Marvel ) and art by Phil Jimenez (Wonder Woman (1987), Infinite Crisis) on the first issue with artists Gene Ha (Top 10) and Nicola Scott (Wonder Woman (Rebirth), Black Magick) on subsequent issues.

Presented as a "Homeric" epic. The series looks to tell the the true history of Queen Hippolyta and the Amazons, before Steve Trevor washed up ashore on Themyscira.

Millennia ago, Queen Hera and the goddesses of the Olympian pantheon grew greatly dissatisfied with their male counterparts…and far from their sight, they put a plan into action. A new society was born, one never before seen on Earth, capable of wondrous and terrible things…but their existence could not stay secret for long. When a despairing woman named Hippolyta crossed the Amazons' path, a series of events was set in motion that would lead to an outright war in heaven—and the creation of the Earth's greatest guardian!

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This comic provides examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight: The entire series is one for the Amazons in general, and Hippolyta specifically, who have mainly been supporting and background characters in Wonder Woman material.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Of the origin and history of Wonder Woman’s version of the Amazons. The main inspiration of the series is the backstory given to them by George Pérez in the first issue of his run on Wonder Woman back in the eighties, which covered about half of the 36 pages of that issue. The first issue solicited here alone is over 70 pages.
  • Adaptation Name Change: The Well of Souls is renamed to the Well of The Lost.
  • Adaptational Abomination:
    • Similar to Wonder Woman (2011), this comic gives some of the gods more eldritch appearances. Hestia appears as a woman made of fire, Demeter basically looks like a walking bush with human head and Athena resembles a statue with no neck while her head consists of just a mask and helmet. Same for the gods, Zeus being a blue-skinned giant with lightning on his skin and ram horns on his head, while Poseidon is now a winged ichthyocentaur. Hecate probably takes the cake as she appears to be three women fused together with spikes jutting out all over her body.
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    • This also applies to other mythological beings. Cerberus for example, as seen in the first issue, is still a giant three-headed dog. Except one head looks like a wolf and is wrapped in chains, the second head is entirely made out of snakes, and the third one has a skinless jaw revealing all the muscles around its huge fangs...
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: Hippolyta here appears to just be a common Greek woman and is not a part of the founding generation of Amazons, whereas she was in the earlier versions of the Amazons backstory.
  • Adaptational Curves: Aphrodite is portrayed as more heavyset and curvaceous than in previous Wonder Woman works, evoking the Prehistoric Venuses. This, coupled with her being surrounded by hordes of baby-like cupids, also seem to put an emphasis on how this version of Aphrodite embodies all the kinds of love, including motherly.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Traditionally, Hecate has a villainous role when she shows up in Wonder Woman comics. Here she is one of the main creators of the Amazons and patron of her own tribe.
  • Adaptational Skimpiness: A rare male example that crosses over with Truer to the Text. In most Wonder Woman comics, Ares is traditionally covered in layers of stylized Greco-Roman armor while here he's pretty much naked except for a black speedo, closer to Ancient Greek depictions of Ares as not a big believer in clothes.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The male Olympians get hit with this hard, being shown as either apathetic to or justifying the treatment of women in Ancient Greece (though to be fair previous iterations of Wonder Woman had already recurringly established Ares and Zeus as misogynistic villains).
  • The Alcoholic: Hera and, unsurprisingly, Dionysius are shown often holding a wine cup.
  • Alien Geometries: Taking after how it was depicted by George Pérez, Olympus has a MC Escher-esque look to it.
  • All There in the Script: The "guide" to the Amazon tribes in the back of the first issue that goes over each of the individual 30 original Amazons are actually abridgements of full-on tier sheets created by Phil Jimenez. The unabridged versions reveals details like the Amazons of the Hestia tribe being Immune to Fire and Artemis' tribe having Animal empathy
  • Alternate Continuity: Like all DC Black Label books this story is set outside of traditional DC continuity and not meant to be a backstory to any particular pre-existing version of Wonder Woman or the Amazons.
  • Animal Eye Spy: Hera keeps tabs on Hippolyta through some birds.
  • Animal Motifs: All the Gods have animals that both accompany them and usually wear clothing that evoke them. Demeter has snakes on her person, Athena, naturally, has a giant owl that accompanies her, Artemis is seen with both stags and boars while Hera is accompanied by and wears clothing that evokes peacocks. As for the male gods, Ares is accompanied by vulture and his cape can turn into vulture-like wings, Zeus has ram horns growing out of his head along with a giant pet eagle at his side, Poseidon has the lower body of a winged horse and Dionysus rests with panthers by his side.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: What Zeus states the Gods ultimately are and guardians of. Can be seen in the designs of some such as Zeus, Hestia, and Demeter for example all evoking the domains they're in charge of.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Aside from Wonder Woman (2011), Hera traditionally doesn't get much attention in Wonder Woman comics and has no real significant involvement in the backstory of the Amazons. Here she's pretty much the main character of the first issue.
    • Crossing over with Adaptational Heroism but Hecate is usually a background villain in Wonder Woman lore. Here she's one of the creators of the Amazons and a patron of her own specific tribe.
    • Io is traditionally just a regular, if very skilled blacksmith, Amazon. Here she's the Queen of the Hestia Amazon Tribe. She even pre-dates Hippolyta an Amazon!
  • Asshole Victim: The slaver brigands who the Amazons kill when they rescue Hippolyta.
  • Badass Normal: Given Hippolyta is not part of the founding generation of Amazons and is a normal peasant woman, her actions in this series qualify her as this.
  • The Beastmaster: Artemis, unsurprisingly. She takes command of Hippolyta's horse in the second issue just by showing up.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Aphrodite.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Amazons introduce themselves to Hippolyta by rescuing her from some slavers just as one was about to cut Hippolyta's tongue.
  • Big Heroic Run: After realizing she can't just leave the infant girl to die, Hippolyta dashes back to the river to find and when she can't, she keeps running for what the narration says are months on end, all in a vain hope of being able to rescue the child.
  • Blessed with Suck: Hera, as the Goddess of Women, has the ability to see all the suffering women have gone, currently going, and will go through. All at once.
  • Bling of War: The Amazons' armor are very ornate and intricately designed. Each one being individually distinct from one another.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Being a book under the Black Label imprint, there's far more violent and graphic imagery here than you'd expect from your average Wonder Woman book.
  • Blood-Splattered Warrior: Fittingly enough for a War God, Ares has blood all over his body.
  • Blood-Stained Glass Windows: The Amazon recruit, Tarpeia, attacks and kills her former slaver in a temple dedicated to Apollo. Which of course enrages Apollo.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter/Bratty Teenage Son: Both Artemis and Apollo are visually depicted as looking younger than the other Olympians and also display this attitude.
  • Broad Strokes: The whole series is a broad strokes re-interpretation of the basic version of DC's version of the Amazons, using only the basis established by William Moulton Marston and expounded on later by George Pérez.
  • Call-Forward:
    • One of the slavers that accosts Hippolyta is killed by an Amazon using a rope, a weapon Wonder Woman is quite famous for using.
    • Hippolyta is introduced wearing a purple sash on her otherwise plain white robe. After her Big Heroic Run that goes on for months, it's the only form of clothing she has left. Purple is Hippolyta's signature color as Queen of the Amazons in her other continuities.
    • Antiope has facial painting in the form of a bird that resembles the eagle-emblem that makes up WW's logo.
  • The Cameo: Hades makes a voiceless appearance when the Goddesses journey through the Underworld to get to the Well of Souls. He's shown observing Demeter.
  • The Clan:
    • Instead of the usual "one nation under one queen" approach, this comic reinvents the Amazons as a set of six tribes, each with their own queen and patron-goddess: Demeter's tribe led by Penthesilea, Hestia's tribe led by Io, Hecate's tribe led by Menalippe, Athena's tribe led by Hellene, Aphrodite's tribe led by Pythia and Artemis' tribe led by Antiope.
    • In the second issue, Hippolyta ends up founding her own seventh tribe of mortal women who have been saved or rescued by the Amazons. They worship all the above female deities as their patrons.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Each of the gods has an associated color - for example Zeus is blue and Ares is red, where Artemis is associated with brown/red/rust and Demeter with green and golden.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Menalippe castigates Hellene for joking about possibly eating the new Amazon recruits saying that she's "frightening them". This is while Menalippe is wearing a permanently fixed demonic-looking mask that obscures all her human features, which Hellene lampshades.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Timandra's design is modeled after Nicola Scott.
  • Cool Horse: Hippolyta ends issue one riding one, decked out in various ornaments, in search of the Amazons. Artemis takes it as a tribute from Hippolyta in the second issue in exchange for letting her know where to find the Amazons.
  • Cool Mask:
    • The Hecate Tribe of Amazons all wear masks that obscure their entire face.
    • One of the slavers that accosts Hippolyta wears an ornate mask in the design of Apollo.
  • Costume Porn: All of the Goddesses and Amazons but Hera in particular deserves special mention. She wears a new, elaborately detailed, costume for every new scene she's in.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The battle between the Amazons and the slavers who were harassing Hippolyta, is an unsurprisingly short one.
  • Darker and Edgier: As with most books that fall under the DC Black Label imprint, this is a more openly graphic take on the backstory of the Amazons than the Perez origin it takes its cues from, which was itself a darker take on the original Marston 40s origin.
  • Dedication: The second issue has a dedication to George Pérez, who had been announced to have cancer in the time period in between the first and second issues. Perez had a hugely influential run on Wonder Woman that also served as the primary basis for this story.
  • Determinator: Hippolyta, easily, after she runs for what the narration says are for months on end trying to rescue the infant girl she placed in a river as part of her duties as a midwife.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Played straight but also averted. "Exposure", leaving an unwanted baby exposed in the wilderness to die, is treated as a normal and natural thing to do when it comes to babies who were unhealthy or female by just about all the human characters in the first issue. It's averted however in the case of Hippolyta, who realizes she just can't leave a baby to die in the wilderness and rushes back in hopes of rescuing it.
  • Distaff Counterpart: In issue 1, the seven Olympian goddesses are opposed to the seven Olympian gods in duo: Zeus and Hera (king and queen), Poseidon and Athena (mythological rivals), Hestia and Hephaestus (the two fire-related gods), Artemis and Apollo (Sibling Rivalry), Aphrodite and Ares (traditional rivals in the Wonder Woman world), Demeter and Dionysus (the two vegetation deities) and Hermes with Hecate.
  • Easter Egg:
    • When Ares confronts Hera during the opening scene on Olympus, behind him are his children (Phobos, Deimos, and Eris) in the way they were drawn in George Perez's run.
    • The hilts of Ares' swords share the design/outline of his iconic helmet from George Perez's depiction of Ares.
    • In the corners of the double page spread introducing the Goddesses are shields in the style that Diana used in George Perez's run in the 80s.
  • Elemental Embodiment: Some of the Olympians' designs go into this territory. Hestia appears as a woman made of fire, Zeus has lightning bolt-like veins across his sky-blue skin, and Poseidon skin evokes shimmering ocean water.
  • Elemental Motifs: The Olympians that have particular association with an element/nature gets shown in their appearances. Zeus has sky-blue skin with lightning bolt veins, Poseidon's skin looks like shimmering ocean water, and Apollo has a sun-like halo around his head.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Hippolyta's Mama Bear instinct gets firmly established in her Big Heroic Run to rescue the doomed infant girl she was forced to leave exposed in the wilderness. Fitting for the mother of one of the most famous Action Girls in pop culture.
  • Fan Disservice: Ares wears little clothing, aside from a black speedo and boots, that all shows off his incredible muscular physique. That he's covered in blood is what puts him off Mr. Fanservice.
  • Facial Markings:
    • Antiope bears an eagle insignia across her face.
    • Artemis marks her blood on Hippolyta's face when she tells her where she can find the Amazons, letting the Amazons know she has the blessing of a Goddess.
  • The Fashionista: Hera wears a new, ornate, and detailed costume for every new scene she's in.
  • The Fatalist: Hera is this, due to her ability to see all the suffering women have gone through and will through throughout history, and knows her fellow Goddesses struggle in vain against the status quo enforced by Zeus and refuses to help. Despite this, she still wishes for their success and the success of the Amazons despite feeling they are doomed to fail.
  • Foreign Language Title: Historia is the Latin word for "history".
  • Girls vs. Boys Plot: While the genders war was always present in the franchise ever since the original series (where Aphrodite's all-female clan opposed Mars' manly armies), this comic decided to up the trope a bit: now the creation of the Amazons is the result of a gender-based conflict opposing the Olympian goddesses tired of seeing women suffer on Earth, and the Olympian gods who refuse to do anything about it while affirming their authority and superiority over their female counterparts.
  • To Hell and Back: The first issue sees the Goddesses, minus Hera, journeying through the various parts of Hades to get to the Well of Souls.
  • Hell Hound: In the Goddesses' journey through Hades, Artemis is shown kneeling before a particularly demonic looking Cerebus. As in one head is wrapped in chains, another is missing its skin around the jaw, and the third is made only of snakes.
  • Home Base: The Amazons, and later the women they rescue, setup camp in the dilapidated ruins of a Greek city.
  • Hypocrite: The Gods chide the Goddesses for their complaints about how women are treated, but as soon as one Amazon kills a boy in Apollo's temple, Apollo starts screaming for his father to kill all of the Amazons with Zeus deciding to unleash hell on all of them.
  • I Am the Noun: Zeus goes on a tirade deriding the Goddesses for demanding justice for the cruelties inflicted against females by males over the eons, stating Justice is his domain, declaring himself Justice, and that his will of men subjugating women is the natural order of the things he enforces.
  • Immune to Fire: The Amazons of Hestia's tribe are stated and shown to be immune to fire.
  • Jerkass Gods: Most of the male Olympians give off this but Zeus, unsurprisingly, is the standout example.
  • Large and in Charge: Zeus, as King of the Gods, is a giant in comparison to the other Olympians. Most of the other male Olympians are also shown to tower over their female counterparts.
  • Mama Bear: It was Hippolyta's maternal instincts that made her go back and try to rescue the child she was ordered to leave exposed in the wilderness.
  • Medusa: The Amazons from Athena's tribe all bear insignias of Medusa's face on their armor.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Just about all the Olympians but Zeus and Ares stand out particularly.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: When Zeus rattles off the domains and responsibilities the other male Gods, he genuinely forgets what Hermes is god of and has to be reminded.
    Zeus: Each of us has a role to play. Ares is the God of War, for instance. Poseidon, the sea. Apollo, the sun. Dionysius, wine, theater, and related debauchery. And Hermes...?
    Hermes: Trade, Father. Merchants and thieves.
    Zeus: Right! Right, you are.
  • Narrator All Along: The first book's narrator is revealed towards the end to be Antiope.
  • Nice Day, Deadly Night: Inverted. The Amazons launch their ambushes on abusive men at night as they're protected by the Moon goddess, Artemis. They sleep during the day and it's when Tarpeia attacks her former slaver in a temple during the day that they attract the attention of Apollo (a Sun god).
  • Numerological Motif: 30 is a sacred number for the Amazons as that's the number of how many made up their founding generation.
  • Off with His Head!: One of the slavers' who was accosting a bound Hippolyta meets this fate when they're ambushed by the Amazons.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different:
    • Poseidon is depicted as having the upper-body of a man, but his lower half is a cross between an hippocampus (a horse with a fish tail) and the Pegasus (a horse with bird wings), which would make him a winged ichthyocentaur.
    • During the creation of the Amazons, Artemis takes on the form of a centaur-like appearance with a lower-half based around a deer made entirely of deer antlers.
  • Patron God: The Amazons are divvied up into six tribes with each tribe being under the patronage of a different Goddess.
  • Power Walk: How Hera, and the rest of the Goddesses, are introduced in the first scene in issue #1. Hera getting an entire splash page to herself doing this.
  • Putto: Aphrodite is seen followed and served by hundreds of them.
  • Race Lift: Antiope, usually depicted as a white woman, is black here.
  • Reincarnation: Like in George Perez's run, the Amazons are created from the souls of women who died to male violence.
  • Rags to Royalty: The story is one showing how Hippolyta goes from peasant woman to legendary Queen of the Amazons.
  • Rule of Cool: The obvious design aesthetic for the designs of the Amazons' Bling of War armor.
  • Sadly Mythcharacterized: As is common in most Wonder Woman works, this series intentionally deviates from how the Olympians were perceived by the Ancient Greeks. Most of the male Olympians for example are hit hard with Adaptational Villainy, this is common with figures such as Ares and Zeus but now it's even extended to Apollo, Hermes, Posiedon, Hephaestus, and Dionysius.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Crosses over with Artistic License – History but during the confrontation between the Gods and Goddesses on Olympus, Hera and Ares both invoke the Greek historians Herodotus and Thucydides when arguing over the treatment of women in Ancient Greece. Herdotus wrote about the Amazons in his histories and this scene is set before the Amazons are even created.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Ares' design evokes the depiction of the Spartans from 300. Fitting as Sparta was one of the few Greek city-states that viewed Are as a positive figure.
    • Aphrodite is modeled after the Venus of Willendorf statue.
  • Shown Their Work: While some liberties were taken with the original myths, for aesthetic reasons and to fit with the modern Wonder Woman world, overall these depictions and incarnations of the Greek gods, while highly unusual, are still well researched. Poseidon was never depicted as a winged centaur in mythology, but he is the patron god of horses and the father of Pegasus. The idea of Hera having a thousand eyes that are ever-watching is actually a reference to the myth of Argus, a hundred-eyed giant that served her faithfully (and when he died she put his eyes on the peacock's feathers, the same associated with this Hera's thousands of eyes). And Demeter was indeed associated with snakes, who were perceived as creatures of ground and often showed up whenever there was a chthonic or earthly/agricultural element in Greek myths.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: It's not a coincidence many of the Amazons’ targets are slavers.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Artemis and Apollo are quick to get into a tussle with one another in the opening scene on Olympus.
  • Slouch of Villainy: Zeus' posture when he's introduced on Olympus.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Played both straight and averted. Averted with Demeter, and her own Amazon tribe, have snake companions as well as armor modeled after them. Ares when he confronts Hera on Olympus has a two big massive snakes aside him alongside other animals.
  • Spirit Advisor: Artemis works as one for Hippolyta in the second issue for a brief bit. She's the one who lets Hippolyta know where to find the Amazons. She and Hera can even be seen in the foliage as ambiguous images observing Hippolyta's journey.
  • Tattoo as Character Type: Poseidon, the lord of the oceans and god of the sea, is covered with tattoos representing all sorts of sea creatures and sea monsters.
  • Truer to the Text: In line with Classical era depictions of him, Ares wears very little clothing.
  • Unrelated in the Adaptation:
    • Nubia is shown as one of the 30 original Amazons created by the Goddesses, not only making her unrelated to Diana but significantly predating her also. In other continuities she is a contemporary of Diana as well as being her actual sister.
    • Similarly, as Hippolyta starts out as not one of the original 30 Amazons, she and Antiope are not blood-related sisters as they are in other depictions.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The opening narration invokes this saying there is no "objective" version of history and that this is simply the Amazons' version of it.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifter: In addition to Costume Porn, the gods appear to be able to change their looks and clothing at will.
  • Wanted a Son Instead: Hippolyta is ordered to leave exposed in the wilderness an infant baby girl as the husband of the woman she helped deliver for wanted a son and already had three girls.
  • Widow Woman: Hippolyta is stated to be a widow in her introductory scene.
  • Wild Child: Artemis' design, with her wearing animal bones and wild plants, along with visually depicted as the youngest Olympian (along with Apollo) evokes this.
  • Written by the Winners: The opening intro evokes this with stating everything everyone knows about the Amazons are a biased history written by men as the Amazons ultimately lost the war with Man's World. The book presents itself as a history of the Amazons that would have been written for a young Amazon.
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