Wonder Woman's Past Is Darker Than You Realized

Wonder Woman is one of comics' most enduring, positive examples of heroism and equality, but beneath that red and gold gear lies a pretty dark history. Ever since Wonder Woman left the island of the Amazons on a mission of world peace, the violent Patriarch's World has had nothing but pain and death for the superheroine. Here's a glimpse at Princess Diana's dark, depressing past.

1941: Origins

After pilot Steve Trevor crashes his plane on Paradise Island, all of the ladies on the all-lady island get into a tizzy. They start a competition to see who will be allowed to escort him off of the property. Diana, the future Wonder Woman, sneaks into the competition and ultimately wins the spurious honor, much to the chagrin of her mom, Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons.

1942: Fake nurse credentials

Once in America, Princess Diana stumbles upon Diana Prince, a nurse who looks exactly like her and wants other things in life—mostly to be with her man in another country. Despite a total lack of medical training, the two switch identities and the real Diana Prince leaves her life behind. While the comics don't explore the accidental casualties of Princess Diana's ignorance of any medicine that doesn't involve finding leaves and putting them into a magic chalice with gryphon tears, it's presumed that her Amazonian brain, which is superior to any male brain, just knows stuff.

1943: Fighting the woman-hating Doctor Psycho

Wonder Woman fights a lot of bizarre bad guys during her early adventures, including the Space Giants of Planet G and department store dinosaurs, but none are more awful than Doctor Psycho. He's a short psychopath and occultist who obsessively hates all women because he was once snubbed. This Wonder Woman villain tortures his ex-fiancee repeatedly and uses her as a conduit to summon ghostly energies, at one point pretending to be the ghost of George Washington, back from the dead to warn the world about how women are ruining war.

1968: Powerless

Because the Amazons have totally run out of magic after ten thousand years of babysitting mankind, they're forced to retreat to another dimension. Diana decides to remain behind to continue to protect the hapless Steve Trevor. As a result, Wonder Woman loses all of her powers and reverts to the lowly Diana Prince, but immediately meets a blind martial arts master named I-Ching, who prepares her for the next four years of powerlessness.

1972: Flip-flopping about feminism

Feminist, novelist, and political activist Gloria Steinem got angry when she realized that Wonder Woman had lost her powers, seeing it as just another way that men were stripping women of their power. Steinem had already chosen a costumed Wonder Woman to be on the cover of her magazine, Ms. Failing to see that DC was making Diana a badass even without powers, and that progressive plot lines were even exploring women's reproductive rights, Steinem's vocal disapproval prompted DC to return Diana's powers in 1973. They even put a sniper bullet right through I-Ching's heart to close the storyline. Thanks, Gloria.

1986: Crisis

For a short period, Wonder Woman finally finds domestic peace and marries Steve Trevor, the guy she's been saving for decades on end, but all of that is erased by Crisis on Infinite Earths, when Diana's entire history with Trevor is torn from her and he's re-introduced as an older dude who marries someone else. Not only does Diana have to start over, but now her methods are deadly. Unlike most DC heroes, Wonder Woman's methods to spreading peace through the Patriarch's World might kill a few bad guys, because Greek gods do not mess around with that mercy stuff.

1991: War of the Gods

The Amazons make themselves known to mankind and are quickly framed for murder by the evil Circe, an Amazon who was banished from Paradise Island because she was turning too many people into animals. Circe orchestrates a war between many different pantheons of gods, culminating in Circe reverting Wonder Woman back into the clay from which she was formed, killing her in the process. She didn't stay very dead for long, though.

1995: Almost Dead Again

After learning of a prophecy foretelling Wonder Woman's death, Hippolyta bestows the title of Wonder Woman to another Amazon, Artemis. As Wonder Woman, Artemis dies in a fight against a demon-possessed White Magician and the prophecy is fulfilled. Understandably, Diana is upset that her mom made someone else unknowingly take a bullet destined for her—and that she had to wear a buckle-on bra and a cutoff jacket during the downtime.

1997: Dead Again

Even though Diana evades death again, she ends up in Hell battling a demon named Neron. As Neron is weakened by a silver demon skull being thrown at him, he zaps Wonder Woman to death. For a few issues, DC's heroes try to bring her back to life, but she eventually ascends to Mount Olympus to hangout with the gods while Hippolyta takes her place as Wonder Woman, still trying to bring peace to man.

2001: Dead Again Again

During Our World at War, while Imperiex is attempting to kill everything everywhere, both Diana and Hippolyta don the Wonder Woman armor. After Diana is badly burnt in a fight, Hippolyta goes a little nuts and rips off the head of Imperiex with the Lasso of Truth, resulting in a massive explosion. In one of the goriest and saddest scenes ever published, Hippolyta is reduced to burnt Amazonian bacon, dying in Diana's arms. Luckily, Diana survives the event and recovers.

2005: The murder of Maxwell Lord

Infinite Crisis reveals that a guy named Maxwell Lord, who has been instrumental in various Justice League doings, is actually a criminal mastermind who uses his proximity to superheroes to gather intel, possibly to kill all of them. When Blue Beetle finds out, he's promptly shot in the head, which leads up to Wonder Woman twisting Maxwell Lord's head, The Exorcist-style, on live TV, which pretty much destroys the credibility of most heroes worldwide.

2010: Zombie Fighting Blues

When the Black Lantern rings start causing zombified problems for the galaxy, Maxwell Lord gets brought back to life. Seeking revenge on Wonder Woman, he gives zombie rings to a ton of corpses at Arlington National Cemetery and creates an army to fight her. With his neck still broken, Maxwell Lord taunts Wonder Woman, who chops off his head completely and slices through his guts. Even after the battle is over, Lord is seen reforming from the ashes. Oh, and then Wonder Woman also becomes a zombie and tries to eat Aquaman's wife, but she's totally cured by a make out session with Batman.