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The Most Terrible Things Wonder Woman Has Ever Done

From time to time, Batman crosses a line. Sometimes, especially when magic or mind control is involved, Superman goes rogue. Every now and then, the Flash has been known to let his emotions get the better of him and make some pretty poor decisions (see, for example, pretty much every episode of his CW television show).

Wonder Woman's different. Yes, Diana's done some truly heinous things — you'll see what we mean — but she generally keeps control of herself, and her heart is usually in the right place. Do the ends justify the means? Not necessarily, and when Wonder Woman strays from the path of the righteous, things can go terribly wrong. Does that make her a bad person? Not in most worlds, at least (remember, in comics there are as many timelines as writers have ideas).

Ultimately, Wonder Woman is a warrior as much as she's a superhero. She comes from an ancient and at times archaic culture, and that can mean she has a different moral calculus than most other members of the Justice League. On the other hand, she's also a relatable character, and that means sometimes she does make mistakes. With all that in mind, here's a look at the most terrible things Wonder Woman has ever done.

She took part in animal abuse at a circus

Way back in Wonder Woman Vol. 1 #1, written and drawn by her creators William Moulton Marston and Harry Peter, Diana briefly joins the circus. It's an opportunity for her to show off what she can do to a world that's still getting to know her. Of course this was in the old days, before most people realized what a bad place the circus is for animals. In the 21st century, there have been public discussions about how horses, lions, and elephants are mistreated by circuses, as they're made to do things they were never meant to do, like jump through rings of fire. This has led to many circuses either swearing off the use of animals or going out of business entirely. But in the 1940s, nobody cared.

So there's Wonder Woman, picking up a horse by its legs (which looks uncomfortable for both parties). Then she literally wrestles a lion, tossing him several feet onto his back in his cage, while saying "I don't want to hurt him." That's not how that works, Diana. You've probably hurt him. And yes, perhaps it's unfair to judge Wonder Woman for behavior that was considered acceptable at the time. On the other hand, this is Wonder Woman, who journeyed from Paradise Island to Man's World to spread peace and teach a better way to live. Maybe if that's your goal, don't throw lions.

She beat up Batgirl to woo Batman

A number of stories have teased a relationship between Batman and Wonder Woman — the pairing was a small subplot in the Justice League Unlimited animated series — but the idea was first raised in 1968's The Brave and the Bold #78. In a story by Bob Haney and Bob Brown, Diana and Batgirl duke it out in the Gotham City skies after professing their love for Batman via skywriting. And it only gets weirder from there.

The two heroines have a contest to win Batman's heart. Wonder Woman showers Batman with gifts from Paradise Island, while Batgirl gets him a "groovy" new cape to cover his "brawny shoulders." Wonder Woman responds by carving a Batman statue out of gold. Both women get him a diamond-studded utility belt. Then, the supervillain Copperhead attacks and Batman springs into action, revealing that the feud between his two allies was just a ruse to make Copperhead think he was distracted.

But the issue is only half over. Both women realize they've fallen in love with Batman for real, and the battle continues. Both women give Batman clues to their secret identities — "the greatest gift a superheroine can offer," Batgirl says — and then they drop all pretense and just start punching each other. Wonder Woman has Batgirl on the ropes when everyone remembers Copperhead is still loose, and Wonder Woman takes off to stop him. The heroes bring Copperhead down together, which somehow cures Wonder Woman and Batgirl of their romantic rivalry.

It's just another day in the Silver Age of comic books.

She covets Superman, even when he's married to Lois

Wonder Woman and Superman is also a popular pairing. However, the difference is that while Batman may have a number of women who are interested in him, Superman is known for having one true love: Lois Lane. Depending on the continuity of the moment, she might be his girlfriend or his wife. Unfortunately, that's never stopped Wonder Woman from longing to be with him. This was especially true in George Pérez's Wonder Woman Vol. 2 run in the late 1980s, which happened to correspond to a time when Clark's relationship with Lois was particularly strong.

Nonetheless, Diana had recurring dreams about liaisons with the Man of Steel, culminating in an actual date between the two. They never went farther than a passionate kiss, but it was a kiss neither ever forgot. Although Clark would get married to Lois in the main continuity, and of course Superman is faithful, other timelines and "Elseworlds" have shown Diana and Clark as a passionate couple over the years.

She snapped Maxwell Lord's neck

Unlike Batman or Superman, Wonder Woman has never really had a strict no-killing policy. She's an Amazon warrior, and she'll kill if she feels like it's necessary. That doesn't mean that she likes doing it, and at times it causes trouble with other heroes. For example, when the villainous Maxwell Lord uses his mind-control abilities to turn Superman into a weapon of mass destruction, Diana is left with no option but to snap Lord's neck, killing him instantly.

In Wonder Woman #219's aftermath, the execution is broadcast all over the world via Batman's Brother Eye satellite, which Lord has commandeered. After witnessing the disturbing footage, the public loses its faith in Wonder Woman — as do Batman and Superman. Brother Eye rallies its bionic soldiers, the OMACs, to extract revenge on Diana and the other Amazons. A group of superheroes trapped in a pocket dimension, who see the murder unfold, are so disgusted by the state of the world's heroes that they try to rewrite reality itself, sparking the Infinite Crisis crossover event and causing upheaval in DC's entire continuity.

Wonder Woman had a very good reason to kill Lord — as long as he was alive, nothing could stop him from controlling Superman — but the repercussions of her act were severe. As a warrior, sometimes you have to kill your enemy, but as a superhero it's your job to find another way.

She defended a murderer

In ancient Greece, hiketeia was a ritual in which a person in trouble could seek asylum by supplicating themselves to a potential protector. In DC Comics, it's the title of a critically acclaimed Wonder Woman graphic novel. Written by Greg Rucka with art by J.G. Jones, Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia finds Diana granting a young woman named Danielle Wellys asylum after the girl performs the ritual, but there's a problem: Danielle murdered several men, and Batman is hot on her tail.

By the time Diana learns what Danielle has done, she's already accepted the girl's plea for help, which puts her in a precarious situation. Danielle's motivation for the killings is sympathetic — those men destroyed her sister's life — but Wonder Woman couldn't break the promise of the hiketeia regardless, because that would both tarnish her honor and invoke the wrath of the Furies, powerful entities who enforce such agreements. Unsurprisingly, Batman doesn't care about any of that. He's just trying to bring a murderer to justice.

That leads to one of the most famous hero vs. hero fights in DC Comics history, in which Wonder Woman absolutely wrecks Batman. She'd never have stopped fighting to protect Danielle, if the poor girl hadn't died by suicide and released Diana from the hiketeia with her dying breath.

She failed to protect her foster sister Vanessa

In George Perez's 1987 reboot of Wonder Woman, Diana has a mentor named Julia Kapatelis, a Harvard professor and expert in Ancient Greece. Needing somewhere to stay after leaving Themyscira, Wonder Woman moves in with Julia and her teenage daughter Vanessa. Over the next several years, Julia becomes like a second mother to Diana, and Vanessa becomes very much like a little sister.

However, the life of a superhero is fast-paced, and Wonder Woman eventually has to leave Boston and have other adventures elsewhere. Vanessa Kapatelis feels abandoned by the big sister she thought would be by her side for life. This leaves Vanessa open to be manipulated by Wonder Woman's enemies Doctor Psycho, Circe, and Sebastian Ballesteros. Building on her growing resentment of Diana, they turn Vanessa into the cyborg Silver Swan, and send her on a path of destruction.

Using her new superpowers, Vanessa violently vents her anger at Wonder Woman, and her jealousy of Cassie Sandsmark, another young ally of Diana's who recently became Wonder Girl. Diana vows to save Vanessa, and eventually does, but she has to concede that Vanessa has a point — she may have loved the girl like a sister, but she wasn't there when Vanessa needed her, and that had dire consequences.

She broke a promise to her friend, who then became Cheetah

As part of the DC Rebirth event in 2016, Greg Rucka and Bilquis Evely retold Wonder Woman's origin. In this version, her first mentor and friend in the United States was not Vanessa Kapatelis, but Barbara Ann Minerva. Barbara Ann teaches Diana English and helps her adapt to the world outside Themyscira. When Dr. Minerva leaves on an expedition to learn the secrets of the god Urzkartaga, Diana promises to come if her friend needs help, reassuring Barbara Ann that she's only a cell phone message away.

Barbara Ann does run into trouble, and does need Wonder Woman's help, but when she calls, Diana doesn't come. By the time Wonder Woman eventually finds her in the jungle, Barbara Ann Minerva has already been transformed into the feral, bloodthirsty Cheetah. Diana tries to explain that she never got the message — in fact, the signal had been blocked by the nefarious Veronica Cale — but it's too late. Diana wasn't there when her friend needed her, and now her friend has become a monster. Needless to say, their friendship never really recovers.

Both Wonder Woman and Cheetah eventually realize the blocked signal was Veronica Cale's fault, but it doesn't solve the problem. If a superhero can't protect their loved ones, then what's the point of being a superhero?

She gave Darkseid his powers back

In DC Comics, there's no greater villain than Darkseid. The tyrant of Apokolips isn't just another alien overlord; he's the very embodiment of evil (note the name — Jack Kirby was an incredible creator, but he wasn't known for subtlety). There's no doubt that Earth and the rest of the galaxy would be better off without his influence. Nevertheless, in Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #173, Diana gives up a part of her soul in order to restore Darkseid's power, giving him exactly what he needs to continue his reign of terror.

It happens as part of the "Our Worlds at War" crossover, in which a team of superheroes work together with President Lex Luthor and his secret ally, Darkseid, to fend off an alien menace called Imperiex. After the battle, which leaves Diana's mother Hippolyta and millions of others dead, Brainiac 13 launches an attack of its own, using the planet-sized battle station Warworld to decimate Apokolips and destroy Earth. In order to save humanity, Wonder Woman needs Darkseid's help — and the only way to get it is to restore his missing powers.

The Amazons pray, while Raven of the Teen Titans helps channel the Amazon's prayers through Wonder Woman and into Darkseid. Before long, the god of evil's strength is restored. That's enough to stop Brainiac 13 and Imperiex, and to make sure that Darkseid remains a thorn in the Justice League's side for years to come. It isn't all bad news, however. During the transfer, a small piece of Wonder Woman's soul worms its way into Darkseid, infecting him with one of Diana's most important powers: compassion.

She turned a blind eye to murder and slavery

There are no men on Themyscira, home of the Amazons. During the "New 52" era,Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang #7 explain why. Previously, Wonder Woman learned that she wasn't molded from clay, as she'd always been told, but is actually the daughter of Hippolyta and the Greek god Zeus. She isn't the only Amazonian child, either. In Wonder Woman Vol. 4 #7, Diana learns that three times a century the Amazons take to the seas and sleep with wayward sailors — and then kill them. Nine months later, children are born. Girls remain in Themyscira, while boys are traded to the blacksmith god, Hephaestus, in return for weapons.

In Hephaestus' forge, the boys grow into men, living a life as indentured servants — or, as Wonder Woman sees it, slaves. That's a lot better than the alternative, of course: before Hephaestus and Hippolyta reached their agreement, the Amazons murdered their sons outright. Naturally, Diana is shocked by the news, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Given that the whole operation happens regularly, involves most of the Amazons, and is sanctioned by Wonder Woman's mother, it's hard to believe Diana didn't know what was going on.

Basically Wonder Woman would have to be either an idiot, the target of a vast conspiracy of secrecy, or willfully ignoring something heinous until she can no longer look away. None of those are great looks for DC's top female superhero, which is probably why Greg Rucka established during DC's Rebirth that this entire version of Themyscira was a lie, and none of this actually happened.

She murdered the Huntress

The Injustice: Gods Among Us comic, like the video game it's based on, is set in an alternate reality, but it's one that's very close to the main DC Universe. Most of DC Comics' alternate timelines rely on some early twist that changes everything: Kal-El's rocket lands in Gotham City, for example, or the Green Lantern Corps recruits Bruce Wayne. In Injustice, DC's characters have the same origin stories as their mainstream versions. It's just a world where everything has gone wrong.

That makes the story's over-the-top plot twists feel more real — it's not "our" Diana who kills the Huntress, but it could've been. While Wonder Woman spends the bulk of the series as Superman's ally — even as he slowly transforms into a despot — she seems to be helping out for the right reasons. She regards Superman's use of force as a necessary tool in the battle against evil. She helps track down Mirror Master, who kidnapped Superman's adopted parents, but she doesn't kill him. She relies on diplomacy to talk Aquaman out of attacking the surface world.

But as they say, if you lie down with dogs, you're going to get fleas, and this Superman is a particularly bad influence. When a superhero named Galaxor stands up to Superman's regime, the Man of Steel and Wonder Woman break his spine, crippling him. In order to help a band of refugees, she crushes a warlord's skull, then rounds up his armies and lets the general's victims kill the oppressive soldiers. Finally, when a group of rebel heroes team up to defeat Superman once and for all, Wonder Woman leaps into action, lashing out with her lasso and snapping Huntress' neck. After that, she's never the same.

She conquered the United Kingdom and started a world war

In the reality of Injustice, Wonder Woman may be a hero gone very wrong, but in the timeline of Flashpoint, she's a straight-up supervillain. Flashpoint starts with the Flash going back in time to save his mother's life, but he ends up wrecking the entire timeline, creating a violent world with no Justice League, no Bruce Wayne, and no hope.

As a young princess on Themyscira, Diana gives in to her urge for adventure and takes to sea on a boat. She's attacked by a sea monster, but Aquaman rescues her. This leads to an alliance between Themyscira and Atlantis, which is to be cemented by Diana and Aquaman's wedding.

During the ceremony, Queen Hippolyta is murdered, and the Atlanteans take the blame, leading to all-out war. In a last-ditch effort to decimate the Atlantean forces, Wonder Woman and the Amazons destroy Themyscira, killing thousands of soldiers, and flee to Britain. When they're denied asylum, they conquer instead, renaming the U.K. New Themyscira. Wonder Woman, now the queen, kills Aquaman's lover Mera, and in response Atlantis floods Europe, murdering millions. Before long, the rest of the world is consumed by the Atlantean-Amazon conflict and the Flash is forced to go back in time and let his mother die in order to put everything back together.

In the animated adaptation of Flashpoint, Wonder Woman's behavior is even worse. Much of the violence committed by the Amazon army in the comics is done by Diana herself in the movie. She not only kills Mera far more violently (after sleeping with Aquaman, who's Mera's husband in this version), she personally kills Steve Trevor, Billy Batson, and Aquaman himself.

In short? Whatever reality you're in, do not mess with Wonder Woman.