Cloonan's "Punisher" Is A "Violent, Bullet-Riddled, Bleeding" Good Time
A few months ago I suddenly had an idea: “Why not post a request on a few comic book discussion forums, asking people how many Amazon tribes they can remember from DC’s continuity? With their help, I might compile a list of obscure Amazon societies and post it later on, for the edification of my fellow fans.”
I surrendered to the impulse. When I posted the request, I briefly described three tribes I remembered clearly — what I called “the Classic Amazons,” “the Bana-Mighdall Amazons,” and “the Underground Amazons” — in order to save people the trouble of mentioning those examples in their replies. I was certain I’d noticed references to a few other Amazon tribes in one comic book or another over the years, but I was having trouble dredging up any solid facts from memory.
I believe I hoped to end up with something in the neighborhood of eight tribes when all was said and done, but I’d take more if I could get them.
What with the helpful suggestions I received, and some other stuff I later ferreted out on my own with the help of online databases and such (comics.org was invaluable), the current tally stands at twenty-six. Plus several “near misses.”
Now I am going to share the fruits of my research with you. By the time you are done reading this document (and you may not want to tackle the whole thing in one session), you will probably have learned more about “Long-Lost Amazon Tribes” than you ever wanted to know!
Heck, I ended up learning “all over again” things I already should have known! It turned out that several of the tribes on this list had debuted in old stories I already had in my collection — either as back issues or in reprint volumes — stories which I had largely forgotten about after buying and reading that material a long time ago. Sometimes it was just the specific use of the word “Amazon” in dialogue that had slipped my mind, but the general plot was still familiar. And sometimes the entire story seemed fresh and new when, for the first time in many years, I dug it out to double-check the accuracy of suggestions received from one source or another.
Table of Contents
Part 1. Questions and Answers: The Rules of the Road
Part 2. The Timeline of First Appearances of Each Amazon Tribe
Part 3. Summaries of the Basic Characteristics of Each Tribe
Part 4. What Does Wonder Woman Know About These Tribes?
Part 5. Near Misses and False Alarms: What Didn’t Quite Make the Cut
Part 6. Final Words
PART 1. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: THE RULES OF THE ROAD
After I had started those threads on a few forums, and studied the responses coming in, it became clear that I still needed to define some of my terms. Specifically, if I was going to decide which suggestions from other people “belonged” on my proposed list of Amazon tribes, then I needed to come up with some homebrewed answers to such basic questions as “What is an Amazon?” and “What is a tribe?” I also had to hash out some rules for what sort of material, from what eras, did or didn’t belong on this list. (For instance, I had zero interest in trying to list every time we’ve seen an “Elseworlds” variation of the basic concept of “Diana is Wonder Woman, champion of the Amazons.”)
Here I will just outline my thinking regarding what belongs on this list, what doesn’t, and what certain terms mean. I do it in a Q&A format.
What are the Classic Amazons?
That’s my label for Wonder Woman’s people. Whether they live on “Paradise Island” or on “Themyscira,” they are the ones who have been hiding on an island for the last three thousand years or so, ruled by Queen Hippolyta for most of that time, and they are Diana’s “native culture.” I had to call them something to distinguish them from all the other Amazons I will be mentioning in this document!
How does a group of women qualify as “Amazons”?
I wanted to keep it simple. If a published story leads us to believe that a group of women habitually call themselves “Amazons” — or use any longer group name which includes the six-letter string AMAZON — then that’s good enough to qualify for this list! If they think they’re Amazons, who am I to argue? But if they clearly prefer to call themselves something else entirely, then I take their word for it that they are not Amazons.
When I created that rule, I thought it was a simple and straightforward guideline which would make it easy for me to judge each case. Yes, really! (I’m such an optimist.)
What I didn’t anticipate was the possibility of running across an occasional story wherein warrior women were called “Amazons” by outsiders — but the women in question either said nothing in the form of comprehensible dialogue, or else talked at length without ever mentioning the name of their own tribe. Either way, we readers were never sure of what they called themselves.
Such cases arose more than once, and I had to make subjective decisions along the way. I usually ended up giving a tribe the benefit of the doubt if someone else called them “Amazons” and no member of the tribe ever contradicted that by offering an entirely different name for her culture. When things are so murky, I prefer to err on the side of being a little too generous and inclusive, rather than the reverse. But when there is room for doubt on this subject, I will explain the difficulties when we come to that tribe’s first appearance.
Note: The basic rule of “they are Amazons if they say they are” meant I counted some groups who probably are not long-lost offshoots of the tribe which Hippolyta usually leads. That was a risk I was prepared to take. Where is it written that Hippolyta and her friends, and the descendants of some of her friends, are the only ones allowed to describe themselves that way?
What is a tribe?
I decided that “they are a tribe” means that most members of this society have regarded themselves as part of one stable community for at least two generations before we meet them. I allow for the possibility of some immigration and emigration along the way. I also am willing to count cases where the people have been a cohesive community for more than two generations — but the women of that tribe may not have called themselves “Amazons” until quite recently! (There is at least one case where it probably happened that way.)
I said “generations,” but if we know that women of the tribe rarely or never reproduce — as is the case with the Classic Amazons who spent roughly three thousand years sitting around on an island enjoying their immortality, while lacking male companions to sire any children for a “next generation” in all that time — then I will settle for a minimum of forty years of successful coexistence as proof that this social group has become a “true tribe” instead of just a “passing fad.”
Note: Often we are not told how long a certain tribe has existed as a distinct community. But if there are not strong hints that it was organized from scratch less than two generations or forty years ago, I give it the benefit of a reasonable doubt.
What is meant by “Earth-One,” “Earth-Two,” and “New Earth”?
For my purposes, in this List, Earth-Two always refers to the place where most of DC’s Golden Age stories were presumed to have happened. (Plus various later stories which were usually explicitly labelled as happening on Earth-Two.)
Earth-One always refers to the place where most of DC’s published material from the Silver and Bronze Ages (up through the end of the Crisis on Infinite Earths) had occurred. (Also, some material which was published in the Golden Age — such as the first several years of the original Superboy title — was later retroactively established to have been set on Earth-One all along.)
New Earth refers to the timeline which has been the default setting for most of DC’s publications of the last quarter-century or so, since shortly after Crisis on Infinite Earths #12. New Earth happens to include large chunks of the older Earth-One and Earth-Two continuities, all smushed together with other things.
In this context, there will be no need for me to refer to any other parallel worlds which have been presented to us under the names of “Earth-One” or “Earth-Two.”
What makes an Amazon tribe canonical enough for this list?
The rule I finally came up with was that an Amazon tribe belongs on my list if it meets my standards for “Amazon” and “tribe,” and if it is canonical enough to meet one of the following parameters:
A) The tribe appeared in at least one story that was definitely set in the same timeline inhabited by a “mainstream” incarnation of Wonder Woman,
B) It’s a serious possibility that the tribe’s first appearance in the Pre-Crisis era, while “originally” occurring on a parallel Earth which lacked a Wonder Woman, was later “quietly absorbed” into the crowded history of the New Earth of the Post-Crisis DCU’s mainstream timeline.
(Yes, I know that rule sounds convoluted. Best I could do. It’s not my fault that DC merged the histories and inhabitants of several Earths together in COIE!)
I said “a ‘mainstream’ incarnation of Wonder Woman.” I will now define that. Three incarnations of Diana/Wonder Woman have been “mainstream” at different times: the Golden Age Wonder Woman of Earth-Two and the Silver Age Wonder Woman of Earth-One, and the “modern” Wonder Woman of New Earth (after her Post-Crisis Reboot).
In practice, my idea that an Amazon tribe must have either definitely or possibly co-existed in the same timeline as a “mainstream” Wonder Woman means that for the tribe to be eligible for my List, it would need to have appeared in at least one published comic book story which fit into any one of the following six categories:
1. Anything that was set in DC’s Earth-Two continuity.
2. Anything that was set in DC’s Earth-One continuity.
3. Anything that clearly happened in the “New Earth” of DC’s Post-Crisis continuity (most of their stuff published since early 1986, basically, but ignoring any “Elseworlds” or similar material).
4. Anything dating back to the Golden Age that was originally published by Quality or Fawcett. Most of the old Quality stories presumably happened on Earth-X, and most of the old Fawcett stories presumably happened on Earth-S. (“Earth-X” and “Earth-S” were named by DC in the 1970s after it started integrating some of the superheroes from those companies into its own continuity.) We know that much of that material was later absorbed into the “New Earth” continuity after COIE, and thus any Amazon tribe which debuted at Quality or Fawcett might be part of the New Earth timeline, even if nobody at DC has ever confirmed the tribe’s continued existence!
5. Anything from the Silver Age superhero stories published by Charlton. The rights to that material were later sold to DC, and those heroes (such as “The Question” and “Captain Atom”) were subsequently worked into the DCU. During COIE, it was established that the relevant Silver Age material had occurred on Earth-Four of the Old Multiverse.
Note: In practice, I don’t think any stories of Amazon tribes have actually qualified in Category #5, but I’m just letting you know it could happen if someone dug up something I had missed which fit my criteria. Charlton published a few stories about the mythical Hercules, and he met Amazons in a couple of them, but I’m not sure that material was part of the package deal DC later paid for. And even if it was, I don’t think it would add a new tribe to my list. My feeling is that any story originally published by someone other than DC, and set in the days of Greek myth, and featuring Amazons, is off-limits — because I figure any other company’s version of the Classic Amazons of ancient times would automatically be superceded by DC’s “canonical versions” of Hippolyta et al. in the New Earth continuity.
6. Anything that happened in action/adventure/superhero publications of the company which was originally called MLJ in the early Golden Age. Fans often describe the setting of those stories as “Earth-MLJ.” (Note: the publishing company later changed its name to “Archie.”)
If I had started this project a few years ago, I wouldn’t have needed Category #6. But as I understand it, DC currently has a general license allowing it to dust off any old Archie superhero/adventure characters and try to incorporate them into the modern DCU. To me, this means I should err on the side of caution by assuming that any Golden Age MLJ story featuring an “Amazon tribe” might have been silently assimilated into the latest version of DC’s “modern continuity” when we weren’t looking — even if nobody at DC has ever mentioned such a tribe! (As it turned out, I was able to track down just one Amazon tribe which qualifies under this rule.)
Anything that doesn’t fit into one of those six categories is not eligible for my list. For instance: I’ve heard that in the Wildstorm Universe, the group of female warriors known as “The Coda” is supposed to have inspired that Earth’s legends of ancient Amazons. Wildstorm was later acquired by DC, but since no “mainstream Wonder Woman” character has ever been a native daughter of that particular timeline, I don’t feel the need to include the Coda on my list.
On a similar note, I have zero interest in listing every “Imaginary Story” or “Elseworlds” or “alternate future timeline” or anything similar in which DC has shown us “interesting analogs” of Wonder Woman and/or her Amazon tribe. I have to draw the line somewhere!
What does “immortality” mean?
In the context of this List, calling an Amazon “immortal” simply means that after she reaches physical maturity — say, in her twenties — her body doesn’t keep getting older and older as the years roll past. If you last saw her when she was twenty-five, and then you meet her again three thousand years later, she will still look about twenty-five.
“Immortal” does not mean “she can survive having her head chopped off,” nor “it would be physically impossible to chop her head off in the first place, so don’t waste your time trying,” nor “you can only kill her if you have high-powered magic available for the job,” nor anything similar. We’re not talking “invulnerable.” For my purposes, “immortal” only means that she may live for untold millennia without developing gray hair and wrinkles — and if something kills her, it won’t be the natural ravages of old age!
I base that definition on certain canonical facts. On the one hand, we’ve repeatedly been told that the Classic Amazons are “immortal,” and on the other hand, we’ve repeatedly been told that a bunch of them died in one battle or another. Hippolyta and Diana and their friends don’t see any contradiction in those statements. Nor does Wonder Woman (any incarnation of her) normally seem to assume that the various weapons and superpowers of her mortal enemies can’t possibly kill her! (Although I hear that the question of whether or not Diana is “still immortal” when she’s running around in Patriarch’s World as a superhero is one on which the official answers have fluctuated back and forth in the 69 years since the character concept debuted.)
The members of most of the Amazon tribes on this list are not immortal — I think. Yet in several cases we were told so little about them that I can only speculate about what their “natural life expectancies” might be. If there is reason to believe the members of a tribe are immortal, then I will mention that as I discuss them below. If I don’t raise the subject in a particular listing, that means those Amazons probably age at about the same rate as the average human being — as far as I know.
PART 2. THE TIMELINE OF FIRST APPEARANCES OF EACH AMAZON TRIBE
This is where I describe, sometimes at great length, whatever strikes me as particularly relevant and interesting about each of the stories which introduced us to one Amazon tribe or another. There are a few stories listed in here which I have not actually read, which cramps my style a bit, but with the help of other fans, I hope that even in those cases I have managed to glean enough information about the Amazons in question to let me give you a decent summary of what set them apart from other tribes.
If you want a much more condensed version, with just the bare essentials about each tribe, then you may want to skip ahead to Part 3 for the time being.
August, 1940. Adventure Comics #53. “The Women Warriors.” Written by Gardner Fox. Published by DC.
As the story opens, feature character Cotton Carver, a Golden Age adventurer (or “action hero,” as we would say today), is in the midst of a series of tales set far below the surface of the Earth.
Before I talk about the Amazons he meets, I want to clarify the nature of the setting. I am told that the subterranean region Cotton Carver was exploring appeared to have lots of wide open space, and most scenes appeared to be set in what we would call “normal daylight conditions” — as if the functional equivalent of a sun were somehow available to light up large areas, although I have not heard that any “sun” per se was depicted in the artwork or mentioned in dialogue. Trees, rivers, mountains, and even oceans were encountered in Carver’s stories — he wasn’t just moving from one “fairly large cavern” to another via a network of tunnels.
I don’t own reprints of any of Carver’s Golden Age stories, and I doubt such reprints exist. But near as I can tell from limited data, it seems likely that Carver was exploring something analogous to Pellucidar. Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan, wrote seven volumes’ worth of material about Pellucidar; that was the name of the “inner world” encountered when you traveled down through five hundred miles of the Earth’s crust and then found yourself standing on the interior surface of a huge hollow sphere. Pellucidar was about 7,000 miles (or about 11,000 kilometers) in diameter, with its own little “sun” constantly hovering at the exact center, providing a perpetual light source. In other words, no matter where you went and no matter how long you stayed there, it was always “high noon” with the sun directly overhead. (Unless you just happened to be standing directly underneath a “moon” which was only about a mile above the ground and always stayed there, perpetually floating just above the same small section of Pellucidarean geography and thereby keeping it in perpetual darkness. Don’t ask me how and why the moon did that; Burroughs never got around to explaining it!)
Note: Some online resources have informed me that at least two of DC’s other Golden Age adventurers (not superheroes), Steve Conrad and Mark Lansing, visited subterranean realms in their own features, and that in Lansing’s case, the inner world he visited was explicitly described as a Hollow Earth setting which the natives called “Mikishawm.” Fans of that old material have speculated that Carver, Conrad, and Lansing were all visiting different bits and pieces of Mikishawm at approximately the same time, although that exotic name was never mentioned in stories about Carver or Conrad. I gather that if any two or all three of those men ever met and compared notes, as of 2011 we still haven’t heard about it!
After learning everything in the preceding paragraph, I found myself wondering if “Mikishawm” and “Skartaris” might simply be different names for the same “inner world,” each name being popular on a different continent as part of a different linguistic tradition. But since my scanty knowledge of Mikishawm comes from other people’s online comments, I don’t know enough about the place to say if that theory is plausible. Nor do I know of any Post-Crisis story in the DCU which has confirmed that the “subterranean adventures” of Cotton Carver, Steve Conrad, and/or Mark Lansing are part of the historical record in the continuity of New Earth.
In other words, I don’t know if the tribe I’m about to describe to you co-existed in the same inner world as another Amazon tribe which Travis Morgan met in Skartaris in the 1980s. (We’ll get to that latter tribe in due course.)
Back to the events of this story: As it opens, Cotton Carver is traveling with a female companion called Lupa; a native of one of the local cultures he must have encountered in some previous tale. Now they encounter a nasty tribe of Amazons — or at least that’s what Lupa (and the narrative captions) call these women warriors. I’m working from someone else’s summary of the story, so bear with me. I get the impression that Lupa had already learned to speak English. But since these “Amazon” women don’t have any languages in common with Carver, we never see any comprehensible dialogue coming from their mouths. Therefore, we don’t positively know how they pronounce whatever group name they use for themselves.
However, I consider it unlikely that Carver had taken the trouble to give Lupa some long lectures on the classical mythology of the surface world before this story occurred, so I’m going to work on the theory that when Lupa told him these people were “Amazons” it wasn’t just her way of saying “a culture dominated by women warriors; reminiscent of the Amazons of Greek myth.” I think she said “Amazons” because she knew darn well that “Amazon” was what these women called themselves in whatever language they actually spoke.
At any rate: These Amazons are based in a city of their own, look rather Caucasian, worship a moon goddess, perform religious ceremonies in a temple resembling a South American step pyramid, and intend to offer up their new captives, Cotton Carver and Lupa, as human sacrifices to their favorite deity. That attempt fails. Carver and Lupa escape from these Amazons in the following issue, and this Amazon tribe has never been heard from again.
September, 1940. Feature Comics #36. “Captured by the Amazons.” Writer Unknown. (Note: The story title listed on comics.org seems to have been invented after the fact for this five-page adventure.)
This five-page story features the action hero Samar, who appears to be a blond Tarzan knockoff who travels through African wilderness areas having strange adventures. (I don’t say that’s a bad thing! I’m just letting you know what sort of guy he is, in case you — like me — didn’t recognize the name!)
In this story Samar has his first encounter with a group of women warriors who may qualify as an Amazon tribe. I call them “Queen Lazana’s Amazons” for want of a better name.
On the first page, a woman trapped in quicksand is screaming for help. Samar does the chivalrous thing and moves in close to try to grab her hand and pull her out before she drowns in there. Then seven other women, all brandishing spears, spring out of the thick reeds surrounding the quicksand pool. (If it really was quicksand?) To quote from a narrative caption: “But in another instant, he realizes that he has fallen into a clever trap! He is surrounded by a ring of dazzling Amazonian beauties.”
Here’s the tricky bit: That caption is the only time anyone uses the six-letter string AMAZON (as part of “Amazonian”) in the entire story. We never see these women mention any name for their own culture in dialogue.
That presented me with a dilemma. (The first time I encountered this dilemma in my research for this list, but it sure wasn’t the last!)
It was possible that the unseen narrator of the story was using “Amazonian” as verbal shorthand for “women warriors who are vaguely reminiscent of Amazons from Greek myth, but who probably call themselves something else.” On the other hand, it was possible that the narrator simply meant that these women “really were” Amazonians (or Amazons), even though Samar did not yet know it.
I decided to give their tribe the benefit of a reasonable doubt. After all, we never see them call their own tribe by any other name, so it’s perfectly possible that “Amazons” or “Amazonians” is exactly what they think they are! I’m going with “Amazonians.”
Incidentally, the women who have just captured Samar wear what may be a standardized uniform in their army: dark miniskirts and halter tops. All members of the squad carry spears — and no other weapons that I can discern. We will later see Amazonians with bows, swords, spiked clubs, and axes. Despite a certain lack of interest in body armor, the tribe does seem to know something about metal-working.
Once Samar has been herded at spearpoint back to their (unnamed) home town, he learns more about how this Amazonian culture works. It isn’t pretty.
The tribe resides within a huge cavern in the side of a mountain. The ruler is a beautiful woman called Queen Lazana. She wears some sort of red headpiece which might qualify as a crown or tiara. Unlike all the other women, she wears a dark floor-length skirt — but it’s slit in such a way that at least one leg is always revealed. (I suspect that long skirt is considered a symbol of rank, but I’ve been wrong before!) There are plenty of men around — but nearly all are thin, deliberately underfed slave labor. Women have the monopoly on whips and weapons and give all the orders. On the other hand, we are assured that Queen Lazana’s “favorite slave” always gets fed better than most males. After comparing Samar to her old favorite, Lazana decides Samar looks much yummier, so she has the other guy killed on the spot.
Lazana then expects Samar to meekly become her new plaything. Oddly enough, he doesn’t feel the overwhelming urge to cooperate. Instead, he tells her exactly what he thinks of her behavior — the phrase “daughter of Satan” comes up — which infuriates her enough that she has him dropped into a pit where her pet “dragon-lizard” can maul him. (It’s a huge, ugly critter, and it seems to have fire-breathing capability to boot.) Lazana does mention an alternative after he’s already in the pit: If Samar quickly swears to give absolute obedience from now on, she’ll get him back out of there before he’s badly hurt. I gather that would be her preferred outcome — to break his spirit, and all that, without ruining his big, muscular body and blond good looks.
Of course she has misjudged Our Hero. After killing the huge dragon-lizard with nothing more than a couple of handy rocks (yes, really!), Samar grabs Queen Lazana, holds her hostage, forces several other Amazonians to drop their weapons, inspires a bunch of male slaves to grab those weapons and fight for their own freedom, and finally leads the men to a quick victory over their erstwhile oppressors.
Fastest regime change I ever saw — the mass rebellion began and triumphed in just a few panels of one page!
If it’s any comfort to you: It seems that most (if not all) of the women are taken alive, rather than killed for revenge after the balance of power has shifted. It’s surprisingly probable that the men didn’t even go in for punitive torture of the women who had been cruelest to them in the past.
One reason I say this is that Former Queen Lazana herself is still alive and well, standing on her own two feet and calling after Samar (she still seems to be infatuated with him), as he departs in the final panel. If the male former slaves had such incredibly strong moral fiber that they could resist the urge to kill the now-helpless tyrant in the heat of the moment, during or immediately after the battle, then they were probably equally merciful with any other Amazonian who had enough sense to surrender when she saw her side was losing. (I hope so, anyway.) But we don’t know how male/female relations in that community all turned out in the long run, because this tribe has never been mentioned again in any other story from Quality or DC.
Oddly enough for a story apparently set somewhere in the depths of Africa, everybody we see in it has Caucasian coloring. I initially assumed that Samar was just the latest of many men to be tricked, captured, and dragged home to join the male workforce . . . but if we work on that theory, then it’s hard to understand why most of the captured manpower wouldn’t be members of local Black African tribes. (Just how many muscular white guys are likely to come wandering through that lonely stretch of jungle in a typical year and get themselves captured?)
On the other hand, it’s always possible that this community, like many “lost cities” Tarzan encountered in his own adventures in the first half of the twentieth century, has kept itself genetically isolated from the outside world for ages, with generation after generation of Amazonian women enslaving their own sons and brothers without a qualm. If so, then this Amazonian patrol’s capture of a strange man (Samar) might be a rare case. Perhaps native tribes had long since learned to avoid the region around that mountain? Heck, the Amazonians may even have negotiated formal treaties with the leaders of neighboring tribes, for all I know — “you stay on your side of the border, and we’ll stay on ours. Any idiot caught trespassing on the wrong side is fair game!” (One thing we know for sure is that they must speak one of the same languages used by other tribes in the region, or else Samar wouldn’t be able to communicate with them so well.)
We learn nothing about the history of this “Amazonian” tribe. The women could have been running things for millennia, or they could have just taken power a few years ago, for all we know. But I give them the benefit of the doubt where my “40 years or two generations” rule is concerned, since there’s no reason to believe the tribe hasn’t been around that long.
October, 1940. Feature Comics #37. “The Amazons of Nesbo.” Published by Quality. Writer unknown. (Note: The story title listed on comics.org seems to have been invented after the fact for this five-page adventure.)
In this story Samar has his first encounter with another group of women warriors who definitely qualify as an Amazon tribe. Not members of the previous bunch — a whole different group. Samar doesn’t even say a word about having ever met a community dominated by women warriors at any previous time; much less in last month’s adventure! (Makes me wonder if an editor told two different writers, “Each of you give me a five-page Samar story about beautiful Amazon warriors, and whoever finishes it first gets paid and published first.”)
Once again, the story starts with someone trapped in quicksand. But this time it’s a man, and he’s not bait in a trap; he’s really stuck. Samar pulls him out and then learns that the man is fleeing from the Amazon warriors who dominate the men in his community. Before this conversation can go much further, a party of the aforementioned Amazons catches up with the fugitive man (and therefore spots Samar as well). Both of them are taken prisoner. We are told that Samar doesn’t believe in fighting women. (Never mind what happened last month, I suppose.)
Incidentally, there’s a serious disconnect between how a narrative caption describes these women and how the artist drew them. When Samar first spots them, a caption says: “At that moment, a score of beautiful, armor-clad women leap into view.”
But as the women move in closer, they look to me as if they’re not wearing much more than two-piece swimsuits plus boots. Later on, we will see that some of them sometimes wear small helmets, but the party we first encounter doesn’t seem to feel the need. None of these Amazons ever carry shields, either. (They do have swords and spears, though, so at least metal-working technology is available to them.) Did the artist not read the script carefully? Or perhaps he just said to himself, “Heck with it, scantily clad Amazons make much better eye candy than women all wrapped up in armor!”
The city’s population seems to be a fifty-fifty mix of men and women, and they do have the concept of “marriage” — apparently in the form of polyandry (one woman may have multiple husbands, but not the other way around). But we should note that according to Nesbo law, the unmarried man’s opinion doesn’t matter when a woman has her eye on him as good husband material. However, if another woman wants to marry that same bachelor, and neither will back down, then the two women fight it out to the death.
As you may have guessed, we quickly learn these things about their legal system because two attractive Amazons (one of whom is the ruler, Queen Sopho) both want to snuggle up with the handsome, muscular hunk known as Samar. His own feelings are (they assume) irrelevant.
So they start fighting, but the duel is never finished.
Instead of meekly waiting for one woman to kill another, Samar escapes custody — thereby proving he’s strong enough and skillful enough to fight his way past several female guards without killing anybody in the process — and then becomes acquainted with Nylo, the leader of a secret underground movement (all-male). Nylo’s outfit is both figuratively and literally “underground” — the rebel headquarters is in a big cavern beneath the city. Nylo and his friends have been secretly practicing combat skills so they can stage a coup when the time is ripe. (There’s no particular sign that Queen Sopho even realizes such plots are being hatched among some of the local men.)
In an interesting twist: Nylo freely admits that the women of Nesbo were able to seize power — implicitly within living memory, but he doesn’t specify how many years ago — because the men of the city, who’d previously claimed authority over the women, had gradually gotten so weak and lazy! In other words, they didn’t deserve to stay in charge! Yet even though Nylo knows the men brought this upon themselves in the first place, he now feels it’s time to boldly turn back the clock and revert to running this city the same way it used to be run; i.e. with men giving all the orders!
(Before you ask the obvious question: Nylo doesn’t mention what will be done differently, post-rebellion, to keep history from repeating itself as the men of Nesbo once more become lazy, self-indulgent, and generally useless, and the women once more get so disgusted by the men’s failure to provide quality leadership and military protection for the city that they decide the time has come to once again fill those functions themselves!)
At any rate, that little history lesson makes it clear that this city’s population has not been maintaining a matriarchal Amazon-style culture for untold centuries. Therefore, there’s no reason to assume the people of Nesbo are descended from mythological Amazons, since it seems the present situation, with women being politically dominant and monopolizing the military role, has only arisen within living memory.
I suspect that it was only after the coup that the women of Nesbo began using the word “Amazon” for themselves. Yes, I easily could be wrong! Maybe there’s been an “Amazon cult” in this town for ages, but it didn’t have much influence on local politics until several years ago? Who knows?
The male rebels are talking about taking back power by force. Nylo wants Samar to lead them in a battle to restore the old order.
Samar doubts whether civil war is a necessary step in making the city a better place to live.
He didn’t hesitate to lead such an effort in last month’s story, but I admit the circumstances were different. There’s no sign that these Amazons of Nesbo treat their menfolk as expendable slave labor to be kept malnourished so they won’t get too uppity. Nor that men are routinely murdered if the Queen is offended by a remark they made or simply gets tired of them. Nylo and his buddies may resent their status as what I might call “disenfranchised second-class citizens,” but they sure don’t look starved; nor do they seem to bear the scars of regular whippings or other systemic physical abuse. Nor do they even claim to have suffered so terribly as all that.
Heck, just the fact that some of Nesbo’s men have been able to sneak off to practice combat techniques in their spare time implies that the Amazon women don’t even try to keep the men chained up at night, nor otherwise tyrannically micromanage every hour of every local man’s life. (This could mean the Amazons are convinced that the local men are still too weak and foolish to be a threat, so why sweat the details?)
I have no idea how much previous military experience Samar had, but we are told that he spends some days drilling these male rebels (between one panel and the next). He is finally satisfied with their readiness, but still doesn’t want to lead them into mortal combat with the women. Then comes an incredible stroke of luck: Nesbo is attacked by barbarians! Called “Nubians,” they are the only dark-skinned people in the entire story. (Yes, once again, we’re dealing with what seems to be an all-Caucasian gene pool inhabiting a lost city in the heart of Africa; and once again, nobody ever explains why such is the case!)
The attackers appear to be gaining the upper hand against the defending Amazons, but then Samar leads the male rebels into battle as surprise reinforcements in defense of their beloved city. After that, the Nubians are quickly defeated and it’s time for the male and female factions to talk about what happens next.
By the end of the story, it appears that things are settling down into a new Status Quo — if we assume that everybody in Nesbo is, in fact, going to take Samar’s friendly advice, which he offers before hitting the road to go seek more adventures somewhere else. His prescription is that the men should handle the city’s military needs from now on, but as far as general governance is concerned, one man and one woman (starting with Sopho and Nylo) should rule as equals.
Vaguely reminds me of how the old Roman Republic used to have two consuls at a time, who basically shared what we might call “the power of a Chief Executive” — each consul could veto the other’s decisions. The Romans in those days were very skeptical about the idea of letting one person act as supreme commander-in-chief; the fool might start calling himself “King” or something equally disgusting. To be on the safe side, the Romans also elected new consuls every year so that nobody was able to settle into the job for the rest of his life. Samar doesn’t say anything about holding regular elections, though.
Since we’ve never heard from Nesbo again, I have no idea how it all worked out in the long run. Nor do I know if the womenfolk stopped calling themselves “Amazons!”
December, 1941/January, 1942. All-Star Comics #8. “Introducing Wonder Woman.” Written by William Moulton Marston.
As you might guess from the title, this story marks the debut of Diana (Wonder Woman), Queen Hippolyta, Paradise Island, and the general concept of the tribe which I choose to dub the Classic Amazons in order to distinguish them from all the other Amazon tribes I found.
(Note: In this story, the Queen’s name seems to be “Hippolyte” — but to make my life so much easier, I’m going to stick with always typing “Hippolyta” throughout this entire document. I don’t know exactly when DC changed the spelling of her name, and frankly, I don’t care.)
Here’s what Queen Hippolyta tells her daughter about the tribe’s backstory:
Once upon a time Hippolyta was the ruler of the land of Amazonia (apparently located somewhere in the vicinity of Ancient Greece). Hercules somehow stole her magic girdle — a gift from Aphrodite which had previously made Hippolyta invincible in battle. Things went downhill from there, and all the Amazon women were enslaved by Hercules and his followers. At first the goddess Aphrodite refused to help her Amazon worshippers get out of this mess because she was far too busy with the important task of throwing a snit over the loss of the precious girdle. (No, that’s not exactly how Hippolyta describes the goddess’s behavior — it’s just my take on it.)
Eventually Aphrodite reconsidered and answered Hippolyta’s prayers by helping her retrieve the girdle. With its magic on their side again, the Amazons were able to break out of slavery and escape. However, Aphrodite dictated some new rules: Hippolyta had to lead her tribe far away to start a “new world” (on Paradise Island), and the Amazons had to avoid men henceforth. They also had to wear metal bracelets all the time to remind themselves of that sad period of slavery. As long as they stay on Paradise Island and Hippolyta has the magic girdle, these Amazons are immortal. They’ve been keeping to themselves ever since.
Shortly after Hippolyta tells this story to her daughter, the goddesses Athena and Aphrodite make a joint appearance to Hippolyta to announce that special circumstances (the Second World War) require an exception to the rules. The time has come for the strongest and wisest Amazon to leave Paradise Island so she may fight alongside the Americans in this war. (Please don’t ask me why it wouldn’t be even better for a large number of Amazon warriors to all give the Allies a helping hand against the Axis!)
In accordance with the will of the goddesses, Hippolyta organizes a big contest to determine which of her subjects is the great champion who should represent the entire tribe as “Wonder Woman” in the outside world. A masked contender wins the final round and then reveals herself as the princess (whom Hippolyta had forbidden to compete). And the rest is history.
So that was the earliest version of the origin stories of the Classic Amazons and of Diana becoming Wonder Woman. Various retellings, retcons, and a Post-Crisis reboot have tinkered with details in one way or another. For instance, I’ve read that it was much later that DC settled on the idea that Diana began her existence as a clay statue that was miraculously brought to life to be Hippolyta’s daughter. Come to think of it, I have no idea how Marston originally thought Diana had been conceived if the backstory said her mother had been obligated to avoid all contact with men for the last few thousand years! The Diana in this debut story (which I just reread in reprint) does not seem as if she has three thousand years of life experience already, so I don’t think she was sired by Hercules or one of his male followers during the sad days of the Amazon Enslavement.
Another tweak was that someone at DC eventually decided that Diana had always been called “Diana.” That may sound redundant, but it isn’t. In this story the name “Diana” is only used on the final page when Hippolyta tells her daughter, the new Wonder Woman, to let herself be known as “Diana,” in honor of the goddess of the Moon, from now on. We don’t know what (if anything) the princess’s name had been up until that moment. I have no idea why Marston wrote it that way. I gather that someone at DC eventually tossed that anomaly out of continuity for good.
At any rate: The Classic Amazons of Earth-Two, as shown in the Golden Age stories about Wonder Woman, were eventually replaced in the ongoing Wonder Woman title by the Classic Amazons of Earth-One. (Note: I recently learned that Wonder Woman #98 is sometimes considered to be the debut of the Silver Age Wonder Woman and her fellow Amazons of Earth-One — partially because it was the first time Queen Hippolyta was depicted as a blond during a retelling of the Wonder Woman origin story. However, I also find that other fans have argued for an earlier date. It’s all quite murky.)
In 1986 all the relevant continuity about both of the previous incarnations of Wonder Woman was rebooted when Diana got a brand new Wonder Woman title set in the New Earth that existed after the Crisis on Infinite Earths. But the essential elements of the Classic Amazon backstory didn’t change too much from one Earth to another, and that’s why I choose to just summarize this Golden Age story as the First Appearance of the Classic Amazons of the DCU, whose backstory and other defining characteristics have been tinkered with ever since! Trying to list the different incarnations of the group as “three separate tribes” would strike me as painfully redundant.
October, 1942 Whiz Comics #35. “Meets the Amazons.” Writer Unknown. Published by Fawcett.
Lance O’Casey, action hero, is on a ship passing near an island when he sees smoke signals coming up from it. He correctly diagnoses them as deliberate distress signals, and goes ashore with a friend named Mike to investigate. It quickly becomes evident that this island is ruled by Amazons (women with helmets and spears) who regard males as an inferior life form. They use the word “Amazon” for themselves in at least one word balloon, so we know that’s the tribal name. There are no communication difficulties here; either the Amazons speak English or else Lance is already fluent in whatever language they do speak.
Lance and Mike are taken to the village where the Queen will decide the fates of these strangers who are clearly guilty of being “men fools from the outside world,” as she puts it as soon as she sees them.
Someone suggests putting the pair to work in the mines, but the Queen, in her sweet, loveable way, says: “No, we have enough workers! Put them to death! It will amuse me! He, he!”
These Amazons certainly have a fast-paced justice system! I think the trial lasted about thirty seconds, and the death penalty is to be imposed immediately!
Amazons start chucking spears at Lance and Mike. They run for it. Oddly enough, some of the Queen’s flunkies are what a caption calls her “male slave guard.” Unlike some of the Amazon tribes I’ve studied for this List, this batch of women warriors evidently doesn’t lose any sleep over the possibility of local men staging a coup if they are permitted to bear arms while following the orders of female officers.
The spear-carrying slave guardsmen are sent after the fugitives. Lance starts slugging it out with them (something he chivalrously hesitates to do with women), and the Queen decides his courage merits a chance to earn survival for himself and his buddy Mike. All Lance must do now is win each of three contests against some of her Amazon warriors. Archery, sprinting, and the cocoanut throw (similar to the shot-put).
Lance wins all three. He now expects he and Mike will be released to leave the island in a hurry. The Queen points out, accurately enough, that the only stakes she had offered were their lives — nobody said a thing about freedom. Lance and Mike will now become slaves. In fact, she is so impressed by Lance O’Casey’s abilities that he will be her new favorite slave. In case he somehow missed the point of what “favorite” means, she asks coyly, “Don’t you think I’m beautiful?”
Not being a total fool, he agrees with her — but this seems a good time to tell you that this woman may be the only Amazon Queen I’ve ever seen in a comic book story whose face qualifies as unattractive. (And in the course of researching this piece, I’ve seen a lot of them!)
On the final page of the story, Lance overcomes his scruples against hitting women, slugs the Queen, grabs her helmet, and sticks it onto the head of Ashto (a local man who was her former favorite slave before Lance came along). Lance seems to assume the helmet serves the same symbolic function as a crown in a European culture; he says Ashto is in charge now. Then Lance, Mike, and the shipwrecked guy who had sent the smoke signals all leave the island in a hurry. We are meant to assume that knocking down the Queen magically changed everyone’s attitudes regarding the proper dynamics of all male/female relationships on this island from this day forward. But we’ve never seen anyone journey back to this island later on to study how it all worked out in the long run.
The Queen wore a helmet and breastplate, and the other Amazons at least wore helmets — along with what might be wide metal girdles around their waists. The spearheads also looked metallic. Throw in the existence of slave miners, and it appears that the people on this island know how to mine and refine metal ore, and then manufacture their own weapons and armor from the results. That puts them way ahead of some of the other tribes on this list, and strikes me as possible evidence of an ancient connection with the Classic Amazons.
October, 1943. Zip Comics #40. Published by MLJ. “Steel Sterling in the Land of the Amazons.” Writer unknown. First appearance of Queen Miverna’s Amazons of Amazonia.
A full company of the U.S. Army is reported to have gone missing during some fierce jungle fighting. (Don’t ask me which jungle on which island or continent — I don’t know!)
Steel Sterling, a super-strong flying superhero, has friends in that unit and is worried about them. He goes looking for them, and finally finds a lost city run by Amazons. These women somehow captured the entire company of American soldiers — apparently without anyone dying, since no one on either side seems to be holding a grudge over any recent fatalities.
The Amazons look Caucasian, are usually big and muscular women, wear helmets (sometimes plumed in the old Greek style), and carry old-fashioned weapons such as swords and maces and spears. The word “Amazon” comes up in dialogue several times, but it always seems to be Steel Sterling and his fellow Americans saying that, rather than the natives. However, given that the women unquestionably call their homeland “Amazonia,” I feel it’s a safe guess that they consider themselves “Amazons.” They probably said as much to their captives in bits of dialogue we simply didn’t see.
These Amazons are ruled by a blond woman called Queen Miverna. Interestingly enough, the reason they captured all those G.I.’s in the first place (I’m assuming these men are infantry) is that several of their women need husbands and these soldiers looked like promising material. By the time Steel arrives, the captives have already been told that tomorrow each man will marry one of the local women — or else he gets fed to hungry lions in the arena if he insists upon staying a bachelor. (The thought occurs to me that when you’ve got an entire company of soldiers, some are likely to already be married men — but I also suspect that these Amazons don’t care about such flimsy excuses as “I’ve got a wife waiting for me back home in the States.” Nobody ever addresses that point in dialogue, however.)
Steel (and a friend of his called Looney, but Steel will do all the work) voluntarily go into the arena the following morning to take their chances with the lions. An Amazon announcer informs the large crowd that this is the first time in two thousand years that any bachelors in their situation have made that decision. What these Amazons have not yet grasped about Steel (since he’s been patient and polite thus far) is that
he, like Superman, is pretty much invulnerable, so the prospect of facing the lions doesn’t rattle him. In fact, while researching this piece I ran across an assertion on Don Markstein’s Toonopedia that although Steel Sterling debuted a couple of years after Superman, he was nonetheless the first comic book superhero to be explicitly and repeatedly called by the catchphrase “the Man of Steel” in published stories! (I can’t swear to the accuracy of that claim.)
The outcome of the fight with the lions is such a foregone conclusion that the writer and artist don’t even bother to show it to us. Just the aftermath! One of the Queen’s advisors says: “He has triumphed, Queen Miverna! You know the custom of our land!”
Miverna remembers it, all right. She says with a scowl: “The survivor will meet me in combat! If he should win, he shall gain my hand in marriage and become King of all Amazonia!”
So the duel begins. A very one-sided duel at first. Steel really doesn’t want to hit a woman. So he just ignores her in favor of chatting with his friend Looney. Queen Miverna slams him on the head with her spiked mace a couple of times without getting any reaction. Then Steel decides: “These Amazons might treat their husbands better if they found out that men weren’t inferior!”
So he forces himself to hit Miverna once — hard enough to knock her down, but apparently not doing any serious damage. She’s starting to sit up — still conscious, smiling, and speaking clearly — in the next panel. We gather she’s suddenly decided that marrying such a powerful man might not be half bad.
But Steel has no intention of settling down as her husband. He grabs his friend Looney and flies off. He had just been biding his time while awaiting a signal, you see. The captured soldiers have already sneaked out of the city while Steel was distracting all the Amazons by putting on a big show in the arena.
In the final panel (back home in the USA), Steel tells another friend that he has no intention of ever going back. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” as he so aptly puts it. So we have no idea what changes (if any) occurred in Amazonia after his brief visit.
As mentioned above in my rules for what qualifies for this list, I only mention these Amazons because DC might incorporate them into one of its “Red Circle” books at any time.
Spring, 1946. Kid Eternity #1. “The Land of the Amazons.” Writer unknown. Published by Quality.
Kid Eternity encounters a group of self-declared Amazons who live somewhere near the Amazon River in South America. The population seems to be a fifty-fifty split of men and women, with marriage (apparently monogamous) as a common occurrence. For instance, Kid Eternity meets a man who says he’s the “King” of the community, but the man stresses the point that he has no authority. We gather he’s only a “King” in the sense that he’s married to Queen Matilda, and she makes all the decisions! This man seems to be a typical specimen — all the local men are definitely subservient to the women warrior types. Kid Eternity is drafted into service as a domestic servant for a bit, and he learns that the local men do cooking and other housework and gossip incessantly with one another. (Yes, the writer was deliberately reversing stereotypes of that era regarding the average American housewife.)
By the end of the story the King has been wounded when he deliberately “took a bullet” for his wife. A villain had been about to shoot her in the back. Queen Matilda is very touched by what happened; she gushes about how brave her husband was. It looks like he’ll pull through. It is hinted that this may be the beginning of a trend, with the local men in general getting more respect from the women, and/or being more aggressive in the face of adversity.
But who knows how it will all turn out in the long run? We sure don’t, because we’ve never seen anyone visit that Amazon community again!
Since they were originally featured in a Golden Age Quality comic, I initially assumed this tribe lived on Earth-X of the Old Multiverse. That was where most of the Quality material ended up when DC started integrating it into their own continuity. (In recent years I’ve been told that in most cases DC acquired “trademarks,” but not “copyrights,” from Quality’s Golden Age publications. Don’t ask me why.)
However, a fan pointed out to me that Kid Eternity was eventually retconned in the early 1980s as being a long-lost brother of Captain Marvel Junior of Earth-S (which I already knew) — and the fan also assured me that from that day forward, at least until the transition to Post-COIE continuity, Kid Eternity was assumed to have had all his Golden Age adventures on Earth-S, unlike the way all of Quality’s other heroes inhabited what DC later dubbed Earth-X. (That last part was something I hadn’t heard before.)
If that’s accurate, then Queen Matilda and her Amazons were presumably part of the Earth-S continuity of the Old Multiverse.
For my purposes, it hardly matters which of those Earths the tribe lived on in the Pre-Crisis era! Large chunks of Earth-S and Earth-X continuity were supposedly merged together with large chunks of history from three other parallel Earths to form the New Earth of the Post-Crisis DCU. So it’s quite possible that Queen Matilda et al. (or at least the descendants of those characters) are still lurking somewhere in the Amazon rainforest in the modern continuity.
February, 1947. Don Winslow of the Navy #42. “Amazon Island.” Writer unknown. (Published by Fawcett.)
Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, a U.S. Navy vessel visits an unexplored island. It turns out to be inhabited by a tribe of women who practice cannibalism. We are told that there had been rumors around for a long time about an “Amazon Island” somewhere in the region, and this must be it!
Two sailors have been captured by the Amazons, but Don Winslow leads a party that manages to rescue the two before the Amazons can complete the process of turning them into dinner. Nobody dies on either side — in an attempt to distract the angry Amazons, Winslow has numerous large mirrors propped up against trees so that feminine vanity will cause the Amazons to stop and admire themselves for at least a few minutes before worrying about anything else. Long enough to give the Navy personnel a decent head start in getting back to the landing boat on the beach, anyway!
Then Don Winslow and the other sailors leave, having made no particular change to the island’s social structure. (Someone expresses the incredibly optimistic viewpoint that the mirrors they left behind might have a mellowing influence in the long run, but I wouldn’t bet my life on that.)
The Amazon women don’t seem to speak English — so we never actually find out if they call themselves by the name “Amazon.” But since we are given no reason to believe they use some other group name instead, and even the story title calls this place “Amazon Island,” I give them the benefit of the doubt. The women in question seem tall and strong, look Caucasian, and generally keep long hair up in a bun atop the head. They don’t wear body armor or show any other particular signs of Greek/Classic Amazon influence.
Note: The scans I’ve seen of the cover of this comic show one Amazon with light green skin and another with light purple skin. I’m inclined to think that was a silly printing error, plain and simple. (In the foreground on the left side of the cover, there’s also an Amazon who seems to be dark blue — but that could be meant to suggest she’s in shadow, I suppose. Or it could be another mistake in the printing process.)
May/June, 1947. Wonder Woman #23. “Wonder Woman and the Coming of the Kangas.” Written by William Moulton Marston.
Most of this story is a flashback to show how the riding-beasts known as “kangas” first arrived on Paradise Island. The flashback sequence is set when Diana was a cute seven-year-old.
Extraterrestrial invaders, riding flying kangas, attack Paradise Island. I think they meant to conquer it and enslave the Classic Amazons. (I’ve only read scanned excerpts from the full story.) The attackers call themselves the Sky Riders of Nebulosta. They gain the upper hand at first, but then young Diana is instrumental in leading a successful counterattack. For most of this story, the invaders look as if they all have blue-furred cat’s-heads mounted atop bodies shaped like those of mortal men. They wear uniforms that cover everything below the neck. But on the final page the truth is revealed when Diana rips the cat’s-head off one such attacker to reveal it was simply a hollow helmet. The wearer is actually a fair-skinned, red-headed woman.
After the Classic Amazons have overcome the rest of the attackers, stripping off their “cat’s-heads” and all their outer uniforms for good measure, it turns out that all of the Sky Riders look very much like female Caucasians, and nearly all are redheads.
Realizing the day is lost, one of the redheads — possibly the leader of the Sky Riders, but I don’t know her name or title — says to Hippolyta: “We’re Amazons — like you. We have no home, now. Won’t you let us join your nation?”
Just what she means by “we’re Amazons” is never clarified (probably because we’re already in the middle of the story’s final page at this point). Neither Hippolyta nor anyone else claims to recognize any of these unmasked women as former members of the original Amazon tribe.
I grant you that these Sky Riders could be descended from one or more women who were once exiled from (or voluntarily left) the Classic Amazons, and who somehow made it to another planet and started a new tribe which kept some of the Amazon traditions alive in each generation. That would mean that no, Hippolyta wouldn’t recognize the facial features of any of the current Sky Riders, but yes, they might very well be entitled to claim “Amazon status” by right of blood.
Or these redheads could have always been a separate tribe who were also created as “Amazons” by one or more of the Greek gods and goddesses (or some other set of mythological deities, for all I know), and who then, for some reason, went out to find another planet to live on, way back when, and are only now coming back.
Or there could be some other reason that they had previously formed the habit of calling themselves “Amazons” when they were still living on Nebulosta.
Or — and I favor this one — it could be that the leader of the Sky Riders is hastily drawing a parallel between her tribe and Hippolyta’s by calling her own people “Amazons” for the first time in her life, in a frantic attempt to get merciful treatment! In other words, she may have meant approximately this: “As you can see, we too are a proud and tough tribe of female warriors — your word for that is ‘Amazons,’ right? Now that you’ve proved we can’t conquer you, why not let us enlist in your tribe so you’ll have a stronger army the next time you need to fight a battle? We’re homeless at the moment, so we’ll settle for some dry buildings to sleep in and three square meals a day. It’s a win-win!”
(I believe it’s been known to work that way with the French Foreign Legion. After both the first and second World Wars, the Legion would suddenly acquire a new flood of recruits who showed odd signs of already having considerable practical experience in military matters and who wanted to keep doing what they were good at. Many of these recruits spoke fluent German.)
I have no idea whether Hippolyta believes the Sky Riders are entitled to call themselves an “Amazon” tribe — but she doesn’t bother to argue the point, nor even ask for clarification of it. Instead, Hippolyta focuses on answering the question on the table (“Won’t you let us join your nation?”) by simply saying: “You must remain prisoners until obedience to Aphrodite transforms your savage natures — then, we’ll see!”
In case Hippolyta’s meaning wasn’t crystal-clear to you, let me explain that she’s referring to having all the captive Sky Riders spend time on Transformation Island. Located near Paradise Island, it was a sort of prison colony on which the Classic Amazons of the Golden Age habitually detained their female enemies. Magical girdles were used to suppress certain antisocial urges on the part of the inmates, which would supposedly lead to gradual rehabilitation of their psyches until it was safe to turn them loose.
The process was not always successful. I have read that some of Wonder Woman’s recurring villainesses of that era spent time on Transformation Island and then returned to their evil ways, clashing with Diana all over again! I’m not clear on whether such villainesses had managed to fake complete rehabilitation well enough that they were released by the Amazon equivalent of a “parole board,” or if they had staged a successful jailbreak and found a way to get the magic girdles off, or what. (If you know, please tell me!) But in any case, the existence of repeat offenders demonstrates that spending time as a prisoner on Transformation Island just moderated certain urges; it did not mean you were being brainwashed to change all your thinking patterns, irreversibly, until you were only capable of thinking such thoughts as Queen Hippolyta wanted you to think. Free will still counted for something.
Near as I can tell from online resources, after this story there was never any follow-up regarding what happened to any of these captive Sky Riders in the long run. Some or all of them may well have eventually been assimilated into the Classic Amazons of Earth-Two continuity, but no one ever told us so!
All we know for sure about the long-term consequences of this battle is that the Classic Amazons kept the captured kangas as the spoils of war, and were gleefully riding them all over the place by the time Diana had grown up to become Wonder Woman! (Before that battle with the Sky Riders, the preferred mounts of the Classic Amazons had been giant bunny rabbits. I don’t know what happened to the rabbits after they were no longer needed.)
Note: A “retelling” of similar material about the arrival of the kangas on Paradise Island was published in Wonder Woman #209 (volume 1), cover-dated January. 1974. That version presumably applied to the Earth-One continuity. But I have not read that the word “Amazons” was used in dialogue for the Earth-One analogs of the group called “the Sky Riders of Nebulosta.” (Since I don’t have #209 in my collection, I may be missing something important, though.)
July/August, 1949. Superman #49. “Lois Lane, Queen of the Amazons.” Written by William Woolfolk.
Lois Lane and Clark Kent are covering a story at a museum. Lois agrees to someone’s suggestion that she wear a necklace (one of the museum’s exhibits) while posing for photographs. Then her behavior becomes strange. For one thing, she fails to give the necklace back before leaving the museum. She quits her job and boards a plane heading for Venezuela, but parachutes out as the plane is passing over a jungle. (I don’t know what country that jungle was located within.) Somehow she is quickly found by local Amazons who see “the Royal Necklace of Amazonia” around her neck and hail her as their rightful Queen.
Or, I gather, they see her as a woman who may be the rightful Queen, but needs to prove herself first! Apparently just wearing the necklace isn’t quite good enough to put you in the driver’s seat for the rest of your life.
Lois passes some tests (with the unseen assistance of Superman) and is finally accepted as the true Queen of Amazonia. She appears to revel in that role. When Superman is “captured” and taken before Queen Lois, she shows no signs of affection toward him, but just treats him as another prisoner. One odd aspect of that scene (near as I can tell from online summaries — I haven’t seen a reprint of the original material) is that Lois seems to have forgotten just how hard it is to “imprison” Superman if you don’t have a supply of Green Kryptonite handy — and this tribe doesn’t. By now, the plain implication is that the necklace has somehow warped Lois Lane’s personality to a frightening degree. A magic spell, I take it.
Superman eventually yanks the necklace off Lois and gives it to a “banished Amazon” he had met earlier. (I have no idea what her backstory was.) That woman now seems positioned to take the throne. Deliberately staging a fight with the new Queen while other Amazons are watching, Superman lets her “beat” him so her qualifications as a worthy leader of the tribe will be firmly established. Then Superman and Lois head back to Metropolis.
These Amazons of Amazonia have never been heard from again. It occurs to me that if the necklace was overriding Lois’s free will, then it may have done the same thing to the local woman whom Superman arbitrarily selected to replace Lois as Queen, but I have not heard that Superman expressed any concern on that score!
Since I’ve never seen any of these Amazons, I can’t tell you what they looked like, how they dressed, or much else about them. I also don’t know what was stated or hinted about the nature of their relationships with men.
September/October, 1949. Wonder Woman #37. “The Riddle of the Chinese Mummy Case.” Written by Bob Kanigher.
Wonder Woman discovers that a Chinese mummy case, recently excavated near the Great Wall and estimated at 2000 years old, contains the remains of a woman who was wearing some Amazon-style clothing and carrying a shield that was of a distinctive type which Classic Amazons used to carry into battle
This comes as a shock. It seems Diana (and, presumably, the older Classic Amazons of Paradise Island) had been unaware of any Amazon involvement in the history of Ancient China. She decides there’s only one way to solve this mystery: Arrange to travel back in time to the appropriate era so she can investigate!
Two thousand years earlier, she encounters and assists an all-female Chinese army led by a woman called Princess Mei. As they get acquainted after the battle, Princess Mei states the following: Many generations earlier, a group of Amazons emigrated from Asia Minor to China and ended up ruling all of China for awhile. But entropy set in, and now only one Chinese province is still under the matriarchal rule of their distant descendants, with Princess Mei at the top of the local pecking order.
So the Amazons in question must have begun as a splinter group of the Classic Amazons. Presumably they were already doing their own thing in China before Hippolyta and most of her followers ended up sequestered on Paradise Island following their temporary enslavement at the hands of Hercules and his henchmen. The implication is that the Amazons in China, having already drifted away from the main group, did not receive the same blessing of immortality which was bestowed upon the Amazons who settled on Paradise Island. Therefore, the first-generation Amazon conquerors must have mated with local men to ensure there would be a next generation, and then their daughters grew up and did the same, and so forth. After many centuries of that, Princess Mei looked very Chinese; I suspect that only a tiny fraction of her genes had been inherited from one or more of the Classic Amazons of Earth-Two.
This may explain why, near as I can tell, Princess Mei was not in the habit of using the word “Amazon” for herself. Online resources are confused on this point — some claim that Wonder Woman meets “Chinese Amazons” in this story, but I don’t think Mei and her followers ever claimed the Amazon label applied to themselves. However, I’m working on the theory that there were, in fact, self-described Amazons in China for at least forty years and/or two generations, in an era long before Princess Mei’s birth — and thus that tribe belongs on my list.
Note: The cover of Wonder Woman #37 showed Wonder Woman shocked to discover a life-size replica of herself inside an old mummy case. (Apparently a dummy with the same facial features, coloring, hairstyle, and superhero costume.) That wasn’t what happened in the story. Was there a communications glitch between the writer, the cover artist, and the editor who was supposed to be coordinating their efforts? However, I found a much more detailed summary of the “Earth-One retelling” of the same general plot; in that latter instance (Wonder Woman #207) the case actually contained two statues of women; one of a Chinese woman wearing some traditional Amazon garb (including a distinctive shield design) and, right beside it, a statue of Wonder Woman herself. (The statues, however, were white all over; not colored to make them more lifelike.) It also appears that the Earth-One Princess Mei did not use the word “Amazon” for herself or any other women warriors of her generation; only for their distant ancestors.
September, 1950. Nyoka the Jungle Girl #47. “Nyoka the Jungle Girl on Amazon Island.” Possibly written by Rod Reed, according to comics.org. Published by Fawcett.
Nyoka the Jungle Girl is, I gather, a globetrotting explorer. As this story opens, she and her friend Larry are on a cabin cruiser “somewhere in the South Pacific,” seeking out a place she has heard so much about: “Amazon Island.” They are sure they’re closing in on it, but there are several small islands in the vicinity, so it’s hard to tell which one they really want.
Then somebody on one of the aforementioned nearby islands opens fire with a cannon for no apparent reason. Scores a direct hit on the cabin cruiser, shattering it. Nyoka ends up in the water, surrounded by smithereens of her boat but surprisingly unscathed. She tries to find Larry, fails, and finally swims over to the nearest island.
It turns out to be the one she had wanted all along — it’s inhabited by warrior women who promptly start throwing spears at her. After some hand-to-hand combat, they take her prisoner and decide a slower death would be better. After Nyoka is bound hand and foot, one Amazon smears her with honey so that she’ll literally be eaten alive by red ants. Nyoka’s repeated attempts at peaceful conversation are emphatically rejected. The Amazons are convinced that she’s one of the enemy, and this is how they treat their enemies.
All that is eventually resolved before Nyoka has been badly hurt, of course. After she saves the life of one of the Amazons, she learns that the trigger-happy bad guys on the next island over had also fired some cannon shells in this direction, before Nyoka ever sailed into these waters, and one of those shells killed the Queen of the tribe. The Amazons were now taking a rather jaundiced view of any strangers (especially white strangers, I suspect) who enter their territory.
The women warriors in this story all have dark brown skin and black hair. They all seem to be about a head taller than Nyoka is. Let’s assume that means “six feet tall or better.”
The story is stated to occur in the South Pacific, so I’m guessing these women are Polynesian or some other variety of “Pacific Islander.” At least some of them wear the stereotypical grass skirts, and all of them carry spears; I see no indication that they have gone beyond Stone Age technology.
Nyoka repeatedly calls these women “Amazons” after she meets them. So do some of the narrative captions. And of course the story title says she’s on “Amazon Island.” But we never learn what these women call themselves — although they apparently speak English! Or at any rate, they can converse with Nyoka when they want to. Perhaps Nyoka, in her previous globetrotting activities, had learned to speak a language which was also common on this South Seas island, and we got an English translation at no extra charge?
Likewise, we never learn anything significant about the history and culture of this tribe — such as where all the men are, and how long the tribe has existed on this island, and so forth. But since Nyoka kept calling them “Amazons,” as did the captions, and nobody ever contradicted that, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt.
June/July, 1953. All-Star Western #71. “Amazon Deathtrap.” Written by David Kahn.
This story features the character Strong Bow, whose name rang no bells for me when I was researching this piece. (Although I’m told that he got at least a cameo in Crisis on Infinite Earths.) I have learned that he was an American Indian in the days when no white men dwelled in North America. His own tribe was never clearly identified, but he evidently had warrior training and was an excellent archer and so forth, though he vastly preferred to talk about the merits of peace among neighboring tribes whenever possible.
Online resources agree that he traveled all over the North American continent in an era before Christopher Columbus “discovered the New World,” but there is less agreement on which century Strong Bow lived in. Dcuguide.com says his adventures occurred in the 15th Century. Dc.wikia.com says the 13th Century. Comicbookdb.com agrees that Strong Bow’s stories were set before Columbus’s discovery of America, but doesn’t commit itself by naming a century. Most of Strong Bow’s stories were published in the 1950s, and I don’t believe they’ve ever been collected in TPB for the convenience of modern readers, so I am not in a position to study his old tales for clues to when they were set.
At any rate, in this story Strong Bow is traveling through the mountains we now call the Sierra Nevadas (which are mostly in California on today’s maps, with a bit in Nevada) when he encounters a staunchly isolationist tribe of women warriors. Like Strong Bow himself, they are drawn and colored as North American Indians, but they call themselves “Amazons.” Their leader is called “the Queen” or “the Amazon Queen”; I gather we never learn her real name.
Their preference is to kill trespassers as a matter of principle. There is one loophole in the law, though: Strong Bow will go free if he beats the Queen in a series of tests of strength and skill. Three tests in all; winning two out of three will save his neck. He manages to survive.
I’m told that any male members of the tribe are nowhere in sight in this story. That doesn’t prove they didn’t exist, of course. Presumably each new generation of the tribe is sired somehow — these women don’t claim to be immortal, and I doubt they practice parthenogenesis — but we don’t know anything for certain about male/female interaction within the tribe.
November/December, 1957. The Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog #36. “Trail of the Jungle Amazons.” Written by John Broome.
This one is a doubtful case — but I gave the tribe in question the benefit of the doubt. Let’s call them the Blond Jungle Amazons.
Rex is part of an expedition to find some legendary “Amazons” who live in the South American interior — somewhere in the “Amazon basin.” The women are found — in the sense that they appear onstage in two entire panels of the story. All of them look Caucasian and all but one look very blond. They wear tunics and carry spears, but lack body armor. After rescuing Rex and two men from another tribe of attacking natives, the Amazons vanish into the underbrush instead of lingering to chat. (So we never even find out if they have any languages in common with Rex’s companions of the moment.)
The story title calls these women “Jungle Amazons,” and the word “Amazons” is used repeatedly in dialogue when other characters are speaking about them, before and after the women’s brief time onstage. But since the women never say anything that we can understand, we don’t know for sure if “Amazon” is what they call themselves. But it’s possible that they do, and that this is why the rumors about them consistently say “Amazons” instead of “white women warriors,” so I give them the benefit of the doubt.
December, 1957. Action Comics #235. “The Super-Prisoner of Amazon Island.” Written by Otto Binder.
Lois Lane and several other women get shipwrecked on an obscure island. They manage to send out an SOS by radio. Then they encounter a group of warrior women led by Elsha, Queen of the Amazons. These Amazons regard all men as weaklings. Elsha throws her spear right through a tree trunk to illustrate her superiority. (Some degree of super-strength, I’m thinking.)
Superman arrives and shows off his own strength. I get the impression from online summaries that his strength is far beyond that of any of these Amazons. (I don’t think this story has been reprinted in any modern TPBs, so I don’t have a copy to peruse. I’ve seen a few scanned panels, and text summaries by various people, but I can’t study the nuances.)
Queen Elsha is so impressed by Superman’s abilities that she decides he’s the one man who is worthy to mate with her. At her command, other Amazons pull out some chains with which they intend to bind Superman because of the tribal law that any male trespasser on this island must become a slave. Superman thinks this is funny — but then Lois warns him the chains have a greenish glow and she suspects there’s Kryptonite involved.
Lois is right — but Superman still feels fine as the chains are brought closer and closer, so he decides to humor Elsha by playing along while he figures out what’s happening to prevent the Kryptonite radiation from knocking him flat. (Note: Near as I can tell from what I’ve read, these Amazons have no idea that there is “Kryptonite” in their chains, nor that this substance ought to have any special effect on the handsome newcomer in the red-and-blue costume. The fact that these chains were originally made from Kryptonite, or perhaps an alloy involving Kryptonite mixed with other things for all I know, is sheer coincidence!)
Superman is put up for auction and Lois Lane somehow outbids the Queen. Apparently because Elsha is so inexperienced at running an auction that she allows Lois to keep making bids based on what other friends of Superman’s, back in the USA, allegedly “will pay” at a later date, after they have heard about the Man of Steel’s supposed predicament!
On the brighter side: Before our very eyes, this society experiences an Emancipation Proclamation of its very own as Queen Elsha, rather than let Lois claim Superman for herself at the end of the auction, has a sudden epiphany about the evils of old-fashioned slavery and tears up the document with that law written on it. (One blogger comments that this blow for civil rights would be much more inspiring if we had reason to believe there were any real slaves living on Amazon Island at that moment — but the story didn’t depict any! Superman, of course, could fly away at any time, no matter what the local laws said!)
Elsha declares that with slavery off the table, the entire auction simply doesn’t count. She now invokes another law about male/female interactions on this island. This one basically says that if a woman gives Superman a task he is unable to perform, he must marry that woman. I gather that Elsha, to prove she’s a good sport, allows several other women fair chances to give Superman an impossible task before the Queen will take her own turn at trying to rope Superman into matrimony.
Several women set “unrealistic” tasks for Superman. Guess what happens? Yep, he performs almost all of them. (Lois Lane generously tries to give him an easy one when it’s her turn, based on her expert knowledge of what his powers permit him to do without breaking a sweat, but she nearly beats him by accident when a boulder with high lead content blocks his X-Ray vision! Lois quickly pretends he had, in fact, succeeded.)
At last it is Queen Elsha’s turn. She boldly assigns Superman the task of making her a commoner. That’s a tricky one; Superman wonders how he’s supposed to get the “royal blood” out of her veins. Then he discovers that according to ancient Amazon law, if the Queen’s crown is lost or destroyed, she loses her royal status — at least until the crown has been properly replaced. (Don’t ask me why anyone ever enacted such a law in the first place.) So he destroys Elsha’s crown with his heat vision and she admits he’s met her challenge by (temporarily) removing her royal status.
Then Superman starts feeling weak from the aforementioned Kryptonite, and realizes — a little late! — that some rare element in the Queen’s crown must have been radiating something which blocked the effects of Green Kryptonite. Now that he’s disintegrated it, he’s lost his best chance at finding a way to avoid Kryptonite poisoning henceforth! (Sometimes you just can’t win.)
This being the Silver Age, it all had a happy ending. Superman finally got Lois and the other castaways back home where they belonged, leaving Elsha and her fellow Amazons alone on their home island to continue living their own lives. The tribe has never been heard from again!
July, 1960. Action Comics #266. “Captive of the Amazons.” Written by Jerry Siegel.
A movie star named Jena, assisted by a few friends (all attractive young women), manage to lure Clark Kent into a spaceship which turns out to be fully functional rather than a movie prop. This has been a carefully planned abduction. These women immobilize Clark with Kryptonite and reveal their knowledge of his other identity. It turns out that these women are all from the distant planet of Adoria. Jena is actually “Princess Jena,” heir to the throne. In the course of explaining her true agenda, Jena refers to herself and her female minions as “we Amazons.”
Jena’s use of “Amazons” could mean that’s actually the word they use for themselves on Adoria. On the other hand, since she has lived on Earth for a few years, building up a reputation as a movie actress, before this story ever gets going, she’s had plenty of time to read up on Greek myths and the like if she wanted to. Furthermore, since we are assured that Adorians have perfected the use of “telepathy-disks” for communicating with people who don’t speak the same language, there’s a serious possibility that she used some other word which (in her native tongue) meant “woman warrior” or something similar, and that the disk automatically translated whatever Jena had really said into the culturally equivalent concept of “Amazon” for Superman’s benefit.
But that’s all speculative. All we know for sure is that twice in Jena’s word balloons, as well as in the story title and some of the narrative captions, the word “Amazon” is consistently applied to the women of Adoria. So by the rules I invented for gauging these things, the Adorian women qualify as a self-described “Amazon” tribe!
After Jena has negotiated terms of parole with Superman, she removes the Kryptonite and they continue on to her homeworld. A bit later, when she is showing Superman around the royal palace, we get the following exchange which sums up the traditional gender roles of her culture.
SUPERMAN: Men-servants . . . the first males I’ve seen on this planet! Why are they rushing off?
JENA: Adorian men are quite timid! Unlike we Amazon women, the men are not strong and courageous!
Oddly enough . . . in the very next panel, Jena is showing Superman pictures of her five previous husbands. All five died while fighting rebellious robots who are based “in the mountains” but who sometimes raid human territory and kill people (don’t ask me why). It seems to me that fighting battles with killer robots is a fairly courageous activity, regardless of whether or not those five men were “strong” by Jena’s standards. We are never explicitly told if any other Adorian men have also participated in military combat, but the fate of Jena’s husbands shows it’s not unheard of.
However, all of the living, breathing characters in this story who actually wear the local version of military uniforms are women. Jena does not wear the uniform — but I suspect that’s because of her special status as princess; she speaks as if she’s had the same Amazon training as any other female warrior of her culture, and thus would be entitled to wear the uniform if she felt the need. The uniform includes green helmets, sleeveless blue chainmail shirts, and brown miniskirts. The uniformed Amazons also carry such classic weapons as swords and spears. (Jena’s mother the Queen wears a golden crown instead of a green helmet, but otherwise sticks to the same uniform as the rank-and-file Amazons.)
I was a trifle surprised that a space-faring, robot-building culture would arm its ground troops in such an archaic fashion. You’d think they’d have the equivalent of “guns” and “grenades,” wouldn’t you? Perhaps the hand weapons we saw were just ceremonial? The sort of thing a well-dressed Amazon would carry when she attended a royal wedding, for instance? (Note: In editing this piece, it suddenly occurred to me that the archaic-looking hand weapons of a high-tech extraterrestrial culture might have hidden depths — such as an ability to fire energy blasts. We never see those weapons used in combat, so who knows what they could do? The only battle we see is three panels long, with Superman doing all the work against killer robots.)
I mention weddings because Jena’s plan is to marry Superman and have him clean up the killer robot problem. Marrying her was not part of the promise he made before she took away the Kryptonite, but she now makes it clear that if he doesn’t play ball, she’ll use a powerful weapon to destroy the Earth. When he doesn’t seem to be falling in love with her even after she utters that threat (I can’t imagine why he would feel her genocidal tendencies were a turn-off), she decides to dose him with a love potion so they’ll be deliriously happy together. Superman is immune to the potion, but decides to play along for a bit by pretending to be obsessed with marrying the gorgeous Princess Jena — while simultaneously making such a fool of himself that she’ll soon get sick of his bad manners and “accidentally destructive” sudden impulses and decide the whole thing was a mistake.
My working theory is that the Adorian Amazons don’t have a hard-and-fast rule against men serving in the armed forces and carrying deadly weapons . . . but very few men ever work up the nerve to volunteer for “basic training” in the first place. Perhaps the idea is that a man has to become a soldier or otherwise prove he has exceptional courage in the face of danger before he’s considered worthy to marry a princess and get positioned to someday be King and co-ruler of Adoria? Was that how Jena’s father rose to his present position?
That would explain why Jena has been married to five guys in succession, each of whom was demonstrably willing to risk his neck fighting renegade robots. Such behavior is atypical for Adorian males, but no other type of man ever had a prayer of being considered a worthy suitor! Unfortunately, being the bold fellows that they were, each man insisted upon repeatedly fighting those robots even after he’d married Jena, and each man died because of it. One can see why Jena finally decided to see if anything better was available on another planet, and settled on the man with bulletproof skin who might actually have staying power!
Superman finally gets his very short-lived marriage annulled by the King (perhaps ten minutes after they tied the knot), and returns home, having destroyed the robots and solved a perpetual drought problem the planet had been suffering from. Jena never quite figured out what really happened with the potion, and never reappeared in any of the Earth-One Superman stories of the next quarter-century before COIE paved the way for a Superman Reboot.
October/November, 1963. Metal Men #4. Written by Bob Kanigher.
The Metal Men encounter a group of robotic Amazons. When we first see them, they are called “Tin Amazons” in dialogue spoken by their Queen. We never learn anything I would call “a real name” for her — a name she might have had before she became Queen, for instance — but various narrative captions in these two issues call her “the Tin Amazon Queen,” “the Tin Giantess Queen,” “the mechanical Queen,” and so forth. Her subjects generally address her as “Queen” or “O’ Queen.”
There are many strange things about these Tin Amazons and the world they inhabit. It seems to have developed an elaborate robotic ecoysystem. For instance, robot birds lay metal eggs which eventually hatch to reveal robot fledglings. The sea is inhabited by aquatic robot creatures. Their world also has robot gender politics. The Tin Amazon Queen keeps other “female” robots as her trusted warriors and treats mere “male” robots, who explicitly call themselves “men” (with the quotation marks around “men” included in the original word balloons), as if they were hunting dogs to be kept on leashes. Just what marks the inherent difference between “male” and “female” robots is never defined. The female robots are not shaped like human women, for instance.
The Tin Amazons’ world is a planetoid. It is apparently pretty close to Earth (i.e. within our solar system). Close enough, in fact, that the Queen of the Tin Amazons has been able to monitor things happening on or near the Earth via powerful telescopes. From a distance, she has fallen madly in love with Tin of the Metal Men — who is currently stuck in orbit around the Earth because of a previous adventure — so she sends a spaceship to pick him up and bring him back to sit on the throne next to hers as the new King.
When Doc Will Magnus and the other Metal Men come to the rescue in a spaceship of their own, they note that the planetoid has an Earth-like atmosphere. We also learn that the Tin Amazon Queen is gigantic — I estimate at least forty feet tall. (Call it “at least twelve meters” if you’re more comfortable with metrics.) Her followers are built on a similar scale. Viewing Tin from zillions of miles away when he was in orbit around the Earth, she had assumed he was of similar stature. She is disappointed by the discovery of how small he really is, but it doesn’t shake her obsession with him; it just means some upgrades are necessary! She orders her scientists to find a way to make him a more suitable size.
I thought they’d want to graft his head onto a new body, or something along those lines, but I’ve been wrong before! It turns out that the Tin Amazons have access to some interesting local foodstuffs (they look like organic fruits to me) which, when eaten, or even when splashed onto the body, cause a terrestrial robot such as Tin to grow to tremendous size — i.e. “about normal size” by the lofty standards of the Tin Amazons. We later learn that those fruits are equally efficacious on the other Metal Men, and have the same effect on the human metabolism of Will Magnus. (I’m beginning to smell “magic” instead of “science” at work.) However, for Magnus and for his Metal Men, the effect is definitely temporary.
At the end of this two-part epic (in Metal Men #5), a bunch of downtrodden robots — the ones who call themselves “men” and whom the Queen has previously insisted upon treating as “dogs” –have been inspired by the courage of the terrestrial visitors who keep refusing to knuckle under to the Queen’s threats. The males launch a rebellion of their own. They seem to be winning. Then Doc and his Metal Men (all back to normal size now) climb back into their rocket and take off for Earth. It is unclear whether the Tin Amazon Queen survived the rebellion — and near as I can tell, that planetoid and all its robotic residents have never been heard from again!
October, 1966. Action Comics #342. “The Day Supergirl Became an Amazon!” Written by Otto Binder.
The Silver Age Supergirl encounters a previously unknown tribe of so-called Amazons living on another secluded island. I’ll just quote DarkMark’s concise summary of this story, found in his exhaustive Index of the Earth-One Supergirl’s continuity.
While on a boat trip to collect marine specimens for Stanhope University’s biology department, Linda Danvers and two female classmates get blown off-course and end up on a distant island populated by Amazon women who have great strength, due to drinking a certain nectar. The women are ruled by the tyrannical Queen Jarta, who orders Linda and her friends to work as slaves until the three-days’ dose of Nectar of Strength can make them Amazons. Linda uses her super-strength to do their tasks so well, and deliberately discomfits Queen Jarta in the process, that the Queen gladly sends them all back to civilization.
Since I haven’t read the story, I don’t have anything to add to that. (If DC ever gets around to publishing “Showcase Supergirl, Volume 3,” then I’ll finally get the chance to examine the story myself.)
June/July, 1968. Metal Men #32. “The Metal Women Blues.” Written by Otto Binder.
In this story, Will Magnus and the usual Metal Men roster — plus newly created counterparts called the “Metal Women” (Iron Girl, Gold Girl, Lead Girl, Mercury Girl, and also a masculine robot named Platinum Man) — find themselves fighting a group of what a narrative caption introduces to us as “Female Robot Amazons” and also calls “space invaders.” On the following page, it becomes crystal-clear that these invaders embrace the name “Amazons”; their leader (who wears a crown) addresses her followers as such. The leader is called “the Amazon Queen” in one narrative caption; I can’t find any dialogue in which we saw anyone directly address her by name or by title, though.
I can only swear to the existence of seven of these Robot Amazons, and that includes one who is created onstage to be the bait in a trap for the male members of the Metal Men (including the newly constructed Platinum Man). The initial trap works fine, leaving the targeted Metal Men helpless for the time being, but the invading force is shredded by the courageous and clever tactics of the Metal Women (including the female robot Platinum (“Tina”) of the original Metal Men roster) who arrive on the scene later.
I just reread the story, and the implication seems to be that these Robot Amazons were not just defeated and disabled, but were, one and all, killed by the severe damage done to their metal bodies. A conclusion which is supported by the fact that, in the subsequent 43 years’ worth of DC’s publications, these Robot Amazons have never yet made a comeback!
(On the other hand, none of the victorious Metal Women ever say, “Yay! We killed them!” Perhaps someone at DC felt it wouldn’t be sufficiently family-friendly, in that day and age, to have robot heroines boast of having slaughtered their enemies on the battlefield? Perhaps it was perfectly all right to slaughter those non-organic enemies onstage, as long as you didn’t come right out and say this was exactly what you were doing?)
Sadly, the Metal Women (including Platinum Man) all die right after that battle by becoming trapped in a pool of lava. At the end of the story, Doc Magnus offers to build brand new versions of those short-lived characters, but the regular Metal Men reject the idea.
Note: These Robot Amazons have no apparent connection to the other robotic Amazons who were apparently called “Tin Amazons”; the ones who only appeared in Metal Men #’s 4-5. For one thing, the new arrivals look quite different — much closer to the shapes and sizes of female humans — and neither the heroes nor the villains in this story make any reference to previous encounters with one another. We have no idea where, in all the universe beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, these Amazons originated.
February/March, 1971. Green Lantern #82. “How Do You Fight a Nightmare?” Written by Denny O’Neil.
Ollie Queen and Dinah Drake (Green Arrow and Black Canary) have a brief fight with a couple of Harpies. Then they send a message asking for Green Lantern’s (Hal Jordan’s) help, and he is ambushed by Harpies (probably the same pair) before he can rendezvous with his friends. Then someone calling herself The Witch Queen banishes him to a place she calls “the Dimension of Furies.”
While following a lead, Green Arrow and Black Canary are attacked by a trio of women who wear armor similar to what you’d expect in soldiers of Classic Greece. They call themselves “Amazons.” Incidentally, all three of the women in this group are much taller than Black Canary (even allowing for the plumed helmets). I’m not sure how tall Canary is, but I’d say these women are close to seven feet tall, give or take a few inches. I suspect it’s a racial characteristic.
Green Arrow gets knocked for a loop by one punch and stays down on the ground for a few pages. Displaying some blatant chauvinism, the leader of the Amazon trio orders the others to spare the woman (Canary) and slay the man (Arrow). The implication is that even though they’ve never seen Green Arrow before and he has never done anything to hurt them, as a mere man he is naturally fair game, whereas a female stranger automatically gets the full benefit of the doubt.
Black Canary vigorously objects to their plan for Green Arrow. One of the Amazons offers to slap her around enough to “chastise” her without really hurting her.
It doesn’t quite work out that way.
After Black Canary has mopped the floor with her opponent in hand-to-hand combat (not even bothering to use her sonic superpower), all three Amazons suddenly decide that peaceful conversation with a fellow woman just might be worth a try.
Here is the story one of them tells:
A long time ago, allegedly before the beginning of our recorded history, these Amazons were a proud sisterhood who were, and I quote, “dedicated to aiding Man in the struggle against hostile elements.”
Note: If the speaker is using “Man” as a synonym for “human beings of both genders,” as I suspect when I look at the context, then these Amazons seem to regard themselves as something apart from the human race. But we get no further elaboration on that point.
In those olden days, these Amazons were already allied with a group of “winged ones,” aka “Harpies,” and they were led by a High Priestess.
Then a famous wizard came to visit. We get a look at him in a flashback; he was rather ugly. This may help to explain why, when he suddenly proposed marriage to the High Priestess — unexpectedly and in a public setting — she didn’t just turn him down gently, but literally laughed at the idea. The wizard took that humiliation very hard; more so than anyone realized at the time. The Amazons later deduced he must have spent the next few years plotting his revenge. At last he was ready to cast a powerful “banishing spell” which sent the High Priestess and all of her people (including their Harpy friends) to some other plane of reality . . . where they’ve been stuck ever since!
From the way the woman telling the story keeps speaking in the first person plural, I gather she is recounting events to which she was an eyewitness, thousands of years ago; she is not just a distant descendant of the Amazons who were banished by the wizard. (Producing new generations would have been a rather tricky problem. It seems that nothing resembling a humanoid male resides in that odd environment where these Amazons were trapped.) That means each of these Banished Amazons must be thousands of years old.
However, we aren’t told if these women were already immortal when they lived on Earth in ancient times. Perhaps they were; similar to the Classic Amazons? Or perhaps physical aging simply doesn’t happen to humanoids in the peculiar conditions of the extradimensional realm where they have been stuck for so long?
(There is some precedent for that second theory. For instance, characters from the Earth-One universe who got trapped in the Phantom Zone didn’t age either. Mon-El still looked young, and evidently still regarded himself as a teenager, when he was released after a thousand years. He promptly joined the Legion of Super-Heroes, which had a strict upper age limit at the time — if they had thought he wasn’t a teenager, they wouldn’t have let him in!)
Getting back to the explanation of what these Amazons are up to, here and now: Just recently someone from the Earth-One universe who called herself “The Witch Queen” made contact with these exiled Amazons and offered them the use of some mystic jewels which would allow the bearers to “project” themselves back onto the planet Earth for a few hours at a stretch. In return, The Witch Queen wanted them to do some fighting for her. Since she assured them that the designated targets would only be some of the inferior lifeforms known as “men,” the Amazons jumped at the chance!
Implication: Maybe these Amazons weren’t strongly biased against human males in the old days, but after spending millennia in exile, fuming about what the (male) wizard had done to them, their groupthink has gone all the way from “that wizard was a jerk and I wish I could kill him” to the unreasonable extreme of “all men are vermin who deserve extermination.”
In support of that idea: A couple of pages later we see the High Priestess passing judgment on Hal Jordan in that other reality. The entire trial seems to consist of her saying: “You stand accused . . . of being like he who banished us!” An open-and-shut case if ever she saw one, we gather. And apparently Hal’s masculinity merits an automatic death penalty, as far as she’s concerned, since a moment later she announces it’s time for him to die. (Of course Hal doesn’t have a clue who she is or what she’s talking about, although I imagine his buddies Ollie and Dinah brought him up to speed later.)
Later developments in this story tell us that The Witch Queen doesn’t really have any sorcery per se; she is actually Sinestro’s sister, working as his figurehead, and he’s been allowing her to use his yellow power ring (cleverly concealed inside a jeweled scepter she wields) to make things happen. That was how she could move back and forth between Earth-One and that other reality.
I gather that after Sinestro became aware of those banished Amazons (we never learn how that happened), he shrewdly figured a female “authority figure” would find it much easier to strike a deal with such Amazons than he would. He was right — but the trio of Amazon warriors currently operating in Star City are very unhappy when they realize they’ve been duped into serving the agenda of a mere male hiding behind a female figurehead. They apparently regard any previous deal with the so-called Witch Queen as becoming null and void at that point!
While Ollie and Dinah are learning all of the above, Hal Jordan has already been having that ten-second trial I mentioned in front of the ruler of the High Priestess (called “Priestess” in dialogue, but I’m sure it’s the same woman who offended the wizard way back when). It turns out that she has a bunch of writhing snakes growing out of her scalp where hair ought to be. She calls herself “Medusa.” (But please note that looking directly at her face and snake-hair does not cause Hal to turn into a statue, as you would expect with one of the classic Gorgons.) I assume that her condition was an extra wrinkle in the curse the scorned wizard came up with, and she may have taken the name Medusa at that point because she had heard of the “real Medusa” of Greek myth on a previous occasion. I don’t really think her parents had named her Medusa when she was born.
(Yes, I’m speculating there — several things in this story are never properly explained. To my eye, it all has a rushed look, as if Denny O’Neil were bound and determined to get the whole story over and done with in a single issue, and was in a frightful hurry to type the script as fast as possible, and if that meant there wasn’t time to answer some of the obvious questions raised by one plot point or another, that was the reader’s tough luck!)
By the end of the story, Hal has used his ring to get himself (and Dinah, who came to rescue him) back to Star City. Those Amazons have never reappeared. As far as I know, Hal, Ollie, and Dinah have never so much as mentioned them again to anyone else; not even to their friend Wonder Woman after she later regained her superpowers and rejoined the JLA. (Did they just assume she couldn’t possibly be interested in hearing about a long-lost Amazon tribe?)
October, 1983. Arak, Son of Thunder #26. Written by Roy Thomas.
I’m going to summarize some of the highlights of a several-issue story arc in just one listing. It began in #26.
Please note that Arak’s title seems to be set in the late Eighth Century; i.e. about 1200 years before the publication dates.
In #26, Arak and his friend Satyricus arrive in Byzantium (aka Constantinople) and Arak promptly gets involved in a fight with a lioness which has escaped custody. With some help from Satyricus, Arak manages to subdue and recapture the lioness without getting himself (or the lioness) badly hurt. There is some talk from local citizens about the lioness being a shape-changer (aka a “wer-woman”), but Arak doesn’t take that part too seriously. Until, on the final page of #26, he learns better.
The lioness is in a cage which is propped up above a pile of firewood. The wood is ignited and the lioness is meant to be burned alive. Suddenly Arak sees that the occupant of the cage is now a woman — a beautiful blond in what amounts to a fur bikini, headband, and boots.
In the following issue, we learn that the shape-changing woman is also considered a witch and a heretic, and her death sentence was previously pronounced by Imperial law. Arak is extremely unhappy about this — but his friend Satyricus points out there’s no percentage in loudly defying the justice system of the Empire when you’re right here in the heart of their capital city.
That is good advice. Arak knows it’s good advice. But he ignores it anyway. (You saw it coming, didn’t you?)
He insists upon rescuing this woman, in part because of a prophecy from two years earlier (long story) — thereby making himself extremely unpopular with the local authorities, such as Emperor Constantine VI and his mother, Empress Irene, and all the soldiers who follow their orders. The series might have ended right here with Arak’s bloody death, if not for the fact that once freed from the cage, the blond woman (Dyanna, High Priestess of an outlawed cult, we gather) demonstrates considerable magical ability of her own — or at least the ability to beg her Goddess to perform miracles for her benefit and actually get the requested miracles in a hurry, which is close enough to the same thing.
At one point Dyanna calls out: “Hekate! Britomartis! Dictynna! Artemis!” At first I thought she was invoking four goddesses at once, on the theory that at least one or another of the four might actually bother to respond. However, as she kept speaking, it quickly became clear that Dyanna thought she was calling out to one Moon-Goddess by four different names.
After this scene, the name “Artemis” is most frequently used in other dialogue about Dyanna’s cult.
Dyanna’s plea for divine help is quickly answered by such wonders as an unexpected solar eclipse (the moon blocking the sun for a few minutes) and a bunch of statues coming to life to fight at Dyanna’s command. Also some bronze horses coming to life (but still visibly made of bronze) — Dyanna, Arak, and Satyricus are thus able to ride away from the city at high speed atop tireless and arrowproof steeds. Eventually they end up in Dyanna’s home region, near the ancient city of Ephesus in Asia Minor.
Note: A few years earlier, in a backup story published in “The Warlord #48,” Arak made his first appearance — in which he rescued a beautiful woman from a monster. According to things we are told in this story arc, that woman was another member of the Lioness Amazons, far away from home when she met Arak. She does not appear onstage in this arc — I don’t think we ever found out what happened to her after the brief encounter with Arak. However, there was no mention of any “Amazon” connection at the time! So I don’t regard that old story as the official debut of an Amazon tribe, but I do feel obligated to mention it in passing in this note!
Distinguishing characteristics of the Warrior-Priestesses of Artemis, who sometimes call themselves “Amazons,” appear to be:
1. They can change into lionesses.
2. In human form, they are proficient with weapons — each woman seems to carry one or more of the following: spear, bow, and/or sword. For some reason, these Amazons favor “golden arrows” (yes, made with real gold!) for their archery.
3. We don’t know how long their “natural lifespan” is, but there are vague hints that it may be significantly longer than yours or mine. (Although it becomes clear that, like the Classic Amazons, these women can die from violence at any time.)
To expand on that point: Dyanna says “mere mortals” once in reference to Arak and Satyricus, but doesn’t clarify why she uses that label for them and not for herself.
Later, in the last issue of this arc, an evil sorcerer named Maximus (who was beheaded four centuries ago, but was reanimated by another wizard) says to Dyanna: “I have the ancient Moon-Axe now — repository of a power greater, older, than either of us.” If Maximus thought Dyanna was as young as she looked (still in her twenties, I’d say), then why would he say something was older than “either of us” when her age was just a tiny fraction of his own? Does he actually remember meeting her four centuries earlier? He doesn’t say.
It is also worth pointing out that all of the Amazons we see in this arc appear to be young women — if there are any middle-aged or elderly-looking members of the community, nobody ever mentions it. All this could mean that, much like the Classic Amazons, these warrior-priestesses grow up to physical maturity and then their metabolisms stay “locked in” at an apparent age of twentysomething for a long, long time.
4. We are never told where all of the modern generation of Amazons came from. Is it necessary for a girl to be the daughter of a previous Amazon for her to qualify as an Amazon herself, or is vigorous recruiting from the outside world permitted? Is the ability to change into a lioness something hereditary which marks you as a true member of the tribe, or can any worthy girl from elsewhere undergo years of training and then receive that shape-shifting ability as one of the fringe benefits when she becomes a warrior-priestess of Artemis? Beats me! (Of course, if these Amazons are immortal, then bearing children and/or recruiting new members may not be a high priority.)
5. All the warrior-priestesses whom Arak meets seem to be fair-skinned Caucasians.
6. The warrior-priestesses seem to have remarkably little interest in body armor (though we do see High Priestess Dyanna wearing some in one quick scene). Most of the time they wear clothes which expose their arms, legs, some cleavage, and often their midriffs as well. (Some of the women wear short tunics, but others wear what’s basically not much more than a two-piece swimsuit.)
6. Their cult used to be headquartered at the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, formerly one of the Seven Wonders of the World. That Temple has long since been reduced to ruins (in real-world history, that occurred in the year 401), and the surviving priestesses of the cult now have a sacred grove — located within a larger forest some distance outside the city of Ephesus — in which they conduct their religious rituals.
7. There is a huge “Golden Bough” (as in, made out of solid gold, or so it seems) growing from the side of an otherwise normal-looking tree. The bough reaches above an altar which stands at the center of the aforementioned sacred grove.
8. The Guardian of the Golden Bough (aka the High Priest of Artemis) is always a male warrior who just happens to suffer from “divine madness.” He stays within the grove at all times, and one of his duties is to kill trespassers. It appears that any man who manages to kill a Guardian in single combat will have the curse of divine madness fall upon him so that he will start down the mental road to becoming the replacement Guardian. (Once he has completed a ritual to become the new High Priest, he is expected to mate with the High Priestess, by the way.)
Of course we only learn that last part because it happens to Arak. Not knowing the significance of the grove, he unfortunately trespasses, and ends up fighting the old Guardian (a real giant of a man) to the death. Arak would have preferred to just say, “Sorry I disturbed you, I’ll just be leaving now,” but any attempt along those lines turns out to be useless. After winning the fight, Arak tries to leave the grove — and can’t. It’s as if an invisible wall prevents him from exiting the perimeter marked by a circle of huge tree trunks resembling the pillars of an old Grecian temple. As that issue ends, he finally learns that the women of the local cult of Artemis also call themselves “Amazons.”
Sometime between that issue and the next, the divine madness gradually takes control of Arak so that he becomes, in effect, the brainwashed servant of the cult of Artemis, and thus the new High Priest and Guardian of the Golden Bough. His mental transition from “Arak, a free man” to “a loyal Guardian who does as he’s told by Dyanna and no longer remembers his own name” is stated to have involved “months of preparation and fasting and waiting” before he was ready to go through the final ceremony to become formally initiated into his new role. Since we missed about 99.9 percent of the process, we don’t know how long (if at all) he was able to mentally fight the idea of making this a lifelong career before his resistance had been entirely overcome by the divine madness.
(Note: The spell of “divine madness” is eventually broken by a crack of thunder which was presumably arranged by Arak’s father, He-No the Thunder God, the patron deity of the Quontauka tribe in which Arak was raised. The implication seems to be that a mythological deity’s spell can only be broken by another deity’s direct action.)
Incidentally, we never see any man except Arak (in his capacity as the supernaturally brainwashed High Priest) having anything remotely resembling a romantic interlude with any Amazon of this tribe — nor do we hear that any other man has even tried to romance or seduce a warrior-priestess. Aside from the mandatory physical relationship between High Priest and High Priestess, we don’t know what the rules are regarding all the other Amazons and their relationships with men. Can they fall in love with men, marry, and/or get pregnant whenever they feel like it? Or is such activity sharply limited — or outright prohibited — by hard-and-fast rules? No one ever says! (On the other hand, there is no evidence that any of the grown women we meet have children of their own . . .)
Now to briefly cover the destruction of this tribe. In Arak, Son of Thunder #30, the evil sorcerer Maximus has managed to mind-control most of the members of this Amazon tribe.
They turn into lionesses and start fighting at his command. By the end of the story, Arak has found it necessary to kill all but one of them before he could get close enough to Maximus to give him the same treatment. (I get the feeling it was already a very small tribe — we’re not talking hundreds of shape-changing priestesses here). The last survivor, Dyanna, is apparently trapped forever in her lioness form after Maximus dies and all the fuss is over. The grove has burned, the golden bough is no longer golden, and Arak seems to feel there’s no possibility of Dyanna ever regaining human form so as to bear daughters, and/or recruit and train other young girls, to continue the cult. He predicts to Satyricus that whenever the lioness dies, that will mark the end of her entire race (and of the organized worship of the goddess Artemis).
Since there’s never been any follow-up on that point, we don’t know if this “tribe” actually ceased to exist when its last member died of old age several years later, or what. Dyanna could have gotten a magical restoration to her old self at some later date without Arak knowing — or even if she didn’t, it’s possible that her lioness form may have retained the same immortality which her human form may have possessed, in which case she might still be wandering around the Middle East in the year 2011 as a predatory animal, for all we know!
Note: When the series Arak, Son of Thunder began in the early 80s, it was not supposed to be rigidly tied in with the historical continuity of Earth-One or Earth-Two. However, Arak was later stated to be part of the New Earth continuity after the dust had settled following COIE. Therefore, these Lioness Amazons could be part of the current canon of the DCU.
May, 1984. Wonder Woman #315. “The Face in the Mirror.” Written by Dan Mishkin.
Wonder Woman meets a few members of a lost Amazon tribe she’d never even heard of before. Although at first it isn’t clear how “real” their existence is. You need to understand that Diana is currently fighting the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca (who has taken a new human host, apparently), and the god boasts about his own madness. Therefore, Wonder Woman finds herself wondering if these Amazonian-looking strangers she’s suddenly fighting are actually just delusions brought to life, or some such thing. (Turned out they weren’t — but it was a perfectly reasonable hypothesis.)
In #316, Wonder Woman figures out that a caged eagle is the focal point of the spell binding the minds of these other Amazons. She breaks open the cage, the spell evaporates, and the strange Amazons stop fighting her.
In #317, we finally learn just who the heck these strange Amazons are! It turns out they have their own hidden city somewhere near the Amazon River of South America, with a style of architecture identical to what Diana grew up seeing on Paradise Island. When Diana meets the local ruler, Atalanta, she learns about the group’s history. (Oddly enough, her mother had never mentioned this tribe’s existence to her, even though its founding members began as part of Hippolyta’s tribe, way back when.)
We gather that these Amazons, like those who still reside on Paradise Island, are immortal. They still vividly remember Queen Hippolyta, though it appears they haven’t actually spoken to her in the last three thousand years or so. This group walked away from Hippolyta’s leadership sometime after the episode in which the Classic Amazons were temporarily enslaved by Hercules and his minions. But the schism was not because of lingering anger over any mistakes on Hippolyta’s part which might have led to that enslavement in the first place!
Atalanta (and, she says, all of the other women in this tribe) are of the opinion that even though Hercules and his thuggish followers undeniably mistreated the Classic Amazons way back when, that’s no reason for Hippolyta et al. to spend the next few thousand years stubbornly refusing to socialize with other men of better moral fiber.
There’s an interesting argument between Atalanta and Diana regarding whether or not that “strict isolation from men, for ever and ever” policy was really Hippolyta’s fault. If not at first, then in the long run. I’ll quote some of their conversation:
ATALANTA: Never was she the same thereafter. She withdrew us from the world without and forbade us ever to consort with men!
DIANA: But that was Aphrodite’s edict, not the Queen’s!
ATALANTA: The Goddess of Love was testing her . . .
ATALANTA: It was Hippolyta’s chance to prove that she could overcome her wounded pride — and learn to love again! I thought she never would — but your presence suggests that she did open her heart again at last!
[Note from Lorendiac: Earlier in this issue, Diana identified herself as Hippolyta’s daughter. Atalanta is assuming this means Hippolyta became pregnant in a romantic encounter and gave birth to a baby girl nine months later — the orthodox method of reproduction!]
DIANA: Not in the way you mean, Atalanta . . . I have no father.
ATALANTA: Ah — I see! Forsaking men, she sought out godly help . . . Athena’s, no doubt!
Is Atalanta right or wrong in her diagnosis of Aphrodite’s true motives in telling Hippolyta to lead her Amazons off to some nice remote island and live in utter isolation from the outside world, having nothing to do with men from that day forward?
There’s nothing in this story that tells us the answer. Atalanta speaks as if she’s utterly certain of the truth of what she’s saying (as politicians often do), but we don’t see the goddess Aphrodite weighing in with an opinion, and Atalanta doesn’t explicitly claim to have heard all this from Aphrodite’s own lips on a previous occasion. (Which doesn’t prove she didn’t!)
Maybe Atalanta has hit it on the nose. Maybe Aphrodite’s edict was intended as a short-term solution to be reexamined later, and Hippolyta’s reaction to it over the years would be a test of character. Maybe Aphrodite had never seriously expected that Hippolyta would really go three thousand years at a stretch without socializing with men in any way, shape, or form. Maybe Aphrodite estimated that sometime within the first century or so after she issued that isolationist edict to Hippolyta, the latter would decide, “Not all men are total scum, and I remember some of them being downright cuddly, and one of these days I’d like to have a daughter of my own,” and then would pray to Aphrodite, asking if the rules could be modified to allow individual Amazons to visit the outside world and have heterosexual romances again . . . if they felt like it.
If that ever happened, it would show that Hippolyta had really come to terms with the idea that while some men are abusive thugs, and while some male/female relationships become miserable later on even if it all seemed like a good idea at first, it is not predestined that things will always turn out badly for the woman as a man reveals “his true colors.” In fact, the emotional acceptance of that concept could have happened regardless of whether or not Hippolyta herself was planning to start looking for a loveable man in the near future if Aphrodite gave permission. But to Aphrodite’s chagrin, in three thousand years that moment of truth never came. Instead, Hippolyta remained extremely grateful for the ongoing excuse to keep herself and her beloved Amazon sisters safely quarantined from the evils of the outside world! (“Evils” in this context being defined as “men in general — you can’t trust ‘em!”)
On the other hand! Maybe Aphrodite had meant exactly what she said about how the Amazons should seal themselves off from the outside world for a long, long time! Not just for a few years while they recovered their mental equilibrium after escaping slavery. Maybe Hippolyta only tried to keep all her sister Amazons safely hidden on Paradise Island for the next three millennia because that was the divine commandment she had received, and she took it seriously. Not because she had been permanently traumatized by the mess with Hercules and got stuck in bunker mentality as a result. Heck, as the centuries rolled past and old psychological trauma faded, Hippolyta may occasionally have asked Aphrodite if she could please modify the rules now. Maybe Aphrodite consistently slapped the idea down (until it was time to send a “Wonder Woman” out into the world). Maybe Atalanta and many other Amazons found they really missed the experience of snuggling up with a loveable guy, so they decided to assume that what they wanted out of life was far more important than such trivial things as “obeying our Queen when she passes along the exact words of one of our patron Goddesses.”
So Atalanta and the others walked out and founded their own secret city in the heart of South America, and then (presumably) started seeking out male lovers from time to time. On that theory, it would appear that Atalanta et al. rationalized their rebellion by smugly assuring themselves, without any solid evidence, that they were only doing what Aphrodite had secretly wanted them to do in the long run if they had the gumption. And since Aphrodite outranked Hippolyta, it was all good. Even though their actions were the exact opposite of what Aphrodite had told the Classic Amazons to do!
I don’t claim to know which of those possible reconstructions is closer to the truth! As far as we know, Aphrodite never saw fit, in any conversation with the Queen of either of those tribes, to say, “Daughter, I think you have badly misunderstood what I really wanted to see from my dear Amazons.”
A fellow fan suggested to me that it’s a trifle ironic that Atalanta says she split away from Hippolyta over the issue of Amazons being allowed to love men, yet there’s no sign of any males hanging around this South American “lost city” which Atalanta and her friends call home.
My response is that we really know precious little about how their society functions. Diana only visited Atalanta’s city once, in a single issue of her comic (probably covering no more than half an hour of her life). She only met a handful of the female residents — Atalanta and a few other Amazon warriors. There might be hundreds of male residents whom Diana simply did not bump into before she abruptly flew away as the story ended. Or Atalanta’s Amazons may not be allowed to bring their boyfriends or husbands home to the hidden city, because of security concerns. If they want heterosexual romance, they may have to settle down for awhile in secret identities in one place or another in the outside world (which would help to explain why Diana, after years of living in Patriarch’s World, had never heard of this other Amazon tribe before). We simply don’t know what the rules are!
This tribe, which I cleverly call “Atalanta’s Amazons,” may have ceased to exist as a separate political entity around the time of its last published appearance. Over a year later (from our viewpoint), in the final issue of her title (Wonder Woman #329), the Diana of Earth-One saw Atalanta and Hippolyta leading their respective armies into battle in a joint effort to save Mount Olympus from evil attackers during the final stages of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. The goddess Kore (another name for Persephone, wife of Hades) said cheerfully that the two tribes were finally going to merge back into one.
But I didn’t see Atalanta or any of her followers say anything to confirm that idea — so I don’t know if Atalanta and Hippolyta had already negotiated such a merger in a scene which Diana (and we) simply never saw, or if Kore was just being very optimistic about what the new military alliance between Hippolyta and Atalanta would lead to now that they were actually talking to each another again, or what. (And since the Earth-One Wonder Woman and all her previous stories were erased from DCU history shortly thereafter, in preparation for the Post-COIE Reboot of all Wonder Woman-related continuity, the fate of Atalanta’s tribe became an academic point.)
February, 1986. The Warlord #102. “Deathwatch.” Written by Michael Fleisher.
At the start of this issue, Travis Morgan sees a bunch of cultists about to kill a woman they’ve selected to be a human sacrifice. The woman is Caucasian-looking; a beautiful blond in what seems to be a tiger-skin bikini. She identifies herself as Queen Zupara of the Q’enara Amazons. Travis’s response makes it clear that he has at least heard of the Q’enara Valley before, and he knows how to get there from here. However, it’s not clear if he already knew anything about “Amazons” living in that area.
Queen Zupara ends up accepting Travis’s offer to ride behind him on his horse. While they are traveling together, she tells him a bit about the history of her people. The way the Q’enara Amazons remember it: Their distant ancestors were already a culture of women warriors when they somehow fled from the surface world into Skartaris, hoping to get away from patriarchal oppression. At that time, the tribe worshipped what Zupara simply calls “the Moon Goddess.” The way Zupara describes the religion of her distant ancestors implies that the modern Q’enara Amazons may not share that same devotion.
After an encounter with slavers and a routine barroom brawl, Travis and Zupara finally make it to the edge of her tribe’s territory. Just as Zupara is advising Travis that this would be a good time for him to turn around and ride away, the two of them are surrounded by an Amazon patrol. It turns out that according to tribal law, no man who so much as sets foot on their land is ever allowed to go free.
I notice they don’t say the law requires killing him soon after you catch him, however. It just says he doesn’t go free. Does this mean he could be kept around as a slave for the rest of his natural life? Does that happen often? We are not told. Aside from Morgan, we don’t actually see any other man in the Q’enara Valley in this story. But if there are lots of men kept as slaves, that would help to explain how the Q’enara Amazons of each generation find opportunity to get pregnant with the next generation, and so forth. (There’s no hint in the script that these Amazons are ageless; nor do they demonstrate any other superhuman traits.)
Zupara is grateful to Morgan for his help and wants him to go free. After all, he wasn’t just spontaneously trespassing; he was merely trying to do her a favor by escorting her back to where she belonged. Another Amazon, a real hard-nose who insists on the strict letter of the law, challenges Zupara to a duel to the death. If the challenger wins, she’ll become the new Queen (and, she says, will then kill Morgan).
On the other hand, earlier we were told that Zupara simply inherited the job of Queen from her own mother — no mention of needing to fight any rivals for it. So I get the impression that these duels to the death are legal but rare in Q’enara politics, rather than each Queen finding it necessary to defend her title over and over in mortal combat, year after year. (I could be wrong!)
The challenger loses (and dies), and Zupara sees Morgan safely on his way.
That covers everything we ever learned about the history and culture of this tribe. Zupara and the rest have never reappeared. We don’t even know if the “Moon Goddess” their ancestors worshipped should be equated with Artemis of the Greek pantheon. For whatever it’s worth, the handful of Q’enara Amazons whom we actually see all seem Caucasian, but that doesn’t prove much about the women warriors who first came to Skartaris ages ago. I rather suspect that most of Zupara’s genes, for instance, come from male ancestors who were not born and raised within her tribe. If Caucasian-looking guys are all that’s readily available for mating purposes in this region of Skartaris, and if that’s been the case for centuries, then for all we know, the first wave of Amazons to immigrate to Skartaris and settle in the Q’enara valley could have been from any portion of the Earth’s surface.
Note: Since this story was cover-dated February 1986, right around the time the Crisis on Infinite Earth maxiseries was drawing to a close, I don’t know if the Q’enara Amazons qualify as “the last Amazon tribe to debut in the old Earth-One continuity,” or “the first Amazon tribe to debut in the New Earth continuity,” or perhaps both at once! Travis Morgan’s “Warlord” title would continue being published for a few years after this tale, and its continuity was scarcely (if at all) affected by the transition from Pre-COIE to Post-COIE in the DCU. Near as I can tell, all of Travis Morgan’s previously published adventures still looked pretty solid throughout the rest of the 1980s and the 1990s and a good piece of the 2000s (until he finally got rebooted, for reasons which escape my understanding, in 2006 — and from what I’ve heard, the short-lived “reboot” Warlord title is now largely ignored by all and sundry).
April, 1989. Wonder Woman #29. Written by George Perez.
As this issue ends, Diana has just come face-to-face with a group of armed women who speak something she diagnoses as a hybrid tongue with elements of Arabic, Ancient Greek, and Themysciran. What she learns over the next few issues is that this group considers itself to be “the Amazons,” plain and simple. Narrative captions refer to the group as “Middle Eastern Amazons” and “Mid-East Amazons.”
The ruler (at the time Diana arrives) is named Anahid and styles herself “Queen of Bana-Mighdall.” “Bana-Mighdall” is the name of their hidden city; we eventually learn its literal meaning is “Temple of Women.” Throughout this arc, I don’t notice the inhabitants of the city habitually calling themselves “Bana-Mighdall” or “Bana-Mighdall Amazons,” although narrative captions do use such phrases as “women of Bana-Mighdall” when referring to them. Using the name of their city as a name, or part of a name, for their tribe only seems to have become standard usage later on in continuity, after these women would spend ten years on Themyscira in another reality, one full of demons, where time passed at a much faster rate. I will keep calling this tribe “the Bana-Mighdall” in my discussion of them, however, for the sake of simplicity.
The Bana-Mighdall have maintained the traditional Amazon standards where training girls in the art of war is concerned. They have spent thousands of years doing mercenary work, and more recently they have branched out into designing, manufacturing, and selling powerful weapons on the black market. They are a ruthless bunch — one scene in this arc makes it clear that they don’t even blink when ordered to slaughter every man, woman and child in an Egyptian village. They often carry swords and spears, but are also adept in the use of automatic weapons. Although no one says this in so many words, I get the strong impression that the swords are retained as standard equipment for these women warriors largely because the Bana-Mighdall think it’s so much fun to hack and slash and get your victim’s blood all over the blade. Shooting people down from thirty meters away just doesn’t trigger that same thrill.
As you might guess, Diana is outraged by how the ancient principles of her people have been corrupted by this tribe that also calls itself “the Amazons,” and she isn’t shy about expressing her opinion, both verbally and violently, as she attempts to save what she can of the village’s population after she arrives on the scene in the middle of the massacre.
Earlier in the arc, Diana was rendered unconscious by a poison that should have been fatal (if she were a normal human being), and wakes up in what I would call a dungeon, but the Bana-Mighdall call “breeding stables.” Lots of enslaved men kept chained up most of the time, filthy and underfed, until such time as one is selected by lot to impregnate a Bana-Mighdall woman. It seems that men captured and/or purchased for this duty are usually trained soldiers — probably because the Bana-Mighdall want to be sure their daughters have “warrior blood” in them from both sides of the family. We are not told what happens to baby boys, but one plausible theory among fans is that the little whippersnappers are killed at birth, since we sure don’t see any sign that any of the Bana-Mighdall are engaged in raising male children.
The fact that the Bana-Mighdall have been obtaining male breeding stock from North Africa (and presumably other parts of the world at times) for centuries is highly relevant to why they seem to have a lot more racial diversity within their culture than most of the other Amazon tribes I’ve researched. We see various shades of skin on the women introduced in this arc. Many of them are a bit darker than Diana, probably meant to suggest Arabic/Middle-Eastern ancestry. Some actually have a reddish tint to their skins. And several appear to have Black African coloring. We only meet one woman who seems to have the exact same shade of skin as Wonder Woman’s; she is a mysterious figure called the Shim’Tar who wears armor and seems to be cybernetically enhanced. Her presence, though, suggests that other “fair-skinned Caucasian types” may very well be present in the community, even if they don’t get speaking parts this time around. (Years later, that theory was confirmed when a fair-skinned, red-headed Bana-Mighdall Amazon known as Artemis won a contest and briefly became the new Wonder Woman.)
There is no sign, neither in this story arc nor any other I have studied, that the Bana-Mighdall ever lose any sleep over the color of anyone’s skin. No suggestion that they officially or informally divide up into different cliques on that basis. Near as I can tell, these Amazons divide the world population into two basic classes: “Us” and “Them.” Either you are a member in good standing of their culture, in which case it doesn’t matter what you look like — or else you are not,, in which case you are such contemptible scum that it still doesn’t matter what you look like! They are bigots about their own culture, but such physical details as the shade of your skin have nothing to do with it!
At one point in this arc, we are told that within the city of Bana-Mighdall, being caught in possession of “forbidden writings” — which seems to mean almost any printed material from the outside world, up to and including a copy of Time magazine — is punishable by death. I suspect that technical materials are permitted — such as details of how modern weapons are manufactured and used — but we are never told precisely where the line is drawn. I don’t believe any other Amazon tribe on this list has taken censorship that far. In fact, we’ve rarely (if ever) heard of them practicing censorship at all! (Granted, some of those other tribes were probably illiterate in the first place, so foreign publications wouldn’t be much of a corrupting influence.)
It becomes clear that for roughly three thousand years these women (or their ancestors, since these women are not immortal) have believed they are the one and only surviving Amazon tribe. An old legend says that Hippolyta and many other Amazons were all swallowed up by the Aegean long ago because they were such awful cowards that they declined to join a crusade for vengeance after the murder of Antiope, an Amazon who had married Theseus. Thus, there is considerable skepticism when Diana claims to be a true Amazon, specifically the daughter of that same Hippolyta whom the Bana-Mighdall have written off as “dead — and no great loss” for the last three millennia. The Bana-Mighdall also mention that according to the old stories, their ancestors lost their immortality around the time Antiope married Theseus. (Note: years later, William Messner-Loebs offered us a somewhat different description of how a schism within the Classic Amazons took place while Antiope was still alive and well.)
Nehebka, the Bana-Mighdall who gives Diana a lecture on their history, says: “For centuries, our ancestors spread out in all directions throughout this globe. They fought many wars, in many lands.”
This, of course, leaves the door wide open for the discovery of splinter groups from that era when the Classic Amazons were hidden on Themyscira and the Bana-Mighdall were spreading out all over the place. That could explain some of the other tribes I’ve already mentioned on this list.
At the end of this arc — Wonder Woman #35 — the city of Bana-Mighdall is destroyed. When I say “destroyed,” I don’t mean “the buildings were badly damaged, as if by an earthquake”; I mean “as a result of the huge release of powerful magical energies, all the buildings and other physical infrastructure ceased to exist. Only a vast expanse of sand was left where a small city had once stood.” In context, it seems as if George Perez wanted us to assume (though he didn’t say) that most or all of the resident Amazon tribe must have been obliterated along with their city. If we take everything at face value, the only known survivors of the event are Diana, Barbara Minerva (aka Cheetah), and the Greek god Hermes. They are found sprawled on the sand in an otherwise empty-looking stretch of desert when an Egyptian military expedition arrives to examine the damage after the recent cataclysm. Granted, there aren’t any skeletal remains of dead Amazons (or their male slaves) cluttering up the scenery, but nothing is said to indicate that Diana or Hermes think anyone else managed to make a clean getaway, either.
Only much later will we learn that many or all of the Bana-Mighdall Amazons survived. (And I don’t think we ever learned how they did so. Nor how they hid from the military expedition scouring the area shortly thereafter.)
In recent years, many of the Bana-Mighdall have officially been assimilated back into the Themysciran tribe of Amazons (what I call the “Classic Amazons”). Before that happened, all of the then-living members of the Bana-Mighdall regained the immortality of their distant ancestors during the event known as “War of the Gods” in the early 1990s.
June, 1991. Angel and the Ape #4. “Monkey See, Monkey Doom.” Written by Phil Foglio.
This issue includes material which brings us up to speed on the Post-Crisis version of the Amazon ancestry of the superheroine Dumb Bunny of the Inferior Five. Earlier in this mini, we were told that Dumb Bunny (aka Athena Tremor) was the super-strong half-sister of Angel O’Day, the private investigator who is the “Angel” half of the “Angel and the Ape” duo.
The Silver Age version of the Inferior Five had debuted way back in 1966 in Showcase #62. The basic idea was that these five young heroes were the rather inept offspring of another bunch of heroes (the Freedom Brigade) who had been active in the WWII era. In Dumb Bunny’s case, her mother had been a woman called “Princess Power” who had eventually married her sweetheart, Steve Tremor. Athena Tremor was their incredibly strong, but not too bright, daughter.
I don’t think the Silver Age Inferior Five tales are available in any modern reprint editions, so I am not clear on whether anyone ever said in plain English, in the Pre-COIE era, that Dumb Bunny’s mom had been part of an “Amazon tribe.” But since the Silver Age Princess Power had unquestionably been a parody of the Wonder Woman concept (costume almost identical), it is not a huge leap to conclude that Amazon ancestry for Athena Tremor was the intended implication from the moment she debuted in 1966. I do know that it was eventually established that the Inferior Five did not live on Earth-One (nor even on Earth-Two), but instead on the incredibly obscure Earth-Twelve of the Old Multiverse. (Which certainly explained why neither the Earth-Two nor the Earth-One Wonder Woman had ever bumped into anybody who asked, “Are you any relation to Princess Power? Her costume was a lot like yours!”)
If the Inferior Five had stayed on Earth-Twelve, I wouldn’t even mention them in this document, since Dumb Bunny would never have coexisted on the same Earth as any “mainstream” version of Wonder Woman. However! In 1991 this “Angel and the Ape” miniseries retconned in a few ideas about the Post-Crisis continuity of Dumb Bunny of the Inferior Five as they existed on the New Earth of the DCU. One of the retcons was that Athena was the half-sister of Angel O’Day, the hard-hitting private eye who was the “Angel” half of the “Angel and the Ape” duo. Another retcon dealt with the nature of the Amazon tribe which had produced Athena’s mother (who was frequently referred to, but never mentioned by name, nor even by heroic alias if she had one, in this miniseries).
According to this miniseries, the general facts about the Amazon tribe that produced Athena’s mom are these:
1. The women of that tribe call themselves “Amazons” and they live in a subterranean city — but we are never told which region of the Earth’s surface it lies beneath. Athena’s father “discovered” that city and ended up marrying one of its women, who accompanied him back to the surface world. (As far as I can tell: In the Post-Crisis continuity, we don’t know if Athena’s mother then had a superhero career of her own under the name “Princess Power.”)
2. All of those Amazons are superstrong to a frightening degree. Athena, being a bit slow mentally, is particularly prone to have unfortunate things happen when she forgets her own strength. For instance, it would be dangerous for her to vigorously hug someone who had a normal physique, even if she considered that person a friend and had the best of intentions. She knows this for a fact because once upon a time she went on a date with a normal guy . . . and something horrible happened. As of the beginning of this miniseries, Athena, now a grown woman who works as a model, has never risked a repeat. (We never hear the gory details of that unsuccessful date. I don’t even know if the poor guy survived.)
3. The incredible strength apparently breeds true in daughters of such Amazons, generation after generation without being diluted, but there’s no suggestion that this also works for their sons. (If they ever have sons in the first place?)
4. At the end of the mini, Angel reflects that Athena’s super-strong mother and normal human father must have successfully consummated their own love without any tragic side-effects. Angel also states, as if she remembers hearing it for a fact on a previous occasion, that those Amazons habitually “bred with normal men,” which means the situation with Athena’s parents wasn’t just a onetime anomaly. Thinking it over, Angel deduces there is a secret survival mechanism for these Amazons which allows generation after generation to mate and reproduce without crippling anybody in the process. The superstrength automatically cuts out, due to a mental short-circuit, whenever a woman of this tribe is embracing a man she’s already very much in love with. The reason Athena didn’t know this is that her mother died years ago, before doing more than dropping a vague hint about it to her daughter. Angel’s theory seems to be proven when Athena hugs her longtime teammate Merryman (who’s recently admitted he’s secretly been in love with her for years) and nothing bad happens.
5. The chaste sort of love which might be called “sisterly affection” for another person, male or female, does not activate the built-in failsafe — or at least that’s Angel O’Day’s hypothesis. In other words, she has no intention of letting Athena give her a vigorous hug — too risky.
Although we’ve occasionally caught glimpses of Dumb Bunny and/or other members of the Inferior Five since that time, I do not believe we have ever again seen or heard anything of her mother’s subterranean Amazon tribe.
August, 1992. Green Lantern: Mosaic #3. “Something Red.” Written by Gerard Jones.
First appearance of an extraterrestrial group called the Amazons of Perjuto. It seems likely that they have no real connection to the Classic Amazons. My best guess would be that “Amazon” was simply the way a Green Lantern ring (or something) saw fit to translate whatever these people actually call themselves, which probably sounds very different in their native tongue. But we are never told that such is the case.
We actually just get a brief glimpse at some of these Amazons on one page of this issue. We also see John Stewart thinking “Amazons” when he’s mentally listing some of the different alien groups currently stuck on the Mosaic, but we don’t even find out they hail from a planet called Perjuto until ten issues later.
In Green Lantern Mosaic #3 there is just one panel where we get a good look at some of these Amazons. The two we see appear to be tall, heavily built humanoid females, wearing tattered blue clothes and with a skin shade that makes them look like fair-skinned Caucasians.
Then we don’t see them again until ten issues later.
In Green Lantern Mosaic #13, three of these Amazons are working together. They look like tall, fit, pink-skinned women. I mean very pink — they are not colored the same way as Rose Wilson and other fair-skinned Caucasian types who appear in the same issue.
On the other hand! A few issues later, the Amazons of Perjuto once again have the same skin shade that’s being used for Hal Jordan and Power Girl and some other Caucasian superheroes who have just landed on Oa themselves. (There had recently been a change in colorists on that title, which probably had something to do with it.)
What it all boils down to is that I have no idea what the “normal” shade is for Amazons of Perjuto! (I grant you the possibility that their species just naturally comes in more than one shade, as do humans. For that matter, individuals may be able to change their skin color to a significant degree over time.)
The Amazons (or the three of them we see in this issue — I can’t swear as to every other member of their species) — are tall and muscular, with light brown hair. They seem to favor black leotards which come up to cover much of their heads (except for the faces). Each Amazon carries at least one old-fashioned weapon; a spear or a large sword. Partially from a song composed by one of them in this issue, and partially from evidence in later issues, we learn that the Amazons of Perjuto are, in fact, a high-tech culture when they want to be. Their ancestors had interstellar space flight a long time ago, but finally made a conscious decision to stay on Perjuto and to use old-fashioned hand weapons most of the time at home. They also decided that males and females should live in separate cities most of the time.
However, their modern descendants still maintain a large fleet of heavily armed interstellar warships for emergencies! None of that fleet was present in the town from Perjuto which was involuntarily transplanted to the Mosaic — but it appears in the skies of Oa at a later time, after the Amazons on Oa have managed to send out a distress call which reaches their kinswomen on Perjuto.
On the other hand, in “Green Lantern Mosaic #’s 16 and 17,” the same handful of Amazons of Perjuto have their skins colored exactly the same way as such Caucasian characters as Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, Power Girl, and Wally West (all of whom have just landed on Oa). #3 was colored by Steve Mattson (Caucasian Amazons). #13 was colored by Steve Mattson again (Very Pink Amazons — perhaps Gerard Jones had talked it over with him and asked him to give the Amazons of Perjuto a shade of skin that was not typical in any large group of humans, so as to emphasize their alien nature?). But then there was a change in colorists — which probably explains the switch back to Caucasian coloring. But it also means I have no idea what the “normal” skin shade of the Amazons of Perjuto is supposed to be in the modern continuity! Could one of them walk down the sidewalk in a major American city without people thinking she looked painfully sunburned or otherwise abnormal?
At one point, one of these Amazons says (to a very non-humanoid alien who looks like a collection of many eyeballs of different sizes all stuck together): “Our mating time grows near. Unless we get home, the need may drive me to mix fluids with one such as your human friend there. The thought makes me retch.”
The way she puts that strongly implies that she does not regard herself as a member of a long-lost branch of the human race, despite the strong resemblance in body-shape. She only fears that when mating season comes along, hard-coded instincts might force her to grab hold of an Earthman as the “nearest feasible substitute” for a male of her own species. I strongly doubt that she believes an Earthman could actually get her pregnant, though.
The chance that these people have any connection to the Classic Amazons is, to put it mildly, remote. I don’t recall any indication that people from Perjuto had ever before encountered any human cultures. But since they are repeatedly depicted in issues of “Green Lantern: Mosaic” as calling themselves “Amazons” in the lettered word balloons, I feel obligated to include them on this list for the sake of completeness.
On the subject of their religious beliefs: Looking through Green Lantern Mosaic #13, I found the following. The context is that some of these Amazons have just encountered two members of an alien race whom the Amazons call “Peddlers.” The subject of killing the Peddlers enters the conversation.
But then one Amazon (possibly the leader of this small patrol) says: “Sisters! Stop! Let them go! Two fewer Peddlers would make the universe a more pleasant place — but they are neither threats nor mates. Their blood on our hands would only curse us with infertility.”
(Don’t you just love the implication of that “or mates” bit about who’s fair game when it’s time to kill someone?)
February, 2002. Wonder Woman #177. Written by Phil Jimenez.
We don’t see an Amazon tribe debut in this one. We don’t even learn the name of a previously unknown tribe. But we do get a sweeping assurance that yes, there are still undiscovered groups of Amazons out there in the modern DCU . . . somewhere!
For my purposes today, only one panel of this story really matters. In one scene Diana is receiving friendly advice from some ghosts, one of whom is her Aunt Antiope. (Hippolyta’s sister, who led the group that walked away from the Classic Amazons about three thousand years ago and whose descendants eventually developed into the modern Bana-Mighdall, remember?)
Antiope says: “There are other Amazons out there. Descendants of my tribe, other offshoots — Diana, you must seek them out, and guide them — and represent them in the world of man.”
Of course Antiope doesn’t bother to strain herself by offering any details on how to track down resourceful Amazons who have successfully stayed off everybody’s radar for centuries. Would it really have killed her to name a good place to start looking?
This lack of practical advice may explain why, in the nine years since Antiope told Diana she “must” find those other long-lost Amazons and bring them into the fold, Diana has not (to the best of my knowledge) made any progress in that direction! I’m not sure she’s even tried! (Okay, so it’s been a lot less than nine years from Diana’s point of view, but you know what I mean!)
But since Antiope’s speech is all the info we get in this issue about some still-missing Amazons, let’s take a closer look at what it actually says. The bit about “descendants of my tribe, other offshoots” is ambiguous — just what does the cute little comma after “tribe” mean in this context?
Is “descendants of my tribe” and “other offshoots” a case of the speaker describing the same thing in two different ways, which would mean that the only still-missing Amazon tribes known to Antiope are all descended from the tribe founded by herself and her fellow dissidents, but some splinter groups later went their separate ways, so long ago that none of the modern Bana-Mighdall know anything about these “other offshoots”?
Or does Antiope really mean the following? “Those ‘other Amazons’ I just mentioned come in two general categories. First, some undiscovered descendants of my tribe, whose distant ancestors drifted away from the group which would later become the Bana-Mighdall as you know them today. Second, there are other offshoots of the original Amazon culture who are also hiding in odd places, and you ought to find them too!”
I personally favor that second interpretation, but I believe a strict grammarian would agree that Antiope’s choice of words could be taken either way. Of course, after many centuries of cultural divergence, it may not matter if all the other stray “offshoots” are derived from Antiope’s dissident tribe or not!
At any rate, it is quite possible that Antiope’s vague reference to “other Amazons” includes New Earth versions of some (or all?) of the other Amazon tribes I have listed as making their debuts in the decades before COIE. Tribes which quickly faded into comic book limbo after debuting, but which could appear onstage in a new story any time someone at DC feels the urge to dust off such a tribe and tie up some loose ends!
It’s also quite possible that Antiope had in mind the Underground Amazons from whom Dumb Bunny of the Inferior Five is descended. We know that they exist in New Earth continuity, but I believe Diana has never heard so much as a whisper about that particular Amazon community. (And that’s as true in 2011 as it was when Antiope spoke in 2002, unless I missed something.)
Well, it’s time to wrap up this Part of my document, and move on to the next. I’m beginning to get the feeling that whether we look at the Earth-Two, Earth-One, or New Earth continuity, it all adds up to one conclusion: By the dawn of the twentieth century Queen Hippolyta was in the sad position of only ruling over a minority of all the warrior women who currently called themselves “Amazons” while living in the same timeline as her own Classic Amazons!
(A cynic could argue that whenever Hippolyta called herself “Queen of the Amazons,” it only meant “Queen of that small percentage of my fellow Amazons who are still willing to put up with me!” Aren’t you glad I’m not a cynic?)
PART 3. SUMMARIES OF THE BASIC CHARACTERISTICS OF EACH TRIBE
Most of the items in each listing should be self-explanatory, but I need to explain two things right now.
Each listing starts with a name for that Amazon tribe, all in caps and boldface. In several cases I had to invent a unique name for the ribe, because it was either stated or implied that the group of women in question simply called themselves “Amazons” — as if they were the only people in existence who had any right to use that name. I think most of them honestly believed that to be the case. But we need ways to make it clear which tribe we’re talking about at any given time.
The other item I want to explain in advance is what goes in the field for “Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons.” I always use one of five ratings. In descending order, they are: “Certain,” “High,” “Good,” “Low,” and “Almost None.” (Note: I deleted that field from the summary for the Classic Amazons themselves.)
“Certain” is only used for the three tribes that explicitly claim to have broken away from Hippolyta’s tribe thousands of years ago. In each of those cases, all of the available evidence has supported that claim and Wonder Woman herself has been convinced of its validity. Although the arithmetic is blurred by the fact that groups of “Chinese Amazons”apparently existed on both Earth-One and Earth-Two of the Old Multiverse (but only as “ancient history” in each case). I chose to count those as analogs of the “same” tribe, rather than giving them two separate listings.
At the other end of the scale, “Almost None” is reserved for the three tribes on my list which make no secret of the fact that they are not part of the human race — nor do they claim any other form of “terrestrial” origins. Two of those three are groups of robots. The last group that gets such a low rating is the Amazons of Perjuto, based in another solar system. However, I can’t be absolutely certain that there was no contact, long ago, between the Classic Amazons and any of those three tribes, so I hedge my bets with the word “Almost” instead of just saying “None.”
All other tribes on my list fall somewhere between the extremes I just defined. “High” means I estimate the probability of an old connection with the Classic Amazons is significantly better than fifty percent, but there’s room for a reasonable doubt. “Good” means I will call it a straight fifty-fifty proposition until more data comes along. “Low” means I think the chance of an old tie to the Classic Amazons is significantly less than fifty percent — but still much higher than one in a million. (That would qualify as “Almost None.”)
Note: While working on this, it has occurred to me that one or more other Amazon tribes may have been created in separate operations by figures of Greek myth — without any members of those tribes having ever encountered Hippolyta and the other Classic Amazons after the latter were brought into existence. Likewise, Hippolyta et al. might never have heard of the existence of another tribe created in another time and place. It seems to me that the Banished Amazons from Green Lantern/Green Arrow #82, for instance, may well have preceded Hippolyta’s group. What if the Classic Amazons were created to replace the Banished Amazons after they had literally vanished off the face of the Earth? I have no proof of any such thing; just conjecture. If something along those lines were “revealed” as canonical history in a new story from DC, I would still call that a “historical connection with the Classic Amazons” because it would mean the two tribes were “related” in the sense of having been created from scratch by the same mythological figures or by other members of a larger “family” consisting of figures from Greek Myth.
Choosing among the ratings “High,” “Good,” and “Low” is a subjective process. Another fan, looking at the same evidence, might evaluate the odds differently in several cases. Especially since I deliberately ignore the question of how likely it is that a given Amazon tribe — one that only appeared in a single Golden Age story from Quality, for instance — will ever be dusted off by DC and officially incorporated into modern continuity at all! In gauging the probability of a connection with the Classic Amazons, I basically started on the following assumption: “Let’s suppose that the Classic Amazons and this other tribe did, and/or still do, co-exist in the same timeline. On that basis, what are the odds that the two groups are somehow related?”
THE MIKISHAWM AMAZONS
What they call themselves: Possibly “Amazons,” but we’re not sure because they never said anything which Cotton Carver (or the reader) could comprehend. We only know that Lupa, a girl from a different tribe of that inner world, called these women “Amazons” when she was bringing Cotton Carver up to speed.
Home region: They have their own city somewhere in the inner world explored by Cotton Carver, which I assume was Mikishawm, the same Hollow Earth setting which Mark Lansing was exploring around that time.
Leader: We don’t know her name or title.
Status when last heard from: Still an independent city-state.
Native timeline: Presumably Earth-Two. We don’t know if they carried over to New Earth.
Religious affiliation: Worshipped a moon goddess; offered human sacrifices to that deity.
Status of any male residents in their community: I don’t think we know anything about that (but I don’t have this story in my collection).
Physical characteristics: They looked Caucasian. No powers.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: Good. We don’t know anything about them that makes it highly unlikely, but we’re not sure if they really use the three-syllable name “Amazon” for themselves, either, so I call it “even odds” in the absence of strong evidence one way or the other.
First appearance: Adventure Comics #53. (August, 1940).
Most recent appearance: Adventure Comics #54. (September, 1940.)
QUEEN LAZANA’S AMAZONIANS
What they call themselves: Possibly “Amazonians” — a single narrative caption used the word “Amazonian,” anyway. Or it might just be used as an adjective form of the proper noun “Amazon.” We never saw these women mention a name for their own culture.
Home region: A community located inside a mountain somewhere in Africa.
Leader: Queen Lazana (until she was overthrown on the final page of the only story to feature these Amazonians).
Status when last heard from: Their enslavement of all the men in the area had finally been undone by a rebellion led by the wandering action hero Samar. It appeared that men would now be dominant, but we don’t know just how that worked out in practice after Samar left.
Native timeline: Earth-X. We don’t know if they carried over to New Earth.
Religious affiliation: We don’t know.
Status of any male residents in their community: Downtrodden, malnourished, frequently-whipped slaves, and if the Queen gets tired of a former “favorite,” she has him killed on the spot even though he’s broken none of her laws. That’s how it stands as the story begins, and it must have been the case for quite some time before Samar’s arrival. Things were changing on the final page of the story, and we could only hope the now-dominant men would treat the women a lot better than the women had treated them.
Physical characteristics: All members of the community, male and female, seem Caucasian. No powers.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: Good. We are handicapped by learning nothing of their history and religious beliefs, but on the other hand, the way these women treated men is frighteningly reminiscent of the way the Bana-Mighdall did, so if this tribe ever existed in New Earth history, it easily could be a splinter group of that culture.
First appearance: Feature Comics #36. (September, 1940.)
Most recent appearance: Same as their first.
THE AMAZONS OF NESBO
What they call themselves: “The Amazons of Nesbo.”
Home region: The city of Nesbo, located in a valley somewhere in the African interior.
Leader: Queen Sopho when Samar first encountered them; by the end of the story, it appeared the city would now have co-rulers: Sopho and Nylo (the former leader of the male underground rebel movement).
Status when last heard from: The people of Nesbo were alive and well as an independent city-state (and supposedly starting down a new road of political equality for men and women alike).
Native timeline: Earth-X. We don’t know if they carried over to New Earth.
Religious affiliation: We don’t know.
Status of any male residents in their community: Second-class citizens, I would say. No political clout, not allowed to serve in the military, and not allowed to choose whom they would marry — but rebellious males didn’t mention any other complaints (such as systemic physical abuse). All of the above describes what had been the status quo for several years when we first saw Nesbo — but by the final panels of the story, things were changing for the better.
Physical characteristics: They all seemed Caucasian. No powers.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: Low. After all, the women of this tribe had only become warriors fairly recently — implicitly within the last generation or so before Samar encountered their culture. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that they had only gained a monopoly on the use of weapons fairly recently? It is possible that successive generations of Nesbo’s women had been members of an “Amazon cult” for a very long time without actually “dominating” the men until just recently.
First appearance: Feature Comics #37. (October, 1940.)
Most recent appearance: Same as their first.
THE CLASSIC AMAZONS
What they call themselves: “Amazons” (and sometimes they say “Themyscirans” in their Post-Crisis incarnation).
Home region: Paradise Island in the Earth-Two and Earth-One continuities; Themyscira in the New Earth continuity.
Leader: Queen Hippolyta ruled for three thousand years or so; in modern times, the nature of their government has fluctuated.
Status when last heard from: Still going strong on their beloved island home.
Native timeline: Earth-Two, Earth-One, and New Earth.
Religious affiliation: Worshippers of various Greek deities.
Status of any male residents in their community: With some temporary exceptions in modern times, there usually aren’t any males allowed to settle down as local residents, although brief visits have occurred on various occasions in one version of continuity or another.
Physical characteristics: These Amazons are usually Caucasian — I think the Golden Age version of the Classic Amazons was exclusively Caucasian — but exceptions have been noticed. Remember that, by and large, these are the same women who were part of the tribe a few thousand years ago; there hasn’t been much opportunity for mating with men from other cultures. As to powers: I’m told that different writers in different eras have stated or implied different things regarding whether or not the typical Classic Amazon is much more than “a normal human who does lots of exercise to keep herself extremely fit.” I generally assume that Classic Amazons from the old days (three thousand years ago) are superhumanly strong and have incredible reflexes which allow them to play “Bullets & Bracelets” with little risk of dying. It is also generally accepted that, as a gift from Aphrodite and/or other Greek gods, the Classic Amazons are immortal.
First appearance: All-Star Comics #8 (December 1941/January 1942) for the Earth-Two Classic Amazons; no official debut for the Earth-One Classic Amazons (but some say Wonder Woman #98 (vol. 1, May/June 1958) might qualify); Wonder Woman #1 (vol. 2, February, 1987), for the New Earth versions of the Classic Amazons.
Most recent appearance: The New Earth Classic Amazons are still active in modern Wonder Woman continuity (with Diana herself being a lifelong member of the tribe).
QUEEN MIVERNA’S AMAZONS
What they call themselves: Probably just plain “Amazons” — but we never saw them say that in so many words. They definitely call their homeland “Amazonia,” and we see other characters call them “Amazons.”
Home region: The city of Amazonia, somewhere in the middle of a jungle that was part of a war zone during the Second World War.
Leader: Queen Miverna.
Status when last heard from: The women were trained warriors and were still very much the dominant gender in their independent city-state.
Native timeline: Earth-MLJ. We don’t know if they carried over to the modern DCU after DC got a license to use the “Red Circle” superheroes as part of its ongoing continuity.
Religious affiliation: We don’t know.
Status of any male residents in their community: Either slaves or second-class citizens. (It’s not clear — we never saw any “native son” of this community offer opinions on how he was treated, what legal rights he had, et cetera.) We do know that for a grown man to remain a bachelor after local authorities decreed he should marry was a felony punishable by facing deadly beasts in the arena — although that punishment had not been invoked for two thousand years before Steel Sterling came along — but other than that, I don’t know what burdens a male resident had to bear in day-to-day life.
Physical characteristics: The women we saw in Amazonia all looked Caucasian; usually tall, broad-shouldered, and muscular. No powers.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: High. This bunch claims to have existed as a stable society for at least two thousand years, and I have no reason to doubt that. I don’t see any evidence that goes heavily against their being descended from some of the early Amazons of the days of legend.
First appearance: Zip Comics #40. (October, 1943.)
Most recent appearance: Same as their first.
LANCE O’CASEY’S AMAZONS
What they call themselves: Apparently “Amazons” — we see their Queen use the phrase “a new Amazon record” just once. We have no further data on how the tribe normally described itself.
Home region: An island — we don’t know its name and we don’t know where in the world it is.
Leader: A Queen, real name unknown — although she is deposed at the end of the story.
Status when last heard from: As the story ended, the local men had just broken out of slavery to become the dominant gender on the island. Or that was the theory, at least. Aside from that political shake-up, things seemed healthy enough.
Native timeline: Earth-S. We don’t know if they carried over to New Earth.
Religious affiliation: We don’t know.
Status of any male residents in their community: All men were slaves — but these Amazons differed from other tribes on my list in their habit of permitting at least some of their male slaves to bear arms while serving as part of a royal guard. Presumably those local men had been indoctrinated from infancy with the idea that this job was a great honor. Any male newcomers to the island could be either enslaved or slaughtered at the whim of the Queen. (All of the above suddenly changed at the end of the story.)
Physical characteristics: They all looked Caucasian.
First appearance: Whiz Comics #35. (October, 1942).
Most recent appearance: Same as their first.
THE CHINESE AMAZONS
What they call themselves: Just plain “Amazons,” as far as I can tell. (We only heard one descendant of the tribe talk about them. She simply said “Amazons” when identifying her distinguished ancestors; she didn’t seem to think that word applied to herself after so many centuries of the tribe interbreeding with the Chinese population.)
Home region: China — first ruling the entire land, but eventually their power was reduced to dominion over a single province.
Leader: I don’t think we know any names of any women who had been leaders of the Chinese Amazons per se. (Princess Mei, as mentioned, did not claim to be an “Amazon ruler.”)
Status when last heard from: Around the year 50 B.C., female descendants of this tribe still ruled one province of China. We have no solid information on what subsequently happened to that female-dominated culture, but I strongly suspect that eventually the ruling family of that province either died out or was subjugated by a Chinese Emperor who then imposed a traditionally male-dominated form of government upon that province.
Native timeline: Earth-Two and Earth-One. We don’t know if they carried over to New Earth.
Religious affiliation: I don’t know. It seems likely that the “founders” of the tribe — a splinter group from the Classic Amazons — worshipped the Greek gods, but I don’t know if there was any sign that their descendants gradually switched over to worshipping the same Chinese deities as the people around them did.
Status of any male residents in their community: Unclear, since the heyday of the Chinese Amazon tribe had come and gone long before Wonder Woman ever met any of its descendants. However, the descendants whom she met apparently insisted upon fielding an exclusively female army. I don’t know if there were any other legal restrictions on what sort of jobs men were allowed to do.
Physical characteristics: Although we never saw them depicted, most or all of the “first generation” Amazons who seized control of China probably had Caucasian features and coloring. But if so, they must have bred with Chinese men, and their daughters must have done the same, and so forth, until a time came when all living descendants of the tribe looked very Chinese. Likewise, I suspect the “first generation” had all the super-strength and incredible reflexes of Classic Amazons, but those powers probably got watered down by centuries of interbreeding with ordinary people.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: Certain. (Wonder Woman was already convinced of some such connection before she traveled back in time to meet Princess Mei and discover just how it had happened.)
First appearance: Wonder Woman #37, (vol.1, September/October, 1949) for the Earth-Two version; Wonder Woman #207 (vol.1, August/September, 1973) for the Earth-One version. Arguably, the true Chinese Amazons were only mentioned in each case as having existed centuries earlier — rather than “appearing onstage.”
Most recent appearance: For each version of the Chinese Amazons, the “first appearance” was also the last.
QUEEN MATILDA’S AMAZONS
What they call themselves: “Amazons.”
Home region: Somewhere in South America, in an “unexplored region” near the Amazon River.
Leader: Queen Matilda.
Status when last heard from: Still going strong as an independent community.
Native timeline: Either Earth-X or Earth-S of the Old Multiverse. We don’t know if they carried over to New Earth, although Kid Eternity (the hero who met them) did. but we don’t know if these Amazons from one of his Golden Age stories were lucky enough to make the same transition to New Earth continuity as part of a package deal.
Religious affiliation: We don’t know.
Status of any male residents in their community: Subservient second-class citizens who do all the housework, gossip a lot, and regard women as “the superior race.” They don’t seem to feel terribly oppressed — although Kid Eternity takes it for granted that they ought to feel that way! Queen Matilda’s husband is called “the King,” but he freely admits he has no authority.
Physical characteristics: All members of the tribe look Caucasian. No powers.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: High.
First appearance: Kid Eternity #1. (Spring 1946.)
Most recent appearance: Same as their first.
THE CANNIBAL AMAZONS
What they call themselves: We don’t know. They don’t have any language in common with Don Winslow and his fellow U.S. Navy sailors, who call them “Amazons.”
Home region: An island of their own — rumors call it “Amazon Island,” and so does the story title, but we don’t know how the natives pronounce its real name.
Leader: We don’t know her name or title.
Status when last heard from: Still alive and well on their island.
Native timeline: Presumably Earth-S. We don’t know if they carried over to New Earth.
Status of any male residents in their community: We don’t know; we didn’t see any. Two captured male strangers (U.S. Navy sailors) were meant to be stewed for dinner, apparently, but male natives of the island might be off-limits where cannibalism was concerned. (Or am I just being overly optimistic?)
Religious affiliation: I don’t know.
Physical characteristics: They all had Caucasian coloring, and seemed tall and strong. No powers.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: Low. (For one thing, no signs of body armor or anything else showing a Greek/Classic Amazon influence, and we don’t even know if the word “Amazon” means anything to these women.)
First appearance: Don Winslow of the Navy #42. (February, 1947.)
Most recent appearance: Same as their first.
THE SKY RIDERS OF NEBULOSTA
What they call themselves: “The Sky Riders of Nebulosta.” One of them also uses the word “Amazons” for her tribe just once, but it’s hard to say if that was a previously formed habit.
Home region: Until right before we met them, they had lived on the distant world of Nebulosta — implicitly for a long, long time. I have not seen a reprint of the full story, but from the scans and commentary I have seen, I get the impression that something had gone dreadfully wrong with their home world and the Sky Riders knew they had to emigrate or die. Hence their attempt to conquer Paradise Island so they could take over the existing infrastructure of a high-tech community here on Earth instead of starting over from scratch as pioneers somewhere else.
Leader: We don’t know her name or title.
Status when last heard from: All of the Sky Riders had been captured by the Classic Amazons after an unprovoked attack on Paradise Island. They were about to be sent over to Transformation Island for rehabilitation, and it was possible that some or all of these women would eventually be allowed to join the Classic Amazons.
Native timeline: Earth-Two for the versions who may have called themselves “Amazons.” There was an analog of this tribe on Earth-One, but they apparently never said “We’re Amazons.” We don’t know if the planet Nebulosta exists in the modern DCU.
Religious affiliation: We don’t know.
Status of any male residents in their community: Near as I can tell from online commentary about this tribe, we never saw any males among them, and thus we found out how they got along with males back home on Nebulosta — even though these women were refugees from a doomed world and you’d think they’d bring their mates along, if they had any, in order to keep their society alive for another generation. Does this mean these Amazons were immortal, same as the Classic Amazons, and didn’t feel the need to produce a new generation any time soon? Or perhaps they figured they could find replacement breeding stock on Earth when the time came, so it wasn’t worth the extra trouble of transporting some of the men of Nebulosta across the interstellar void? Or was something else entirely going on? Beats me!
Physical characteristics: They all looked Caucasian, and judging from the scan I saw of the last page of the story, nearly all of these women turned out to be redheads. However, we don’t even know if they are genetically “human.” When an Amazon tribe actually lives on or beneath the surface of Planet Earth, I tend to assume they are, in fact, Homo Sapiens. But when they recently immigrated from another planet and I haven’t heard of any attempts to breed with Earth-born humans (much less of any offspring from such attempts), I don’t jump to conclusions. I don’t know if these women had superhuman strength, or immortality, or any other powers.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: Low. I say that because we have very little data to work with. (I assume that Hippolyta, after capturing them, later learned as much as she wanted to about their history and biology and other distinguishing traits — but anything she learned was never shared with us!)
First appearance: Wonder Woman #23 (vol. 1). (May/June 1947.)
Most recent appearance: Same as their first. (Although Earth-One versions of “the Sky Riders of Nebulosta” appeared in Wonder Woman #209 (January, 1974), but I don’t think those Earth-One analogs were ever called “Amazons” in dialogue.)
THE AMAZONS OF THE ROYAL NECKLACE OF AMAZONIA
What they call themselves: “Amazons.” (I think they do — but I haven’t seen the actual story. Just online summaries.)
Home region: Amazonia, their name for a secret community in a jungle region somewhere in or near Venezuela.
Leader: Apparently any woman might become their new Queen if she wore the Royal Necklace of Amazonia (a magical artifact) and passed some grueling tests. I don’t know the name of the last woman to be Queen before Lois came along; nor do I know how the Royal Necklace had left the custody of the tribe to end up in a museum in Metropolis. Nor do I know the name of the woman who replaced Lois as the newest Queen of Amazonia.
Status when last heard from: Still going strong as a secretive tribe in a tropical jungle.
Native timeline: Earth-Two. We don’t know if they carried over to New Earth.
Religious affiliation: I don’t know.
Status of any male residents in their community: I don’t know if we ever saw any.
Physical characteristics: I don’t know; I have never seen any pictures of members of the tribe. (They were not depicted on the cover of the comic in which they debuted.) I have not heard of any powers possessed by members — unless you count the apparently magical nature of their Royal Necklace, but that artifact may have been centuries old; it doesn’t prove that Superman and Lois met any Amazons with spellcasting abilities.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: Good.
First appearance: Superman #49 (volume 1). (July/August 1949.)
Most recent appearance: Same as their first.
Note: “Amazons of the Royal Necklace of Amazonia” is a clunky name for a tribe. I know it. But I couldn’t call them the Venezuelan Amazons when I didn’t know if they actually lived within that nation’s borders. And since I don’t know the names of any of their rulers (not counting Lois Lane’s brief tenure), and since other Amazon tribes have lived in other places called “Amazonia,” I was hard put to find another distinguishing characteristic to be reflected in a newly-minted unique name for this tribe.
THE SOUTH PACIFIC AMAZONS
What they call themselves: We don’t know.
Home region: A South Pacific island which Nyoka calls “Amazon Island.” (We don’t know what the natives prefer to call it.)
Leader: We don’t know the names of any of their rulers, but they used the title “Queen.” (When we met them, their latest Queen had recently been killed by cannon fire — and apparently not yet replaced. We were not told if her successor would be her female next of kin, or if some other selection process would be involved.)
Status when last heard from: Alive and well, still residing on their home island. Apparently stuck with Stone Age technology, though.
Native timeline: Presumably Earth-S. We don’t know if they carried over to New Earth.
Religious affiliation: We don’t know.
Status of any male residents in their community: We don’t know; we never saw any.
Physical characteristics: Dark brown skin and black hair, and Nyoka commented that these women all seemed significantly taller than herself. I estimate a head taller — let’s say they were all six feet tall or more. (Call it “at least 183 centimeters,” if you prefer.) They are clearly meant to be an offshoot of one (or more) of the “Pacific Islander” races. Polynesian, Melanesian, Micronesian? I don’t know which.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: Low. These women don’t look like the (generally Caucasian) Classic Amazons, they don’t dress like them (no helmets or other armor, for instance), and we never saw them claim to be “Amazons” per se. That was just how Nyoka kept labelling them in dialogue. But they didn’t contradict her by offering a different name for their tribe, either — which is the main reason they are on this list!
First appearance: Nyoka the Jungle Girl #47. (September, 1950.)
Most recent appearance: Same as their first.
THE SIERRA NEVADA AMAZONS
What they call themselves: “Amazons.”
Home region: Somewhere in the Sierra Nevada mountains — the ones in California; not the ones in Spain!
Leader: They were led by a “Queen” when we saw them, though we never knew her name. I’m told that even her own followers called her “the Amazon Queen” in dialogue, and that’s how she’s listed on comics.org.
Status when last heard from: At the end of its only appearance, the tribe was still going strong. But Strong Bow’s adventures happened before Columbus made his first transatlantic voyage in 1492. We have no information regarding what happened to the tribe after the Spaniards started colonizing California.
Native timeline: Earth-One. We don’t know if they carried over to New Earth (although Strong Bow, the hero who met them, definitely did).
Religious affiliation: We don’t know who or what these Amazons worshipped — but I’ll mention that apparently they did have the concepts of “trial by combat” and “honorably uphold the rules even when the male outsider beats your leader.” Those may have been religious imperatives from some god or goddess who wanted his or her Amazon followers to respect great warriors of other tribes — but I’m only speculating.
Status of any male residents in their community: We don’t know; we never saw any.
Physical characteristics: Red skin and black hair; they generally looked about the way a reader in the 1950s would expect from a “typical North American Indian” tribe living in pre-Columbian California.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: Good. Yes, I make it about fifty-fifty. On the one hand, near as I can tell from some scanned images, the physical appearances of these women (including clothing, hand weapons, and a lack of body armor) didn’t show any Ancient Greek (or “Classic Amazon”) influence. On the other hand, I really don’t think the word “Amazon” was likely to be used by Pre-Columbian Native Americans unless someone familiar with Greek myths from the far side of the world — such as a member of another Amazon tribe — had previously immigrated to that region and started teaching that word to other people. It could have been one stray Amazon, or it could have been a whole pack of them who started interbreeding with local men, generation after generation, until the entire tribe looked much like its neighbors.
First appearance: All-Star Western #71. (June/July, 1953.)
Most recent appearance: Same as their first.
THE BLOND JUNGLE AMAZONS
What they call themselves: We don’t know; they never said anything coherent in the two panels they spent onstage. (Other people in South America apparently just call them “Amazons.” The title of the story called them “Jungle Amazons,” so I adapted that.)
Home region: Somewhere in the Amazon rainforest of South America.
Leader: We don’t know names or titles of any member of the tribe, nor what sort of political structure they have.
Status when last heard from: They appeared to be alive and well as a tribe functioning in the rainforest. Possibly stuck with Stone Age technology, though.
Native timeline: Earth-One — since Rex the Wonder Dog, the feature character who met these Amazons, later appeared in a JLA story in the 1970s. We don’t know if these Amazons carried over to New Earth (but Rex definitely made that transition).
Religious affiliation: We don’t know.
Status of any male residents in their community: We don’t know; we never saw any.
Physical characteristics: The handful we actually saw all looked to be fair-skinned Caucasians, and all but one of them were very blond; the single exception had light brown hair instead. Hence the silly name I gave them. No powers were apparent — but in just two panels, super-strength or other powers might not be obvious to the casual observer.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: Good. This tribe is supposed to have a strong sense of honor and justice (as well as excellent fighting skills), which fits well. On the other hand, they seem to have lost the concepts of “metal-working” and “body armor” if their ancestors ever had them in the first place. And, as noted, we don’t even know for sure if the word “Amazon” is actually used in their culture.
First appearance: Rex the Wonder Dog #36. (November/December, 1957.)
Most recent appearance: Same as their first.
QUEEN ELSHA’S AMAZONS
What they call themselves: “Amazons.”
Home region: Amazon Island (not to be identified with “Paradise Island” or “Themyscira” or any other “Amazon Island” mentioned in this List).
Leader: Queen Elsha. (At the end of the story she had temporarily lost her royal status, but claimed she’d get it right back as soon as a new crown was crafted for her to wear. Presumably that happened within the next week or two.)
Status when last heard from: Still living on their own little island, apparently unknown to the outside world.
Native timeline: Earth-One. We don’t know if they carried over to New Earth.
Religious affiliation: We don’t know.
Status of any male residents in their community: Tribal law said all male trespassers found on the island were automatically considered slaves and should be auctioned off (until Queen Elsha burned that law, anyway). I don’t know what the rules were for any baby boys born to Amazon mothers right there on the island. I gather that we never actually saw any males residing anywhere on that island, except for Superman (and of course he wasn’t planning to be a permanent resident, no matter what the law said).
Physical characteristics: They looked Caucasian. There was some indication of great strength (but, I gather, nowhere near Superman’s level).
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: High.
First appearance: Action Comics #235. (December, 1957.)
Most recent appearance: Same as their first.
THE ADORIAN AMAZONS
What they call themselves: “Amazons” (meaning just the women of this culture). The males seem to be called “Adorian men.”
Home region: The planet Adoria.
Leader: Although this is unusual for self-styled “Amazon” cultures, I think the Adorians actually had a married couple share the power of the monarchy. Princess Jena called her parents (whose names were never revealed) “the royal rulers of Adoria.” Her use of “rulers” in the plural implied they both possessed real authority, instead of one spouse having all the clout and the other just being a decorative consort. This is supported by the fact that, despite Jena’s assuring us that Adorian men in general were weak and cowardly, her father the King demonstrated he was willing and able to express himself forcefully and to make binding decisions on big issues on the spur of the moment. (Annulling the crown princess’s latest marriage, for instance, was not a trivial matter.) There was no sign that the rest of the population (male or female) thought the King needed to have the Queen rubber-stamp everything he said before it acquired the force of a royal decree. Given that all five of Jena’s previous husbands had died as war heroes, I’m inclined to think that no man was considered eligible to marry a princess of the royal family unless he had already been in combat and had demonstrated exceptional courage and other abilities which would someday make him a worthy co-ruler — in sharp contrast to most members of his gender on that planet.
Status when last heard from: Still going strong on their own planet as a stable society. They had interstellar flight and other technology advanced beyond that of Twentieth Century Earth.
Native timeline: Earth-One. (We have no information on whether the world Adoria also exists in the Post-COIE era.)
Status of any male residents in their community: Unclear — but I don’t think they were slaves. As noted above, the King and Queen apparently shared regal authority — and at least some men were allowed to participate in the military, although the only warrior types we ever saw walking around with helmets and weapons were all female. Men were considered weak and cowardly compared to women, but I don’t know how much of that attitude was codified into Adorian law. For instance, if there were any professions which male citizens were forbidden to pursue, we weren’t told about it.
Religious affiliation: We don’t know.
Physical characteristics: Near as I can tell, the Adorians looked Caucasian. No superpowers are ever mentioned. The only visible anomaly was that all of the men, young or old, appeared to be bald. (I suppose it’s possible they shaved their heads, but no one said so.) Princess Jena told Superman that Adorian women were strong and courageous, in sharp contrast to the men — but I’m not clear on how much of the “strong” part referred to differences in physical potential. Jena may have only meant women were more strong-willed. On the other hand, she may have meant it was a solid medical fact that the average woman of Adoria just naturally had more physical strength than the average man. Or she may have meant both of those things at once!
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: Low. The Adorians look as if they easily could be descended from terrestrial stock that somehow got transplanted to another solar system, and Jena explicitly uses the word “human” in referring to her own people. (Unless, perchance, her “telepathy-disc” was translating a word which had a similar meaning among Adorians, but didn’t originally refer to Homo Sapiens at all?) Various Silver Age stories indicated that Kryptonians and the humans of Earth could be fertile together, and Jena knew Superman was a Kryptonian when she decided to marry him. Presumably she was smart enough to have considered the biological question of whether or not he would be able to get her pregnant so the royal dynasty could continue. On the other hand, Jena never claims to believe that her ancestors had lived on Earth in times past and then emigrated to Adoria. (Nor does anyone tell us much of anything about the history of the Adorian culture.)
First appearance: Action Comics #266. (July, 1960.)
Most recent appearance: Same as their first.
THE TIN AMAZONS
What they call themselves: “Tin Amazons.”
Home region: An unnamed planetoid with an Earthlike atmosphere; apparently located somewhere within our solar system.
Leader: A Queen whose “personal name,” if she had one, was never mentioned. We don’t even know if she survived a battle at the end of the two-issue story arc in which she appeared. (I consider it likely that she was killed, but I couldn’t swear to it in court.)
Status when last heard from: Undergoing a revolution on their home planetoid. No telling what would happen afterwards.
Native timeline: Earth-One. We don’t know if they carried over to New Earth. (but we know that the Metal Men did, and this tribe had debuted in their Silver Age series.)
Religious affiliation: We don’t know.
Status of any male residents in their community: Apparently downtrodden slaves. The masculine robots who wanted to call themselves “men” were treated like bloodhounds (kept on a leash, forced to go on all fours, used to hunt fugitives) by the Tin Amazon Queen and her feminine minions. (I don’t know just how these robots managed to divide themselves into “male” and “female” cliques in the first place.) At the end of the story, the male “dogs” were standing up and rebelling against the Tin Amazon Queen’s tyranny — but we never learned how that all worked out.
Physical characteristics: They are all robots — gigantic robots by the standards of human beings. We know for a fact that at least one breed of robot bird on that planetoid lays metal eggs which hatch to reveal robot fledglings, so it is possible that the dominant “breed” of robots — the Amazons and their masculine counterparts — also reproduce in a fashion resembling that of biological processes on the Earth. As opposed, for instance, to new members of the sentient ruling tribe being manufactured by hand in a factory somewhere. But we don’t know for sure.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: Almost None. If this “robot Amazon tribe” had any previous close connection to anybody from the planet Earth, the robots didn’t even seem to be aware of it! (And I’m fairly sure they aren’t the biological descendants of some of the early Amazons of Earth, but hey, I’ve been wrong before!)
First appearance: Metal Men #4. (October/November 1963.)
Most recent appearance: Metal Men #5. (December 1963/January 1964.) (Not counting an occasional flashback later on.)
QUEEN JARTA’S AMAZONS
What they call themselves: “Amazons.”
Home region: An island of their own — I don’t know its name, nor what part of the world it’s in.
Leader: Queen Jarta.
Status when last heard from: Still alive and well on their island.
Native timeline: Earth-One. We don’t know if they carried over to New Earth.
Status of any male residents in their community: I don’t know. (I haven’t read this story myself, so I can’t even say if any males were visible in it.)
Religious affiliation: I don’t know.
Physical characteristics: I haven’t seen any scanned images of these Amazons, but this being a Silver Age story from DC, I strongly suspect they all looked Caucasian. All women of the tribe possess super-strength due to drinking a special nectar. It seems that three days of consuming it causes permanent physical changes in a woman’s strength levels (if I’m interpreting an online summary correctly). I presume that, if the tribe somehow lost access to the vital ingredient of the nectar (whatever that ingredient may be), the tribe’s current members would retain their existing super-strength, but all daughters subsequently born into the tribe would never acquire any superhuman powers.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: Good.
First appearance: Action Comics #342. (October, 1966.)
Most recent appearance: Same as their first.
THE ROBOT AMAZONS
What they call themselves: “Amazons,” and possibly “Robot Amazons.” Near as I can tell, we only saw a member of the tribe use the word “Amazons” once. But they were obviously robots, and dialogue from the Metal Men, plus some narrative captions, plus text on the cover of the relevant issue, all called these characters “Robot Amazons.”
Home region: All we know is that they were “space invaders,” meaning they had recently arrived on Earth from somewhere else in the same universe. (That really narrows it down!)
Leader: Referred to in a single narrative caption as “The Amazon Queen.” (Dead by the end of the story.)
Status when last heard from: Apparently all seven of the members we had seen were destroyed by the heroic actions of the Metal Women. But I don’t know if that means the entire Robot Amazon tribe was destroyed, or just all the members of a small party which had been sent ahead to conquer Planet Earth. Perhaps a zillion other members of the same Robot Amazon culture still exist elsewhere in the universe, and simply haven’t gotten around to invading Earth again?
Native timeline: Earth-One. We don’t know if they carried over to New Earth. (But we know the Metal Men did, and this tribe debuted and died in one of their Silver Age stories.)
Status of any male residents in their community: Unknown. We didn’t see any “males” among the small group that invaded Earth. These being robots, they may have felt they could get along fine without members of “the opposite sex.”
Religious affiliation: I don’t know.
Physical characteristics: They were all robots and made no attempt to hide that fact. They appeared to regard themselves as female, but I don’t know if that meant their metallic bodies were functionally different from those of “male” robots in any significant way.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: Almost none. They are robots, for one thing, so they’re not likely to be descended from organic ancestors. And since they come from somewhere offplanet, it’s possible that the phrase “Robot Amazons” may only be a “cultural translation” of whatever it was that they originally called themselves in an alien language.
First appearance: Metal Men #32. (June/July 1968.)
Most recent appearance: Same as their first.
THE BANISHED AMAZONS
What they call themselves: “Amazons.” (Although a group of “Harpies” is somehow associated with the more normal-looking Amazon women of the tribe.)
Home region: Thousands of years ago, they resided somewhere on Earth. Since then, they’ve been stuck in another dimensional reality which definitely is not a parallel Earth. Hence my decision to call them “Banished.”
Leader: A High Priestess who calls herself “Medusa” — presumably because she has snake-hair. Apparently (although it’s not clearly stated) she is the same High Priestess who has been leading this tribe for thousands of years, ever since the good old days when they lived on Earth. I don’t think her hair was snaky in those days.
Status when last heard from: Still alive and well in that other dimensional reality, but they don’t want to stay there forever.
Native timeline: Earth-One. We don’t know if they carried over to New Earth. (But it seems likely. Most, if not all, of the Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams run on Green Lantern/Green Arrow is still supposed to be canonical.)
Religious affiliation: We don’t know whom or what they worshipped in their Earth-dwelling days — but since their tribal leader was called the High Priestess, I say they definitely had some form of religion which they took seriously. I don’t know if being stuck in another reality for thousands of years altered their religious beliefs and practices to any significant degree.
Status of any male residents in their community: Apparently there had been no male residents (nor even visitors) for the last few thousand years, ever since these Amazons were banished to that strange realm. That was not the result of hard-and-fast immigration barriers set by the Amazons themselves from Day One; they simply had no choice in the matter. After thousands of years of banishment, however, they had become bitter man-haters — but how well they got along with men in olden times, before they were banished, remains unclear. The Amazons claim they were in the habit of helping “Man” (probably meaning all humans of either gender) in those days, but we don’t know what the rules were about intimacy with human males. Could members of this tribe marry and have kids? Did they even want to? Was there a perceived need to produce new generations of babies to keep the tribe alive, or were the tribe’s “first generation” Amazons immortal (in the same way as the Classic Amazons) and thus didn’t hear any biological clocks ticking? I can’t answer those questions. All we know for sure is that the High Priestess laughed at an ugly old wizard when he proposed to her. Either he knew it was legal for a member of her tribe to marry a man if she really wanted to (but he had badly overestimated his own charm), or else he was already so far around the bend that he was ignoring the fact that such unions were not permitted by Amazon law in the first place. I favor the first hypothesis, but I can’t prove it.
Physical characteristics: Not counting the winged Harpies, all the Amazons of this tribe whom we saw seemed Caucasian and were shaped like normal human beings. Extra-large humans, though; I estimate they averaged about seven feet tall. Probably no inherent superpowers, with the possible exception of immortality — but that may have been a side effect of the odd dimensional reality they inhabited, rather than something inherent in their metabolisms that would hold true if they emigrated back to Earth. We don’t know what their average lifespan was before the Banishing. There is a hint that these Amazons have reason to believe they are fundamentally different from the human race as we know it, but that point was never clarified.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: High. (If we specifically knew that these Amazons had also once worshipped some or all of the Greek gods, and that those gods (or at least one of them) had allegedly created this tribe in the first place, then I’d call it a slam dunk and upgrade this to “Certain” — even if it turned out that this tribe had been created “separately” by some of the deities of Greek Myth instead of having begun as an offshoot from Hippolyta’s people.
First appearance: Green Lantern/Green Arrow #82. (February/March, 1971.)
Most recent appearance: Same as their first.
THE LIONESS AMAZONS OF THE CULT OF ARTEMIS
What they call themselves: “Amazons.” Also “warrior-priestesses of Artemis.”
Home region: In the Eighth Century, they already had been residing for centuries in a forest not far from the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor. (They used to live within the city, but after the great Temple of Artemis was looted and destroyed, they moved out into the woods to keep their cult alive.)
Leader: Dyanna, High Priestess of the Cult of Artemis. (She may have been the leader for centuries before Arak met her; we never knew her age.)
Status when last heard from: These Amazons only appeared in stories featuring Arak, Son of Thunder, and he lived in the Eighth Century. When last seen, the tribe was nearly extinct. Arak’s melancholy opinion on that subject included these elements: A) Dyanna was the sole survivor of the tribe after a recent massacre. B) She had turned into a lioness during a sorcerous battle and Arak believed that this time she was trapped that way, and would never again wear human form. C) When that lioness eventually died of one thing or another, that would be the end of her entire Amazon tribe. However, we have no proof that Arak’s opinion was correct in every detail. There’s never been any follow-up on those points!
Native timeline: That’s a trifle unclear. At the time of the only story arc to feature several of these women functioning as a tribe, the series in question (Arak, Son of Thunder) was supposedly set in its own little world with deliberately skewed history and geography, instead of being part of the ancient history of Earth-Two or Earth-One. COIE was still in the future. However, Arak was involved in COIE when it happened, and after the dust had settled, Roy Thomas began writing a Young All-Stars title in which a newly created character of American Indian heritage (“The Flying Fox” of the WWII era in the New Earth continuity) was stated to be Arak’s descendant. Therefore, it seems likely that the story arc with these Lioness Amazons did, in fact, carry over to “New Earth” continuity, along with most or all of Arak’s other published adventures.
Religious affiliation: They worshipped a Moon-Goddess who was variously called Hekate, Britomart, Artemis, and Dictynna — but “Artemis” seemed to be the most popular name in casual conversation.
Status of any male residents in their community: Unclear. Except for the special role filled by one man at a time when serving as both “Guardian of the Golden Bough” and “High Priest,” we simply don’t know if any other males were allowed to settle down as long-term residents of this Amazon community. Likewise, we don’t know what happened if an Amazon of this cult became pregnant and gave birth to a son.
Physical characteristics: The ones we saw all looked Caucasian. They were capable of turning into lionesses. No other superpowers were readily apparent (although the High Priestess could sometimes request and receive miracles from the Moon-Goddess whom she worshipped). However, there were a few hints that Dyanna the High Priestess (and, by extrapolation, some or all of the other Amazons) might be “immortal” in the same sense as the Classic Amazons — ageless, but capable of dying violent deaths. That theory would explain why Arak never met any warrior-priestess who seemed middle-aged or elderly.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: High. They lived in the same general part of the world (around the eastern end of the Mediterranean), for one thing, and two of the four names they used for their patron goddess are part of Greek mythology, and, as noted above, these Amazons may have had the same gift of immortality that Queen Hippolyta’s people enjoyed.
First appearance: Debatable. The first time we met someone who would later claim to be part of this “Amazon” group was in Arak, Son of Thunder #26 (October, 1983).. The first time she (Dyanna) explicitly used the word “Amazons” for herself and her friends in an onstage conversation was two issues later. However, Dyanna also claimed that Dziewona, another woman (very similar in facial features) whom Arak had briefly met in Saxony — in his first published adventure in an insert in the middle of The Warlord #48 (August, 1981) — was “my sister-priestess.” However, Dziewona never claimed to be an Amazon, nor the descendant of Amazons, and apparently was not a fellow member of this particular cult in Asia Minor. I say that because this cult allegedly all died out, except for Dyanna, at the end of the arc — and that didn’t mean Dziewona had showed up to die alongside the rest. Therefore, I’m not going to count her debut as the first appearance of an Amazon tribe.
Most recent appearance: Arak, Son of Thunder #30.
What they call themselves: “Amazons.”
Home region: A city, built in the same architectural style found on Paradise Island, located somewhere near the Amazon River in the heart of South America. The existence of the city was somehow kept a secret from the outside world, even in the 1980s when there were lots of spy satellites overhead.
Leader: Queen Atalanta has ruled this city and its Amazon inhabitants for approximately three thousand years before Wonder Woman meets her. (Not the Atalanta of Greek myth, but another woman who was formerly one of Hippolyta’s followers.)
Status when last heard from: Still alive and well, and there was a suggestion that their tribe would soon be merging back into the Classic Amazons of Earth-One — but this was very shortly before the Grand Finale of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and these Amazons haven’t been heard from since!
Native timeline: Earth-One. It seems unlikely that they carried over to the New Earth. I say that because the Bana-Mighdall Amazons seem like a grimmer-and-grittier rebooted version of the same general concept of “a bunch of Amazons walked out on Hippolyta and formed their own tribe shortly after the mess with Hercules — and for the next three thousand years the two cultures had no further contact.” But I don’t know for a fact that Atalanta’s Amazons couldn’t possibly exist in the current version of New Earth continuity!
Religious affiliation: From what Atalanta said, it appeared that they still worshipped Aphrodite (and presumably other Greek deities).
Status of any male residents in their community: Remarkably unclear! We didn’t see any! But Diana only spent one issue visiting the city, and interacted with just a handful of female Amazon warriors of that tribe. There may have been hundreds of male residents whom she simply didn’t meet during, say, the 20 minutes or so she actually spent within the city limits before she suddenly flew off, never to return. For what it’s worth, Queen Atalanta clearly states the position that romantic love between a man and a woman can be a wonderful thing; ditto the love of a mother for her child; and the desire to enjoy those forms of love in the future was a major factor in her leading a group of dissidents away from Paradise Island to form a new tribe. But whether or not the local Amazons are allowed to bring male lovers (and/or lawfully wedded husbands) into this secret city is never addressed. Nor do we know what happens if one of these Amazons bears a son. (I take it for granted that a daughter would be raised within the tribe, but no one says that in so many words, either.)
Physical characteristics: The handful of tribal members whom we see all look Caucasian — but we don’t see very many. Atalanta, and presumably all other founding members of the tribe, still possess the same gift of immortality as the Amazon inhabitants of the Paradise Island of Earth-One. No other superpowers were mentioned, but I suspect they retained superhuman strength and other distinguishing characteristics of the Classic Amazons. I don’t know if the immortality (and/or any other superpowers) carried over to any female descendents who were born after the founders of this tribe had left Paradise Island. (We were not explicitly told that such descendants existed — but what we were told about the attitude of this tribe towards various forms of “love” made it seem highly probable.)
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: Certain.
First appearance: Wonder Woman #315. (May, 1984.)
Most recent appearance: Wonder Woman #329. (February, 1986.)
THE Q’ENARA AMAZONS
What they call themselves: “The Q’enara Amazons.”
Home region: The Q’enara valley in the inner world of Skartaris. (Which, in modern continuity, is not literally the Hollow Earth interior of the same world Wonder Woman resides upon, but is instead the hollow interior of a vast sphere located somewhere else entirely, which just happens to be accessible from New Earth via a dimensional rift near the North Pole. I don’t know what the odds are that the Q’enara live in the same “inner world” as the Mikishawm Amazons from the Golden Age.)
Leader: Queen Zupara.
Status when last heard from: They seemed to be doing fine as an isolationist community.
Native timeline: Either Earth-One, New Earth, or both. They debuted in a story published while the COIE maxiseries was still coming out, but just after the issues of “The Warlord” which had explicitly acknowledged that COIE was affecting Travis Morgan. There was never any sign that the validity of his previously published stories was particularly damaged by the fallout from the Crisis. So the Q’enara Amazons may well have been the last Amazon tribe to debut in Earth-One continuity, or the first Amazon tribe to debut in the nascent New Earth continuity, or possibly both at once!
Religious affiliation: Unclear. Zupara states that her distant ancestors, at the time of their exodus from the outer world to Skartaris, worshipped “the Moon Goddess.” Her choice of words implies that such worship is no longer so popular within the tribe as it used to be — but we don’t actually know who or what, if anything, receives the religious devotion of most or all of the Q’enara Amazons in this day and age. (For what it’s worth, I should mention that at least one of Travis Morgan’s other stories established that there is also a moon in Skartaris, as well as a sun. So there could, for the sake of argument, be a Moon Goddess who took a strong interest in Skartaris.)
Status of any male residents in their community: Unclear (we never met any), but almost certainly of a lower status than any of the women.
Physical characteristics: The ones we see all look Caucasian. (Whether or not that was what the typical member of the tribe looked like at the time these Amazons immigrated to Skartaris, possibly thousands of years ago, is unknown.) No sign of any powers.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: High. I don’t see anything about them that strongly indicates otherwise. And where else did they get the word “Amazon” from? Unlike some tribes on this list, they have retained the concept of working with metal to make swords and body armor.
First appearance: The Warlord #102. (February, 1986.)
Most recent appearance: Same as the first.
THE BANA-MIGHDALL AMAZONS
What they call themselves: Before they first met Wonder Woman, and for some time after that, the answer seems to have been “Amazons.” (They thought they were the only ones left.) Since then, they have been known to use the name of their now-destroyed secret city of “Bana-Mighdall” as a way to distinguish themselves from the Classic Amazons (or “Themyscirans”); e.g. “I am of the Bana-Mighdall” or “I am a Bana-Mighdall Amazon.”
Home region: It had changed over the millennia, but when Wonder Woman first met them, they had been living for centuries in a city (Bana-Mighdall, natch) hidden within the deserts of Egypt. “Bana-Mighdall” simply meant “Temple of Women.”
Leader: Queen Anahid was the ruler of Bana-Mighdall when we first met them. She died during that story arc. Nehebka became the acting commander-in-chief after Anahid’s death, but never formally became Queen before also dying in that arc.
Status when last heard from: In recent years, most of them have officially been absorbed into the Classic Amazons of Themyscira. Some militant extremists refused to do that and still call themselves “Bana-Mighdall,” but I don’t feel those extremists have yet demonstrated sufficient staying power to qualify as a successful and self-perpetuating “tribe.” (And even if they had, it would be an open question whether they were “a new tribe” or just “the hard core that remains from a very old tribe.”)
Native timeline: New Earth.
Religious affiliation: Originally worshipping the same Greek deities as the Classic Amazons. Somewhere along the line, over the last few dozen centuries, successive generations drifted away from that and started worshipping some of the deities associated with Egypt and other parts of the Middle East.
Status of any male residents in their community: For thousands of years, the answer was: “Slaves kept chained up in squalid dungeons when they aren’t being used for breeding purposes (and then, presumably, tossed right back into the dungeon).” I don’t think we were ever told exactly what happened to any baby boys born to a Bana-Mighdall mother (in the centuries before they relocated to Themyscira), but some online commentators are of the opinion that male infants were probably just killed on the spot. All of the above changed for the Bana-Mighdall who later became physically immortal and who were gradually assimilated into the Classic Amazons of Themyscira, which would require learning several new rules of conduct. (“We don’t enslave people, we don’t rape people, we don’t murder civilians . . .”)
Physical characteristics: Pretty diverse, actually! In the story arc in which they debuted, most of the members whom we saw Diana conversing with were darker (and/or redder) than she was, generally looking “Middle Eastern” or “Black African.” However, in that same arc we also met at least one member with skin of the same shade as Wonder Woman’s, and that implied there were probably other women in the tribe who looked equally “white,” but who simply didn’t get speaking parts in that arc. (This was later confirmed when we met such specimens as Artemis, the red-headed, pale-skinned Bana-Mighdall warrior who briefly served as the new Wonder Woman.) It appears that the Bana-Mighdall did not obsess over maintaining any “racial purity.” As to superpowers: I’m not sure how solid this is, canonically, but the entry at dc.wikia.com for this tribe takes the position that most of the modern Bana-Mighdall, after millennia of breeding with normal men, are probably down to about “half-strength” compared to the level of super-strength we’d expect to see in an “average” Amazon from Themyscira. But there can be considerable variation in individuals, and even “half-strength” is still significantly more than any ordinary human being could manage. The Bana-Mighdall have also become immortal in modern times, after three thousand years of normal lifespans. When Circe made a deal with the Bana-Mighdall Amazons during “War of the Gods,” she promised to make them immortal if they followed her orders in attacking the Classic Amazons. As far as anyone can tell at the moment, she kept her promise and any grown woman of the Bana-Mighdall no longer gets visibly older each year.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: Certain.
First appearance: Wonder Woman #29. (April, 1989.)
Most recent appearance: Still active in Wonder Woman continuity today; many of the Bana-Mighdall have been absorbed into what I call the Classic Amazons.
THE UNDERGROUND AMAZONS
What they call themselves: Apparently “Amazons” — that word was dropped in dialogue a few times, but we never actually saw Dumb Bunny’s mother or any other regular member of the tribe saying anything about themselves in dialogue. We don’t know if they have a special name for their own tribe.
Home region: A city located somewhere beneath the Earth’s surface. (We don’t know its name, and we don’t know which region of the surface world it lurks beneath.)
Leader: We don’t know the official titles, nor the names, of any past or present leader of the city.
Status when last heard from: As far as we know, their city is still thriving in its undisclosed location.
Native timeline: New Earth.
Religious affiliation: We don’t know.
Status of any male residents in their community: We don’t know.
Physical characteristics: In the Post-Crisis continuity we’ve only seen one member of the tribe in flashbacks, plus her daughter Athena (Dumb Bunny), who grew up on the surface world and may never have visited the underground city her mother came from. Athena’s mother (name not mentioned) appeared typically Caucasian, but that tells us nothing about how much diversity might exist in her home town. We do know that all women of the tribe are super-strong; the characteristic apparently breeds true in the girls of each new generation. (We don’t know whether or not baby boys can also inherit such strength from their mothers. I suspect the characteristic is gender-linked, but I’ve been wrong before!)
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: High.
First appearance: The Earth-Twelve versions of Power Princess (and of her daughter Athena) debuted in the Silver Age, but Earth-Twelve of the Old Multiverse doesn’t count for my purposes. It was only in Angel and the Ape #4 (June, 1991) that we specifically learned that the New Earth analog of Power Princess (who may not have had a superhero career under that or any other name), was born and raised within a long-lost Amazon tribe.
Most recent appearance: Also Angel and the Ape #4 — if we don’t count any later glimpses of Dumb Bunny, who apparently never calls herself an Amazon in any dialogue we’ve seen, even though she knows her mother was one.
THE AMAZONS OF PERJUTO
What they call themselves: “Amazons” in word balloons — but it is quite possible that this was just a telepathic “translation” of another word which carried a similar meaning in the language of Perjuto.
Home region: The planet Perjuto.
Leader: I don’t think we ever knew the name or title of the supreme commander of these Amazons (since the ones trapped on Oa were apparently just a small portion of the entire Amazon population, and probably did not include their entire culture’s chief executive).
Status when last heard from: As the Green Lantern: Mosaic title concluded, anyone from the “Mosaic” of Oa, including these Amazons, was being given the chance to go back home if they wanted to. There was no sign that any of the Amazons of Perjuto wanted to linger on Oa, so it seems likely that all of them are now safely back home on dear old Perjuto, living the same way they did before one city was forcibly transplanted to Oa for awhile.
Native timeline: New Earth. (Although none of them have ever set foot on Planet Earth.)
Religious affiliation: They apparently believe that killing people who are neither threats nor mates will be punished with a curse of infertility. Beyond that, we know very little of their beliefs.
Status of any male residents in their community: There aren’t really any male residents within their city or cities — the males live in their own communities most of the time. We gather that males and females are split along “separate but equal” lines, and only come together when their biologically programmed-in mating season forces them to have intimate contact.
Physical characteristics: Tall, muscular, humanoid-shaped, and sometimes surprisingly pink in their skin color (depending upon who’s coloring any given issue). No clear superpowers. At regular intervals their biology forces them to go through a “mating season.” We don’t know how often that occurs.
Chance of a historical connection to the Classic Amazons: Almost zero. They come from a different solar system, they regard humans as a different species (and no one ever contradicts them on that point), and the word “Amazon” may not represent the actual sounds of whatever these women call themselves in their native tongue.
First appearance: Green Lantern: Mosaic #3 (August, 1992.)
Most recent appearance: Green Lantern: Mosaic #18 (November, 1993.)
PART 4. WHAT DOES WONDER WOMAN KNOW ABOUT THESE TRIBES?
Here’s what our favorite Amazon superhero, in any one of her three “mainstream incarnations,” has actually learned about the existence of Amazon tribes other than her own beloved Classic Amazons.
The Earth-Two Diana (not yet “Wonder Woman” at the time) met the Sky Riders of Nebulosta when she was seven years old. In fact, she helped capture what was apparently their entire surviving population. Once unmasked, these women (or at least one of them) used the word “Amazons” to describe themselves. Some or all of the Sky Riders may have later become her “sister Amazons” on Paradise Island. (The Earth-One Diana would also fight Sky Riders of Nebulosta, but I don’t think they ever called themselves “Amazons” after being unmasked, so they wouldn’t qualify as a long-lost Amazon tribe.)
As a grown woman, the Earth-Two Wonder Woman traveled back in time (two thousand years or so) to encounter Princess Mei, who brought her up to speed on the history of the Amazons who had once conquered the Middle Kingdom — and who implicitly began mating with local men, thereby producing successive generations of Chinese Amazons.
The Earth-One Wonder Woman would later have much the same thing happen to her as I described in the previous paragraph — thereby learning about her own timeline’s version of a tribe of Chinese Amazons of ancient times.
The Earth-One Wonder Woman met Atalanta’s Amazons in South America and spent several minutes conversing with Queen Atalanta herself. Near as we can tell, whatever Diana gleaned from that conversation is all she ever learned about their history and culture.
After the Post-Crisis Reboot, the New Earth Wonder Woman did not remember any of the above, but she first met the Bana-Mighdall Amazons when they were still living in a city in the Egyptian desert. Many of those women later became her “sister Amazons” when they were assimilated into the Classic Amazon tribe dwelling on Themyscira.
Apart from the few exceptions I have just mentioned, it is my belief that no incarnation of Wonder Woman has ever seen or heard of any of the other Amazon tribes listed in this document!
For several of those tribes, Diana’s lack of awareness is not surprising. For instance, we don’t know if the Amazons encountered by Kid Eternity in his Golden Age Quality days have ever co-existed in the same timeline as any version of “Wonder Woman.” They may have “carried over” to New Earth after COIE, or they may not have!
And on a similar note, we have no reason to think Diana would be especially interested in the fact that the Metal Men (or more accurately, the Metal Women) once trashed a small invasion force of “Robot Amazons.”
On the other hand, it does seem a trifle odd that various Earth-One heroes who were supposed to be on friendly terms with Wonder Woman — often serving alongside her in the JLA — never told her about any of the other Amazon tribes they had stumbled across. Kal-El never mentioned Queen Elsha? Kara Zor-El never mentioned Queen Jarta? Perhaps Hal Jordan, Ollie Queen, and Dinah Lance all agreed that Diana simply couldn’t be interested in hearing about the Banished Amazons who were still trapped in some other dimensional reality and would love to make it back home to their native Earth?
Or all of them may have told her about those encounters, in conversations we never saw, but Diana simply didn’t care to lift a finger to track down those possible “long-lost splinter groups of Amazons,” so we never saw any new stories come out of it? That doesn’t make much sense either!
PART 5. NEAR MISSES AND FALSE ALARMS: WHAT DIDN’T QUITE MAKE THE CUT
There have been many stories about women living in imaginary societies that were either matriarchal (women have most or all of the authority, although many males are present) or monosexual (women are the only permanent residents).
Either approach could fit many people’s conceptions of what qualifies for being called “Amazons” or “an Amazon-style culture” in the loosest sense of the term “Amazon,” but I’m not interested in trying to list every female-dominated or exclusively-female society we’ve ever seen in DC’s comic books! (If you want to make such a list, be my guest!)
One thing that confuses the issue: Fans writing online summaries of old comic book stories often use the word “Amazons” (sometimes uncapitalized) to refer to such groups as I just described, even if women in those groups never referred to themselves that way, but always used some other group name instead!
For instance, one online resource summarizes the first appearance of the Zamarons in Silver Age Green Lantern continuity and calls them “alien amazons” — which is understandable, given their all-female membership and militaristic traditions — but I’ve read that story, and the characters didn’t walk around saying “We are Amazons!” in it. They just called themselves “Zamarons,” plain and simple. I am well aware that “Zamaron” looks suspiciously like a near-anagram of “Amazon,” if you add the letter R in the middle while shuffling some of the other letters around, but that doesn’t cut it! If they don’t call themselves “Amazons” — nor any longer term which includes the six-letter string AMAZON, such as “Space Amazons” or “Zamazons” — then they don’t belong on my list!
Once I got serious about this project, I spent some time on comics.org searching for the word “Amazon” in story titles, in plot summaries, and in lists of characters included in a story. As well as soliciting suggestions from my fellow fans on a few discussion sites, of course. Here are notes on some of the other stories which came to my attention, but failed to make the cut. I mention them to save you the trouble of assuming I missed them entirely, and trying to bring them to my attention!
In Marvel Family #24 (Fawcett), during a trip to Valhalla, Mary Marvel encountered some armed women whom she promptly described in dialogue as “Amazon women!” But they didn’t seem to call themselves that. In fact, later in that story it was established that other residents of the neighborhood — who presumably had known these women for a long time — called them “Valkyrie maidens.” (Given that this was Valhalla, the presence of Valkyries should come as no great shock to us!) So I gather that Mary didn’t mean “those women are obviously part of an Amazon tribe — I can tell from the way they’re dressed and equipped.” She probably just used “Amazons” in the generic sense of “women warriors” because she didn’t know what else to call them at the time. Perhaps she wasn’t up to date on her Norse mythology at the start of this adventure, so she grabbed a term from Greek mythology instead?
(Note: I grant the theoretical possibility that a woman could be born into an authentic Amazon tribe on Earth (Midgard) during her mortal life, and then could somehow end up working for Odin as one of his Choosers of the Slain in the afterlife, but there’s no reason to think that had actually happened here.)
In Crack Comics #7 (Quality), The Red Torpedo encountered an undersea civilization. The city was called Merezonia; the female inhabitants were “Mermazons.” That was obviously meant to suggest “mermaid Amazons” to the reader, but the six-letter string “Amazon” never showed up anywhere in that story. So they don’t qualify. (If they had called themselves “Mer-Amazons,” they’d be a shoo-in, though!)
In Crack Comics #10 (Quality), there was a tale of Tor the Magic Master which is listed on comics.org as “Amazonia’s Fifth Column.” It turns out that the story simply happened in an imaginary little South American nation called “Amazonia.” Contrary to what I expected after seeing that name, “Amazonia” was not a matriarchy. (It was probably just named after the Amazon River.)
In Smash Comics #76 there was a Midnight story which comics.org lists as “The Amazon Queen of Femalia.” However, that title was invented after the fact for the story. A text box on the splash page, lettered as if it were ordinary print with lots of lowercase letters, uses the phrase “the amazon queen of Femalia” without capitalizing the A in “amazon.” The matriarchal culture within the story is called Femalia, but the women of that nation never call themselves “Amazons” and neither does any other character, so I conclude that “amazon queen of Femalia” in the introductory text was simply used as verbal shorthand for “queen of the aggressive women-warrior types who dominate the nation of Femalia.”
In Feature Comics #132 (Quality), action hero Rusty Ryan encountered a beautiful villainess called “The Viper” and her female followers, who were called “Modern Amazons.” Those Amazons lived on an obscure island and were keeping some men enslaved to do the manual labor. Rusty upset that social scheme before he left. However, it appeared that this miniature society had only come into being fairly recently as a result of The Viper’s vigorous recruiting efforts (within the last 5 years, perhaps?), so I don’t feel this short-lived attempt to create a female-dominated society had resulted in anything that would qualify as a “real tribe” by my standards.
In World’s Finest Comics #104, Tommy Tomorrow starred in a story called “Prisoners of the Amazon Asteroid.” I’m told that “Amazon” was simply the name of the asteroid where a male criminal was lurking. Tommy wasn’t up against a bunch of women warriors or anything similar. (Pity — after reading the title on comics.org, I’d been envisioning an all-female crew of space pirates who used an obscure asteroid as their secret base.)
In Action Comics #395, Superman reminisced about a time when he fell in love with Captain Althera, a warrior-woman from an alien world. Online summaries of that story sometimes say “Amazons” or “Space-Amazons” when describing her culture.
Near as I can tell, it actually went like this: When he first glimpsed a group of these women warriors wearing helmets and other armor and standing near a spaceship, Superman thought of them as “Space-Amazons.” Neither Althera nor any of the women under her command ever used that term. “Space-Amazons” was merely Superman’s silent first impression! Althera’s homeworld was Vrandar and its inhabitants called themselves “the Vrandars,” plain and simple. That sets them apart from some of the groups I did place on my list; women who never got around to telling us what they preferred to call themselves. (Hence, when other characters called those groups “Amazons,” it might mean that was the correct name and everybody knew it.)
In Superman Family #179, an extraterrestrial civilization invades Earth, planning to reshape our various societies in its own image. The civilization is run by women warriors who call themselves “Quazars.” While making a speech directed at the Earthwomen in Metropolis, one Quazar (who looks very much like a Caucasian female, except for the pointy ears reminiscent of Mister Spock), says: “We are the Quazars . . . a race you would call the Amazons of Space!”
Yes, she said: “You would call.” That’s very different from saying — or even implying — that the Quazars have long had the habit of calling themselves “Amazons.”
My working theory is that the speaker’s method of learning English, whatever it was, had involved learning of the cultural significance of the term “Amazon” from Greek mythology. Therefore, she decided that mentioning that word in her speech might help Earthwomen quickly grasp what sort of “women warrior culture” the Quazars were. But there’s no indication that she had ever before used the word “Amazon” for herself!
In Ghosts #83 (DC), the story advertised on the cover involved “Amazon Spectres” who were evidently ready to attack some bad guys who were menacing a young woman. However, I’ve been informed that the actual plot of the story started with the young woman frantically trying to find solid archaeological evidence of the historical existence of the legendary “Amazons.” All things considered, that makes it very clear to me that this story was set on neither the Earth-One nor the Earth-Two of the Pre-Crisis era; because in either case, the existence of Wonder Woman (and of an entire island full of immortal Amazons) should have already been solidly established as historical fact by the time of this story. That being the case, I conclude that if this story had no connection whatsoever to the Earth-Two or Earth-One continuity, Pre-COIE, then there is no reason to assume those Amazon Spectres could have “carried over” to the later New Earth continuity of the modern DCU. (And even if they had carried over, they easily could have been ghosts of some of the long-dead members of Hippolyta’s own tribe of “Classic Amazons” instead of members of a previously unknown Amazon tribe — I gather that these Spectres never actually said anything intelligible about themselves.)
Note: After writing the above paragraph, I later learned that issues of Ghosts often claimed their contents were based on “real stories” of strange occurrences in people’s lives. In other words, readers of the Pre-COIE era were expected to suspend their disbelief and think that these stories had happened, or might have happened, on “our world” — then known as Earth-Prime. Except for some stories featuring “Doctor Thirteen,” the vast majority of the material in Ghosts was never stated or implied to occur in a world that contained superheroes and supervillains. I hadn’t realized that before because I don’t believe I have a single issue of this title in my collection!
In a recent story arc (Wonder Woman #’s 42-44, vol. 3), Gail Simone wrote about a spacefaring group of genetically engineered female warriors called “the Citizenry” attacking the Earth. It turned out that their commander-in-chief was Astarte, a long-lost sister of Hippolyta. (So “lost” that Hippolyta couldn’t even remember Astarte from their shared childhood — the memories had been scrubbed from her brain by the Citizenry when they kidnapped Astarte three thousand years ago.) Over the centuries, Astarte had risen to be the big boss (“Captain”) of the entire culture. A couple of fans suggested to me that a spacefaring army of female warriors, led by an Amazon gone bad, could qualify as another long-lost Amazon tribe.
I ended up rejecting the idea. Near as I can tell, Astarte might still consider herself an “Amazon,” but her thousands of followers simply called their group “the Citizenry.” The word “Amazon” had no special meaning for them! If Astarte had indoctrinated all of her followers to habitually call themselves “Citizen Amazons” or “Space-Amazons” or anything else that included the six-letter string AMAZON, then I would agree that they were, by their own statements, an Amazon tribe. But that didn’t happen. It goes back to my rule that if the members of a group definitely don’t call themselves “Amazons,” then as far as I’m concerned, they aren’t!
In the graphic novel Wonder Woman: The Once and Future Story, Wonder Woman agrees to help out at an archaeological dig in Ireland where some tablets written in Ancient Greek have been found next to a woman’s skeleton. Since Diana is fluent in Ancient Greek, she starts giving a running translation to the other people working on the dig.
Much of the graphic novel is thus done as flashback scenes to what happened roughly three thousand years ago. Without rehashing the entire plot, I’ll just say that once upon a time — in the days of Theseus, apparently the same guy as the hero of Greek myth who fought the Minotaur, but here portrayed as a habitual wife-beater — there was a city called “Ephesus” (not necessarily the historical one?), which was dominated by a bunch of women warriors led by a Queen. They worshipped the goddess Cybele. One of this tribe, a princess named Artemis, ended up becoming friendly with some young women from Erin (Ireland) who were themselves trained warriors and were part of a cult worshipping Morrigan, a Crow goddess of their homeland. Artemis finally joined the cult of Morrigan and accompanied her new friends back to Erin, and it’s her skeleton (with her life story written in her native tongue on the tablets) which the modern-day archaeologists have now uncovered. Artemis had been buried with weapons and armor. This was what first tipped the archaeologists off to her status as a woman warrior.
Shortly after arriving at this Irish dig, Wonder Woman makes a brief comment about having read reports about other graves of women warriors which recently were excavated in Central Asia.
At least one online resource therefore claims that this graphic novel established the existence of three previously unknown Amazon tribes of ancient times in the mainstream DCU; tribes based in Greece, Ireland, and Central Asia. (With the Greek-speaking tribe which produced Princess Artemis of Ephesus being distinct from the other Greek-speaking Amazon tribe led by Queen Hippolyta.)
Unfortunately, the use of the word “Amazon” for any of those groups is not justified by the text of the graphic novel. I have owned a copy for years, and reread it as part of my research. The flashback scenes from ancient times never depict anyone using the word “Amazon” in any context whatsoever.
Two ancient cultures in which girls were trained to fight? Yes!
Two previously unknown Amazon tribes, one speaking Ancient Greek and the other based in Ireland? No!
And Diana’s quick mention of graves of women warriors in Central Asia seems to be an allusion to archaeological discoveries made in the 1990s in the real world. I did a little Googling to confirm that such discoveries occurred. Nowhere in this story does Diana or anyone else suggest that the New Earth analogs of those Central Asian women warriors had ever called themselves “Amazons.”
I would have loved to be able to add three more Amazon tribes to my list in one fell swoop — but the evidence just isn’t there.
PART 6. FINAL WORDS
Ninety-nine percent of my readers have probably fallen asleep by now. But for those of you who are still conscious: If you see anything I got wrong, please let me know!
Researching and writing this has been a hobby for the last few months, and it was helped immeasurably by the discovery that several “a hero meets an Amazon tribe” stories of the Golden Age, published by Fawcett and Quality, are known to be in the public domain, Therefore it perfectly legal for me to download and peruse scans of the original material. I took it for granted, though, that anything ever published by DC (even before it was called “DC”) is still copyright-protected, and thus I would have no business seeking out ways to download all of those back issues just to satisfy my curiosity on every possible detail. That meant I had to beg for help on a few forums in order to learn more about various DC stories which are not available in modern TPB reprints. Stories which, according to brief mentions in online reference materials, might have introduced one obscure Amazon tribe or another in the 1940s, 50s, or 60s. I was gratified by the help I received from sympathetic collectors who were willing to clarify some points about tribes which appeared once or twice and then promptly disappeared from the public eye. (Or, if need be, to inform me that there really wasn’t an Amazon tribe in that story — or even if there was, it didn’t qualify as “canonical.”)
In some cases I was able to find blog entries and other pages for which fans had already written commentaries on certain stories — sometimes scanning in a few panels to illustrate their points — thereby making it much easier for me to learn what a certain story had established about a now-forgotten Amazon tribe. Of course they hadn’t done it just to help me if I came along a few years later, but they did help me considerably, and I’m grateful!
But when we’re dealing with second-hand sources, there’s always the possibility of something being lost along the way. For that matter, it’s possible that some of the Amazon tribes I describe as appearing just once and then fading into limbo may have actually gotten a bit of follow-up, years later, in some story I haven’t noticed!
And, of course, I may have entirely overlooked some tribe which still deserves a place on my list! I was very nearly done with this project before I happened to run across a reference to the “Chinese Amazons” who were mentioned in Wonder Woman #37 in 1949. Who knows what else is missing?
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