Wonder Woman Retrospective: Gods and Mortals (1987) - George Perez

Wonder Woman, the ever-present torchbearer for feminism and strength, has had a colorful history. At times she has been overlooked, but she always manages to make a triumphant comeback. After she was killed in DC's continuity palate cleanser Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985) the slate was wiped clean for her character and the world was ready for her rebirth. Greg Potter and George Perez teamed up to rework the character of Wonder Woman with Perez also doing double duty as the penciler. What followed was an epic and fantastical reimagining of Princess Diana of Themyscira as well as all of her mystical surroundings.

In Gods and Mortals we get to see the rise and fall of the Amazons--born from the cries of female subjugation in the stone age, tempered by their betrayal from the Gods, and emboldened by their eventual occupation of the paradise island of Themyscira. The Amazons are the physical manifestation of dead women who have been wronged by men in the past, their immortal bodies vessels for independent individuals who were snuffed out by scared and angry men. This story is as gorgeous and mysterious as any Greek myth and is dripping with style due to Perez's ornate art.

Wonder Woman was born from the earth and fashioned from clay by her mother Queen Hippolyta and imbued with all of the strengths of her fellow Amazons. I love how her backstory is given so much depth and meaning in this arc, as befitting to such an important figure. This tale does not pull any punches and can be quite brutal at times. It makes Wonder Woman's mission that much more poignant because eventually she is not just fighting for woman, she is fighting for all of mankind. Her adversary is Ares, the malevolent sociopathic God of War, who wants nothing but oblivion for this world and everyone residing on it. He is jealous of the brave women of Themyscira and, dare I say, a bit frightened of them as well.

The world of men (our world) is a strange place, and it's interesting to see Wonder Woman's reaction to it. She only knows of powerful females and is completely taken aback at how our culture treats its own women. It's a way for the writers to take a magnifying lens to the current state of affairs without being too overt about it. Gods and Mortals isn't all social commentary, however, it's filled to the brim with beautifully rendered actions scenes against both mortals and dangerous monsters from Greek mythology. The combination of Perez's art and Tatjana Wood's coloring is a masterpiece and some of the best Wonder Woman art ever to grace a comic book page.

Men are not the focus of this story which is a refreshing change of pace. While the women are drawn to be attractive it doesn't seem exploitive and all of the clothes and armor they wear looks practical. These are not weak victims of circumstance, these are formidable beings that can and do take care of their own problems. Through the power of sisterhood they are a force to be reckoned with.

-Michelle Kisner