Last time, in Part One, we took a look at the Golden Age versions of Batman and Superman, and the Silver Age versions of Green Lantern and Flash. This time, we’re taking a look at other major DC characters who have changed drastically since their inception…
Wonder Woman is considered the first major super heroine in comics history and is still one of the greatest of all time. Diana is an Amazonian Princess, the daughter of Hippolyta and an ambassador from Themyscira to “man’s world”. Over the years, her look has evolved quite a bit, but she’s always retained her status as an icon of female empowerment.
She was first created by William Moulton Marston and his wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marston in 1941, first debuting in DC’s All Star Comics #8 and later featured in Sensation Comics. Her first appearance was as a secretary for the Justice Society, but she’s come a long way since.
In the 1960’s, she became a founding member of the Justice League!
In the 1970’s she briefly took on a super spy identity in Denny O’Neil’s radical take on the character.
In 1987, George Perez’s “Gods and Mortals” story arc revamped her origin and really built on the Greek Mythological aspects of her backstory.
In 2011, Wonder Woman was given a makeover once again by J. Michael Stracyznski in “Odyssey” – a storyline that re-imagined Diana as an American teen discovering her lost past and heritage.
Then when DC rebooted with the New 52, Wonder Woman’s origin was once again revised by Brian Azzarello when it was revealed that Diana was secretly the ‘illegitimate’ daughter of Zeus.
Today she’s a cornerstone of DC’s ‘Trinity’ – next to Batman and Superman.
Oliver Queen may have started off as a Batman rip-off with a Robin Hood motif, but over the years he’s become a street level vigilante and social crusader who’s driven by the regrets of his past. Green Arrow’s first appearance is in More Fun Comics #73 (1941), by George Papp and Mort Weisinger, later showing up (with his sidekick Speedy) in World’s Finest Comics.
Before becoming The Green Arrow, Oliver Queen was a rich playboy without a care in the world – that is until he became stranded on a deserted island! Forced to fend for himself with nothing but a bow and arrow, Oliver honed his survival and archery skills in the wild. During his time on the island, Ollie came across a group of drug smugglers. After defeating their operation, he managed to return home to Star City where he vowed to use his newly forged skills to combat the corruption that’s taken hold of his city. Ollie returned home a hero.
Armed with an arsenal of trick-arrows (including but not limited to a boxing-glove arrow!), Green Arrow fights for injustice, both as a vigilante and as a social crusader (even becoming mayor of Star City at one point). In 1970, Denny O’Neil’s run of Green Lantern / Green Arrow took a closer look at real life issues in America – everything from racism to drug use, as Oliver Queen and Hal Jordan took a cross-country road trip.
One of the biggest milestones in comic book history was in Green Lantern / Green Arrow #85 (1971) when DC did a special anti-drug issue, where it was revealed that Green Arrow’s side-kick (Roy Harper) was using heroin!
Oliver and Roy’s relationship was never the same after that. Roy eventually cleaned up, and became Arsenal, a hero in his own right, but things were never quite the same. Green Arrow refused to take another side-kick under his wing, until he met Mia Dearden, an abused teenage girl living on the streets, dealing with HIV. (Kevin Smith’s Green Arrow, 2001) Green Arrow took another dark turn in Mike Grell’s “Longbow Hunters” (1987), when Oliver was forced to take a life during a conflict with an assassin named Shado.
Years later, after returning to Star City, Oliver rekindled his relationship with Dinah Lance aka Black Canary, eventually proposing to her (Green Arrow #75, 2007 by Judd Winick). The two teamed up in their own series in the Green Arrow / Black Canary series (2007-2010).
Following the events of Flashpoint, Green Arrow and Black Canary lost their history together, after the timeline was altered, but have since met each other for the first time, once again…
Aquaman gets a bad rep, especially thanks to his appearance in the old school super cheesy Super Friends cartoon – which rendered him to a useless swimmer with the ability to talk to fish. However, in the comics since then, Aquaman has kind of become a total badass…
Aquaman was created by Paul Morris and Mort Weisinger. He first appeared in More Fun Comics #73 (1941) with Green Arrow, and later starred in Adventure Comics.
Arthur Curry was the heir to the throne of Atlantis, but grew up on the shore, in exile. After taking on the mantle of King, Aquaman has become both the protector of the world’s oceans and the defender of land dwellers threatened by creatures from the darkest depths of the sea.
During his early adventures, Aquaman fell in love with Mera, the princess of an alternate dimension with the ability to control water. She eventually became the Queen of Atlantis and the two had a son together.
However, tragedy struck when Black Manta, Arthur’s nemesis, kidnapped and killed their infant son. Arthur and Mera were never quite the same after that.
In Aquaman #2 (1994) by Peter David, an older grizzled Aquaman with long hair, lost his hand during a confrontation with Charybdis. He replaced his missing hand with a retractable harpoon.
During the New 52, following the universe-altering events of Flashpoint, Geoff Johns brought Arthur Curry back to his roots, reuniting with Mera and giving him a personal history with Black Manta – who blames him for the death of his father.
Arthur renounced his place as King, which later led to a confrontation with his brother, Orm for taking the side of the surface dwellers in “The Throne of Atlantis”. During the ensuing war, Aquaman was forced to reclaim his birthright.
Currently, in DC’s Rebirth, Arthur is struggling to balance his responsibilities as a King and diplomat as well as a protector of the world’s oceans.
To be continued…
Erik Slader is a blogger, barista, web tech, digital artist, gamer, comic book aficionado, history buff, part-time nerd, and full-time husband. Creator of “Epik Fails of History” (@EpikFails.com) and writer for SuperheroBeach.com, MovementMagazine.com and ComicZombie.net – check out his digital design portfolio at ErikSlader.com