The Many Loves of Wonder Woman: A Brief History Of The Amazing Amazon’s Love Life
Wonder Woman and Superman have long seemed like they’d make a nice match — they both have blue eyes and blue-black hair, they’re both superheroes with similar powers, they wear matching costumes. But maybe they look a little too much alike to work? In any case, since one or both of them are usually romantically entangled elsewhere, any dalliances between Superman and Wonder Woman have been very brief and occurred in their pasts or in alternate timelines where Lois Lane is dead. These include Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Strikes Again and All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder (with Jim Lee), and Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ influential Kingdom Come, in which the pair actually have a child together.
In official DC canon, however, Superman and Wonder Woman have always remained just really good friends — that is, until this October’s Justice League #12, in which Geoff Johns and Jim Lee will see the two heroes begin what’s promised to be a substantive relationship.
Following our exploration of some of Superman’s former flames, it’s time to check out the Amazing Amazon’s past dance cards. Sadly, Mr. Monster, seen about to walk down the aisle with Diana in the artwork to the right, doesn’t make the list (but I bet you wish he did just so you would know what the heck is happening in that comic — that’s how effective Silver Age DC covers were! Decades later, and the intriguing imagery still piques one’s interest).
Lois Lane to Wonder Woman’s Superman, Steve Trevor is the reigning champion of Wonder Woman love interests and, even though the two haven’t been an item in the comics for decades now, he’s probably still the first guy a lot of people think of when they hear the words “Wonder Woman’s boyfriend.”
Trevor first appeared in the very same story Wonder Woman did, 1941’s All-Star Comics #8, and he played an integral role in her origin and supporting cast. Trevor was a U.S. army intelligence officer whose plane crash-landed on the Amazons’ Paradise Island. There, young Princess Diana helped nurse him back to health and gradually fell for him. At the advice of her patron goddesses, the Amazon Queen Hippolyta decided one of her people had to take Trevor back to Man’s World and assist him and his country in their battle against the Axis forces in World War II. Naturally, Diana won the contest and adopted the star-spangled costume of Wonder Woman (a version of this story, updated so as not to be a period piece, was the basis of DC’s 2009 direct-to-DVD Wonder Woman animated movie).
In Man’s World, Wonder Woman adopted the civilian identity of a nurse named Diana Prince and got a job working as Trevor’s secretary, allowing her to be close to him and on top of any intelligence concerning Nazis or other enemies of America that needed to get smashed. In a gender-reversed version of the Clark Kent/Lois Lane/Superman love triangle, Trevor pined for Wonder Woman while ignoring the affections of Diana, apparently oblivious to the fact that Diana looked just like Wonder Woman wearing glasses.
Trevor remained part of the Wonder Woman comic book long after its William Moulton Marston/H.G. Peter heyday, although he occasionally died and came back to life. Notably, the character was often portrayed as feeling emasculated by Diana’s power and status. The couple finally married in the very last issue of the first volume of the Wonder Woman title.
During the 1985-1986 Crisis On Infinite Earths, DC’s first big continuity reboot, the married Diana and Steve of Earth-2 move to Mount Olympus. When the next volume of Wonder Woman would start, Trevor was sidelined as Diana’s love interest. He still appeared in the series, but as an older man, one who would ultimately marry the post-Crisis version of Wondy’s Golden Age sidekick, Etta Candy.
After 2011’s New 52 reboot, which cleaned continuity house just as COIE did, Steve Trevor became Wonder Woman’s U.N. liaison in the pages of the new Justice League comic. Writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee have had Trevor flirting with Wonder Woman, but the two characters have apparently yet to engage in any sort of romantic relationship. Trevor hasn’t yet appeared, or even been mentioned, in the new Wonder Woman series by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, wherein Wondy’s been too busy to think about boys (although she did almost marry Hell, the modern incarnation of Hades/Pluto — long story).
Trevor’s high profile is thanks mostly to the characters role in the 1975-1979 live-action television series starring Lynda Carter, and he’s appeared alongside Wonder Woman in most of her incarnations in other media as well. An episode of Batman: The Brave and The Bold is beloved by fans for its humorous depiction of Trevor as cheerfully waiting around in a death trap with Batman until Wonder Woman swooped in to save the day.
“What does she see in that man?” Batman asks himself after the couple is out of earshot, echoing the feelings of many a Wonder Woman fan (more on that later).
They’re both royalty from fictional fantasy kingdoms in the DC Universe, they’re both superheroes, they’re both lifelong Justice Leaguers. She has a thing for blondes. It seems like a pretty good match, right? The one major obstacle to Aquaman and Wonder Woman ever hooking up was, of course, the fact that Aquaman was married to Mera. But when the submarine sweethearts were estranged during the 1990s, and they were both single, well, why not?
In 1995’s Aquaman Annual #1, writer Peter David told a story of the first meeting between a pre-Aquaman Orin and a pre-Wonder Woman Diana, in which the sea god Triton attempted to take the young princess before Orin intervened. The pair kissed before parting for years. In Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s 1997-launched JLA, Wonder Woman is the one who re-recruited the then-extremely anti-social Aquaman to join the new “Big Seven” iteration of the team. In a short story in 1998’s Justice League 80-Page Giant #1 written by Chistopher Priest, Aquaman accidentally became entangled in Wondy’s magic lasso and ended up inadvertently confessing that he found her attractive, and that she was the main reason he remained on the Justice League (Geoff Johns and Jim Lee repeated this scene in their modern Justice League, only with Green Lantern Hal Jordan in the lasso).
Perhaps the closest they ever came to consummation, however, was during Mark Waid and Bryan Hitch’s 2000 JLA story arc “Queen of Fables,” in which the titular villain put Wonder Woman in a cursed, Snow White-like sleep, and a kiss from the former prince of Atlantis awakened her.
Writer/artist Phil Jimenez introduced Wonder Woman’s first major love interest in years in 2001’s Wonder Woman #170. Trevor Barnes kept Wondy’s original flame’s surname, but little else: Whereas Steve Trevor was a blonde, blue-eyed, caucasian fighting man for the U.S. military, Trevor Barnes was black, with long braided hair and a goatee, and he worked for the United Nations. The change in professions made Barnes a much more suitable partner for the modern Wonder Woman, as she moved further and further away from her World War II propaganda roots and became more of a champion for the world than for the United States specifically.
While the pair quickly became friends and shared a few adventures — including a trip to Skartaris — Barnes didn’t last much longer than Jimenez’s run on the title. Writer Walt Simonson killed Barnes off in Wonder Woman #194, the conclusion of a six-part fill-in arc between the end of Jimenez’s run and the start of writer Greg Rucka’s. The event may have made the case for some readers that Wonder Woman’s love interests should be super-powered if they want to survive her lifestyle for long, but it’s likely that most DC fans would disagree with that, as I’ll explain presently:
Probably the last superhero one might expect to be a good match for Wonder Woman is the dark, grim and decidedly unlucky-in-love Batman, which is probably precisely why Joe Kelly decided to explore such a relationship during his 2003-2004 run on JLA. During the storyline “The Obsidian Age,” in which the Justice League journeyed into the ancient past in order to save a time-lost Aquaman, Batman and Wonder Woman prepared to fight their enemies to the death and, before doing so, they surprised one another (and a lot of readers) by sharing a kiss. Once all the resurrection, time-travel, villain-fighting and day-saving was out the way, the two put off having to talk about their kiss for awhile, with Batman being the more reluctant of the two, even standing Wonder Woman up on at least one occasion.
Ultimately, Wonder Woman used Martian Manhunter’s Martian Transconsciousness Articulator, a doohickey that plays out various possible futures in dream-like fashion for the user, in order to determine that maybe she and Batman were better off just being friends and teammates.
The Batman/Wonder Woman romance is a favorite of longtime fans, largely because of its role in the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited animated series that broadcast between 2001 and 2006. The relationship developed remarkably organically for a superhero action series, with both parties falling for each other’s obviously admirable qualities in a way that seemed to humanize them both. Memorably (but weirdly), the sorceress Circe transformed Diana into a pig. In order to save Wonder Woman, Batman was forced to testify to his love for the Amazon princess in the form of song.
Perhaps the most lasting contribution to the 2006-2011 Wonder Woman series that the much-heralded (but ultimately short-lived) writer Allan Heinberg made was giving Wonder Woman a new romantic interest in Tom Tresser, AKA Nemesis. Originally created by Cary Burkett as a spy and master of disguise in a short story in a 1980 issue of The Brave and the Bold, Nemesis was best known for his role in the popular 1980s action/espionage series Suicide Squad. When DC relaunched Wonder Woman in 2006 after a universe rejiggering Infinite Crisis, Nemesis now worked for The Department of Metahuman Affairs alongside agent Diana Prince, Wonder Woman’s new secret identity. The set-up thus reflected her original relationship with Steve Trevor.
Heinberg and his successors on the title — mainly Gail Simone, who ended up writing the bulk of the 58-issue series — kept Nemesis around. He was generally played a good-intentioned but goofy and sexually aggressive foil for Wonder Woman, and her courtship of him via traditional Amazonian rituals was mostly played for laughs. Their relationship ultimately ended when Tresser realized Wonder Woman didn’t really love him.
As previously mentioned, romances between Diana of Themyscira and Kal-El of Krypton have until recently been non-canonical, but they have happened. In 1998’s Superman: Distant Fires, Howard Chaykin, Gil Kane and Kevin Nowlan depicted a post-apocalyptic Earth where Superman and Wonder Woman were among the only survivors, and where they had a son who, like Kal-El, was eventually rocketed to another planet to save him from his homeworld’s destruction. In Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, which also takes place in the future, Clark and Diana had a superpowered daughter called Lara, after Superman’s Kryptonian mother, whom they protected from the government. In typical Miller style, the relationship was memorably… intense:
Perhaps most famously, the Kingdom Come graphic novel by Mark Waid and Alex Ross introduced a reality where Wonder Woman and Superman coupled after Lois Lane was killed by the Joker, and where Kal-El and Diana eventually started a family (seen below with Uncle Batman):
Indeed, there have been quite a few occurrences of this match, but October’s Justice League #12 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee will be the first time the love between Superman and Wonder Woman will be presented as canon. In honor of the event, DC partnered with popular online dating site Match.com to create profiles for both superheroes. Here’s Wonder Woman’s, along with an analysis by Dr. Helen Fisher, Chief Scientific Officer for Match:
Superman and Wonder Woman are a classic match, as a very high testosterone male and a very high estrogen female. They also have many cultural and biological traits that will fuel their romance. People also tend to fall in love with those of the same background. Although Superman comes from a different planet, while Wonder Woman harks from an isolated island, both are aliens to our modern world. More important, Superman and Wonder Woman share the same values and goals: They are both dedicated to truth and justice and both fight evil to save the good — traits shared by both the high testosterone and high estrogen type. Lastly, both value independence.
Compelling testimony from Dr. Fisher, to be sure, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t give equal time to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, who memorably commented upon the idea in the classic 1985 story “For The Man Who Has Everything”:
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