Artemis of Bana-Mighdall is a fictional Amazon superheroine created by writer William Messner-Loebs, appearing in DC Comics comic books. Artemis first appeared in Wonder Woman v2 #90 (September 1994).
History of the character
Amazon tribe background
As described in her comic book appearances, Artemis was born an Amazon
as a member of the Egyptian tribe of Bana-Mighdall
, who migrated from Greece
to various European
and Middle Eastern
countries before finally settling in Egypt
. Three thousand years ago, the two Amazon Queens (Hippolyta
) split the Amazon nation in two. Hippolyta's tribe traveled to the isolated island of Themyscira
(otherwise known as Paradise Island) to live immortal lives in order to protect the doorway to the Underworld called Doom's Doorway. Antiope's tribe was never given immortality and were forced to mate with common men in order to guarantee their tribe's survival over the centuries. As they had renounced their Olympian gods
once the two Queens parted ways, they eventually began to assimilate various religions and goddesses from the many lands they traveled to. Some of those included the goddesses Isis
, and Neith
. It was in Egypt that they finally built the city of Bana-Mighdall
, which in their language translates to "The Temple of Women
". Thanking the Amazons for their worship, one of their new goddesses created a powerfully consistent sandstorm to surround and protect their city from any outsiders who could not be trusted, or "ariandas". The Bana-Mighdallian Amazons eventually began an uneasy trade with outside cities in order to create commerce. They would exchange custom-made weapons and their warrior skills for goods and slaves for breeding.
Over the centuries the Bana-Mighdallian weapons and services became above par and were in much demand. This way of living continued until the late 20th century. It was into this period that Artemis was born. So far there has been no mention of who gave birth to Artemis or any other blood relative within the tribe. Still, although Artemis is an Amazon of Bana-Mighdall since birth, her given name is a mystery as the Bana-Mighdallians forsook the Olympian gods millennia ago. One theory fans have come up with is that Artemis's birth mother may have died during childbirth. Naming the surviving child Artemis
could be an ironic call to the goddess Artemis
for yet again failing the Amazons, as one of that goddess's many responsibilities includes being the goddess of midwives
Eventually the Amazon Princess Diana of Themyscira, or Wonder Woman, found their city while searching for the villain The Cheetah, who had stolen her golden Lasso of Truth. As the Bana-Mighdallian's original Themyscirian language had changed over time to incorporate middle eastern dialect, Diana had a hard time communicating with the newly-found Amazons. Eventually a battle took place between her and the Bana-Mighdallian's chief warrior or Shim'Tar. Soon an enraged Olympian god Hermes, who was in love with Diana, took vengeance on the desert Amazons for attacking his beloved, and the city of Bana-Mighdall was destroyed. Homeless, the remaining Amazons eventually took up with the witch Circe who was a nemesis of Wonder Woman. It was agreed that in exchange for their servitude during the events of the War of the Gods Circe would grant them immortality and a new home to call their own. It was decided that since the Themyscirian princess was the initial cause of their city being destroyed, they would take over her Amazon city instead. Though only 14 years of age at this time, Artemis spoke before the Queen and Council to protest the planned attack as she felt that Amazons must not war against each other. Her cries were ignored and the attack was undertaken.
During the attack on Themyscira the witch Circe showed her true colors and teleported the island into a dimension of demons
in order for both tribes to be destroyed. The two tribes put aside their rivalry temporarily and fought the demons in order to ensure the Amazon survival. Though only a few months passed in the real world, the time the Amazons spent in the demon dimension lasted 10 years. Discovering that Circe had made her island home disappear, Wonder Woman forced her to return it to its rightful place. Once this was done Wonder Woman learned about the invasion, the demon war, and the Amazon truce. She eventually met Artemis who was now in her mid-20s. The two got off to a rocky start but Diana could see that Artemis' heart was true.
Due to being in the demon dimension, Queen Hippolyta began to see visions of the future. One of those visions included Wonder Woman dying. Keeping this to herself, she called for a new Contest for the title of Wonder Woman. Initially excluding the new Amazons, Queen Hippolyta submitted to a vote on the whole to include them at Diana's behest. Through some mystical managing on Hippolyta's part, Artemis eventually won the Contest and became the new Wonder Woman. As gifts to aid her in her new mission, Artemis was given several magical objects. The Gauntlet of Atlas
which increased its wearer's strength by 10 times, The Sandals of Hermes
which gave the gift of speed and flight, and the golden Lasso of Truth
which forced anyone tied by it to speak only truth. Although Artemis tried diligently to distinguish herself from her predecessor in both New York City
, this proved to be rather hard to do. Her approach to various situations were often seen as more violent than beneficial. Because of this, and due to Man's World's respect of Diana, Artemis often would receive the cold shoulder from those she tried to help, extending even to her brief time in the Justice League
. Superman once commented to Diana that Batman
refused to allow Artemis to even sit in "Diana's
" chair during JLA meetings. She later met a representative from a public relations company who agreed to help Artemis with her public likeability. What Artemis wasn't aware of was that the company had staged several false battles for her that ultimately helped downtrodden groups such as immigrant workers and abused women. Once she uncovered this truth she set about to prove herself by single-handedly taking down Boston
's biggest mob boss: Julianna Sazia. Artemis' arrogance eventually gained the better of her, and she died in a battle with The White Magician
. Thus, Queen Hippolyta's vision of Wonder Woman dying came true.
After Artemis's death as Wonder Woman, her soul was sent to a form of hell
as shown in the Requiem
mini-series. A crucifix-topped tombstone was depicted as marking Artemis's grave in Boston which conflicts with Artemis' established Egyptian faith.
While in the underworld Artemis became a figurative bride to one of the thirteen ruling Princes of Hell named Dalkriig-Hath. Eventually Artemis was able to kill Dalkriig-Hath and regain access to the world of the living. Wanting to separate herself from her former title as Wonder Woman, Artemis used her skills learned in Tartarus to her advantage and joined a group of demon hunting heroes called the Hellenders. While there she was assigned the codename Javelin, which she quickly rejected for the name Requiem. Artemis developed a romantic interest in fellow Hellender Sure-Shot, a master of arsenal and projection weapons. This interest was dropped though when she discovered that Sure-Shot's perceived self-assuredness was brought on by psychotropic drugs which were meant to keep various Hellender members fearless while battling the likes of demons and ghouls.
She also befriended a woman by the name of Henrietta Jessup, who went by the codename Sojourner. Though Sojourner didn't have any warrior skills to speak of, Artemis stood by her friend and tutored her as a novice Amazon. This teacher/mentor relationship was later expanded as Wonder Woman asked Artemis to take on a new pupil, that of Cassie Sandsmark who had become the new Wonder Girl. Taking Cassandra as a full-time student, Artemis became a reserve member of the Hellenders leaving Sojouner to take her place as a full-time member. Later still, Artemis' teacher/mentor resume would expand even more to even include the combat training of Supergirl. It was during the initial meeting of Supergirl that Artemis would gain her revenge against Batman for his hostile attitude towards her when she attempted to join the JLA. Artemis bested Batman in hand-to-hand combat, but was eventually subdued with a tranquilizer dart.
The underworld demon Belyllioth, who served as master over some of the Myrmidon demons, later contacted Artemis to inform her of an unrest in Tartarus. With the death of the demon Dalkriig-Hath, the remaining twelve princes of Hell were battling for dominion over the dead demon's realm. As Dalkriig-Hath's widow, Artemis was, by rights, next in line to rule his region of Hades. Artemis ended the demonic war by presenting herself before the twelve demon rulers to officially be granted her former husband's station. After the blessing ceremony was given, Artemis revealed that the blessing was actually given to Belyllioth, who was magically disguised in Artemis's form. Angered by her deception, the twelve princes of hell vowed vengeance against Artemis upon her return to Hades. Fortunately for Artemis, her devoted friend Belyllioth (now officially one of the thirteen rulers of Tartarus) has sworn her allegiance and protection to the Amazon for eternity.
During John Byrne's time on the Wonder Woman comic, he insinuated that Artemis previously had an affair with the New God Kanto. This falls out of established history as no prior connection of Artemis or the Amazons to Apokolips had been established until Darkseid's invasion of Themyscira shortly after Artemis' death. Because of this the only other time Artemis could have met Kanto would have been before the Banas invaded Paradise Island, leaving Artemis to be between infancy to fourteen years of age. Thus she would have been much too young to have had a relationship with the grown adult. Artemis also admitted in the Requiem series that she was still a virgin, further removing the Kanto/Artemis romance plot.
After some time, Artemis returned to Themyscira to aid her Amazon sisters in the uneasy living conditions they continued to work in due to lingering animosities between the two tribes. Civil war, incited by the spirit of long dead Ariadne
(who had been transplanted into the body of the Amazon sorceress, Magala), eventually broke out between the two groups of Amazons, leaving Artemis to take up the title of her tribe's chief warrior, or Shim'Tar
. She did this in the hopes of ending the war and to guide both tribes to peaceful negotiations. As Shim'Tar, Artemis battled Queen Hippolyta, who was acting as the newest Wonder Woman. During their battle, Artemis reminded Hippolyta that the Themyscirian queen wasn't given the armor of Wonder Woman out of honor, but rather as a punishment for causing the death of not only Artemis, but of her daughter Diana as well. Ultimately coming to her senses, Hippolyta finally forgave the Amazons of Bana-Mighdall for their previous transgressions, and joined her daughter Diana on the battlefield. Together Queen Hippolyta and Princess Diana renounced their crowns, leaving the island without a structured government in the hopes of ending the needless slaughter brought on by the war. They were successful, and Artemis and the Themyscirian General Phillipus were later voted to be co-rulers of the island.
As co-ruler Artemis helped usher in a new age for the Amazons by inviting outworlders to commune on Themyscira. This included both Earth-bound peoples as well as alien races. Together with her people, Artemis learned about advanced alien technology and new battle skills. Unfortunately not all those contacted met the invitation warmly. The U.S. government posted war ships along the U.S./Themyscira boarder. Later the American President called a meeting with Artemis, Phillipus and Diana. He informed them that the U.S. government would ease the blockade if the Amazons agreed to transfer blueprints on how to create their own Purple Ray. The trio gave a firm "no" as an answer, telling the President that they feared the U.S. government would use the Purple Ray as a weapon. Because of this tensions between the two nations remained.
Through the machinations of an A.I. satellite
called Brother Eye
, a military strike was made against Themyscira in an attempt at Amazon genocide
. A large swarm of OMAC
units were sent to the island and began to attack the Amazons as part of the events of Infinite Crisis
. Because of this, as well as the many previous attacks against the island since Diana had become Wonder Woman, it was decided by Artemis and Phillipus that the entire island of Themyscira and all of its inhabitants (sans Diana) would be transported to a hidden dimension via the Olympian and Bana-Mighdallian goddesses. Artemis and the remaining Amazons thrive in this dimension for a year's time in peace.
The witch Circe later entered the Amazons' protected dimension and revived Queen Hippolyta from death. Circe informed the Amazons that Diana was being illegally detained by the U.S. government and tortured until she gave them the secrets of the Purple Ray. Because of this, the Amazons agreed to give Hippolyta her royal title back, and followed her instructions to invade Washington, D.C. which brought about the events of Amazons Attack. Artemis and Phillipus were assigned to oversee the battle, but soon lost faith in Hippolyta when they discovered some of her actions against Man's World proved to be less honorable. Due to their failure to follow-through in stopping Hippolyta during the war, a disguised Granny Goodness cursed all of the Amazons by erasing their memories and scattering them across the globe with false personas. The last we see of Artemis, she is in civilian travel clothes near the Great Wall of China.
- Master hand-to-hand fighter combining many assimilated fighting techniques
- Weapons expert in both the use and manufacturing of weapons (favoring bow and arrows, but ranging from blades to automatic weapons)
- Immortality provided by the witch Circe
- Knowledge of low-level sorceries learned in the Underworld including:
- Self-Transmogrification, using the phrase "Punji Baal T'Alemi Dar Baharin" to change into another person/creature and then saying the spell backward to return to her true form.
- Spell Reversal, which she used to transform demonically transformed were-creatures back into their human forms.
- Demonic Sensing, allowing her to know when a demon is masking their appearance as that of a human.
Artemis' stories are collected in several graphic novels:
Mentions in written work:
- Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Guide to the Amazon Princess by Scott Beatty (November 2003) DK Publishing
- The Ultimate Wonder Woman Sticker Book by Alastair Dougall (November 2003) DK Publishing
- How to Draw Wonder Woman by John Delaney (September 1998) Walter Foster Publishing
- In March 2001 DC Direct created an action figure of Artemis as part of their Amazons and Adversaries line. She is depicted in a green and black uniform given to her during writer Eric Luke's time on the Wonder Woman comic book.
- In 2007 an Artemis figure was produced for the HeroClix line of toys. She is depicted in the Wonder Woman uniform while in mid-flight shooting her bow and arrow.
- In October 2008 Mattel released an Artemis variant action figure toy as part of their DC Comics Wave 4 line. She is shown wearing her Wonder Woman costume complete with bow and arrows.
Comic Book Inspiration
Artemis's name is an intentional reference to the syncretic
identification of the Greek Artemis
with the Roman Diana
. Editor Paul Kupperberg
characterized the two Wonder Women, Artemis and Diana, as "two sides of the same coin." This is not the first time that that naming device was used in Wonder Woman
- Artemis, the ancient Wonder Woman seen in Wonder Woman (vol. 1) # 301-302 (Dan Mishkin, writer), was a predecessor & typology of Diana, set in ancient times. This character is not established as part of post-Crisis continuity.
Artemis's appearance was influenced by two other comic book characters:
- Wildcats member Zealot, a Kherubim and a Coda warrior. Zealot is the immortal former Majestrix of the all female warriors called The Coda and helped develop their virtues and practices. After failing to follow her own rules under the Coda, she left their clan and they have hunted her since. Artemis's long hair flowing from a topknot evokes Zealot's appearance. Artist Mike Deodato has admitted to basing Artemis' appearance on that of Zealot.
- The Amazon Orana from the Wonder Woman (vol. 1) #250-251 (December 178-Kanuary 1979). In this story, the Amazon Orana challenged Diana to a tournament to claim the title of Wonder Woman. She was successful, but her arrogance brought about her death shortly into her reign. Like Artemis, Orana was a fiery redheaded Amazon who died as Wonder Woman.