Circe (comics)

Circe is a fictional character, a villainous sorceress and adversary of Wonder Woman appearing in DC Comics publications and related media. Based upon the Greek mythological character of the same name who imprisoned Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey, the comic book encarnation of Circe first appeared to bedevil Wonder Woman in the 1940s in Wonder Woman, vol. 1, issue #37. As the narrative continuity of the Wonder Woman comic has been adjusted by different writers throughout the years, various versions of Circe, with various physical appearances, have emerged to challenge the Amazing Amazon. All of these have retained a set of key features: immortality, stunning physical beauty, a powerful command over wicked sorcery, a penchant for turning human beings into animals (like her mythological antecedent), and a delight in humiliation.


Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths

In the original DC Comics continuity (prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths), Circe is a centuries-old enchantress who is kept young by an elixir called vitae. It is made from a special combination of plants and herbs. While living on the island Aeaea, Circe gains magical powers. Circe is very skilled at turning men into any animal resembling their personality, and, for her crimes against mortalkind, the Amazon Queen Hippolyta banished her to Sorca, "an island planet in space, where she could do no harm".

Upon her return to Earth, Circe tries to destroy Wonder Woman, having heard from an oracle in ancient times that the daughter of Hippolyta will be her undoing. Unlike many of Wonder Woman's other Golden Age foes, Circe does not repent, when her plot fails, and a legendary enmity is born. (Wonder Woman vol. 1 #37)

A woman claiming to be a descendant of the original Circe later appears and gives Superman an evolution serum, which temporarily transforms him into a partial lion. Realizing the serum contains Kryptonite, Superman theorizes the original Circe may have been from Krypton. (Action Comics #243)

In ancient times, Circe is responsible for changing Biron the centaur into a horse and later gives him super-powers as Comet the Super-Horse. She is depicted as more heroic during her appearances with Comet and Supergirl (Action Comics #293, 311, 323, 331) She also has encounters with Lois Lane and Lana Lang, and battles Rip Hunter, who meets her during his time travels. (Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #13, 39, 40; Showcase #21)

Later, Saturn Woman (a version of Saturn Girl from an alternate timeline) poses as Circe as part of Superman’s plan to defeat the Superman Revenge Squad. (Superman vol. 1 #165)

Circe reappeared with a mission to kill Wonder Woman in order to prevent an oracular prophecy -- of Circe's death at Wonder Woman's hands -- from coming true. After she failed to kill the Amazon with a series of attacks by man-animal hyrbrids, she took up with the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca, who set in motion a chain of events that led Wonder Woman to the jungles of Tropidor. Circe called on the god to send lightning down to kill Wonder Woman. When Wonder Woman deflected the lightning bolts away from her, the deflected bolts incinerated the herbs that made her immortal, thus fulfilling the prophecy. Circe then disappeared, swallowed up by Tezcatlipoca's magic obsidian mirror, which the god used to torture her with an image of herself as a crone.

Circe begins to age normally and is last seen aiding a group of sorcerers, who are trying to defeat the Anti-Monitor. (Wonder Woman vol. 1 #302, 305, 312-314; Crisis on Infinite Earths #9, 12)

Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths

Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wonder Woman and Superman are rebooted. All of Circe's prior continuity is erased and she is reintroduced with a revamped history.

Greek mythology background

Circe is the daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Perseis. Circe is a powerful witch and former princess of Colchis. A beautiful, violet-haired, red-eyed sorceress, she is known for turning people into animals (which are called Beastimorphs), as well as for powers of mind-control. Circe has been a devoted follower of the goddess Hecate for thousands of years. She has lived on the island of Aeaea where she became a powerful being in both magic and in influence over portions of man's world. During his adventure to her island, Circe fell in love with Odysseus and bore him three sons: Agrius, Latinus, and Telegonus.

Though Circe's patron goddess Hecate was an offspring of the Titans, she was not considered one of the main Twelve Olympians. Zeus gave her much respect, but she didn't hold much favor with others on Olympus. As such she married the god Hades, but their marriage didn't last and Hecate was demoted as handmaiden to her former husband's new wife. Because of this she left the realm of the gods and agreed to render her soul to her most devoted servant Circe. This caused Circe to attain her current goddess-level of power and immortality.

Beginning of relationship with Wonder Woman

When Hecate transferred her soul to Circe, she said the words: Upon the death of witch and the birth of witch, Hecate, by name and choice, shall repossess her soul. In addition to being goddess of witchcraft, Hecate is also a goddess of the moon; when Circe learned that Wonder Woman shared her name with moon goddess Diana, she decided that Hecate's cryptic warning must refer to her. Fearing that Diana would steal Hecate's soul and power, Circe decided to destroy her.

Once Diana learned of Hecate's pronouncement, she too felt it pertained to her, but of course Diana has no desire to have the soul of Hecate possessing her body. This issue is central to the conflict between the two women.

Amazon betrayal

After the Amazons of Bana-Mighdall lost their Egyptian city at the hands of Diana's gods, they turned to Circe for revenge. In exchange for their servitude, she promised to give them immortality and a new home. They aided Circe in the War of the Gods storyline, causing the world to look at Amazons in general in a bad light. Circe apparently perished in the climax of the war, and her later return has never been truly explained. True to her word though, Circe granted the Bana-Mighdallian Amazons immortality and teleported them to Themyscira in order for them to take over the island for themselves. Unfortunately for them though, after this was done Circe eventually showed her hatred for all Amazons by betraying the alliance she had with the desert Amazons and cast the island and all its inhabitants into a dimension of demons. Thus both tribes of Amazons spent several years battling demons for their own survival. When Diana discovered what the witch had done, she forced Circe to return the island back to its original location after losing a bet with the Amazon.

This is not the only time Circe has lost a bet to Wonder Woman and was forced to cancel a spell made against her. Later Circe caused Queen Hippolyta to forget who she was and instead embrace the false life of a domestic housewife. Circe told Diana that if she could get Hippolyta to drink the antidote she would call off her attack. Diana was successful and Circe showed herself honorable once more by reversing all magical effects as promised.

Donna Milton

One attempt Circe made in trying to destroy Diana involved a disguise as a mortal lawyer Donna Milton. In this persona she could get close enough to Diana in order to kill her when her defenses were low. Afraid Diana would see through her disguise with her power of truth, Circe cast a spell on herself. The spell made Circe believe that she actually was Donna Milton and her true persona would only return when Donna could strike. As Donna Milton she was hired by the mobster Ares Buchanan, who was really the god Ares in disguise himself. During their time together they formed a romantic relationship and Donna became pregnant. As Donna, Circe actually became a good friend of Diana and ended up saving her life from Ares. He was sucked into a mini-blackhole while Donna went into labor. No longer working for Ares, Donna gave birth to her daughter Lyta and became Diana's lawyer at her and Micah Rains' new detective agency. When the Amazon Artemis single-handedly battled the White Magician, Diana realized that Donna was actually Circe and begged her to help transport her to Artemis' side. Not believing Diana and hurt that her friend would think her to be a villain, Donna yelled at Diana to leave and subconsciously teleported Diana to Artemis. Shocked, Circe's memories slowly began coming back to her. Still possessing some of Donna's false memories, she teleported herself to Diana in order to help her in her battle. Unfortunately she was not on top of her game as she still had ties to her Donna Milton body, and the White Magician wasn't affected by her magical attacks. She used the remainder of her power to save Diana by teleporting herself, a demonically-altered Cheetah and Cassandra Arnold, a television reporter and the White Magicican's lover, away from the battle, leaving her last words to Diana be "You're my only friend, Diana". This is the last we see of Diana's friend Donna Milton.

New York takeover

Circe at one time also tried to take over New York City. Her scheme involved the transformation of all male superheroes into her beastimorphs. As the only persons who weren't affected by the spell were women, many female superheroes entered the city in an attempt to save their friends and stop the witch's plan. However Circe had planned for such a rescue and convinced the female members of various supervillain communities to join forces and stop the heroes by any means necessary. She was joined in this endeavor by the male Cheetah (Sebastian Ballesteros, who remained unaffected by Circe's spell and had become Circe's temporary lover) and the newly-transformed Silver Swan Vanessa Kapatelis. Leading the pack against Circe was Wonder Woman, who Circe also expected, sending a Doomsday-altered Superman to battle her. Ultimately Circe was unsuccessful in her plan as a majority of the female heroes were able to change back their male super-powered friends with the use of the herb Moly, which has a tendency to disrupt Circe's magic.

Expanded horizons

Circe formed part of the Injustice Gang gathered by Lex Luthor, alongside the Joker, Dr. Light and the Ocean Master. She previously proposed both a business and romantic relationship with Luthor, which he immediately shot down. During a fight with the JLA, she became preoccupied with Plastic Man. His shapeshifitng powers allowed him to immediately change out of the animal forms she turned him into.

She was also rescued from possible death by the two living Gorgon sisters Stheno and Euryale once the island of Themyscira toppled into the sea. As repayment Circe revived their long-dead sister Medusa who eventually became a fellow enemy of Wonder Woman.

Shortly after Medusa's defeat, Circe's daughter Lyta was kidnapped by her father Ares while under the protection of the Amazons on Themyscira. Confronting Ares, she soon discovered that the time of the gods was at a crossroads and joined Ares as his consort as the new ruler of Tartarus. Thus, Lyta continued to be cared for by both of her parents, reunited.

One Year Later

After the events of Infinite Crisis Circe was revealed to be the source behind the new upgrades to Wonder Woman's rogues gallery, increasing their power "beyond their wildest imaginings." Circe stole Diana's powers explaining her rationale for doing so was to avenge wronged women whom she believed Diana had no real interest in helping. After completing the spell Circe is shown in an altered Wonder-Woman-style costume and proceeds to slaughter slave traders in various cities. This greatly resembles a previous occurrence written by Phil Jimenez in which Circe magically caused herself to possess the strength of "Earth's strongest woman". During her battle with Diana she proceeded to alter her costume several times. Diana eventually regains her powers from Circe but it was revealed that Circe and Hercules were the only Greek gods to disobey Athena's orders to leave the earthly realm. It is assumed that she left her daughter Lyta in the care of her father Ares.

She was also responsible for giving Everyman his shapeshifting powers back in order to replace Sarge Steel at the Department of Metahuman Affairs and instigate the events leading up to the Amazons Attack storyline. It was during this storyline that Circe revived the long dead mother of Wonder Woman and convinced her to reclaim her throne in order to attack the U.S. capital, Washington, D.C.. Once Hippolyta discovered that part of Circe's plans involved the destruction of Themyscira, she threw a spear into Circe's chest, critically wounding her. She was presumed to have been killed, but she appeared at the end of Amazons Attack #4 alive and well. She explains that she brought about the events of Amazons Attack to punish the Olympian Gods for allowing Ares to steal her daughter Lyta from her. Circe was then banished to Hades by a disguised Granny Goodness who stole the persona of the goddess Athena.

Powers and abilities

Circe is a goddess-level sorceress and as such is immortal. She is able to transform reality and matter through spells. Among other things, she can alter minds, fire destructive magical energy blasts, create illusions, revive the dead (as she did with Medusa), teleport, and transform objects and beings. Her "signature move" is transforming men into various animals.

As Ares is now the official ruler of Tartarus, as his consort it is also possible Circe may have some limited control over the dead.

Circe also possesses a magical mirror, often referred to as The Mirror of Circe, that allows anyone holding it to alter their features into that of another. It is considered a forbidden object by the Olympian gods but has been stolen several times and used by Hercules.

Appearances in other media

  • Circe appears in the animated series Justice League Unlimited, appearing in the episode "This Little Piggy." In the show, she liberally displays her powers of transforming humans and other objects into animals, most notably turning Wonder Woman into a pig, and transforming Batman's batarangs into doves. The storyline here is that she was an old enemy of Wonder Woman's mother. Upon being released from imprisonment in Hades, Circe decided to get her revenge against Hippolyta by turning Diana into a pig (one of the terms of her release was that she could not attack Hippolyta directly). She agrees to turn Wonder Woman back after Batman sings "Am I Blue?" in front of an audience. Circe was voiced by Broadway actress Rachel York, who also sings the 1935 hit "Lulu's Back in Town" (music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Al Dubin) in the episode.

See also


External links

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