Lasso of Truth

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Lasso of Truth

Artwork for the cover of Wonder Woman vol. 2, 186 (Dec, 2002).Prominently featuring the Lasso of Truth. Art by Adam Hughes.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Sensation Comics #6 (December 1941)
Created by William Moulton Marston
In story information
Type Mystic item/artifact, Weapon
Element of stories featuring Wonder Woman

The Lasso of Truth is a fictional weapon wielded by DC Comics superheroine Wonder Woman, Princess Diana of Themyscira.[1] Originally named The Magic Lasso of Aphrodite, it is usually referred to as the Magic Lasso or Golden Lasso and forces anyone it captures to obey and tell the truth.

Origin and influences[edit]

William Moulton Marston created Wonder Woman but he also worked, in the period during and after World War I, on the systolic blood-pressure test while a graduate student in psychology at Harvard University where he earned a Ph.D. in 1921. Blood pressure was one of several elements measured in the polygraph test put together by John Augustus Larson in 1921 though it had been associated with deception since at least 1895, when Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909) invented a device that police used to measure changes in the blood pressure of crime suspects. Marston's wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston, a student at Radcliffe College, apparently played a key role in his research: "According to Marston’s son, it was his mother Elizabeth, Marston’s wife, who suggested to him that 'When she got mad or excited, her blood pressure seemed to climb'".[2] Although Elizabeth is not listed as Marston’s collaborator in his early work, Lamb, Matte (1996), and others refer directly and indirectly to Elizabeth’s work on her husband’s deception research. She also appears in a picture taken in his polygraph laboratory in the 1920s (reproduced in Marston, 1938)."[3][4]

Wonder Woman's Magic Lasso or Golden Lasso was the direct result of their research into emotions.[2][5] So Marston created the Magic Lasso as an allegory for feminine charm and the compliant effect it has on people.

In incorrectly noting the correlation between it and the systolic blood-pressure test, Geoffry Bunn states:

Anyone caught in the lasso found it impossible to lie. And because Wonder Woman used it to extract confessions and compel obedience, the golden lasso was of course nothing less than a lie detector [...] Like the lie detector upon which it was modelled, Wonder Woman's Golden Lasso produced truth - and by implication justice and freedom too - through coercion.[6]

Later uses[edit]

In the post-Crisis George Pérez reboot the Lasso was forged by the god Hephaestus from the Golden Girdle of Gaea that was once worn by Antiope, sister of Hippolyta. It is so strong that not even Hercules can break it and is given to Diana after Hippolyta consults the Goddesses.[7] Later it was retconned that it was given to Wonder Woman just before she left Paradise Island.[8]

Empowered by the Fires of Hestia, the Lasso forces anyone held by it to tell the absolute truth.[1] Furthermore, simple physical contact with the lasso can be enough to have this effect such as when Barbara Ann Minerva attempted to swindle it from Diana, but was forced to confess her intentions when she held the lasso. It is also infinitely long, and can lengthen depending on its user's desire. The fires are said to even be able to cure insanity, as they did in the case of Ares, God of War, when he attempted to incite World War III. He renounced his plan when the lasso showed him that such a war would not only destroy all life on Earth as he wished, but also any potential worshippers he sought to gain from it. The lasso possesses incredible strength and is virtually unbreakable. One story even showed Wonder Woman using the lasso to contain the explosion of two atom bombs. Unable to stop the American bombs that would set off a Russian doomsday machine she wrapped the bombs in her lasso and let the bombs explode.[9] It has easily held beings with tremendous superhuman strength such as Superman, Captain Marvel, who has the strength of Hercules and the Power of Zeus, and Power Girl, as well as gods such as Ares and Heracles. (In several Pre-Crisis stories, it was even capable of binding Wonder Woman herself on the occasions she was caught, sometimes by Gunther.) It is shown that Wonder Woman still has her powers even if bound by the lasso.[10]

The only times it has ever been shown to break was when truth itself was challenged. For example, in JLA the lasso broke when she refused to believe the confession it wrought from Rama Khan of Jarhanpur.[11] Elsewhere, when the backwards-thinking monster Bizarro was caught in Trinity, he was horrified by the very idea of truth. As the antithesis of reason and logic he was able to break the lasso.[12] The fairy tale villainess, Queen of Fables, who has the power to bring any fictional or non-true character to life, and is herself "fictional," had power over the lasso by bringing fictional characters to life and having her non-true minions break it. It is worth noting that Wonder Woman had in fact hoped to win simply by lassoing her and let its powers of truth destroy the fairy tale villain.[13]

The magic lasso has subsequently been shown to produce a wide array of effects. When battling the entity Decay, Wonder Woman used the lasso's link to Gaia, the Greek Goddess of the Earth, as a circuit between the earth and the monster, pumping the entity of death with life-giving energies that destroyed the creature. Diana herself stated that the lasso's connection to Gaea also constantly renews its user with these energies. Wonder Woman has also used it to create a ring of protective fire around people to protect them from Circe's bestiamorphs. The lasso's energies are also shown to be capable of destroying beings forcibly resurrected by the rings of the Black Lantern Corps.[14] As the goddess of truth, Diana also used it to take memories of Donna Troy and restore her to life. In Pre-Crisis comics, the lasso also had the power to effectively control those who were bound within it.

In the mini-comic enclosed with the release of the Kenner Super Powers figure of Wonder Woman, the Amazing Amazon ensnares a mind-controlled Superman with her lasso, preventing him from destroying the Washington Monument. Superman is unable to resist the powers of the lasso as Wonder Woman renders him unconscious. Later, Wonder Woman uses her lasso on Brainiac and commands the villain to release Superman from his mind control.

In later Post-Crisis comics, the power of truth was written as innate to Wonder Woman herself, with the lasso merely a focus of that power. A storyline in the Morrison-era JLA comics by Joe Kelly depicted the lasso as an archetypal manifestation of universal truth, and, once broken (like when Wonder Woman doubted the truth that it was revealing to her because she didn't like it), disrupted the underlying truth of reality itself. With the lasso broken, reality came to be dictated by whatever people believed to be the case, starting with older beliefs and extending to beliefs that were held by various individuals in the present. This resulted in Earth becoming the center of the universe for two weeks, Earth becoming flat for several hours, the moon turning into cheese for a time, Kyle Rayner assuming a Hal Jordan-like appearance (many people still saw Hal as 'the' Green Lantern), and Batman fading in and out of existence due to his 'urban legend' status (meaning that people weren't sure if he even existed). This allegorical interpretation is often ignored in later stories and by much of fandom, as the lasso was long established as magically unable to break, and was never before stated to be the ultimate representation of truth. During her adventures with the Justice League team of superheroes Diana eventually battled a villain named Amazo who was able to duplicate aspects of the lasso for his own use.

During her current tenure as writer for Wonder Woman, Gail Simone has further explored the nature of the Lasso of Truth, describing it as "a deadly weapon, that not only binds you, and follows its mistress’ commands, the damned thing can see into your soul."[15]

This lasso should not be confused with the lasso of the current Wonder Girl, Cassie Sandsmark. That lasso, given to her by Ares, has the power to shock a target with "Zeus' lightning if Cassandra ropes her target and becomes angry with them.[1] Donna Troy also would wields a mystical lasso of her own called the Lasso of Persuasion, which has the ability to persuade anyone within its confines to do Donna's bidding if her willpower is greater than theirs.

Similarly, the character Bizarra also has a magic lasso, the difference being that her lasso forces one to tell lies.[16]

Despite Wonder Woman's lasso is mystical in origin, in Bruce Wayne: The Road Home, shows that Batman apparently has reverse-engineered the Amazo technology, which aids duplicating the lasso's capabilities artificially.

In the Elseworlds tale Red Son, Wonder Woman was subdued and restrained in her own lasso by the Soviet terrorist incarnation of Batman. In order to free herself and rescue Superman from Lex Luthor's deadly red sun lamps, Wonder Woman snapped the cords of her "indestructible" lasso. The shock of the incident appeared to age Diana, leaving her grey-haired, frail, and unable to speak.

Television representations[edit]

Super Friends/Super Powers Team[edit]

In the Super Friends animated series, the lasso possessed the ability to follow the telepathic commands of Wonder Woman, physically moving on its own to accomplish tasks. The ability is never displayed in the comics, although it is hinted that without her tiara, Wonder Woman cannot fully utilize the lasso's ability. In Super Friends, Wonder Woman was typically displayed using the lasso as a tool for accomplishing feats of strength, leaving it unclear to what extent Wonder Woman herself possessed great strength or the lasso itself performed the feats. In addition, its truth-compelling power was used in the Challenge of the Super Friends episode "Sinbad and the Space Pirates". Superman found himself snared by the lasso, but he manages to tie the controlled Wonder Woman as well. In that situation, Superman forces her to confess whether he is her enemy or friend and the truth of her friendship with him forced from Wonder Woman broke the pirates' power over her. This power was also used in The World's Greatest Super Friends episode "Space Knights of Camelon".

On The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, in the episode "The Fear", Wonder Woman suggests using the lasso to get a confession out of one of Scarecrow's victims, though Professor Jonathan Crane (out of costume) warns her against it for fear of trauma.

Live-action TV series[edit]

The lasso features in the live-action Wonder Woman series. In season one the lasso had the power to compel those bound to tell the truth. Beginning with the second season, it also had the power to cause selective amnesia. The lasso appeared to be able to expand and contract, as in the comic books; instead of being a cord of several links at her waist, it is indefinitely longer and sturdier when used to lasso persons or being thrown. In season two, with the updated costume, the lasso is even shorter and more like fabric, and only about twenty feet long, unless used to lasso a person or object. It was significantly longer and heavier when in use.

Justice League[edit]

In the Justice League animated series, the lasso is only used as an exceptionally long, flexible, and unbreakable rope. In Justice League Unlimited however, Wonder Woman's lasso was officially portrayed as being able to compel the truth. This ability was finally unleashed in the episode "The Balance" by Wonder Woman's mother Queen Hippolyta who revealed that Diana had stolen the uniform before being told of its full capabilities. Upon touching the star on the tiara, various parts of the Wonder Woman costume began to temporarily glow such as the tiara, bracelets, belt and lasso. It was after this that Diana discovered that the lasso could compel truth. However, in the series, Diana only used the truth powers of the lasso once, on the demon Abnegazar to learn the location of Felix Faust, an event that occurred in the same episode.

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Wallace, Dan (2008). "Wonder Woman's Magical Weapons". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 93. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5. OCLC 213309017. 
  2. ^ a b Lamb, Marguerite. "Who Was Wonder Woman? Long-ago LAW alumna Elizabeth Marston was the muse who gave us a superheroine." Boston University Alumni Magazine, Fall 2001
  3. ^ "William Moulton Marston, The National Research Council, And Wonder Woman". Books.nap.edu. 1917-10-09. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  4. ^ The Polygraph and Lie Detection, p.292. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  5. ^ The Polygraph and Lie Detection, p.295. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  6. ^ Geoffrey C. Bunn. "The Lie Detector, ''Wonder Woman'' and Liberty: The Life and Works of William Moulton Marston, pp.108 and 112". Hhs.sagepub.com. doi:10.1177/095269519701000105. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  7. ^ Sensation Comics #6
  8. ^ Wonder Woman #1
  9. ^ Wonder Woman Vol. 1 #214
  10. ^ Wonder Woman Vol. 1 #1
  11. ^ JLA #62, (March 2002)
  12. ^ Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity
  13. ^ JLA #47-48
  14. ^ Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1
  15. ^ "Gail Simone: The Rise of the Olympian, the Fall of Wonder Woman". Newsarama.com. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  16. ^ Action Comics #857