Themyscira (DC Comics)
A rebuilt and relocated Themyscira as seen in Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #177 (Feb 2002), art by Phil Jimenez.
|Type||City-state / Island country|
|Notable locations||Earth, in the midst of a vast ocean.|
|Notable characters||Wonder Woman
|First appearance||As Paradise Island:
All Star Comics #8
Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #1
Originally known as Paradise Island, it first appeared in All Star Comics #8 (December 1941), and was created by William Moulton Marston to allegorize the safety and security of the home where women thrived apart from the hostile, male-dominated work place. It is governed by Aphrodite's Law, which stated that "Under penalty of death, no Man may set foot on Themyscira."
Themyscira is the theocracy and capital city that serves as the Amazon peoples' government and place of origin for Wonder Woman. The name for the entire archipelago became "The Paradise Islands", when the city was renamed "Themyscira" with the character's February 1987 relaunch in Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #1. Both the island and city are named after the mythological city of Themiscyra, the capital of the Amazon tribe in Greek mythology.
When Wonder Woman's homeland is first introduced in 1941, it is referred to as Paradise Island, a secret and hidden island on Earth inhabited by the Amazons of myth. The Amazons were given a break from the hostilities and temptations of Man's World, and so were decreed to start a new life improving themselves by sequestering themselves to this island away from ancient Greece, after being enslaved by Hercules. With the island blessed by the Olympian Gods, no man was allowed to physically set foot on it. When United States Army intelligence officer Steve Trevor's plane crashes there during World War II, he is nursed back to health just outside of the capital city by Princess Diana, daughter of the island's Queen Hippolyta. Diana later competes against other Amazons to become Wonder Woman, the emissary from Paradise Island who will accompany Steve back to "Man's World" and aid in the fight against the Axis powers. It was established that all Amazons are adept at a discipline called "bullets and bracelets" in which they are able to deflect bullets fired at them using the chain bands on their wrists.
It was originally implied, but not yet fully confirmed, that Paradise Island was located somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Then in the 1970s television incarnation (as portrayed by Lynda Carter), Paradise Island's location was set in the Bermuda Triangle. And the 2009 animated movie version had set it in the Aegean Sea.
Originally, there were three generations of Amazons living on the island, with Princess Diana being from the second.
This basic back-story remains intact throughout the Golden Age and Silver Age of Comic Books, until the 1985–1986 Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline. Upon the conclusion of this limited series, most characters in the DC Comics universe underwent some revamp or retcon in their storyline history, and Wonder Woman was one of several characters whose entire continuity was rebooted.
The 1987 relaunch of Wonder Woman establishes that the Amazons are the reincarnated souls of women slain throughout pre-history by men. Shaped from clay over 3,000 years previous and given new lives by five Olympian goddesses — Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Hestia, and Aphrodite — the Amazons are granted immortality, great physical strength, highly acute senses, beauty, wisdom, and love for one another. They are tasked to teach the merits of virtue, love, and equality to the men of "Patriarch’s World". They have founded the city-state of Themyscira in ancient Greece – Modern day Turkey, which is ruled by sisters Hippolyta and Antiope. Ares, the God of War and a chief opponent of the Amazons, manipulates his half brother Heracles to gather forces and attack Themyscira. Heracles subdues and ravages Hippolyta, and his forces succeed in ransacking Themyscira and making the Amazons their slaves. Hippolyta pleads with the goddesses for help. Athena agrees to aid the Amazons, but only if they do not go against their purpose of creation by seeking revenge. When they agree to her terms, Athena frees the Amazons from their chains. Once freed, however, the Amazons proceed to slaughter most of their captors. Antiope leads a force of Amazons off into Greece, seeking vengeance on Heracles. As decreed by the goddesses, Hippolyta leads the remaining Amazons to a remote island where, as penance for their failures as teachers, they become guardians of Doom’s Doorway, preventing the escape of the monsters beneath. Renaming the island paradise Themyscira after their fallen capital, the Amazons began their new lives, erecting buildings and monuments and perfecting their skills as artisans and warriors.
For centuries, the Amazons of Themyscira live in a perfect state of harmony with their surroundings, under a theocracy. They know no racism, although many consider Antiope's Lost Tribe of Amazons as little more than savages. They do not think in terms of male gender; the word "policeman" is alien to them until Diana’s departure into the outside world. Homosexuality is completely natural to them — while some Amazons are chaste, others have loving consorts. Their city is composed entirely of Greco-Roman architecture from 1200 BCE, and they wear Greek garb, togas, sandals, and period armor. The Amazons also all wear the Bracelets of Submission as constant reminders of their Enslavement and obedience to their patrons, although only Diana is able to deflect bullets with them. They are fervently religious, worshipping their gods as living deities. Artemis is their primary goddess, and they worship her with a sacrifice of a deer. The Amazons celebrate their creation each year in a Feast of Five, remembering the goddesses who brought them to life.
Occasionally, the Nereides bring to the shores of Themyscira young infants who would have otherwise drowned in accidents. Called "sending forth", these infants are tutored spiritually in Amazonian ideals, and they are then sent back mystically to the place of their disappearance. Julia Kapatelis, Diana's first friend in Patriarch’s World, is one such infant.
Themyscira is presently located in the Bermuda Triangle, but possesses the magical ability to teleport to any location or time period its inhabitants desire.
Turmoil and genocide
- Every headline writer who has written volume two of Wonder Woman has depicted Themyscirian slaughter:
- George Pérez – Included Heracles' rape and slaughter of the Amazons, as well as the destruction of the first Bana-Mighdall city.
- William Messner-Loebs – Depicted an Amazon tribal war over Themyscira's ownership.
- John Byrne – Had Darkseid invade Themyscira and kill half the population and turned the remainder to stone.
- Phil Jimenez – Re-introduced the Amazon tribal war over Themyscira's ownership.
- Walt Simonson – Caused a Hydra to turn the Amazons into stone.
- Greg Rucka – Had OMACs kill over half the remaining Amazon population.
- Brian Azzarello – Had Hera transform all the Amazons into snakes and petrify Hippolyta.
- The island(s) can shift its location over both land and time.
Enter Wonder Woman
In recent times, Hippolyta’s daughter Diana, also known as Wonder Woman, has become an ambassador to the outside world. With Diana’s help, the Amazons have opened the shores of Themyscira to dignitaries of "Patriarch’s World". The creatures beneath Doom's Doorway were defeated, and for a time the Amazons destroyed their battle armor as testament to a new period of peace. The Amazons opened up their shores to dignitaries from Patriarch’s world, female and male, but that exchange was almost destroyed by Eris, Goddess of Discord. The Amazons even conducted their own tour of the United States, where they were framed for the murders of several people by Antiope’s descendants, the mercenary assassins of Bana-Mighdall, and Circe. It was during the War of the Gods that the Amazons recrafted their armory, vowing to again become warriors. Circe would transplant many of these mercenary women of Bana-Migdhall, called the Lost Tribe, to Themyscira, where, after warring with the Amazons already there, joined forces to stop Circe herself. The two sects of Amazons forged an uneasy truce, living at opposite ends of the island.
Professor Julia Kapatelis, close friend to Wonder Woman and the Amazons, was later presented with a grant by the National Geographic Society to locate the original Turkish city of Themyscira. Unfortunately Julia had to leave the excavation mid-way through the project once one of her daughter's friends committed suicide. Whether the original city of Themyscira has been fully excavated or not has not been shown.
Later still, Darkseid’s forces ravaged Themyscira during a search to locate the Greek gods, killing nearly half of the Amazons there in the process. As they began rebuilding, the Amazons found themselves reverting to stone. This was as a result of the gods’ departure from the mortal plane, and the Amazons’ connection to their creator beings so diminished as to revert their bodies to their primordial state. With the gods returned to Olympus, the Amazons were again transformed into their flesh and blood state. Yet more Amazons were killed in a confrontation with the demonic entity known as Neron.
With Diana and Hippolyta adventuring in Patriarch’s World as Wonder Woman for longer and longer periods of time, the Banas and the Themyscirans were manipulated into a bloody civil war at the hands of Magala, who had been possessed by the spirit of Antiope’s murderer, Ariadne. Using the pre-existing disdain of the tribes against each other, Magala used allies among both Amazon cities to spark the vengeful conflict. The island was left in ruins, and the war was only stopped when Hippolyta abolished the royal family, renounced her throne.
Left at odds but on even political ground, the Bana Amazons and the Themyscirans joined forces against the alien forces of Imperiex. Themyscira, mystically moved into outer space, was destroyed, and hundreds of Amazons from both tribes died. When Wonder Woman led each tribe of Amazons into an ecumenical prayer, funneling power into the new god Darkseid, the warrior women helped destroy Imperiex and its ally Brainiac 13.
After the island had been destroyed by Imperiex during the Our Worlds at War storyline, Themyscira was rebuilt and relocated, this time to the Bermuda Triangle. Designed by the likes of Julia Kapatelis, the Martian Manhunter, Steve Trevor, Canadian architect Jean Claude Tibet, and Amazon master designer Kaleeza Fashed, the new Themyscira was built with the help of alien technology. Adding to the re-creation of the islands, Themyscira was restored by the combined might of the Greek and Egyptian goddesses the Amazons worship. Transformed into a mighty series of floating islands dedicated to the free exchange of information and ideas, the new Themyscira was governed by members of both tribes of Amazons. After some time Themyscira was nearly destroyed in a jealous fit of rage by the goddess Hera. She was angry that Zeus was magically spying on the bathing form of Artemis via scrying pool and kicked the pool itself. Because of her actions the islands ceased to float in mid-air under their own power and instead resumed being a cluster of traditional islands once more.
Recently, Themyscira was under attack by OMAC forces, as described in DC Comics's Infinite Crisis. Due to this attack, as well as the many various other attacks the island has suffered through since Diana became Wonder Woman, it was decided that the Olympian and Bana-Mighdallian goddesses would transport the island and its inhabitants (sans Diana) to an undisclosed location to live in peace.
One year later
Under the direction of writer Will Pfeifer the Amazons attack Washington D.C. as retaliation for the attack on the island in a six-part mini-series titled Amazons Attack. At the end of the series the Amazons have their memories erased by Granny Goodness (posing as the goddess Athena), and are scattered throughout the world with false personas. Only Hippolyta and four of her original Royal Guard remain on Themyscira. The Queen is exiled to near-empty Themyscira (which had seemingly been sunk and restored during the battle) for her crimes of attacking Man's World, though her actions had been influenced by the evil Circe.
Later, Zeus then revives the Amazons' memories and provides transport for them to return to Themyscira.
Flora and fauna
When the Wonder Woman comic book was first introduced Paradise Island possessed creatures reminiscent of the island country Australia's kangaroos that the Amazons rode like horses called Kangas. Diana's Kanga was named Jumpa. There were also smaller, rabbit-like creatures wandering Paradise Island.
When the comic book was revamped and started anew in the mid-1980s this was scrapped and the island only had common game animals such as deer, wild boar, horses, and fish. The only exotic/mythological creatures on the island were more sinister in nature and existed in Doom's Doorway to the underworld, which the Amazons swore to keep trapped and never to escape. In the waters surrounding Themyscira also lived Naiads and in the forests Dryads who played most of their days away, occasionally with the Amazons.
In 1999 when writer Eric Luke took over the Wonder Woman comic book he had several lost mythical creatures from around the globe take asylum on Themyscira. These creatures consisted of: Chiron the Centaur, a white Pegasus, Ladon the Dragon, a chimera, and a Sphinx.
Then when writer Phil Jimenez wrote the title in the early 2000s he had several dinosaurs from the land of Skartaris also take refuge on Themyscira, in addition to the reappearance of Kangas on the island. To date no Kangas have been seen as riding animals.
The 2007 storyline Amazons Attack! depicted the Amazons as having creatures such as giant Stygen wasps and some domesticated winged horses, large amounts of saddled chimeras, and 3 titan sized ogres. Then in 2007/2008 the Countdown to Final Crisis storyline introduced the then new revelation that the island is protected by a school of Megalodons.
When writer Gail Simone took over the title she showed that Hippolyta cared for griffins in the royal stables. She also introduced the island of Thalarion, the home of Gargareans during the Rise of the Olympian storyline. The Gargareans possessed herds of winged horses similar to Themyscira but also possessed flocks of winged lions as well. Their leader Achilles also has a domesticated battle elephant named Mysia who has two trunks, two mouths, three glowing eyes, an impenetrable hide, and the ability to walk on air. As the Gargareans incorporated themselves among the Amazons of Themyscira it is safe to assume these creatures also reside there.
In other media
In the television movie Wonder Woman (1974) starring actress Cathy Lee Crosby, the island of the Amazons is shown briefly but not named. In line with comic book continuity of the time, the 1975–1979 Lynda Carter television series Wonder Woman did feature Themyscira but it was still called "Paradise Island" instead as Wonder Woman's home in several episodes. It was revealed in "The Feminum Mystique Part 2" (S1E5, 8 November 1976) that Paradise Island is located at 30° 22' N, 64° 47' W. Paradise Island also appeared on the animated television series Challenge of the Super Friends, in the 1978 episode "Secret Origins of the Superfriends", and The All-New Super Friends Hour, in the 1980 episode "Return of Atlantis".
Post-1987, Themyscira appeared in several episodes of the Warner Brothers animated television series Justice League and Justice League Unlimited between 2001 and 2006 as the homeland of Wonder Woman. Themyscira is one of the playable stages in the 2008 video game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, with a number of Amazons appearing in several cut scenes. Themyscira is also a playable stage in the 2013 video game Injustice: Gods Among Us, represented as a mountaintop temple and a port area. The island was mentioned in the Smallville episode "Asylum", in which a newspaper headline reads "Themysciran Queen Addresses the Vatican". The actual island appears in the comic book continuation of the show.
Themyscira is shown in the animated film Justice League: The New Frontier (2008), in which Wonder Woman spars with a fellow Amazon on a beach. Themyscira is shown in the animated film Wonder Woman (2009). Themyscira and its Amazons were also shown prominently in the animated film Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010). Themyscira appears in the 2011 Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Triumverate of Terror!", where the Joker infiltrates the island disguised as an Amazon and kidnaps Wonder Woman.
While not appearing in the animated film Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, it was stated that the Amazons had invaded the United Kingdom and renamed it New Themyscira.
Themyscira makes its theatrical debut in the 2017 film Wonder Woman, with its scenes shot in Craco. In this incarnation of the Wonder Woman mythos, Themyscira is located somewhere in the North Sea, hidden by a divine illusionary barrier put by Zeus.
- "Themyscira pronunciation: How to pronounce Themyscira in English". Forvo.
- Scott Beatty; Alastair Dougall; Robert Greenburger; Daniel Wallace (2008-09-23). The DC Comics Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-7566-4119-1. OCLC 213309017. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #1
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #36 and 41
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #104
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #46
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #142
- Beatty, Scott (November 2003). Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Guide To The Amazon Princess. Dorling Kindersley Publishing. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-0-7894-9616-4.