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|Zara, Priestess of the Crimson Flame|
|First appearance||Comics Cavalcade #5 (Winter 1943)|
|Created by||William Moulton Marston|
Zara, Priestess of the Crimson Flame is a villain who battled the Golden Age Wonder Woman. She was also a member of the super-villain team Villainy Inc. She debuted in Comic Cavalcade #5 and was created by Dr. William Moulton Marston as an example of the follies of misandry and another embodiment of emotionally misaligned women whom Wonder Woman must reform.
Fictional character biography
The past of Zara was that she was an Arab girl and wore belly dancer attire. According to her tales, she was sold into slavery as a child; which created in her an intense hatred of men. Using a flair for pyrotechnics, she eventually created a new religion (The Cult of The Crimson Flame), which had swept the globe. Zara rigged various fire-based effects to dazzle her followers and keep them in thrall to her. After her initial defeat by Wonder Woman, the Cult went underground; and Zara was able to scare up at least one follower to do her bidding when she joined Villainy Inc.
The lovely red-haired high priestess of the mystic Cult of the Crimson Flame, a "new religion" that has begun "sweeping the world". Its symbol is an eerie "crimson flame" that appears out of nowhere at the behest of the high priestess, hanging suspended in midair and inscribing mysterious flaming messages to cow the members of the cult - the so-called "flame slaves" - into abject obedience. Dr. William Moulton Marston assigned the color crimson to represent the inducement emotion that Zara was activating when trying to influence people.
|“||I am the crimson flame of life," intones a grim voice from within the flame,"- I burn within the breasts of all who obey me! Whosoever opposes me shall be consumed!||”|
Anyone daring to oppose the cult falls mysteriously ill and dies soon afterward.
When Helen Armstrong, a U.S. Senator's daughter who has been intimately involved with the flame cult, disappears mysteriously, Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor, Etta Candy, and the Holliday Girls follow her to Arabia, site of the Crystal Temple of the Crimson Flame, the "international headquarters" of Zara and her sinister "flame forces." Ultimately, Wonder Woman and her companions defeat the flame cultists, rescue Helene Armstrong from their clutches, and capture Zara.
|“||I'm an Arab," explains Zara, "-my father sold me as a slave! Oh, how I hated heem! I swore I'd get revenge on men of power! Revenge - that ees my crimson flame!||”|
It was to wreak vengeance on Helene's father that Zara had had her abducted.
The much-feared "crimson flame," confesses Zara, was actually nothing more than "floating, burning, liquid hydrogen," while the voice seeming to speak from inside it was actually an illusion created with movie projector sound equipment.
|“||To destroy enemies," continues Zara, "I put ideas in zair mind, zen zay make zemselves sick, poor fools!||”|
Zara escapes from Transformation Island which works to rehabilitate female criminals along with seven other villainesses and joins them in forming Villainy Incorporated 
Post-Crisis, Zara has been depicted as an Arabian woman and her flame-powers were inborn rather than produced by gadgets (originally, she used a fire-gun). However, Hippolyta referred to her flames as 'scientific trickery.' 
Powers and abilities
Pre-Crisis, she used a fire-gun and rigged effects to appear to have a mastery over flames. Post-Crisis, her powers are internal, but may have been the result of scientific engineering rather than from natural sources (e.g., magic, meta-human, etc.).
- Comics Cavalcade #5 (Winter 1943): "Mystery of the Crimson Flame"
- Wonder Woman #28: "Villainy Incorporated!", "Trap of Crimson Flame", "In the Hands of the Merciless!"
- Wonder Woman: Our Worlds at War #1
- Justice Society of America #43 (November 2010)