The Wonder Woman Comics Behind the DCU Series PARADISE LOST
One of the more intriguing projects James Gunn announced for his new DCU is a series called Paradise Lost, a sort of Game of Thrones-style series about the political turmoil in the Amazon nation of Themyscira. This show would take place centuries before Wonder Woman and will certainly feature a ton of other wonder women. And it seems the series is at least named after a Wonder Woman storyline from two decades ago—a story about an Amazon civil war. But before we get into that story, let’s get into the comic history of the two ancient tribes of warrior women at the heart of the comic storyline Paradise Lost.
The Bloody History of Wonder Woman’s Amazons
In the George Perez Wonder Woman 1980s reboot, they explored the history of the Amazons in detail. Perez’s top-to-bottom reimagining revealed that the Amazon tribe were all the reincarnations of women whose lives were cut short by the brutality of men. The Greek Gods granted these souls new life as Amazon warriors, emerging fully formed in adult bodies from the clay beneath the sea. This occurred roughly 3,000 years ago. The Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman film actually depicts a version of this in the history lesson Queen Hippolyta gave young Diana.
Heracles, the son of Zeus, was jealous of these warrior women, and had them enslaved. (This is a story straight from Greek mythology). The misogynistic demigod betrayed Hippolyta, stealing her gods-given golden girdle. Begging her gods to set her free, she led her people in a bloody revolt against him, vowing never to become enslaved again. But they disappointed their Gods, who thought the Amazons were foolish to ever let their guard down in the first place. They bestowed a penance on the Amazons; to wear their slave bracelets forever as a reminder, and to exile themselves from humanity.
One Amazon Tribe Becomes Two
But not all the Amazons agreed with this ruling. They abandoned their bracelets and refused to go to the island refuge. Hippolyta’s sister, Antiope, led these Amazons. The rebellious Amazon warrior took half the tribe with her, while her sister led the other half to the island of Themyscira. There, they would remain immortal as long as they remained on the island. But Antiope’s tribe lost their immortality when they forsook the gods and their divine orders. They then disappeared. It would be years into the Perez run of Wonder Woman before we discovered their ultimate fate.
An Uneasy Amazon Alliance
We eventually learned that Antiope’s tribe settled in Egypt, where they withdrew and became hostile toward mankind. They were still fierce warriors, and often traded weapons with outside tribes. They kept all female children and raised them, and gave up the males. They settled into a city they named Bana-Mighdall, which translated into “Temple of Women.” They remained in that city for centuries. In the modern era, they were referred to simply as the Bana, and became enemies of Wonder Woman. Eventually, the witch Circe transported all the Banas to Themyscira, and transported the whole island of Amazons into a demon dimension.
In this demon dimension, time moved differently. A whole decade passed, and the two tribes of Amazons, once enemies, joined forces to fight the demonic hordes. It was an uneasy alliance, but they eventually succeeded. When Themyscira returned to Earth, the Banas lived in their own section of the island, while Hippolyta’s Amazons lived separately. But from the get-go, the Themysciran Amazons treated them like second-class citizens.
Centuries of tradition separated the two cultures, and the Bana viewed the original Amazons as relics. Meanwhile, the original Amazons viewed the Banas as barbarians. This uneasy peace didn’t last long. Especially when one of the Banas, Artemis, became the new Wonder Woman after a grueling contest. The Banas learned Hippolyta gave her the title because she had a vision that Wonder Woman would die in an upcoming battle, and wanted to spare her daughter Diana. That didn’t help relations.
When Two Tribes Go To War
In the 2002 storyline, writer/artist Phil Jimenez united with Wonder Woman legend George Perez for a special two-part story about an Amazon civil war. Called Paradise Lost, it saw tensions rise between the two tribes to a fever pitch. This was despite a romantic relationship developing between two Amazons from rival tribes. Queen Hippolyta continued to neglect her new citizens, instead preferring to adventure with the Justice Society of America.
Secret forces on the island with long-held grudges stoked tension between the two tribes, and finally, blood was shed. This resulted in a full-scale war. The Themysciran Amazons were the more skilled warrior faction, but the Banas were adept at using modern weapons. It was only when Hippolyta renounced the monarchy and instituted a ruling council with representatives from both tribes that a lasting peace occurred, bringing about a new unified Amazon culture.
The Amazon Civil War in the DCU
How will this story influence the HBO Max series Paradise Lost? Well, for starters, the key difference is that there won’t be a Wonder Woman in this story. This new version takes place thousands of years prior to the birth of Diana. But we have a feeling that the show will reveal the existence of the Bana-Mighdall. In the movie, Antiope, played by Robin Wright, remained with her sister Hippolyta—unlike in the comics.
But that doesn’t mean she never founded another tribe of warrior women before rejoining her sister in exile. In fact, the Amazon civil war, and the manipulations leading to it, could draw inspiration from the Jimenez/Perez storyline. Of course, we know that in the films, Hippolyta never renounced the throne, so that’s another major detail that will be different. But with the upcoming Flash movie, DC Studios will reset a lot of history. Maybe the Amazons will be far more different from what we remember in this new DCU reality. Only the Gods of Olympus know. And for now, they’re not talking.