The classic origin of Wonder Woman may be a story worthy of the gods, but several villains have found a way to flip it and turn Diana’s birth from clay into a living nightmare.
The current origin story for the Princess of Themyscira may be that she was given life from Zeus, but for decades Wonder Woman had a much different beginning. In the earliest retellings of her origin, it was revealed that her mother, Queen Hippolyta, sculpted a baby out of clay and prayed the gods would give her a child. The gods bestowed life into the Queen of Themyscira’s clay figure, bringing Wonder Woman into the world. Though this was Diana’s classic origin for years, the New 52 gave her a much more streamlined background by having her be a demigod and the daughter of Zeus. Still, the clay figure origin remained a prominent part of her story for years.
In fact, parts of Wonder Woman’s classic origin still make their way into the comics long after it became non-canonical. In Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #3 by Mark Waid and Dan Mora, the demon lord Nezha has begun an assault on the mortal world and is rallying villains everywhere to join his cause. Wonder Woman fights Flash’s most mystical enemy, Doctor Alchemy, who has used his Philosopher’s Stone to turn Diana into a statue made of clay. Interestingly enough, this wouldn’t be the first version of Wonder Woman to meet this sort of fate. In Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman #8, Superman’s backwards doppelgänger Bizarro introduces his version of Wonder Woman. Per the broken logic of Bizarro World, their Wonder Woman began life as a baby who grew up to turn into an “ugly, cheap clay statue.“
It’s honestly hard to take much of what Bizarro says as the truth because the clone of Superman’s logic is extremely flawed. But assuming that he’s 100% serious and that his Wonder Woman was indeed a living being that became a statue, then that’s quite an unsettling scenario. Both Doctor Alchemy and Bizarro have seemingly found a way to take Wonder Woman’s origin and turn it into a terrifying way of defeating her.
The original tale of Wonder Woman’s beginnings is a story of hope and the mercy that the gods can show. It becomes an even better story knowing the sort of hero Diana would one day become. However, it presents an opportunity for the villains Wonder Woman faces to come up with a cruel and ironic way of dispatching her. A child coming to life from clay is a miracle, but slowly being turned into clay is an anxiety-inducing thought. When Diana faced Doctor Alchemy was the transformation instantaneous? Human in one second, a statue the next? Or was it like Bizarro Wonder Woman, slowly turning into clay as her life slowly left? And another unsettling query: Are these statues sentient? Still alive but unable to move or say anything? No matter the answer, any option is genuinely disturbing. She may no longer come from clay, but Wonder Woman’s origin still has a chance of being used against her in the most distressing way.