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  1. #1
    Senior Member Lorendiac's Avatar
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    Default Where did William Marston Moulton think Amazon babies came from?

    Recently, while I was doing a lot of research into the history of the various Amazon tribes of the DCU, I ran across a reference to the idea that Diana's origin as "a clay statue which was magically brought to life to be Hippolyta's daughter" was only inserted into her continuity years after her first appearance in the Golden Age. Some online references actually suggest the "clay statue" bit was only invented by Bob Kanigher for Wonder Woman #105 in 1959 -- definitely getting into "early Silver Age" territory at that point.

    I was curious. Partly because of this, and partly to research other details about Amazon history, I found a reprint of the original debut of Wonder Woman -- from All-Star Comics #8 -- and reread that story for the first time in many years. Sure enough, here are the things Wonder Woman's creator (William Moulton Marston) tells us in that story:

    1. Thousands of years ago, after being enslaved by Hercules and his thugs and then escaping, the Amazons settled down on Paradise Island, and -- acting on strict orders from their patron goddess, Aphrodite -- have remained strictly isolated from the outside world (particularly men) ever since.

    2. Hippolyta's daughter the princess (only renamed "Diana" at the end of this story) wasn't around in those days. She sure doesn't seem to have 3000 years or so of life experience as we meet her -- which means she probably wasn't conceived when her mother was a helpless slave way back when.

    3. Athena and Aphrodite tell Hippolyta that the current world situation (World War II) requires an exception to the ancient rules. One worthy Amazon must be selected in a contest to go out there and help the Allied side of the struggle. This champion will be called "Wonder Woman."

    4. Hippolyta absolutely forbids her daughter to compete in the contest -- therefore, the daughter simply puts on a mask before doing it anyway, and winning! And the rest is history.

    Nowhere in that story is there any trace of an explanation for how Hippolyta can even have a daughter (if the girl is less than 3000 years old, anyway) when every woman on the island has gone for the last 3000 years at a stretch without even seeing any real live men until the day Steve Trevor fell out of the sky.

    Now let's take a quick glance at certain details of a story I've never read in my life, but recently learned about when I was Googling for "Amazon children" and "Paradise Island" to see if anything interesting turned up.

    Sensation Comics #37 was cover-dated January, 1945. It contained a Wonder Woman story which was also written by Moulton himself. There's a listing for it at http://www.dcindexes.com/charlton/st...?storyid=11256

    The listing of characters participating in the story says this was the first (and final) appearance of an Amazon child named "Zoe" and some unnamed peers. The plot summary also says, in part:

    Diana Prince and Steve Trevor deliver presents to the county orphanage. Steve discovers that the superintendent is abusing the children and has him arrested. Meanwhile, two children, Terry and Kitty Killdare, hide inside a trunk which contains presents for the girls on Paradise Island.

    Wonder Woman takes the trunk to her home and is surprised when she finds the children inside. The two orphans are allowed to play with the Amazon children, while Mala repairs the power plant which protects Paradise Island from ships.


    A trunk was meant for "the girls on Paradise Island," and the two orphan stowaways end up playing "with the Amazon children."

    Great -- but just where did these "Amazon children" come from in the first place?

    (And if the answer is "out of the wombs of their Amazon mothers," then that just leads to the further question of "and how did those women become pregnant in the first place?")

    So it appears that we had the following situation on our hands:

    Aphrodite had absolutely, positively ordered her beloved Amazons (right after they escaped from Hercules in ancient times) to never associate with men again.

    Diana seemed young enough that she must have been born or otherwise "created" long after that edict was handed down.

    Several other Amazon women apparently had also produced babies before Diana became Wonder Woman -- or else those Amazon children had some other recent origin.

    This raises a few questions:

    1. Just how seriously did the Golden Age Amazons actually take Aphrodite's edict about avoiding men like the plague?

    2. If they didn't take it seriously, why hadn't Aphrodite noticed she was being defied?

    3. If they always took it seriously, then why were there Amazon children running around on Paradise Island in the 1940s? Did Moulton (or any other Golden Age writer) ever address that point in some story I haven't heard about?
    Last edited by Lorendiac; 07-12-2011 at 09:47 AM.

  2. #2
    Gone
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    In JkCarrier we trust.

    Speak, oh wisest of all posters and let us bathe in the light of your ancient knowledge.

  3. #3
    Bill Everett Fan custodes's Avatar
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    Bill was a lifelong feminist and obsessed with "the truth." Some of those Golden Age stories verge on soft core. With Sorority naughtiness and bondage and spanking and such. Some folks might not know he invented the modern lie detector machine/test. Much like his heroines lasso.

    One imagines they kidnap men and use them for their sexual pleasures and reproductive purposes off Island. Or just ask. Men are dogs. They don't often say no.

  4. #4
    gaze upon the face of war PastePotPete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lorendiac View Post
    Recently, while I was doing a lot of research into the history of the various Amazon tribes of the DCU, I ran across a reference to the idea that Diana's origin as "a clay statue which was magically brought to life to be Hippolyta's daughter" was only inserted into her continuity years after her first appearance in the Golden Age. Some online references actually suggest the "clay statue" bit was only invented by Bob Kanigher for Wonder Woman #105 in 1959 -- definitely getting into "early Silver Age" territory at that point.

    I was curious. Partly because of this, and partly to research other details about Amazon history, I found a reprint of the original debut of Wonder Woman -- from All-Star Comics #8 -- and reread that story for the first time in many years. Sure enough, here are the things Wonder Woman's creator (William Moulton Marston) tells us in that story:

    1. Thousands of years ago, after being enslaved by Hercules and his thugs and then escaping, the Amazons settled down on Paradise Island, and -- acting on strict orders from their patron goddess, Aphrodite -- have remained strictly isolated from the outside world (particularly men) ever since.

    2. Hippolyta's daughter the princess (only renamed "Diana" at the end of this story) wasn't around in those days. She sure doesn't seem to have 3000 years or so of life experience as we meet her -- which means she probably wasn't conceived when her mother was a helpless slave way back when.

    3. Athena and Aphrodite tell Hippolyta that the current world situation (World War II) requires an exception to the ancient rules. One worthy Amazon must be selected in a contest to go out there and help the Allied side of the struggle. This champion will be called "Wonder Woman."

    4. Hippolyta absolutely forbids her daughter to compete in the contest -- therefore, the daughter simply puts on a mask before doing it anyway, and winning! And the rest is history.

    Nowhere in that story is there any trace of an explanation for how Hippolyta can even have a daughter (if the girl is less than 3000 years old, anyway) when every woman on the island has gone for the last 3000 years at a stretch without even seeing any real live men until the day Steve Trevor fell out of the sky.

    Now let's take a quick glance at certain details of a story I've never read in my life, but recently learned about when I was Googling for "Amazon children" and "Paradise Island" to see if anything interesting turned up.

    Sensation Comics #37 was cover-dated January, 1945. It contained a Wonder Woman story which was also written by Moulton himself. There's a listing for it at http://www.dcindexes.com/charlton/st...?storyid=11256

    The listing of characters participating in the story says this was the first (and final) appearance of an Amazon child named "Zoe" and some unnamed peers. The plot summary also says, in part:

    Diana Prince and Steve Trevor deliver presents to the county orphanage. Steve discovers that the superintendent is abusing the children and has him arrested. Meanwhile, two children, Terry and Kitty Killdare, hide inside a trunk which contains presents for the girls on Paradise Island.

    Wonder Woman takes the trunk to her home and is surprised when she finds the children inside. The two orphans are allowed to play with the Amazon children, while Mala repairs the power plant which protects Paradise Island from ships.


    A trunk was meant for "the girls on Paradise Island," and the two orphan stowaways end up playing "with the Amazon children."

    Great -- but just where did these "Amazon children" come from in the first place?

    (And if the answer is "out of the wombs of their Amazon mothers," then that just leads to the further question of "and how did those women become pregnant in the first place?")

    So it appears that we had the following situation on our hands:

    Aphrodite had absolutely, positively ordered her beloved Amazons (right after they escaped from Hercules in ancient times) to never associate with men again.

    Diana seemed young enough that she must have been born or otherwise "created" long after that edict was handed down.

    Several other Amazon women apparently had also produced babies before Diana became Wonder Woman -- or else those Amazon children had some other recent origin.

    This raises a few questions:

    1. Just how seriously did the Golden Age Amazons actually take Aphrodite's edict about avoiding men like the plague?

    2. If they didn't take it seriously, why hadn't Aphrodite noticed she was being defied?

    3. If they always took it seriously, then why were there Amazon children running around on Paradise Island in the 1940s? Did Moulton (or any other Golden Age writer) ever address that point in some story I haven't heard about?
    Short answer: Marston didn't think about it or worry about it.

    Long answer: I think you've got the seed for a great Wonder Woman epic there, Lorendiac! Answering your question could lead to a great story.
    "People don't want questions. They want answers." -- Plato to Socrates, right before he drank the poison

  5. #5
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    The simplest solution is occasionally amazon women pray to have a child and are divinely granted it from any one of a dozen divinities. The next simplest solution is 3000 years of science.

  6. #6
    Bill Everett Fan custodes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmucchiello View Post
    The simplest solution is occasionally amazon women pray to have a child and are divinely granted it from any one of a dozen divinities. The next simplest solution is 3000 years of science.
    Not very mainstream but, should please the sappho element.

  7. #7
    Power with girl is better Powerboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PastePotPete View Post
    Short answer: Marston didn't think about it or worry about it.
    Most likely. Marston was very biblical in that he didn't let things like "Where did these people come from?" take away from the myth he was telling. Also, at the risk of offending, when one looks at how silly the comics were then, continuity errors are the least of it. The clay statue was a nice save later though. I don't know how much if any of the Post-Crisis deal of Diana being beloved as the only child to have grown up on the island has any foreshadowing in the Golden Age.

  8. #8
    Whiz Kids Vs. Witchcraft! tangentman's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that some of the "Amazons" were actually the graduates of Transformation Island. The graduates included notable Amazon convert, Paula Von Gunther. She had a child before undergoing the rigorous Amazon training. It stands to reason that other trainees--who HAD known men--also came to the island with their children.
    Who needs CoTM when you can have a Skullie?

    I am Tangent Man! I do not care!

  9. #9
    Senior Member JKCarrier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lorendiac View Post
    Some online references actually suggest the "clay statue" bit was only invented by Bob Kanigher for Wonder Woman #105 in 1959 -- definitely getting into "early Silver Age" territory at that point.
    The clay statue bit first appeared in Wonder Woman #1, 1942:



    I don't think Marston ever specified where other Amazon kids came from.
    -JKC-
    Glorianna - Barbarian adventure! New page every Friday!

  10. #10
    Olympian Outcast Amazon Fan's Avatar
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    If you include the newspaper strip as part of continuity, Marston used it to explain a lot of things that weren't shown in the comic books. In an early strip that was reprinted in Les Daniels' book, the Amazons are shown asking Aphrodite for children. Her response is "My Amazons desire children. I shall grant their wish." I infer from that that Aphrodite brought a lot of statues to life and gave the baby girls - including Mala, by the way - to the Amazons who wanted them.

    I also think Tangetman's idea about the children of the man's world women being some of the "Amazonettes" (which they were called in Sensation #37) in the later stories is a good one. It's also possible that Wonder Woman brought some orphan girls (war oprhans, maybe) to Paradise Island to be adopted by the Amazons.
    We shall make war as we have lived our lives, as sisters of the bow. And our war shall be the war of Amazons against the race of men.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Seant's Avatar
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    There is a letter written by Marston (perhaps in the Daniels book) where he talks about the things the Wonder Woman origin story has set up, including the baby-making abilities of the Amazons, which the birth of Diana is supposed to demonstrate. So even though Diana's birth is meant to be a miracle, it was also meant to be a regularly-recurring miracle.

    Perhaps he didn't show it so as to take away from the special significance of Diana's birth. She was the star, after all.

  12. #12
    Junior Member jestersjoker's Avatar
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    Marston loved Greek/Roman mythology
    He was fully aware that in mythology that the only time Amazons entertained men was for the purpose of pro-creation.
    He must of known that the act of Hippolyta giving her girdle to Hercules was the same thing as agreeing to having sex with him. And in some circles it symbolized her virginity.
    In Mythology why would the Queen of the Amazons agree to give her girdle to Hercules knowing it was her crown, her authority over the Amazons given to her by her father Ares?
    The only reason Hippolyta would agree to give her girdle was for the purpose of siring a female child and it would have worked out great for both Hercules and Hippolyta if not for the goddess Hera interfering and screwing it up.
    Yes, Marston tweaked mythology and added the clay origin for Diana.
    My guess it was to avoid Diana being labeled a b****** child.
    And in my opinion that’s why Perez put in the caveman story. To make the birth or the clay creation of Diana a legitimate birth. And then he added the brutal rape to justify the clay origin.
    In my eyes it would seem that the people at DC would rather have Hippolyta be brutally raped than have Diana be born a b****** child.
    I think it would have been better if DC would have gone with the Loebs story were the implication is that Hippolyta and Hercules got married and there was no rape.
    This is of course just my opinion
    And just for the record Hercules is a b****** child and the result of the god Zeus raping his mother even if his name means the glory of Hera and even if the goddess Hera suckled him when he was a baby.
    JJ
    Last edited by jestersjoker; 07-12-2011 at 07:13 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Seant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jestersjoker View Post
    Marston loved Greek/Roman mythology
    He was fully aware that in mythology that the only time Amazons entertained men was for the purpose of pro-creation.
    He must of known that the act of Hippolyta giving her girdle to Hercules was the same thing as agreeing to having sex with him. And in some circles it symbolized her virginity.
    In Mythology why would the Queen of the Amazons agree to give her girdle to Hercules knowing it was her crown, her authority over the Amazons given to her by her father Ares?
    The only reason Hippolyta would agree to give her girdle was for the purpose of siring a female child and it would have worked out great for both Hercules and Hippolyta if not for the goddess Hera interfering and screwing it up.
    Yes, Marston tweaked mythology and added the clay origin for Diana.
    My guess it was to avoid Diana being labeled a bastard child.
    And in my opinion that’s why Perez put in the caveman story. To make the birth or the clay creation of Diana a legitimate birth. And then he added the brutal rape to justify the clay origin.
    In my eyes it would seem that the people at DC would rather have Hippolyta be brutally raped than have Diana be born a bastard child.
    I think it would have been better if DC would have gone with the Loebs story were the implication is that Hippolyta and Hercules got married and there was no rape.
    This is of course just my opinion
    And just for the record Hercules is a bastard child and the result of the god Zeus raping his mother even if his name means the glory of Hera and even if the goddess Hera suckled him when he was a baby.
    JJ
    The born from clay origin was told in a flashback, in a scroll Diana drops when she first arrives in man's world. It's possible this is just a legend, like the stork, so that Diana does not know her origins.

    I think Marston knew what he was doing telling the her birth as a story in flashback. It's very evident that Hercules may very well have been Diana's father in the Marston origin, which would account for her superiority above her Amazon sisters. She is the product of both the early mother worship cults in Ancient Greece, as well as the Olympian gods-- a melding of female and male power. In a way, Diana, like Athena, is the offspring of Zeus that was foretold would eventually overtake him.

    Perez is often cited as being more mythologically correct than Marston, for the silly reason that he did not mix and match the Greek and Roman names. But Marston stayed consistent with the myths. In mythology, Hippolyta gave her belt (her virginity) willingly. Her belt was the belt of Aphrodite that made the wearer irresistible. Perez screwed all that up by making Hercules/Herakles a rapist, and inventing the girdle of Gaea, which is supposed to represent who knows what.

    He also told Diana's birth as a fact instead of a story or myth, taking away the possibility that Hercules could be Diana's father.

    It's clear that, in the power and nuance of myth, Perez didn't have the same understanding as Marston.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Lorendiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amazon Fan View Post
    If you include the newspaper strip as part of continuity, Marston used it to explain a lot of things that weren't shown in the comic books. In an early strip that was reprinted in Les Daniels' book, the Amazons are shown asking Aphrodite for children. Her response is "My Amazons desire children. I shall grant their wish." I infer from that that Aphrodite brought a lot of statues to life and gave the baby girls - including Mala, by the way - to the Amazons who wanted them.
    I don't think I'd even realized there ever was a Wonder Woman newspaper comic strip; much less that Moulton had written storylines for such a strip in addition to scripting comic book stories in the last years of his life. And I've never read the Les Daniels book, though I know I've seen it in stores. I'm glad to hear that Moulton did, at some point, attempt to explain the situation he'd created with Amazon kids running around on Paradise Island. I'd suspected he might have done so and I just hadn't found it yet with my Googling.

    Just goes to show what I already knew: My knowledge of Golden Age Wonder Woman lore is still very thin!
    Last edited by Lorendiac; 07-13-2011 at 01:27 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member JKCarrier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seant View Post
    The born from clay origin was told in a flashback, in a scroll Diana drops when she first arrives in man's world. It's possible this is just a legend, like the stork, so that Diana does not know her origins.
    Not exactly; see the scan I posted above. The scroll only tells the general origin of the Amazons; the story of Diana's birth is extra information told directly to the reader.

    I think Marston knew what he was doing telling the her birth as a story in flashback. It's very evident that Hercules may very well have been Diana's father in the Marston origin, which would account for her superiority above her Amazon sisters.
    I think this is a stretch. There's no indication that Diana is that old, and having her strength be inherited (especially from a man) would contradict Marston's themes of female self-empowerment. Her powers were always described as her using physical and mental training to unlock the potential that all women have.
    -JKC-
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