SPOILER ALERT: The below feature contains spoilers from the Trial of the Amazons comic book event. But you should be reading that before Artemis: Wanted anyway!
The Trial of the Amazons has adjourned, and a culprit has been identified. The murder of Hippolyta, first queen of the Amazon people, was committed by the warrior Artemis of the Bana-Mighdall. When finally accused of this crime, Artemis freely confessed, but kept her reasons to herself—reasons that are explored in Artemis: Wanted, a new one-shot comic in stores this week. Knowing Artemis’s history, we can perhaps imagine a few reasons. But before you read this aftermath to the trial of the year, perhaps it’s time to get better acquainted with the scrappiest member of Wonder Woman’s retinue. This, in short, is the history of Artemis.
Before we address Artemis of Bana-Mighdall (a character who you’ll often find addressed that way to distinguish her from, for instance, Artemis Crock), we should first explain what a Bana-Mighdall is. First and foremost, a pronunciation guide: the “Mighdall” is pronounced like “My Doll,” as opposed to “Mig Doll.” You’re welcome.
The Bana-Mighdall tribe was created during the Wonder Woman tenure of George Perez, demonstrating how his influence on the Wonder Woman mythology is still felt to this day. Millennia ago, before they settled on Paradise Island, the Amazon people were ruled by two sister queens: Hippolyta and Antiope. But when treachery by the demigod Herakles on his mission to steal Hippolyta’s girdle sowed chaos and tragedy within their camp, the Amazons split into two parties: one which remained loyal to the Gods of Olympus despite Herakles and one who would no longer take orders from a capricious pantheon which would bless them with one hand and damn them with another. The first group made their home on Themyscira and in the process became the society of Amazons familiar to most Wonder Woman fans. The other remained in man’s world to make their own fate. They eventually settled in Egypt, founding their own city, which they dubbed “Bana-Mighdall,” or “The Temple of Women.”
Much drama and tragedy follows from there, but suffice to say that the Bana-Mighdall, Artemis included, have plenty of reason to hold Hippolyta accountable for the division that resulted in their hardships and disillusionment with the gods. Perhaps in Trial of the Amazons, the prospect of Hippolyta’s Amazons regaining control of the entire recollected Amazon tribes was reason enough for Artemis to strike against her.
The Other Wonder Woman
The Bana-Mighdall mythology may have been crafted by Perez, but it was William Messner-Loebs and Mike Deodato who introduced Artemis herself twenty-eight years ago, in Wonder Woman #90.
We first meet Artemis as a claimant to the title of Wonder Woman, when Hippolyta holds a contest to determine whether her daughter remains worthy of bearing the standard as champion of the Amazons. With a decisive victory for the Bana-Mighdall tribe, Artemis manages to defeat her rival, and becomes Wonder Woman herself…for a short time. Just a few issues into her tenure, the ersatz Wonder Woman was killed in battle with the fallen hero sorcerer the White Magician.
Artemis was never aware, however, that the entire affair had been a trap laid for her by Hippolyta herself. Prior to the contest, Queen Hippolyta experienced a vision that Wonder Woman would soon be killed. And so, she arranged a rigged competition to ensure her daughter would not hold the title when that moment came. The knowledge that Hippolyta was responsible for this treachery may not have been grounds for her murder, but it certainly couldn’t have helped.
Princess of Hell
You might think that death would be the end of Artemis’s story…if you had never read a comic book before.
It continues in the miniseries Artemis: Requiem, where we find her petrothed to Dalkriig-Hath, one of the thirteen princes of Hell. Through cunning and sheer combative spirit, Artemis slays her husband and returns to the surface world of her own accord, dedicating her second lease on life to hunting demons and ensuring the horrors she in Hell would never lay claim to the mortal world above. Ironically, Artemis had now accepted of her own volition the same task which the gods had assigned to the Themysciran Amazons millennia ago, over which their people had splintered. The fates have a sense of humor that way.
After working alongside Wonder Woman and her allies on a few occasions, Artemis joins her people on Themyscira, where the Bana-Mighdall had found refuge after the destruction of their own city. As tensions mount between in Wonder Woman #169, Artemis is appointed Shim’Tar of the Bana-Mighdall—a chief warrior equal in status to the Themysciran Amazons’ own Wonder Woman. As Shim’Tar, Artemis helps settle what would be a bloody civil war between sisters and finds herself co-ruler of Paradise Island alongside the Themyscirans’ General Philippus when Hippolyta herself steps down.
Artemis went through many trials in her official capacity as an Amazon leader, but all of that was lost to the events of Flashpoint, where even the memory of the Bana-Mighdall was lost to history. The tribe would return after a five-year absence at the start of Rebirth, this time with a new signature weapon: a giant battleaxe which returns to her when called. (She calls it “Mistress.”) In the 2016 volume of Red Hood and the Outlaws, Artemis traces a Bana-Mighdall artifact, the Bow of Ra, to cross-purposes with a wayward Jason Todd and a well-intentioned Bizarro clone. The unlikely dynamics of this “Dark Trinity” lasted only a couple years, but we’ll be seeing more of them together very soon in their own WebToon series.
After parting ways with Red Hood and Bizarro, Artemis rejoined her people just long enough for a journey to Themyscira to determine proper leadership and management of the responsibilities of Death’s Door, the gate to Tartarus which the Amazons are held responsible for protecting. It was at the very start of these deliberations that Artemis, apparently, poisoned Queen Hippolyta and ended her life. What happens from here is something you’ll have to learn for yourself by picking up Artemis: Wanted.
We’re, uh, sure she had a perfectly good reason.
Artemis: Wanted #1 by Vita Ayala, Skylar Patridge and Romulo Fajardo Jr. is now available in print and as a digital comic book.
Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly “Ask the Question” column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.