When William Moulton Marston introduced the Amazons in 1941, he brought several new women to the pages of comics - all of whom were as powerful as any of the male heroes of the day. Amazons, secluded on their island home away from the rest of the world, spent much of their days training in different forms of combat, so in addition to being naturally gifted, they also knew just how to use that power.
The Amazons, all possess super strength, enhanced intelligence, and above average speed. There are a few different areas that all Amazons are particularly proficient in as well. In addition to typical hand-to-hand combat, those who live in Themyscira also learn to become experts in sword fighting, archery, and more. “Lost tribes” in other areas of the world might even learn additional fighting styles. The Amazons of Themyscira even compete in a series of challenges to see who among them can hold the mantle of Wonder Woman, though one particular lady has held it more often than most.
When everyone in Themyscira is capable of holding their own against the heaviest hitters in DC, the competition for most powerful is fierce! Check out the 16 Most Powerful Amazons in DC Comics.
17 Mercy Graves and Hope Taya
Superman fans will recognize these two, though you might not have known the duo were actually Amazons. In the New 52 version of the Man of Steel's comics, Lex Luthor introduces Mercy and Hope as such to Superman, and Circe even recognizes them as Amazons without being told. The exact nature of their Amazon heritage isn’t clear in their comic book appearances (whether they were born on Themyscira, are members of a lost tribe, or something else), but the two are definitely far from Themyscira, which means they are not immortal, but they still have a serious set of skills.
Mercy and Hope are much stronger than the average human, and both excel in hand-to-hand combat. While Mercy Graves has extensive firearms training and is the more powerful of the two, Hope is more level headed and able to keep her composure in a fight. In fact, Hope turns on Lex Luthor during his presidency, while Mercy sticks by his side. Both later regret sticking up for the “bad guy," though. Hope winds up in witness protection and Mercy attempts a stint as a hero for a while. We don’t get to see a ton of what they can do, but if Lex Luthor trusts them to protect him from Superman, you know they’ve got to be powerful.
Phthia is one of the few women to make the list who wasn’t actually born an Amazon. She was actually the daughter of a woman named Hypsipyle and Jason of Jason and the Argonauts fame. She and her mother led a difficult life when Jason abandoned them, but were told their suffering would be over if they returned to their original home with a warrior queen by their side. So, they set out to track down an Amazon, and ended up aligning with Antiope. Following the death of Hypsipyle, Antiope adopted Phthia and made her the heir apparent to her lost tribe of Amazons, the Bana-Mighdall.
Not being born into Amazonian heritage means that there weren’t any special abilities in her genetic makeup, but that didn’t prevent her from being a fierce warrior. Phthia trained in the art of war under Antiope, and after her adopted mother died, she set out to avenge her death. She led the Bana-Mighdall in a life of war, dying of old age rather than in the midst of battle, proving that she was just as tough as the natural born Amazons she fought alongside.
If the name Dalma doesn’t sound familiar, don’t worry, you’re probably not alone. The character only appeared in a single comic book, called Comic Cavalcade for the #12 issue. A one-off appearance in 1945 isn’t going to spark most modern comic book readers’ memories, though a character did share the name in the 1970s television series. There, Dalma appeared as a servant to Amazon Queen Hippolyta for a few episodes of the series. Her comic book character was a little different, though, as she actually went up against Wonder Woman in a boxing ring.
When Diana returned to Paradise Island and shared movies of her time in “man’s world,” Dalma was so jealous of her experiences that she incited a riot and escaped while everyone was distracted. She tried her hand at becoming famous by taking on the world’s best boxers in the ring, eventually fighting Wonder Woman, whom she was actually able to punch clear across the room, since she wasn’t wearing her bracelets of submission, which dampened her strength.
Dalma was also able to temporarily overcome Wonder Woman and had a plan to free the other rebellious Amazons from the island, but eventually, Diana was able to save the day.
Diana isn’t the only Amazon to take up the mantle of Wonder Woman over the years. The society holds a contest on their island home to see who the fiercest warrior is, and it’s the winner who gets to wear the costume and wield the Lasso of Truth in the comics. Following Diana’s tenure as the character for more than 30 years in the comics, Orana finally bested her in a 1978 issue. Like Diana, she trained in hand-to-hand combat and practiced deflecting bullets with her bracelets. She could also glide on air currents and jump to huge heights.
When she gets the better of Diana in the contest, the Amazonian princess notes that Orana isn’t actually as skilled as some of the others in the fight, but that Orana uses pure brute strength to get the job done. This is proven true later on, as Orana has a difficult time adjusting to the role of Wonder Woman out in the world, and she’s killed when she isn’t able to deflect a bullet in time.
Orana will actually make her big screen debut in Wonder Woman. Stunt performer Mayling Ng confirmed via her Instagram that her character’s name in the film is Orana, though whether we’ll see her striving to become Wonder Woman in the movie or not remains to be seen.
Second-in-command to the queen of the Amazons, Philippus is the one left in charge when Hippolyta heads out into the world of man. Philippus is also the one entrusted with training the new generation of Amazons, including Princess Diana. All those skills Wonder Woman possesses are courtesy of Philippus’ training.
Philippus was introduced in the comics as a lieutenant assisting with the guarding of Doom’s Doorway. She witnessed her commander sacrifice herself in order to seal the doorway, and that had a profound effect on her, compelling her to give her all in every aspect of her training, allowing her to rise through the ranks until she became Captain of the Royal Guard and Hippolyta’s most trusted advisor. She is often the person the queen turns to when she needs Amazons led into battle, but also the one Hippolyta is most willing to talk through her troubles with.
The character will be brought to life on the big screen by Ann Ogbomo, though no images of her have yet been released.
A blacksmith on Themyscira, Io was close with Princess Diana before she became the island’s champion. She had a crush on the princess, though Diana was in a relationship with another Amazon at the time. Io isn’t painted as simply a love interest or a skilled craftswoman in the newest Wonder Woman comic book series, however. She’s also a fearsome fighter.
When Hippolyta calls for a contest to find Themyscira’s new champion after Steve Trevor crashes on their island home, Io is one of the many Amazons who competes with Diana for the title. While readers don’t get to see much of the competition, what is shown appears to be an all-out brawl, and Io is one of the final Amazons left standing. It’s only when she has to deflect a bullet with her bracelets that she is shown to not be quite as skilled as Diana.
There have been multiple characters to have the name Mala in Wonder Woman comics, but the one we'll discuss here is actually the first to use the name -- and one of the first Amazons ever introduced. Mala was one of the Amazons present in All-Star Comics #8 when Diana sees Steve Trevor’s plane in the water. She helps Diana rescue him and nurse him back to health. Mala is also one of Diana’s closest friends and goes on to run the prison on Reform Island, a part of Paradise Island where Amazons, and a few foes, are rehabilitated.
Mala has also come very close to being Wonder Woman herself. Not only was she one of the finalists when Diana competed for the honor (masked, so that her mother wouldn’t know), but she was also one of the finalists when another Amazon named Artemis won the honor. She is nearly as proficient as some of the most skilled warriors, though not quite as strong on the battlefield.
Earth One’s Mala even won the honor of being Wonder Woman when Diana was serving as Queen in her mother’s absence.
10 Tender Mercy
Tender Mercy might not be a name familiar to a lot of comic book readers since she only appeared in three issues of Justice League of America, but she was certainly a formidable opponent for the team.
Tender Mercy was a member of the Bana-Mighdall tribe of Amazons, one of those who had left Themyscira behind and, consequently, was no longer immortal. Doctor Impossible appealed to her wish for immortality, promising to make her a goddess if she worked for him. Tender Mercy ended up going against members of the Justice League as a result, and she held her own against the likes of Donna Troy, proving that there was some serious power under her colorful costume.
Unfortunately for her, Tender Mercy’s story came to an end when it was revealed that she was actually recruited for a team that was going to resurrect Darkseid. When the team opened a door to the multiverse, it wasn’t Darkseid who came through, but Omega Man, who killed her on sight.
Artemis, like Tender Mercy, didn’t make her home on Themyscira. Instead, she was a member of the Bana-Mighdall tribe of Amazons in Egypt as well, though she did wind up on Paradise Island. Members of the Bana-Mighdall end up making their home on Themyscira for a time after Circe tricks them into moving against the Amazons, and both groups wind up in an alternate dimension.
It’s while the two groups are sharing Themyscira that Hippolyta hears news of a vision of Wonder Woman being killed in battle. She decides that someone other than Diana needs to take up the mantle and issues a new contest. It’s Artemis who comes out on top and enters the world of man as a fearsome champion of the Amazons, though many of Diana’s allies don’t particularly like her.
After being killed in battle, Artemis finds herself in Tartarus, a part of the underworld reserved for the souls of the damned. She manages to defeat those who rule and return to the world of the living on her own, making her one heck of an Amazon.
Artemis is coming to the big screen this summer, where she'll be played by Ann Wolfe. Wolfe will be making her acting debut in the role, though no official images of her in Amazonian garb have been revealed.
In the early versions of the Wonder Woman stories, Antiope was a high ranking official on Paradise Island, one who often offered a counterpoint to Hippolyta’s point of view. In later versions, however, Antiope is her sister, one who often shared the duties of ruling with her sibling.
When the Amazons were enslaved by Hercules and his men, Antiope desperately wanted revenge. Though Hippolyta promised Athena that the Amazons would never seek such violent actions out, Antiope broke away, taking a group of Amazons with her, to do just that. As a result, the group lost their immortality and founded their own tribe in Egypt, the Bana-Mighdall, which Antiope led.
Antiope trained her tribe in the ways of war, and they became a bloodthirsty group, always ready for combat. Her specialties were in hand-to-hand combat and swordplay, where she could outmatch almost anyone thanks to her superior skill and strength. She and her tribe came into conflict with the women of Themyscira multiple times over the years, but they were ultimately welcomed as fellow Amazons.
Robin Wright is bringing her to life on the big screen for Wonder Woman, though her character is set to be a little different, since she’s Diana’s trainer this time around.
Amazon Queen Hippolyta is often shown governing and advising, not fighting, in the comics, so when she has the chance to show her abilities, readers take notice.
In one time travelling story arc, Hippolyta actually found herself in the past and in the position of taking up the mantle of Wonder Girl, one usually reserved for one of Diana’s “little sisters.” Not only that, but Hippolyta took on bad guys as Wonder Woman herself, working with the Justice League and other heroes. When needed, Hippolyta is willing to don the Wonder Woman suit and toss around the Lasso of Truth, though it’s rare that she has to. It also tends to create conflict with many who don’t want a “part-time queen.”
Despite being royalty and being entrusted to rule the island of Themyscira by most of the other Amazons, Hippolyta gets edged out for the top spot by four of her Amazonian sisters, thanks to all of them having a few extra abilities that make them more powerful.
Connie Nielsen stars as Hippolyta in Wonder Woman, and if the trailers are anything to go by, fans might just get to see her in battle as well.
6 Lois Lane
That’s right, even Lois Lane got to be an Amazon. At least, she did in one reality. In this particular corner of the multiverse, Lois wasn’t one of the good guys. She was her world’s version of Wonder Woman, except that she killed every other Amazon so that she was the only one left.
Using the codename Superwoman, Lois wore all black, and she took no prisoners as part of the Crime Syndicate of America on Earth-three. She didn’t always stick to her own Earth either, since she was intent on gaining more power and more money. She has most of the same abilities readers will recognize for Amazons in the normal continuity - super strength, agility, and intelligence, to name a few. Her lasso can do more than force truth from someone, however; it can also change shape to whatever she wills. She also happens to be immune to Wonder Woman using her Lasso of Truth on her.
Despite her considerable skills, she was defeated by both Wonder Woman and Black Canary on separate Earths. Even her excitement at getting to go up against another Amazon - Donna Troy - was short lived, as she was ultimately defeated in the fight.
Nu'bia initially emerged in Wonder Woman comics in 1973 as, well, another Wonder Woman. The story went that Hippolyta, when she created Diana out of clay, used light clay for her and darker clay for a second daughter. That second daughter, Nubia, was kidnapped, and placed under mind control by an enemy, but she had all the same abilities as Diana. After Crisis on Infinite Earths, that history was wiped out and Nu’bia emerged.
Nu’bia was Wonder Woman before Diana became the champion of Themyscira. She was charged with guarding Doom’s Doorway to the underworld, but from the inside. Having been there so long, she fell in love with someone who lived in the underworld. Her adventures also included her getting an ability from the Gorgons - the ability to turn her enemies to stone. Her path has crossed with Diana during some strange times, including when Diana was pursuing an enemy in Las Vegas, but she hasn’t been in the comics since returning to the underworld after retrieving the stolen heart of her slain lover.
Long story short: Diana kinda sorta has a sister.
The most recent origin story for the Amazons involves the goddesses granting women who had been killed by men a new lease on life. The Amazons were pulled from the well of souls and given Themyscira as a new home. Megala claimed to be the first woman ever killed by a man, and as a result, one of the first souls in the well the goddesses chose for Themyscira. Magala wasn’t just an Amazon, but a powerful sorceress.
Magala didn’t have the same stature or youthful appearance that her Amazon sisters had, and as a result, she chose to keep herself sheltered from them, only emerging from her secluded home when she was called. Magala spent her solitary existence studying magic and sorcery, mastering some of the arts. She was so skilled that she was able to make a playmate for young Diana from a mystical mirror. (That playmate became Donna Troy.) She also had visions of what was to come, which she reported to Hippolyta, aiding the Queen in governing the Amazons.
Her power didn’t keep her alive forever, though. In fact, her seclusion meant that no one on Themyscira knew she was dead until the villains Circe and Ariadne were using her body to take over the island.
3 Donna Troy
In addition to being created with a magical mirror to be Donna’s little sister, Donna Troy also has another origin story: being created from clay by another sorceress to replace Hippolyta and Diana as Queen of Themyscira. In both instances, her abilities were comparable to that of her sister and fellow Amazons.
Donna has super strength, endurance, and above average intelligence. She also has an empathic connection to other Amazons and Themyscira itself. Some of her storylines have involved her sensing trouble on the island when everyone else is looking the other way, including knowing that there was more to Circe’s plan to take over Themyscira than just the Bana-Mighdall attacking the Amazons.
In both versions of her story, Donna can also use air currents to glide, like flying, and she’s highly capable with her own bracelets and lasso. She’s worked as a superhero under the names Wonder Girl, Troia, and even Wonder Woman. That said, she doesn't quite measure up to Diana.
Could any other Amazon land the top spot? Diana is the most well known of the band of warrior women, thanks to her long-running comic book title and being a member of such groups as the Justice League, the Department of Metahuman Affairs, the White Lantern Corps, the Female Furies, and the Star Sapphire Corps.
Just like every Amazon, Diana was extensively trained in hand-to-hand combat, sword fighting, archery, and has super strength. She’s also got plenty of abilities that are all her own, however, like being able to understand and speak any known language as well as mimic people’s voices. She can also communicate with animals, she possesses enhanced senses, accelerated healing, superior stamina and endurance, and she can use air currents to propel herself in flight. She is also a skilled pilot, and if she concentrates hard enough while meditating, she can literally travel through dimensions. Unlike other Amazons, she’s outright mastered deflecting bullets with her bracelets, and Diana often uses her own tiara as a weapon.
Wonder Woman has appeared across multiple comic book universes, animated series, and television shows, and she made her theatrical debut in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Wonder Woman will be the first time she gets a solo live-action film, where she’ll again be played by Gal Gadot. Thankfully, the movie measures up to the hero.
1 Honorable Mentions: Supergirl, Starfire, And More!
Typically, an Amazon is someone born on the island of Themyscira (granted as a gift from the gods, created supernaturally, or a reborn warrior woman, depending on the origin story), but there are quite a few people in DC Comics who have been granted Honorary Amazon status by the women of Paradise Island. These are heroes who have lived and trained amongst the Amazons and learned their way of life.
In one version of Supergirl’s story, Kara needed a little help adjusting when she first made her way to Earth. She took refuge on Themyscira, where she learned how to use her abilities to their full potential. Likewise, Starfire of Teen Titans fame was looking for refuge on Earth after her own planet was destroyed, and she was welcomed on Themyscira, where she learned about the Amazons and trained with them.
Helena Kosmatos was granted the abilities of the mythical creatures the Furies to take revenge on Nazis who invaded her Greek village. She ended up becoming a hero named Fury, and later, a villain influenced by Ariadne. She was trained by Hippolyta during her heroic years.
Lyla Michaels AKA Harbinger was raised to be able to see into all aspects of the multiverse by The Monitor. Following a time reset, Lyla didn’t go back to her old life. Instead, she lived and trained with the Amazons, even helping Supergirl when she came to Themyscira. She became the island’s official historian.
How did we do? Did the most powerful of Amazons end up at the top of the list? Or do you think we left someone out? Let us know in the comments!
Don’t forget to see these warrior women in action when Wonder Woman hits the big screen on June 2nd, 2017.