Black Flash

blackflashfilmNot exactly a new character here, but a long-awaited confirmation. At the end of The Flash Season 2, in the episode The Race of His Life, the villainous Zoom ended up prey of the Time Wraiths, and before being dragged into the Speed Force he had his appearance quite changed, with his face reduced to a grinning skull, his mask ripped and his emblem turned white and red. Many fans recognised his new appearance as the one of the Black Flash, the most feared enemy of every Speedster…and according to a recent interview to John Wesley Shipp and Mark Guggenheim they were right, as it’s been confirmed that Zoom, as a punishment for his manipulations, is now forced to serve that very Speed Force he tried to cheat as the Black Flash. In the comics, the Black Flash is not an alias of Zoom, but this makes him only more fearsome, as he is a totally supernatural being. Let’s see together.

The true origins as the creature known as the Black Flash are quite ambiguous. According to most sources, the moment the first human tapped into the Speed Force becoming a Speedster, Death found out that mortals had become faster than she was, and it had become impossible for her to reach them. Everyone must die eventually, and just as she had done with other races, species and categories, she created a new form, one specifically designed to catch the uncatchable Speedsters: the Black Flash, the Grim Reaper who was just as fast as the fastest man alive. According to other sources, the Black Flash was born within the Speed Force and belonged to it: he was the personification of the negative energy that accumulated inside the Speed Force itself, and when someone tapped into the Speed Force using its energy to gain the incredible speed it granted, he was the one who appeared at the end of their lives to claim them, so that they could give back the energy they had been using. blackflashcomics1Being it a way or the other, the appearance of the Black Flash meant death for whoever saw him, hero or villain, as long as they belonged to the Speed Force. It wasn’t necessary that said Speedsters died directly at his hands: he just claimed what belonged to the Speed Force, whether he was the cause of their death or not. When the second Flash, Barry Allen, sacrificed himself to save the Multiverse, the Black Flash was there to take him; when Johnny Quick consumed himself in the effort of stopping his nemesis Savitar, the Black Flash was there as well. He even appeared more than once to Max Mercury, who got close to death many times: any time he risked his life, the veteran hero clearly saw the Black Flash running besides him, trying to take him. He avoided death every time, and as  result the Black Flash stopped chasing him, but it was only a matter of time: the Black Flash eventually caught everyone.

The Black Flash eventually came for the third Flash as well, Wally West: during their first confrontation, the Scarlet Speedster managed to escape him, but upon returning to the Speed Force the Black Flash inadvertently took along Flash’s fiancé, Linda Park. When he returned once again to collect the right person, he froze time for whoever was not connected to the Speed Force, so that he could point his target only…but he found a small army of Speedsters waiting for him nevertheless. Along with Wally West, there were also the first Flash Jay Garrick, Max Mercury and Jesse Quick, who tried to slow the Grim Reaper down to allow Wally to find a way to defeat him. The Black Flash ignored the three heroes just as long as they weren’t a direct hindrance to his hunt, and focused on Flash only: Wally ran away, letting the Black Flash follow him. They were so fast that they travelled through time, but as fast as Wally could run, the Black Flash was always a few steps behind him, never slowing down, never getting tired. Then, finally, the Flash reached his intended destination: the end of time, a limbo in which time as we know it reached its ultimate consumption…the only spot in space-time in which Death had no place nor meaning. Tricked, the Black Flash dissipated, and Wally earned the right to live more than the Speed Force had decided for him. Of blackflashcomics2course, Death could not disappear, and the Black Flash was but an aspect of her: he reformed soon after, ready to resume his duty. When, some years after that episode, Bart Allen became the fourth Flash, and he was ultimately killed by Inertia and her Rogues, the Black Flash was there, “alive” and well, ready to collect the energy of yet another Speedster.

The Black Flash, whether he’s a manifestation of Death or the dark aspect of the Speed Force, is a relentless being who exists only for his hunt. He is just as fast as the Speed Force allows to be (that means something like four times the speed of light), with all the superhuman abilities deriving from super-speed; he also possesses some degree of chronokinesis, as he’s able to freeze time for whoever’s not connected to the Speed Force. With no pity, no remorse, no emotion whatsoever, the Black Flash is unstoppable, immortal, an omen of death for every Speedster, inescapable just as the fate he represents.

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Jervis Tetch (Mad Hatter)

Another classic villain is coming to Gotham this year, as if the many monsters from Arkham Asylum weren’t enough to deal with. Benedict Samuel will be Jervis Tetch, a stage hypnotist who comes to Gotham City to look for his missing sister Alice…and whose personal demons and obsessions will transform him into the lethal Mad Hatter. The Lewis Carroll-based villain already appeared in the Batman 1960s tv series, portrayed by David Wayne in a much more…cartoonish way. In the show, he was a villain with a hypnotic device (the Super-Instant Mesmerizer) integrated in his top hat, a thief obsessed with precious hats. Obviously, his most desired trophy was Batman‘s cowl, which he tried to steal many times. Gotham‘s portrayal will be obviously darker than Batman‘s one, closer to the comics in some disturbing way, and adding an even more disturbing fixation from the Mad Hatter for his sister. Waiting to see Samuel with the top hat in the episode Look into My Eyes, let’s meet the original Tetch.

Jervis Tetch was never a happy child: his sloppy, short-sized and overall ugly appearance alienated the other kids from him, and he grew up pretty much alone. His only friends were his books, and he became particularly fascinated by Lewis Carroll’s works, namely Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass; in particular, he grew fond of the chapter A Mad Tea Party, taking a liking for the Mad Hatter character. Eventually loneliness exacted its toll, and Jervis developed an obsessive-compulsive disorder and a form of psychosis showing in a childish and somewhat playful personality; even growing up, Jervis was still a child inside…but with a growing intellect that made him a genius. At university he studied neural science, and his research granted him a place in Wayne Enterprises the moment he graduated. In Gotham he lived in a boarding house run by a single woman, Ella Littleton, who lived with her teenager daughter, Connie; still quite childish, Jervis got along pretty well with Connie and her friends from high school, and he spent more time with them than with his colleagues. It was during this time that he madhattercomics1invented one of his first mind-controlling machines, a device able to hypnotize any person, making them susceptible to Tetch’s orders. At school, also, Connie became pregnant, and fearing her conservative mother’s reaction she claimed she had been raped by somebody in the baseball team. Distraught, knowing how much Jervis cared about Connie and how much he trusted her, seeing her as some sort of second mother, Ella went to her genius guest, and convinced him that the Gotham Hawks (the highschool baseball team) were “bad kids” who had hurt Connie, and that they had to be punished. Wanting to please Ella, Jervis used his device on one of the players, and forced him to build a pipe bomb and to bring it to the locker which the entire team gathered in: when the bomb exploded, the Gotham Hawks got killed, much to Ella’s pleasure. This first murder made Jervis Tetch cross the final line, and he completely lost his mind, becoming delusional, psychotic, schizophrenic, and even more obsessive.

Losing all bonds with reality, Jervis Tetch modelled his appearance and personality on the ones of the Mad Hatter, his favourite character from Lewis Carroll’s novels. After a series of robberies meant to finance his ongoing researches on hypnotic devices (the first of which, to the detriment of Gotham Yacht Club, put him against Batman for the first time), the Mad Hatter finally found his true purpose, and started descending more and more into folly: like the character he borrowed his appearance from, he developed an obsession with headgear (to the point that he only ate food on which a tiny hat was put), and even built Wonderland, a headquarters resembling Lewis Carroll’s world, a demented fantasy of a madman full of animatronics resembling the books’ characters and paid goons dressed up as anthropomorphic animals. Of course, there was no Mad Hatter without Alice, so Tetch started kidnapping young girls resembling the literary heroine, dressing them up as Carroll’s Alice and forcing them to be the main guests of his “Tea Party“. Whenever he got tired of an “Alice”, or the girl became too rebellious to be submitted with his hypnotic devices, the Mad Hatter either killed her or sold her as a slave on the black market, thus gaining more madhattercomics2money for his inventions. It was following the trails of one of the kidnapped girls that Batman finally located the Mad Hatter and arrested him, freeing his last Alice. Being litterally as mad as a hatter, Jervis Tetch was sent to Arkham Asylum, where he became famous for being one of the most dangerous inmates ever: a moment he was extremely friendly and cooperative, the moment after he was a homicidal maniac ready to slit the throat of whatever nurse, doctor or even fellow prisoner he had at hand. As most of Arkham’s inmates, the Mad Hatter eventually found a way to escape (the first time thanks to Bane‘s all-out assault on the asylum), and took shelter in Hill Mansion, the house of former mayor Hamilton Hill: the villa was deserted, since Hill’s twin sons had been arrested as child molesters. The Mad Hatter transformed Hill Mansion into his new Wonderland, and resumed kidnapping children as guests. He had even found his new Alice: the runaway Barbara Gordon, who seemed to be perfect for the greatest Tea Party ever…

Jervis Tetch is a severely disturbed individual: a scientific genius, he also possesses a borderline personality, he’s extremely childish, violent and unpredictable, he suffers from a serious form of delusional psychosis and more often than not he speaks in rhyme. As the Mad Hatter, he uses his remarkable genius to build mind-controlling devices he disguises as hats: the hat latches onto the intended victim’s head, making it nearly impossible to remove it by force, and is powerful enough to bend also the mind of superhumans; due to his mental illness and his weak and tiny physique, he’s nearly inable to physically confront anyone, so he usually relies on his trademark poison gun or even regular revolvers, and he uses his mind-controlled puppets against his enemies. Manipulative and chaotic, friendly and joyful or sadistic and brutal depending on the mood (that can change in a matter of seconds), the Mad Hatter is just as intelligent as he is deranged…and that says quite a lot.

Herman Alvarez (Shades)

shadesfilmSecond and last bad guy appearing in the Luke Cage trailer is Shades, who’ll be portrayed by Theo Rossi (as you can guess by the name, he’s the goon wearing sunglasses). Not much is known about his role in the show, apart from the fact that he’ll be one of Cottonmouth‘s henchmen; he’s described as “menacing, smooth and manipulative”, a relentless criminal who possesses quite some smartness. If his high-tech glasses aren’t included in the show (and I hope they’re not), it’s hardly imaginable how he could possibly pose a threat to Luke Cage, but he’ll probably be quite dangerous for his allies and friends. In the comics, he surely starts as a villain, but he follows a redemption route that eventually brings him to befriend Cage and to change his life…though it’s quite unlikely he’ll face the same evolution in the tv series. Let’s wait and see. In the meanwhile, here’s Shades.

Herman Alvarez was born in New York City, the son of Dominican immigrants who lived in Harlem. As many other young people, Herman entered a local gang, The Rivals, and because of his habit of always wearing a pair of sunglasses, he became known as “Shades” (to the point that everyone forgot his real name). Still a young man, Shades started seeing a girl, Reina, and the two had a son together, Victor. Being a father wasn’t exactly the top of Shades’ things-to-do list, so he systematically neglected his girlfriend and his son to hang out with his fellow Rivals, especially with his best friend Comanche. The gang also had as members Willis Stryker and Carl Lucas, and due to the first one’s ambition he found himself working for Sonny Caputo, a local mob boss. Shades spent most of his time between petty crimes and gang wars (especially against the “historical” nemesis of The Rivals, The Diablos), until his life of crime exacted its toll, and he was arrested along with Comanche and sent to Seagate Prison. The experience wasn’t exactly the best one in Shades’ or Comanche’s lives, since as many other non-Caucasian detained they became the targets of Billy Bob Rackham, a sadistic and abusive prison guard who made sure they had not a single moment of peace during their detention. After years of shadescomics1tortures and beatings, Rackman was exposed and fired…but this wasn’t enough for Shades and Comanche, and now that their enemy was not a public officer anymore, they wanted to exact their revenge on him. To do so, they broke out of prison, and they followed Rackman back to New York City, where the former guard had become a criminal himself and had been hired to kidnap a nurse, Claire Temple. While following Rackman, the duo met their old friend Carl Lucas, now going by the name Luke Cage, who was protecting Temple, at the time his girlfriend. After dealing with Rackman, Shades and Comanche wanted to reunite the old gang to take over Harlem, and they tried to recruit Cage…but he told them he was going straight now, and refused. The two criminals were arrested soon after, but out of loyalty for their old comrade they didn’t tell the officers he was actually the wanted man Carl Lucas.

Friendship was a thing, business another: when Shades and Comanche escaped once again, they were more than determined to kill their old teammate if he messed with them again. Back to the old neighborhood, Shades and his friend became hired goons for the best offerer, and they often clashed with the Heroes for Hire, the pair composed of Luke Cage and his partner Iron Fist. Of course, the two hoodlums weren’t a match for the HfH…until they were recruited by Ward Meachum, Iron Fist’s wealthy nemesis, who gave them a brand new equipment. Shades received a high-tech visor, which allowed him to shoot highly-destructive laser beams. Taken by surprise, Cage was knocked out by his former friends, but they didn’t kill him, chosing to challenge him to a final confrontation on the George Washington Bridge. This time, however, Cage was prepared, and Iron Fist was with him: together, the shadescomics2two heroes defeated the goons, and even learnt who their employer was…but just before being dragged away by the police, Shades managed to shoot the heroes, throwing them off the bridge. Meachum later freed both Shades and Comanche from prison, and sent them against the Heroes for Hire once again…this time they were defeated for good, as Cage had a building collapse on them. He got out of prison only years after, and this time he found a new job as one of the many guns hired by Viktor Smerdilovisc against the Marvel Knights, a team of urban superheroes composed of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Cloak Dagger, Black WidowMoon Knight and Shang-Chi. Even this time Shades wasn’t lucky, and he got badly defeated, absorbed into Cloak’s Dark Dimension, an alternate realm in which the permanence, even if much shorter, was extremely less pleasurable than the one in Seagate Prison. Once Cloak released him, Shades decided it was time to change life: he cut ties with Comanche, and tried to make up whatever was left of his relationship with his son Victor. It was really time for a new leaf.

Herman Alvarez is a man who had been forced to learn to take care of himself in the most desperate situations, and this made him distrustful, often greedy, but definitely street-smart and resourceful, without a proper moral compass other than self-susteinance (apart from the unusual loyalty that he feels for his friends and comrades). As Shades, he’s an expert hand-to-hand combatant and marksman, and for a time he donned a special visor built at Rand-Meachum Inc. that allowed him to shoot powerful energy blasts (much like an artificial version of Cyclops from the X-Men). More mislead than truly malicious, Shades became a hard man because of a hard life, but he’s still in time to attempt a difficult path to redemption.

Mariah Dillard (Black Mariah)

blackmariahfilmAnother character seen in the recent trailer for Luke Cage is (allegedly) one of the bad guys, and a prominent presence in the show: Mariah Dillard, portrayed by Alfre Woodard (and also by Megan Miller in some flashbacks featuring a younger version). As far as we know, she’s a politician who’s trying to clean up the streets of Harlem, but being also Cottonmouth‘s cousin doesn’t help her at all in doing so. From the description she seems to be a good person, but in the comics we know her as a vicious villain, going by the monicker Black Mariah: the appearance is certainly different, as the tv version is not the giantess we know from the comicbooks, but she may have secret plans on her own nevertheless. Let’s just wait and see: in the meanwhile, as usual, let’s take together a look at the original, massive Black Mariah.

Mariah Dillard was born and raised in New York City, a black woman who refused to lay down and let men decide of her destiny. Characterised by an impressive bulk, Mariah started a personal career in the streets of Harlem, and gathered a number of criminals desperate enough to follow anyone, and scared enough to obey her orders (she personally beat to death anyone who disobeyed, so that part was pretty easy). Mariah’s gang started calling themselves the Ratpack, and they became specialised in a particular kind of robbery. Dillard had managed to put her hands on an old ambulance (and that’s where she earned her nickname “Black Mariah” from, and everybody referred to her with that), and she used them for quite an ingenious sting: whenever somebody died on the streets, intercepting the emergency with the stolen ambulance’s radio, Black Mariah and her men intervened, taking the body on the ambulance and fleeing. They stole whatever valuable was on the bodies, and if they found any keys and ID, they cleaned up the deceased one’s residence blackmariahcomics1immediately after. Later, they disposed of the body, dumping it somewhere. This method brought to the Ratpack a lot of money in an easy and relatively safe way, not bothering with armed fights or police, protected by the fake ambulance that allowed them to come and go completely unchecked. The only problems in the Ratpack were the inner ones, as sometimes some of Black Mariah’s men accused her of “eating their profits” (not without reason), and she usually reacted by killing with her own hands the unfortunate one who tried to have his share. Everything went awry the moment the Ratpack picked up the wrong guy: Frank Jenks, a gambler murdered in the Gem Theater.

Black Mariah did her usual with Jenks, collecting the body and robbing it from everything it had…but the man had a wife (a widow), who hired Luke Cage to find out what had happened to her late husband’s body. Cage used his informant, Flea, who pointed him to the Ratpack’s headquarters. The bulletproof hero was spotted by Black Mariah from afar, and she sent against him all her men…just to see them completely overpowered by Cage. The woman finally decided to take the matter in her own hands, and she personally faced the super-strong hero…finding out that he had some reluctance in hitting a woman. Taking advantage from it, Black Mariah used her impressive strength to actually hurt Cage, until the hero decided he had had enough and that he could made an exception for her. The moment Luke Cage started hitting her back, with much more strength that she could endure, Mariah escaped, trying to run away with a motor boat she had kept for emergency situations. Her massive weight caused the boat to capsize, and she was left floating in the bay…so much for her escape route. Black Mariah was arrested, and spent some time in prison…but she was released soon after, and she moved to Chinatown, trying to start a brand new life. Well, not exactly, as she remained a criminal. She obtained a new kind of drug, called Acid Z, able to send anyone who took in blackmariahcomics2an intoxicating frenzy (and killed them in a matter of hours). She even hired a personal bodyguard, Scimitar, so that she wouldn’t have had problems even from the street heroes…but this time she crossed paths with Iron Fist, who was more than able to defeat Scimitar. Mariah, using both her own strength and some of her drugs, managed to defeat Iron Fist, but the hero was saved by his partner, Luke Cage, and the Heroes for Hire together managed to capture Black Mariah once again. Of course, it was just a matter of time before she got out of prison again…and she surely wasn’t short on ideas on how to resume her activities.

Mariah Dillard is a determined and unscrupolous woman, willing and able to walk on as many corpses as she needs to take care of herself and to obtain the wealth she dreams of. As Black Mariah, she doesn’t possess any superhuman ability, but her strength and durability border inhuman levels (mostly due to her massive bulk and weight), and she’s an accomplished hand-to-hand combatant; she usually fights with a gun and with a pair of poison knitting needles meant to stun and disorient her opponents. Just as fearful as she looks, Black Mariah is a woman who earned the fear and the respect of everyone in a world of men, a crime boss who never shows pity nor reluctance, and who always gets what she wants. Well, almost.

Mercedes Knight (Misty)

mistyknightfilmLet’s get back to Marvel for the awesome, second trailer for Luke Cage (which is coming in a month time). There are some new faces among bad and good guys, and let’s start with the good ones: Misty Knight, portrayed by Simone Missick. In the show, Misty will be a detective from NYPD, working in the Harlem block and doing her best to face the new wave of criminality that hit the area…and to learn more about its unusual bulletproof protector, Luke Cage. In the comics, she started as a police detective as well, but she ended up being something more…and with a totally different kind of uniform. Let’s see together.

Mercedes Knight was born and raised in New York City. Little or nothing is known about her early life, and the only thing we know for sure is that she had always wanted to be a cop, from her very childhood. Once grown up, she entered Police Academy and she graduated with honors. Upon entering the NYPD, it became clear she would have gotten on in her professional life, and she indeed started to rise ranks pretty quickly. As a Lieutenant, “Misty” Knight was partnered with Lt. Rafael Scarfe, an older officer who also became her mentor. Lt. Knight became quite a known figure in the neighborhood, and was responsible for many heroic deeds that earned her many honors as well as many enemies…but also quite a number of friends. One day, in the West Side, Misty intervened in a gang war that had escalated into a gunfight; not only she managed to interrupt the war, arresting some of the responsible, but she even saved the life of a civilian who had been unwillingly involved in the battle, Colleen Wing, a young woman who had just come back from Japan. Alone and with no contacts in town, Colleen saw Misty as the first friendly face in New York, and the two became fast friends, soon becoming inseparable. Misty had just the life she had always dreamt of…and that wasn’t meant to last: during a simple inspection in a bank, the woman found a bomb. With no time to call the specialists, Misty tried to dispose of it herself: her efforts did indeed save all the people in the bank, but the device exploded nevertheless, taking away her right arm. Scarfe saved mistyknightcomics1her, applied an emergency bandage and brought her to the nearest hospital, never leaving her side until she recovered. When she woke up, Misty was one arm short, she had been given yet another medal, but she had been suspended from active duty and given a desk job. That wasn’t exactly what she meant with “To protect and serve”, so she eventually left NYPD…but a surprise was still waiting for her. Among the people she had saved in the bank there was Tony Stark, who had noticed her heroism, and had decided to reward her by building for her a bionic arm based on Batron Strucker‘s Satan Claw. Quite unexpectedly, Misty Knight had once again two functioning arms.

In the following days, while in Hong Kong with Colleen, Misty found herself allying with her friend to take down a criminal, Emil Vachon. This gave an idea to the two girls, and after Vachon was brought down, they came back to New York, and together they opened a private investigation business: Knightwing Restorations, Ltd., dealing with cases nobody else wanted to solve. Misty and Colleen soon made quite a name for themselves in the city, but popularity also brought notoriety, and some old enemies from Colleen’s past came back knocking to her door…well, sort of, as the Cult of Khali actually broke into her house trying to kidnap her and her family. Colleen rushed in, and repelled some of the invaders…but she even mistook the masked hero Iron Fist for one of the cultists, and she engaged him in battle. She was overpowered and knocked out, but when she woke up, the hero had solved the situation: the two became fast friends, and even something more, as they started a relationship soon after their first meeting. The cooperation between Misty and Danny Rand proved to be a precious one, as the hero helped her once again in rescuing Colleen, this time from the warlord Master Khan: together with Rafe, Misty Knight and Iron Fist defeated Khan and his minions, the Sorel brothers Ravager and Radion, saving her friend. Back home, Misty returned the favor, helping Danny in taking back his family company. It was when D.A. Blake Tower enlisted Misty to infiltrate mistyknightcomics2in Bushmaster‘s gang that she finally met Luke Cage, the one who would have become Iron Fist’s partner in the Heroes for Hire. It was also during this mission that, fighting against the Steel Serpent along with HfH and Spider-Man, Misty and Colleen received the nickname Daughters of the Dragon, a sarcastic moniker that they liked and decided to keep. Often helping the Heroes for Hire, Nelson and Murdock Attorney’s at Law or even NYPD, the Daughters of the Dragon became vital in New York’s crime-fighting, and Misty Knight found out she could do a lot of good even without a badge.

Misty Knight is a proud and strong-willed woman, firmly dedicated to protecting people since her childhood, and with a strong sense of responsibility. A skilled martial artist trained by masters such as Iron Fist and Shang-Chi, she’s also a superb driver and a trained marksman; her bionic arm, built by Stark Industries, gives her a limited superhuman strength (as well as remarkable durability and stamina limited to her right arm), which she mostly uses in steel-strong grips; the updated version of her arm, built in diamonds and Vibranium rather than steel, is able to generate a repulsor beam, a small force field, ice-blasts, an autonomous magnetic field and some sort of concussive blast; it also allows Misty to interact with advanced tech. With or without a badge, Misty Knight is a tireless heroine, who fights for justice in any way possible to her…but who considers a rich check quite a good incentive for doing so.

Epione

epionefilmIn the last trailer for Wonder Woman there was also another character, very briefly seen as she seems to be tending to Diana‘s wounds: that’s Epione, who’ll be portrayed by Eleanor Matsuura. We don’t know much of her role in the upcoming movie, apart of course from the fact that she’ll be an Amazon, and that she’ll be one of Wonder Woman‘s earliest friends and companions on Themyscira. Actually, it’s more than likely that most of the Amazons will be just cameos in the film, and Epione might not be an exception to that…especially considering that even in the comics she’s quite a secondary character. Let’s see together.

As all Amazons, Epione was born the moment some goddesses from Olympus (AphroditeArtemisHestiaAthena and Demeter) decided to create a new spawn of demigods able to protect the world from the ongoing and spreading wars. Collecting the souls of the women who had been murdered by men over history, the goddessesses created for them new superhuman bodies using the mystical clay from the bottom of the Aegean Sea, giving birth to the ultimate messengers of peace, the Amazons. Epione was among the most influent Amazons, as she was the chief healer: she loyally followed Queen Hippolyta in her quest to save the world from men’s violence, and she kindly tended to the wounded ones the Amazons found on their way; while her sisters also used violence when it was necessary, Epione brought relief, solace and healing, tending to both the innocents and the enemies, spreading the Amazons’ way of life in the world as best as she could. Then, the machinations of the god Ares forced the Amazons to abandon their active mission in the world, and they founded the city of Themyscira, an independent nation that stood on an island, acting as a ray of light in the darkness. In epionecomics1Themyscira, Epione was confirmed with her title, and she was entrusted with the care and administration of the Island of Healing, a secured place in which she could follow her patients at the best of her possibilities, not only curing them, but also granting them a time of peace and relax, away from the others as long as they fully recovered. Just as she had brought her arts in the world while the Amazons walked it, now Epione did the same for her sisters in the utopian city they had built. But that would have not lasted long as it was.

Epione was among the ones captured, chained and repeatedly raped by Hercules, Theseus and their men, an army Themyscira had given shelter and hospitality to. Thanks to the intervention of Athena, the Amazons managed to have their lives spared, but the city had been destroyed, and the scars were hard to forget. Painfully, Epione witnessed to the first Amazonian civil war, which ended in a schism: Hippolyta’s sister Antiope gave up on the way of peace, and decided to lead a group of rogue Amazons to Athens to exact her revenge on the invaders; Hippolyta banished her own sister and whoever chose to follow her, so that Themyscira’s population decreased drastically. Epione was given a choice as well, but she chose to stand by Hippolyta’s side, as she firmly believed in the original purpose and vocation of the Amazons to bring peace, understanding and empathy to the world, rather than vengeance and destruction. In the following years she helped her sisters in rebuilding Themyscira, obviously putting a particular effort in the Island of Healing. She also helped the ones who were still suffering from the wounds and the humiliations suffered during Hercules’ invasion to accept, control and eventually erase all the pain and the anger that the episode had brought along. A moment of happiness arrived when Hippolyta was rewarded with a daughter, Diana, who was kind of adopted by the entire community. Epione taught Diana part of her knowledge…and even became her “accomplish”, the moment a epionecomics2man, Steve Trevor, came ashore on Themyscira, obviously needing some medical attention after crashing with his plane. She would have supported her in resuming Amazons’ peace mission in the outside world, trying to quel Hippolyta’s worries in the meanwhile, working for making Themyscira a beacon of hope for mankind once again.

Epione is a gentle and kind soul, whose very existence is dedicated to lessening the pain of others. As an Amazon, she possesses superhuman strength, speed, durability, stamina and reflexes, and she’s a skilled fighter with virtually any weapon, but she rarely uses violence, preferring her role as a healer. As the chief healer of Themyscira, she’s able to cure virtually any wound of both body and soul, and even to dissolve certain evil incantations (it was her who cured Hippolyta from the spell Circe had cast upon her). More than anyone else, Epione lives the Amazons’ original purpose of bringing peace and healing to a war-thorn world, and she tries her best to live up to that mission every day of her life.

Etta Candy

ettacandyfilmAlso a new trailer for Wonder Woman has been released, and there’s a couple of new characters to speak about. The first one will most likely be the movie’s comic relief, as the quick exchange of lines between her and Princess Diana hints: she’s Etta Candy, portrayed by Lucy Davis, the overweight secretary of Steve Trevor who’ll become one of the Amazon‘s best friends. The character already appeared in the 1970s tv series, portrayed by Beatrice Colen: they changed her appearance, believing it wasn’t nice to make fun of a woman’s weight…so they made her the usual dumb secretary, this time working for General Phil Blankenship, as apparently mocking somebody for her stupidity is more acceptable than doing the same for her bulk. She returned in the unlucky 2011 pilot, this time in a more modern version, an African-American woman working directly for Diana, portrayed by Tracie Thoms, but she didn’t get her chance to shine. Now, since the character finally made it to the big screen, let’s take a look at the original Etta (multiple realities ahead).

The first Etta Candy was the young daughter of Hard Candy and his wife, Sugar Candy, the owners of the Bar-L Ranch in Brazos CountyTexas. She grew up with her brother, Mint Candy, and as the family name imply, she was very fond of candies since her childhood. She first met Wonder Woman during a period of depression, during which she had become a scrawny, skinny girl, cured in a hospital. The two became fast friends, and Etta found in the Amazon a reason for putting herself back together. She resumed her original, plump appearance, and she joined the Holiday College, becoming the most popular girl and the de facto leader of the Beta Lambda sorority; she even led her sisters, called the Holiday Girls, to war, aiding her friend Wonder Woman against the Nazis (she even raided a concentration camp on her own, freeing a number of children). She also found a boyfriend, Oscar Sweetgulper, who was from time to time involved in her crazy adventures. The Earth-2 version had a similar ettacandycomics1background, but she was pretty invisible during the college years; after graduation, she entered U.S. Army as the secretary of General Phil Darnell. She was even promoted Lieutenant, and she welcomed the new Major, Diana Prince, who also became her new roommate. Etta didn’t know it, but Diana Prince was the secret identity of her old super-friend, Wonder Woman, and once again she found herself involved in many incredible adventures (she even visited Hell, only to be saved by Wonder Woman and Etrigan the Demon). Always a candy lover, this time she had a different boyfriend, a nerdish and clumsy boy named Howard Huckaby, whom she loved very much. Along with Diana and her boyfriend Steve Trevor, the four became the closest of friends, and between the Army and Wonder Woman’s mystical background they shared a number of adventures. Then, Chrisis on Infinite Earths arrived, and both Earth-1 and Earth-2 Etta Candy were wiped away.

In New Earth, Etta Candy had lost much of her family background and her college years, and even her physique was totally different, being now more athletic. Etta joined the Air Force as a career officer, and was a valued member of General John Hillary‘s staff. She worked in Hanscom Air Force Base along with Captain Steve Trevor. In a plot from the Greek god Ares, Steve Trevor was framed in the attempt of causing a third (and definitive) world war involving Themyscira. Etta was the only one among her colleagues who believed in Steve’s innocence, to the point that she decided to break him out of prison: luckily enough, there was somebody else aware of Ares’ machinations, his nemesis Wonder Woman, and the Amazon helped Etta free Steve. The three of them, now ettacandycomics2fugitives, went on the run, trying to expose Ares as well as avoiding the Army, still on their trails. During this adventure, Etta and Steve realised they actually loved each other, and they started a relationship. The alliance with Wonder Woman paid out, and Steve Trevor was eventually cleaned from all charges. Back to a regular life, she had time to develop her relation with Steve, and the two of them eventually got engaged…and this was when Etta’s weight problems resurfaced. Although she was not as fat as her previous incarnations were, she still had some pounds on her, and she was quite sensitive about it. Wanting to lose weight for her incoming marriage, she started a “diet” (more similar to a “fasting”, actually), and she managed to lost about 20 pounds…but at a dire cost for her health. Albeit she hid her problems from her friends, things eventually came out while she was out with Diana/Wonder Woman for buying her wedding dress: while trying a gown on, she simply fainted, consumed by her forced fasting. Diana had a long talk with her, and managed to convince her to come back to a proper diet, and Etta regained her original weight…but she also had gained a brand new self-confidence, and she could go to the altar with her beloved Steve Trevor without regrets. After the marriage, Trevor retired, and Etta took his place as a Captain in Hillary’s office. A whole new life was waiting for her, and she was finally ready for it.

Etta Candy, in each and every version, is a lively and strong-willed woman, who hides a deep insecurity deriving from her eccessive weight. Being a military officer (ranked Lt. Colonel) and an A.R.G.U.S. operative, she’s a trained marksman and hand-to-hand combatant, but it’s quite rare for her to use violence, as she usually prefers working for the intelligence. Fiercely loyal to her friends, and to her beloved husband, Etta is a formidable ally and an unexpectedly fearsome adversary, a surely funny and sympathetic young woman, but with an iron-hard determination and an unbendable bravery.