Fausta Grables

Time now for the last character appearing in Wonder Woman (unless someone makes me notice another one I missed), this time a regular human being. When Diana tries to infiltrate Erich Ludendorff‘s party, she steals the dress of a German woman who has a regular invitation: she’s Fausta Grables, portrayed by Rachel Pickup. Grables became famous thanks to Lynda Day George‘s portrayal in the Wonder Woman tv series, where she succesfully captures Wonder Woman and brings her to Germany for studies. In her homecountry, Wonder Woman realizes she’s underestimated and mistreated by her male superiors, so the heroine obtain her alliance by appealing to their common gender. In the comics, Fausta is a loyal Nazi spy, a mistress of disguise and a worthy adversary of Wonder Woman from Earth-Two: let’s see together.

Fausta Grables was born in Switzerland from an unknown family. Pretty much nothing is known about her early life, apart from the fact that, when Adolf Hitler took power in Germany, she welcomed with enthusiasm his idea of an Anschluss, the Nazi project of reuniting all the German-speaking people under the flag of the newborn Third ReichAustria was soon annexed to Germany, but Switzerland always remained out of the Reich’s reach. This wasn’t such a problem for Fausta, who moved to Germany and offered her services to the Nazis. Fausta was quite underestimated by the Nazi officers for being a woman, but she managed to convince them that what to them seemed to be a handicap was actually her gratest strength: nobody considered a woman a menace, men barely noticed her, so she could be the perfect spy for the Reich. This was enough to convince the officers, and Grables trained hard to become a human chameleon, able to disguise herself as whoever she wanted. Hitler in person was informed of Fausta’s amazing transforming skills, and he decided to assign her with an extremely delicate mission, which he saw pivotal in winning World War II: he sent her to the United States of America, where she would have learnt as much as she could on Wonder Woman, the American heroine who was putting his army to shame, and capture her. Fausta considered this mission a honor, and she accepted it without the slightest hesitation. She arrived behind enemy lines thanks to the many Nazi spies already in the States, and she stole the identity of Rora Blank, a news reporter working for The Daily Tab. In her new guise, it took little to her to isolate the two people from the US Army who had had more contacts with Wonder Woman since the beginning of the war: Lt. Col. Steve Trevor and his secretary, Diana Prince. Without further ado, she obtained an appointment with them, pretending to be wrighting an article about Wonder Woman.

Making herself completely identical to the real Rora Blank, Fausta presented herself to Trevor and Prince, and started making questions about their relationship with Wonder Woman; Diana was plainly suspicious, and didn’t say anything, but before she could warn Trevor of her doubts he had already told “Rora” about the Mental Radio he used to contact Wonder Woman. As soon as she realised Diana was calling The Daily Tab to confirm Rora Blank’s story, Fausta thanked Trevor and went away, ready to organize a trap. Knowing that Trevor could summon the heroine with a simple thought, Grables trapped the officer in a locked room, quickly filling it with gas; as she had forseen, Wonder Woman came to the rescue, and as soon as she was in the house Fausta activated steel doors to trap her as well, waiting for the gas to work. Unfortunately, the spy had tragically underestimated her opponent’s strenght, and Wonder Woman destroyed the steel door, freeing both herself and Trevor. After that insuccess, Fausta was summoned by the Council of Axis Chiefs, and her failure wasn’t met happily by her bosses: pleading for a second chance, Fausta obtained it, and she immediately put herself to work to set another trap for the heroine. Intercepting Steve Trevor’s phone, Fausta learnt that Wonder Woman used to spend the night at Diana Prince’s place, and she spied on the woman until she was out of her house; then, she sneaked in and she searched the place, eventually finding what she was looking for: Wonder Woman’s costume and weapons. She stole them, then she presented herself to an Army benefit show under the guise of the strongwoman Masked Marvel, wearing Wonder Woman’s garment under another costume. When she spotted Trevor and Prince in the crowd, she staged a series of fake strength displays with magnetic devices, then she pretended to be attacked by a tamed bear, Bruin, who slashed through her costume…revealing Wonder Woman’s dress underneath it. Now, Fausta had just to wait for her two victims to warn their friend Wonder Woman of what was happening, then she would have used the unbreakable Lasso of Truth to kidnap the heroine: there was no flaw in her plan, this time…

Fausta Grables is a clever and unscrupolous woman, totally devoted to the values of the Third Reich. As a Nazi spy, she’s a master of disguise, able to steal the identity of anyone, imitating the looks and voice of any woman; she’s also a great tactician, whose intricate plans can put in difficulty also a superhuman foe like Wonder Woman. With a marvelous brain loyal to the wrong cause, Fausta Grables is a remarkable threat to the US, a woman who’s eager to prove to her enemies and superiors alike that she can outsmart anyone, men included.


Donna Hinckley Stacy Troy (Wonder Girl)

wondergirlfilmThe penultimate character from Brick89‘s request is quite a tough lady, who unfortunately received only one (unfaithful) live action adaption despite her popularity: Wonder Girl, the sidekick of Wonder Woman (and later heroine on her own). Debra Winger portrayed the character in the Wonder Woman tv series, but instead of having Donna Troy take the mantle of the young heroine as in the comics, they created DrusillaDiana‘s little sister and second daughter of Hippolyta. At first, Drusilla arrives to America to urge Diana to come back to Paradise Island, but she’s involved in a misadventure involving Nazi spies, and she stays (at least for a couple of episodes) to fight evil as Wonder Girl at her sister’s side. In the comics, her origins are quite different, and she doesn’t make such a mess during her first mission. Let’s see together the first steps of a heroine who grows up to become one of the greatest female heroes of DC Comics.

The first version of Donna Troy was a simple human, an orphan who saw her mother die of cancer, and who later suffered another major tragedy when the orphanage she grew up in burnt to ashes. She was found by the heroine Wonder Woman, who took pity in the girl and grew fond of her: wanting to offer her a family, Wonder Woman took Donna to Paradise Island, and made her a honorary Amazon. Thanks to the futuristic Purple Rays Donna was given powers nearly identical to an Amazon’s ones, and she spent years training in the many arts of Paradise Island, including the art of war. When she was finally ready, she joined her mentor in her quest in protecting Men’s World as Wonder Girl, basically the teenager version of Wonder Woman. This, however, was the happy part of her story: after Chrisis on Infinite Earths, her past was completely rewritten. She was actually born in Themyscira, but not as a human, not even as a regular Amazon: Princess Diana was sad and lonely, since she was the only child on the island, so when she was twelve years old, the sorceress Megala created a magic mirror for her. When Diana looked into the mirror, a fragment of her soul was absorbed by it, creating a magic duplicate of the princess who wondergirlcomics1could be her friend, so that the kid didn’t feel lonely anymore: Donna was born. Being a duplicate of the original, the resemblance between the two girls was striking, and even Megala had problems telling the two of them apart. The girls played on this resemblance, but this proved to be Donna’s downfall as well: an old enemy of Hippolyta, the Dark Angel, wanted to abduct Diana in revenge against her nemesis, but she took the wrong girl, and kidnapped Donna instead. The evil sorceress vented all her cruelty on the baby, and cursed her to live through many lives, each one of them would have ended up in tragedy: she knew a mother’s greatest pain is to know her child is suffering, thus she inflicted the greatest pain she could conceive on the one she believed to be Hippolyta’s daughter. Donna began her personal trip to hell.

Every time Donna reached the lowest point of her life, Dark Angel appeared, made her remember all of her past lives (and sufferings), then erased from the world’s memory her current life, making her start a new one, in a sadistic neverending cycle. After being born several times, Donna came into the world again as the daughter of Dorothy Hinckley, a single mother who was mortally ill. Just before dying, Dorothy gave her daughter into adoption, and Donna was taken in by Carl and Faye Stacy, who raised her as their own. Tragedy struck once again, as Carl Stacy suddenly died in an accident at work. Unable to raise Donna on her own, Faye gave her in adoption once again, but it’s unclear if the girl was taken by another family or if she was put into an orphanage. The only thing she remembered from this part of her life was a fire that destroyed the place she had learnt to call “home” and that killed the people she regarded as family. She was miraculously saved by Rhea, a Titan and  the ancient Goddess of Earth: compassionate and caring, Rhea brought Donna to New Cronus, where the Titans resided, and made Donna one of her Titan Seeds, children from all around the universe she had saved from certain death. Each Seed was named after a place that used to worship Titans, and Donna received the name “Troy”, in homage to the city that ruled on the Bosphorus in ancient times. Rhea raised the Seeds as her own children, preparing them to become gods among gods, but when they reached adolescence she sent them back to their original planets, with their memory of New Cronus erased, until, after developing in their own environment, they were ready to come back as experienced and wise gods. When wondergirlcomics2she turned thirteen, Donna was sent back to Earth, where she grew up once again experiencing being sent from foster family to foster family. With her body reaching maturity, however, both her Amazonian heritage and Rhea’s blessing emerged, and she found out she had superpowers. Adopting the name Wonder Girl, she used her abilities to help people, so that nobody would experience her same pain: along with other teenager heroes, Robin, Speedy and Aqualad, she founded the Teen Titans, a “junior Justice League“, thus strenghtening her commitment in making the world a better place…until a curse she didn’t remember of exacted his toll once again, obviously.

Donna Troy is a young woman forged by the pain she endured during her childhood, who managed to turn her suffering into compassion, her grief into empathy; she uses her strength to protect others, and albeit passionate she always tries to help. As Wonder Girl, she possesses Amazonian strength, speed, durability, stamina, agility and reflexes, she heals quickly from physical wounds and she can fly; being Wonder Woman’s duplicate, she also shares a psychic bond with her; she’s been trained in the art of war, and she’s a superb hand-to-hand combatant, a weapon master and a skilled tactician; she fights with her Lasso of Persuasion, that forces anyone touching it to do what she demands, and the Amazonian Bracelets of Submission, nearly indestructible. Molded more by her personal tragedies than by the fires of battle, Wonder Girl lives a neverending cycle of loss, abandonment and loneliness, but she always tries to rise above her defeats, alone or with her loyal friends.

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.

Stephen Rockwell Trevor

Steve TrevorThe very first footage from the upcoming Wonder Woman movie has been released, and despite it doesn’t show much, we get a very brief look at the heroine’s love interest, Steve Trevor, who’ll be portrayed by Chris Pine. In the film, Trevor will be an officer during World War I, and he’ll accompany Wonder Woman in her (still unknown) mission. The character is an essential part of the Amazon‘s mythology, and he appeared in every live action portrayal of Wonder Woman: in the 1974 tv-movie he was Diana Prince‘s superior officer, portrayed by Kaz Garas, and albeit he was clearly smitten by the woman, their relationship was never explored. In the 1970s tv series there were two Steve Trevor(s), father and son, both portrayed by Lyle Waggoner: the first one helped Wonder Woman hunting Nazis throughout World War II, while the second one assisted her during the Cold War. Last (and least), Justin Bruening had a brief cameo as Trevor in the unlucky 2011 pilot. In the comics, Steve Trevor’s history is quite complicated because of the many continuity-reboot the DC Universe suffered, but let’s try to make it easier and to see who this heroic soldier (who more often than not plays the role of the “damsel in distress” for Wonder Woman) is.

Stephen Rockwell Trevor knew the Army since his very childhood, as he was born the son of veteran Lt. Ulysses Trevor and his wife, the legendary pilot Diana Rockwell. Steve lived all his early life in Enid, Oklahoma, and he grew up admiring his mother, her bravery and her skills, dreaming upon her stories from the war times. He decided that, as a grown up, he would have become a pilot just as good as she was. When Steve was seven years old, however, the experimental jet Diana was testing crashed, and she was believed dead by the mission’s supervisors (she had actually crash-landed in the mystical island of Themyscira, but she died nevertheless, helping the local Amazons to repel an invasion). This tragic accident only increased Steve’s desires to become a pilot, and when he came of age he enlisted in the U.S. Army, he graduated with maximum grades in the academy, joined the Air Force and climbed the ranks until he became Colonel. Incredibly skilled as a pilot, Trevor became one of the most prized and acclaimed officers in the Army, thus realising his childhood dream and paying to his mother the best tribute he could. At this point of the story, there are two (main) versions diverging. In the first one, settled during the 1940s, Colonel Trevor was among the first officers sent to Europe to fight the Nazis, and he became a war hero stevetrevorcomics1with his plane. He served under General Phil Darnell, and he fought all over the Old Continent with the enemy’s aces of aviation. During a particularly heated battle on the Mediterranean Sea, Trevor’s plane was shot down, forcing the pilot to an emergency landing on a nearby island…Paradise Island, land of the Amazons. The plane crash-landed at sea, and it began to sink with Trevor still inside. Luckily enough, a couple of Amazons witnessed the incident: they were Diana, princess of the island, and her best friend Mala. The two women dove and saved Trevor from certain death, bringing him to the Amazon doctors who, thanks to the island’s superior technology, were able to nurse him back to health. Being a man, however, Steve couldn’t stay on the island, and Queen Hippolyta organised a contest to decide who would have brought the Colonel back to his world…a contest that Diana, already in love with the beautiful stranger, won. Diana became the heroine Wonder Woman to hide among the humans, and brought Trevor back to the United States with her Invisible Jet…and then she decided to stay at the side of the man she loved.

In what she called Man’s World, Diana found a job as General Darnell’s secretary, so that she could be with Steve…even if he didn’t recognize her as the Amazon who had saved his life. Trevor, meanwhile, had fallen in love with the newest heroine around, Wonder Woman, and the two began a romantic story…that often put the Colonel in danger, as he was often kidnapped or attacked by the Amazon’s enemies, such as Giganta or Gundra the Valkyrie. This version of Steve Trevor ended up marrying Wonder Woman, and the two of them even had a daughter, Lyta Trevor, who grew up to become the superheroine Fury. As it often happens, this first Steve Trevor was erased from existence along with this Wonder Woman and Lyta. The new Steve Trevor had the same backstory, but he lived in a more contemporary age. After becoming a Colonel, Trevor entered the service of General Sam Tolliver, who got tricked by Ares, the Greek God of War, to send an attack on Themyscira, the land of his mortal enemies the Amazons. Experienced Colonel Trevor was the one chosen to carpet-bomb the hostile island: once stevetrevorcomics2above Themyscira, however, Trevor realised that the island was inhabited mostly by civilians, and that it wasn’t the dangerous terrorist base the General had told him it to be. He tried to abort the mission, but the copilot, a minion of Ares in disguise, disobeyed his order, and tried to bomb Themyscira nevertheless. The two fought for a while, until the plane crash-landed on the island as a result. The old soldier was found on the shore by Diana, who decided to help him because of the “insignia” he had on his jacket (it was actually the American flag, but after Diana Rockwell helped the Amazons fight the monster Cottus, it was taken by the Amazons as a symbol of the heroine). Diana nursed Trevor back to health, and when he came back to his senses, the Colonel warned the Amazons of the approaching threat, and he even helped them fight against Ares and his minions, both human and supernatural ones. The battle for Themyscira was won, and Steve Trevor formed a close (yet platonic) friendship with Diana, who he cooperated many times with from there on. Back in the States, Trevor quit the Army and set up his own private aviation firm helped by his aide, Etta Candy. He even entered politics, becoming Deputy Secretary of Defense, and he eventually married Etta. Of course, his life would have crossed the Amazons’ ones many, many other times.

Steve Trevor is a determined and strong-willed man, a war hero who distinguishes himself for bravery and charisma. Trevor is one of the most skilled pilots at the Air Force’s disposal, and he’s also a proficient hand-to-hand and armed combatant, a 360-degrees soldier who never walks out of a battle…at least as long as the battle in question is a rightful one. Guided by strong morals, Trevor never fights for fight’s sake, and he follows his conscience even in the midst of a battle…a trait that has earned him the trust of all the Amazons, and the admiration of their princess Diana.

Winslow Percival Schott (Toyman)

Winslow SchottTime for another major character appearing in Supergirl trailer: in the show, Kara Danvers will be friends with a programmer, a coworker at CatCo, who will help her with her heroic identity by providing her technical advices (as well as costume and cape). He’s Winslow “Win” Schott, portrayed by Jeremy Jordan, another well known character to the readers. Schott is better known as the supervillain Toyman, and has appeared in a variety of tv shows, albeit he seldomly preserved his secret identity as well: in Wonder Woman, his real name was changed to Orlich Hoffman, portrayed by Frank Gorshin, and he was a robotic engineer who built deadly toys to defeat the Amazon. In Superboy, he was renamed Nick Knack and portrayed by Gilbert Goddfried, while in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman he was split into two characters: first Winslow Schott, portrayed by Sherman Hemsley, a man who created a toy able to make adults act like children; when Schott turned good, he was replaced as the Toyman by Harold Kripstly, portrayed by Grant Shaud, a childish man who kidnapped orphans. Last but not least, Schott was turned into a murderous psychopath in Smallville, where Chris Gauthier portrayed him as a former employee of Queen Industries who went mad after being fired. He was one of the main villains of the last seasons…and definitely just as creepy and scary as the last portrayal of Schott in the comics. Let’s see together.

Born in Britain, Winslow Schott grew up as an extremely smart and inventive kid, a boy prodigy with quite a talent for machines and engineering. His first functioning toy was a red and blue mechanical plane, quite a remarkable achievement for a boy still younger than ten years old; his first success, however, also resulted in his first trauma, as an older boy, jealous of his plane, stole the toy. This childish prank ended up marking Schott’s psyche, to a level he never realised but years later. As an adult, Winslow put his talent to the best use, and started working for a renowned toymancomics1toy company creating some of the most amazing toys ever seen; making children happy with his toys was just as great a joy as being able to nurture his own child’s passion, and Schott was perfectly fulfilled with his life. Eventually, however, his toy company grew bigger and bigger, until it attracted the attention of a major multinational company such as LexCorp: the bigger company bought the smaller one, and from a day to another Winslow Schott was jobless, parted from what had given a meaning to his life. The worse part, however, was that the toys he had created for the toy company were now used by LexCorp in several military projects, with the engines and the mechanics reverse-engineered to create drones and mines. Seeing this as a perversion of his own work, an unforgettable mockery that transformed things created to bring joy to children in death tools for adults, Schott lost it, and felt like when the other boy had stolen his plane just for greed and cruelty: he decided he wouldn’t have stood aside once again, letting the bully take what was his, and he started planning his revenge against Lex Luthor, the head of LexCorp and one of the most powerful men in the world. Schott created the identity of the Toyman, and built lethal toys just for the purpose of murdering Luthor: first he attempted to his life while he was in England, but Luthor was saved by the intervention of British superheroine Godiva. His first failed attempt didn’t bring him down, and Toyman followed Luthor to Metropolis, where he built other toys to resume what was now his personal mission.

In Metropolis, of course, the Toyman had to face a much bigger obstacle than Godiva: Superman, who (ironically) protected Lex Luthor more than once from Schott’s deadly toys. Schott started seeing Superman as the one and only thing preventing him from accomplishing his goal, and started targeting him as well. Eventually, he was contacted by the Intergang, and started working for them, helping the criminal cartel with some of his lethal inventions. Finally, Superman managed to arrest Schott, but this was just the beginning of a brand new era for the Toyman: it’s not clear what happened to him in jail, but it’s a fact that he suffered a major psychotic break, and his personality toymancomics2changed drastically. The once childish and candid Winslow Schott evolved into a dark and violent Toyman, and he started hearing voices in his head prompting him to act through much more brutal ways than before (he called the voice “Mother“). With a brand new look and more determined than ever, Toyman escaped from prison, but this time he had a whole new different agenda than before. “Mother” managed to convince him that the real responsible for the failure of his beloved toy company wasn’t Luthor nor Superman, but the children themselves, since they didn’t like old-fashioned toys anymore, and only played with videogames and action figures. Things became even worse when, among the many action figures that a toy company had produced taking inspiration from real life enemies and friends of Superman, only the Toyman’s one stayed unsold: apparently, children didn’t find him a good villain, since he looked more like a clown than like a killer…another offense from the kids he wouldn’t have forgiven. With a new target, Toyman started kidnapping children all over Metropolis to “re-educate” them, but things turned for the worst when, obviously, the kids tried to escape imprisonment. Toyman found them, and something in his mind snapped: he killed them all, including reporter Cat Grant‘s son Adam, and dumped their bodies into an alley in the Suicide Slum (whether the responsible was the real Toyman or a lookalike robot is still unclear). Understanding that he was not the childish and jovial villain he knew, but that he had become a dangerous and unbalanced murderer, Superman used all his resources to track him down and to arrest him. “Mother”, however, was still speaking…

Winslow Schott started as a cheerful and smiling man, living in the dream of his life; he however turned into a weird but sympathetic villain, mantaining his childlike personality, until his deteriorating mental state transformed him into a creepy, cold-blooded and brutal mass-murderer, who follows the devious voice in his head he refers to as “Mother”. As the Toyman, he’s a genius inventor, a brilliant mechanical engineer specialised in toys…or at least in devices looking like toys, most of the time killer robots, bombs and deadly traps. He also built a series of androids looking exactly like him, robots good enough to fool even Superman’s super senses, and that he uses as decoys; he also has an army of animated dolls acting as his henchmen. With such a genius driven by psychosis and revenge, the Toyman is incredibly dangerous, a perfectly normal human able to threaten even the life of Superman…

Hartley Rathaway (Pied Piper)

Pied PiperA new trailer for the second half-season of The Flash gave us a glimpse of the next two episodes, and the first look at the villain of the second one. In The Sound and the Fury, we’ll meet Hartley Rathaway, portrayed by Andy Mientus. Rathaway will appear in the show as one of Harrison Wells‘ former proteges, a brilliant student the scientist has abandoned for some reason and who now seeks vengeance on his former mentor, after being powered-up by the usual accident with the particle accelerator. In the trailer, he “steals” Cisco Ramon‘s work and gives himself a nickname, the Pied Piper…the same he has in the comics. This is Rathaway’s first full live action appearance, but the character had already showed up in the Wonder Woman tv series back in the ’70s: in the show, the Pied Piper’s real name was Hamlin Rule, and he was portrayed by Martin Mull; even in this version, he used a special flute to commit his crimes, and his mind control was powerful enough to put in danger the Amazon Queen herself. Anyway, let’s see who this new villain is in the comics.

Hartley Rathaway was born the son of Osgood and Rachel Rathaway, two of the richest and most influent people in Keystone City. When he was a child, the Rathaways discovered their son had been born deaf, unable to hear any sound. Having rich parents can prove useful in most situation, and this was no exception: Osgood Rathaway paid piedpipercomics1the best doctors, surgeons and even engineers in the world to cure his son from his situation, until he found the solution in Will Magnus, a genius scientist who managed to restore Hartley’s eardrums and all the nerves connected to it. Physical healing, however, brought young Hartley to another form of sickness, an even worse one: he became totally obsessed with sound, and started studying it under any form and discipline. Hartley understood how his life had been changed by sound, and wanted to understand what the connection between human mind and sonic waves was; with his family fortune to sustain him, Hartley could dedicate much of his life to his researches ignoring anything else, until he found a way to actually influence people’s mind with sonic waves. With some skills in many scientific fields, including physics and engineering, Hartley developed a device able to produce sound waves with different effects on people’s brain, from mere hypnotism to death. Thanks to the vast knowledge he had obtained through his studies, Rathaway managed to reduce the device to small size, and to shape it like a flute; when the moment to decide what to do with his newfound technology arrived, Hartley had almost no doubts: bored by his privileged life, that gave him everything without him actually earning anything, he decided to turn to crime, seeking a more adventurous life. He became the Pied Piper.

Being a villain in Keystone City proved to be harder than expected, especially because the city was under the protection of The Flash: the hero and the Pied Piper clashed many times, with Rathaway forcing the Scarlet Speedster to surpass himself and to become faster than sound. As most villains in Keystone City, also the Pied Piper ended up joining The Rogues, a team of Flash’s enemies led by Captain Cold. Eventually, a life for crime proved to be too stressful for Rathaway, who ended up suffering a serious nervous breakdown after the piedpipercomics2umpteenth arrest: sent to Breedmore Mental Hospital, the Pied Piper proved himself useful to the hospital, and used his skills as an engineer to improve the facility. However, it turned out it was just another plan to evade, and he manipulated the hospital’s loudspeakers to emit his hypnotic sound waves and to escape from the hospital. In a matter of minutes, he was arrested yet again by someone resembling the Reverse-Flash. When The Flash died, however, the Pied Piper felt there was no purpose in his criminal career anymore, and decided to reform: he became somewhat of a socialist vigilante, a protector of the poor and the homeless ones, thus “repaying” society for all the privileges he was given since his birth. He moved to New York City, where he started to use his flute to get food from stores and restaurants to give to the city’s many vagabonds; he also joined forces with Freespace, a group aimed to the illegal occupation of abandoned buildings. Ironically enough, he became a close friend of Wally West, the new Flash, and of his girlfriend (later wife) Linda Park, and helped them move to Keystone City, where the Pied Piper finally had the chance to redeem himself to his parents’ eyes when he saved them from a former fellow criminal, The Turtle. As a reformed criminal, the Pied Piper often helped Linda Park West dealing with scientific problems, as well as helping the new Flash both on the field and from behind the curtains. Finally, a new life for the Pied Piper could begin.

Hartley Rathaway is a brilliant man, whose entire life has been driven by his obsession with sound; Rathaway has never been truly evil, and even his criminal career started simply out of boredom. A naturally skilled genius, Rathaway is an expert with anything connected to sound and sonic waves, and he’s a master musician and engineer. As the Pied Piper, he’s able to control people’s minds and actions through the sound of his flute, and he uses a number of sonic devices in battle; his flute is also able to paralyze or even kill his victims, to make the player “invisible” to others’ perceptions, and even to control certain animals such as rats. Thanks to Will Magnus’ intervention, Rathaway’s hearing is also enhanced compared to normal humans, and he has a more penetrating sensibility towards sounds. As a robber, as a socialist vigilante or as a full hero, the Pied Piper remains a force to be reckoned with…


hippolytafilmOk, my bad, I just forgot to mention another character who has a recurring cameo in Injustice: Gods Among Us. When Wonder Woman enters a fight, a shining figure gives her her trademark Lasso of Truth, and that figure is Queen Hippolyta herself, ruler of all Amazons. She appeared in the 1974 tv movie portrayed by Charlene Holt, and appeared again in the famous tv series starring Lynda Carter. Throughout the series, she’s been portrayed by three different great actresses: Cloris Leachman in the pilot, Carolyn Jones in two episodes and Beatrice Straight in other two. A fair queen and a strict yet loving mother, Hippolyta didn’t differ much from her comicbook counterpart, especially because she didn’t appear enough to change her story significantly. Let’s see who she is in the comics.

Hippolyta’s story begins more than thirty thousands years ago. She was born a cavewoman in a Prehistoric time, when human beings were still striving to become the dominant species on Earth. Once, a caveman, who had lost a limb in a fight with a tiger (!) and was abandoned by his tribe as a result, arrived in her cave during his wandering. The woman, who was pregnant at the time, offered him some compassion and hospitality, but the man, embittered by his loss, killed her in a surge of anger. The woman’s soul, the very first female killed by men’s hatred, was deposited into the Well of Souls by the gods, who were planning to revive her and other souls like her to create a new race of human beings. Thousands of years later, around 1300 B.C., the Olympian Gods decided to create a race that could be a champion of their values and ideals; Zeus didn’t agree, since he believed, in his arrogance, that humans would have never ceased to adore him, so there was no necessity of “champions”; Hera followed her husband in his judgement, and Ares, being the god of war, hippolytacomics1didn’t want anyone to promote peace; most of the male gods, after Zeus’ refusal, lost interest in the project, so the commitment fell upon the goddesses. Artemis, Athena, Aphrodite, Hestia and Demeter collected the souls of the women murdered by men, and tossed them to the bottom of the Aegean Sea, where they mixed with clay and formed new, nearly indestructible bodies. Hippolyta, the oldest soul, was also the first Amazon to surface from the sea, and was named the queen of the new race; immediately after her, her sister Antiope emerged, and the two ruled together over the Amazons. The divine women were entrusted with the mission of spreading the word of Gaea, a message of peace, tolerance, equality, respect for every living creature. The two queens were given a Golden Girdle, symbol of their royalty and of their devotion to the cause. Hippolyta and Antiope built together a great city, Themyscira, which became a beacon of hope for the entire world. The Amazons became fierce warriors, who used their power to defend the weak ones, especially women, and to bring justice wherever it was needed. The more the Amazons tried to spread their message of peace, however, the more Ares tried to foil their mission, hardening men’s heart and putting a harsh enmity between humanity and the Amazons. Thanks to Ares’ actions, with the years Themyscira got more and more isolated from the rest of civilization.

After some time, the world turned its attention on Themyscira once again: Hercules, the demigod son of Zeus, arrived between the Amazons, followed by his friend Theseus and by an entire army, in the middle of his Twelve Labors, imposed to him by Hera’s madness. Hercules ordered Hippolyta to give him her Girdle, a trophy he had to collect to finally please Hera, but she refused, challenging the hero to a single fight. The Queen defeated Hercules, who offered her an alliance in return. Following her path of peace and compassion, Hippolyta accepted, and let the men into the city. In here, they drank and partied together, with Antiope falling in love with the beautiful Theseus, and Hippolyta herself being charmed and seduced by hippolytacomics2Hercules. During the night, when the Amazons were drunk and asleep, Hercules and his men put them into chains, raped them, stole their trasures (Hippolyta’s Golden Girdle included) and destroyed their city. Along with Theseus and a few others, Hercules then left Themyscira’s ruins, leaving most of his army behind. With her anger and her pure strength, Hippolyta broke her chains and freed her fellow Amazons, and together they killed every man left in the city. The killing spree didn’t stop, and the Amazons chased their captors, spreading blood and destruction wherever they went. Scared by this thirst for blood and vengeance she saw in the Amazons, Hippolyta forbade Antiope to assault Athens, declaring that revenge wasn’t the Amazon way, thus stopping the war. Disgusted by her sister’s weakness, Antiope threw her Girdle at Hippolyta’s feet, denying every relationship with Olympians, and left with half of the Amazons: the Queen would have never seen her sister again. The goddesses finally appeared to Hippolyta and the ones who stayed with her, enraged and disappointed, since from that moment on, the word “Amazons” didn’t mean peace-bringers and loyal warriors anymore, but became a synonymous of destroyers and bloodthirsty women. After asking for forgiveness, Hippolyta and her followers were purified in body and mind, received unremovable steel bracelets as a reminder of their shackles, and was moved to a secret island created by Poseidon, a place in which they would have been truly isolated from the rest of the world, immortal guardians of a secret evil that lied under their new home, which they called Paradise Island. Hippolyta remained the queen of the new Themyscira for 3000 years, until the first newborn Amazon since their creation, her daughter Diana, restarted the Amazons’ mission of peace-bringers to the outside world.

Hippolyta is a wise and just queen, who treasures her people’s good and deeply believes in the mission entrusted to the Amazons by the goddesses. She is an amazing warrior, trained in every art of war, but she only uses her skill to protect the weak ones and to bring justice where it’s been crushed. As an Amazon, she possesses superhuman strength, speed, stamina and durability, and she’s been granted eternal life to better rule her people. Hippolyta’s mission is a hard one: to bring love to the haters, and justice to the world’s oppressors, but she’s ready to sacrifice her immortal life to see her goddesses’ dream come true.