DC's House of Horrors anthology is, in no uncertain terms, a collection of stories that dig deep into the hearts of DC's classic heroes and wrenches out the deepest, darkest, most horrific parts of them that we don't usually see in comics. This is particularly true of the book's Wonder Woman story.
Image: DC Comics
Of all the one-shots collected in House of Horrors, it's Keith Giffen, Mary Sangiovanni, Bilquis Evely and Mat Lopes' Man's World that most closely captures the essence of its main hero in a way that makes it feel like something you might see in a more mainstream Wonder Woman comic.
The comic opens on a young woman covered in blood, seemingly disoriented and unsure of where she is, though she's located in what appears to be the downtown area of a large city. Curious, she stumbles through the street wiping blood from her mouth and muttering "παραφροσύνη" to herself - the Greek word for "insanity".
As she walks away from the body of a dead man whose heart has been ripped out, you see that the shadow she's casting isn't quite her own, but rather that of a woman with longer hair and a pleated, armoured skirt. The comic cuts to a flashback of a group of young girls gathered around a ouija board and debating which dead spirits they should contact first. One of the girls suggests they try talking to Heath Ledger, since he played the Joker, suggesting that the story is set in our world.
But another one of the girls suggests that they contact warrior women - Amazons. The girls settle into their seance and, as is always the case, a fight breaks out about who's moving the planchette.
The message they have received - "open yourself to me" - seems to have thrown them all off. Except for one girl - the same from before - who stands up and says, "όπου είμαι μαγισσες," which loosely translates to: "Where am I, witches?"
As one of the girls' mothers comes up to bring them snacks, the possessed girl makes her escape, leaving the bloodied corpses of her friends behind. Quite quickly, you realise that this girl is possessed by the spirit of a primal, savage version of Wonder Woman who kills indiscriminately. She makes her way through town taking in the strange new world and proclaims that it is a man's world and therefore is hell. She tells herself that the war she'll bring to the world will be glorious and takes off, one imagines, to kill more people.
The thing that's great about this story is that it works both in terms of pure horror and also as an honest take on what Wonder Woman might be like. As much as we love the idealised version of Diana who's a champion of love and justice, it's difficult to imagine that any culture built up entirely around war and fighting would be a paragon of... civility. This take on Wonder Woman emphasises the raw power and fury of the Amazons shot through a lens that's much less rose-coloured. And honestly? It's refreshing.