During the Golden, Silver and Bronze Ages of comics, Diana's origin and mission were slightly different.
Still an Amazon princess from a secluded island, in the Golden Age, Diana began her life as a clay figurine molded by Hippolyta and granted life by the Gods. She came to Man's World to help fight in World War II, the real-world conflict happening at the time. She took on a secret identity, posing as bespectacled army secretary Diana Prince. She was included in the roster of the Justice Society of America, but largely worked as the team's own secretary. In her solo adventures, Diana typically fought crime and Nazi spies with a group of sorority sisters called the Holliday Girls led by the plucky Etta Candy, who would come to be considered Diana's sidekick.
In the 1950s and '60s, Diana's story was updated. During the Silver Age, Diana was more influenced by Greek mythology. The idea that her powers came from the gods was formally introduced (WONDER WOMAN #105, 1959). She was also a founding member the Justice League of America.
The Silver Age Diana came to Man's World instead of accompanying her fellow Amazons as they moved Paradise Island into a different dimension. Losing her powers for a time, she operated as more of a spy than a superhero. She eventually opened up a mod-inspired clothing boutique in an effort to blend in.
Later still, in the Bronze Age of the 1970s, Diana returned to the military, as well as to her costumed heroic roots.
Following the continuity-realigning events of 1985's CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, the vast majority of Diana's history with Steve Trevor and her earliest years as a superhero were wiped from existence.
Instead, Diana, now within the main and singular DC universe, was given a new history (Wonder Woman vol. 2 #1, 1987), one in which she didn't become romantically involved with Steve Trevor. After defeating Ares, Diana became a public figure in Man's World, doing her best—without constructing a secret identity—to promote the ideals of her homeland while also trying to learn as much as she could about modern American life. She slowly learned English and, in her travels, came into contact with other active DC Super Heroes around the globe, though she was not a founding member of the Justice League.
In this version of events, Diana was not exiled from Themyscira, and instead returned after a power-hungry archaeologist named Barbara Ann Minerva tried to steal her Lasso of Truth. Upon her return, however, Zeus offered her godhood, if only she would sleep with him—an offer Diana refused. Spurned by her lack of gratitude for his "gift," Zeus forced Diana to undergo the Challenge of the Gods, a grueling test of strength and cunning which served to further harden Diana as a warrior and superhero. She was permitted to return to Man's World after her successful completion of the challenge, ready to set about her task as emissary with renewed vigor (WONDER WOMAN #14, 1988).
Over the following years, Diana had many more run-ins with rogue gods and goddesses as they attempted to interfere with Man's World and with Diana's everyday life. Many of these instances would involve other DC Super Heroes and even civilians as either participants or collateral damage. The cost of these instances took its toll on Diana, as well as on her Amazon sisters, who watched her adventures from their island home.
Following Superman's death at the hands of the monster Doomsday, the Justice League was suddenly in need of a new leader, a role which Diana stepped in to fill.
While she served on the Justice League, her personal life slowly spiraled into chaos. Themyscira mysteriously vanished into thin air, leaving Diana alone in the world and without access to her culture or her family. She attempted to cope with this change by integrating further into everyday human society. The island's vanishing was eventually revealed to have been caused by the trickster god Circe, who required Diana to sacrifice an innocent life in order to see her homeland restored. Though Diana refused to commit murder, an incident arose in which she was unable to save a young human girl from death, and the sacrifice was considered complete (WONDER WOMAN #89, 1994).
Upon Themyscira's return, Diana was temporarily replaced as Wonder Woman by an Amazon named Artemis who served in the role until her untimely death (WONDER WOMAN #100, 1995).
Over the next several years, Diana worked to regain some sense of balance and purpose as she reclaimed her mantle as Wonder Woman. She temporarily worked as a museum curator, a job which would eventually introduce her to Cassie Sandsmark, the girl who would become the second Wonder Girl (after Donna Troy). As Diana worked to train Cassie, she also became a charter member of the latest incarnation of the Justice League (JLA #1, 1997), but her time on the team was interrupted by a crisis with the gods.
Having left the mortal plane, the gods' power dissipated, causing the Amazons to turn to stone and crumble—or, in Diana's case, back into the clay from which she was made. The gods returned in time to restore the Amazons to life, but not in time to prevent a sudden attack from the demon Neron, who nearly killed Diana in the subsequent fight.
As the dust settled, the world feared Diana dead, but she clung to life. The gods intervened yet again, granting Diana divinity as the Goddess of Truth, a role she tenuously embraced, before returning to her duties as Wonder Woman, and later as the United Nations official ambassador for Themyscira.
WONDER WOMAN: THE HIKETEIA (2002)
A standalone story which served to kick off the next era of Wonder Woman, 2002's WONDER WOMAN: THE HIKETEIA dives further into the mythological nature of Diana's relationship with both the world and her super-heroic mantle. When a young girl named Danielle from Gotham City invoked the ancient rite of Hiketeia—a ritual which begs protection and duty from the recipient—Diana became honor-bound to serve her.
Unfortunately, Danielle invoked the rite in an effort to protect herself from Batman, who was relentlessly pursuing her as a criminal. It turned out that Danielle had murdered several sex and drug traffickers in Gotham, all of whom had victimized her. But in Batman's eyes, she had still committed a crime.
Diana was forced to choose: The ancient rites of her heritage and her responsibility as a superhero, or the staunch black-and-white morality of Batman? The story served to articulate the duality of Diana's nature, as well as her empathy and willingness to compromise—two traits that would inform modern interpretations of her character.
INFINITE CRISIS and ONE YEAR LATER (2005-2011)
When the DC Super-Villain Maxwell Lord devised a way to control the mind of Superman, Diana was forced into a brutal fight that seemed unwinnable. As they traded blows, however, Diana realized that it was not Clark she should be fighting but the puppeteer holding his strings. She cornered Lord and roped him with her Lasso of Truth, demanding that he tell her how to free Clark from his control. Lord, compelled to tell the truth, stated plainly, "You have to kill me."
Seeing no recourse, Diana was forced to snap Lord's neck to free Superman. The incident was captured on camera and immediately broadcast across the world. "Wonder Woman: Murderer" was now a headline that graced every television screen on the planet (WONDER WOMAN #219, 2005).
As could be expected, this fallout created a domino effect in Diana's personal life and in her relationship with the Justice League. Her relationships with Batman and Superman grew tense, even though she acted to save Superman's life. In their eyes, the use of lethal force was never permitted, no matter the cost.
Lord's death also prompted Brother Eye, the rogue artificial intelligence, to enact what it believed was the necessary response—a protocol called "Truth and Justice," designed to eliminate all Amazons. Brother Eye's robotic soldiers, known as OMACs, invaded Themyscira, leaving the Amazons to fight for their lives. In a last-ditch effort to survive, the Amazons transported their island to another dimension to save themselves. Diana resolved not to go with them, leaving her, yet again, alone in the world.
Following the post-INFINITE CRISIS "One Year Later" time jump, Diana gave up her identity as Wonder Woman, passing the mantle to former Wonder Girl Donna Troy. Diana crafted a new identity for herself, returning to the name Diana Prince, and focused on becoming a secret agent and spy rather than a public superhero. In this identity, with the help of Batman, Diana worked to rehabilitate her image and rediscover what mattered most to her. Eventually, with the help of district attorney Kate Spencer, Diana was able to get the charges for her murder of Lord completely dropped (MANHUNTER #30, 2007).
Diana later returned to her role as Wonder Woman alongside Superman and Batman as they re-formed the Justice League yet again.
The New 52 (2011-2016)
Following the continuity rebooting events of 2011's FLASHPOINT, Diana's origin was reimagined again. No longer a clay figure brought to life by the gods, Diana was instead a demigoddess, the child of Hippolyta and Zeus. Diana herself was not told the truth of her birth, as Hippolyta believed this knowledge would prompt attention from the goddess Hera, Zeus' wife, who was murderously jealous of all his illegitimate offspring.
In this new continuity, Diana acted as an ambassador from Themyscira to Washington, with Steve Trevor as her liaison. But she was pulled into action when Darkseid's Parademon armies swarmed and attacked. This initiated the League's first official meeting in the new continuity and marked their formation (JUSTICE LEAGUE: ORIGIN, 2011).
Over the next several years, Diana's stories continued to take place in two worlds. She worked against the mythological threats facing Themyscira while fighting for the betterment of Man's World with the Justice League.
Following 2016's DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1, Diana's origin and history were further clarified. No longer a clay idol, no longer a demigod, Diana was returned to her history as the daughter of Hippolyta and the chosen champion of the Amazons following Steve Trevor's crash-landing on the shores of the island.
This new iteration of her story also clarified her past beyond her first years in operation as a DC Super Hero. It was revealed that many of the stories she had experienced prior to events such as Crisis on Infinite Earths and Flashpoint were in fact the manipulations of the twin gods of fear, Phobos and Deimos, in service to their father, Ares. These false, implanted memories were designed to keep Diana from learning the truth of her destiny, the fact that she had never returned home to Themyscira following her original mission to escort Steve Trevor off the island.
With the help of Steve, his commanding officer, Etta Candy, archaeologist and former Cheetah Barbara Ann Minerva, and Ares himself, Diana fought her way back to Themyscira to defeat Phobos and Deimos, thus reuniting her with her mother for the first time since her journey had begun.