This post is part of A Year Of Wonder, How to Love Comics’ big celebration of Wonder Woman’s 80th anniversary. Find out more and read other posts in this series.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Be it Nubia, Midnighter, Cassandra Cain, The Ray, or Vixen, the players of the DC Universe can easily match up with the heroes from any other comic book universe – including Marvel. What often happens, however, is that the decision makers at DC often rob their audiences by either misusing or shelving many of their most interesting characters to the company’s own detriment long-term.
Case in point: Wonder Woman.
Celebrating her 80th anniversary this year, as one third of the DC Trinity, Wonder Woman is the most iconic LGBTQ superheroine of all time. Yet she and her mythos are relatively uncharted territory to casual comic fans and the mainstream public in general. Ironic, given that like Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman is not only a flagship franchise, but also a cornerstone of western culture.
Be it her rogue’s gallery or her allies, many of the characters of the Wonder Woman universe are more than capable of carrying their own feature narratives in a comic book story arc or other media adaptation. A prime example would be Diana’s rival/replacement and eventual ally, Achilles Warkiller, the Olympian.
There have actually been two superheroes in the DC Universe to don the name Olympian. The first is Aristides Demetrios, a Greek national, who becomes a crime-fighter after obtaining and adorning enchanted items related to the heroes who comprised the Argonauts. The second is Achilles Warkiller who debuted in Wonder Woman #30 in May 2009. He was created by none other than the talented and prolific Gail Simone. The introduction and initial character arc of Achilles not only resulted in the debut of a complicated yet progressive champion, but readers were also reminded through Olympian why Wonder Woman is truly special and unique.
When the pantheon of the Greek gods returned from their imprisonment on Apokalips, they found their home, Mt. Olympus, in ruin. More than that, despair would compel Athena, goddess of wisdom and war, to forfeit her godhood. At her deathbed, Athena makes her father Zeus, king of the gods, promise to protect and save the Amazons.
Zeus rewards the Amazons for their millennia of devout faith and servitude by absolving them of their obligation to bring peace to the human world. Zeus creates a new race of warriors, the Thalarions. Also known as the Gargareans and the Olympians, the Thalarions are resurrected ancient heroes, including the Argonauts of yore. Like the Themyscirans, the Olympians are given an island paradise known as Thalarion as their home. His work not done, Zeus knew a counterpart to Diana was a necessity. The thunder god sought out Kane Milohai, a god to whom Diana owed allegiance, murdered him and stole his heart. Creating a body out of fire and infusing it with the heart of a slain god, Achilles Warkiller, the Olympian was born. His mission? To bring peace to mankind by any means necessary. Achilles is gifted with superhuman strength (that is proportionate to the Warkiller’s conviction in battle); speed; stamina and durability; the ability to fly; and regenerative abilities. Achilles is also armed with the mystical spear of Athena which can pierce any substance and light its head aflame. The Olympian also rides atop Mysia, a mystical flying elephant with three eyes and two trunks.
While the origins of Achilles and Diana are nearly identical, that’s where the similarities end. In terms of personality, Achilles is the Anti Diana. Even at a young age, Diana always proved herself to be inquisitive, reserved and wise beyond her years. Be it among her fellow Themyscirans or Justice League teammates, Diana is often a cool head and voice of reason. Diana’s journey, even as a child, has always been one of self-discovery and rebelling against convention to stay true to her voice and conviction. This is what originally led to Diana defying her mother, Queen Hippolyta, and becoming Wonder Woman. Over the years this has regularly put her at odds with her mother, the Themyscerans, and the Greek gods. Nonetheless, Diana is almost always vindicated and proven right.
Almost a zealot in his devotion to his faith and his conviction to his gods and his purpose, Achilles is often impulsive, headstrong and arrogant. These qualities often land Achilles in trouble. For instance when Diana learns the truth about Zeus murdering Kane Milohai, she rejects him and is banished from Themyscira. Zeus appoints Achilles king of both the Themyscirans and the Thalarions. Understanding the controversial appointment could result in a civil war, Achilles selects Hippolyta’s former bodyguard Alkyone as his queen in a purely political marriage. However the treacherous Alkyone has her own agenda and manipulates Achilles into aiding her in her plot to destroy Wonder Woman. Eventually, Achilles recognizes his treacherous bride for the monster she is and aids Wonder Woman and the other Amazons in defeating her. When all is said and done, the relationship between the Olympian and the Amazon evolves from rivals, to comrades, to even close friends.
Said friendship is further solidified when Diana introduces Achilles to Patrick Cleese, who Achilles recognizes as his reincarnated lover from ancient times, Patroclus. Sometime afterward Achilles ventures out to become acclimated with the modern world and relocates to Markovia. While there, he joins the Outsiders and aids Batman in protecting the war-torn European country from a number of imminent threats.
After that, Achilles hasn’t been seen in the DC Universe. In other media, he appeared in an episode of the NBC sitcom, Powerless, entitled Sinking Day. Achilles appears as Wayne Security’s new accountant Alex and is portrayed by actor, Matthew Atkinson.
Even in the 21st century, Olympian is a groundbreaking character as a male super powered warrior who happens to be gay. As proven during his stints in both Wonder Woman and The Outsiders, he can certainly operate as a lead character either in his own title or with an ensemble cast.
Unfortunately many marginalized superheroes, be they LGBTQs or heroes of color, continue to be shortchanged in comics. Sadly this has been well-documented on many a day. However, with recent mandates from DC to make diversity and progressive content a prioritized mandate (the return of Milestone Media being one example), hopefully audiences will see the Warkiller back in action sooner rather than later.
Battle on Olympian!!!!!
Achilles Warkiller appears prominently in Wonder Woman: Rise of the Olympian, which collects Wonder Woman (2006 series) #20-27. It can be found in all good comic book shops, online stores, eBay, and digitally on Comixology.