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Achilles

Art by Aaron Lopresti

Upon the return of the Olympian pantheon following the incidents of Infinite Crisis, Zeus promises a dying Athena to care for and aid her Amazons (see Wonder Woman #26 and 27). As a consequence of their culpability in Amazons Attack, the tribe was enchanted to forget their identities and scattered among the people of the world in mundane lives till Zeus awakens them from the spell and calls them back to Themyscira. Zeus devises a circuitous plan to keep his promise to Athena by creating a new island named Thalarion upon which he resurrects the warrior Jason and his fellow soldiers, naming them Gargareans. In Greek mythology, the legendary Gargareans were an all male tribe that mated with the Amazons annually to ensure their mutual vitality. Female infants were raised by Amazons, males by Gargareans. Zeus charges this new tribe to create Paradise on earth, to “slaughter the dictators and dismember the warmongers” and promises to create a son for Jason.

While the Olympians were imprisoned by Darkseid and the evil gods, Diana made the weighty decision to call upon and give her allegiance to the Hawaiian god Kane Milohai. The elder Zeus visits Kane to request he renounce Diana’s pledge. Quick to anger, Zeus attacks when met with refusal. The fight that follows is swift and brutal, ending with Kane’s death at the hands of Zeus. A triumphant Zeus proclaims the promised son will have the heart of a god.

Returning to Thalarion, Zeus accepts tribute from the Gargareans as he tends a fire. The flames are the means by which Jason’s promised child will be created. Calling upon his powers, Zeus resurrects the skeletal remains of a warrior. Kane’s heart completes the fiery reincarnation of the long dead champion Achilles, now proclaimed by Zeus to be King of the Gargareans. Now charged with the mission orginally given to Diana, Achilles leads his men into action by shutting down military stockpiles across the globe. He leads a contingent of men to New York where he confronts the United Nations and later fights Diana one on one at an abandoned former Soviet military base. Achilles surprises Diana with his agility, but in the end she vanquishes the blond warrior.

Circumstances become vastly more complicated when Euphemus, one of Achilles’ commanders, is revealed to be complicit with Ares who is now angered by the death of Diana’s concurrent foe Genocide whom he intended to make his queen. As a son of Poseidon, Euphemus summons sea monsters to attack both Thalarion and Themyscira. In doing so, the Amazons and Gargareans become uneasy allies. While gaining victory, there is no joy or relief. Diana strikes a seemingly killing blow to Ares, and Achilles confronts the traitor Euphemus. Zeus appears and reveals to Diana that he slew Kane and put his heart inside Achilles. The Amazon retaliates in anger with a striking blow to her god. The consequence of this action is quick and shocking. The elder Olympian coldly states that Hippolyta is to be immediately replaced as ruler by Achilles and Diana tearfully renounces her heritage as the depths of captain of the queen’s guard Alkyone’s bitterness toward Diana becomes more apparent.

Determined to honor Zeus’ plan, newly installed as Amazonian King Achilles is met with animosity when he orders the women to turn over their weapons. Sensing the level of distrust, he propositions Alkyone to become his advisor and queen. Initially shocked, Alkyone contemplates the offer, undoubtedly thinking how to take advantage, and agrees to the betrothal when Achilles performs the appropriate ritual. Now bound, Alkyone exclaims their union to be a sexless marriage of state only. Achilles replies: “Of course not! I would never…I don’t even…No. Let no shadow, no unwelcome worry enter your…your heart…We will find lovers elsewhere.” His decision will prove dangerous in the following days as Alkyone presses her newly gained position to her vile agenda.

Achilles proves his steel and narrow minded resolve to carry out Zeus’ commands in a second confrontation with Wonder Woman. As the Thalarions and Diana’s unlikely ally Giganta watch on, Achilles and Diana trade blows. He boasts of once being considered the greatest warrior before his resurrection and without Athena’s spear as his weapon moments before Diana takes him by surprise proving Achilles can bleed. Rejecting Diana’s creed, Achilles seeks to remove Diana’s interference with the announcement that Hippolyta will hang if she intercedes again.

Alkyone persuades Achilles that to prove his strength as king to Diana he must follow through on his threat to kill Hippolyta. And so he orders the former queen to be chained. When Diana comes to remove her mother from Themyscira she is horrified to see her in manacles and the admission she’ll willingly give up her life if it ensures peace for the Amazons. Pressing her position, Alkyone takes Diana’s  tiara to wear, orders the Amazon to forfeit her bracers and girdles, and then imprisons her. Her aim is shortly revealed when Achilles confronts her over the news that the princess will be executed. Despite her obviously treacherous bent, Achilles appears persuaded to allow Diana’s execution until he opens the box containing Alkyone’s wedding gift of armor and Diana’s bracelets. Realizing the depths of his foolishness, Achilles visits Diana in her cell, asking her forgiveness and her help in ending Alkyone’s threat and terror.

Tensions escalate as events quickly unfold. Amazons attack Achilles, piercing his body with arrows and a spear thrust through his heart. The wounds don’t prove fatal though, an unforeseen benefit of having a god’s heart. The king and queen engage in a fierce, final battle, and it appears Achilles is mortally wounded by a cut from Alkyone’s sword forged from the poisonous tears of the Medusa. A freed Hippolyta ends the civil war with an arrow shot through the traitor’s heart. Zeus appears to the crowd. Diana shoulders the wounded Achilles; perhaps saved by Zeus or Kane’s heart. In light of everything, Achilles and his Thalarions and Diana and the Amazons stand united in defiance of Zeus. As a final surprise, Zeus confesses his misdeeds and frailty before disappearing.

What developments Gail Simone has in store for Achilles remains to be seen.

Achilles’ first appearance is Wonder Woman (vol. 3) #30. Confirmation of Achilles’ sexuality came from Simone in a DC Comics message board thread. This version of Achilles created by Gail Simone.

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