Circe is a fictional character appearing in DC Comics publications and related media. Based upon the Greek mythological figure of the same name who imprisoned Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey, she is a wicked sorceress and a major adversary of Wonder Woman. She's been depicted as a blonde (Pre Crisis), brunette (Post Crisis) and a red head (New 52 & Rebirth).
Hair color aside, all of these versions of Circe have retained a set of key features: immortality, stunning physical beauty, a powerful command over sorcery, a penchant for turning human beings into animals (like her mythological antecedent), and a delight in humiliation.
Circe's first appearance was in the golden age, in the first volume of Wonder Woman. After this she went completely unused for almost 40 years before appearing just before Crisis on Infinite Earths. Her popularity as a for of Wonder Woman comes from the post-Crisis reboot of the Wonder Woman title and the subsequent reinterpretation by George Perez.
In the original DC Comics continuity (prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths), Circe is a centuries-old enchantress who is kept young by an elixir called vitae. It is made from a special combination of plants and herbs. While living on the island Aeaea, Circe gains magical powers. Circe is very skilled at turning men into any animal resembling their personality, and, for her crimes against mortalkind, the Amazon Queen Hippolyta banished her to Sorca, "an island planet in space, where she could do no harm".
Upon her return to Earth, Circe tries to destroy Wonder Woman, having heard from an oracle in ancient times that the daughter of Hippolyta will be her undoing. Unlike many of Wonder Woman's other Golden Age foes, Circe does not repent when her plot fails, and a legendary enmity is born. (Wonder Woman#37).
Circe is the daughter of the Titans Hyperionand Perseis. Circe is a powerful witch and former princess of Colchis. A beautiful, violet-haired, red-eyed sorceress, she is known for turning people into animals (which are called Bestiamorphs), as well as for powers of mind-control. Circe has been a devoted follower of the goddess Hecate for thousands of years. She has lived on the island of Aeaea where she became a powerful being in both magic and in influence over portions of man's world. During his adventure to her island, Circe fell in love with Odysseus and bore him three sons: Agrius, Latinus, and Telegonus.
Though Circe's patron goddess Hecate was an offspring of the Titans, she was not considered one of the main Twelve Olympians. Zeus gave her much respect, but she did not hold much favor with others on Olympus. As such she married the god Hades, but their marriage did not last and Hecate was demoted as handmaiden to her former husband's new wife. Because of this she left the realm of the gods and agreed to render her soul to her most devoted servant Circe. This caused Circe to attain her current goddess-level of power and immortality
When Hecate transferred her soul to Circe, she said the words: Upon the death of witch and the birth of witch, Hecate, by name and choice, shall repossess her soul. In addition to being goddess of witchcraft, Hecate is also a goddess of the moon. When Circe learned that Wonder Woman shared her name with moon goddess Diana, she decided that Hecate's cryptic warning must refer to her. Fearing that Diana would steal Hecate's soul and power, Circe decided to destroy her. Once Diana learned of Hecate's pronouncement, she too felt it pertained to her, but of course Diana has no desire to have the soul of Hecate possessing her body. This issue is central to the conflict between the two women.
Circe appeared in The New 52, a reboot of the DC Comics universe. She appears as a pale, red-haired sorceress with a vendetta against Queen Hippolyta and the Amazons. She allied herself with Magog and used her magical abilities to manipulate Superman into battling Wonder Woman. However, Wonder Woman broke Superman out of the mind control, and the pair defeated Circe and Magog.
After the events of DC Rebirth, Circe's history was altered. Seven years after Diana left Themyscira to become Wonder Woman, the C.E.O. of Empire Industries, Veronica Cale, performed a ritual to summon Circe in order to exact her revenge on the gods Deimos and Phobos, who had taken the soul of Cale's daughter Isadore. After bargaining, Circe agreed to help Cale. She gave her detailed instructions, and then returned to her lair to begin her spell of binding.
Circe later confronted Wonder Woman in Al-Doha, Qurac. She spoke in Diana's native amazonian language, which surprised the warrior. After killing several soldiers, Circe tricked Wonder Woman into wrapping her lasso around the witch, enabling her to complete the ritual to bind Deimos and Phobos into the forms of dogs. Circe then teleported back to Veronica Cale and Doctor Cyber, Cale's ally. Circe then revealed to Cale that her daughter's soul was not in the soulstone as she previously believed. Circe communicated to Deimos and Phobos in their animal forms, discovering that Isadore's soul had been taken by Ares, who was imprisoned on Themyscira. Circe refused to help Cale any further, as she realized to free Cale's daughter would involve freeing Ares from his prison.
Years later, Circe allied herself with Lex Luthor and Ra's al Ghul after discovering the Pandora Pits. The trio fought a creature that emerged from the pits, representing their fear and hatred towards Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman. They managed to defeat the creature by combining their powers.
Major Story Arcs
War of the Gods
Circe's most ambitious gambit was inciting war between the various pantheons of gods throughout the DC Multiverse, becoming known as the War of the Gods. Circe's overall ploy was to gain the power of all the warring pantheons after they had defeated or destroyed one another. Another plot of the war was to disgrace Diana and the Amazons in the eyes of the world by portraying them as terrorists, allying herself with the Amazons of Bana-Mighdall to this effect. True to her nature, Circe eventually betrayed them as well. Over the course of the war, Circe succeeded in killing Hermes, who had since been in a severely weakened state from being away from Olympus for so long and temporarily devolving Diana herself out of existence by reverting her back into the clay from which she had been formed.
Finally realizing the truth of Circe's deceptions, Earth's heroes launched an assault on New Olympus, which Circe had conquered and pitted the gods of the Olympian and Roman pantheons against them. Elsewhere, with the aid of the Spectre, Deadman, and the Phantom Stranger, Diana was restored to life and in a concerted effort with Donna Troy, used the amulet of Harmonia to open a portal into an alternate universe where the Titans of Myth resided. This caused the soul of Hecate herself to withdraw from Circe's body, which rapidly aged and crumbled to dust. Hecate then attempted to take possession of Diana, but was destroyed by the Lasso of Truth. Circe returned to life sometime later, though no explanation has ever been given for this.
Significant Personal Relationships
They've been enemies for a long time. For a time, when she sublimated her true personality in favor of a fake one, she thought her name was Donna Milton and she and Diana were friends. Since then, their relationship has not been quite so clear-cut. In the Who is Wonder Woman storyline, she took drastic action to make Diana see that she was not being truly effective in her mission.
Her daughter, by Aries.
Her patron goddess.
Circe is actually something of a cult personality in many cases. She's cultivated a wide variety of followers over the years, many of which live to regret putting their trust in her.
The Changelings of Aeaea
She kept a large following of people who she gave the ability to transform into animal like wear-beasts. Her magic held them in her sway to a degree, and they followed her largely out of fear.
The Amazons of Bana-Mighdall
She used them in the War of the Gods storyline.
(in JLA Secret Files and Origins #4, Nov 2004)
She used a pair of lesser skilled witches to help her retrieve the spear of destiny.
Circe has often used various super-villains to assist her in her plans, usually female ones.
Here is a partial listing of them:
Ariadne of Knossos
((in Wonder Woman #19, Aug 1988, Wonder Woman #168, 169, and Wonder Woman: Our Worlds at War #1, May-Oct 2001)
A woman she used in ancient times who she resurrected to stir up trouble on Themyscira in the present.
Powers & Abilities
Circe is an high level witch, her sorcery allows her to manipulate reality through incantations and spells. As a goddess level sorceress she is granted with ageless immortality. Her most known and main feat was to turn objects and people alike into various sorts of animals. With her ability to seduce others with her natural charms and beauty, Circe is an excellent master manipulator. During her time in Hell, she gained the limited ability to manipulate the dead to do her bidding, but much is not known of this since her resurface to Earth. When she received Wonder Woman's powers, she wielded the lasso of truth added by athame she carried. Her strength and durability greatly increased due to the power boost she obtained, though this was only temporary as Wonder Woman received them back.
- Projective Animal Metamorphosis: Her most known and main feat was to turn objects and people alike into various sorts of animals. She prefers to transform men into various animals. Some of her victims have become pigs, monkeys, large cats, boars and even birds and have retained their ability to think and sometimes even speak. In these forms, they are subjective to Circe and often in a tranquilized state unable to retaliate. With another gesture, Circe can restore her victims to normal.
- Matter Transmogrification: She can transform objects and beings into whatever form she desires.
- Reality Alteration: Her sorcery allows her to manipulate reality through incantations and spells.
- Immortality: As a goddess level sorceress she is granted with ageless immortality.
- Alter Minds: She can alter minds and control them utterly.
- Magic Blasts: Can fire destructive magical energy blasts.
- Magical Shields: Able to erect physical shields through her magic prowess.
- Sound Manipulation: She's shown the ability to project her voice over long distances with extreme pressure.
- Clairvoyance: Circe also seems to have limited clairvoyant potential, mostly to be able to detect guests to her island and the presence of other immortals in her company. She was able to detect Hermes in an invisible state when he visited her.
- Illusion Casting: Capable of creating illusions. She's also capable of making people see someone who isn't even that person. She made it seem to Tom Tresser that she was Wonder Woman.
- Teleportation: Capable of tapping even cosmic energies, she could teleport between dimensions such as from Earth to Olympus.
- Necromancy: During her time in Hell, she gained the limited ability to manipulate the dead to do her bidding, but much is not known of this since her resurface to Earth.
- Superhuman Strength : (formerly) Her strength was greatly increased due to the power boost she obtained, though this was only temporary as Wonder Woman received them back.
- Superhuman Durability : (formerly) Her durability was greatly increased due to the power boost she obtained, though this was only temporary as Wonder Woman received them back.
- Charisma : She has the ability to seduce others with her natural charm.
- Alchemy: She can create potions to transform individuals or for granting power comparable to the gods.
- Moly: The herb disrupts Circe's magic.
- Immortality Immunity: She is unable to use some of her more basic magics on immortals. Instead she must plot and plan different strategies to affect immortals such as Wonder Woman and other gods in creative and indirect ways.
In Other Media
A character very similar to Circe appeared in "Superman and Wonder Woman vs. The Sorceress of Time", an episode of 1988's Superman animated series.
Justice League Unlimited
In JLU, Circe makes her first appearance in "This Little Piggy". She encounters Batman and Wonder Woman. IN the middle of the fight, Circe turns Diana into a pig. The motivation behind her transforming Diana lies in the distant past where Circe had come into Diana's mother; Hippolyta and as a result was condemned to Tartarus for her habit of transforming innocents into animals, revealing that she is the same Circe that Odysseus met. Circe reveals after subduing the duo that she was on parole due to 'space issues' in Tartarus and that it was granted on the condition she stayed away from Hippolyta, leaving her to take revenge on Diana instead.
Batman recruits several league members including Red Tornado, Crimson Avenger, Elongated Man, Bwana Beast, and Zatanna to help find her. Zatanna takes Batman to a pawn shop, and performs a spell that fails. She also takes Bruce to Tartarus for Medusa's help to locate Circe, who shared a cell with her and borrowed her curling iron. Once they find Circe, she only agrees to change Diana back into a human if Bruce performs a song for her. Batman agrees to sing "I'm Blue", and Diana is changed back. Both Circe and Zatanna get teary-eyed over Bruce's singing.
Medusa also reveals that Circe is wickedly jealous at the Sirens and their singing voices, meaning she has spent a good deal of her time out of Tartarus in an establishment in an old amphitheatre where she gives performances for a slightly reluctant audience.
Circe is voiced by Rachel York.
Justice League Action
Circe debuts in Season 1 Episode 16 "Luthor in Paradise". She teams up with Lex Luthor to obtain a staff from Hippolyta and empower themselves with the powers of the gods. She is voiced by Laura Post.
DC Universe Online
Circe is an important NPC (Non-Player Character) in Sony's upcoming role-playing game, DC Universe Online. She will mentor player character villains who have a magical origin, making her the direct opposite of Wonder Woman, who performs the same function for the heroes.
With all the clues and bits of information fund throughout the game, it is revealed that Circe is ultimately behind Atlantis' invasion of Metropolis, while her own beastimorphs battle the Amazons in other sections of the city. The self-proclaimed goddess' ultimate plan in the game is to raise the demon Trigon with the aid of Brother Blood from the depths of Hell before she would turn on him and usurp his power for her own. However, to Circe's annoyance, her plans still depends on Raven, Trigons daughter, doing what Trigon intended, something the young empath has fought her entire life to prevent, subsequently having earned Circe's ire as well for disrupting her plans.