Friends, the fifth entry in the classic Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe belongs to Aegeus – an arch-nemesis of Wonder Woman! While some of the other characters from DC Comics that we have so far shared in this Who’s Who series of articles, I either knew well or at least had a passing knowledge of, I must admit that I knew nothing of Aegeus before I picked up the first issue. Furthermore, as I have mentioned in the previous articles, while The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe might have beaten their long-time competitor to the punch by three whole years – Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, and Robert Greenberger in my opinion topped the Marvel version in both quality and range of characters they featured in their encyclopedic series. The trio managed to fill 26 issues with an all-encompassing roster of major as well as minor characters of the DC Universe, the latter of which in my humble opinion is the category that Aegeus happens to fall into.
The character of Nikos Aegeus made his first appearance in the pages of Wonder Woman #297, which was published in November of 1982 in a story entitled “Thunder on the Wind”. I must also point out that particular issue featured an incredible cover by Michael Kaluta (who I’ve talked about in The Shadow episode of the Pop Culture Retrorama podcast) and also featured a back-up tale involving the Huntress, in addition to a story involving Superman aiding He-Man and the other Masters of the Universe in defending Eternia.
Back to Aegeus though, the character was co-created by Dan Mishkin, Gene Colan, and Frank McLaughlin – although I’ve seen online where it says that Curt Swan also had a hand in the creation. Mishkin along with Gary Cohn and Ernie Colon were also responsible for co-creating the cult favorite comic series, Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld for DC Comics as well as joining with artist Paris Cullins to produce the Blue Devil comic book series. Gene Colan however might possibly be best known for his work at Marvel Comics with the legendary Tomb of Dracula but he would also co-create the Falcon and even Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel. Frank McLaughlin not only helped create the character of Judomaster for Charlton Comics but he worked on the Gil Thorp newspaper comic strip too.
As is stated in the character’s entry in Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe, which features artwork by Don Heck by the way (Iron Man, The Avengers):
Full Name: Niko Aegeus
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operation: Greece
First Appearance: Wonder Woman #297
Height: 5’10” Weight: 175lbs.
Eyes: Blue Hair: Black
As we are introduced to Nikos Aegeus in the story “Thunder on the Wind”, it is through a summons of Diana to return to Paradise Island by her Mother, Hippolyta – Queen of the Amazons. She shows a disturbing vision to her daughter of a possible future where many of their fellow Amazonians fall to some great threat, which of course Wonder Woman vows to track down and stop.
The threat happens to be making itself known at that moment in Athens, Greece, as a poor ambassador is brutally executed by Nikos Aegeus. Realizing the murder will undoubtedly attract the attention of the authorities, Nikos and his fellow terrorists decide to hide out among some ancient ruins upon what they believe to be a deserted island. Only to find out that the ruins aren’t really deserted at all, as the single resident is none other than Bellerophon, the Greek Hero punished for his attempt to fly to Mount Olympus.
The origin of Aegeus pauses there as we find out that days have passed with Diana Prince still attempting to locate the source of the threat her Mother sensed. She is doing this in her military role at the Pentagon as Captain Diana Prince but isn’t coming up with anything, which is when Steve Trevor invites her to participate in an inter-service combat exercise between the Air Force and Navy. During this exercise though is when Aegeus decides to make himself known, appearing in the sky atop the mighty Pegasus and striking down Trevor’s plane with a thunderbolt of Zeus that he fires from a magical bow.
Thankfully for Steve though Diana calls forth her invisible jet to help him land his plane while she confronts Aegeus. The encounter doesn’t go exactly as you might imagine as Aegeus is more amused than concerned by the heroine lassoing his flying steed. Wonder Woman attempts to force Pegasus to land but it is then revealed that it can only be controlled by Aegeus. Before she can reach her foe the villain uses one of Zeus’ bolts to teleport safely away, and when Wonder Woman goes to check on Trevor, as the issue ends we learn that Aegeus has whisked him away as his prisoner.
It would be in the pages of Wonder Woman #298 where it is revealed that Bellerophon is merely using Aegeus to help him achieve vengeance against the Gods of Olympus, Zeus in particular. Blinded and shunned by mankind, Bellerophon waited for the likes of Nikos Aegeus to arrive, and the reason he instructed the now magically augmented terrorist into capturing Trevor was to learn the location of Paradise Island. Doing so in an attempt to gain access to the Purple Ray of the Amazons, which can give Bellerophon back his eyesight and even restore his youth.
The conclusion of Aegeus’ origin story was in issue #299 of the Wonder Woman comic book. I’ll cut to the chase and let you know that not only does the Princess of Paradise Island best the still formidable Bellerophon but she also thoroughly trounces Aegeus… after a mighty swing of a tree up against the side of his head. However, the villain is able to make an escape with the aid of his single remaining thunderbolt of Zeus, vowing vengeance of course in the process.
As the Powers & Weapons section of Aegeus’ entry in the Who’s Who points out, Wonder Woman’s foe returns after managing to acquire the six daggers of Vulcan, which happen to be weapons that are able to cut and penetrate almost all objects, including our heroine’s lasso of truth and her bracelets!
Closing out this article, you might be interested to know that shortly after Aegeus was given the spotlight in the Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe, the character was wiped out – one of the many victims of the Multiverse collapsing courtesy of the Crisis on Infinite Earths maxi-series. Since that time however, versions of Nikos Aegeus have made appearances in both the 2010 New Earth and 2015 Prime Earth versions of the Wonder Woman comic book series.