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Priestess Medusa (DC Comics) (Green Lantern/Green Arrow)

Priestess Medusa (and her harpies and amazons)


Context

These appeared in Green Lantern (1960 series) #82, in 1971.

AFAIK, there’s no relation with any other take on Medusa in the DC Universe.


History

Medusa is the high priestess of a small sisterhood. These were active on Earth “before recorded history”, to “aid man struggle against hostile elements”.

One thus gets the impression that they were active when humanity was very low-tech.

There were two sorts of sisters :

  • Winged women with powerful talons. These looked like mythological harpies.
  • Giantesses with a mighty physique. These evoked the mythological Amazons. Their kit resembled Ancient Spartan weapons and armour.

There seemed to be four harpies and four amazons, plus Medusa.


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How we’ve been mything you

Nothing else is explained. But here’s your complimentary No-Prize Hypothesis , based on very little.

  1. Medusa has genetic engineering skills or powers. She turned some Stone Age women into superhumans, using two different templates.
  2. She knew about Ancient Greek mythology because she came from the future. We can’t know how far, but at least as far upstream as Classical times. Choosing this motif was meant to preserve the past, as legends about the sisterhood would become conflated with Greek myths.
  3. It is purely a motif. There’s no connection between the sisterhood and actual Ancient Greek mythologicals , such as those appearing in Wonder Woman.
  4. Medusa travelled back into the past to make sure that humanity would survive the catastrophic reduction in population  that may have occurred 70K years ago.
    Perhaps her genetic research allowed her to draw firm conclusions about what happened. Perhaps she even found traces of her own work in the ancient genome, leaving her with but one possible conclusion.

Medusa didn’t seem to know any magic. So she likely worked using scientific means.


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My kingdom and place of exile

The sisterhood was approached by a powerful wizard. He asked for the priestess’ hand, having a huge crush on her. However, the magician was badly disfigured. From his warped features and limbs, it is possible that he was demon-kissed.

(This is reminiscent of chaos-induced mutations in the Fifteen Worlds cosmology that appeared in DC books a few years later. One could retcon  in a tie between the two.)

(The wizard seemed to have Iron Age tech – or even medieval-era tech since his stone tower had helicoidal stairs. But :

  1. This is likely meant to convey “generically ancient” rather than specific chronological markers.
  2. The DC Universe had a metric shedload of cultures with pretty good tech existing before recorded history.)

The priestess responded with haughty laughter, deeply wounding the wizard. For years he prepared a banishing spell. He then tricked the sisterhood into assembling, and exiled them by surprise into an obscure, remote dimension.

It has been referred to as the “dimension of furies”. However, this name is likely based on Medusa and her sisterhood, rather than the dimension itself.

What a Sinestro turn of events

In 1971, renegade Lantern Sinestro found this dimension. He hatched a plan to use its inhabitants against Green Lantern (Hal Jordan).

Since the priestess would never trust a man, he enlisted his sister’s help. They worked on making her look like a witch-queen. But her “magic” was actually her brother’s power ring.

(TMK this is the only time when Sinestro was stated to have a sister. The “witch-queen” was never seen again. She may have been a mind-controlled catspaw, told that she was his sister.)

(Sinestro is also exceptionally vague about how he discovered this dimension. And about the means he used to travel to and from it – namely gems that look like huge rubies.)

Since he couldn’t locate Jordan, Sinestro had his sister convince Medusa to reel in his friends, Green Arrow (Oliver Queen) and Black Canary (Dinah Drake-Lance). A pair of harpies attacked in Canary’s home. When Queen and Lance called Jordan in for support, the “witch-queen” captured him.

And it would have worked too, if not for that meddling blonde.

Sisterhood of the travelling punch

As Green Arrow and Black Canary were investigating, they were ambushed by three amazons.

Priestess Medusa (DC Comics) (Green Lantern/Green Arrow) - Black Canary confronts giant amazons

To defend the unconscious Arrow, Canary challenged one to a fighting bout, and won. Finding this awesome, the amazons now wanted to recruit Dinah.

Oliver and Dinah captured Sinestro as his sister was giving him his ring back. Embarrassed to have been tricked by the male Sinestro, the amazons agreed to accompany Dinah back to their dimension.

Canary barged in just in time to convince Medusa not to debase herself by murdering Green Lantern for being a man.

She then returned to Earth with GL, as Medusa didn’t want a bloke in her realm.

(It is *likely* that they asked that GL also recharge other dimension travel rubies. However, they were never seen again. One suspects that no version of this story happened in the post-Crisis reality.)


Powers & Abilities

The prison dimension is a limbo . This is likely what kept its residents unageing.

One amazon states that the banished have been there for “many centuries”. But this is vague, and may be impossible to interpret in the context of a limbo dimension.

It is hard to find, and it can only support one male person. Additional dudes would presumably be unable to enter, perhaps getting dimensionally lost.

Glowing things

Green Lantern couldn’t use his ring there. But this seemed to be more because of the disorientation than a dimensional property.

Sinestro used large rubies as means to travel between the “dimension of furies” and Earth. A person can use one to project to Earth once for a few hours before snapping back.

This time limitation seems to have been deliberate on Sinestro’s part, though it could also be an effect of the ancient wizard’s curse.

When used these gems gave off a yellow light, just like Sinestro’s ring. Furthermore, power rings (even green ones) can be used to recharge the stones.

When Hal charged a pair of rubies, he and Dinah could use them to travel back to Earth without any time limitation.

Sisters are doing it for themselves

Medusa has seven powerful constrictor snakes instead of hair. These can stretch over two metres to wrap around a target. All together they were markedly stronger than Jordan.

She referred to these as “pets”. So it is possible that they are independent creatures physically attached to her, rather than unusual limbs.

She also could tell with certainty that Black Canary wasn’t lying. And though it’s hard to tell, she seemed closer in size to her amazons than to Hal Jordan.

Other sisters

The harpies can fly quickly. Their wings and talons have a small degree of superhuman strength.

The amazons were about 2.6m tall (8’6″). They were well-trained soldiers with proportionate strength for their size, and seemed observant and disciplined.

Their unarmed techniques clearly weren’t on par with Black Canary’s. But one imagines that they are otherwise cinematically or heroically skilled.

Everybody, except maybe the harpies, had no problem understanding, and talking in modern American English. There’s no hint as to why.


Personality

Medusa seemed like a righteous and honourable type. But she was really, *really* bitter about men. She wanted them all to pay for what the wizard had done to her sisterhood.

There presumably are antecedents there. In our proposed No-Prize Hypothesis, perhaps the future she comes from is akin to Alice Sheldon’s Screwfly Solution . Perhaps she fled into the past to prevent the previous attempt at human eradication.

The harpies seemed to be competent operatives. They didn’t talk, but could shriek. Perhaps they have altered voiceboxes, or they didn’t have whatever it is that allowed the others to speak English.

The amazons were honourable, articulate soldiers who called any woman “sister”. Though they carried spears, they clearly were reluctant to kill anyone – or seriously harm women. After seeing Black Canary fight, they became fans and wanted to be her comrades.

The amazons (and presumably the harpies) admired and respected their high priestess.


Addendum

One harpy unexpectedly popped back in 1975 (Action Comics #443).

The story needed an arch-enemy for Black Canary, sending Eliott S! Maggin to scrape the bottom of the barrel. Shades of the Human Flying Fish here.

This harpy was part of Queen Bee (Zazzala)’s Anti-Justice League. The other members were :

  • Brainiac.
  • Clayface (Matt Hagen).
  • Merlyn the archer.
  • The Ocean Master.
  • Sinestro.
  • Chronos (David Clinton).
  • Grodd.

Feast spoiler

The harpy helped with designing and/or planting a booby-trapped in Green Arrow’s quiver.

The AJL wasn’t too successful. The harpy hurt her talons clawing at Superman’;s head, and was soon defeated by Black Canary. Canary then used Queen Bee’s energy rod to return the various villains to their prisons.

Since the rod could also manipulate minds, the harpy may not even have been a willing participant in Queen Bee’s schemes. Or perhaps she naïvely assumed Queen Bee was benign since she was a woman.

During this story, the harpy was fluent in English.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

The whole gang starts with a Friendly attitude toward women, and a Suspicious attitude toward men.

Medusa

Medusa’s snakes have EV (Wrestling/grappling only) 06 and Stretching: 00. It is hard to estimate their AV, since Hal was still dazed and shocked when they grabbed him.

Harpies

The harpies have Flight: 05 (maybe more) and STR 05 (maybe 06), plus the Prehensile Feet Advantage.

They can use their wings for a bit of Air Control (only to displace masses of air) and may have other avian abilities.

Amazons

The amazons seemed to have DEX 05 STR 06 BODY 05 or so, spears, “short” swords and Classical Greek-style bronze armour.

They also seemed to have elite ancient military training (Weaponry (Hoplite weapons): 07 would be my guess) and 2 APs of Always On Growth.

Anachronistically, they also have access to medieval halberds. These likely are deployed when fighting defensively.

Sinestro said he “placed” an amazon within a flower shop as part of his plan to reel Black Canary and Green Arrow. This implies a means to hide the size of an Amazon. But this concealment was likely done by Sinestro and/or the Witch-Queen, rather than the Sisterhood.

Dinah’s biggest fan in the lot seemed to have INT 05 WIL 05, and perhaps a bit of power ring compatibility.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Green Lantern/Green Arrow comics.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 27th of October, 2019.

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