WANTED: Earth-Two's Most Dangerous Super-Villains

The Duke of Deception

Personal information

Name: Unknown, possibly Deception

 Residence: A base adjacent to the planet Mars but outside the physical plane
 Occupation: Demi-God, Influencer, Aspiring Conqueror
 First Appearance (Golden Age): Wonder Woman Vol. 1 #2 (September 1942)
 First Appearance (Post-Golden Age): Wonder Woman #239 (January 1947)

Character History

The origins and indeed the nature of the existence of the Duke of Deception is unclear. It is possible that he is a deity in his own right, a manifestation of Dolos or Mendacios, the Greek and Roman Gods of Trickery respectively.  It is also possible he is a creation of Mars/Ares, a simple manifestation of some of the more unsavory aspects of war. 

His first encounter with the citizenry of Earth-Two occurring in the summer of 1942 when, as an agent of the God of War Mars, he attempted to turn public trust against the newly arrived Wonder Woman.  Acting directly and also acting through an earthly agent named Napoleon Jones, The Duke created a series of illusions that tricked Wonder Woman in attacking US forces and even the Statue of Liberty.  The Flash eventually deduces what is happening and saves the day before the newly arrived heroine is convicted of crimes of war.  The capture of Napoleon Jones reveals the involvement of a “Duke” but Wonder Woman has yet to meet the Lord of Deception and knows not who he is.  Mars is enraged at the Duke’s defeat and strips away his handsome veneer, leaving him the ugly shrunken figure he appears as going forward. (Wonder Woman #239-240).

Incensed by her reception, Mars declares his intention to crush Wonder Woman efforts.  He calls a war counsel of his lieutenants: General Destruction, Lord Conquest, The Earl of Greed and the Duke of Deception.  Each hatch a plan to defeat Wonder Woman and after Conquest and Greed and defeated, the Duke begins a campaign in the Pacific to discredit Wonder Woman and instigate a second Japanese attack on Hawaii.  Using a Hawaiian dancing girl as a pawn and using several “phantasms” (artificial bodies that are identical to other beings), he succeeds and having Wonder Woman arrested and the Japanese navy deployed.    He sends the Hawaiian girl to “free” Wonder Woman but the Amazon defeats her and convinces her to expose the Duke instead.  The Japanese plans are revealed and the military alerted, sparing another Pearl Harbor.  With Etta Candy disguised as Wonder Woman using one of the Duke’s phantasms, the Duke’s hiding place in a phantasm of a Japanese general is revealed and he is sent scurrying back to Mars (Wonder Woman #2).

duke of deception inks resize

     Months later, Mars hatches a plan to convince the American military the including women in their plans is in fact weakening the War effort.  The Duke of Deception has been grooming an American medical student who becomes Dr. Psycho.  Psycho harbors an intense hatred of women and is skilled in created phantasms similar to (and perhaps taught by) the Duke of Deception.  The Duke sets Psycho on a collision course with Wonder Woman but she ultimately defeats him.  Mars lambasts the defeated Duke and sentences him to serve in a women’s prison on Mars.   Enraged, he convinces them to women to overthrow Mars and his lieutenants, crowning him as King Deception.  Mars eventually escapes (Wonder Woman #5) and it is revealed several years later that Deceptions daughter Lya helped stage his overthrow (Comic Cavalcade #26).  Whether this was really his daughter or someone he called that is unclear.

After these initial efforts, the activities of the Duke of Deception during the war are generally unknown.  At some point during the War he has been reported to have participated in a series of efforts to help Nazi agents and to subvert American efforts using “The Disc of Mars”, but inconsistencies in this report raise questions as to its veracity (DC Special Series #9). Some poorly dated casework during the forties indicate the attempts to develop novel weapons, efforts which were thwarted by Wonder Woman and Queen Astra (Sensation #92). At some time during this period, she was also captured by the Duke who had feigned the capture of Hippolyta and expelled her into airless space, forcing her to device her characteristic red earrings, which could produce an oxygen bubble and keep her alive in a vaccumm (Wonder Woman #62). The Duke assisted as Mars launched a large scale effort to disrupt post-war peace efforts in 1949, including sending Wonder Woman through time and capturing a large population of the astral forms of many of her friends and taking them to Mars but this effort was again, ultimately defeated by Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman #34).

If anything, the Duke was even more active in the 1950’s.  In spring of 1951, he concocted a force tunnel between Mars and Earth, enveloping Washington DC.   The tunnel would allow access for his forces directly to the US Capitol, repelling anyone else who approached.  Wonder Woman traveled to Mars and with the aid of some Junior Justice Society Members, crushed the device creating the tunnel and saved Washington (Wonder Woman #47). In the summer of 1951, Mars made a significant effort to capture Paradise Island, breaking the taboo that men can never set foot.  An early foray led by Lord Conquest was repelled by Wonder Woman, leading the Duke to propose a duplicitous method, creating a second false Paradise Island to lure the Amazons to and himself as a fake Steve Trevor to distract Wonder Woman.  Success was close until the Duke’s own arrogance again foiled his plans (Sensation Comics #104).

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In later years, The Duke acted more unilaterally without Mars’ obvious direction and became increasingly obsessed with bringing war to the Earth from worlds within the solar system. In 1954, he hid his army in a decorative box delivered to Queen Hippolyta and when she opened it, they emerged and defeated the surprised Amazons.  With Wonder Woman and her sisters out of the way, the Duke lay waste to Earth.  When scientists from Jupiter collected Wonder Woman as the last of her kind, she convinced them to send her back in time to defeat the Duke before he could enact his plans (Wonder Woman #65).      Later still, he kidnapped a number of Olympic athletes to stage a competition with other planetary military leaders, demonstrating that Earth was ripe for conquest.  Wonder Woman intervened on behalf of the Earth, offering herself as a prime competitor on the planet’s behalf.  After defeating all comers, the Duke was again forced to cede his hopes of conquest (Wonder Woman #66).

In 1956, The Duke developed a brain deceiver that allowed him to tune and manipulate Wonder Woman’s brain waves causing nightmares both asleep and awake.  Seeking answers from Paul on Paradise Isalnd, Diana reasoned that if the Duke was in contact with her, she could was also in contact with him and her brain could focus and deceive him.  She sent the mental suggestion that his machine was actually a monster, tricking the Duke into destroying it and leaving him plotting for another day (Wonder Woman #81). Later that year, he convinced the races of outer worlds that Earth was vulnerable if Wonder Woman could be defeated.  Placing a giant statue of Wonder Woman as a trap, he lured her into it and revealed it be a rocket, launching toward a realm he had created to show that her defeat was possible.  Her challenge was to defeat him proving in an entire world of lies, one thing was true.  She eventually defeats the Duke by showing her true reflection, as she is the only thing in that realm that is true.  The Duke and his visitors summarily vanish (Wonder Woman #84).  In 1957, he attempted to trick Wonder Woman with a decorative box hiding an explosive, hoping its disposal would distract the Amazon long enough to position in a fleet of invasion ship from his Martian base but the Diana saw through his ploy and destroyed the incoming fleet (Wonder Woman #88). 

The activities of the Duke of Deception after the 1950’s have not been revealed.

Duke of Deception WW 2

Powers and Abilities

The Duke of Deception's abilities appear to stem from godly powers, either his own or from Mars.  His primary activities involve creating "phantasms", with mimic individuals to the point of indistinguishability.  The longevity of these constructs is unclear.  While he does not seem keen to engage in personal physical combat but has withstood direct blows from Wonder Woman and been caught in large explosions without injury, suggesting he has Olympian stamina and resilience.  He is an extremely crafty intellect and a master of deceit and cunning, completely lacking in restraint in spreading confusion, misinformation and falsehoods.   He has demonstrated the ability to design and create a wide array of implements that can cross interplanetary distances and manipulate matter on a city-level scale. He likely is immortal as are all denizens of Mars' realm.

Weaknesses and Limitations

The Duke's primary limitations are psychological.  He is arrogant, vain in his power and presumptuous.  This leads him to presume his plans are better than they actually are or underestimate the intelligence or determination of his adversaries.  He appears to rely on machinery in some cases, especially vehicles, tho is not clear whether he needs it or his minions do.  He is vulnerable to magic and can be captured in Wonder Woman's golden lasso and when his illusions are dispelled, he can be revealed against his wishes.

Multiversity Villains


The Duke of Deception of Earth-One appears to have a similar backstory and modus operandi as his Earth-Two counterpart.  He continues to focus on Wonder Woman has a primary adversary, notably with a highly variable appearance as a Martian (Wonder Woman #104, 148), a conventional criminal battling she and Green Arrow (Wonder Woman #217) and his traditional Olympian form (Wonder Woman #254). 
Prior Earth-0

The Duke of Deception of Earth-0 is presumably similar to other versions but little is known of his activities other than joining an army of foes convened by Circe to battle Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman Vol. 3 Annual #1)

It should be noted that as Olympus may bridge to all timelines, the Duke of Deception may be the same entity everywhere.




Reprinted in

Wonder Woman #239-240

Prequel to first encounter, vs. Wonder Woman and The Flash


Wonder Woman #2

First appearance, vs. Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman Archives #2, Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 1

Wonder Woman #5

Behind the scene manipulator of Dr. Psycho, overthrows Mars temporarily

(Battle) - "Wonder Woman".,Wonder Woman Archives #3, Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 1

Comic Cavalcade #26

Daughter Lya revealed, details of overthrow added

Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 4

DC Special Series #9

With Mars, vs. Wonder Woman, likely apocryphal


Sensation #92

vs. Wonder Woman and Astra


Wonder Woman #62

vs. Wonder Woman


Wonder Woman #34

vs. Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 4

Wonder Woman #47

vs. Wonder Woman


Sensation #104

vs. Wonder Woman


Wonder Woman #65

vs. Wonder Woman


Wonder Woman #66

vs. Wonder Woman


Wonder Woman #81

vs. Wonder Woman


Wonder Woman #84

vs. Wonder Woman


Wonder Woman #88

vs. Wonder Woman