Fun fact: Wonder Woman didn’t have her trademark Lasso of Truth when she debuted. Though she first appeared in Sensation Comics #1 in 1941, her most famous accessory didn’t show up until five months later, in the sixth issue of that series.
In that story, Diana returns to Paradise Island to take part in a roping contest, and she receives a magic lasso as her prize before heading back to Man’s World to fight Paula von Gunther. Originally, it was a gift from her mother made from the chain links of Hippolyta’s magic girdle; later stories would change it to a gift from the gods, a weapon for truth forged by Hephaestus himself to aid the Amazon in her adventures.
The lasso has performed some pretty amazing feats over the years. Aside from its well-known abilities to compel anyone bound by it to tell the truth and obey the orders of the person holding them captive, the lasso has served as a power source for electrical machinery and was once used to capture a lightning bolt. It has been weaved into a golden shield to provide protection against bullets and missiles. It’s also been depicted as so elastic it can be stretched long enough to lasso planets and other heavenly bodies, and there have been times when it has even been shown to move on its own in response to Wonder Woman’s mental commands.
The exact nature of her lasso’s abilities has changed over time, but one element that has stayed the same right from the moment it was first introduced in the comics is its durability. Whether it’s made by Amazons or by the gods themselves, the one thing everyone agrees on is that Wonder Woman’s magic Lasso of Truth is completely and utterly unbreakable, a piece of rope so strong that “no god nor mortal may ever break its bonds!”
1. The Queen of Fables (JLA, 2001)
The living embodiment of evil in folklore, the Queen of Fables first encountered the Justice League when she escaped from the book that had imprisoned her; mistaking a TV for a magic mirror, she watched a news item about Wonder Woman and assumed she was “the fairest in the land” (a reasonable assumption for the queen to make; Diana is a princess, after all). She then placed Wonder Woman in a deep sleep and proceeded to turn Manhattan into a fairy-tale kingdom using her dark sorcery, and a revived Wonder Woman joined the rest of the Justice League to stop her. Wonder Woman had hoped to win the day by lassoing the Queen and letting its powers of truth undo the villain by forcing her to confront the truth of her “fictional” existence, but it didn’t quite work out that way; one of the Queen’s minions, bearing a marked resemblance to Paul Bunyan, snatched the lasso in mid-air and snapped it in two — presumably because, as a fictional construct, there was no “truth” within him or the Queen for the lasso to find, and so it was unable to bind them. Luckily, the power of the lasso to make people see the truth came in handy when the queen grasped it and realized that becoming a “real” being meant accepting everything that came with being a living person, like growing old. That sent her scuttling back into the fictional world tout de suite.
2. Rama Khan (JLA, 2002)
Not too long after their adventure with the Queen of Fables, the Justice League encountered Rama Khan, the magical defender of an Asian kingdom who kidnapped a child he claimed was his spiritual successor. Except the way he told it, it was the child’s mother who was the kidnapper; he was simply returning the child to his rightful place. Wonder Woman, incensed by the separation of a mother and child, lassoed Rama Khan to force the truth out of him — and she was shocked to discover he was telling the truth. Her refusal to accept the idea that two opposing truths could both be right not only caused her lasso to break into pieces; it broke the idea of truth itself. Before you know it, reality is soon shaped by whatever people believed it to be: Earth is literally the centre of the universe for two weeks and then flat for an hour and a half, the moon turns into green cheese for a while, and Batman starts to fade in and out of existence (based on the fact many civilians in the DC universe aren’t quite sure if they believe him to be just an urban legend). While the rest of the team deal with the emergencies caused by the sudden shifts in reality (like tanker ships suddenly in danger of sailing over the ocean’s edge), Wonder Woman goes on a quest to set things right, and to understand her true purpose in this conflict: “to take the whole truth into account, as I should have done from the onset, and find peaceful compromise to this dilemma.”
3. Bizarro (Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity, 2003)
Set in the early days of the three heroes working together, this three-issue mini-series finds a renegade Amazon teaming up with R’as al-Ghul, who enlists Bizarro as a useful tool in his latest world-saving scheme. In her first encounter with the backwards-thinking beast, Diana barely holds her own against his monstrous fury and uses her lasso to try to subdue him. But then something unexpected happens when he reacts to her lasso: “Its fractured brain is bombarded by an overwhelming urge… something of which it can make no sense. The awful, unthinkable concept of… TRUTH!” In a way, it makes sense that Bizarro would act this way under the lasso’s influence; as a creature that’s the very antithesis of Superman’s grasp on reason and logic, it makes sense that exposure to truth in any form — such as something forcing him to confront the truth of his own unreality — would cause him to lash out. Likewise, it makes sense that her lasso would have no power over Bizarro, a literally unreal creature who can only comprehend truth as “golden bugs in head” (which, for the record, “Bizarro no like”).
4. Diana herself (Superman: Red Son, 2003)
This one takes place in an Elseworlds story that isn’t part of DC’s “official” canon, but I’m including it anyway because man, finding scenes of someone breaking Wonder Woman’s lasso is a lot harder than I thought. The premise: instead of landing in Kansas, baby Kal-El’s rocket lands in the Ukraine in 1938, allowing Stalin to seize the infant for himself and mold him into the Soviet Union’s greatest defender. As you might expect, the sudden revelation of a super-powered alien under Soviet control causes panic in the United States, and shifts the focus of the Cold War arms race from nuclear weapons to superhumans. While Lex Luthor leads American efforts to counter Superman’s brand of Communism, Superman faces another challenge in the form of Batman, who in this reality is a freedom fighter whose dissident parents were killed by KGB agents. When Batman tries to lure Superman into a trap, he uses a captured Wonder Woman — bound by her own lasso — as bait. At a critical moment in the battle between Superman and Batman, Wonder Woman frees herself to help Superman by snapping her own “indestructible” lasso, but her freedom comes at a great cost: the shock of doing so ages the semi-immortal Amazon instantly, leaving her grey-haired, frail and unable to speak. (But not for long…)
So like I said, those are all the examples of lasso-snapping I could find in the comics. Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments below!