36 years ago - Doris Zeul is born
18 years ago - 18-year-old Doris goes to college to study biochemistry..
14 years ago - 22-year-old Doris graduates and begins grad school.
13 years ago - 23-year-old Doris is diagnosed with a rare fatal blood disorder. She begins siphoning spinal fluid from victims to extend her own life.
11 years ago - 25-year-old Doris tries to harvest spinal fluid from Diana Prince, and becomes magically empowered.
8 years ago - 28-year-old Doris's powers are stabilized by Gorilla Grodd, who grants her the ability to increase her size exponentially. They join Dr. Sivanna's Secret Society.
6 years ago - 30-year-old Doris turns on Gorilla Grodd and begins going after Diana Prince with her new powers. She is eventually imprisoned.
5 years ago - 31-year-old Doris helps Diana Prince battle Gorilla Grodd's forces in Gorilla City. She is granted a pardon and permitted to return to her doctoral research.
2 years ago - 34-year-old Doris earns her doctorate.
Giganta is a long-standing Wonder Woman villain, as well as one of the original Legion of Doom mainstays. Like a lot of Wonder Woman villains she's been vastly reinterpreted over the years, generally as an evolved ape or a human scientist. She's also had her actual role in the story re-imaged more than once. She's been depicted as a brutish thug, but she's just as often been a morally corrupt scientist, or even just a woman trying to turn another leaf. One of the difficult parts of writing her story is to narrow down a single version of just who she is.
Giganta's Comic History
Giganta was invented in 1944 by Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston all the way back in Wonder Woman #9. She was actually a very different character as originally concieved; Dorris Zeul was actually a seperate person, a scientist that evolved a female ape named Giganta into a red-haired strong woman. Marston (who wrote the character with his wife Elizabeth and their lover Olive Byrne) always had so much to say about womanhood in their characters, and the idea of a villain that is a brutish strong woman evolved from an ape... I don't know if I'm quite qualified to figure out where they were going. She was a very popular baddie for Wonder Woman, and was a member of the very first super villain team up ever, the group of Wonder Woman enemies Villany Inc.
The character as we know her changed quite a bit when she was included in the Legion of Doom in the animated Challenge of the Superfriends series in the mid-seventies. She had a similar look, but she was regularly depicted as not only having heightened strength, but able to grow to a towering height (The series was clearly a fan of this superpower, because they would later also give it to another original character, Apache Chief). The comics adopted this, and soon Giganta was best recognized for this ability. In the comics, she was often depicted as having her intellect lowered as she gained in size, although eventually this was removed and she was able to retain her intelligence. She was regularly featured both in Wonder Woman comics, and in broader DC teams, often a member of most groups of supervillains.
Our Giganta Story
Giganta is one of the most recognizeable baddies in DC's cannon, but if we're going to get her right, we are going to have to start by figuring out exactly what she IS. She's had a few different origins, and her powers are going to need a more functional explanation for her to really work.
Her oldest origins involved Doctor Zeul evolving an ape named Giganta into a strongwoman, and that actually gives us a decent starting point. If there's any character who can totally be responsible for this sort of shenanigans, it's Gorilla Grodd. Once we've established the modern version of the character and her initial conflict with Wonder Woman, we invented the idea she goes to Gorilla Grodd, who uses the superscience of Gorilla City to stablize her powers and to give her the ability to grow. The whole concept of Gorilla City is so comic book insane that her powers actually start to make sense in context.
From there, while she has her time with the Secret Society (our stand-in for the classic animated Legion of Doom), we actually like the late 90's early 2000's take on the character where she slowly seemed to be on her path to redeeming herself. It's actually a good look for her.
Giganta's classic costume was a clear refernce to a circus strong-woman, which was probably easier to contextualize back when the character was invented and the kids who read the comic actually regularly went to the circus and saw that sort of thing. It can still work in out version of the story, though, because we imagine it as something she might wear while she's partnered with Gorilla Grodd.
Afterward, though? When Allen Heinberg & Terry Dodson rebooted Wonder Woman's book in 2008, part of what they did was introduce drastic redesigns to the entire pantheon of Wonder Woman villains. The catsuit that dodson designed for Doris managed to convey her classic look by incorperating a little but of the cheetah-print motif, but it also gave her a far more modern feel that worked better for the modern stories.
In fact, it's likely that this design is part of what led to stories of that era looking for ways to paint the character in a more redeemable fashion. It was just a well thought out design, and made her look like a character that you WANTED to root for. Not everything that came out of that era was perfect, but it's hard to deny that this is a stellar visual.
It feels really simple to introduce the idea of Giganta turning over a new leaf. She was always kind of a victim of her powers anyway. Gail Simone made the interplay between Wonder Woman and Giganta work so simply, it was very easy to imagine her actually becoming a supporting character. She was also featured as the girlfriend of then-Atom Ryan Choi, although given the sheer number of references to her swallowing him hole, it was kind of hard to read without feeling like you were being subjected to someone's fetish.
The one impediment is the fact that, as we've written her story, she does technically spend at least some time victimizing people before she tries to drain Wonder Woman's spinal fluid. That's a little messed up, and you don't just want to hand-wave that away. Still, she's a biochemist by trade, and allowing her to finally earn her doctorate and work to undo some of the damage she's done actually feels like a good place to start,
Where does she go after that? I don't think she's quite ready to actually consider herself a superhero, but I can definitely see her becoming a more regular presence around the Themysceran Embassy.