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After her introduction in DC Comics Presents #41, the all 'new' Wonder Woman makes her first appearance in her own book, sporting a new logo, costume and brand new creative team with scripter Roy Thomas and artist Gene Colan at the helm. Bolder, more sassy and edgy, the new Diana is shown on the cover as someone not to mess with.
It can be argued that based on the favourable response to the 'Huntress' back up stories, where Helena Wayne is depicted as a tough, no nonsense sort of heroine, the powers at DC felt that perhaps their Amazon Princess was a little soft around the edges and required a makeover to broaden her appeal and bring in much needed new readers.
Fans seem to be divided on this chapter in the Amazing Amazon's history, either loving the more assured Diana or finding her not the innocent character they had grown to know and love. Either way though, the changes were historic in that the famous Eagle motif on the bustier was forever replaced by the =W= logo that we know today.
This issue sees the return of a well known villain from the Wonder Woman hall of infamy, as well as the introduction of a brand new villainess that would prove to be quite a formidable foe for the Amazon in adventures to come...
Astonished staff at Washington's Metro Hospital watch as the Amazon Princess known to the world as Wonder Woman rushes through the corridors, fearing she is not too late. She stops to ask a nearby nurse which room Steve Trevor is located in, explaining she is a 'sort of friend'. The nurse points the way and takes the opportunity to ask for her autograph. But Diana has no time for fan worship right at this moment and makes her excuses, leaving an indignant nurse thinking what a stuck up celebrity the Amazon is! But of course, she is unaware that the man Wonder Woman loves is currently lying on his deathbed and she cannot think of anything else other than his well-being.
As Wonder Woman makes her way towards the room where Steve lies, she recalls the recent events of how she and Steve were attacked by thugs trying to steal a top secret briefcase. After rushing off to hide the case in a nearby dustbin, she had returned in her Wonder Woman guise to capture the crooks but not before Steve had been clouted over the head with a revolver butt. Then a group representing the "Wonder Woman Foundation" had asked for her patronage and presented a new costume to her, sporting the foundation's logo consisting of a double 'W'. After Steve had been taken away in an ambulance, she had returned to her home on Paradise Island to ask her mother's advice and had had to confront Hercules in a battle of strength in order to free her mother and her Amazon sisters. Later, Queen Hippolyta had advised Diana to wear the new costume as a symbol to all women everywhere.
On returning to Washington though, she had discovered that Steve's condition had worsened and that he was dying. Now, as she reaches the door to Steve's room she thinks to herself that she will never forgive herself if he dies. Stepping inside she finds the female doctor and nurse watching over him and the doctor asks what she is doing here? Wonder Woman explains that she knows the Colonel after having saved his life in a plane crash a few months ago. She asks the doctor if Steve's condition has been caused by the head wound from the blow he took. The doctor replies that it is definitely not connected. If anything, it is almost as if his body and soul are struggling to get out of this world into another.
Wonder Woman is stunned by this comment and asks whether she can spend a few moments alone with him. The doctor begrudgingly agrees warning her that she will not get any response from Steve as he has not opened his eyes since being admitted. At first she thought he was dying but now she just does not know what to think. With that she and the nurse leave Wonder Woman alone to her thoughts.
Looking down at the unconscious Steve, she tells him she will do everything in her power to 'pull him back' from that other world he is withdrawing into. And bending down she adds "I love you" before kissing him gently on the lips. As a tear falls onto his cheek his eyes flicker open! Wonder Woman is overjoyed and Steve groggily tells her he feels like he has been somewhere far away. She tells him to take it easy and rest and he asks her what has happened to Captain Prince and the briefcase. She assures him both are safe and that he should get some rest.
Moments later outside the room she tells the doctor that Steve has awoken and has spoken to her. As the surprised doctor makes her way back inside to examine him, she asks whether Wonder Woman will still be here when she has finished? The Amazon Princess replies that she is not sure as she has promised to pick up something for Colonel Trevor, but that she will be back soon. As Wonder Woman quickly exits the hospital more autograph hunters are left disappointed in her wake!
Next instant a red, blue and gold blue can be seen streaking down the capital's streets as Wonder Woman returns to retrieve the briefcase from the alleyway. As she goes she rejoices in the fact that Steve still lives and seems to be none the worse for wear. After all, he had managed to remember the briefcase and even Diana Prince herself, although admittedly in that order. Steve seems to be completely smitten with Wonder Woman and yet barely notices her alter ego. Of course, she does try to speak and carry herself a little differently when posing as Diana Prince, but even so...
Just then she comes across a bank robbery in progress and confronts two armed robbers. They are about to open fire on the police cars that have just screeched to a halt outside the bank but decide that their real problem is going to be the Amazon. They open fire with their machine guns but of course she expertly deflects every single bullet with her bracelets. She grabs the first thug and while bending the gun around his neck, quips "Thanks for the wrapping practice (sic). After all Christmas is coming up!".
As their getaway helicopter swoops down, the other robber begins to make his escape by clambering up a rope ladder. She warns the onlookers to stand back as another gunmen onboard trains his own weapon on the crowd, warning Wonder Woman not to interfere or else he will shoot. Her impulses and feelings raging a veritable war within her, the daughter of Hippolyta is indeed just taking a step backward when suddenly from out of the sky a beautiful blond woman in a revealing white costume swoops down, her outstretched arms covered in feathers. The woman lands on the helicopter landing skids and grabbing the astonished thug, hurls him out of the chopper.
Wonder Woman rushes to catch the plummeting and panic stricken thug before he hits the ground, telling the man to stop whining and hoping that the strange woman knows how to pilot the helicopter to the ground. But the female has other plans and using the chopper as a springboard, kicks herself away and flies off. This sends the craft spiraling out of control. Moving swiftly, the Amazing Amazon uses her magic lasso to snare the craft, realising that this unknown woman obviously has no regard for the pilot still inside. She manages to guide the bucking helicopter down so that it lands in a nearby fountain safely.
As Wonder Woman retrieves her lasso the beautiful blond woman touches down and asks for everyone's attention. She introduces herself as the "Silver Swan" and she thanks Wonder Woman for assisting her in the capture of the robbers. As she speaks, the men in the crowd all stare at the woman with lust, her beauty seeming to have an entrancing effect on them all. The Silver Swan continues, speaking with a voice like a melodious waterfall. She tells them all that she must leave now but that they should remember her name. As she flies away Wonder Woman calls after her wanting to talk but Silver Swan tells her she is in rather a hurry. As the Amazon beauty watches her go, she thinks to herself that she could easily pursue Silver Swan but she does have a right to her own privacy.
As Wonder Woman makes her way to the alley where she had stashed the briefcase earlier she thinks to herself how strange it was that Swan's beauty affected the men so strongly. Are men really that shallow or is she perhaps giving vent to a kind of envy she has always thought beneath her? Putting the matter to one side, She arrives at the dustbin and opens it to reveal nothing - the case is gone! She holds her head in her hands, realising that it could have been carried off by anybody - a child, a derelict or it could even be in the hands of the agents of a foreign power. She tells herself not to push the panic button just yet though. First she must speak with General Darnell to find out what was actually inside the case. She summons her invisible plane and pilots it towards the Pentagon.
Touching down behind some bushes she leaps out and uses her lasso to transform into her Diana Prince guise. She emerges from the bushes in her Air Force Captain's uniform and enters the building. She opens the door to the General's Office and greets Etta, who asks her where on earth she has been all this time, what with Steve in the hospital and the missing briefcase. Diana asks to see Darnell and Etta informs the General of Diana's arrival at last. Once inside his private office, Diana explains how, after they had been attacked, she had hidden the briefcase in a nearby dustbin and by the time she had rushed off to get help and had returned, the case was no longer there. Darnell rests his hand on her shoulder, saying that he does not mean to browbeat her but that the papers inside the case were very important and that her story is very vague. He reassures her that no matter what happens he will protect her from any inquiries, but she tells him she does not want any special favours from him.
Later, Diana and Etta make their way home. Etta tells Diana that whatever Darnell wants, Diana sure has got it! She has not heard so much heavy breathing coming from his office since her last obscene phone call! But Diana does not find the General's admiration flattering or amusing as she has made it clear she is not interested in his attentions or his protection! As the two women make their way up to their apartment Diana notices a poster on their door advertising for a new roommate. Etta informs her that their landlord has decided to raise the rent drastically and that they can no longer afford it on their own. Diana can see the reasons for having another person share the apartment with them but secretly fears that one day someone may find out who she really is. However, it would look too suspicious if she used some of her Amazon wealth to help out with the rent so it is best to play along.
As they settle in for the evening the door buzzer goes and Diana opens the door to see a plain young woman with cases under her arms. She introduces herself as Helen Alexandros and she has come about the room. Diana welcomes her in and offers a hand with her luggage. Helen thanks her and then holds out the missing briefcase, saying that actually this one belongs to Diana anyway! A surprised Diana takes it, asking Helen how on earth she came by it? Etta then steps in to say that Helen had called General Darnell's Office earlier asking for Diana. She had obviously been phoning about the case but had forgotten to mention the fact that she had found it and Etta had taken the opportunity while Helen was on the phone to offer the apartment!
Helen says to them that she hopes that she is not being too pushy coming over like this but rooms are very scarce in Washington DC. Diana tells her it is fine but asks Helen how she had known there was a connection between her and the briefcase in the first place? Helen replies that the men who had been waiting for the case had come out of the building after all the excitement had calmed down and she had overheard Diana's name, together with Colonel Trevor. She heard that they both worked at the Pentagon and had therefore tried calling there first. She then adds that men frighten her a little which is why she did not hand it over to them there and then. She feels self conscious being so plain looking and suffering from a skin problem. Diana thanks her for returning the case anyway and welcomes her as their new roommate!
A little later Diana is taking a shower. She feels there is something about Helen's story that just does not add up. It would be easy for her to check it out but she decides that maybe she is just being a little bit on edge at the moment. Perhaps she should return the case to Darnell tonight as that might help her take her mind off Steve. Meanwhile Etta checks on Helen who is settling into her room. She reassures the timid girl that she should not worry about her spots as she had once had acne too and they had all cleared up. With that, Etta closes the door and once she is sure she has gone, Helen throws her head back and laughs! It is not a nice laugh, for there is in it both a malignant triumph and a lingering, half-stifled bitterness.
This bitterness began when she was just a little girl and not a very pretty one at that. Her mother did little to help her confidence making her feel rejected and a freak. She began to take ballet lessons, where she could at least feel like she was a beautiful ballerina and eventually joined a professional troupe. Her ambition was to dance the lead in Swan Lake and her troupe traveled around the world, eventually giving a special outdoor performance at an ancient Greek Theatre near Athens. Helen was still just one of the dancers but she gave it her all, hoping for better things. Thus it hurt even more when later that night she accidentally overheard the troupe managers having a conversation. Apparently the lead ballerina was leaving and they needed a new one. When Helen's name was suggested she was described as dancing well enough but the trouble was she was so ugly. As the tears rolled down her face, Helen stayed behind that night alone in the ampitheatre and cried out to the gods, asking why she had been made to be so plain in a world that values beauty? She had ironically been named Helen after Helen of Troy, the most desirable woman of all time and yet she was shunned by men. She hated them all and their cruel world! Just then storm clouds gathered overhead and before a terrified Helen, the War God Mars appeared in the sky. He informed her that surely she recognised her own immortal ancestor? When she asked him what he meant he explained that long ago Zeus had come in the form of a swan to the beautiful Leda and from this union Helen of Sparta had been born. She became better known as Helen of Troy after the Trojan Prince 'Paris' persuaded her to forsake her Greek husband for him. Helen Alexandros now carried that same name, the name of the woman whose face launched a thousand ships against Troy and brought about death and destruction to its brave warriors in the form of a wooden horse.
The girl below then told Mars that she liked this part of the story, as it involved the death and destruction of men. Mars responded that he sensed this passion in her breast, this hatred for all human males which had brought him here tonight. He offered her the chance to dwarf her namesake's grim achievement, asking if she was willing to accept her divine heritage of blood. She willingly agreed, asking what she must do. Unleashing his power, Mars transformed her into a stunningly beautiful blond who could turn strong men into stammering fools. No longer Helen Alexandros, she had become the Silver Swan! He then lifted her up and threw her into the sky. Her fear turned to wonder and joy as she realised she also had the power of flight as well as beauty. She touched down by a nearby Greek pillar in the ampitheatre and tossed it effortlessly aside. It appeared she had great strength too! Mars then asked her to sing like a songbird and as she did so, an instinctive birdlike cry emitted from her lips and the sound waves tore apart nearby trees!
Mars told her that as long as she served him in causing wars amongst men, she would retain her beauty and strength and would be able to summon the Silver Swan persona for up to an hour at a time. And on the day his arch foe, Wonder Woman, died at her hands, she would become the Silver Swan forever! Giddy with her new powers, Helen replied that she did not fear the Amazon and would enjoy making men pay for the suffering they had caused her!
Soon afterwards it was Helen Alexandros who began studying the itinerary of Wonder Woman and learned that she had been seen recently in the company of Colonel Steve Trevor of the US Military Intelligence. From there it was a simple matter with the help of Mars to contact foreign agents concerning a certain delivery Trevor was to make and though it was Captain Diana Prince she saw hiding the case in the dustbin, it was the Wonder Woman herself that Diana had transformed into before her eyes! That proved to be the turning point. Not only did she now know Diana's secret identity but with the unwitting help of Etta Candy she now even shares an apartment with her!
Concentrating as she has done many times before, Helen transforms into the Silver Swan. She wonders whether she should have attacked Wonder Woman outright earlier today and sought to destroy her. But she needs to practice with her powers so that she can be certain that when she does strike at her, she prevails. Besides, it brought her pleasure to sense the lustful desires of the watching men. If only they knew that the War God plans to bring about their destruction!
Meanwhile not far away Diana steps out of the shower and uses her lasso to transform into Wonder Woman, while at the same time magically drying herself! Too bad a NY kitchen and bath designer can't create something that does that for the average woman! A few moments later she leaps from the window onto a dangling rope and climbs up into her invisible robot plane. Silver Swan watches secretly from her bedroom window and taking flight, follows the plane although she knows the destination - she had guessed that Diana would want to take the case to General Darnell as soon as possible. It is in her own interest to let the Amazon reach the Pentagon before attacking. That way, the whole world will soon learn which of them is stronger as well as more beautiful.
As they arrive over the Pentagon, Silver Swan makes her move. Wonder Woman sees the blond approach asking what she wants. She receives no reply and wonders how on earth Swan had found her, especially in her invisible plane? She decides there is no time to worry about that now and to let Silver Swan get whatever recognition she seems to be after with her grandstanding. All she wants to do is deliver this case to the General. But as she leaps down towards the ground while General Darnell and Pentagon guards look up in awe, Silver Swan dive bombs her and snatches the case from her hands! However, Wonder Woman is not prepared to be taken off guard again and snatches it right back! Silver Swan is surprised that the Amazon's grip is as strong as hers and Wonder Woman asks if this is what this is all about - in order to be accepted she feels she needs to be Queen of the hill? If so, she does not have the time to play ego games and with that, she hurls the case down to the watching Darnell.
But Silver Swan uses Wonder Woman's distraction to her own advantage and hurls her downwards, telling her that the case means nothing and that it is only her death that she wants! However, although she cannot fly like Swan, Wonder Woman can ride any air currents available. She therefore manages to find one and glides back upwards wondering why Silver Swan is attacking her? She muses whether perhaps her policy of nonviolence is unwise and that she should just attack Swan outright. Maybe she should question less and fight more but it is just not her way, not without at least trying to find out why peacefully. But Wonder Woman finds to her cost that her tactics are ill chosen as Silver Swan strikes her at near lightning speed, sending her spiraling down again as she instinctively uses the wind currents to slow her fall somewhat, though not enough! She hits the ground like a brick as Pentagon guards race over to where she lays.
Seeing Wonder Woman gather herself with barely a scratch, the guards comment on how the Silver Swan "can sure scrap!". The Amazon Princess informs them that the gloves are now off and that she is "tangling with that killer Parakeet right now!". With that she leaps up into the air at the waiting Swan who mockingly asks if she is giving her all for one last try? Wonder Woman replies that it will be the last only when she has captured Swan and not before! But Silver Swan has another surprise for Diana and opens her mouth to emit her bird song An unprepared Wonder Woman is abruptly buffeted about like a straw caught in a whirlwind, while below the guards cover the ears in pain. The valiant Amazon topples to the ground once more and this time crashes through a brick wall.
As Silver Swan touches down in order to slay the fallen Princess she is surrounded by the adoring guards. Wonder Woman groggily gets to her feet once more and questions why they are not asking why the Swan tried to kill her? They casually reply that she has already explained that it was all an unfortunate misunderstanding because she thought Wonder Woman was stealing the case. As an after thought they acknowledge the fact that the Amazon is not hurt too badly! When Wonder Woman tries to understand why they believe Swan's story of the events, Silver Swan innocently asks why she would want to lie to them? A smiling General Darnell thanks the blond beauty and with that she bids them farewell and flies off. Wonder Woman cries out after her but is ignored. She knows that the Silver Swan had landed with the intention of finishing her off - so what had changed her mind?
Elsewhere in a Washington hospital, Steve's Doctor is speaking with a specialist who has just arrived to take him to another hospital. The small man reassures her that his papers are all in order and she acknowledges this, adding though that it is very risky to move a patient in Steve's condition. The man replies that he will take full responsibility for the move as after all, one must be doubly trustworthy when one has a name like - Doctor Psycho!