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You are in: Galleries > Wonder Woman > Volume One > Issues 301-329 > Issue 326

Issue Number: 326
Published: July/August, 1985
Cover Artists: Paris Cullins
Writer: Mindy Newell
Pencils: Don Heck
Inker: Don Heck
Letterer: Helen Vesik
Colourist: Nansi Hoolahan
Editor: Alan Gold
Story Title: Tropidor Heat
 
Main Characters (in order of appearance):
Nick Jones Gene Lewis Major Keith Griggs
Lieutenant Lauren Haley Wonder Woman
(Diana Prince)
Etta Candy
Paula Antiope Hippolyta
Lisa Abernathy Senator Covington Captain Montez
(Tezcatlipoca)

Cover of Issue 326

Comments:

None.

Synopsis:

In a small village inside the country of Tropidor chaos reigns as all out street war rages. As the fire fight continues, two American reporters named Nick and Gene are taking cover behind a car. Gene pokes his head up intent on getting photos of the action and asks why his colleague is still crouching down. As he tells Nick to pick up his camera and do his job, the conversation is interrupted by an armed soldier who orders them to stand up with their hands in the air.

Gene tells the group of soldiers that they are journalists and slowly reaches for his and Nick's press cards. As the officer studies the cards Gene tells his colleague that it is alright for them to put their hands down now. But the officer orders his men to take their cameras away saying that photos are not allowed here. In five minutes this village will be no more and they should leave before he changes his mind.

Reluctantly the two reporters get into their car empty handed and drive back down the mountainside to their hotel in the town.

Ordering drinks at the bar they reflect on the day's events when Gene spots a handsome man sitting at a table with a pretty blond woman. Realising they are obviously not locals, he walks over and asks if they mind him joining them? The man curtly replies that he does mind, but Gene continues that in this place they can use all the friends they can get. He introduces himself and his partner and as he speaks, his cigar smoke wafts into the man's face. Again, the man curtly asks if he would mind not blowing smoke in his face but unseen he is kicked under the table by the woman who smiles and apologises for his grumpiness. She then introduces herself as Linda and the man as Kurt, adding that they both work for National Geographic. In reality, they are in fact Lauren Haley and Keith Griggs on undercover assignment...

Meanwhile in a Washington Townhouse, Diana is sitting at the breakfast table wearing a dressing gown and with her hair wrapped in a towel. Etta walks in and complains about the smell as Diana invites her to try her "world famous burnt toast and eggs"! Etta replies that someone ought to just give it a decent burial and adds that the next time Diana gets the urge to cook then not to bother. Diana asks her roommate why she is so hot under the collar this morning and Etta brusquely replies that Diana finds it very easy to judge people. Sensing something is wrong Diana again asks her friend what the matter is? In a rage, Etta throws her hair brush across the room which knocks over the milk jug, sending the contents everywhere! As Diana bends down to attend to the spill she replies "Now look what you did! Will you just calm down and tell me what's the matter?" But Etta, whose eyes begin to fill with tears, asks Diana when she is going to learn to take care of the household chores? Or is that why the Major rooms with the Lieutenant? Everybody expects her to do their dirty work for them but things are going to be different from now on!

A bemused Diana attends to the mess caused by Etta's tantrum...As Diana attempts to soak up the spillage with a paper towel, Etta then asks her roommate to get this paper towel out of her way! She barges through and in the process catches the coffee pot spilling scalding hot coffee over her arm and down her clothing. Diana quickly rushes to the cold tap and asks her friend if it hurts? But as Diana tries to dab the stain Etta shouts for her to stop hovering over her, adding that it does hurt thanks to Diana! A dumbfounded Diana reminds her friend that it was Etta who had thrown the hairbrush in the first place. An indignant Etta simply tells Diana that she can explain to Darnell whose fault it was and why Etta will now have be late to work because she has to change her clothes. As Etta leaves the room Diana cannot believe why Etta is acting this way and why she will not even admit she started this whole rigmarole. As she finishes mopping up the spillages she can hear Etta in the bedroom saying that someday, everyone is going to be sorry they took her for granted, including her brilliant superior looks!

Back in Tropidor, Gene is asking Lauren what National Geographic are doing in a war zone? She replies that they cover war zones too if that is where their Editor sends them and not all their assignments involve endangered species! They make their goodbyes and once outside alone, Keith tells Lauren that she gave quite a spiel to the reporter and that their orders were to keep a low profile. She replies that his "sullen" routine just makes a reporter like Gene Lewis more curious and she had not said anything they were not briefed to say. As they look around the street Keith says that it is almost too quiet and that he does not like it. Lauren agrees and adds that she would still rather take her chances out here than face the third degree from the reporter again.

As they stroll down the street their movements are watched by the bartender who is standing at the doorway. Just then Gene Lewis appears beside him and takes a photo of the couple as they walk away. Keith is telling Lauren that they have hours to kill before they make contact with "Hot Tamale" and that they may as well do some reconnaissance. Lauren agrees and adds that only Darnell could have come up with the code name "Hot Tamale"! As they disappear out of sight the bartender and reporter look at each other and go back inside. The bartender returns to behind the bar just as the phone rings. He picks it up and is watched unseen by Gene who has returned to his table with Nick. As they overhear the bartender giving directions to where Keith and Lauren were heading, Gene explains to his colleague that the bartender seemed very interested in just a couple of feature writers and two minutes after they leave the bar, the phone that never rings...starts ringing! And he also thinks that their two fellow Americans are actually members of the Intelligence Gathering Community. Sure that he may be on to something, he asks Nick how much more petrol they have left in the car...

Elsewhere, reconstruction work continues on Paradise Island. As a large statue of Hippolyta is raised back into position by rope and pulley, Paula and Antiope watch the proceedings. The Amazon Scientist says that the queen's heart has grown as cold and hard as the stone that bears her likeness. Antiope replies that this may be the case as far as they are concerned but not to Sofia. Paula asks what can be done and Antiope replies that she has called a meeting tonight on the ruins of Science Island. As Paula asks for what purpose they are interrupted by Hippolyta who asks to speak with them. The queen asks Paula if there has been any news from the Princess Diana? A puzzled Paula replies that surely Diana would contact her before contacting them as after all, she is Hippolyta’s daughter? The queen sadly turns away and murmurs "Yes, but I was hoping...". At that moment one of the ropes slips and the statue crashes down to the ground, shattering. Almost as if this is an omen of things to come, Antiope turns to Paula and says that Hippolyta is no longer fit to rule and that Paula should attend tonight's meeting for she must wear the Golden Girdle!

Across the ocean at the Pentagon, Etta sits at her desk mulling things over. She knows the press will have a field day if they discover the general's latest involvement in Tropidor and their department cannot afford any bad publicity thanks to that "Nicaragua Manual". But what can she do to help? Just then Diana enters the office and says that she wants to talk to her friend about what is troubling her. Etta sarcastically replies that she is too busy for an encounter session right now. Realising that there is nothing she can do unless Etta comes to her first with what is on her mind, Diana steps inside her own office. She sees a folder on her desk which she knows she did not leave there the night before. Picking it up she sees it is marked classified and for her eyes only. As she opens it and reads the contents she wonders whether perhaps Etta has come to her after all? But as her movements are watched via a monitor screen by an unseen female, the stranger remarks "No Wonder Woman. Not Etta!"...

Once again in Tropidor, Keith and Lauren walk through the run down town as kids play football in the dirty streets and an old lady rummages through the trash cans. Lauren cannot believe it is so quiet and Keith explains that most of the fighting is taking place up in the hills - where they are soon headed! Just then he turns and sees that everyone has suddenly disappeared off the street. He senses something is wrong too late as they find themselves surrounded by government troops. They are ordered to come quietly and are escorted to a waiting car. Keith asks where Captain Montez is and says that this is not part of their agreement. But he is ignored by the officer and Lauren is shoved towards the open car door. Suddenly she lashes out with a karate kick and floors the officer. Taking her cue, Keith decks the soldiers nearest him as Lauren punches another soldier and takes his rifle. But she turns to find Keith has been grabbed with an arm around his throat and a gun pointed at his head. She is told to drop the weapon and she realises the game is up. They are then bundled into the car and told to lie down. With that, the car screeches up the road and they are told that the "Great One" should not be kept waiting...

Back in Diana's office, the Amazon Princess is digesting the contents of the document before her. Why would Darnell put his career on the line like this by sending Keith and someone called Lt. Lauren Haley on a special covert assignment involved with the opportunist Montez - especially acting in defiance of specific orders to stay out of Tropidor? As her movements are again watched by the unseen woman, Diana uses her lasso to transform into her Wonder Woman costume. She thinks to herself that Major Diana Prince had better keep her nose out of this business but Wonder Woman cannot afford the luxury of prudent behaviour. She feels that something very bad is happening in Tropidor and that Keith is walking into the middle of it. She steps out onto the window ledge and summons her robot plane. Once on board she sets course for South America and as the unseen woman watches her, the stranger thinks to herself that Diana had not even mentioned that Lt. Haley might also be in danger. Wonder Woman is obviously still the same...she speaks for all women...but acts only for men!

As the invisible jet hurtles across the Washington skyline, Lisa Abernathy is meeting Brad Covington in a hotel restaurant somewhere in the city below. The senator tells her it is dangerous for them to meet here in public like this but she replies that it does not matter any more as it is over between them. He asks why? Is it because of his wife Mona, because if so he has already told her he will get a divorce? Lisa replies that she does not care about that and that she is as guilty as he is. She stands up and says goodbye. Brad races after her as she leaves the restaurant, grabbing her shoulder. Is she telling him that she is married too? She replies that Darnell is on to them and asks him if he wants to see their names smeared all over the Washington papers? Especially since he is head of the Subcommittee on Central American Affairs. It could get very ugly for everyone involved and she is therefore finishing things. As she continues out of the room watched by Brad though, she adds that if their names are ever linked together in the media, she will "wave every stitch of Darnell's dirty linen on her TV show!..."

Somewhere deep in the jungles of Tropidor, the car carrying Keith and Lauren pulls over just after a bend as the driver realises they are being followed. Gene Lewis the turns the corner in his own car and sees the vehicle has been abandoned. He has a bad feeling about this and regrets not bringing Nick along with him as he gets out the car to investigate. Just the he hears the sound of safety catches being disengaged and find himself surrounded by soldiers. He raises his hands in surrender as he is searched. They recognise he is an American Journalist and binding him, put him in the trunk of their car telling him that they will ensure he gets his "story"! The car sets off again and soon arrives at a giant Aztec Temple. Keith, Lauren and Gene are forced out of the car and herded towards the entrance of the temple. Gene sarcastically asks "National Geographic eh?" and Lauren replies that they sometimes get challenging assignments! He then asks them off the record what on earth is going here? Keith replies that he has no idea.

Just then a soldier opens the doorway and they step inside. Lauren notices that there is no dust on the walls indicating the passageway is in constant use. As they arrive at the central chamber they are told to be quiet and wait with respect. Left alone in the sealed room, they investigate the walls that are covered with carvings trying to find a way out. Lauren says that this whole situation smelled bad right from the word go. They are going to pay for Darnell's obsession with Montez. Recognising the name Montez, Gene demands to know who they really are and what their connection with the Contras is? At that moment though Keith finds a lever and pulling it down activates a strange beam of energy in the centre of the room. They cannot see where the light is coming from as there is no opening anywhere in the ceiling and as they look on, a figure materialises in the beam. Amazed, they are greeted by Captain Montez who says it is good to see Major Griggs again. Keith asks him where he had gotten all the special effects from - ILM?

Meanwhile above Tropidor, Wonder Woman uses the air currents to swoop down from her plane towards the town. She heads towards the motel where all the reporters are based and touching down outside, bumps into Nick on the pavement. She politely enquires whether she could ask him a few questions? Amazed, he responds that he had covered Washington for two years and never once met her. Now, she walks right up to him in the middle of a war zone and says "Hi!". She smiles and says maybe his luck is changing. She then asks whether he had seen two reporters from National Geographic around here? Inside meanwhile, the bartender watches the conversation with interest. Nick tells Wonder Woman that he has not seen anybody but as he watches her turn and leave he suddenly has a change of heart and races after her, grabbing her shoulder. She whirls round and advises him that it is not polite to grab people and in fact it can be dangerous. He holds up his hands apologetically and tells her that in fact her friends were here this morning. Now they are gone though, as well as his colleague and he has a bad feeling about it. She asks him where they were going but Nick replies that he does not know although Gene had headed that way, pointing down the road.

Wonder Woman hurls the machine gun and the soldier off the jeep!Just then Wonder Woman hears the subtle click of a cocked rifle but before she can react a jeep pulls up filled with armed soldiers. She tells them there is no reason for guns but the officer replies that there is because they have heard of the legendary Wonder Woman's strength and speed. As they advance on her with weapons raised she raises her hands in the air. Then, with lightning speed she grabs their guns and hurls the men across the street saying "Apparently you haven't heard enough!".The officer orders the gunner on the armed jeep to shoot her but Wonder Woman leaps onboard and wrenches the gun from its housing, tossing it high into the air and throwing the soldier to the ground. The furious officer orders his men back on their feet and the Amazon Princess finds herself surrounded by three soldiers, one armed with a knife. She says to them that enough is enough, that they cannot win and that she does not want to fight. She is simply here on personal business looking for her friends. They reply that Americans profess respect for the government yet aid the contras. She grabs the nearest two and replies that she is a citizen of the world and that her respect lies towards all! Seeing that she is momentarily distracted, the third soldier charges at her from behind and bowls her over. Pinning her to the ground he triumphantly declares "So...you are a woman after all". She replies "Exactly" before booting him high into the air.

She swiftly gets to her feet and removes her magic lasso, ensnaring the officer before her can fire his own weapon at her. She asks him why they had attacked her? Under the compulsion of the golden rope, he replies that the bartender is a loyalist and saw her friends and Montez's men together. They could not afford to also have Wonder Woman fighting against them too. Nick then reveals that the bartender plays both sides and that he had also contacted Montez just after her friends left. Wonder Woman asks the officer where Montez is? She is told his camp is 150 miles northwest, somewhere in the jungles. With that she frees him and adds that she is not his enemy before lifting off into the air. Nick waves after her, thanking her for some great pictures!

And elsewhere in those very jungles, deep inside the Aztec Pyramid, Gene finds the whole scenario between Griggs and Montez very cosy as he lights up a cigar. But Montez knocks it out of his mouth saying "No! No Tobacco!". Keith then demands some answers as to why their original plan of contact had been changed? Montez simply replies that he is pleased Keith has brought a woman along with him. As he speaks, Montez begins to dissolve into smoke before their eyes and as he does so, wisps encircle Lauren and lift her into the air. The smoky figure then reforms into the giant shape of the Aztec God Tezcatlipoca who bellows that Lauren will be the first to honour him, followed by Keith and Gene, once the priests are ready to submit to him their living hearts!

To be continued...

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