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You are in: Galleries > Wonder Woman > Volume Two > Issues 1-50 > Issue 34 (363)

Issue Number: 34 (363)
Published: September 1989
Cover Artists: George Perez, Chris Marrinan
Writer: George Perez
Pencils: Chris Marrinan
Inker: Will Blyberg
Letterer: Agustin Mas
Colourist: Carl Gafford
Editor: Karen Berger
Story Title: The Tournament of the Crown
 
Main Characters (in order of appearance):
Hermes Nehebka Wonder Woman
(Princess Diana)
Faruka Dr. Osman Suakin Julia Kapatelis
Steve Trevor General Masat The Cheetah
(Barbara Minerva)
Batiri Shim'Tar  

Cover of Wonder Woman (Volume Two) Issue 34

Comments:

None.

Synopsis:

The Bana-Mighdall Amazons open fire as Hermes hovers above them. He bellows that they are blasphemous swine and uses his Caduceus to blast their weapons from their hands! Never have they faced such sheer unbridled power but despite the overwhelming onslaught they fight on - they are Amazons and they will surrender to no Man! They bring up a cannon and hit the God square on but still he does not fall. His eyes fill with more rage than ever as he retaliates, destroying the cannon with one blast of his Godly energy.

Nehebka and Wonder Woman watch the chaos from the window above and the Amazon Princess realises she must act before there are deaths. She swoops down and calls to him. But amid the cacophonous clamour of battle Hermes does not hear or even notice her. Similarly, Wonder Woman fails to notice a sudden difference in Hermes' cries - the difference between anger and pain - as a bullet strikes him.

Wonder Woman decides there is nothing for it but to intervene directly and places herself between the God and the Bana-Mighdalls, deflecting the barrage of bullets. Nehebka orders the Amazons to cease fire immediately and to honour their Queen's dying wish for the "Ariadna" not to be harmed. Reluctantly, they slowly lower their weapons. Hermes touches down on the ground and is helped to his feet by Wonder Woman. He is overjoyed to see here as she asks him if he is hurt. He lies that it was merely a ruse before embracing her warmly. She responds in kind and tells him that she has been praying to him for several days - why had he not come sooner? He replies that until this night he did not even know she was in peril. In truth, it was not her prayers that had called him here but the calls of the "Mother of All". He has come to retrieve that which has been stolen from her and to purify that which has been defiled. In other words - he has come for the Golden Girdle of Gaea!

Meanwhile in the Holy Temple, Faruka makes her way stealthily through the passageways carrying an object wrapped in a bundle of cloth. She muses to herself that her old mentor, Kadesha Banu, had been right and that the arrival of the "Ariadna" was the sign they had been waiting for. It had made plotting Queen Anahid's death unnecessary. However, this new invader, Hermes, will spoil everything so there is no time to waste. The fool Nehebka will lead the city to ruin - the time has come therefore for a New Order to reign over Bana-Mighdall!

She keeps to the shadows as she makes her way down to the lower city, continuing to dream of how Bana-Mighdall will become mightier than ever as her people reach out with weapons drawn and carve out a new kingdom beyond the walls of sand! She smiles as she thinks to herself that her teacher, Kadesha Banu, will not be deprived of her greatest triumph and that she will bear witness to the Tournament of the Crown!

Faruka at last arrives at her destination and is greeted by another two Amazons. She tells them the time has come as she unwraps the bundle and stares at the glowing object that lies within. She instructs them to take her to where the chosen one waits...

Elsewhere in an airfield outside the Eastern Desert, a private plane touches down. As Julia Kapatelis and Steve Trevor disembark they are greeted by Dr. Osman Saukin who introduces them to the man standing with him, General Masat. The General greets them and adds that while he has heard much about this so called "Wonder Woman" and understands why Julia is here, he questions the reason for the presence of an Air Force Colonel? Steve assures Masat that he has retired from the service and that he is here purely for personal reasons. They have all been very worried about the welfare of Princess Diana. Masat sternly responds that they should be concerned, especially as Wonder Woman had entered his country without a passport!

Osman intervenes, saying that the Consulate has already taken care of the matter and that they should not let this blow up into an international incident! Julia concurs, adding that they simply want to find Diana and prevent any more loss of innocent lives. An unimpressed Masat asks how they propose to do that? Steve replies that they have the key to the whereabouts of the marauders who murdered the villagers of Syene Kesh. When Masat asks him where he has come upon such information, Steve reaches into his pocket, producing a miniature glowing Caduceus before replying "From a God."

Back in the city of Bana-Mighdall, Hermes waits upon a rooftop while Wonder Woman and Nehebka have a debate in Nehebka's quarters across the city. Diana has asked Nehebka to relinquish the Girdle as requested by Hermes but Nehebka flatly refuses. She asks Wonder Woman why they should surrender the Girdle- the symbol of all that the Bana-Mighdalls represent - to a Man? Even worse, a man who dared attack them and then proclaim himself a God? Nehebka then sternly tells Wonder Woman that she has been lenient with Diana because of her Queen's dying wish, but the Amazon Princess is pushing this too far!

Wonder Woman replies that she has already explained the Girdle's history and how it was a gift from Olympus to her mother, Hippolyta. Nehebka nods, adding that she has also heard Diana explain how her own Golden lasso is the reforged belt that the Gods bequeathed Antiope - the Bana-Mighdall's Queen. This being the case, that lasso which Wonder Woman had so furiously fought to retrieve belongs to them! Will she give it back simply because Nehebka asks for it? Of course not!

Wonder Woman scowls and says that if her Gods desired the return of the lasso then she would gladly give it back. Nehebka tells her that in that case she should surrender it, because that man outside is not their God! Whatever he is, Hermes very presence is endangering the city and he must either leave - or be killed. That is her final answer on the subject and she instructs Diana to pass her answer on to the waiting Hermes.

Not far away in the desert a helicopter flies towards the swirling dust storm. On board are Steve and General Masat. The General wonders where this strange storm has suddenly sprung from and Steve replies that according to the glowing Caduceus, Hermes and Diana are somewhere inside. He picks up the radio and contacts Julia who is waiting at a base camp together with Osman and some of the General's troops. She asks Steve if he has found Diana and the Messenger God, but the transmission crackles and breaks up.

Suddenly, Masat spots something through his binoculars on the edge of the storm. He says that he can see what appear to be bodies! Julia overhears his comment over the radio and panics, fearing the worst. Osman puts a comforting hand on her shoulder and tells her not to jump to any conclusions. All they can do is wait.

The helicopter touches down and they take a closer look. Steve radios back to assure Julia that they have not found Wonder Woman's dead body. Instead the corpses are men, camels and horses. General Masat has identified one of the bodies as belonging to a rebel fanatic named Colonel Hadal. They have no idea what the men were doing out here so far into the desert. It is almost as if they were waiting for something when the storm suddenly caught them by surprise. Julia asks him what they are going to do next and he replies that he is unsure. If they try to fly into the storm they will be torn apart. He adds as an after thought that the strange storm almost reminds him of the maelstrom between Patriarch's World and Themyscira.

Just then Masat steps up and instructs Steve to hand over the radio as this has become military business now! Steve asks him what he is talking about and the General replies that if those female butchers are inside the storm there is only one solution - they will bomb them! Julia's eyes open in horror upon hearing this and tries to reason with Masat, reminding him that Diana is still in there! The General is not listening however...

Wonder Woman and Hermes visit Barbara in the InfirmaryMeanwhile in the infirmary of an unsuspecting Bana-Mighdall, Hermes and Wonder Woman stare down at where Barbara Minerva lays, strapped to a bed. The God comments that for someone who has caused so much death and destruction she looks pathetically frail. Wonder Woman explains that as the Cheetah she was the deadliest mortal foe the Amazon Princess has ever encountered. Hermes then asks why Diana has asked him to see her and she replies that Barbara is in great pain. The fires of addiction burn within her. Wonder Woman has been unable to ease her pain and she pleads for the God to help. He asks her why on earth he should help a creature who deserves nothing but death. Wonder Woman replies that it is because Cheetah is a beast that she asks for his help.

She then explains that as she had battled her foe, Diana had felt the beast within herself too - a pernicious demon fighting for control of her very soul. She had wanted to kill Cheetah so badly and even now part of her still wants to. But if she does - if she simply does nothing and lets this woman die - then she will have become no better than the Cheetah. In other words, the beast within her will have won.

Hermes smiles and agrees to help. As he leans over Barbara and applies his hands to her body he tells Wonder Woman that he hopes the Amazon Princess will not live to rue this day.

As the Olympian tends to the Cheetah, a dispute is taking place within the city's Mosque. Faruka addresses the assembled throng, telling them that Hermes is yet another of the accursed "Ariadna's" accomplices, as was the Cheetah before her. Hermes' attack on them proves that they will do anything to steal the sacred treasure. The time has come therefore for the Bana-Mighdalls to teach these treacherous jackals a lesson they will never forget! Just then one of the listening Amazons interrupts, reminding Faruka that it had been Wonder Woman who had stopped Hermes' assault. The God could easily have destroyed them all then and there and Nehebka has spoken at length with Wonder Woman, believing she does not mean them any harm.

A furious Faruka snaps back that Nehebka is not their Queen! She is nothing more than a spineless pawn whose gullibility will bring their holy city crashing down upon their heads! Queen Anahid is dead and the time has come for a New Order!

Just then Nehebka enters the room, her sword drawn. She tells Faruka that it takes more than brave words to make her an Amazon Queen! This day has been long in the coming. She always knew that eventually it would come down to the two of them. If this is a royal challenge then she gladly accepts it! A smiling Faruka calmly replies that it is not she who challenges Nehebka to the Tournament of the Crown. She is merely a representative...a herald...for their future, rightful Queen. A confused Nehebka turns to confront this challenger who emerges behind her...

Back in the infirmary Hermes finds that his powers are not working. He tells a shocked Wonder Woman that it must be the effects that Bana-Mighdall is having on him and that they must leave this place at once! He tells her that they must retrieve Gaea's Girdle and depart forthwith. Diana asks what happens if the Bana-Mighdall's refuse to relinquish the Girdle and Hermes snaps back that the matter is not up for debate.Suddenly though he cries out and falls to his knees, obviously in pain! A concerned Wonder Woman assumes he is suffering from the injury he obtained earlier but he tells her that he felt this pain before, back at his Temple in New Hampshire. It is Gaea's voice...her anguish...which brought him here. They must get the Girdle out of this city! Wonder Woman replies that she will do as he asks but Hermes leaps to his feet and tells her that this is a task for an Olympian. He then instructs her to bring Barbara with them if she wishes to save her, before using his Caduceus to lead him to the Girdle.

Wonder Woman scoops Barbara up in her arms and rushes after Hermes, worried that the God is not well and will need help. She sees him enter a building and as she prepares to follow an Amazon named Batiri standing outside warns her not to follow. Almost instantly Hermes is hurled back out by some unseen force! He lands with a thud on the ground and placing Barbara down, Wonder Woman races over to check he is unhurt. He tells her he has never felt such a force before - not from anything mortal.

Wonder Woman then hears her name called and she recognises the voice as that of Faruka. The Amazon tells Diana that she had overheard Batiri warning the Princess not to "follow her male dog", Hermes, into the Mosque. She goads that if she was as much of a coward as Wonder Woman obviously is, she too would have heeded the warning! An enraged Diana accepts the challenge and runs into the building as Hermes yells after her not to go in.

The cold air in the gloomy room is filled with a smell like swamp water mixed with Ether. As Wonder Woman slows her advance her hunter's eyes adjust to the harsh glare of flickering torches. Amid the dancing shadows she discerns the nature of this dismal Temple she has entered. Erected on the altar are several poles upon which are skewered the severed heads of several Amazons, including that of Queen Anahid! Behind them lie shelves and shelves of more heads! Wonder Woman realises she has entered the Bana-Mighdall's Temple of the Dead which must contain literally thousands of heads - their eyes all frozen in eternal stares and all looking in the same direction.

As she turns to follow their gaze an object is thrown at her and she uses her bracelets to deflect it. To her horror she realises the object is none other than the severed head of Nehebka! Suddenly the room if filled with light and Wonder Woman stares in shock at the two figures standing before her. A smirking Faruka tells Diana that the foolish Nehebka had thought she possessed the power to be Queen. But she has learned what real power is, just as Wonder Woman is about to learn! She proudly points to the armour clad woman standing in front of her, whose face is masked and who wears a tiara that looks vaguely similar to Diana's. Faruka introduces her as the new Queen of Bana-Mighdall - and whose name is Shim'Tar!

Faruka tells Shim'tar that Wonder Woman has dared disregard their laws and that she challenges their right to exist. By doing so she challenges Shim'Tar's right to the crown. How does her mighty Queen respond to that? Shim'Tar raises her fists and replies that she responds though rite of combat - the Tournament of the Crown!

Shim'Tar pounds Wonder Woman mercilessly!With that she charges at Wonder Woman and tells Diana to prepare to die! The Amazon Princess readies herself, staring deeply into the prism eye pieces of her opponent's mask, searching for some inkling of humanity beneath the armour. It is a mistake she will regret! Suddenly the tiara lights up and momentarily blinds Wonder Woman, allowing Shim'Tar to strike the first blow, sending Diana reeling. Faruka cheers her Queen on, reminding her to use all her training as Shim'Tar unleashes a relentless assault! Armoured fists jackhammer into Wonder Woman's body like lightning bolts. Wonder Woman doesn't even have time to scream! As her mind clouds with pain she recalls Hermes' words after Shim'Tar had attacked him. "never felt such force before...not from anything mortal!".

As Wonder Woman crashes through the outside wall and sails through the sky to land several streets away, she thinks to herself that Shim'Tar had trounced Hermes and it is an image she cannot easily forget! As she tries to get to her feet, Shim'tar's rocket propelled boots launch her through the hole made by Wonder Woman and out into the street. As she homes in on where Wonder Woman still lays an obvious questions rattles Diana's addled brain...How does an Amazon battle an enemy who felled a God? She realises there is only one answer...with all of her might!

She springs into action and kicks Shim'Tar in mid air, sending her opponent slamming into a nearby wall. As she moves to press home her attack she knows she must be swift in order to prevent her foe gaining the advantage again. But Shim'Tar is far faster and savagely kicks Wonder Woman, causing Diana to cry out in pain and to fly across the city, smashing into a tower. Realising Shim'Tar is as fast as Hermes she decides her lasso is her only hope and unhooks it from her belt. As she prepares to unleash it, Shim'tar opens fire with weapons attached to her gauntlets, taunting that she is "no stallion that can be easily snared".

Shim'Tar simply proves too powerful for Wonder Woman who realises her only hope is her lasso!Wonder Woman can do nothing except defend herself with her bracelets as the barrage of gunfire sends her careering backwards once again, only to crash into another wall! She recovers quickly and launches back into the air, trying to locate her opponent who seems to have disappeared. But Shim'Tar is hiding close by and opens fire with a huge weapon on the surprised Amazon Princess! Only Wonder Woman's incredible reflexes and her Olympian bracelets save her from instant annihilation! But the blast's tremendous force rocks the entire city down to the very foundations of Bana-Mighdall and sends the pummeled Wonder Woman smashing backwards through several more buildings!

Meanwhile not far away three jet fighters are struggling through the sandstorm. Suddenly the storm changes direction as if something is ripping it apart...

Back in the city, Shim'Tar scours the ruined buildings below searching for her quarry. She bellows that if Diana surrenders now she will promise a quick death, but each second she waits will add a full minute to her suffering. For her part, Wonder Woman ignores the taunting and hefts a huge block of stone up above her head before hurling it at a surprised Shim'Tar from her hiding place. But Shim'Tar simply uses her fist to smash the huge rock in half and goads that Wonder Woman's puny efforts are useless against her. She is power unbridled...the ultimate warrior...and she is unbeatable!!!

With that she launches herself at Wonder Woman who barely manages to defend herself against the titanic blows raining down on her. Down below the Amazons watch the ferocious fight as Hermes staggers to his feet. He tells Batiri that he needs her help or else the entire city will be destroyed. She must take him to the Girdle as he can no longer hear it calling to him. Batiri takes his hand and leads him in the opposite direction to that which his Caduceus had been leading him. She assures him she is taking him to the sacred shrine where the holy relic is always kept but when they arrive she is horrified to find it has been removed!

Batiri's cries however are smothered beneath the deafening roar of a city gone mad...a city in the throes of torturous, uncontrollable spasms...a city about to die! Even Wonder Woman and Shim'Tar's battle is cut short by the earth shaking cataclysm surrounding them.

Suddenly one of the terrified Amazons below cries out and points up into the sky. The others look up to see that the storm surrounding their city has torn open revealing blue skies above and the shapes of fighter planes!

On board, the flight leader radios back to base that the eye of the storm has opened up to reveal an entire city below them, just as the Americans had indicated! Julia, Steve and Osman, who are with Masat, listen in to the radio conversation between the General and his men as the pilot asks what his next move should be. Osman translates for the benefit of Julia and Steve that it appears the city is the source of all the paranormal activities. Julia muses that Diana and Hermes must be down there and may be in great danger. Steve then asks Masat if his fighters can get any closer. The General calmly replies that they are indeed already doing that.

Steve assures the worried Julia if their friends are down there then hopefully the planes will be able to spot them but Masat interrupts him, explaining that the planes are not on a surveillance mission and that they already have their orders. They will blow the city to hell!

To be continued...

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