Wonder Woman – Volume 1 – 199


Wonder Woman – Volume 1 – 199

General Info

Issue No:
199
On Sale Date:
January 1972
Cover Date:
March-April 1972
Era:
Bronze Age
Story Title:
Tribunal of Fear - Part One

Creative Team

Cover Artist:
Jeff Jones
Writer:
Dennis O'Neil
Penciller:
Don Heck
Inker:
Dick Giordano
Letterer:
John Costanza
Colourist:
N/A
Editor:
Dennis O'Neil

Characters

Main:
Diana Prince
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
N/A
Olympians:
N/A
Amazons:
N/A
Other:
Jonny Double, Fellows Dill
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Comments

This is the first issue helmed by new Editor Dennis O’Neil which alleges to take Wonder Woman in a new direction, although it is not immediately clear what exactly has changed from the days of Mike Sekowsky. Diana still wears her now trademark white jumpsuit and beats up the bad guys using her martial arts skills! Still, at least we get an atmospheric cover from Jeff Jones.
This issue also features a back up story in the form of a re-print of an original Golden Age story featuring Wonder Girl. There is a printing error in this issue, as the introduction page for this back up story, whereby Diana wistfully remembers her teen years on Paradise Island as the lead in to the story that should follow actually appears after the story itself! Oooops…

Synopsis

Diana Prince is walking down the street holding an umbrella to protect herself from the rain when suddenly from an alley way she hears a voice ordering her to follow. She turns to see a man standing with a gun pointed at her and as she turns she swings the umbrella at him, knocking him off balance before she karate chops his hand forcing him to drop the gun. She hits his mid rift and sends him teetering backwards with a savage kick, before finally hurling him over her shoulder and into some trash cans!

He groggily tells her to let him show her some identification and warily she lets him produce a badge. He introduces himself as Jonny Double, a Private Detective who had been instructed to take her along to see a client of his. She replies that he could have simply asked her instead of waving a gun at her and he responds that his client wanted to know how she would react to trouble. He adds that she certainly lives up to her billing!

Just then a passing old lady spots Diana’s dropped umbrella and bends down to pick it up. She pricks herself on something and suddenly collapses on the floor. A horrified Diana rushes to her aide as she begins to convulse but Jonny warns her to keep back. Diana ignores him but by the time she reaches the old lady she has already passed away. Jonny grabs Diana and leads her quickly down the alley way to where his car is parked. He explains that they need to get away before the crowds show up or else they will be easy targets.

She says that they should at least have waited until they had found out why the old woman had died but Jonny replies that he already knows what the cause was. He then holds up a dart and says that she had nipped herself on this. He guesses someone had shot it at him and missed, imbedding it instead in the folds of the umbrella. The old woman had been unlucky enough to become its victim.

Diana snarls that the detective is the most callous man she has ever met. Doesn’t her death mean anything to him? As he concentrates on driving he replies that it does indeed mean something but that in his business he cannot let it show.

Soon they pull up outside a night club and as they step inside Jonny explains to Diana that the club is owned by Fellows Dill, the so called “King of Beautiful Women”. They are then led to Fellow’s office by a pretty blond girl and as they step inside they are greeted by the man himself. Fellows congratulates Jonny and welcomes Diana, complimenting her on her looks although adding that he has seen better. However, what he needs is more than mere beauty. He needs female “muscle” and asks her if she has any. She replies ” I manage” and he holds up a thick wooden plank made of Oak, asking her to prove it. She uses her karate chop to shatter the plank as well as the desk beneath it!

Suitably impressed, Fellows tells her that a bunch of fanatics are trying to kill him, accusing him of being a symbol of all that is wrong with America. They have already come close to succeeding and he has been forced to hide like a hermit for six months. But hiding is not his style and he needs to visit his various clubs to ensure his business is running smoothly. He believes the nuts after him are alert to male body guards but will not notice a beautiful woman accompanying the King of Beautiful Women! He proposes that Diana dresses like one of his regular girl servants – or “milkmaids” as he calls them – and act as his body guard.

A stern faced Diana replies that nothing he could say or do would possibly persuade her to put on one of those ridiculous costumes and that he can forget it. He then reaches into a draw and pulls out a photograph of I Ching. He says that he knows her Chinese mentor is blind and that he can pay her enough money to enable Ching to be operated on and have his sight returned. He asks her again to accept the job and she leans over, saying that she happens to agree with the people trying to kill Fellows in that he is indeed a symbol of sickness, taking feminine beauty and perverting it, making girls nothing but sexual objects. However, for Ching’s sake she will help him.

In a specially equipped Gym provided by Fellows, Diana trains for sixteen hours a day, seven days a week, pushing her body to its limits to achieve a peak of perfection. Karate; Kung-Fu; Judo; Yoga. At last the Wonder Woman is ready!

Finally on a blustery night, she walks a snow swept avenue with her teacher, mentor and best friend I Ching. He tells her he can detect unusual health in her tonight. She tells him she has been working out, sharpening her fighting abilities. He asks her why and she replies that it is for a very special reason which she will tell him all about once she has returned from from her trip.

They are met at the railway station by Jonny Double and Diana bids I Ching a fond farewell. She and Jonny then board Fellows’ private train and set off into the mountains. On board Fellows, Jonny and Diana relax in the luxurious surroundings of the train as they while away the hours. Suddenly though the train tilts and slips off the rails! Jonny draws his gun and slowly steps off the train followed by an ever alert Amazon Princess. Jonny sees that the track has been jimmied loose deliberately which means that have got company.

Suddenly two figures wearing purple hoods and cloaks leap down from the roof of the train onto the pair. Jonny and Diana react quickly and deal with their attackers before racing back onto the train. They arrive just in time to find Fellows cowering on the floor as another cult stands over him armed with a sword, ready to strike! Diana leaps across the carriage feet first and ploughs into the cultist, karate chopping him into unconsciousness as he lies stunned on the floor. She then turns to help Jonny who is also under attack from a fourth cultist. Once again she uses her deadly skills to neutralise the foe.

Another cult member appears though and Jonny says to Diana for her to leave this one to him. As he steps forward though the cultist raises a gas gun and fires a cloud of noxious green gas at them. Diana and Jonny succumb to the fumes and fall unconscious to the floor. As the cultists drag their bodies off the train they realise that Fellows has escaped during the struggle and is running for his life through the woods.

A short while later a groggy Diana and Jonny come round to find themselves in the Cult’s lair, a cave lit by flickering torches. Standing on a raised podium the Cult leader announces that the tribunal is now in session. He says that they are employees of Fellows Dill who are guilty of aiding him in his degradation of purity and holiness. It is his judgement therefore that they are as guilty as their master. They shall both die beneath the headman’s axe immediately!

Jonny speaks up, saying that the Cult leader should not be so hasty. Surely they would rather have Dill himself instead of a couple of his employees, right? He then proposes that they let him go and bring back Jonny in exchange for their lives. The Cult leader seems interested in the proposal but is skeptical that Jonny can deliver Fellows as promised. The private detective then suggests that they let Diana go and retrieve Fellows while they hold him hostage here instead. The Leader declines the offer, saying that he prefers the woman as a hostage and that Jonny has three days to bring Fellows Dill here – after which time they will execute Diana!

As Jonny is lead away from the Cult stronghold he tells Diana that she need not worry and that he will be back in time. Diana is then herself lead away to a dungeon by a brute of a man. As he manacles her hands inside the dank, foul smelling cell she asks calmly when dinner is served as she is famished. He snarls that she should simply be grateful she is still alive and that she should not test his patience.

As soon as he has left her alone she pits her lithe muscles against her bonds – and fails! Resigned to the fact that she cannot break free, she decides to bide her time as Jonny may have a plan that depends on her remaining a captive. She lets herself slip into a Yoga trance and waits calmly as the days pass by.

On the third day the door opens and the brute of a guard returns, telling her that in one hour the deadline expires and they have still not heard from Jonny. She therefore has sixty minutes to prepare for her death! She asks if he will be her executioner and stalls for time, realising that something must have happened to Jonny and that it is all up to her now. As she speaks, Diana slips the boot off her right foot. She suddenly unleashes a powerful kick to the guard’s neck, sending him collapsing to the floor unconscious. Diana then uses her toes to grab the keys from his belt and lifting them up to her hand she wastes no time unlocking her shackles!

She realises she is not out of the woods yet as she still has to find a way out of the Cult’s lair. She grabs the guard’s axe and makes her way down a corridor. Within seconds she is spotted and has to battle a couple more guards to get past. She feels the air is warmer down one of the corridors and guesses it leads to the central chamber, which she remembers passing through when they had been brought here. That means the exit is on the other side and she will have to traverse it to make her escape!

Just then she hears voices coming from another passageway and sees Jonny being lead to the central chamber by Cultists. There is no sign of Fellows Dill though! She realises she must get inside the chamber and forms a plan. She removes the hood and cloak from one of the felled guards and puts them on…

Meanwhile Jonny is brought before the Cult Leader who demands to know why Jonny has failed in his mission. The detective replies that he had searched every square inch of New York but Dill has vanished. He then offers to be executed in Diana’s place as the Amazon had not been the one to fail them. But the leader is not feeling generous and says that they will both die! Just then one of the watching Cultists steps forward with a sword and before they can react disarms the other Cult members.

Diana rips away her hood and yells to Jonny that she had spotted an elevator sunk into the leader’s platform. They fight their way towards it and leap down as it descends, leaving the cultists behind them. It reaches the bottom of the shaft and as they disembark Jonny cuts the ropes so that it cannot be lifted back up. As they make their way along the passageway Diana asks Jonny if he is Ok and he replies that he is fine.

At last they reach the exit and step outside into the fresh night air. They traipse through the snow intent on putting some distance between them and the Cultists and Diana takes Jonny’s hand. A couple of hours later they emerge into a snow carpeted clearing and Jonny tells Diana that they do not seem to have been followed. She replies that they may have escaped but the real challenge still lies before them. Somebody has to stop the Cult.

As they sit down together he assures her that he had alerted everybody back in New York and that as soon as they can find a phone he will call in reinforcements. He then stares into her gorgeous blue eyes and thanks her for saving his life. She in turn stares longingly back and says that she should thank him, as he had chosen to go back to the Cult when he could have simply left her there.

He notices she is trembling and it is not simply from the cold. He leans forward and is about to kiss an expectant Amazon Princess on the lips when suddenly a shot rings out and Jonny is hit! As he falls to the floor clutching his side, a horrified Diana sees a figures emerge from the shadows. She sees it is Fellows Dill – his face pale and twisted into a mask of madness – stepping towards her with his gun raised…