Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 11


Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 11

General Info

Issue No:
11 (340)
On Sale Date:
August 1987
Cover Date:
December 1987
Era:
Dark Age
Story Title:
Fire And Torment

Creative Team

Cover Artist:
George Perez
Writer:
George Perez, Len Wein
Penciller:
George Perez
Inker:
Bruce Patterson
Letterer:
John Costanza
Colourist:
Carl Gafford
Editor:
Karen Berger

Characters

Main:
Wonder Woman (Princess Diana), Steve Trevor, Etta Candy, Julia Kapatelis
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
Echidna
Olympians:
Pan, Eos, Dionysus, Zeus, Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, Hera, Hermes, Athena, Morpheus
Amazons:
Hippolyta, Philippus, Menalippe
Other:
Diana Trevor
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Comments

This issue features part two of the “Challenge Of The Gods” story line and climaxes with Wonder Woman meeting her true heritage and a major change to her origin story, particularly as far as the design of  her iconic costume is concerned.

Synopsis

High up in Olympus, Zeus and the other Gods look on as Princess Diana confronts the raging beast known as the seven headed Hydra as part of several tasks she has been challenged to undertake in order to prove her worthiness. Zeus believes she will not survive and Pan replies that her destruction will surely make the other Amazons more compliant. Again he is chastised by his father, Hermes, who in turn is told by Hera that he must have faith in Diana.

Aphrodite looks on in horror, wondering what good her gifts of beauty and love will do the Amazon Princess now, but Athena tells her that beauty of the soul can be a great weapon if it can remain uncorrupted. Dionysus adds that if Diana can survive this fiery challenge she is indeed worthy of his support.

Elsewhere, Artemis tells Apollo that she fears for the daughter of Gaea’s womb whom she helped birth. Her blood boils that Zeus might heed Pan’s vile suggestions and defile the glorious Amazon race! Should Diana truly fail then what will become of her sisters? She worries that the Gods themselves may not prove worthy of her…

Down below, Wonder Woman uses her shield to protect herself from another blast of fiery breath. She knows that beheading the monster will serve no purpose as legends tell of how the creature will merely grow new heads. Although the speed granted to her my Hermes at birth has thus far prevented her from being incinerated, it is only a matter of time before the Hydra finally manages to strike its target. Wonder Woman is hit full on and engulfed in a fierce fireball, sending her plummeting downwards. It is only the volcanic ash into which she falls that extinguishes the flames before they have a chance to completely consume her.

She struggles to her feet, her skin still smouldering from the attack. She realises she must rethink her strategy if she is to survive. She can see beyond the Hydra some sort of portal which is most likely the path to her next challenge. She must somehow distract the beast long enough for her to reach it. Noticing the massive columns which support the cavern’s ceiling, she flies at one of them at full speed, smashing it with a blow so powerful it shatters the very axe she wields. The ancient cavern trembles and stone begins to fall from above. The Hydra is struck and momentarily dazed, finds itself pinned by the debris. Wonder Woman unhooks her lasso and uses it to bind close the seven heads, thus containing the Hydra’s field of fire. She ties the other end of the magical golden rope to a rocky outcrop and with the creature now suitably leashed, she fires three arrows into its exposed underbelly. Her aim is perfect and she strikes the Hydra’s heart.

As it screams in its death song though, it becomes consumed in the surrounding flames of its own lair and Wonder Woman rushes to retrieve her lasso. For the next several seconds the Amazon Princess struggles to free her precious lariat as the Hydra sinks forever beneath the molten magma below. Its violent death-throes churn the ruined cavern into a frenzy and belches fire that sends the stunned Wonder Woman hurtling uncontrollably through the super-heated air, only to slam with startling finality against the heavy cavern floor, shattering her armour into pieces! She lies deathly still, smoke rising from her scorched skin as the God Morpheus looks on from above. He tells the watching Eros that he is allowing the Amazon Princess to sleep for a while, as her body has experienced great pain and it will help heal her wounds. But sleep is only a temporary friend and too much will quickly destroy her. He therefore challenges her to free herself from the temptation of Morpheus’ “bliss” if she can!

Meanwhile hundreds of miles away in Oklahoma, Steve and Etta arrive on a commercial jet liner at the municipal airport. He tells Etta it feels strange being back home after so long. They are greeted in the Terminal by Steve’s cousin Doug Aanonson who sorrowfully informs them that Steve’s father has already passed away. Doug then tells his crestfallen Cousin that his father’s last words were about Steve. Etta comforts Steve who whispers that he never had a chance to say goodbye. First Matt Michaelis, the closest thing he ever had to a brother and now his father. He tells Etta he is glad she accompanied him because right now he feels terribly alone…

Elsewhere on Paradise Island, Queen Hippolyta wanders alone through the royal palace. She has spent her whole life honouring the Gods placing faith in their judgement, but now she fears the weight of such blind trust may be more than she can bear. Why did the Goddesses bless her with a daughter if they intended to continually take her away from her mother? It has been said that Heracles was in a mad fever induced by Hera when he ravished Hippolyta and her sisters before ravaging their city. Could such madness now be controlling Zeus too and if so, how can she possibly disobey the Gods without raising their ire?

Just the she feels a cold chill clutch her heart and she turns to see a large black vulture perched on a branch just outside the window. Yet there are no such vultures here on Paradise Island! Its eyes stare right through her, dark, and burning. The Carrion somehow touches Hippolyta’s mind and soul and the answer to her silent prayers at last become clear. She raises her hands to her forehead and slowly removes her crown. It is time for the queen to surrender to the mother in her!

A few minutes later a guard calls for Menalippe as an armed warrior is spotted racing towards the Cavern of Doom. From the standard she wears it is clearly Hippolyta. As Menalippe has feared, she believes the queen has gone mad. Obviously the danger to her daughter was too much to bear. She calls for Philippus and her soldiers to stop the queen before it is to late.

Meanwhile outside of the Cavern of Doom at the doorway itself, whispers of evil can be seen escaping from the broken seal, while inside Wonder Woman tries to escape in her own way. She rolls over, in pain and desperately wanting to sleep. But she knows she must continue the quest set for her by Zeus. She struggles to her feet, knowing she must stay mobile or risk slumber engulfing her once more.

The Hydra is no more and her way to the cavern’s exit is clear. But as she makes her way across the open space she realises there are actually two portals. Which one should she choose? All her weapons and armour were destroyed in the battle against the creature and she now only has the lasso to help her now. She has no choice but to try each tunnel in turn and prays for her lasso to show the right way. As she tries to concentrate though an incessant wailing erupts, making it hard for her to think. She has never heard such a sound, so pathetic and filled with unspeakable dread. She clamps her hands over her ears desperately trying to block the sound out…but cannot shut out the fear it induces in her! It sweeps over her…irrational and uncontrollable, as her widened eyes behold with horror the swirling stuff of nightmares! The portal suddenly fills with writhing shapes of her fallen Amazon sisters crying out for help. She tries to make sense of what she sees as they moan how they were slain while defending Doom’s Doorway. Their souls have been trapped here ever since awaiting their saviour. They beg her to save them before they are swept away and reach out for the Amazon Princess.

Wonder Woman holds her hands to her head, unable to judge whether this is real or not. But she knows she cannot stand idly by and watch their souls burn! She pleads for Athena to help show her what she must do. Suddenly she sees another vision of Julia Kapatelis, trapped within a giant spider’s web. Her friend cries out to Diana, saying that it hurts so terribly and for the Amazon not to leave her here. She is dying and adds that if Diana really loves her she will help set her free. As tears roll down Julia’s cheeks, the shocked Amazon rushes forward to help her friend but as she reaches her hands out, Julia transforms into Echidna, a She-Serpent! She wraps the surprised Wonder Woman in her coils and raises her axe, preparing to strike!

Just outside Doom’s Doorway meanwhile, Hippolyta arrives at the entrance, left unguarded as per the God’s instructions. She dismounts and raves towards the massive door as the Vulture settles on a nearby branch to watch. Just then she is brought crashing down by Philippus who begs her to return to the city as she is in great danger here. She draws her sword and pleads with her queen and good friend not to force her to raise arms. Hippolyta tells her captain that she must not stop her because although she cannot explain why, she knows the Gods have made an error. Philippus replies that if the Gods are indeed wrong then the proof will be her death, for she cannot allow Hippolyta inside the cavern. But as the Amazon Captain raises her sword the Vulture swoops down and attacks her eyes. Seizing the opportunity, Hippolyta attacks but Philippus manages to throw the queen over her shoulder. As Philippus makes her own attack though, Hippolyta grabs her head between her legs, squeezing for all her worth. The Amazon captain grits her teeth and stammers that although she loves Diana too, is the queen really prepared to sacrifice the entire Amazon race to save her? Hippolyta replies that she does what a mother must and orders Philippus to surrender before she is forced to hurt her. But the Amazon Captain has other ideas and grabbing the queen’s legs, hurls her into a nearby tree. As Philippus advances on Hippolyta she is struck by a savage kick from the queen.

Battle rages, between two spiritual sisters whose hearts break anew with each blow landed though no quarter is ever asked or given. They are both warriors born and for them such combat can end only one of two ways – in victory…or in death! As the two women struggle, the Vulture watches every move silently with its beady eyes until finally Hippolyta pins Philippus down. The queen knows she must leave her opponent senseless before she stands up or else she will not rest until she has slain the queen. Raising her fist and with tears in her eyes. she lifts her fist and slams it into her opponents face.

Soon, as the Vulture circles over head, Hippolyta secures the unconscious Philippus onto her horse. The Amazon Captain can return to the city unashamed for no warrior has ever fought more valiantly nor known a more honourable defeat. She just hopes that both she and the other Amazons will find it in their hearts to forgive Hippolyta somehow for she does only what she must. She kisses Philippus gently on the forehead and bids farewell, whispering that when she remembers Hippolyta, remember that the queen loved her…that she loved them all. With that she pats the horses rump and sends it racing back with its unconscious rider towards the city.

Hippolyta then picks up her helmet and enters the cavern to face her destiny, followed by the Vulture, but her movements are watched from high above in Olympus by Pan. He curses the interfering Amazon Queen and has not counted on this turn of events. He fears his true purpose here has become suspect and he must take steps to deal with the disobedient Hippolyta before the terrible truth about Pan is unwittingly revealed!

Back inside the Cavern of Doom, Wonder Woman struggles to free herself from Echidna’s coils. She manages to dodge the deadly swinging axe while trying to keep the serpents tail from biting her with it’s poison venom. She grabs the neck of the serpent tail and crushes it before turning her attention to Echidna herself. As the creature swings the axe down to smash Wonder Woman’s skull the Amazon Princess uses her bracelets to protect herself, shattering the axe into pieces! She tells the surprised Echidna that her weapon is nothing against the indestructible power of her bracelets, just as her strength is as nothing before Diana’s! With that Wonder Woman grabs the She-Serpent’s tail and swings her round before slamming her into the rock face.

A swarm of small demons snap at her, trying to distract her from her goal but just where is her goal? Just then she sees a pool of liquid light below her which seems to be calling her. But is it a true summons or simply another trap? She is grabbed once more by Echidna who tells her to ignore the light as it is not for such as her. The fact that her foe is so desperate to keep her form it is good enough for Wonder Woman who punches Echidna, sending her sailing into the gloom.

The Amazon Princess then dives down towards the light, praying that this is indeed the true exit from the cavern. She flies through the glowing portal and finds herself in a storm tossed sky. Suddenly she sees a jet plane dodging the barrage of lightning bolts and recognises it as Steve’s plane. It would seem that the Gods have returned her to that fateful moment when she rescued the air force pilot. She then hears a booming voice welcome her. “Boreas greets thee as my obedient winds sweep away the great mystery that impedes thy quest for fulfilment!”. Instantly she loses her control of flight and plunges into the ocean, sinking deeper and deeper. Amazingly though, she can still breath and as she approaches the ocean floor she can see the wreckage of what she assumes is the jet plane. It is too damaged to be sure but what else could it be but Steve’s Phantom jet?

Next she is welcomed by Poseidon, who informs her that she has entered into a portion of his own essence and must have faith. As the sea washes away the mystery she has for so long pondered so shall she meet who she truly is. As light surrounds her she suddenly finds herself resting on the ocean floor as it were dry land, her body not even wet. She stands up and walks over to the plane wreckage which seems smaller than she remembered Steve’s plane being. Is this the Gods’ way of telling her she has a special bond with Colonel Trevor? As she inspects the wreckage closer though she realises that this is not the same plane. It seems an older model, less sophisticated.

Suddenly she hears a woman’s voice call to her and looks up to see a cloaked figure standing on a tall rock formation. The woman tells her she has been waiting a long time for her arrival. Diana is surprised to hear the woman speaking English with an American accent and tries to gauge who she is, but a blinding light behind the figure keeps her in shadow. Slowly the light dims and at last Wonder Woman can see who she is talking to.

A blonde woman wearing her Amazon Armour smiles down at her and tells her that she is the warrior for whom Diana was named. If she likes, the Amazon Princess can call her…Diana!