Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 12


Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 12

General Info

Issue No:
12 (341)
On Sale Date:
September 1987
Cover Date:
January 1988
Era:
Dark Age
Story Title:
Echoes of the Past

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
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
N/A
Olympians:
Pan
Amazons:
Hippolyta, Philippus, Menalippe
Other:
Diana Trevor, Edna Aanonson
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This issue features part three of the “Challenge Of The Gods” story line where Diana finally discovers her heritage and her purpose for being.

The story also leads directly into the events of “Millennium”, a twelve issue “crossover” event that at the time involved almost all of the DC Universe. Although this was a good opportunity for DC to promote their new “Wonder Woman” to potential new readers and give her exposure outside of her own title, the timing of this crossover was a little unfortunate falling right in the middle of the Challenge of the Gods story line. However, George Perez manages to weave it quite well into the overall plot given the circumstances.

Synopsis

Hippolyta has managed to enter Doom’s Doorway through a crack that seemed to have been opened by her now permanent companion, the Vulture. As she clambers her way down the Cavern wall she wonders what has happened to Cottus.

Suddenly she hears a shriek and sees a swarm of demons flying towards her. She instantly draws her sword and begins to cut the down as they swoop on her. Although she is hopelessly outnumbered she notices that the Vulture makes no attempt to help her and must merely be hear as a guide and nothing more.

She jumps down to level ground in order to widen the field of battle. Her sword alone will not be enough today but she has come prepared for more than just battle. She removes a vial of oil and fills the bowl of her shield. Swiftly she uses a stone and flint she has also brought with her to ignite a spark and set the oil on fire. The demons, born of darkness, attempt to flee the light of the flames but not before Hippolyta hurls the flaming contents of her shield at the retreating swarm, sending them spiralling to their death in a fiery torment!

Across the other side of the world in Oklahoma at the modest home of Steve’s Aunt and Uncle, the air force Colonel sits beside the bed where Ulysses Trevor rests in peace. He tells his father he is sorry he did not get here sooner but with everything that has been happening lately he just did not get word in time. There is so much he wanted to say one last time. Ulysses was always there for Steve. After his mother died, Steve’s father took on the role of both parents while still being the best soldier Steve ever knew. Even at times when parted from his father, Steve never felt alone and always had a part of both his parents with him. He always wanted his parents to be proud of him too and as he gently takes his father’s hand, adds that he hopes he will still understand his decision to retire.

Downstairs meanwhile, Etta Candy and Edna Aanonson are looking at a photo of Steve’s mother. Steve’s Aunt explains that she was lost nearly 40 years ago and almost broke Steve’s heart at the time. Etta comments that although she has known Steve for many years he has never really talked about his mother. When she asks what his mother’s name was Edna replies…Diana.

“Diana!”. Wonder Woman is shocked by the same revelation in Doom’s Cavern. The woman standing above her confirms that the Amazon princess was named after her, the mysterious warrior who her mother and Amazon sisters would never discuss. She then removes her helmet and smiles down, adding that she has waited for this day longer than Wonder Woman can imagine. One thing she has learned is that life on a mortal coil follows a grand design and they were fated to meet from the day the Princess was born. It is time she learned her heritage.

Wonder Woman asks what of the Challenge of the Gods? The other Diana replies that challenges come in many forms. The challenge to accept your own significance is in many ways more difficult than battling any Hydra. She then suggests Wonder Woman sits down as they have a lot to talk about. She begins by explaining that she was born Diana Rockwell in a place called Omaha, Nebraska. Both she and Wonder Woman have a lot in common – both fiercely independent and both born with the love of flying. While other girls her age wanted to be wives and mothers, Diana Rockwell wanted to fly a plane. So while a teenager, she became a barn-stormer and putting a PT-19 through its paces was the thrill of her life. Only one other thing matched this excitement – the day a young Lieutenant arrived to ask about purchasing her planes. Within a year they were married and she became Mrs. Lt. Ulysses Stephen Trevor. Wonder Woman’s ears prick up at the name “Trevor”…

Diana Rockwell continues to describe how another year later things went crazy as America found itself in the middle of the Second World War. However, her own entry into the fray was delayed by a welcome arrival. Just after the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, Diana gave birth to their son, Stephen. Amazed by this revelation, Wonder Woman realises that the Steve Trevor she had met in Man’s World had been Diana Rockwell’s son!

Diana confirms to Wonder Woman that he is the very same Steve and that Ares always had an acute sense of irony. Using her son as a pawn was too much of a temptation for him. And yet, Ares himself was only a pawn of the fates as by using Steve he merely affirmed the special bond between the Amazon Princess and her son. She then continues with her story…

Although she had been asked to train other pilots, she joined the Woman’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. Of course, the enemy could not tell – and possibly did not care – if a woman was flying a plane and so they were often used as target practice. With both his parents in the service, young Steve stayed with Ulysses’ sister’s family though Diana always made a point of writing to them both every day. By early August 1945 the war came to an end and the family was at last reunited.

Diana had honestly intended to then become the kind of wife and mother Ulysses wanted her to be but it just was not enough. And so she made her fateful decision…

Elsewhere in the Cavern meanwhile, deep in its bowels, Pan sits on a rock peering down on the charred skeletal remains of the slain Hydra. The Amazon Princess had fared better than he expected against the monster. Still, even in death the seven headed serpent may yet know the sweet taste of vengeance. He has plucked its still smouldering teeth and once planted in the ground, shall ensure the unspoken secret of Pan is kept eternally safe!

Not far away Hippolyta finally clambers to the cavern’s floor and with axe in hand, makes her way cautiously forwards. The Vulture swoops past and towards the two portals. As she prepares to follow its lead she suddenly hears the sound of soft music wafting through the cavern. It is Pan’s pipe and as it works its magic the ground erupts around the Amazon queen! Skeletal hands burst out from the ground and she swiftly finds herself surrounded by three skeletons, armed with shields and flaming swords!

Back at the Aanonson Home, arrangements for the funeral have been made, the military Chaplin has come and gone and the night is filled with memories. They all sit on the couch looking through a photo album. As they turn each page they smile at various Images of a happy family. One photo depicts Steve’s mother wearing her flying jacket, which she had put together from various patches and her W.A.F.S. insignia when she became a transport pilot. It was the last thing Steve ever saw her in…

Meanwhile Diana Rockwell continues to tell Wonder Woman that being a pilot meant making sacrifices, though she feels her poor son made far more of them. She had tried to explain to Steve that she might miss his birthday but would definitely be home for Christmas. The Military was waiting for the new Sabre jet and she had really wanted to fly the new aircraft. But when she kissed Steve good bye he did not kiss her back. She guesses he did not really believe he would see her home in time for Christmas. She wonders to this day how he knew.

However, she tried to forget Steve’s tears by burying herself in her work, especially in the cockpit of the prototype Sabre jet. Jets were still new to Diana and the thrill made her forget everything except the sheer joy of flying! Suddenly though, she had found herself in the thick of the worst lightning storm she had ever encountered. Her instruments went crazy and her wing was struck by a bolt from the blue. She managed to eject as the flaming plane began to go down but the strong winds buffeted her back towards it. By a one in a million fluke the sheared wing ripped her parachute and both she and the plane plunged into the churning sea! The impact knocked her senseless but even as she lost consciousness she could swear the water had come alive and suddenly her life was in the hands of the Gods…

Elsewhere, the Amazon queen battles against the Hell spawn of the Hydra! She manages to decapitate one of them with a swing of her axe and confronting the next one, rages that their power is nothing before her righteous fury! Without their blazing swords they are fragile but as she tries to disarm it, it swings at her and shatters her own shield and forces her back over the precipice! She hangs on desperately to the ledge and manages to use her own sword to cut through the skeleton’s leg, sending it toppling over the edge. She climbs back up to face the final creature, goading it to either attack or flee, but let there be an end to this! It duly charges at her and axe in hand she cleaves through it, scattering its bones across the cavern floor!’

Though dead, its flaming sword had managed to strike her left shoulder and she clutches the wound. She turns to face the two portals and wonders which route she must take to find her daughter? As she steps forward the same wailing that Wonder Woman had endured earlier begins to take its toll on Hippolyta. Despite her protestations, the eternal moaning of the Pillar of Pallor grows ever louder until the bleak bird who has been her constant companion silently swoops forward. Its dark eyes speak to the wailing Pillar in a language beyond words as it somehow understands the creature’s pain. That knowledge brings Pallor some small measure of comfort and for the first time in its mournful existence, there come peace. Hippolyta’s mind finally clears and she watches as her feathered friend flies into the left hand portal. She gathers her helmet and axe and makes her way forward, unknowingly watched by Pan. He curses the fact that the queen has chosen the correct portal but without her daughter here to help her, Hippolyta will surely perish!

Further into the cavern meanwhile, Diana Rockwell continues to tell her story. When she had finally regained consciousness she found herself on the shore of an island. In the distance a sudden, savage roaring could be heard and as she staggered to her feet she could see in the distance an awesome display of energy crackling into the sky. She also heard female voices shouting and instantly removed her firearm, ensuring it was loaded. She then headed towards the commotion and after several hundred yards entered an open area marked by a classically designed Greek column. Beyond the column stood the entrance to a massive cavern, the source it seemed of the incredible energy. Her heart pounding, Diana stepped into the darkness and immediately wished she hadn’t! Before her, a group of Woman Warriors struggled against a multi-handed monster who sought to escape through the cracks in Doom’s Doorway. She had later learned its name was Cottus!

Apparently, Cottus had broken through during a prayer ritual conducted by the Oracle Menalippe, who was now in the creature’s clutches! Diana watched in horror as the Amazon Captain, Philippus was struck down by the flailing arms of Cottus. She did not need to understand Greek to recognise her cries of pain as Cottus tried to tear her apart! Without hesitation Diana Rockwell opened fire! Lord only knows what Philippus had thought, seeing a madwoman standing there blasting away at her tormentor. Cottus meanwhile decided cowardice was the better part of survival and ducked back beyond the portal taking Menalippe with it! Ordering her soldiers to prepare to tighten the seal once more, Philippus charged after Cottus and Diana went after her.

Even as she reached Philippus, Cottus swatted the Amazon Captain aside like a fly. But she sprang back to her feet, battle axe poised and ready while Diana emptied half an ammo clip into the monster! Still, the hands of Cottus seemed to be everywhere, grabbing and clutching at her and Diana felt her skull being crushed while other parts of her body were torn away at. Through the overwhelming pain, as Menalippe was dragged down and Philippus struggled valiantly but in vain, Diana could see two crimson eyes glowering at her from the gloom. With what little strength she had left, she aimed her gun directly between those eyes and squeezed the trigger. The last thing she saw before oblivion overtook her was the blinding flash of the muzzle and the last thing she heard was thunder.

At the same moment as Diana Rockwell is recounting her story to Wonder Woman, Steve and Etta are out on the porch. He tells Etta how it had been the day before Christmas. He will never forget the look on his father’s face as he entered the room holding the telegram. His eyes said it all. Steve would never see his mother again…

Back in the cavern, Diana Rockwell explains how everything was pretty much a blur for a while after that. She can vaguely remember whispering her name to somebody who held her…and then she had died. “You what!?” exclaims Wonder Woman. “She died child” another voice reaffirms and the Amazon Princess turns to see Hades standing there. He tells her that only those who have wasted life need fear him…for the Underworld holds no terror for the innocent, the wise and the brave. He is here to complete the narrative of the living and begin the narrative of the dead. Since Diana Trevor perished in service to the Amazon Race, Hippolyta vowed she would be given a warrior’s funeral. Battle armour and a coat of arms were forged, the tattered remains of Diana’s clothing providing the Standard. Two such suits of armour were fashioned…one was worn by Diana Trevor on her funeral pyre and the second, as well as the mysterious weapon Diana had wielded, were sealed away in a place of honour until the weapon could ultimately be used to help determine one worthy to wear Diana Rockwell’s mantle. That mantle is now worn by Wonder Woman!

Simultaneously across the other side of the world, a gun salute is given as Ulysses Trevor’s coffin is lowered into its grave at the cemetery and Steve and Etta give one final salute. Hades tells Diana that it is time for her to join a loved one who is waiting for her at the Elysian Fields and she replies she has been waiting for this moment. She bids farewell to Wonder Woman, hoping that the knowledge she has gained will help guide her. She has placed all her hopes in she who bears her first name and in him who bears her other names…Stephen Rockwell Trevor.

As Steve and Etta watch the coffin slowly descend he suddenly remembers something he once had told his dad. It had been a night soon after his mother had disappeared. At the time he thought it was only a dream but he had seen a vision of his mother standing over him, comforting him. His dad had said she would always watch over her and now he guesses they both will.

Hades holds out his hands and as Diana takes it, she tells Wonder Woman that she is the living embodiment of all the hopes of two different worlds. The Amazon Princess’ heritage is the foundation on which her destiny will be built! The future should always resonate with the echoes of the past and may Athena’s wisdom guide her!

As Steve lays a flower on the grave of his mother which lies next to his father’s, Diana follows Hades into the Underworld but just before they disappear from view she turns and tells Wonder Woman to take good care of her son. And then they are gone.

Wonder Woman flies back through the cavern, her mind filled with thoughts of the recent revelations. So much is different…so much has changed. She finally understands her special bond with Steve but she still does not know Zeus’ ultimate plan for her. She decides to go deeper into the cavern but suddenly hears Pan’s flute. She flies towards its source and sees him sitting on an outcrop of rock. He welcomes her and says that her next challenge will put her in conflict with powers to equal the Gods themselves! She shall journey to the citadel of the Green Lanterns to confer with the legendary Guardians of the Universe. There she shall undertake her next challenge – to assist in the birthing of immortal man! He warns her though that danger lurks in the form of Manhunters from who no man or woman can escape!

An energy portal opens before them and Diana agrees to take on the challenge, flying through the portal as a smiling Pan whispers to himself “Farewell little fool!”

Elsewhere in the cavern Hippolyta has arrived at a ruined temple and her feathered guide has flown away. She sees a strange rock formation below in the depths and sees a stairway leading down to it. Should she follow this path? Suddenly she hears the beating of wings and turns to see not her guide but Harpies! Outnumbered and cornered, she still fights on but the Harpies are too strong and force her over the precipice! As she falls through the darkness she manages to use her axe to gain purchase on the side of the strange rock, stopping her descent. But as the axe makes contact she hears a cry of pain from the stone. Wide eyed, she recognises the voice and as her eyes become accustomed to the gloom she realises that the massive stone figure she now clings to….is Heracles!