Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 13


Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 13

General Info

Issue No:
13 (342)
On Sale Date:
October 1987
Cover Date:
February 1988
Era:
Dark Age
Story Title:
Demonplague

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)
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
The Cyclops, The Minotaur, The Chimera, Echidna
Olympians:
Pan, Heracles, Hermes, Zeus, Athena, Aphrodite, Artemis, Harmonia, Ares
Amazons:
Hippolyta
Other:
N/A
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Comments

This issue continues the “Challenge of the Gods” story line together with the “Millennium” crossover plot line. In “Millennium”, Diana has joined the other heroes to face the threat of the Manhunters as part of the Goat-God Pan’s challenge.

Synopsis

Hippolyta stares up at the huge stone statue of Heracles, his face wearing a tortured expression. For centuries she has hated him for what he did to her and the Amazons, but her years on Paradise Island have taught her the folly of such anger. What could he have done to serve such a punishment as this? Though his skin is made of stone, the harpies’ talons still rake his flesh, causing him agony. Still, she cannot spare time for compassion now as she must find her daughter.

At that same moment in Olympus, Zeus and the other Gods can also see what Hippolyta can see and thunder bolts arc through the sky. An enraged Zeus holds his hands to his head as he stares at the bones of Hermes son, the Goat-God Pan, lying in the dust. A shocked Hermes asks that if Pan has been long dead, then who has been living among them all this time. Zeus demands that the insidious impostor be found at once to pay with his life for the deception. Hera though points an accusing finger at the Father of the Gods and tells him that it was a deception that he was a party to! For centuries now, his arrogance has brought them nothing but trouble…and she for one, has had enough of it! This madness has to stop! She now knows that Gaea’s destiny is to be finally fulfilled by the Amazons and she will not allow Zeus to abuse them! The false Pan has led Diana to believe that in order to save her race she must complete his challenge. Hera instructs Hermes to fetch the Amazon Princess back at once!

The fleet of foot messenger God makes his way through the void between worlds, still trying to accept that fact that his son has been slain. Such power, enough to murder a God and then impersonate him is almost too awesome to contemplate! Within seconds he arrives at the California Citadel of the Green Lantern Corps where the costumed heroes of the world are gathered to discuss the promised Millennium. Wonder Woman is in conversation with a fellow heroine when she suddenly finds herself bathed in light. As time stops around her she sees Hermes appear before her, telling her to come with him. She asks what of Pan’s challenge and he replies that she has been deceived! The Goat-God was not Pan at all but it seems, an agent of the Manhunters bent on destroying her chance of victory! I doing so he has placed Mankind in further jeopardy! Even as they speak her mother fights valiantly at Themyscira’s core but she cannot complete the ultimate labour. Only Diana can achieve that and she therefore must return at once! He holds out his hand and Diana takes it before they both vanish. For the other heroes standing around them, it appears as if Wonder Woman has just suddenly winked out of existence. While the world needs every hero it can get, they trust that she has her reasons for leaving them now at this desperate hour.

Zeus and the other Gods watch Wonder Woman and Hermes traverse the void again and Zeus says that he can see it now in her posture, in her eyes. She is indeed the one destined to end the madness! The false Pan knew that and used the Father of the Gods. He only hopes his vanity has not doomed them all…

Back inside the Cavern of Doom, the Amazon Queen is suddenly sent flying as the Cyclops’s massive club slams down on the ground inches from where she stands. The creature has woken and can smell food! He grabs Hippolyta and lifts her up towards his face. She yells at him to unhand her at once and he curse his blindness for not having managed to kill the Amazon with his blow. Still, he will simply consume her as she screams and pray that she tastes better than the hairy hooved beast that served as his last meal years past! As he opens his mouth preparing to bite Hippolyta’s head off he is suddenly decked by a powerful blow as Wonder Woman swoops from nowhere!

The Cyclops instinctively lets go of Hippolyta and the Princess rushes to check on her mother’s condition. Hippolyta reassure Diana that she is fine and overjoyed to have found her daughter. Wonder Woman tells her mother that she has learned so much today and that she knows who she really is and the truth of her ultimate purpose. Hippolyta rests her hand gently on Diana’s cheek and whispers that they will talk of this more, once their present ordeal is finally ended.

The touching moment is abruptly interrupted by a roar as Cyclops gets to his feet and cries out for food. He begins to thrash around with his club trying to locate the two women and they realise his actions are in danger of bringing the whole cavern roof down upon them. Hippolyta gets to her feet and says that perhaps he will be silent once she has cut out his tongue, but Wonder Woman holds her back, telling her that there has been enough blood today. She unhooks her lasso and raves at the beast, continuing that she has done more killing in these dark depths then she ever dreamed possible and frankly she can stomach no more. She quickly binds the Cyclops tightly to a stone column using the glowing coils of the lasso. As she ties several knots the creature wails pitifully, begging to be slain. Compelled to speak the truth by the power of the lasso, he tells her that when the Cyclops were banned to the bowels of this island, they fought and consumed one another until only he remained. And that was the Gods’ cruellest joke – for blind as he is, he cannot hunt and must wait for food to literally walk by over untold centuries. Only once when the already dead body of a Man-Goat was dropped at his feet did he finally eat and that meal has given him eternal indigestion! In this cavern no one can die save at the hand of another so he will know only starvation and indigestion for eternity. As a tear rolls from his single eye he again begs her to be compassionate and slay him.

Diana asks her mother what she should do. The Amazons have known hunger too yet they cannot cold bloodily slay one so helpless. But Hippolyta does not answer and turns to the chamber behind them. She asks Diana if she can hear him calling to her but the Amazon Princess replies she can hear nothing. Hippolyta stares at the distant form of Heracles and says she cannot allow anyone to suffer like that – even he who wronged her so horribly those long centuries past. She races back to him and yells back to a bemused Diana that she must try and free Heracles. As the Amazon Queen races up the stairs towards the base of the statue she thinks to herself that it is as if she was brought here to perform this task.

But suddenly without warning she is struck down by a fiery blast that comes from nowhere. Wonder Woman races to where her mother desperately rolls in the dust to extinguish the flames before they can consume her. But before she can reach her mother she is hit by a powerful blow and sent hurtling back through the cavern to crash into the far wall. A concerned Hippolyta cries out to her daughter but finds herself being held choked around the neck by a Minotaur. Behind him stands the Chimera and Echidna, the snake demoness. The triumphant Minotaur tells Hippolyta that her daughter can no longer hear her and that the Amazon Queen has reached the heart of darkness where she will pay for her tenacity with her life! She will watch helplessly as the Harpies finally slash the stony skin of Heracles who had slain her son. Then she and her former lover will die together! When the flesh of Zeus’ treasured son is at last pierced, the true horrors of this crypt beneath her island will finally be revealed!

A voice asks “Is this then Zeus’ greatest Treasure?” and before the Minotaur can react Wonder Woman smashes into him fists first. She grabs the beast around the neck and as the two combatants struggle, she tells him that she does not know how Heracles came to be in this predicament but she cannot permit him to suffer more harm! He in turn bellows she has no choice as no one can defy the Minotaur, but the mighty Princess throws the beast over her shoulder and slams him head first into the ground. The Chimera instantly launches his fiery breath at where she stands and she only barely manages to react quick enough to avoid being consumed. The Chimera cannot believe the Amazon is able to move so quickly but Echidna assures him that Wonder Woman cannot escape her serpentine coils. She proceeds to wrap her tail around Wonder Woman, squeezing the very breath from the struggling Amazon. But Echidna hears a voice behind ordering her to stop and before the demoness can react, Hippolyta uses her axe to cleave Echidna’s head from her shoulders!

The Minotaur retaliates and ploughs into the Amazon Queen from behind, sending her sprawling to the ground. But before he can move in for the kill his horns are grabbed by Wonder Woman who proceeds to hurl him across the cavern. He gets to his feet and bushes himself down, telling her that for one who professes to seek only peace she is most proficient in the ways of war! Not even Theseus who had thought he had slain the Minotaur could match the Amazon’s skill and power. But the Minotaur is power incarnate! As he prepares to advance on Wonder Woman though, he is suddenly scooped up by a massive pair of hands. The Cyclops lifts the struggling Minotaur to his mouth, grateful that he has found food even if it seems to be another “horned one”. Wonder Woman cannot understand how the Cyclops has managed to escape from her lasso. The Minotaur responds that it matters not for in a moment it will be dead and proceeds to smash the open jaw of the Cyclops. The Entire cavern shudders with the writhing giant’s pain and the fragile rock bridge which has become the monster’s battleground begins to tremble and quake. Then abruptly it collapses and the Cyclops and Minotaur plunge into eternal darkness without end!

Wonder Woman peers down into the void and thinks to herself that the fates seem to have at last granted the wretched Cyclops’ final wish. She then sprints over to where he mother lies and whose breathing is ragged. She hugs Hippolyta and helps her sit up. The Amazon Queen asks Diana to forgive her for ruining everything. Diana replies that she was right and that Diana had found here what she was meant to find. She just wishes she knew how the Cyclops had managed to free himself from her enchanted lasso though.

Just then the two women hear a female voice reply “Why, with my assistance of course”. They turn to see a woman resplendent in Greek robes appear before them in a shaft of light. She tells them that Diana knew her as the mad woman and Hippolyta knew her as the Vulture. She reveals her true identity as that of Harmonia, daughter of Ares, restored at last to the beauty that is her birthright. Her father has known of this place since its creation but in his past madness he saw no reason to interfere with the false Pan’s plan. However, now that Diana has calmed the madness within him and prepared him to receive that which is rightfully is. She holds up the Talisman which Wonder Woman has used during the Ares Assault and tells them that with it, only she who is pure of essence can capture the demons within this crypt and deliver them to their new host – the war god Ares! If Diana can untie this final knot then truly she is Gaea’s chosen one!

With that Harmonia departs leaving behind the golden lasso and the Talisman. She picks them up and muses that somehow the secret lies in the rescue of Heracles. But how can one release the demons without also destroying Zeus’ son? Hippolyta then says that they have been told that it was their love for their fellow beings that led them to the truth. Diana agrees and adds that even Heracles, who once so grievously wronged her mother, still elicits Hippolyta’s compassion. Perhaps Heracles can only be saved by their forgiveness. She sees now why Ares had Harmonia bring Hippolyta here. She picks her mother up in her arms and flies up towards the top of Heracles, while the Chimera chases away the Harpies surrounding them.

In Olympus, the watching Aphrodite wonders how the Amazon Princess can challenge these demons unaided. Athena replies that only by answering her challenge – to allow the pure beauty of her soul to be her shield. She will survive only if this clay statue given life is indeed one with the Earth Goddess – only if she is truly the living embodiment of all that is woman!

Back in the Cavern of Doom, Hippolyta tries to block out the pitiful moans of Heracles but Diana tells her to have courage. Some great bond still exists between the tow of them or else why would his torment trouble her so? She holds up her golden lasso to Hippolyta and says that perhaps it is time she and Heracles saw each other through the eyes of truth. Wonder Woman then proceeds to bind her mother to the side of Heracles head and then steps back holding the other end of the lariat. Hestia’s flames of truth envelop Hippolyta and Heracles so that they finally see and know what the other has always known. New knowledge and new insights suddenly surge through Hippolyta’s mind and she suffers for the son of Zeus as he now suffers for her! The Amazon Queen sheds a tear as she calls out to her long lost sister Antiope and by this intimate union, for the first time in too many centuries two tormented souls abruptly find release!

Through it all Wonder Woman watches silently even as the screaming Harpies take flight; even as Heracles’ earthen flesh begins to blister and crack; even as the roaring Chimera flees and the remaining pieces of Heracles stone skin fall away. Suddenly a blinding light bursts forth from inside him and Diana cries out to her mother. The nameless nightmares so long imprisoned inside Heracles are finally set free and a stream of glowing, fiery energy snakes out into the cavern. Wonder Woman immediately gives chase as the trail of demons head towards the Cavern’s exit. She flies as fast as she possibly can to get ahead of the evil and hopes her mother will forgive leaving her. But if the demonic horde is not stopped no one will survive! She prays that she has pieced this puzzle together correctly or else she may have slain her mother and doomed Mankind!

She strains to gain as much speed as she possibly can as she edges past the head of the torrent of demons. Ahead she can see Doom’s Doorway cracked open as she had feared, ready to unleash the demon hordes. She stops between the doorway and the approaching horde and readies herself for what is to come. She holds aloft the amulet and braces herself as the torrent strikes the Talisman dead centre. Behind her Doom’s Doorway begins to crack and crumble while the Princess struggles to hold her ground against powers beyond imagination! Violent tremors suddenly shake Paradise Island and the stricken Amazons wonder if perhaps their immortality is at last at an end. But Wonder Woman stands firm, her amulet swiftly absorbing the oncoming evil and thus growing so hot as to blister her fingers.

Meanwhile the rock beneath Hippolyta’s feet gives way and she begins to fall into the abyss but a hand reaches out and grabs hers. She looks up to see the face of Heracles.

As Seismographic stations across the world record massive quake activity and scientists fear the coming of the Apocalypse, the struggling Amazon Princess never once succumbs to her impossible pain until at last the torrent of demons is gone! Wonder Woman dare not let go of Harmonia’s amulet, inside which the demons are locked inside causing it to burn with unspeakable power. Suddenly another force pulls on the talisman and a surge of supernatural power sends the Princess plunging through darkness into another realm.

She finds herself in Areopagus, the desolate home of Ares. The War God greets her and says she has done well. The power she holds is now his and before he would have destroyed himself had he possessed it. But now, because of her, he is at last ready to receive it! He orders her to release the Amulet and she refuses. Such power is not for such as him. He responds that she is said to possess great wisdom. If so, use Athena’s gift and she will understand it is the only way. He asks for the amulet again and despite everything, her heart tells her the War God speaks the truth. She lets go and the talisman flies across to the waiting hands of Ares. Blinding light surrounds Ares as the demon hordes are released from the amulet and find their new home within the God of War. Now at last the ultimate power of destruction is finally his! Consumed now by the very power he had so long sought, Ares hurtles skywards, his triumphant laughter echoing through the decaying landscape of Areopagus, until in a flash he is gone!

Wonder Woman looks on in horror, wondering what she has done. But she hears Harmonia’s voice behind her say that she has restored the balance. The Amazon Princess turns to look at Ares daughter who continues that Diana’s mission is at an end at last and she has proven herself the greatest of warriors. There will always be new challenges for her and the consequences of what transpired here today shall forever shape Diana’s future but she now knows that her creation was not an accident or a whim. Wonder Woman’s destiny awaits her in two worlds and both shall know great change because of her. Harmonia then passes on the blessing and the gratitude of the Gods before disappearing in a flash.

Wonder Woman is left alone in the desolate city but only for a few moments. Hermes suddenly appears before her and Diana begs him to return her to her mother who is in danger. He says he wishes he could but he cannot. Unfortunately one final challenge still awaits her and it is his. She tells him she does not understand as Harmonia has told her all is now well? The Messenger God responds that only because the treachery that misled almighty Zeus was discovered in time. Her next challenge is to return to Man’s World in order to avenge the murder of his son.

She must seek the Manhunter who impersonated Pan and she must slay him!