Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 17


Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 17

General Info

Issue No:
17 (346)
On Sale Date:
February 1988
Cover Date:
June 1988
Era:
Dark Age
Story Title:
Traces

Creative Team

Cover Artist:
George Perez
Writer:
George Perez
Penciller:
George Perez
Inker:
Dick Giordano
Letterer:
John Costanza
Colourist:
Carl Gafford
Editor:
Karen Berger

Characters

Main:
Wonder Woman (Princess Diana), Steve Trevor, Etta Candy, Vanessa Kapatelis, Julia Kapatelis
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
Mikos
Olympians:
Apollo, Heracles, Zeus, Hermes, Hera, Athena, Aphrodite, Artemis, Dionysus, Hephaestus
Amazons:
Hippolyta, Hellene, Philippus
Other:
Eileen Flowers, Stavros Christadoulodou, Myndi Mayer, Chrissie
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Comments

This issue foreshadows the appearance of one of Diana’s most dangerous foes – Circe, the Witch and features the aftermath of Darkseid’s invasion of Olympus (as featured in Action Comics #600) as the Gods decide what action they should take in response. It also sees my long time Wonder Woman inker Dick Giordano join the creative team.

Synopsis

A lone dove carrying a message from Hippolyta makes its way through the chaos and storm clouds that separate Themyscira from Man’s World. As it makes its way finally into the sunlight once more it heads onwards towards its destination…

Elsewhere it is a cold winter’s morning in Wakefield Massachusetts as Steve loads the car with luggage. Inside the house, Etta hands Diana a special U.N. passport that will enable her to travel overseas to visit Julia in Greece. Diana thanks Etta for her and Steve’s help in clearing the way. Many people assume that she is an American which she is not.

Etta replies that considering the costume she wears as Wonder Woman it is not surprising that people make that mistake. She adds that before Steve had explained the exact nature of the uniform and its connection with his mother, she is ashamed to admit that she had thought Diana’s interest in Steve was of an altogether different nature. She apologises for her insecurity. Diana replies that with all the new emotions she herself has recently had to deal with she understands insecurity all too well. When Steve had told her of his love for Etta she confesses that she too was a little envious.

Meanwhile Vanessa is speaking with her friend Eileen on the phone up in her bedroom. Vanessa tells her friend that she is certain Diana and Superman have the hots for each other. She cannot wait to tell Barry about it once she gets back from Greece. Eileen replies that Vanessa needs to get real and realise he will not care how hard she falls once he dumps her. How blind can Vanessa be? Once Barry realises he cannot get to Wonder Woman through Vanessa he will leave her high and dry. Vanessa bristles at the accusation and says that Eileen is simply jealous. She adds that Eileen should stop making such statements or else Vanessa will stop being her friend. Instantly, a distressed Eileen quickly retracts her comments and pleads for Vanessa not to stop being her friend.

Just then Diana calls up to Vanessa and the young girl tells Eileen that she has to go now. She adds that she cannot believe her mother wants her to spend winter vacation with her Grand Parents in Greece especially as she knows her daughter does not speak Greek that well. She then says goodbye and reassures Eileen that they are still friends.

She then hangs up and descends down the stars where Diana and Etta are waiting for her. Steve then enters the house and tells them that the bags are all packed and that he had found a stranger tapping at the door trying to get in. He holds up the dove and adds that he has a funny feeling the bird is here to see Diana. He hands her the dove and Diana’s face lights up. It must be a message from Themyscira! She removes a tiny scroll wrapped around its leg and says that it is a letter from her mother.

Steve reminds them that they have a plane to catch and soon they are in the car, stuck in the downtown Boston traffic. Vanessa asks Diana to read out the letter as they have time to kill and so the young Amazon proceeds to read her mother’s words…

Hippolyta reassures her daughter that all is well although the Amazons had experienced an awesome disturbance in the Heavens a while ago. At first they had feared the Gods were in turmoil once again but then the storms had ceased as suddenly as they had begun. The Amazons had asked their Oracle, Menalippe, to communicate with their Gods to explain these events. When the Gods remained silent they felt reassured, though Hippolyta felt certain the storms were somehow connected with her daughter. Menalippe had felt an unease emanating from Olympus but she was confident that Diana was safe and unharmed.

Listening to this, Etta asks Diana if she thinks everything really is alright. The Amazon Princess replies that she believes the storms were simply a manifestation of the confrontation she and Superman had had with Darkseid. Diana then goes on to read the rest of the letter, in which the Amazon Queen explains how there have been continued debates amongst the Amazons regarding their future relationship with Man’s World. Hellene has been elected to lead the faction favouring isolationism. Although Hippolyta’s views mirror her daughter’s, she cannot deny the incisiveness of Hellene’s points against Man’s admittance to Paradise. The ever cautious Philippus meanwhile has accepted the captaincy of the camp favouring the exchange of cultures. Her past ambivalence provides a great poignancy to her arguments.

To decide the matter fairly, the Amazons have converged on the Library to study the translations of the pictures and books that Diana had brought back with her from Man’s World. From tales of great advances in healing to those of world wars, these documents are at once absolving and damning. So the great debate continues.

For her part, Hippolyta has taken to private meditation. Indeed, this very morning she had nestled nude upon the clay from which Diana had been formed and gazed upon a “light image” (photograph) of her daughter brought back from Man’s World. It is a picture of Diana with her arm around Julia – the young Amazon’s mentor and the woman who is Hippolyta’s substitute in Man’s World. The Queen had shed a tear, think how Julia’s arms embrace her daughter as Hippolyta’s own arms long to do so more than anything.

She finishes by telling Diana to let this letter be her own “light image” of her mother, to gaze upon from time to time. She adds that she is so proud of Diana and misses her intensely. She prays that her dearest daughter has missed her mother too. “May the Glory of Gaea be with you.”

A tear runs down Diana’s cheek as she finishes reading and Steve tells her that Hippolyta sounds like a wonderful woman. He hopes he will get the chance to meet her someday.

Soon they arrive at Logan Airport and while Etta makes special arrangements with the Customs officials, the others wait outside the terminal as Diana writes a reply to her mother. Vanessa complains about the cold but the Amazon Princess replies that she has to send this note back quickly as her mother must never doubt that she loves her and misses her with all her heart. She wraps the scroll back around the dove and kissing its head, sends it on its way back to Themyscira. An hour later Steve and Etta watch as Diana and Vanessa’s plane takes off.

Elsewhere in Olympus, the Gods and Goddesses survey the destruction around them as Apollo recites a lament. An enraged Heracles shouts for Apollo to cease the dirges. Now is the time for chants of war! He rages that Darkseid must pay for this foul sacrilege and prepares to storm out intent on revenge! Zeus orders his son to calm down though and says that Heracles cannot face the Lord of Apokolips alone. Hermes adds that Zeus is right. Heracles has never seen the likes of Darkseid before. His very essence corrupts and not since the days of mad Ares has he felt such evil. Despite the aid of Princess Diana and the alien, Superman, Olympus survived only through its own mystic nature and the evil one’s fickleness.

Heracles replies that in that case they must unite. Even Apokolips would crumble under the force of the assembled Pantheon! Hera responds that they will be united but not to wage war. Their history is drenched with the blood of violence but the sickness must end so that peace may usher in a new era for the gods. Hermes asks what era is this. Aphrodite tells him that it will be the era of a new Olympus – one so beautiful, so powerful that even the monsters from Apokolips would dare not violate it! Athena adds that it was not by mere chance that they were sequestered away at the Grand Conference with Hades and Poseidon when Darkseid and his Para-demons struck. Artemis continues that thanks to brave Hermes the evil one never learned the location of the conference.

Hermes then asks what of Ares? Surely he will not favour such a new order of tranquility? Aphrodite replies that his daughter, Harmonia, represented him at the conference. Ares remains intoxicated with the wine of demon plague he had consumed. She believes he no longer cares what the other gods do. Dionysus chuckles to himself how ironic it is that the one god who may have thwarted Darkseid was himself too drunk with power to be concerned.

However, Heracles is still unconvinced by what he has heard and begs them to strike back before Darkseid can return to attack them again. Zeus tells his son that should Darkseid choose to return they will not be here. A good general does not provide his enemy an easy target. Out there, in the cosmos beyond even their sight, other Gods exist. There can be no denying that now. Some are benevolent, content with the worship of their small cult of followers. Others like Darkseid would extinguish those who compromise their obsession to rule. Olympus has served them well but restoration will take too long. They can no longer afford the luxury of time.

The decision is made and the judgement is final. Zeus then holds aloft his sceptre and prepares to join with his brothers Hades and Poseidon to seal the pact. As the lightning forms around him, he orders the others to prepare for a new dawn. Upon his return the cosmic migration shall commence! With a blinding flash Zeus departs and Heracles curses his father. Artemis comments to Athena that Heracles’ temper may well test Zeus’ new found patience!

Meanwhile Aphrodite asks Hephaestus whether he has noticed a strangeness in Hermes of late. He replies that Hermes has suffered in recent times so should it really surprise the Goddess of Love? She responds that it is more than just that. Even with the loss of his son Pan, there was always the spark of the old whimsical manner in him. Now he seems so aloof. He stares down at the World of Mortals as if entranced, oblivious of all else around him. Hephaestus tells her that perhaps he is just now feeling what they had all felt ages past. Perhaps he grows tired of being a god…

Hermes continues to peer down through the clouds and watches the passage of the airliner on board which Diana and Vanessa are travelling. As the young girl sleeps Diana thinks to herself how the long journey has taken its toll on Vanessa. She wishes she could have answered the girl’s questions about Superman, but how can she explain what she feels to one so young when she can barely comprehend it herself. In her confusion, Diana had imagined Superman to be like a god. Perhaps her expectations had been too high. Yet she had though they would have had more in common than just unique powers. While her desire is to teach and inspire humanity to embrace peace, he seems to relish his role of enforcer and guardian of society. She respects him too much to publicly express her disappointment and she just prays he understands that.

Just then the pilot announces their descent into Athens and Diana wakes Vanessa. The young girl yawns and stretches, asking Diana if she is excited? The Amazon Princess replies that she is, but also a little nervous. She will be so happy to see Julia again though.

At the airport, Julia and Stavros Christadoulodou await their arrival and he asks Julia if she is nervous? She replies that she is simply excited as she has not seen Diana and Vanessa in such a long time. He tells her he is also looking forward to meeting Princess Diana. Just then the crowd spots Diana accompanied by Vanessa as they enter the arrivals lounge. Never has Athens airport welcomed a visitor like Diana, Princess of Themyscira, Ambassador of Paradise, daughter of a queen who walked these land centuries ago when Athens was the centre of the world. The waiting crowd hold up their welcome banners and a children’s band strikes up as Julia embraces them. Not far way from the joyful welcoming party however, a nervous individual watches the proceedings, sweat dripping from his brow…

Julia introduces Stavros to Diana, saying he is a noted Epigraphist and a close family friend for many years. Diana greets him in Greek and he takes her hand and kisses it, replying that she speaks his language very well. She smiles at Julia and says that she has had a very good teacher. Vanessa yawns again and Julia asks Stavros if they can get to the hotel before her daughter flakes out. He leads them outside to a waiting car and explains that in a couple of days they are set to meet the Prime Minister. There will be a Diplomatic banquet, some speeches, talks with the Press after which Diana’s time will be her own. She thanks Stavros as they get inside the vehicle while not far way, the nervous stranger again watches from a hidden vantage point, clutching a parchment in his hands.

He thinks to himself that she is too well guarded but he has to reach her somehow to talk to her…to warn her! As he makes his way through the nearby undergrowth he hears a noise behind him and turns to see a cat, its eyes glowing red. As the band strikes up again and the crowds wave to Diana as the car pulls way, the stranger looks up into the trees and sees a hawk watching his every move with its glowing red eyes. He runs to escape them but the creatures give chase and as they catch him, his screams of terror are drowned out by the noise of the band…

Back in America a few days later, Myndi Mayer stares down at the newspaper front page which carries an article about Diana’s historic meeting with the Greek Prime Minister. As she pours herself yet another alcoholic drink she calls out for her aide, Chrissie. She tells Chrissie she should get a memo out to all department heads, stating that Myndi wants to meet them all tomorrow at 11am with no excuses. Chrissie asks if she should give a reason and Myndi replies that they will know what it is about. She adds that Chrissie should also order some more liquor as she is all out of drink. Chrissie says that perhaps she has been overdoing it a little lately. Myndi snaps at her aide not to lecture her as she has had one lousy day. She sits back in her chair and downs her glass, adding that everyone has been picking at her; Professor Kapatelis, all the way from Greece, the Clooney woman from the “Needy Children Foundation”, the City Council, and the Lawyers. Everyone wants a piece of Myndi Mayer. The only one who has not given her a hard time over the Charity Fair fiasco is Diana. Oh no, she has to be so damn understanding! Boston’s perfect little cheerleader. Makes her want to puke!

A concerned Chrissie tells Myndi that she is not acting herself lately. She knows who is responsible for all of this mess so why does she not simply fire Skeeter La Rue? A defensive Myndi responds that Chrissie should get off Skeeter’s case as Steve London and the others were supposed to be helping him. She continues that she does not need to explain herself to a secretary and orders Chrissie hurry up and get on with typing the memo and ordering more liquor. As Chrissie exits Myndi’s office, she passes a sneering Skeeter who sarcastically asks if the boss lady is giving her a hard time. Chrissie spits back “Stuff it sleaze bag!”.

Elsewhere on a small island off the coast of Greece, another woman peers down at a newspaper which also carries a front page story on Diana’s visit. She comments to her assistant, Mikos, that the Amazon has a captivating style. Mikos replies that Wonder Woman is nothing compared to his mistress. The woman replies that Diana is an Amazon and that is something. He replies that she may well claim to be an Amazon but some of the dignitaries at the banquet were dubious about that fact. They seemed to regard the Olympian Pantheon as merely stuff of fables.

The woman replies that religious chauvinism has always been such a great source of comfort to her. Though it has been her experience that Amazons are not so easily deterred. She does not like what she senses about this particular Amazon. Mikos says that Diana is only scheduled to remain in Greece for another two weeks. Surely she cannot interfere with their plans? But his mistress tells him that the Amazon’s last stop is Cephalonia and that is too close for comfort. There is something almost mystic about the young Amazon that she will nottolerate! Mikos replies that his mistress has nothing to fear. They had already brought her the crushed heart of the ungrateful cur who would have betrayed her at the airport. If the Princess does violate her domain, then they shall deliver her in pieces! This he swears by the soul of Hectate!

The next morning at the Acropolis, Diana stands alone amongst the ancient ruin. She can feel it like a fading echo or a dimming light. The traces still remain. The Gods were here. Even seeing photos and films of this place could not have prepared her for such sensations. She can see the glints of sunlight dancing on the drawn swords as her mother’s army marched over this land, centuries before these temples were even erected. She can hear the songs of the poets and smell the blood. The Gods were in their greatest glory then. Only great faith could have inspired such monuments. As it is on Themyscira so was it once here. Now she begins to understand the great sense of loss the gods must have felt when man no longer wanted them and the great trust they have placed in her. Despite the cruel winds of time and the onslaught and violence of war, this Acropolis and other such structures still stand. Cities still bear the gods’ names. They may not be worshipped but they have not been forgotten and that itself is a start.

She raises her hands and crosses her bracelets, praying to Athena to grant her wisdom to find the voice that will inspire. Let it be as strong as the foundation of this Acropolis so that she too may remain steadfast in her service. She has must to teach and much to learn. Grant her the patience to do both for the Glory of Gaea!

Some way away, Vanessa, Julia and Stavros wait while the Amazon wanders around the ruins. Vanessa looks through a pair of binoculars and comments “Well, there she goes praying again!”. Julia chastises her and says that the Prime Minister went to a lot of trouble to allow Diana sole access to the Acropolis this morning. The least Vanessa can do is respect her privacy. Vanessa replies that she has seen Diana pray all the time and is about to tell Stavros how she prays in the nude when Julia silences her. Stavros smiles and says he has missed watching the two of them tease each other. Julia tells him not to encourage Vanessa as the young girl is not too big to be spanked! Vanessa smiles and replies that her mother would not dare spank her in front of Diana. Stavros whispers that Vanessa ought to be careful because Diana still has a long walk from the temple back to where they are located. Vanessa points up to the sky and casually says “oh yeah?”. An amazed Stavros watches as the Amazon Princess gracefully drifts through the sky towards them.

As Diana continues her tours through Greece, she realises just how magnificently Man once worshipped the Gods. Great marble tributes recalling Olympus’ golden age including the Hill of the Muses in Athens, names for those who inspire the souls of artists; Hephesteum, commemorating the God who forged her magic lasso from the Golden Girdle of Gaea; The Heraion Olympia, where great athletic games were held in the name of Zeus; the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, home of the oracle whom the Sun God blessed with the gift of precognition; and Lesbos, birthplace of the Greek Poetess Sappho and once the site of an Amazon city…a city destroyed by Man’s ignorance and fear centuries ago leaving no trace except in the eyes of an Amazon Princess.

Diana sheds a tear as she whispers for her sisters to sleep well. She prays they enjoy the splendours of their afterlife in the Elysian Fields and take comfort in the knowledge that the Amazon ideals have not perished. As long as one of the Amazons still lives, the lessons of peace and equality shall be taught. She believes Man is now ready to learn.

A little later on board a boat in the Ionian Sea, Diana and Julia peer across the water from the deck. The Amazon tells her mentor that she never knew it was all so beautiful here and she can understand why Julia returns here every year. Julia replies that she was born here and her roots are here. She was even married here. Diana says that she had never known that and that Julia talks so seldom about her archaeologist husband. Julia replies that he was the finest man she ever knew and as she goes on the describe him Diana becomes distracted by a passing island. She asks Julia if the island is Cephalonia. Julia replies that she does not think so and is not sure it even has a name. She has heard though that some reclusive billionaire owns it.

Diana pulls her jacket tighter around her as she feels an icy chill race up her spine. She says that there is something strange there and she can feel it beckoning…watching…reaching…making her feel so cold.

The woman on the island studies Diana’s image in the crystal ball that she holds in her hand and suddenly the cold overcomes the Amazon Princess and she swoons to the deck. A concerned Julia and Vanessa rush over to where she lays, unconscious. Vanessa feels Diana’s icy cold flesh and Julia instructs Stavros to get them back to shore quickly. For a moment, the Greek man is equally mesmerised by the distant island and murmurs the word “Magia..” before Julia’s voice snaps him out of it. Julia reassures the worried Vanessa that Diana will be OK and has just been pushing herself too hard lately. Still, she wants to take Diana to the nearest hospital to get her checked out all the same.

As Stavros steers the boat back to shore, they are watched by the mysterious woman. “Let that be your first warning Amazon!” she murmurs…

Meanwhile on Cephalonia, one of the Ionian Islands west of the Greek mainland, shepherds tend to their grazing flock. Their peaceful day is shattered by a cry from one of the other shepherds. They race over to where others stand around something lying on the floor. They peer down at a dead man who appears to have been torn apart by some wild animal. Although the face has been torn away, one of them recognises the coat as that belonging to Paul Drivas, a “troublemaker” from the town of Tellista. It had been rumoured that there was a “Magia” on him.

Another Shepherd replies that it is all superstition and that this was the work of a wolf, not some foolish curse. But another of the shepherds asks him to look at the ground. There are no wolf tracks. Only those of their own sheep.

Not far away, a lone sheep watches their debate, its red eyes glowing knowingly…