Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 19


Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 19

General Info

Issue No:
19 (348)
On Sale Date:
April 1988
Cover Date:
August 1988
Era:
Dark Age
Story Title:
The Witch on the Island

Creative Team

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

Characters

Main:
Wonder Woman (Princess Diana), Vanessa Kapatelis, Julia Kapatelis
Heroes:
Circe, Mikos
Villains:
N/A
Olympians:
Hermes
Amazons:
N/A
Other:
Stavros Christadoulodou, Theophillus Ventouras, Demitrios, Katina Leikos, Gregori
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Comments

For the first time in a Post Crisis tale we see Diana in bondage, something which was of course rather common in her pre-crisis incarnation, particularly during the Golden Age stories. However, such depictions of her would rarely feature in her post crisis stories from now on. This issue also portrays how fearsome and dangerous an opponent Circe is, as Diana is outclassed and on the back foot throughout the whole issue.

Synopsis

Vanessa comes to find herself in the arms of her mother, who has been searching for her daughter along with the police. They had found the young girl still lying inside the circle formed by Wonder Woman’s lasso where she had been protected from Circe’s creatures during the attack.

Vanessa babbles about how Uncle Stavros had told her to escape from the burning house with the scroll and how, when Diana had found her, the Amazon Princess had been involved in a fight against ferocious creatures determined to attack her, before finally being struck down by a bolt from the sky. Julia assumes her daughter is still in shock with all this talk of monsters but a voice from behind her says that Vanessa speaks the truth and the monsters were indeed after Diana.

They turn to see Katina Leikos and a group of armed resistance fighters standing there. The Greek girl explains that she is one of the rebels opposing that evil witch on the island. The scroll and the beasts that attacked Diana belong to the witch. If they do not stop her she will destroy the Wonder Woman! A shocked Julia asks why this Cassandra Colchis would want to do such a thing. Julia turns to her mother and says that before Diana had been struck down she had heard a woman’s voice speaking in Greek. She had said her name and it was not Cassandra…

Meanwhile on the strange island itself, consciousness slowly returns to Wonder Woman. As she becomes aware of her surroundings she realises her wrists are chained together and she is lying on the floor. A woman peers down at her lying on a bed and sipping from a goblet. The woman welcomes Diana to the island of Aeaea and introduces herself as Circe! Wonder Woman’s expression reveals she is familiar with the name and Circe continues that she is indeed the daughter of Hyperion and Perseis, former Princess of Colchis, favoured of Hectate and ultimately Diana’s executioner!

Wonder Woman struggles against the bonds that bind her but Circe tells her it is useless as she had forged the chains herself – no mortal can break them. Circe continues that she felt it was about time Diana experienced first hand the humiliation of bondage, just as her sister Amazons did so many centuries ago. Wonder Woman demands to know why Circe is doing this as she has done no harm to the witch. Circe replies that Diana’s very existence does her harm! As long as the Amazon Princess lives Circe’s power, her divine essence, is in jeopardy! However, she adds that soon all will be made clear enough to Wonder Woman. She then orders her beasts to take the Amazon to the Atelier for tonight the Princess of Themyscira shall die!

But Wonder Woman has other ideas and lashes out a booted foot at the approaching beasts. She tells Circe that although she does not know yet why Circe hates her so much, an Amazon does not die easily! As the creatures try to contain the Amazon wildcat with little success, Circe thinks to herself that even shackled, this Princess fights like a demon. All that has been said about this Wonder Woman is true. She is more than an Amazon…she is the chosen of the Gods. She and Circe are kindred spirits…they had both felt it. So if one of them is to die she will make certain it is Wonder Woman! With that she raises her hand and unleashes a massive bolt of energy at Diana. The night before, Circe’s bolt had caused Diana the greatest amount of physical pain since she first encountered Ares. This time however it is even worse

Wonder Woman crumples to the floor, her body smouldering from the blast and the creatures wonder whether their mistress has killed the Amazon Princess. But Circe reassures them that Wonder Woman still lives, although she will not recover quite so quickly this time as she had before. Her elimination must be handled delicately and precisely. Any error could be disastrous. She instructs the beasts to carry the unconscious Wonder Woman to her laboratory for she has much to prepare. She then turns to Mikos who is perched nearby and tells him that while her attention is focused on the Amazon, she will be holding him responsible for Aeaea’s defence. As long as the rebels have the scroll they have a small chance of rescuing Wonder Woman…

Elsewhere at the rebel’s hideout meanwhile, Julia is studying the ancient scroll under a microscope. An impatient Gregori wants to know what she has found and he tells her she does not know what it has been like to be in hiding for so long ever since they had discovered the scroll. He had suspected the parchment would contain some secret on how to defeat the witch known as Circe but until Stavros joined them, he had feared they would never decipher it.

Julia replies that Stavros is a brave man and only he would have thought of rolling up his notes into the scroll before giving them to Vanessa. Otherwise, it would have taken days for Julia to get this far in her analysis. Just then Katina returns and tells Julia that she has safely escorted Vanessa back to her parents’ house. Professor Christadoulodou is in the hospital’s emergency room but she could not get any more news on his condition. The police meanwhile are taking no further action as they believe the attacks are by wild animals.

Katina then asks how Julia is coming on with the scroll but Gregori suggests she leaves Julia to her work as he is sure the Professor realises the urgency of the situation. Julia turns away from her microscopic and looks sternly at Katina and Gregori. She replies that Diana is more than some messianic icon to her. She is like a daughter. No one, not even a sorceress from Hell, will stop her from rescuing her daughter! Gregori assures Julia that they are not some insensitive fanatical cult. The man who died to capture that parchment was his son…and Katina’s Fiancé. This battle is quite personal to them too.

A few moments later Julia cries “Bingo!” and says she has found a way to save Diana. However, not by using the scroll itself but with the twine used to bind the parchment. It is laced with a mystic herb known in legend as Moly!

Back on the island blackness engulfs Wonder Woman and she tells herself to ignore the pain and fight her way back to consciousness. At last she manages to open her eyes and finds herself suspended high above the floor of Circe’s laboratory, where the witch tends to a boiling cauldron. Seeing the Princess has awakened already, Circe remarks how she is constantly underestimating Diana’s power and determination. It is regrettable that it is that very power that compels Circe to slay the Amazon Princess. Wonder Woman demand to know where she is and Circe replies that contained within the many shelves around the room are the secrets of her success…the quintessence of all that is mystic…the legacy of Hectate, the Moon Goddess! She mockingly tells Wonder Woman to make herself comfortable as the brewing ritual take some time. She will however do her best to make her last hours both entertaining and enlightening. With that Circe begins to tell her story…

Hectate was an offspring of the Titans, not one of the twelve Olympians, but still highly respected, even by Zeus. She was one of the Trinity of the Moon along with Artemis, the Maiden, and Demeter, the Mother. Hectate, born with a twisted body and aged face, was the Crone. After the Olympians overthrew the Titans, Zeus banished them and had Hectate transform their dead leader Cronus into a gnarled tree in limbo. She was to perform one other great task as well. Throughout the Universe races of new gods sprung from the energy unleashed by the fury of the great God War. Some might even attempt to conquer the weakened Olympians who would need time to rebuild. So Hectate cast a cosmos spanning enchantment that would mask all traces of the Titans-Olympians conflict. When the Olympians re-emerged they appeared as just another breed of New Gods. Ironically, New Gods in other Galaxies probably assumed that they pre-dated the Olympians.

Hearing this, Wonder Woman thinks to herself that this is why Darkseid had referred to the Olympic Gods as his offspring during their recent clash!

Circe continues to explain that Hectate was never really comfortable in Olympus and wed Hades, to dwell in the Netherworld with him. From that point it all went awry for her. It seemed that Hades had a roving eye and took the beauteous Persephone as his new bride, much to her mother Demeter’s chagrin. Eventually Hectate was relegated to the role of handmaiden. Now Hera, resentful of Zeus’ respect for Hectate, forbade any Olympian to aid the humbled Moon Goddess. It was an insult that Hectate would never forget.

As time passed the bitterness grew and she longed for the sweetness of revenge. For the final time, Hectate returned to the Earth that was mother to them all. And that’s where Circe’s story begins. She had once been a Princess of Colchis herself, but her traitorous subjects objected to her killing her weakling husband. So Circe found refuge on this Island and swore she would use her magic and potions to avenge herself on the inferiors who dared stand against her! Unfortunately, her sorcery was ineffective beyond the limits of Aeaea so she used the seductive songs of the Siren to lure wayward seafarers to her lair. Those who survived the jagged rocks faced Circe and she made them beg for the comfort of death!

But it was not enough. She wanted more power. She needed it. She would have sold her soul for it. And she did! Hectate answered her prayers. Circe was to be the instrument of her vengeance against the Gods who wronged her and the humanity that worshipped them. Hectate made a proposition to Circe that to attain immortality, eternal beauty and incredible power, all that they need do was to trade souls with each other. Circe found that to be a most agreeable exchange!

As they prepared for the act, Hectate’s last words were rather cryptic. “Upon the death pf Witch and the birth of Witch, Hectate, by name and choice, shall repossess her soul”. With a blinding burst of mystic flame, Hectate’s withered husk and Circe’s unholy soul burned to ashes…and from those ashes was born a new glorious Circe! With Hectate’s body destroyed, it seemed unlikely that the Goddess would ever reclaim her soul so from that day forth it belonged to Circe! The Witch also developed the art of Bestiamorphism, the transforming of men into beasts. Her reputation grew so widespread that every man feared that any woman he met might be Circe herself. Mate suspected mate.

Circe’s first duty though was a personal one. In Colchis, she crushed the puny mortals who had rebelled against her in one single night. Those who offended her she converted into prey for her loyal Bestiamorphus to hunt and devour. As evil and terror spread, suspicion begat hatred and hatred begat violence. Hectate felt betrayed by both sexes so both sexes had to suffer. As long as mend and women distrusted each other there could be no peace. Man used his physical strength to dominate while Woman learned that sex itself was a formidable weapon! Since they did not trust each other they used each other. Circe merely fanned the flames of sexual alienation which existed long before she came along.

It was then into this maelstrom that the Amazons were born. Initially Circe feared that their mission to proselytise man to their beliefs in peace and equality would succeed, but Ares assured her that such a quest would not be without casualties. When Heracles and Theseus destroyed Themyscira, Circe had thought the Amazon dream had been crushed forever. How was she to know that Diana’s mother, Hippolyta, would later triumph and lead a group of Amazons to Paradise Island? Circe did know however that Diana’s aunt Antiope had returned with her army to avenge the Amazon honour. Much blood was spilt that night and Circe loved every moment of it! But then the inexplicable happened. Theseus, Antiope’s former captor, actually fell in love with the Amazon Queen. He humbled himself and begged forgiveness.

Theseus and Antiope duly married and the union portended a chance for humanism between the warring sexes and Circe had no spell to halt the beating of their happy hearts. Thankfully, there was Ariadne, Theseus former wife, whom he abandoned on the island of Naxos. Her heart did not beat so happily. She prayed for retribution and Circe was glad to help. Under the glow of Hectate’s moon the Witch transported Ariadne back to Thebes into the bed chamber of the sleeping Antiope.

Wonder Woman listens in increasingly horror and anger as Circe describes how Ariadne was carrying a dagger Circe had tempered with the fire of her own blood. At Circe’s command, she had plunged it deep into the Antiope’s heart and the once mighty ruler of a great matriarchal race was dead! Not by the hands of Man as she once feared…but by one of her own kind. Delicious.

As tears form in her eyes, the enraged Wonder Woman bellows “No more!” and explodes out of her chains with fury! Even for a Princess of peace there is a breaking point. The point where rage overcomes reason. And Diana has reached it. Bit the rage burns all too briefly as a surprised Circe instinctively protects herself by unleashing a devastating bolt of energy. Wonder Woman screams in utmost agony and falls to the ground. A wide eyed Circe cannot believe that the Amazon Princess had managed to break the chains. The Witch had not meant to unleash such a deadly bolt but had been startled by Wonder Woman’s attempt to attack Circe.

As Ventouras checks the lifeless body of Wonder Woman, Circe asks in trepidation if the Amazon Princess is dead. He replies that incredibly she still breathes. Surely such a warrior could be a great asset to their cause? Circe responds that it is too late – not after what she has just learned about Antiope’s demise.

A few moments later she finishes the preparation of the potion and announces that it is time for the Rites of Finality! Circe orders Ventouras to cease his melancholy. Wonder Woman may be beautiful but she is also their deadliest enemy. She reminds him that the rebels who worship Diana had killed his Nephew, Demitrios. Just then the image of Mikos appears in Circe’s mystic globe and he reports that the rebels have reached the shore of the island! Circe demands to know how this is possible, but Mikos responds that he has no idea because he and the other beast men were unable to get close enough. She rages that the rebels must not be allowed to get to her tower and orders Mikos to kill them all!

That moment on the shores of Aeaea, Julia, Katina and the rest of the rebels disembark from their boat which has Wonder Woman’s lasso wrapped around its hull. As they clamber ashore Julia tells them that it had been a calculated guess that the golden rope would protect them. As they prepare themselves one of the group cries out and points to the charging beasts approaching them. Katina tells them not to panic and waiting for their attackers to draw close enough, she gives a command and they throw fire bombs at the creatures. A cacophony of howls and shrieks can be heard as the beasts are incinerated where they stand. The rebels then open fire with their weapons as more creatures converge on them.

During this mayhem, Julia notices that the lasso seems to pulse faster as they approach a tower ahead and she surmises that Diana is being held inside. Katina instantly orders a group to accompany her and Julia to the building and manage to fight their way to the entrance. Katina compliments Julia’s handling of her rifle and she replies that she and her husband used to do a lot of Skeet shooting. As they make their way up the stairs though they are confronted by Mikos, who unfurls his claws preparing to kill them where they stand!

Meanwhile in the dark sanctum behind the monstrous bird, Wonder Woman is beginning to regain consciousness again. She finds herself lying in pit buried underneath mud with only her head protruding. Circe welcomes her back and smiles that it was so unlike Diana to lose her temper as she had done. She continues that it will all be over for the Amazon in a few minutes though…

Outside the chamber, the rebels fire at the massive bird form of Mikos trying to fight their way past as inside Circe continues the explain to the weakened Wonder Woman that the reason she is doing this is because she has ruled from this island for centuries. Her corruptive influence has spread throughout the world. So persuasive and subtle that many of the vice merchants who run her operations world wide do not even know that they serve Circe. Only her most loyal and immediate subjects knew of the Witch’s existence until Diana arrived in Man’s World. People listened to what Diana had to say. Her Amazon philosophy reached even here on Aeaea and those that listened began to see the truth about Circe. They began to resent her and hate her and a rebellion started amongst even her own Bestiamorphs. That is when Hectate’s last words finally made sense to Circe.

The Moon Goddess had gone under several names before…Luna…Prytania…and Diana! Hectate had said that “Upon the death of Witch and birth of Witch, Hectate, by name and choice, shall repossess her soul”. Circe tells Diana that the Amazon Princess is the second Witch! If Wonder Woman kills Circe, Hectate’s soul will be repossessed by Diana. The power of Wonder Woman combined with that of Hectate will be unstoppable while Circe’s soulless shell will simply crumble to ashes.

On hearing this, Wonder Woman responds that she was not named for Hectate that she does not want to kill Circe! But Circe replies that Wonder Woman will have no choice. As long as the Witch lives, the Amazon’s mission of peace shall be impeded and as long as Diana lives, Circe’s world of Sin is threatened. This world is simply not big enough for the both of them.

She then tells her that while she could simply kill the Amazon Princess outright, that might fulfil the prophecy as well. Those Gods can be tricky! She therefore had to ponder that conundrum carefully and this is her answer. She holds up a chalice containing a steaming potion and explains that she will perform the Nostrum of Regression! Mixed with the mud around Wonder Woman, the potion will start to change the Amazon. She will feel the earth mingling with her own body, becoming part of her…degenerating her until she reverts back to the clay from which she was formed!

Circe then lifts the chalice and prepares to tip it into the mud pit but a shot rings out and the chalice is shattered. Julia lowers her rifle and rushes into the room, throwing the golden lasso into Diana’s outstretched hand. A furious Circe prepares to unleash a deadly bolt at Julia and the Professor quickly uses her teeth to tear off a piece of the twine she has brought with her. As the energy bolt charges towards her she holds her breath and releases it with a gasp of relief as the bolt leaves her unscathed. Circe cannot believe her eyes and Julia has great pleasure in telling the shocked Witch that she had used Moly, the spell nullifying herb, to protect herself, just as Odysseus had when he defeated Circe centuries ago. She adds that it was very sentimental of the Witch to tie the Moly around her Diary!

Julia then raises her weapon again intent on shooting Circe but Wonder Woman deflects the bullet with her bracelet. She tells the baffled Julia that Hectate’s soul may possess the Amazon Princes if she kills Circe and the whole world would be doomed. Circe uses this distraction to counter-attack though and unleashes a thunderous bolt at Wonder Woman, who topples to the floor. As the weakening Amazon finds she is unable to move from the paralysing effects of the blast, Ventouras appears and grabs Julia from behind, disarming her!

Circe smiles and looking down at the struggling Wonder Woman, tells her that her destruction has merely been delayed. “Admit it Princess! You’ve lost!”. She then walks towards Julia and raises her hand preparing to kill the Professor with an energy bolt. Wonder Woman desperately tries to get to her feet in vain, telling Circe that her fight is with her not Julia and to leave the woman alone.

But as Circe ignores her and prepares to kill Julia a blinding light suddenly illuminates the room. Circe turns and stares wide eyed in surprise. “What! You? No!”. In an instant she vanishes and everything goes dark. Julia calls out for Diana and as the light begins to return the two women find themselves lying on the ground outside. Circe, Ventouras and the entire Tower itself have simply vanished! Wonder Woman cannot understand what has happened. Circe had them beaten.

Just then Katina and the surviving rebels rush across, overjoyed to see them alive. An elated Katina informs them that all the creatures have vanished when Wonder Woman had slain Circe! Diana Tries to tell them what had really happened but they are not listening. They give a cheer of “All Hail Diana!”. The exhausted Julia and Diana simply look at each other for the answers that neither of them have…

Elsewhere in the crumbling halls of Mount Olympus, Hermes watches the events below and thinks to himself that Zeus will be very angry with him for interfering. But he could not let Diana think that all the Gods had abandoned her. He had to intervene to save her. She should have been warned about Circe. The Gods owed her that much…

Epilogue

A week later at Athens Airport, Julia and Diana make a telephone call to Stavros who is recovering well in his hospital bed. He tells them that he is fine and Katina and Gregori are by his bedside. He adds that Katina would love to speak to the Princess again and Julia puts her hand over the mouthpiece and whispers to Diana if she would like to speak to the Greek girl. Wonder Woman replies that she does not know what to say. Katina still believes that the Diana had killed Circe but she remembers the Witch’s eyes just before she had vanished. Circe looked surprised, maybe angry but not afraid as if she was facing her doom. Her intuition tells her that it is not over between her and Circe. How can she tell Katina that?

Julia agrees and simply tells Stavros that Diana is indisposed and wishes them all well. Just then Vanessa runs over waving a newspaper in her hand. She holds up the front page which has a picture of Myndi Mayer and Julia and Diana read the headline: “Star Publicist Found Slain!”.