Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 24


Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 24

General Info

Issue No:
24 (353)
On Sale Date:
September 1988
Cover Date:
Mid December 1988
Era:
Dark Age
Story Title:
Combat Zone

Creative Team

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

Characters

Main:
Wonder Woman (Princess Diana), Julia Kapatelis, Vanessa Kapatelis, Etta Candy
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
Phobos, Euryale (Eury), Ixion
Olympians:
Hermes
Amazons:
N/A
Other:
Horace Westlake
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Comments

This issue hints at forthcoming events related to the big DC Crossover event during 1989 called “Invasion”.

 

Synopsis

Vanessa sits in her bedroom glued to her television as the live news broadcast reports the strange attack on Hermes captured by the cameraman before the feed had gone blank. The news reader says that analysts are studying the last few minutes of live transmissions to ascertain whether the events depicted are a hoax. If proven to be real, then it appears the woman “Eury” had set a deliberate trap for Hermes.

Meanwhile, in the alleyway two police officers discover the camera lying on the ground. Suddenly they hear movement behind them and turn to see the cameraman cowering in the shadows against the wall. They tell him to take it easy and he babbles that his sound man had warned him there was something strange about the building behind him. One officer assumes the man is high on drugs or something but the other suddenly realises that the day before there was no building here – it was an empty lot!

Meanwhile beneath the building’s foundations, Hermes lies on the floor of the pit looking up at the towering figure of Ixion, who is chained to a massive stone wheel. Phobos asks the Messenger God if he still recognises Ixion after the millennia of tortured imprisonment has corrupted Ixion, the first and greatest mass murderer ever to walk the earth, who was imprisoned by Hermes as a result.

Hermes cannot believe it as he had left Ixion imprisoned in Tartarus. How could the Assassin have escaped? Phobos explains that the Olympians were so busy with their “pompous” migration that it was ridiculously simple for him to sneak into Hades and pull Ixion out. However, he could only manage to free him from the torturous flesh-mangling serpents and vultures. He could not break the chains that bound Ixion to the great wheel though. These chains had been forged by Hermes and only Hermes can break them!

As Euryale dons Hermes’ helmet as a trophy and Phobos raises the Caduceus triumphantly over his head, Hermes tells them they will pay for this insolence. As he staggers to his feet though, he feels weak. Phobos gloats that the God’s power rests in the Caduceus and that had been the whole purpose of their trap. With the staff, Phobos can now undo what Hermes had done eons ago. With that he points the Caduceus at Ixion and unleashes a blast of energy which surrounds the Assassin. In the alley way above, the police officers and the camera man feel the ground shake beneath their feet. One officer enters the building and is confronted by Euryale, who turns her gaze to him and instantly turns him to stone! As Euryale laughs manically, Ixion begins to snap the chains around him. The building shakes as a growing crowd of onlookers watch in awe. Another member of the news crew, a female camera operator, captures the moment the building collapses into the pit as the freed Ixion rises up triumphantly.

On her TV, the watching Vanessa stares in horror at the unfolding events and rushes from her room. Downstairs Julia is drinking coffee with Horace. The excited girl yells down that there is something going on with Hermes. Julia calmly replies that she is entertaining a guest and Vanessa should wait until later. The frustrated girl runs down the stairs and grabs the TV remote. Before Julia can react the girl switches on the TV news and an image of a laughing Phobos appears on screen. Julia leaps up out of her chair in shock and cries out “It’s him! He once tried to kill me!”. Horace asks her if she is really saying she knows that creature on the TV and she replies that it is Phobos, insane son of Ares!

At the scene of the events, Phobos tells the terrified onlookers that tonight they will die! Ixion stands over them holding the struggling Hermes in his grip. Phobos says that the foolish Olympian dared to flaunt his power at them, thinking he was powerful. But now he is tasting true Godly power! As the police arrive and surround the area, an officer with a loud haler orders Phobos to surrender his hostage or they will start shooting. In response, Euryale suddenly bursts up through the roadway beneath them and petrifies the police captain.

The stunned police are routed to the spot as Ixion begins to lumber towards them. Hermes begs Ixion to leave the mortals alone and defies him to instead kill the God. But the monster ignores his desperate challenge as the police at last open fire. Their bullets have no effect and Ixion lifts a massive foot and brings it down on top of a group of police. The creature’s triumphant howl echoes through the streets of the terrified city as he revels in the ecstasy of murder. As the woman with the camera continues to film, the horrific carnage is beamed live to homes across the country. Her producers warn her to get out of there but too late Euryale appears in front of her and snatching the camera from her hands, films the woman being turned to stone. She leaves the camera running as Ixion then slams his foot down, shattering the petrified woman into pieces.

Julia screams for the TV to be turned off as Horace and Vanessa try to calm her down. But she tells them that Phobos is using that monster to avenge his brother’s death! He’s really after Diana…and Julia! Hermes had fallen right into their hands and has now doomed them all! Where is Diana when they need her?

Meanwhile Hermes, still held fast by the rampaging Ixion, thinks to himself how foolish he has been. With each new killing the monster grows more uncontrollably powerful! The Assassin his purposely torturing the Messenger God, making him witness the murderous carnage below before eventually killing him too. And Hermes can do nothing to stop him! He must regain his Caduceus and what is left of his power. There is only one hope…

Many miles away in the beautiful woodlands of New Hampshire, where Lord Hermes had first taken mortal form so that he might more readily walk amid mortals and where he had subsequently erected a temple for himself to take refuge, Diana is taking a relaxing moonlight swim in the nearby crystal clear pool. She is contented as she darts beneath the waters, grateful for the opportunity to pause for thought. These past few days have been so full of confusion and conflict she feared her mind would burst with the strain. But her joy is short lived as suddenly a vision of Hermes appears before her eyes. The Messenger God’s agonised face is clear and she telepathically asks him what is wrong. He stammers that Boston is under attack, ravaged by Ixion and Phobos and many are already dead. Instantly she zooms back to the surface, grabbing her Wonder Woman armour and donning it swiftly before launching into the skies.

Elsewhere on a small island in the South Pacific, another storm is brewing. In a satellite tracking station, Etta Candy monitors her console and worriedly calls over her senior officer. He asks her if she has managed to make anything from the static on their screens. She replies that it is not static but is in fact transmissions. Someone is deliberately sending signals from outer space. The major smiles and joking says she has been working at this for too long. Undeterred, she continues that the signals copy like mathematical equations with each equation representing a distinct, individual language – a code. And she thinks she has broken it! She shows him her findings and suddenly the Major takes an urgent interest. He asks her of she is sure of her findings and she nods. He grimly tells her that he has been an airman long enough to know an invasion plan when he sees one…

Back in Boston crowds run screaming from the rampaging Ixion while perched above them, Phobos laughs, revelling in the terror and telling them that they should trust nobody and that everyone is their enemy. But suddenly his incitement is cut short as react Wonder Woman punches him and sends him flying. She swiftly wraps her golden lasso around him as he demands to be freed. She tells him she knows his dreadful toxin is based on deceit and lies. While bound by Hestia’s lasso of truth he will spew his venom no longer. He replies that she will only lessen the panic – not stop the killing! As she murdered his brother Deimos, so too shall millions of her precious mortals die!

Nearby Ixion lifts up like some toy the U.S.S. frigate Constitution, which since its restoration has stood as a monument to the creation of a country. But in his hands it becomes simply another instrument of death. The helpless Hermes can only watch with anguish and guilt but suddenly, hope streaks through the sky like a star-spangled comet! Wonder Woman snatches the vessel from Ixion’s hands and places it back in the water. As an enraged Ixion tells her to prepare for death and she readies for combat, Hermes cried out for her to concentrate on getting back the Caduceus instead. She shouts back that she does not know where to look and more may perish while she searches. She has no choice but to attack Ixion.

With that she launches herself at the creature but is swatted away like a fly. She only just manages to regain her sense before crashing into a building and chastises herself for telegraphing her intentions so clearly. She realises it is too crowded here and if she is to gain an advantage she has to get Ixion into open ground. Before the creature has time to react, the Amazing Amazon lifts him up and carries him aloft, taking him by surprise so much that he let’s go of Hermes, who drops lifelessly into the water. The Boston crowd stares into the smoking sky as their murderous oppressor is rocketed away from their city and their wails of torment change to hails of joy!

With muscles straining, Wonder Woman reaches the closest open battle ground she can think of – Gayhead Cliffs in Martha’s Vineyard. She slams Ixion into the red clay and hovering over his motionless form, wonders for a moment if she has thrown him too hard. But a massive hand suddenly makes a grab for her and she only just manages to avoid him. She punches him and he retaliates by throwing boulders at her, raging that he will not be taken back to Hades to endure the torment again and that he will either kill her or she will have to kill him.

Back in Boston, members of the National Guard open fire on the still bound Phobos as he cries out for assistance from Euryale. She emerges from cover and asks him who has tied him up? He bellows that it was Wonder Woman and that Euryale must find the accursed Amazon so that he can personally torture her beyond death! Like some kin din a sweet shop, she asks if it can wait until she has finished playing with the humans. He refuses and as she begins to undo the coils of the lasso another hand weakly reaches for the Caduceus which is lying on the ground beside Phobos. Too late Euryale sees the movement from the corner of her eye as in a flash she is killed by a Godly blast of energy which decapitates her!

As Hermes stands over the shocked Phobos he orders the soldiers to hold their fire. He then turns his attention to squirming Phobos at his feet and says that they had underestimated the Messenger God. When Ixion let go Hermes still had enough power to infiltrate the catacombs of the city’s sewers. He had then simply waited for his chance to retrieve his Caduceus. As he points the glowing staff at the head of Phobos, he says this is the same staff that will kill him even more horribly then the Gorgon unless he tells Hermes what he wants to know.

Back at Gayhead Cliffs Ixion is once again slammed against the rock face as Wonder Woman tells him she can feel his strength is ebbing. He is no longer a match for her so why does he not simply surrender. He weakly replies that he will not go back to the torture and torment, preferring instead to die. Just then Hermes appears holding the still bound Phobos in one hand and tells Wonder Woman she has done well. He continues that Phobos has told him how to mete out the proper penalty to the homicidal Ixion. He then raises his Caduceus, whose ornate serpents come to life and snake towards the creature. He tells Ixion that the serpents will form his new chains and that he should prepare to return to the inferno. The pitiful creature begs for death instead but a grim faced Hermes replies that Ixion’s pain and torment is only just beginning. Lashed once again to the Great Wheel, his screams will resound for all Eternity!

A puzzled Wonder Woman says that Tartarus has been absorbed in the Cosmic Migration. Where will the Great Wheel be placed? A sneering Phobos tells Hermes to indeed reveal where Ixion is to be imprisoned. “Tell the pathetic fool that all her sisterhood’s sacrifices have been for nothing! That the Assassin must be placed beneath her beloved Paradise Island – making it a fortress once more”. A shocked Wonder Woman cannot believe her ears and a sorry Hermes tells her that it will only be until the New Olympus has been formed. She asks how long that will be. The Amazons have made so many plans – surely there must be an alternative especially as it was Hermes who had freed Ixion in the first place! Hermes pleads with Diana for her not to be angry with him. Remember, even the Gods are not infallible. She replies that neither are the Amazons. For centuries the Gods have told them to suffer for their sins. Now Hermes is telling her that they must also now suffer for the Gods’ sins? That is simply not fair!

As tears well up in her eyes, the night air is rattled by the sound of air force jets. The squadron leader tells his men to hold their fire as it appears Ixion has been secured. But then, abruptly, the impossible happens and Ixion manages to break free of his serpent chains! As the creature lumbers towards the advancing jets, Wonder Woman prepares to stop him but Hermes holds her back. He quietly tells her that she had prayed for an alternative and the fates have provided her one. Wonder Woman watches wide eyed as Ixion lifts up a massive piece of the cliff and prepares to hurl it at the jets. The aircraft open fire simultaneously and as Ixion’s screams fill the night, the Amazon Princess is a statue, though every fibre of her being begs her to intercede, still she does not move. For the screams are of relief, almost gratitude as the roar of jet engines and exploding missiles is but the tolling of the Great Clock, marking the end of the killing time and chiming the death knell for Earth’s first murderer. Ixion, after centuries of hell has, at last, paid his final penance!

Later at the Kapatelis home, Julia and Vanessa watch the TV news as images of Ixion’s broken body fill the screen. The news reader continues to say how the grisly job of carting away the dead continues as estimates put the number of dead in the hundreds. Only Wonder Woman’s intervention prevented more loss of life and the city is at least grateful for that small mercy. Police are also currently trying to track down the man who called himself Hermes. He was last seen carrying off the alleged mastermind of the horrible incident.

As they watch, Vanessa asks her mother if she thinks Diana is OK. The Amazon Princess has in fact been quietly watching them and steps forward to reassure the young girl she is safe. An overjoyed Vanessa asks her where Hermes is and she replies she does not know. Julia then asks her daughter to leave the two women alone for a few minutes so they can talk in private. Vanessa goes up to her room as Diana tells her mentor how sorry she is for having placed her in such a confrontational position against Hermes. Julia tries to reassure her there is no need to apologies but Diana continues that she had known the Messenger God was wrong but she had let her reverence for him cloud her judgement. Though every instinct told her Julia was right about him, she just could not go against the will of her god.

Julia replies that considering how obdurately she had advocated her stance, she cannot say she blames Diana. The Amazon fears she has made Julia angry but the older woman reassures her that it was nothing to do with Diana. In a way it was not even to do with Hermes. It was actually something else which unfortunately exacerbated an already tense situation. She guesses the Amazons have never ever experienced menopause before. Diana replies that she has read about it. Julia explains that it is one to thing to read about – another thing to go through it! It is like the flip side of puberty. An inescapable part of growing older and one of the strange perks to being a woman – a mortal woman at any rate!

Julia tells Diana she is sorry for her sudden churlishness towards her and Hermes. They were caught in the after burn of a nasty hot flash! As an educated woman, she wonders why she had not surmised what was making her quite so cranky! Diana holds Julia’s face in her hands tenderly and says that since they met, Julia’s life has been a maelstrom – an existence which would have quashed the spirit of a lesser being. After everything that has happened perhaps she should leave. Julia hugs Diana tightly and replies that if she dare try and leave the Professor will hog tie her with her own lasso!

From upstairs Vanessa watches the women hug and tears roll down her face at the display of true love and obvious friendship. Diana warns Julia that after tonight, things are going to get much rougher. Julia simply responds that in that case they will weather it together. She then asks Diana if Hermes is OK and the Princess replies that she presumes so. He had gone to dispose of Phobos but he should have returned by now. She prays nothing has gone wrong.

Outside the house, the Messenger God stands quietly, listening in on the two women’s conversation. He hears Julia tell Diana that the God is going to need time. He is probably suffering from great shame and guilt about what has happened. For her part, Diana adds that she had also added to his misery and she should probably not have scolded him so much. On hearing this, a surprised Julia says that a scolding from Diana must have devastated him. Diana nods and says that he looked as if she had plunged a dagger into his heart. Julia replies that she can imagine, as she has seen the way he looks at the beautiful Amazon Princess. Diana retorts that their relationship is not like that at all, but Julia ask her if she is sure that Hermes knows that fact. The Amazon replies that he surely must because he is a God.

“Yes sweetheart,” Hermes hears Julia softly reply, “but remember…even a God can be all too human.”

With Julia’s words still ringing in his mind, the melancholy Messenger God departs…