Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 30


Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 30

General Info

Issue No:
30 (359)
On Sale Date:
March 1989
Cover Date:
May 1989
Era:
Dark Age
Story Title:
To Live by the Sword

Creative Team

Cover Artist:
George Perez
Writer:
George Perez
Penciller:
Chris Marrinan
Inker:
Will Blyberg
Letterer:
Augustin Mas
Colourist:
Carl Gafford
Editor:
Karen Berger

Characters

Main:
Wonder Woman (Princess Diana)
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
Chuma, Barbara Minerva (Cheetah)
Olympians:
N/A
Amazons:
Queen Anahid, Kadesha Banu, Nehebka, Assyra
Other:
Colonel Hadal, Abdul
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Comments

This issue sees us introduced to another tribe of Amazons known as the Bana-Mighdall. This issue really shows what an adept fighter Diana is as she takes on seemingly overwhelming odds during a brawl with the other Amazon warriors.

Synopsis

As Wonder Woman surveys the armed warriors surrounding her their Queen steps forward flanked by her two aides. She speaks to Diana but the Amazon Princess is unable to dicypher the strange dialect. She realises however that she must communicate with these woman and convince them she was not the one responsible for killing the two guards.

Wonder Woman holds out her hand in friendship and speaking in Egyptian, requests that they allow her to address them. The Queen, named Anahid, responds in Egyptian, saying that Diana is obviously not from Egypt. Relieved that she has managed to make contact, Wonder Woman replies that she is Diana, Princess of Themyscira and that she is hunting down a murderous Cat-Woman called the Cheetah. This Cheetah has stolen something very precious from her and she has tracked the villainess here to this Mosque. She begs them to believe her when she says that it was the Cheetah who had been responsible for slaughtering their guards.

Nehebka, one of the aides, asks the Queen whether she believes Diana’s pleas. Anahid replies “The Ariadna lies convincingly, but still it is a lie!”. She then orders her warriors to attack!!!

They immediately open fire with their machine guns and Wonder Woman is forced to defend herself using her bracelets. As the hail of deadly bullets ricochet in all directions, the various treasures within the temple are shattered. Wonder Woman again begs them to cease fire as they are destroying their own temple. The Queen yells new orders and her warriors lower their weapons, instead unsheathing their swords! They then charge at the Amazon Princess who implores that she does not want to fight them.

But Diana is given no choice. Her entreaties fall on deaf ears as the barrage of steel and sinew quickly falls upon her! At first Wonder Woman fights merely in self defence, but it is a manoeuvre that can only be reserved for a lesser enemy. These women are not lesser enemies – they are Amazons and they are ferocious! They can only be conquered by a force of greater ferocity! Diana’s eyes moisten with pain as she calls upon that force and wields it against those whom she would call sisters.

As the Queen and her aides watch the carnage, Nehebka comments that she has never seen anybody fight like that. Perhaps Diana had been telling the truth when she spoke of Themyscira. But Anahid remains unconvinced and replies that the interloper has committed the ultimate sacrilege and for that she must die! Nehebka points out that the Amazon Princess struggles to avoid killing any of her foes but the queen merely states that it is fatal flaw in a so called warrior – a sign of weakness. Her aide agrees but adds that if this was so, why would such a pacifist butcher the temple guards? Anahid ponders this for a few moments as nehebka continues that perhaps the answer does indeed lie with this “Cheetah” Diana had mentioned.

Queen Anahid decides enough is enough and orders the few warriors left standing to stop fighting. She tells Wonder Woman she had earned herself the right of audience. As Diana surveys the bodies littered around her she thanks the gods and turns to face Queen Anahid as she approaches, arms outstretched in friendship. Anahid remarks that she is impressed with Diana’s incredible fighting skills. The Amazon Princess responds that she had not wanted to do that. Anahid nods understandingly and takes Wonder Woman’s hands in hers in an apparent greeting. But before Wonder Woman can react she leans forward and spits a deadly venom into Diana’s face. Immediately her legs buckle and the startled Wonder Woman collapses to the floor!

Meanwhile in the small village of Syene Kesh a jeep carrying Chuma and his hired driver arrive at a hotel. As they pull up outside they see a British Grain Merchant ranting at the manager. He points upstairs and yells that the “bird” has skinned him for fifty quid and he intends to be reimbursed. Chuma steps forward, interrupting the Merchant and asks the manager where he might be able to find Madam Minerva. The enraged merchant turns on the pygmy and explains that he had been involved in an important discussion regarding a woman who owed him for several drinks he had plied her with. She was also British – quite cultured. She had already started by the time he had arrived at the bar, as she had that wasted look. She was coming on to him he is sure and after a few more drinks he had followed her to this hotel at which point the manager had thrown him out!

Having heard the merchant’s tale, Chuma calmly tells him to leave. The incredulous Englishman cannot believe he is being spoken to in this way and grabs Chuma by the scruff of the neck. The Pygmy deftly throws the merchant over his shoulder and out onto the street. He then walks up to the reception desk and requests the key to Barbara’s room. As Chuma climbs the stairs, he muses that things must be bad if his mistress has resorted to drinks to block her pain. As he uses the key to enter the room, he knows that he had made enough potion to last her until now – surely she had not used it all already? He steps inside to see Barbara lying on her bed, obviously weak and in pain. She lifts her head up slowly and seeing it is him, asks him what had gone wrong? What had he done to her?

Back in the hidden city meanwhile, Wonder Woman slowly comes to. She hears moans all around her and tries to adjust her vision to the gloom. As she does so she wonders how long she has been unconscious after Queen Anahid had spat on her. Although her vision is still blurred from the venom her eyes finally make out malnourished men, chained to the walls around her. As she gets to her feet to try and help them she almost collapses and realises the venom has weakened her. As she tries to communicate with the men she also finds she cannot speak! Suddenly she hears a woman’s voice behind her and turns to see an aged Amazon watching her from the shadows.

The woman introduces herself as Kadesha Banu, High Priestess and Supreme Alchemist of Bana-Mighdall. She tells Diana that it is true what she has heard about the mighty Princess of Themyscira. Only a true “Wonder Woman” could have survived the “kiss of the cobra”. It had been Kadesha who had developed the deadly venom which Queen Anahid had spat at her. The Queen had fully expected Wonder Woman to die but when Diana did not, Anahid summoned Kadesha. The Priestess has been surprised when she had learned who the Queen’s prisoner was. With Anahid’s indulgence, Kadesha had Wonder Woman brought here to the breeding stables in order that the Priestess may study her.

Suddenly, the old crone viciously throws a rock at Wonder Woman’s head. As the Amazon Princess crumples under the blow Kadesha steps forward and is surprised to see no sign of a wound. The venom however has obviously impaired Wonder Woman’s senses and reflexes. Perhaps in time Diana’s incredible stamina might have defeated the toxin’s effect but it seems they will never know – for although the Priestess knows Wonder Woman is not guilty of the crime she has been accused of, the Queen’s orders must be obeyed. Diana must die!

Meanwhile in another part of the mysterious Amazon city the mid afternoon air stirs with the clamour of machinery. Queen Anahid asks her aide Assyra if the order is ready. Assyra confirms that their client, Colonel Hadal, will be quite pleased with the advances they have made in manufacturing metal piercing shells. The hand held automatics they have developed will stop the most persistent tank. Most of the shipment has already been crated and all that remains is the drafting of warriors to accompany their delivery.

Assyra asks whether this can commence yet but Anahid replies that due to the interference of the “Ariadna” their plans have had to be revised. The Amazon Princess may have had an accomplice, powerful enough to slay two of their best guards and somehow capable of traversing the valley of the sandstorm without warning or injury. This interloper, whoever and wherever they may be, is the one who now most likely possesses their holy treasure. The Queen then orders Nehebka to summon the royal entourage, as they must not keep Colonel Hadal waiting any longer.

At the same moment in Syene Kesh, Chuma hands Barbara a mug of steaming potion, telling her it should help calm her fever. He adds that she should know better then to mix the nectar of the blood vine with alcohol. She snaps at him not to lecture her as alcohol was the only way to dull the pain. She has gotten used to the infirmity that plagues her between cycles of the full moon but lately it has been different – ever since she had acquired Wonder Woman’s lasso.

Chuma asks her what had happened to the extra strong brew he had made for her to drink during the nights of the full moon. Barbara rages that he has not been listening to her. He must have screwed up the mixture somehow. As she holds her fevered brow she pleads with him to do something because the pain is even worse now. After everything that has happened it is simply unfair! She then goes on to recount what had happened over the past few days.

Not long after the most recent full moon when she had become the Cheetah once more, the lasso had drawn her through a strange sandstorm right in the middle of the desert. She discovered it was actually a hidden passage…a mystical doorway to the most amazing city she had ever seen. Her subconscious – the part of Barbara Minerva that still existed – marvelled at the magnificence of it all. She had to possess the treasures that lay here!

But the Cheetah controlled her now and it was obeying the will of the magic lasso. Stealthily she had made her way to what appeared to be a mosque of some sort. Near its centre she was greeted by two hostile looking warrior women who looked remarkably like Amazons. They did not stand a chance as she used her claws to tear out their throats before they could raise the alarm. Once the slaughter was over and with the lasso blazing madly around her neck, the Cheetah was drawn to the altar that the Amazons had been guarding. She had quickly torn open the door of the tabernacle vault and was almost blinded by a shimmering holy light emanating from inside. It was so beautiful! But suddenly everything went wrong. She was suddenly engulfed by surges of acute pain and her throat burned as if all of the blood she had ever swallowed had turned into smouldering lava! Finally, it erupted like a volcano and gushed out like paste – thick and gritty. She had swiftly grabbed the Pyx from the vault and had run. As she had departed she is sure she had heard a crash from the glass ceiling above.

Drained by the exertion of telling her story, Barbara slumps back onto her bed and slips into a fitful sleep. Chuma is certain that the potion he had prepared was perfect in every way. As she checks on Urzkartaga in the room next door he is shocked to see that the plant is wilting. He had fed it properly so what on earth can be going on? He decides to check some of the remaining potion and as he pours it out is horrified to see that the nectar of the blood vine has turned to powder!

Several miles away in the Eastern desert, Colonel Hadal and his men stand just short of the whirling sandstorm, awaiting the arrival of the Amazons. One of the men named Abdul asks how much longer they must wait for these “wenches” but is quickly told to remain silent, as the desert has ears. Queen Anahid is not one who worries about punctuality! At that moment, emerging through the flurry of sand they see silhouettes begin to form. Queen Anahid, accompanied by Nehebka and her warriors ride out from the maelstrom on their camels. Colonel Hadal’s men gape wondrously at the alluring, exotic and deadly women of Bana-Mighdall.

Hadal greets Anahid but the Queen cuts straight to business, asking him whether he has acquired the information she requested. He replies that a British Merchant had told them about a mysterious white woman in Syene Kesh. She had arrived a few days ago and Hadal holds up a piece of paper with the address of the hotel. Queen Anahid warns him not to haggle with her and demands he hands her the address. She adds that fifty of her fully armed warriors will join his camp in a week. A disappointed Hadal tells her that he had originally asked for over a hundred mercenaries but she replies that something more important then his petty tribal war has arisen.

Abdul then snaps “Misbegotten Harlot! We’ll take your weapons then – now!”. Colonel Hadal warns him to keep his tongue still but too late, Queen Anahid quickly dismounts and draws her sword! She tells Abdul his slur will cost him his head! Abdul moves his hand towards his holster, saying to Hadal that they can take these wenches and show them where strumpets like them belong. As the other Amazons raise their own weapons Anahid calmly tells Abdul that his Colonel is not as foolish as he may be. As she advances Abdul fires his gun but the Queen uses her sword to block the bullet. She then uses her own weapon and slices off his arm before slashing him across the chest. As she sags to the ground she grabs him by the scruff of the neck and gives him one last chance to beg for his life. Abdul weakly says sorry and that he was a fool. He begs her to spare him but she replies “Not good enough” and runs him though with her sword!

Anahid then turns to the stony faced Hadal and tells the Colonel that his men’s foolishness have just upped her price. A penalty if you like. She then states that her warriors will take half of his men back to Bana-Mighdall tonight. Hadal considers it a fair deal, allowing half of his troops to be exchanged for fifty of her own invincible warriors later. But one of two of his men are not so sure and make a run for it, knowing what the women of Bana-Mighdall do to men. They are soon cut down by spears before they can make their escape!

As they look down at the dead soldiers, Nehebka tells Colonel Hadal that he needs to keep better control of his men. If these are examples of his prime specimens then her Queen has surely got the lesser part of the deal. She then icily tells Hadal that these cowards are to be deducted from the Colonel’s share. Again, Hadal has no choice but to agree.

Some time later at the breeding stables of Bana-Mighdall, Kadesha arrives at the entrance door which is guarded by two warriors. She asks how their prize is doing and they reply that she has been quiet. The Priestess is not surprised considering the amount of mild cobra venom she has pumped into Wonder Woman to facilitate her examinations. One of the guards then remarks that it is rumoured the Queen is not happy that the Ariadna is still alive. Kadesha smiles and says that she and the Queen have not always seen eye to eye. However, her next examination of the prisoner will be the final one and they must prepare the subject for vivisection!

Meanwhile deep within the stable’s dark recesses, the Princess of Themyscira struggles desperately back to consciousness. She lies face down in the dirt, her arms attached to a post by heavy chains. She cannot summon the strength to rise to her feet and weakly grabs the dirt she lies upon in her hand. She prays to Gaea to grant her strength. She, who is the earth and who suckled her…nurtured her and bred her. Through Gaea all life is renewed…the circle that never ends. She begs Gaea to take her to her bosom and let her be worthy. Around her, the mute men watch in bewilderment at the ancient ritual. And through their drug induced haze a flicker of light shines through. An ember of long abandoned hope.

Outside Kadesha has turned to make her way back to her laboratory to being preparations when suddenly she hears a crash behind her. She turns to see the massive door fly off its hinges and flatten the two guards. She cannot believe her eyes as Wonder Woman steps through, ordering her to surrender as she does not want to hurt the Priestess. Kadesha makes a run for it, yelling back that the royal guards will take care of her but is shocked to find Diana has got ahead of her and blocks her way! Wonder Woman grabs her arm and says it is time to talk but Kadesha puckers her face and inhales sharply. Realising what she about to do, Wonder Woman throws her across the corridor and into the wall. The Priestess collapses to the ground motionless and Wonder Woman realises that the venom must still be affecting her coordination as she had not meant to throw the old woman so hard. As she rushes over to where Kadesha lays she finds to her horror that the old woman is dead – her tongue black and swollen from having swallowed the poison dart.

With no time to waste, Wonder Woman exits the stables and lifts off into the night sky over Bana-Mighdall. She is till groggy and has to concentrate hard to control her flight. She muses that she must have been imprisoned for days and that she is no closer to finding her lasso then she was before. She needs answers and she has an idea where she might find them.

She touches down at the temple and creeping inside sees Nehebka dictating to a scribe. Seeing the tablet the scribe is using, the Amazon Princess has an idea. She charges into the room and orders Nehebka to drop her weapons as she has no wish to fight again. The Queen’s aide has other ideas though and gets to her feet but Wonder Woman knocks her unconscious before she can draw her sword. She then grabs the fleeing scribe and pressing her thumb onto the scribe’s forehead, orders her to sleep. As the scribe sumps to the floor in slumber, Wonder Woman picks up the tablet and hopes that like on Themyscira, she has been writing everything down since Wonder Woman had first arrived here. As she reads the symbols on the page she can make a few of the words out and suddenly sees one that makes her blood freeze.

“Minerva”. She turns to look out of the window and sees that the there is a blood red full moon in the night sky. “No…not tonight…dear Olympus..not TONIGHT!”