Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 38


Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 38

General Info

Issue No:
38 (367)
On Sale Date:
November 1989
Cover Date:
January 1990
Era:
Dark Age
Story Title:
Forbidden Fruit

Creative Team

Cover Artist:
George Perez, Chris Marrinan
Writer:
George Perez, Mindy Newell
Penciller:
Chris Marrinan
Inker:
Mike Machlan
Letterer:
Augustin Mas
Colourist:
Carl Gafford
Editor:
Karen Berger

Characters

Main:
Wonder Woman (Princess Diana)
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
Eris
Olympians:
N/A
Amazons:
Hippolyta, Mnemosyne, Penelope, Phillipus, Timandra
Other:
Asmund Lindel, Maritza Nitumbe, Phyllis Haller, Vladimir Morakov, Robert Cantwell, Rabbi Benjamin Hecht, Reverend Alan Witherspoon, Lin Koo Teng, Rovo Quashi, Henri Claude Tibet, Felix Zumac, Lois Lane
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Comments

This is another mainly narrative driven issue as the various delegates equate themselves with Amazon culture. It provides quite a fascinating and rich description of life in Themyscira, showing George Perez’s fondness for authenticity and his ability to create a truly believable world in which Wonder Woman herself becomes more real.
Also noteworthy for the first time pre or post crisis is the clear acknowledgement that at least some of the Amazons are Lesbians, although at no point in this issue or any since has it ever been suggested that Wonder Woman herself is anything other than heterosexual.

Synopsis

The delegates and the Amazons gather at the amphitheatre to watch a passion play, telling the origin story of the Amazons.

Several naked Amazons emerge from the pool in the centre of the arena, re-creating the moment when the Goddesses gave life to the souls of women held in limbo. Meanwhile Menalippe narrates, explaining to the audience how thousands of resurrected Amazons sprung forth, the first of which was Hippolyta. Next came Antiope and then the blessed oracle Menalippe.

The play continues, showing how Hippolyta and Antiope were chosen as Queens and given the Girdles of Gaea. Shoulder to shoulder they claimed partnership with Men…from the loins of brotherhood and the mons of sisterhood paired would come humanity! But by uncoiled muscles and oiled steel the Amazons were taken – overcome by unleashed lust; deceived, brutalised, raped. As Hippolyta was chained and shamed though, Gaea renewed her spirit and the Queen called her Amazons to arms. When the fighting was over and victory achieved, the choice of continued war versus a chance for peace was presented to the Amazons, Hippolyta chose a peaceful existence while Antiope and her followers chose to bid farewell and depart for pastures new. Hippolyta led her Amazons towards the Aegean Sea and came upon the shore to find no boat nor raft to carry them across the vast sea. Lord Poseidon answered their prayers however and parted the sea, allowing them to walk across the ocean floor.

The days brought fatigue and cold as every turn they feared the walls of water would come crashing down upon them. But finally they reached the soil of Paradise Island and each Amazon knew the gift of immortality. Their faith had proven right and they set themselves to the task of building their new home which they would call Themyscira.

As Menalippe begins to conclude her narration, a perplexed Diana thinks to herself that the oracle sounds almost bored in her droning delivery. Even Lois Lane finds it strange that a woman who makes pronouncements for a living makes such a lousy public speaker and she notices that Princess Diana seems almost embarrassed by the performance of her oracle.

As the play comes to an end and the participants take a bow to the applauding audience, Eris continues to watch events remotely in her magical apple…

After the Passion Play, Lois continues to make entries in her journal, describing how the Amazons are finalising their preparations for the forthcoming banquet. One of the Amazons named Clio comments how the Golden Apples neatly set out at each place are a nice touch and Penelope replies that they need to thank Menalippe for that suggestion.

To whet their appetite for the banquet to be held later that evening, the delegates are treated to an afternoon of mingling, playing and studying in this “Never Never Land” as Lois puts it. Princess Diana basks in her role as guide, leading them to a “second childhood filled with fairy dust and wonderful thoughts”. For their part, Diana’s Amazon sisters welcome this all too brief intermission of real time into their millennia of innocence.

Felix Zumac wonders to himself if this is what the world was like in the Garden of Eden. Does that make the delegates the serpents? Maritza Nitumbe meanwhile studies the soil, marveling at its purity. She muses that her home land was once like this before drought and war and pestilence ravaged it; before the hatred caused the food to rot at the docks so that guns could be transported instead.

Elsewhere in the library, Phyllis Haller, the Reverend Alan Witherspoon, Robert Cantwell and Lois Lane are shown by Mnemosyne the many books available to read. She explains that the building consists of the main atrium they are standing in, a general reference and reading room, and four smaller antechambers for more specific areas of interest.

Cantwell wonders whether the Amazons have a problem with inbreeding and homogeneity among their authors, particularly as theirs has been the only culture on this island for millennia. That could lead to a dangerous situation of slanted opinions and facts. “And Faith” adds Reverend Witherspoon. The Reverend then continues that he feels there has never been one “Doubting Thomas” amongst the Amazons in all these years. How can anybody grow in spirituality without having questions or having been tested. Lois Lane quips that perhaps Mnemosyne is being tested now and that the Reverend is the instrument of the testing!

Phyllis Haller interjects, telling Mnemosyne to ignore Cantwell and Witherspoon who are just being typical men. They always feel threatened by this proof that women do not need them for anything except sex. Witherspoon assures Mnemosyne that he is a Unitarian Minister, not a chauvinist and in his religion women as well as men are ordained. He then asks whether Mnemosyne misses the “sharing” God intended for the sexes. Mnemosyne smiles and replies that some Amazons do indeed share. Some have sworn themselves to Artemis, the Virgin hunter, and Athena, the Chaste Warrior. Others choose the way of Narcissus. But most of them find satisfaction in each other…after all three thousand years can be a long time! Lois, Phyllis and Mnemosyne smile at the obvious embarrassment of the Reverend as he meekly responds “Oh”.

Lois continues writing in her journal, explaining what the Amazons do when they require medical attention. She describes the small Islet that lies off shore, where healing is performed in the Pantheon of Apollo. Currently, Dr. Vladimir Morakov is there spending the afternoon studying herbology with the priestesses in exchange for modern medical information. He smiles as he enjoys a back massage courtesy of one of the beautiful Amazons…

Meanwhile in the capital city Asmund Lindel visits Queen Hippolyta and Lois follows them as they discuss the Chaos Wall around the island. Lindel asks whether Princess Diana has ever told Hippolyta about the Iron Curtain. The Amazon Queen replies that she is aware of it, but the Amazon way is one of a benevolent monarchy. She does not rule with terror and she bends to the will of the majority. He replies that he understands that fact and will report back accordingly to the General Assembly. However, there have already been comparisons made between the Iron Curtain and the Portal of Chaos. He suggests the Amazons might consider removing it before Hippolyta makes her return visit to New York. Hippolyta responds that some of the Amazons regard the Chaos as a necessary defense. Lindel asks whether Hippolyta is among them but she simply replies that it is a moot point because only the Gods can remove the portal.

Elsewhere Henri Claude Tibet is being wheeled around the city in his chair by an Amazon named Timandra. She asks him if he is feeling OK and smiling, he replies that if one more Amazons asks him that he is going to scream! He suggests they talk architecture instead and comments that Themyscira is a mixture of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian influences. He asks if this was a deliberate integration or are the latter simply a natural evolution from the former. Timandra replies that although she is an architect, her area of expertise is in the design of individual buildings, where she strives for simple harmony and symmetry. Themyscira’s city planner was Consivia who had perished long ago defending Doom’s Doorway…

Meanwhile at the site of Doom’s Doorway, Hellene and Lin Koo Teng look up at the statue commemorating those who died defending the doorway, may of whom were Hellene’s friends. Lin Koo tells her Amazon guide that the blood of her friends stains Tiananmen Square. Hellene tells the young girl that she must make peace with their spirits or else her bitterness will drag her down into the underworld to join them. Lin Koo snaps back that her friends are dead, not breakfasting on Pomegranate seeds with Persephone! Hellene calmly asks what kind of world does she come from that gives not even a basic understanding of the “Cycle” to their children. A puzzled Lin Koo asks “What Cycle?” as she has never read of the Greek’s believing in Reincarnation. Hellene responds that the Chinese girl has many misconceptions about Amazons. First of all their origins are not in Greece, but on the Aegean mainland.

Before she can mention her second point however a smiling Menalippe appears and interrupts, saying that Hectate teaches the Amazons that without death, there is no life. She then apologises for cutting Hellene short and adds that she thought that perhaps an oracle could explain things to Lin Koo more easily. Menalippe then turns to Lin Koo and says that Hellene has no patience with the visitors sometimes and asks if the Amazon has been rude in any way to the young girl. Lin Koo replies that they had simply been having a “lively” discussion and asks Hellene is they can continue on the tour. Menalippe watches them walk off, adding that she will catch them up later as she looks up at the statue…

Back in the city, Diana, Lois and another couple of Amazons watch enthralled as Rovo Quashi plays a Lyre. Diana asks if he has ever played before and he says no. Diana and Lois then leave the Amazons to marvel at the young boy’s musical talents and the Daily Planet Journalist takes the opportunity while they are alone together to interview the Amazon Princess. They discuss Diana’s belief in her “Mission of Peace” and how it continues unabated, despite the baser aspects of human nature which she has discovered run in all of us, including herself. Diana talks about Myndi Mayer and of the journalistic sobriquet “Wonder Woman”. The Princess also speaks warmly of her friendship with Julia Kapatelis and her daughter Vanessa. Finally, Lois asks her about Superman.

Lois had expected Diana to freeze at the subject being raised because it was rumoured that Diana was sensitive to the sensationalistic aspects of journalism. However, the Amazon Princess simply smiles and turns the tables on Lois, asking the journalist about her and Superman. Lois replies they are just good friends and Diana responds in kind “Same here”.

As they approach the Temple they see Rabbi Hecht running out, obviously annoyed. He rages that Diana’s priestesses are a bunch of Anti-Semites. Diana’s eyes turn furious violet at the thought of religious intolerance on the Island and storms into the Temple followed by Lois and the Rabbi. They come across a group of Priestesses gathered around a smoking cauldron. Penelope is leading the others in chants and their strange moaning sends a chill down Lois’ spine. If Diana thinks this ceremony unusual she makes no mention of it but instead addresses Penelope about Rabbi Hecht’s claim.

Penelope tells Diana that they want no outsiders contaminating their faith with their “heretical notions”. Rabbi Hecht snaps back that Judaism is more than “notions” and is over 5,000 years old! In the real world that is a lot longer than her kind of Paganism had lasted. Diana asks the Rabbi to calm down and he says he will only do so if Penelope apologises. When Diana tries to reason with the Amazon Priestess she gets short shrift as Penelope demands the Rabbi be removed from the Temple as his “smell defies this place”!

Lois knows she is sitting on top of a powder keg of a story. Penelope had, by her words and actions, destroyed the illusion of Paradise. If she had had access to the outside world at that moment, Lois would have broken the story there and then but part of her is glad she cannot do so. Paradise is, after all, such a fragile dream. What harm in letting the sleeper continue for a while?

Diana then forces Penelope by Royal Command to reveal the whereabouts of the oracle and chief priestess, Menalippe. The Amazon Princess launches into the air and flies off into the distance towards the statue at Doom’s Doorway. Down below in the meadow Hellene and Lin Koo see her fly overhead and the young girl suggests they follow her. But Hellene replies that they will not have time as it is almost sundown and the feast will begin soon.

A few moments later Diana arrives at the statue and calls to Menalippe. It seems so quiet and cold. She hears a noise and investigating further finds that the statue’s base has been ripped apart. She hears Menalippe cry out from the dark void below, saying that Diana should save herself and run. But Diana will not leave her friend in danger and tries to pry open the gap further to climb inside. She barely manages to move the stone and wonders how on earth the oracle could have managed to open a gap in the first place.

Finally with a cry Diana manages to push the stone apart and climbs down into the cavern below. She continues to call out to Menalippe and hears the oracle warn of danger again. Suddenly the floor gives way and Diana tumbles into blackness! She finds herself buffeted by strong winds with nothing to use to find her bearings. Just then she sees a light ahead and hears Menalippe’s voice say that it is the way to freedom. Diana flies towards it and as she passes through the portal she finds a huge serpent made of wood confronting her! She manages to dodge its fangs but finds several more long necked heads rearing up in front of her.

She is grabbed by one of them and it begins to squeeze her tightly. As the air is forced from her lungs she manages to remove her tiara and rams it into the neck. But a burst of flame erupts from the wound and sends her tiara sailing into the distance out of reach. Twigs begin to sprout forth and wrap themselves around her wrists and neck. As she struggles desperately she sees to her horror that her skin is turning to wood! Her fading eyesight picks out two figures in the distance and as they approach she realises that it is Menalippe standing beside Eris, daughter of Ares!

The oracle tells Diana that she has seen the Fates and realises that the Amazons’ fate is sealed. She then welcomes Diana to their “tree of destiny” for in truth the Amazons are of Ares – daughters of war and sisters to Eris! As Diana finally turns completely to wood everything goes black and her last image is that of the cold unfeeling eyes of Eris boring into her…

Later, as night falls and the banquet prepares to get underway in the capital of Themyscira, an unhappy looking Hippolyta demands to know where her daughter and her oracle are. How can they be late for the Feast of the Five? It is the most important event in the Amazon calendar! Lois quips that perhaps they are just being “fashionably late” but Hippolyta adds that without Menalippe, they cannot start proceedings as the oracle always performs the opening rites. Lin Koo says to Hellene that they should have followed Diana after all, but the Amazon replies that they would then have been late too and she was was not prepared to insult her Queen, the guests and the Goddesses in such a way.

Penelope then states that they should start the feast anyway so that their “guests” can go back to where they belong! Phillipus scowls at her and says that she has been less than hospitable all day – even to her fellow Amazon sisters. Is there something she is not telling them? The Amazon Captain then suggests they should organise a search party but is cut short by the voices of Diana and Menalippe who stroll casually into the chamber.

They smile and looking at each other with a sly glint in their eyes apologise for being “fashionably late”. They then calmly take their seats at the table, eyeing the apples laid out at each place setting. Lois is bemused by their behaviour as she had seen just how furious Diana had been with Menalippe earlier. Could Diana be that forgiving? Maybe she was just adept at hiding her true feelings in front of a room full of subjects and guests. But as Lois looks at Diana’s expression she does not believe this is the case. Diana is a woman whose eyes tell of her soul, but as Lois looks into those eyes now they tell her nothing. Nothing at all.

The smiling Diana raises her hands and announces “Let the Feast of Five begin!”.