Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 43


Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 43

General Info

Issue No:
43 (372)
On Sale Date:
April 1990
Cover Date:
June 1990
Era:
Dark Age
Story Title:
The Armageddon Aria

Creative Team

Cover Artist:
George Perez, Chris Marrinan
Writer:
George Perez, Mindy Newell
Penciller:
Chris Marrinan
Inker:
Romeo Tanghal
Letterer:
John Costanza
Colourist:
Carl Gafford
Editor:
Karen Berger

Characters

Main:
Wonder Woman (Princess Diana), Etta Candy
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
Henry Armbruster, Silver Swan (Valerie Beaudry), Mister Choi
Olympians:
N/A
Amazons:
Hippolyta, Epione, Ismure, Euboea
Other:
Ben Buchman
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Comments

This issue reveals some tensions between Diana and Etta, who feels the former is distracting Steve from their own relationship.

Synopsis

Ensnared in Wonder Woman’s magic lasso, the Silver Swan continues to omit her deafening scream in frustration, destroying everything in the immediate vicinity. Wonder Woman, Maxine and Solomon crouch behind a rock as the Amazon Princess struggles to hold tight to the golden rope wrapped around her struggling nemesis. Diana wonders to herself who these people are and what on earth is going on?

Finally the screaming ceases and Wonder Woman takes a cautious look over the rock. She sees that Silver Swan is not even looking their way but seems instead to be struggling against something else – something hideous and deformed but strangely familiar. She let’s out a cry and calls for Armbruster, pleading for him not to abandon her. She suddenly takes off taking Wonder Woman, who still holds on to the lasso, with her!

Elsewhere the technicians monitoring Silver Swan tell the arriving Mr. Choi that they have lost contact with her. Choi orders them to re-establish it but they respond that they have been trying to but to no avail. They are going to have to shut down and re calibrate, which will take half an hour. Mr. Choi snaps back that they will take no longer than twenty minutes. He then radios Henry Armbruster who is relaxing in his bedroom. Choi tells his boss that there has been a slight malfunction and that they have lost contact with the Swan. It may have been caused after her sonic blast, which while killing her target may have also knocked out her own power much like an electro magnetic pulse does. Armbruster tells them to fix it immediately and annoyed, picks up a nearby photograph of Valerie and hurls it at the wall.

Meanwhile Silver Swan flies upwards dragging Wonder Woman with her. She tells the Amazon Princess to let go of the lasso or she swears she will kill them both. Diana tries to reason with her but Valerie refuses to listen, pleading to be left alone. As she begins to build herself up into a frenzy again, Wonder Woman decides to pre-empt this and flips her foe down into the lake below.

Maxine rushes to the water’s edge, yelling that her friend cannot swim. As Silver Swan coughs and splutters, thrashing desperately to stay above water, Wonder Woman dives down and scooping her up, carries Silver Swan to dry land. Maxine asks why the Amazon had had to be so rough on her, but Diana replies that her foe had left her no choice.

She adds however that Valerie is not seriously hurt, although both she and Solomon will require treatment. Maxine pleads for Diana not to involve the doctors and especially the police. Wonder Woman asks why and Maxine explains that she and Solomon had broken into Julia Kapatelis’s city dwelling, looking for Diana. Maxine continues that Solomon had already escaped from the police and she just knows that the authorities will prod and poke Valerie like some kind of monster if they get hold of her. But none of this is Valerie’s fault. It is all down to Henry Armbruster! He had made Valerie who she is today. Maxine and Solomon had been trying to get Val out of his clutches which is why Armbruster had sent Choi and his killers after them.

A confused Wonder Woman says that Silver Swan had not seemed to want their help. However, she had sensed a great pain in her soul the moment she snared Valerie in the lasso. Maxine explains that Diana had connected with Val’s true self – her gentle, loving side. She adds that Armbruster uses Diana to make Valerie jealous. He holds the Amazon up as some kind of paragon that Valerie can never live up to. Wonder Woman nods her understanding and asks how she can help. Maxine replies that she can use her lasso to get back inside Valerie’s mind and break his hold over her – and give her back her self respect.

Wonder Woman replies that she needs to understand all of this better first. Gesturing to where the injured Solomon lays, she says that he had tried to shoot the Silver Swan. Why would he want to help her now? Maxine opens the bag, saying she can show Diana records that Solomon’s father had kept that will explain everything. Armbruster had taken the files and she and Solomon had subsequently stolen them back. That is why Armbruster now wants them dead.

Just then they hear the drone of helicopters and see several gun ships approaching. Maxine warns Wonder Woman that it is Armbruster’s men! The lead pilot radio’s back to his boss that he can see three survivors down below and Silver Swan lying trussed up on the ground. A furious Armbruster orders them to attack and kill everyone except the Silver Swan and to bring back the stolen records. The pilot asks what happens of it is not possible to keep the Swan from harm and Armbruster coldly tells him to destroy her too if necessary!

Down below Wonder Woman warns the others to stay back as Maxine sees that Valerie is waking up. Above them the lead helicopter blares down their one and only warning, saying that they must release the Silver Swan and surrender the backpack of Military paraphernalia at once. Wonder Woman shouts back, asking whose Military? The pilot replies that the Silver Swan is of no concern to the Amazon and she will be cared for. Wonder Woman again asks “By whom?” and demands that they identify themselves first.

Meanwhile Maxine pleads with the groggy Valerie to help them. Her friend weakly replies that she cannot interfere or else Armbruster will kill her. As Maxine tries to reason that he is already trying to kill her, Wonder Woman ponders on what the helicopters are waiting for. They must realise how vulnerable their targets are out here in the open. If it were only her in danger, she would not be so concerned but she cannot afford to compromise the safety of the others.

Valerie continues to try and understand what is going on. Why would her lover try and kill her after everything he has done for her? Maxine snaps back, asking what exactly has he done for her? As the deadly gun ships continue to hover menacingly overhead, the Silver Swan gets to her feet and says that whatever the truth, she cannot allow them to hurt Maxine. She tells her friend to give back the stolen records and then she will listen to Maxine’s side of the story. Maxine is unsure, but as Wonder Woman removes the lasso wrapped around Silver Swan, she assures her that Valerie was compelled to speak the truth and that they can trust her.

As Silver Swan flies up towards the helicopter she tells Maxine that although she promises to listen, she warns her friend not to ask her to turn against Armbruster, as he would never turn against Valerie. She then addresses the lead gun ship, saying that in the name of Henry Armbruster she orders them to cease and desist their operation and to return to base. The pilot radios back to his boss, asking if the original orders to terminate the targets have now been countermanded. Armbruster orders his men to stand by while he speaks to Mr Choi, who has been listening in on the conversation. Choi tells Armbruster that he had warned him this would happen and if he had only allowed Valerie to visit Maxine as Choi had suggested, then this would not be happening now. He suggests that Armbruster reason with Valerie, as he feels she is not quite ready to give up on her lover and mentor just yet.

Armbruster’s voice is duly relayed to Silver Swan by the lead helicopter and he asks her to stop this nonsense and to go home. She asks why she cannot stay and talk with her friend, as it has been so long since the two pen pals have spoken with each other. He barks back “Because I said so!” and she pleads with him not to yell at her. Scowling he replies “Don’t say I didn’t warn you” and orders his men to open fire!

As an astonished Silver Swan watches the gun ships open up on her, Wonder Woman zooms up and uses her bracelets to protect her. A furious Silver Swan pushes Wonder Woman out of the way and lets rip with a sonic scream that begins to shatter the cockpits of the attacking helicopters. The pilots request permission to withdraw but Armbruster orders them to continue with the attack. As Silver Swan increases her sonic scream even more and knocks out the weapon systems of the craft, Wonder Woman watches in awe at such power in a mortal.

Finally Silver Swan stops her scream and totally exhausted, falls towards the ground. Wonder Woman swoops down to catch her as the damaged gun ships limp back to base. Mr. Choi tells the listening Armbruster that Silver Swan is down and that the mission has been scrubbed, adding that they were lucky this time. An enraged Armbruster demands to know how on earth he can say they have been lucky, when both Wonder Woman and Silver Swan are still alive! An equally angry Choi snaps back that Armbruster should not try to turn this around on him, as he had warned about pushing Valerie too far. Thanks to Armbruster’s ego, they now have a lot more to worry about than just the Amazon! A smug Armbruster assures Choi though that Silver Swan would never hurt him and that she still loves him. She will come back – it is only a matter of time.

A short while later on Paradise Island Ismure enters the healing room as Epione treats the wounded Solomon Buchman. As Euboea and Hippolyta watch the treatment, Euboea asks who this man is and why her daughter has brought him here? The Amazon Queen replies that if Euboea is asking if this man lives in Diana’s heart, she does not know the answer – in fact she does not even know this man’s name. Diana had simply said when she arrived that she had given her word as an Amazon to a woman called Maxine, that this man would find recovery and renewal amongst the Amazons.

Euboea is confused though, as his wounds are bullet wounds. What do the Amazons know of bullets except from what they have learned from Diana herself? Hippolyta explains that the outside world is used to dealing with such travesties to the human body and the only reason her daughter would not have taken him to one of the healing centres in Patriarch’s World is if she could not do so for some reason. Euboea then says that she hopes this turn of events does not gravely affect Diana’s mission to the outside world. They might lose their trust in her. Hippolyta simply replies “But we cannot Euboea”…

Meanwhile at the Massachusetts home of Etta Candy, Wonder Woman thanks her friend for agreeing to put her, Maxine and Valerie up. Etta acknowledges Diana’s gratitude but adds that she needs to talk to the Amazon Princess about the fact that she feels uncomfortable in her presence. Perhaps it is because Diana is so beautiful and thin, or maybe it is because if Diana had not shown up, Etta and Steve would have been married by now. Wonder Woman assures Etta that Steve is a good friend – nothing more, and that he loves Etta. Her friend replies that it is not a matter of love – more a matter of time and priorities and commitment – knowing when the other comes first. She adds that she likes her job and indeed she likes herself. She does not want to be a full time house wife but she also wants Steve back. But with Hermes and everything else going on around here, that is not going to happen.

Wonder Woman tells Etta she had not realised how Etta felt and that she and the others would leave right away. Etta replies that they are not going anywhere as she has the computer and video all set up as requested. Wonder Woman tells her friend that in that case they will stay, but that perhaps later she and Etta should talk some more.

As they enter the living room Maxine is wiping away tears from Valerie who is preparing to watch the video tape taken from Buchman’s laboratory. Valerie says she is ready and they play the tape as it shows Professor Benjamin Buchman running for his life through a desolated laboratory, stalked by the Silver Swan who lets out her deadly scream. As they watch the events unfold, Valerie explains that the Professor was Solomon Buchman’s father and Maxine tells her friend that she does not have to watch the rest of the tape if she does not want to. Valerie replies that it is OK and that she is not scared. She was simply defending herself from Buchman, who was trying to kill both her and Armbruster.

Seeing the others’ reaction she stands up and snarls that they obviously do not believe her. Maxine asks her friend to give them a chance and to start at the beginning. How did she meet Henry Armbruster? Valerie explains that he had found her. She had been lonely. Ugly and unloved. Until Armbruster appeared. He did not care what she looked like and did not care what society said about what women are supposed to look like…like a “Wonder Woman” for instance! He simply loved her for who she was. Not some stupid icon of impossibility!

Armbruster was rich though. An important world class businessman with access to world class technology. Although he had told Valerie her looks did not matter she knew they did and that he would lose money because of her. He had told Valerie that if it was troubling her that much he would help her. He had found Ben Buchman and given him money, building him a high tech laboratory. And all just to make Valerie happy.

She had been submerged in a tank filled with a special substance developed by Buchman and it had changed her. She had been cocooned inside the tank, wrapped head to toe in bandages. When she had emerged, Armbruster had helped her remove the bandages while standing in front of a mirror and she had wept for joy at the beautiful visage before her. He loved her so much to do this for her!

Valerie stops and begins to cry, as she bemoans the fact that she has stabbed in the back the only man to truly love her. Wonder Woman reminds her that Armbruster had tried to kill her a few hours ago. That is not love. That is anythingbut love! Valerie snaps back that Diana knows nothing about men. The Amazon Princess responds that she knows enough to know that men who love do not hurt the women they love.

Valerie replies that she is wrong! Armbruster had protected her and had stopped Buchman from killing her. The Professor had wanted to experiment on her but Armbruster was wary. Buchman had convinced him that the experiments were just to make sure Valerie was OK. She had not been too keen to go back inside the tank again but Armbruster had assured her it was alright. She had not wanted to let him down and had agreed. As she floated in the tank she overheard Armbruster and Buchman yelling and screaming at each other. Then there had been a flash of light and she had found herself floating in mid air with the remnants of the shattered tank lying on the floor.

She had seen Armbruster lying on the floor with Buchman standing over him, wielding a large monkey wrench and hitting him with it. He was killing him! She had to stop it and had felt this surge in her stomach. It kept building, pushing against her teeth until she had let go of it. The sonic scream had destroyed everything including Buchman. Armbruster somehow survived and she pulled him from the rubble.

She had been scared and had thought she would go to jail. But Armbruster took care of everything. He had taught her to use her powers so that no one could hurt her again. If it had not been for Armbruster she would be in prison now – or even dead!

Maxine adds sarcastically “Or still ugly, right Val? A fate worse than death”. Maxine continues, asking her friend why she had not told her about any of this in the letters they had exchanged? She does not care what Valerie looks like. How could she believe what Armbruster had said about her?

Valerie says meekly that he loves her. If Maxine really cared about her, then why was she helping Solomon Buchman who was trying to kill her? Anyway, it no longer matters as she will be dead soon. A startled Wonder Woman asks her what she means by this statement, as Valerie walks out of the room. Maxine suggests Wonder Woman uses the lasso again to make Valerie see the truth about “that creep”. But Diana tells her that Valerie’s emotions and mind are incredibly fragile right now. She is afraid the truth would be even more self destructive than the cocoon of lies she has built up about herself.

Just then Etta calls them over to the computer where she has been looking at Buchman’s files on the Silver Swan. She tells them that she had been reviewing Valerie’s electrolytes, CBC, MRI’s and CAT scans and had spotted something strange. She then shows them two scans, dated two years apart. The scans are different and Etta explains that any difference should be marginal and accounted for. These readings however are way off base. In fact, it is like comparing apples with oranges! In other words – the scans are showing two different Silver Swans!

Just then they hear a noise from the other room and Wonder Woman races to see Silver Swan flying out through the open window and up to a waiting helicopter. Before she can react Diana hears Etta’s cry and running back to the living room she finds to her horror that her friends are being held at gunpoint by a gang of Armbruster’s men!