This issue sees the culmination of Diana’s mission as she finally confronts Ares! But at what cost to her?
This issue sees the culmination of Diana’s mission as she finally confronts Ares! But at what cost to her?
Around the world news spreads fast of the takeover of a nuclear missile base by General Tolliver and his renegade troops. The U.S. President tries to reason with the General but Tolliver insists he has knowledge of Soviet plans to launch a first strike against America. Indeed, rumours are now circling that a renegade Soviet General has also taken over a Russian silo although their government has refused to substantiate this worrying development.
Meanwhile, inside the U.S. facility, Wonder Woman, Steve, Etta, Michaelis and Julia look on in horror at the war god Ares. Michaelis murmurs that this just keeps getting more insane and Ares replies that the insanity is of Mankind’s making. He had merely taken the raw material offered him and shaped it to his own needs. The impending conflict shall be his finest moment – the moment of the Amazons’ fatal failure and his fellow Gods’ destruction! He begins to dematerialise and laughing, tells Wonder Woman to dwell on these facts in the few precious moments left to her!
Tolliver then holds up a launch key and says that when he reaches the master control room he will be able to trigger Armageddon. As he rants, Etta, Steve and Michaelis discreetly remove smoke grenades from their rucksacks. Michaelis whispers that when he gives the word, Wonder Woman should rush Tolliver. She replies that she cannot allow them to risk their lives but Julia tells her their lives are already in danger and they will definitely die otherwise.
Tolliver strides purposely across the room to the control room door and enters the access code, whereupon the massive blast door slides open. At that moment Wonder Woman leaps into action and ploughs through the troops surrounding them. Simultaneously, the others let off their gas grenades providing cover. Wonder Woman grapples with Tolliver who drops the launch key, before flinging him at some of his approaching men. They in turn unleash a furious barrage of sustained machine gun fire, while the Amazon uses her bracelets to protect herself against the onslaught. The room is filled with gunfire as her companions engage in a fire fight with Tolliver’s men.
Wonder Woman does not know how much longer she can keep defend herself as she is still weak from the hundreds of venom bites she had endured at the hands of Deimos. Tolliver, seeing the launch key lying near her feet, orders his men to rush her. The Amazon Princess suddenly finds dozens of soldiers swarming over her like insects, trying to overwhelm her with sheer weight of numbers. But she summons all her strength and throws them off. However, Tolliver has used the opportunity to grab the key and makes a dash for the master control centre. Steve sees this and races after the General as the blast door begins to close. Wonder Woman realises that Tolliver has escaped and sees Steve just manage to dive through the gap before the door slams shut. She races over and uses all her might to try and lift the massive door. She strains with all her might as the door begins to buckle a little but stays in place. She curses Ares for his cowardice, crying out that this is the day she was born for…the day for which the Gods granted her this power. Why will the War God not face her? Why does he hide behind a miserable mad mortal? Suddenly, a blinding light surrounds Wonder Woman and vanishing before a horrified Julia’s eyes, she finds herself tumbling in a seemingly endless void of blackness!
Meanwhile Steve races down the corridor towards the main control room at the end. He bursts upon Tolliver, who has already inserted the key and is preparing to turn it. Steve warns him not to do it but sees the General has no intention of stopping and opens fire, riddling Tolliver with bullets. The General crumples to the ground, his body smoking and smouldering as if beginning to dissolve. But as Steve steps forward to remove the key he find his hand is grabbed and turns in shock to see Tolliver is still alive!
For Wonder Woman, at first there is only the darkness, complete, all encompassing. Then comes the thunder and the bursts of light…the random eruptions of explosive force that rumble savagely through the shadows, echoing like the cackle of demonic laughter. As she rouses from her numbed sleep she finds herself face to face with the mighty War God himself! Towering over her, he bellows that she had challenged him and he has answered. Now she should either stand and face him or crawl like the coward she is! She gets to her feet and asks him why he is doing this? He replies that he is fulfilling an ancient prophecy. As Uranus was slain by his son Chronus, who in turn was slain by his son Zeus, now shall Ares slay his own father and become more powerful than he ever was!
A portal then appears showing the events as they are happening back on Earth. Wonder Woman sees Steve grappling with the zombie like Tolliver and Ares tells her that her comrade is no match for his pawn Tolliver, or the demonic spirit that now animates his corpse. The vision then changes to show rioting in the streets and then the Soviet missile base where a renegade General also prepares to launch his own missiles. Ares continues to crow that his influence grows stronger with each passing minute. “Athena Protect us!” Wonder Woman exclaims in horror, but the War God replies that Athena cannot help her, no more than her fellow Amazons.
The vision then changes again to show Paradise Island, where the trees have withered and the flowers have died. Philippus can be seen making her way through the desolate landscape towards the palace. She asks the queen if there has been any word from Diana? The haggard, slumped form of Hippolyta replies that she has heard nothing and the Amazons continue to grow older and more frail with each passing moment. She fears her noble daughter has failed in her sword mission to stop the War God’s madness and they shall all pay the price for her failure. Philippus responds that she should not yet despair for if Diana was dead the Amazons would have long since joined her. As long as the Princess lives there is hope!
A furious Wonder Woman launches herself at Ares, crying out that Philippus speaks the truth and that as long as life remains there is always hope. She tells him to defend himself and he responds by unleashing a godly blast of energy that sends Wonder Woman flying in agony across the void. As he unleashes another blast at her he tells her she is a foolish child and is merely a toy to do with as he pleases. He could destroy her with a single thought but that would be too quick and painless by comparison. As he stands over her smoking body he continues that he would much rather see her suffer for a time until she has learned a little humility! He then grabs her by the throat and holds her up before his face. She spits that he is truly mad and he responds that that may be so but he is also the greatest of all gods! He commands her to acknowledge him as such or die in unimaginable agony!
Wonder Woman cannot breathe and starts to lose consciousness. She desperately reaches for the Amulet tucked into her belt and slams it down onto Ares’ head. It is claimed to have awesome power and perhaps only power spawned by Ares himself can hope to defeat him. Ares cries out in pain causing him to release his grip on the Amazon. The darkness itself begins to burn with his fury and Ares lashes out, smashing her and sending her flying. Suddenly flames leap up around her, searing her skin without burning it. Writhing in absolute agony, she cries out for help but Ares thunders that his fellow gods cannot help her – in fact they cannot even help themselves! Even her comrades are otherwise occupied.
The portal opens again to reveal Etta, Julia and Michaelis struggling to override the base’s outer security systems. But as they succeed and watch on the monitors as general Hillary’s troops enter the base they hear a noise behind them and turn to see Tolliver’s slain troops rise up and open fire! Wonder Woman watches in horror as a hail of bullets hit her friends and Ares callously tells her that she could not even save those three fools so how can she expect to save the world? It is time for her to admit her inadequacies! The Amazon Princess can only feel despair, frustration and anguish that her gods have brought her here only to see her fail. While will they not answer her prayers?
By the shores of the River Styx, Artemis says to Athena that Diana has failed them and she has proven not strong enough to defeat Ares. Athena replies that they must have faith that she will realise the true power that is hers. Just the Persephone steps up and says that they cannot delay any longer and that it is time to board the Great Ark for their journey to oblivion. But Athena and Artemis refuse to go for while Diana still lives the conflict is not yet over. They will see this through to the bitter end.
For an interminable instant, Wonder Woman kneels amidst the rippling flames, Ares mocking insults echoing endlessly in her ears. Then, slowly, hesitantly at first, she rises once more to her feet, her hand clutching the gleaming weapon she carries ever at her side…a great golden lasso forged by the God Hephaestus from the Girdle of the Earth Mother Gaea herself. She twirls it above her head and cries that not since Heracles first put them in chains has an Amazon been bested! She has been charged to put an end to his mad scheme and with their aid or without it, put an end to it she WILL! Ares decides to end this and fires a godly bolt of hellfire at her but she dodges it and in turn loops her lasso around the surprised War God. As the lasso’s coils tighten around his torso, Ares screams and the nether world goes suddenly mad, its violent convulsions knocking Wonder Woman back of her feet, sending her sprawling, barely alive.
Suddenly, Ares can see the awesome mushroom clouds rising shroud like over the Earth’s great cities. he can feel the heat from the blossoming fireballs stripping flesh from bone and reducing bones to ash. For one brief moment, as a fiery tide sweeps relentlessly across the Earth, Ares is finally the true master of the World. And then he is alone. His kingdom is nothing more than a charred smoking cinder, devoid of life and thus purpose. Enveloped by the lasso of truth, he can at last truly see the ultimate consequences of his actions. For the first time in his immortal existence the War God weeps. Without those alive to worship him, Ares’ power swiftly wanes and his great palace, Areopagus grows more and more decayed until at last it crumbles into nothingness, carrying the War God with it down into the vile dust whence he first sprung…unmourned, unhonoured and unsung! Ares cannot believe his eyes…his fate..his dreams of glory all come at last to this?
A weak Wonder Woman tells him it is all true. He must stop this madness before it is too late. Ares picks her up and holds her before him. He agrees. There is no other choice. He asks her to hand him the Amulet and let the balance be restored…
Back in the base, Steve continues his struggle with Tolliver’s corpse. But he is floored by a punch allowing the General to turn the key and start the launch! Steve watches the monitor screens in horror, realising he has failed and waiting for the missile’s engines to burst into life. However, nothing happens. A shocked Tolliver cannot understand what has gone wrong and suddenly his body erupts into flame, dissolving into a fiery pile of ashes.
In the nether world, Ares tells Wonder Woman that Tolliver is no more, as is his Soviet counterpart. The threat is ended. From this moment forth Man must decide his own destruction. His capacity for bloodshed is great which will keep the War God strong but he will never again take an active role in man’s demise. It will fall to the Amazon Princess to save Man from himself. It will not be an easy task and he will watch with interest to see of she is equal to it. For is she is not, then the World shall hear from him again. With a wave of his hand he sends Wonder Woman back to her world…
Meanwhile in the remnants of the control centre, General Hillary and his troops have stormed the complex and been confronted by Tolliver’s men going up like torches. Medics are attending to the wounded Julia and Etta, but Colonel Michaelis had been killed while bravely shielding the two women. Hillary walks over to Etta and asks where Steve is as he has a lot of explaining to do? He hears a voice behind him say “I’m right here general” and Hillary turns to see Steve stepping out from the corridor leading to the launch centre. In his arms lies the lifeless body of Wonder Woman.
“For god’s sake, will somebody please help me with her?!