Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 9


Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 9

General Info

Issue No:
9 (338)
On Sale Date:
June 1987
Cover Date:
October 1987
Era:
Dark Age
Story Title:
Blood Of The Cheetah

Creative Team

Cover Artist:
George Perez
Writer:
George Perez, Len Wein
Penciller:
George Perez
Inker:
Bruce Patterson
Letterer:
John Costanza, L.S. Macintosh
Colourist:
Tatjana Wood
Editor:
Karen Berger

Characters

Main:
Wonder Woman (Princess Diana), Steve Trevor, Etta Candy, Julia Kapatelis, Vanessa Kapatelis
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
Barbara Minerva (The Cheetah)
Olympians:
N/A
Amazons:
N/A
Other:
Myndi Mayer, Chuma
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Comments

This issue could be described as containing a more action oriented story line than some previous issues, where heroine finally trades punches with her arch foe in traditional comic book style. After the multi-layered narrative of the previous issue, this one takes a more straightforward linear approach, with events leading up to the final showdown.

This is also a significant issue as it marks the first post crisis confrontation between Wonder Woman and a pre-crisis enemy (other than the War God Ares), namely the Cheetah.

Synopsis

On the balcony of Barbara Minerva’s Boston apartment, Chuma raises his ceremonial knife aloft, letting the moonlight glint of the sharp blade. As drums pound rhythmically, he turns and steps back inside to where Barbara lays naked on a table which is draped with Cheetah fur.

He has performed this ritual on numerous occasions and each time he prays it will be the last. Tonight was the night of the kill, the night of hunger, the night when the drums are one with her heart and her heart beats quick and strong. Tonight is the night of the Blood feast!

He makes a cut in her wrist and lets her blood pours into the bowl beneath. Gently, the old man dresses her wound, knowing that in the morning there will be no sign of a scar, such is the God’s gift of healing…and its curse. He knows the Plant God is hungry and must be fed. He carries the bowl of blood towards the plant. He adds the blood to the rest of the sacred potion he has already prepared and pours it onto the plant. Sated, the Plant God sighs in contentment and Chuma prepares to return his mistress – and the plant’s slave – to her bed.

One week later in Wakefield, Massachusetts, Wonder Woman is enjoying the sheer exhilaration of flying, feeling the brisk breeze whipping past her face and revelling in the incomparable sensation of pure, unbridled freedom! Down below, Publicist Myndi Mayer watches her swoop across the sky and enjoys her own elation. She tells Julia and Vanessa that the letter from Doctor Minerva could not have come at a better time. If she really does have the second Girdle of Gaea it could change Diana’s whole perception of her Amazon history. And it wouldn’t exactly be a bad publicity coup either!

Julia replies that Myndi would merchandise Mother Teresa if she could manage it! Julia quickly apologises for snapping and adds that it is just that she is worried about Diana. Myndi cannot understand why and point up to where the Amazon Princess is letting a passing bird perch on her outstretched hand. The Publicist says that the letter was a tonic and she has not seen Diana so happy since she has known her. However, the ever cautious Julia responds that she has done some checking into Doctor Barbara Minerva’s reputation and she is about as shady as your average Weeping Willow! Myndi replies that may be so, but Julia and Diana have already discussed this and the Amazon still wants to meet the lady. Besides, Myndi will accompany Diana for the visit while Julia and Vanessa are at school. Like it or not, Diana is a responsible adult and does not need a second mother!

Later that morning in mid town Boston, Myndi and Diana, who is now dressed in civilian attire, ride up in a lift towards Barbara Minerva’s apartment floor. The Publicist asks the young Amazon to relax but Diana says that it is difficult when so much depends on this meeting. Myndi tells her that Minerva is not going to bite and anyway, what is the worst that could happen? Diana replies that Myndi does not understand. If what Minerva says is true it could change her own purpose here in Man’s World and affect the very destiny of the Amazons as a whole!

At last they arrive at the Penthouse floor and are greeted by Chuma who shows them inside. Barbara Minerva is waiting for them inside and asks Chuma to get their guests some refreshments. Myndi then advises Barbara that they have publicity and promotion issues to discuss before getting down to business, but the doctor tells her “all in good time”. She then asks Diana is she has brought her lasso? The young Amazon reaches into her handbag and removes the golden rope. She hands it to the mesmerised Barbara and asks to in turn see her own second Girdle. Barbara replies that the lasso is everything Professor Kapatelis had described.

She tells Diana to wait a moment while she goes upstairs to retrieve the artefact she had described in her letter together with documentation proving its authenticity. But as she speaks she breaks into a sweat and her speech begins to falter. Unable to stop herself, Barbara slowly states that there is no documentation and there is no girdle! Screaming, she throws the lasso to the floor and collapses, begging for the cursed lariat to be taken away! Diana picks it up as Chuma rushes to the aid of his mistress. The young Amazon’s eyes well with tears as she tries to comprehend the betrayal of a fellow woman. She demands to know the reason for this deception and Barbara pleads with her not to leave as she merely wanted to meet and talk with Diana.

Myndi reaches for Diana, trying to comfort her and apologising for bringing her here. But the angry Amazon Princess responds that the Publicist was only thinking of herself and that Julia was right when she had said that Myndi cared nothing for Diana. She is only interested in exploiting the Amazon! How can one woman do that to another? With that, she turns and storms out, launching herself out through the nearest window and soaring high up into the sky. She cries out to her Gods for some sort of sign to help her understand this madness…

Later that afternoon at the Kapatelis Summer home, Vanessa takes a call from Myndi and promises to pass the message on to Diana, although she doubts she will listen! Myndi begs that Diana has to listen to her so that she can apologise! They have Tour dates to talk about and a campaign to run! She cannot just cut Myndi off like this! Vanessa replies that now is not really a good time to talk to the Amazon Princess as Julia is outside with her now, trying to calm her down.

In the garden, Diana now wearing her costume leans against a tree, telling Julia that so much has happened since this “Wonder Woman” Tour began and so much has changed. She has so many questions she feels so lost. Will she leave Man’s World having taught people nothing more than her name? She continues that everything seemed so simple on Paradise Island, yet now she realises she is no longer like her Amazon sisters. Her life is part of a greater design and stopping Ares was only a small part of it. Her name, costume and mission are all tatters of some vast tapestry, lacking the thread to make them whole.

Julia gently rests her hands on the sad young woman’s shoulders, telling her not to torture herself like this. She has accomplished much in her time here and time is something this world needs, in order to learn from Diana. But the Amazon Princess pulls away and walks off, responding that unfortunately, time is the one commodity she cannot afford to spare…

Later that night at the rented apartment of Doctor Barbara Minerva, Chuma kneels by the Plant God, chanting to himself and plucking its berries before crushing them into a paste. In her bedroom, Barbara readies herself for the ordeal ahead. She paints her face in the ancient manner, preparing herself for war. At last she walks towards Chuma and the Plant God and says that the way the lasso had forced her to reveal the truth shows it is everything she could have hoped for. It must be hers! With the Elixir ready, Chuma hands it to Barbara and she downs it in one. The arcane Elixir burns through her blood like fire, her pulse pounding in her temples like the rhythm of the drums. Her flesh tingles and her body writhes as she feels the power possess her. Her lame leg grows strong once more and the ceremonial skin she wears becomes one with her own. Her voice becomes a growl and her eyes, once brown, now grow glistening black. Her claws extend, teeth sharpen and the Cheetah is free to prowl again!

Her claws gouge hand holds in the outside wall as she descends down the sheer face of the apartment building, ready for the hunt! Chuma watches her go, thinking to himself how she is the last of her kind as the Plant God is the last of his. In the city streets below, the Cheetah stalks through the shadows , drawn by scent and instinct unerringly to her prey…

Elsewhere in the city, at the apartment of Etta Candy, the Lieutenant takes a phone call from Steve Trevor. She tells him it is good to hear his voice again. In the background, the news bulletin on her TV reports that the investigations continue into the death of local criminal Tamsyn McConnel who was apparently slain by some wild animal. But Etta is not listening to this as she continues to have a conversation with her friend Steve. He tells Etta that he will not be coming back to Boston tomorrow as intended as he has just got a letter from Oklahoma, advising him that his father is dying. Etta passes on her sympathies and says that she will join him as he needs his friends at such a difficulty time. He thanks her and adds that it will be strange going home again. As he speaks he holds a family photograph in his hand. It is a picture of Steve Trevor as a child, standing between his proud parents who both wear their uniforms as serving Air Force officers.

A short while later in the outskirts of Boston, the Cheetah moves swiftly through the night. Her prey is near now. She feels her hunger growing and soon it will be time for the blood feast!

At the Kapatelis Summer home, Vanessa is calling for Diana. She asks her mother if she has seen the Amazon Princess and Julia replies that she is probably out in the woods. With it being so late, Vanessa asks if Diana is alright? Julia tells her daughter that Diana often stays out there to commune with nature. Considering what a disaster today has been for the young Amazon, she probably needs all the meditation time she can get. She adds that Diana will come inside when she is ready and she is one woman who can take care of herself. Suddenly, Julia stops short and walks over to the window. Vanessa asks her mother what has spooked her and Julia replies that it had sounded like some sort of animal outside. Still, she is sure it is nothing to worry about…

By the shore of the nearby lake, Wonder Woman sits against a tree petting a daring Raccoon who has shuffled close to her for warmth. In the tree above, unseen, something stirs, The Cheetah crouches, unmoving, studying its prey and anticipating the warm gush of blood when razored claws slash tender flesh! Below, the Raccoon suddenly darts away, obviously spooked and before Wonder Woman can react a furry tail flicks down from above and loops around her throat before instantly constricting! Cheetah uses her powerful tail to hurl the surprised Wonder Woman across the clearing and sends her slamming into a massive tree trunk which breaks in two from the force of the impact. Cheetah senses her prey is strong and realises she must be finished swiftly before she can rally!

A dazed Wonder Woman tries to regain her senses, realising she is under attack from some sort of great cat. But before she even has time to get to her feet the Cheetah lashes out with her claws, slicing into her skin and drawing blood! Wonder Woman cries out in pain and only narrowly avoids a follow up swipe from the deadly claws. She whiles round to face her opponent but the Cheetah has already disappeared into the undergrowth. Swiftly the Amazon Princess launches into the air, unhooking her lasso. She swoops low over the ground, looking for any tell tale signs of her attacker and thinking to herself that it is time for the hunter to become the hunted! But once again she underestimates her opponent who swings from nowhere and viciously kicks the passing Wonder Woman in the small of her back, provoking another cry of pain from the Amazon Princess!

Wonder Woman cannot believe any human can move so swiftly as she tumbles to the ground. The Cheetah dives on top of her, constant aggression in human form! Wonder Woman struggles to keep the deadly claws from scratching her eyes out. As her foe draws more blood and moves ever closer with her snarling fangs, Wonder Woman realises she must strike and strike hard! She punches Cheetah, sending her foe sailing through the air. The Cheetah holds her ground for an instant, crouching once more ready to spring, but then suddenly thinking better of it quickly darts back into the bushes.

Wonder Woman gets to her feet, blood seeping from the claw marks on her body and knows her enemy is close at hand, stalking her. However, she is the spiritual daughter of Diana, the Goddess of the Hunt. She has the heightened instincts of the huntress and she concentrates, increasing her state of awareness. The woods are silent but Wonder Woman listens intently, hearing her own heartbeat, recognising its rhythms. She then searches for a second pulse. At last she detects it and moving like lightning she throws her lasso into the bushes and drags out the snarling Cheetah!

She tells her foe that the hunt is over. Bound by the golden rope, the Cheetah suddenly hesitates as if at last succumbing to the lasso’s awesome power. But then, impossibly, she begins to pull Wonder Woman towards her. The Amazon Princess cannot believe that the lasso is having no effect on her opponent and digs in her heels. She holds her own ground and the strain of the resultant stalemate can quickly be seen on the tortured faces of the two combatants. The Cheetah hisses in rage while Wonder Woman merely clenches her teeth in grim determination, attempting to study the face of her foe. Thus she gives the Cheetah the infinitesimal opening she needs! Cheetah suddenly charges at Wonder Woman, catching her off guard and ploughs into the surprised Amazon, sending her crashing backwards into another tree. The massive trunk topples on top of Wonder Woman, pinning her where she lays! With Wonder Woman helpless to defend herself, the still bound Cheetah leaps for the kill but Julia arrives just in time to shoot the Cheetah in mid air with her hunting rifle.

Wonder Woman cries out “No!” as she watches the Cheetah crash into the lake. She manages to free herself and races to the water’s edge, asking Julia why she had shot her foe? Julia replies that the Cheetah was about to slay Diana and that she had no other choice. Wonder Woman, grabs the end of the lasso and tries to pull Cheetah back out. But the other end emerges no longer bound around her opponent and realising the body must have slipped free, Wonder Woman dives in, determined to save Cheetah if she is still alive! Wonder Woman swims down into the dark waters with its swift currents but can see no sign of the Cheetah. Realising her search is futile in such conditions, she heads towards the surface.

At the water’s edge, Vanessa has run out to see what the commotion is all about. As Julia tells her daughter to stay indoors Wonder Woman bursts out of the water and touches down on the bank. Dripping wet, she tells Julia that she could find no trace of the “she-beast in that ebony deep”. Whatever she was and whatever she wanted from Diana, the Cheetah is lost for good. Julia lays a gentle hand on the shoulder of the saddened Amazon.

Several days later Myndi Mayer is working out in the gym when she receives a call from her assistant. Myndi is told that Julia Kapatelis has just advised that Princess Diana is heading home as they speak! Myndi cannot believe her ears! But what about the Tour! They have a contract!

Many miles away meanwhile on the top of Gayhead Cliffs in Martha’s Vineyard, Wonder Woman, Julia and Vanessa prepare to say their goodbyes to each other. Wonder Woman says that it seems fitting to depart from Man’s World at this particular place as it reminds her so much of her beloved Paradise Island. Yet, despite her great need to be among her own kind again, she cannot help regretting that she must leave. Truly, this has become her second home. Vanessa asks her to stay in that case. She tells Diana that she has become the big sister she never had. What will she do without her? Wonder Woman replies that Vanessa will watch over her mother and she will be strong! She will miss Vanessa for the young girl has shown Diana a young world full of bright promise. She hugs Vanessa and as they both weep, Diana reminds the girl to remember her power “little sister” and that she will always love her.

They finally draw away and Wonder Woman turns to where Julia stands quietly. The professor tells the young Amazon to take care of herself “kiddo”. Wonder Woman responds by explaining that when the gods first led her to Julia , she did not understand why. But now she knows that their strength and wisdom lies within Julia. She has made Diana’s time here so much more meaningful and all she has become she owes to Julia. As Julia lets her emotions finally show, they hug each other, telling each other how much they love each other and how they will miss the other’s friendship.

Finally Julia hands a bag to Wonder Woman containing some souvenirs of her stay in Man’s World. Some of her newspaper clippings and a photo of Julia and Vanessa. Diana thanks them and says she will treasure them. With the goodbyes over, Wonder Woman lifts into the air and crosses her bracelets in the traditional Amazon salute. As she soars into the sky she calls back that whatever the fates may have in store for her, she is now strong enough to face them thanks to them! “Until we meet again…”

Sobbing, Julia and Vanessa watch their friend climb ever higher into the morning sky. Then, borne by the enchanted sandals of Hermes, Wonder Woman disappears before their eyes…perhaps forever.