Wonder Woman – Volume 3 – 44


Wonder Woman – Volume 3 – 44

General Info

Issue No:
44 (599)
On Sale Date:
May 2010
Cover Date:
July 2010
Era:
Modern Age
Story Title:
Wrath of the Silver Serpent: Part Three - Cut From A Pound Of Flesh

Creative Team

Cover Artist:
Nicola Scott, Hi-Fi
Writer:
Gail Simone
Penciller:
Nicola Scott, Travis Moore
Inker:
Doug Hazlewood, Wayne Faucher, John Dell, Bit
Letterer:
Travis Lanham
Colourist:
Hi-Fi
Editor:
Sean Ryan (Associate), Brian Cunningham

Characters

Main:
Wonder Woman (Diana Prince), Steve Trevor, Etta Candy
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
Astarte, Theana
Olympians:
N/A
Amazons:
Hippolyta
Other:
Lieutenant Zusen, Tolifhar, Achilles
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Comments

Gail Simone brings her final story arc to a fitting end in what was also her penultimate issue on the title before the anniversary issue the following month. She even endeavours to make amends on DC’s behalf for the much derided debacle that was “Amazons Attack” – one of the most loathed mini-series in Wonder Woman’s history and one which had fans up in arms at the way the Amazons were depicted as merciless child killers.

Issue 44 also served as the final issue of Volume Three, before the title re-set to its original Volume One numbering order the following month- and which issue would mark the arrival of new writer J.M. Straczynski, kicking off his debut story line alongside Simone’s swan song story in what would now become Issue 600.

Synopsis

Wonder Woman faces her opponent in the massive arena as they size each other up. Diana contemplates that the fact that the woman before her is her cousin. And that one of them is to kill the other.

Astarte tells the Amazon Princess that they had used men from many different worlds that they had conquered to modify them as stud animals, before feeding them to the serpents. She had mated with many of these males but had only ever birthed one child in 30 centuries. She had raised her personally against protocol until she was two. They had then began to experiment on the child, placing her in a crowded dormitory together with hundreds of other children. The children were all told that each day there would be enough food provided for each child except one – and they would not be allowed to share. One of the children would have to die for the others to receive their next food ration.

The children were allowed no adult contact and food was simply slid through slots in the door. After three years when they finally opened the door, they found only Theana left. Her training was complete.

Wonder Woman replies “You made your daughter a murderer.” Astarte responds that she had made Theana royalty. She had ruled those other children. She had effectively built an army and when the weak were all gone she had then killed her own “soldiers”. Every day since she has been subjected to everything they could inject her with, punish her with. And yet she stands.

Just then Lieutenant Zusen notifies Astarte that their troops were still encountering resistance on the planet below. Astarte orders more shock troops to be dispatched to the surface.

Wonder Woman then states that by the rules of universal engagement she is allowed a second. Astarte nods but adds that it must be one of the Citizenry. The is exactly what Diana wanted. She then points to Zusen and nominates her as her aide. Zusen immediately refuses but Astarte orders her not to embarrass them and do her duty. She then adds “And when Wonder Woman loses, I want her chained, renamed and reeducated.” Zusen reluctantly obeys.

As she and Wonder Woman stride out to he centre of the arena, Diana asks for any advice from her second. “Yes. Pray for a quick death.” she is told.

Wonder Woman walks up to her foe and greets her, introducing herself and stating that they are bound by the shared blood of their mothers. She thinks to herself that she knows the answer to the question she is about to ask but that it does not absolve her of her responsibility to try. She then offers her hand to Theana and asks “Can there be peace between us?” The reply is instant.

Theana lashes out with a awesomely powerful blow that sends Wonder Woman flying backwards across the arena, gouging a trench out of the arena floor as she goes! As the Amazon Princess slams into the surrounding wall, she desperately tries to come to her senses before Theana can follow up her attack. But her opponent is already upon her before she can even get up and Wonder Woman uses her bracelet to barely deflect another powerful punch – which is delivered together with a stamp to her ankle! Wonder Woman realises that Theana knows what hurts. And she’s fast. And strong. And worst of all. She can fight!

Wonder Woman is lifted to her feet by her hair and Theana punches her in the midriff, before striking her once more in the chin. As Wonder Woman wipes away the blood trickling from her mouth she barely manages to avoid a deadly slash to her chest by Theana’s sword – which slices through Diana’s costume leaving a bloody cut. As Wonder Woman receives more injuries from the whirling blade, she realises she cannot even get her bracelets up in time to stop most of the blows – her opponent is that quick.

But undeterred, Wonder Woman raises her defences and addresses her foe once more. “Will you not speak to me cousin?”. At last she receives a verbal response. “I have nothing to say. And no one worth speaking to Cousin“. As she lunges again and Wonder Woman is forced to protect herself once more, Theana advises Diana to put down her arms and it will go faster, but the Amazon Princess responds that she will fight for her world no matter what – but what exactly is it that Theana is fighting for?

Theana fires her weapon and although Wonder Woman manages to deflect some of the blast with her bracelets the energy beam is powerful enough to send her sailing backwards. Wonder Woman has never felt such pain as she thuds to the ground once more. Zusen runs over and shouts that she cannot beat Theana in hand to hand combat and use her own weapons – fight like a citizenry.

As Zusen bends down to attend to Diana and give her some fluid, the Amazon loops her lasso around Zusen outstretched hand and tells the lieutenant that she must now obey her orders. She instructs the surprised Zusen to open two portals in the barrier covering Washington below without alerting Astarte. She also tells Zusen to pass a message to Achilles…

Meanwhile, the battle rages above the US Nation’s capital as Achilles continues to fight his way through the attacking hordes astride his flying elephant. Suddenly he finds himself joined in combat by Steve Trevor, who has managed to find the last of the D.M.A.’s invisible planes that had been provided by Wayne Tech. Together he and Achilles take the fight to the Citizenry!

Back in the arena Wonder Woman continues to battle for her life. As she dodges another lunge made by Theana, she manages to grab her foe and lift her above her head. As she hurls her across the arena and into the side wall, she tells Theana that her foe has not thought this battle through. Has she considered what happens if Diana wins? “You’ll still be nothing but what you are ordered to be. With no more free will that the lowest vermin. You may win in this arena cousin, but you will still have chosen to be less than nothing.”

With that Wonder Woman launches herself at the still stunned Theana lying on the floor and slamming into her, drives the both of them through the floor and down into the hangar bay below. Theana throws Diana off of her but the undaunted Amazon Princess wipes blood from her face and staring back at her foe, tells Theana that they are so much alike.

As Diana’s words momentarily confuse Theana, the Amazon Princess presses home her own attack and punches Theana to the ground, before kneeling down over her. “Your mother dreams of Olympus too” she tells Theana. Her foe spits back that Diana is lying and that Astarte hates Earth. Wonder Woman replies that Astarte must have been born an Amazon originally – even renaming those around her with the half forgotten names of the Gods. “Zusen” from Zeus…and “Theana” from Athena…the goddess of of civilisation…and wisdom. Theana cries out that she is lying and that Astarte only lives for the principles of the citizenry. “What are those principles?” Diana calmly asks.

She then grabs Theana’s dagger wielding hand. She moves it up to her neck and positions the blade so that it is resting against her vulnerable artery. She then asks Theana what is the meaning of her life in this universe? A stunned Zusen watches from a gallery above and tells Astarte that Diana is actually calming the “beast”. A furious Astarte replies that it is not a victory she acknowledges and orders troops to be sent down to kill Wonder Woman and also for Theana to be destroyed immediately for her failure.

In the hangar, Theana recognises Diana’s compassion and replies that the citizenry have studied such emotion. But it will not work on her. Again, Wonder Woman calmly replies that Theana clearly underestimates compassion as a tactical exercise. She brings to Theana’s attention the fact that while she had distracted her foe, Wonder Woman had positioned her own blaster so that it is pointing at Theana’s vital organs at point blank range.

Theana realises she has been out fought and has been defeated and smiles in acknowledgement “Hmmph. Perhaps we do share common blood after all cousin.”

Suddenly though a volley of blaster fire cuts through Theana much to Diana’s horror. She turns to see Astarte standing there surrounded by troops who orders them to prepare to shoot to kill. As Wonder Woman comforts the dying Theana a saddened Amazon Princess contemplates how her cousin could have been her if the citizenry had taken Hippolyta instead all those years ago. As she lays her dead cousin gently on the floor she turns in rage towards Astarte and charges at her. As the troops open fire desperately trying to shoot her they are effortlessly dispatched by the graceful Amazon Princess who is now in fall battle mode.

Meanwhile down below Achilles receives a message from Zusen, passing the message that has been instructed by Diana to deliver…

Back on the ship Astarte finds her self the only one standing and runs away down the corridor and through a blast door, ordering the guard to shut the door and not to let the rampaging Wonder Woman through. But in seconds Diana has smashed her way through and after felling the terrified guard she catches up to Astarte. “We need to talk..” Diana growls menacingly…

In Washington the fierce battle is raging as Etta and the remaining few D.M.A troops make a desperate last stand. But suddenly they see Achilles appear above them accompanied by Hippolyta. The Amazon Queen greets them before giving the order to attack and hundreds of Amazons pour through the opening in the portal and begin engaging in combat with the citizenry shock troops!

Wonder Woman surrouded by loved ones and friends...On board the ship Wonder Woman holds Astarte aloft by the scruff of her neck. Astarte tells her that it is futile and that even if they can defeat this ship, she will simply send thousands more. Wonder Woman tells her that on the contrary Astarte has in fact already lost. She then turns to Zusen who has her weapon trained on Diana and asks if the citizenry have ever been defeated? Never in 3,000 years she is told. “So what does that make me?” asks Wonder Woman.

Zusen pauses, but know in her heart the truth of the matter and lowering her weapon replies meekly “It makes you our captain.” A furious Astarte launches herself at Zusen yelling “traitor” but is smacked to the floor by the butt of Zusen’s rifle. She is told by an equally angry Zusen that her Astarte’s voice will no longer be heard as she is a non-citizen and that she will be executed immediately.

Wonder Woman orders Zusen to stand down and that Astarte will instead be accompanying Diana back to Themyscira to be reformed. The also instructs that the citizenry will never gain kill for any reason and they will only harvest their resources from uninhabited planets. And as Wonder Woman towers over a nervous Zusen she adds “Or next time it will be you in the arena with me Lieutenant.”

A few hours later the battle is over and the Citizenry craft has left Earth. Wonder Woman, Etta and Steve walk through the battle scared streets of Washington helping the injured and restoring some order to the place, along with the Amazons. As news spread of the events in Washington the world learns of how close the planet came to be conquered and how it had been the Amazons who had saved the lives of the people of Washington DC, even giving their own lives in many case to do so.

Just then they are greeted by Hippolyta, Artemis and Achilles and the Amazon Queen tells her daughter that the Amazons will be staying for a while to assist in clearing the damage too. A grateful Diana hugs her mother and says that she is proud of her people today.

Tolifhar and his Gorilla troops also tell Diana that due to their own bravery and heroics today they have been forgiven by their own people and will be returning to Gorilla City.

A smiling Wonder Woman hugs her friends as a new day dawns filled with joy and love after the recent dark events – and Diana feels joy in her heart once again. “I am Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And this is the life I am blessed to have led.”