Wonder Woman – Volume 1 – 161


Wonder Woman – Volume 1 – 161

General Info

Issue No:
161
On Sale Date:
February 1966
Cover Date:
April 1966
Era:
Silver Age
Story Title:
The Curse of Cleopatra!
Battle Inside of a Brain!

Creative Team

Cover Artist:
Ross Andru, Mike Esposito
Writer:
Robert Kanigher
Penciller:
Ross Andru
Inker:
Mike Esposito
Letterer:
N/A
Colourist:
N/A
Editor:
Robert Kanigher

Characters

Main:
Wonder Woman (Diana Prince), Steve Trevor, General Darnell
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
Countess Draska Nishki, Angleman
Olympians:
N/A
Amazons:
N/A
Other:
Magnum Magnus
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Comments

True to the original Golden Age stories, Wonder Woman again ends up bound in her own lasso once more in both stories and as you will have seen from the two previous issues, this seems to be the case in almost every single plot line!

Synopsis - First Story

At Military Intelligence HQ, Lt. Diana Prince greets a woman who enters her office. The woman introduces herself as the Countess Draska Nishki, head of “International Spies Inc.” and she requests that Diana informs General Darnell that her organisation will work for anyone who can afford them. As Draska hands over a business card Diana stands up and says that no real spy would openly reveal their identity and asks says for the Countess to stop wasting her time. But as she steps forward to escort the woman out of her office, Draska grabs Diana’s leg and whirls her around violently, sending her crashing across the office!
Diana decides that this is a job for Wonder Woman and prepares to grab the first opportunity to transform into her alter ego. But before she can get to her feet the Countess puffs her cigarette smoke into Diana’s face and the Amazon Princess realises too late it is actually knockout gas. As she slumps behind her desk, Draska decides to take her business elsewhere and leaves the office.

Diana’s robust constitution quickly throws off the effects of the gas and she swiftly changes into her Wonder Woman costume, still crouched behind her desk. Just then though Steve enters the room having heard the commotion. Panicking, she knows that if he comes one step closer he will see her changing into Wonder Woman! Still without her tiara donned yet, she pops her head up from behind the desk and tells Steve that she had dropped her glasses and is looking for them. He offers to help and she fears her mission to Man’s World is about to come to a disgraceful end once Steve blows her cover! The dust on the floor tickles her nose though and she let’s out an Amazon sneeze, accidentally blasting Steve out of the doorway! Worriedly, Wonder Woman rushes out into the corridor where Steve lies in a daze. he smiles at her and says that the same wind that blew him over must have blown her in for a visit. Thankfully, it looks like her secret identity remains safe!

Soon after, the couple take a drive into the countryside and they pass tow huge billboards, each promoting a different production of the Cleopatra story – one by Magnus Studios and the other by Sensation Features. Wonder Woman comments that it seems silly for two Movie Companies to spend vast amounts on the same story when only one of the films will probably be a success and make all the money while the other flops. Suddenly, she is cut short by a low flying plane which bombs the Magnus Studio’s advertisement, sending the billboard toppling over towards them. Quickly, Wonder Woman leaps out of the car and catches the falling advert, setting it back upright. As the plane banks round again and opens fire on her she deflects the projectiles using her bracelets. The ricochets ping back into the cockpit sending the hoods inside ducking for cover. The plane dives out of control but the Amazing Amazon catches it before it hits the ground.
A short while later at the nearest police station, attempts to question the men proves futile as long as the drug they were evidently given to erase all information from their minds wears off. As the mystified Wonder Woman and Steve leave the station they are greeted by Magnum Magnus, head of Magnus Studios. He says to Wonder Woman that the Studio is staking its whole future on their movie “The Curse of Cleopatra”. If she does not help him not only will the company go bankrupt but charity will lose the first million dollars he had pledged to donate from the profits. Steve wonders why Magnus is so worried about the competition considering the Sensation Features version called “Cleopatra’s Curse” is a cheap imitation. Magnus replies that he dare not say more than that the Curse of Cleopatra has struck his film set. He begs Wonder Woman to help unravel the mystery and she agrees for the charities sake.

A little later as Wonder Woman and Steve approach the Magnus Studio’s set in Egypt in the robot plane, Countess Draska watches their arrival unseen. Magnus Magnum then gives Wonder Woman and Steve a tour of the huge set, explaining that his stars have fallen into a coma just like the actual curse. The doctors have tried to awaken them but to no avail. He indicates for an actress dressed head to toe as an Egyptian Mummy to step forward and describe what she had seen. They listen as the woman begins by explaining how the actual curse originated…

A long time ago in Ancient Egypt there was a jealous Lady in Waiting amongst Cleopatra’s Court. She loved Mark Antony more than the Queen and decided if she could not have the man of her dreams, then she would ensure neither did Cleopatra! Creeping up the their tent with her knife drawn, she is spotted at the last minute by Antony who manages to disarm her. The woman was immediately sentenced for her treacherous attempt on Cleopatra’s life and suffered the penalty of being mummified alive and sealed in a tomb forever! Just as the final bandage was wrapped around her face she cursed Cleopatra’s name and called upon the dark powers of Styx to ensure that the Queen’s very kiss would spell doom for her and Antony, no matter where or when! Sure enough, the curse became true and both Cleopatra and Mark Antony died after kissing each other.

In the movie, the actress was playing the role of the Mummy that is supposed to haunt the two lovers. Just as she uttered the curse as part of her lines the actor and actress playing the lead roles kissed and both instantly collapsed. Sensation Feature’s film has had no such bad luck and they are now set to make a fortune with their version of the story.
The actress then suggests that Wonder Woman should play the role of Cleopatra and Steve the role of Antony. Surely nothing could happen to the Amazon and the jinx would be broken? Magnus thinks this is a good idea and asking Wonder Woman if she will do it the Amazon agrees. A few minutes later she has changed into her Cleopatra costume, although she is nervous about having to leave her golden lasso still attached to her Wonder Woman costume now hanging up in the dressing room.

So once again the fateful scene is re-enacted, this time between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor. As the two embrace and kiss passionately the Mummy voice booms “Ze Curse of Cleopatra fall on you Wonder Woman!”. Suddenly the Mummy’s bandages fly out and begin to wrap around the startled Amazon who has recognised the voice as that of Draska Nishki! As the bandages begin to fall away the Amazon Princess is horrified to see that the Countess had hidden her magic lasso inside the wrap and now she is helplessly bound by it! The villainess tells her that only she knows that antidote of the sleep juice she had slipped the two stars of the film. Wonder Woman will now help her finish the job by destroying the set, thus ensuring that the Sensation Features version of the film is a success. Draska will then get the million dollars they have promised to pay her to sabotage the Magnus Pictures version!

With that she orders Wonder Woman to start knocking down the statues dotted around the location which she does with ease. She then tells the Amazon to knock over the two massive pillars supporting the entire Temple set. Like Samson from the Bible story, Wonder Woman positions herself between the pillars and begins to push them apart. As a terrible rumble fills the air, the Countess suddenly realises she is standing in the wrong place and drops the lasso in fear. As she runs out the way the now freed Wonder Woman quickly re-seats the pillars and uses the lasso to encircle the villainess and yank her back. Unable to resist its power, the Countess is forced to reveal the antidote for the sleeping potion.

As Wonder Woman and Steve prepare to cart Draska off to prison, Magnus informs them that the footage his cameramen took of the Amazon running wild will make millions as a publicity trailer for the movie. All’s well that ends well!

Synopsis - Second Story

The villain known as the Angleman had attempted to gain the attention of Countess Draska Nishki with his latest scam. He had informed her that it will net him a cool million dollars, involving a Military Secret he intends to extract from Major Steve Trevor. But he had been scorned by the Countess who considered him a cheap hoodlum and told him that if there were any secrets to be stolen her own organisation would do it. She had then casually flicked cigarette ash on his head as she had exited, leaving Angleman to fume. But he has the last laugh when he reads in the paper a few days later that the arrogant Countess has been arrested by Wonder Woman. He turns to his gang and informs them that he has an “Angle” that will not only make Trevor sing like a Canary but also break the Countess out of prison. He can then have the satisfaction of having her humbly get down on her knees to thank him.

Meanwhile at the HQ of Military Intelligence, General Darnell enters Diana’s office and asks her to contact Wonder Woman immediately, considering she seems to be good friends with the Amazon Princess. She pretends to use the Mental Radio left to her by her “friend” and calls out to Wonder Woman as the General looks on. Secretly, Diana blows onto the floor sending a cloud of dust up into the air and blinding the General. As he sneezes and wafts the cloud away he sees Wonder Woman has “arrived”. She asks Darnell what the matter is and he points out of the window to where Steve is just climbing into a jeep parked outside. The General explains that Trevor will be visiting the Pentagon later that night with a report on a new Rocket Plane he has tested. The enemy would give anything to get hold of the document and he asks her to ensure he arrives at his destination safely.
She of course agrees and leaps down to join Steve in the jeep. He smiles and places his arm around her but she indicates the watching passers by and suggests they go somewhere a little more private. Once out at the coast they park up and get comfortable, lying on the sand dunes together. Just then an old man wanders up selling costume jewellery. He offers Wonder Woman a brooch but as she holds out her hand he pricks her with it. She instantly falls unconscious and Steve suddenly realises it is a trap as Angleman removes his disguise and his gang appear. Angleman demands to know the contents of the secret report and orders his men to get it out of the Major. A fight ensues and although Steve fights bravely he is too outnumbered and is himself clouted unconscious.

When Wonder Woman finally awakens she finds herself bound with her own lasso, the other end of which is held by Angleman and sees Steve lying on a nearby sofa, surrounded by Angleman’s men. They have injected him with truth serum and are demanding he talks. She keeps her eyes close, pretending to still be out cold and projects her own brainwaves towards Steve, blocking his memory cells. Angleman assumes that the Major must have had a post-hypnotic suggestion planted in him to prevent him from talking. Angleman decides to use another tact but any hopes of Wonder Woman breaking free are dashed when he simply hands the lasso to one of his men.

He and the others then step under a strange ray device which shrinks them down to the size of molecules. They then enter through the pores of Steve’s skin, intent on by passing the memory block and tap into his memory cells directly. Wonder Woman has to think quickly and although still bound, inhales and then exhales sharply, blowing her across the room and flattening her captor. She then rolls under the Reducing Ray and begins to untangle herself from the lasso as she shrinks.
She dives into one of Steve’s pores and surmises that Angleman and his gang can only have taken one route to Steve’s brain – via the blood stream! As she dives into the artery she collides with an invading Bacteria, attacking Steve’s red blood corpuscles and weakening his powers of resistance. She smashes through the bacteria only to be confronted by hordes more! As she battles through them she jokes that this is the first time she has played “Bracelets and Bacteria!”.

As the fearless Amazon makes her way through the labyrinth paths of Steve’s brain she encounters some of Angleman’s hoods left as advance guards. Finally she arrives at the memory cells where Angleman is poised, pen and notepad in hand, to write down Steve’s secrets. Again Wonder Woman sends out her brainwaves which short circuit the memory cells. A furious Angleman draws his weapon and begins to fire at the cells, demanding they talk! Wonder Woman swiftly removes her tiara and throws it at the villain, knocking the gun from his grasp. She then whips her lasso around him and using a friendly cell as a raft, sweeps the rest of the gang out of the blood stream with her and exits into the Enlargo-Ray that Angleman had already set up for his own exit.

A short while later, with Angleman and his gang securely bound in the lasso, Wonder Woman checks on the recovering Steve. For a moment he stares at her blankly and she fears his memory cells have been damaged forever. But as soon as he smiles at her and asks for a little kiss she knows he is absolutely fine!