Wonder Woman – Volume 1 – 189


Wonder Woman – Volume 1 – 189

General Info

Issue No:
189
On Sale Date:
May 1970
Cover Date:
July-August 1970
Era:
Bronze Age
Story Title:
Red For Death!

Creative Team

Cover Artist:
Mike Sekowsky, Dick Giordano
Writer:
Dennis O'Neil
Penciller:
Mike Sekowsky
Inker:
Dick Giordano
Letterer:
John Costanza
Colourist:
N/A
Editor:
Mike Sekowsky

Characters

Main:
Diana Prince, I Ching
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
N/A
Olympians:
N/A
Amazons:
N/A
Other:
Patrick McGuire, Lin Po, Chief Inspector David McLean
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Comments

The “New” Wonder Woman gets to shoot down her opponents using a machine gun in this issue! And that’s about all she does do, as she plays second fiddle to Patrick, who seems to be the book’s main character! This is yet another low point for the book in my personal opinion but as stated before, some fans were liking this “modern” Diana. Indeed, the letter column each issue usually contained a mixture of fans both pro and con. Editor Mike Sekowsky would usually make it clear in his responses to negative opinions that the “old” Wonder Woman had been about to be cancelled and that he had been given a “last chance” by DC to revive the book’s sales, which had so far proved successful. At least for the time being.
But there were already rumblings about how William Moulton Marston’s classic and iconic character had been reduced to a shadow of her former self and that perhaps it was time for the experiment to end…

Synopsis

Back in McLean’s office, the inspector cannot believe that Diana is intending to follow I Ching into Red China. He tells her that although the British Government is grateful for everything she has done in the matter of the Earth-Quaker affair, they cannot allow her to enter the People’s Republic of China. Even if they did, she would not get past the border guards on the International Bridge. If she tries any other method of entry her passport will be revoked immediately!

Furious, a speechless Diana storms out of Mclean’s office, determined to find a way to help I Ching. As she strides down the corridor she feels a hand on her shoulder and turns to see Patrick standing there. She snaps at him that he had not said a word in the office to support her. He replies that he could not say anything in front of McLean but if she is serious about going after I Ching, then he will help her. First though she needs to see what they are up against.

Sometime later after a night time car journey they pull up at the Forbidden Zone which acts as a buffer between Hong Kong and China. Patrick points out to Diana the double rows of barbed wire eight feet high, constantly patrolled day and night. The guards also have attack dogs and even if she manages to get past them, she will have to contend with mine fields and watch towers. She would not last two minutes before being spotted. But the Amazon Princess is as determined as ever to go in and as they drive back to the city, Patrick explains that there may be one way to do it. First though they need to see a man he knows. As they head to their destination Patrick asks whether Diana has any idea where I Ching will have gone to once inside China. She replies that he once said he had old friends in a village called Ashai and that they should start by looking there.

Soon, at the house of Patrick’s friend, Diana finds herself in a make up chair as the man works on making her eyes and skin colouring look Oriental. A watching Patrick tells her that the make over will not pass close inspection but at a distance they “we will both pass as Peasants”. On hearing him say “we” she replies that this mission is not a concern of his. Patrick responds that I Ching is an old friend of his too. He also knows where Ashai is and he has the only means by which they might make it into China safely.

An hour later Diana and Patrick, now duly made over, arrive at a landing strip and make their way over to a light aircraft. It is a no frills flight not at all like the luxury you would expect from a business class airfare flight. Climbing aboard they lift off and head towards the border as dawn approaches. Patrick explains that at this time of night people are at their lowest ebb energy-wise and mentally. The border guards will be sleepy and may not notice or even care about reporting the plane. They may even think it is one of their own craft.

He keeps the plane low to avoid radar but at one point has no choice but to climb over a large hilltop, momentarily exposing themselves. As they bank round they see the village of Ashai below but as they prepare to look for a landing spot they come under attack from a MIG fighter. Desperately trying to dodge the hail of bullets, Patrick guides the plane down towards a Paddy Field. He deliberately stalls the plane twenty feet in the air, causing the much faster fighter to overshoot them as they drop with a sickening crash into the field. Patrick shouts that they have only a few moments to get out of the plane and run for cover before the fighter jet circles back round for another attack.

As they make a dash for a nearby embankment Patrick spots leaking fuel tanks and has an idea. He lights a match and throws it at the plane before diving for cover with Diana. The plane explodes in a fire ball and the cautious fighter pilot sprays the burning wreckage with bullets before banking away. Patrick suggests they head for Ashai before a patrol arrives to search for bodies amongst the debris.

Soon they arrive at the village and wait until night falls before slowly making their way into Ashai. Suddenly they hear a familiar voice from the shadows say “Welcome…What kept you so long?”. They turn to see a smiling I Ching together with several villagers.

A surprised Diana says that she had thought he was after Lu Shan and I Ching replies that he had been – but something else had cropped up which was more important. He introduces them to the villagers who are lead by Lin Po. He says they are all old friends and they have a terrible problem which must be taken care of immediately. Lu Shan can wait.

He continues to explain that the Chinese Government have ordered everyone in the village to be transported North to work in the mines. There they will surely die for they are a River People and their skills are farming and fishing. They will never survive in the North of the country where winter will soon fall. He is therefore going to assist them to escape the country and would very much appreciate the help of Diana and Patrick. The puzzled Amazon Princess asks him how he intends to move an entire village of people, as the border is too well guarded. He replies that they have a plan and then leads them to the river bank where Diana and Patrick are surprised to find an old Paddle Steamer moored there.

I Ching explains that the boat had belonged to an old river trader who had hidden it here when the regime changed. But the trader had subsequently died and now the boat belongs to them. Patrick is unconvinced that I Ching can take the whole village out of the country in the old paddle steamer but Lin Po replies that they have no other option. It is either the steam boat or death in the North. The villagers would prefer to die fighting for their freedom.

Patrick responds that they will be shot out of the water in minutes and Lin Po explains that they have many weapons and will defend themselves. He then leads them to a cave where he shows them an Arms stash of Japanese weapons abandoned from the last war, all in prime condition. Patrick agrees that the weapons do even the odds somewhat and that navigating the boat cannot be too different to navigating a plane. Realising he is willing to help I Ching, Diana gives him a big hug and they return to the village to begin planning.

They burn the midnight oil as they finalise the arrangements. They decide to depart the next night, mooring up during the daytime before making the final leg during the following night. Suddenly though the door opens and a peasant enters, warning that soldiers are approaching. Diana, I Ching and Patrick are spirited away to be hidden just in time before a group of soldiers enter the village. They demand to know whether the villagers have seen the occupants from the plane that crashed a night or so ago. The peasants deny all knowledge but the soldiers decide they will search every house. An hour later the soldiers have completed their search and have found nothing. Before they depart though, they instruct the villagers that the migration North will commence tomorrow afternoon and that they should prepare their belongings for when the trucks arrive.

After the soldiers have gone a peasant slowly walks into a nearby Rice Paddy and reaches down among the reeds. He helps Diana, I Ching and Patrick surface from their underwater hiding place, having used reeds for their air supply. They decide they need to wash and freshen up and as Diana bathes first, Patrick instructs the villagers to load the weapons onboard the steamer. Over the next few hours he galvanises the whole village to load the boat with supplies, building defenses and creating gun nests.

At twilight the last of the villagers scrambles aboard and Lin Po announces that they are ready to depart. They await the blackness of night before pulling away. Creaking in every timber and like some ghost from the past, the paddle steamer slowly moves out into mid-stream.

The following morning the soldiers arrive at Ashai to find it deserted. They search for tracks away from the village but find none and surmise that the inhabitants have escaped via the river. They quickly board their trucks and dash south towards the border crossing in order to intercept their quarry.

Some twenty miles down river, a cleverly camouflaged boat silently awaits nightfall. Suddenly Diana and Patrick hear the distant sound of the trucks and everyone is ordered to remain silent. The engines get louder before stopping and Diana fears they have been discovered. She and Patrick disembark and creep up the bank to see what the soldiers are up to. They find that their pursuers are having lunch! Patrick instructs Diana to return to the boat and tell the others that they must not make a noise or else they will alert the nearby soldiers. But before Diana can pass on the message a frightened child begins to wail.

The soldiers hear the sound and immediately begin to search the area. Patrick tells the villagers that they will have to fight for it and grimly, the peasants ready their weapons as they watch the advancing troops from their hiding place. Patrick advises them to wait until the soldiers are almost on top of them before firing to ensure that they take them all down. If even one of the troops escapes and spreads the word they have had it!

Steadily the troops advance until Patrick gives the signal and a deadly hail of bullets cuts the soldiers down. But even in the carnage some manage to return fire, hitting several peasants. As the smoke clears Patrick spots a survivor reaching for his radio. Diana races towards him as he ducks behind a rock. The wounded soldier tries to defend himself as Diana pounces, felling him with a karate chop and destroying the radio, but not before she hears it crackle the ominous words “Message Acknowledged!”.

She yells back that she had been too late and that he had managed to get a message back to his HQ. They have no choice now but to make a daylight run for the border. But hardly has the paddle steamer gotten back underway when three gunboats close in on it! Patrick orders the heavy machine guns and grenade launchers to be brought to bear. As the first gunboat opens fire hitting the upper decks, he tells the peasants to hold their fire and wait until their attackers are closer. A few moments later he gives the order to fire and two grenades hit their mark, sinking one of the gunboats. The other weapons pepper the decks of the remaining two launches and they career into each other, erupting into flames and sinking.

The peasants leap up in jubilation, cheering their victory as they draw near the border. But Suddenly Patrick shouts a warning from the bridge as three MIG Fighter swoop down and open fire, cutting them down. Horrified at what she has seen, Diana grabs one of the dropped machine guns and begins to unload bullets up at the attacking jets. She is thrown back by the recoil but still keeps firing until one of the planes explodes into flames. But a piece of shrapnel hits her on the head and she falls to the deck.

Seeing Diana has been wounded, Patrick orders someone to take the wheel of the boat as he dashes down to where she lays. He asks her if she is OK and she replies that apart from a bad headache, she will live. He smiles and says to her that as she is awake, she can learn how to use a machine gun properly. With that he picks up the weapon and shows her how to brace it before firing. He then hits the second plane square on, destroying it as the other peasants open fire too. But the remaining plane continues to spray the steamer with gunfire, mowing more of the villagers down.

As the plane banks round for another pass Patrick realises that the situation is desperate and if they do not take the plane down this time they are finished. He takes aim once more as the MIG dives upon the burning steamer, intent on finishing them off. But before the fighter can open fire it is blown out of the sky by an approaching British gunboat! On board, a smiling Inspector McLean yells that the plane had strayed into British territory. The boat then pulls up alongside and throws them a line before preparing to tow the steamer back to Hong Kong.

McLean is thanked by the grateful Diana and explains that British Intelligence had pinpointed their location. Sometime later after the steamer is safely in Hong Kong, Diana recovers in her hospital bed as McLean, Patrick and I Ching sit by her bedside. The inspector tells Diana that as she has disobeyed British Law, her passport is being confiscated and she has been given twenty four hours to leave Hong Kong. He smiles and adds that it will give him enough time to take her to dinner. Patrick adds that they will both take her to dinner!

That evening in a fine restaurant, McLean tells Diana that while he cannot officially condone what she and Patrick and I Ching had done, he wants to offer his personal thanks and the collective thanks of the people they had rescued. Most of the villagers had survived their ordeal thanks to them. His only regret is that Diana must leave so soon. She smiles back that maybe they will meet again some day.