We reach the penultimate issue of the so called “de-powered” era of Wonder Woman. There are no indications to the reader of any changes afoot but the clock was already ticking for Diana Prince. Increasing pressure was being placed upon DC Comics to bring back the “true Wonder Woman”, in part lead by the publication of the first issue of “Ms. Magazine” with its cover depicting Diana in her traditional red, blue and gold costume and with the strap line”Wonder Woman for President!”. The powers that be at DC were accused of demeaning Diana and toning down her feminism. Also, the hoped for spike in her sales had not occurred – even after “throwing out the baby with the bath water” in a desperate attempt to entice new readers to pick up the book. Instead, DC had simply succeeded in alienating her core fan base, who never really saw this white jumpsuit wearing “Emma Peel ” clone as their Wonder Woman.
Diana Prince, Catwoman and I Ching have been hurled into another world known as Nehwon by the strange powers of the Fist of Flame. The three bewildered travelers find two leering barbarians standing over them and Diana instinctively lashes out with a karate kick at the one named Fafhrd. As he reels from the blow his companion, Gray Mouser, informs him that he has Catwoman covered. Fafhrd replies that in that case he will take down Diana and as he slaps her across the face, I Ching senses that the men’s motivation for the attack is thievery.
As Diana holds her stinging cheek in surprise, Catwoman decides to take on an equally surprised Gray Mouser. As Fafhrd reaches for his sword the Amazon Princess kicks him in the chest again, flooring him. Seeing he is down she seizes her opportunity to press home her advantage and leaps upon him, holding him in a judo grip and demanding a full explanation for the attack. But she is interrupted by Gray Mouser who now has Cat Woman at sword point. He instructs Diana to let Fafhrd get up or else he will kill Catwoman!
Diana has no choice but to comply as I Ching muses to himself how this is the second time the Amazon has saved the cat burglar’s life. He then steps forward and opening the bag he carries, tells the two barbarians that he knows that they are thieves and has only one thing worth stealing. With that he removes the Fist of Flame and they remark how ironic this situation is. Diana asks them to explain and Gray Mouser replies that they have been hunting for one particular jewel and have instead found another. Fafhrd adds that they have been searching for a great Emerald called the Eye of the Ocean and are on their way to steal it from a sorcerer named Gawron.
Catwoman smiles and says that in that case they have something in common as she, Diana and I Ching are also crooks. The Chinese Man then tells them that they are all in luck because according to ancient texts the Fist of Flame and the Eye of the Ocean are in strange occult conjunction. Gazing into one you can see where the other is! Many others however, both good and evil, want these jewels because vision is only one of their powers.
As the others gather round to stare at the jewel in I Ching’s outstretched hand they see among the facets of the mystic ruby an image forming. It does not show the sorcerer’s cave however, but somewhere on Earth! As a figure comes into view Diana realises they are looking at Jonny Double! They see him lying bound on the floor as Lu Shan stands over him holding the Eye of the Ocean! They hear Lu Shan being told by her henchmen how Diana, Cat Woman and I Ching had disappeared in a magic glow along with the Fist of Flame. Furious, she points at a huge machine and snarls that this Dimensional Energy Transfer Matrix Machine is useless to her now. Both jewels are needed to open the gates between Nehwon and Earth so that she can then loot the other world’s riches. She had believed that by kidnapping Jonny she could force Diana and her father to get the Ruby for her but had not anticipated them disappearing with it.
Frustrated, Lu Shan hurls the jewel across the room and storms out. Jonny does not look down as the Eye of the Ocean skids across the floor beside him and Diana’s face can be seen staring out from it. She wishes he would only look down and see her but he does not. Equally in frustration she too hurls the Fist of Flame away and Fafhrd races after it, reminding her that it is a valuable trinket. Diana turns to I Ching and says that she is as angry as Lu Shan is because they are stuck here in Nehwon while Jonny is a prisoner back on Earth.
Fafhrd then says that when he and Gray Mouser had set off in search of the Eye they had been told Gawron had a machine just like the one Lu Shan appears to have. I Ching suggests that perhaps there is still hope because the ancient texts also describe how the jewels, at random, leap between worlds carrying anyone within their vicinity – occasionally both gems are in the same world at once. If both jewels can be placed in a Dimensional Energy Transfer Matrix Machine their power is trapped and the owner can go back and forth at will.
Diana recommends that they all join forces and set off to Gawron’s lair. The barbarians agree and for the rest of the day the five of them trudge through the forest of Nehwon, getting to know each other and forming a bond. Finally they arrive at the cave’s entrance and see guards on duty outside. Diana thinks they can overpower them but Catwoman wonders if there is another way. I Ching agrees so Fafhrd suggests Gray Mouser and Catwoman search for a back entrance while he and Diana take down the guards and I Ching looks after the ruby.
Gray Mouser asks Catwoman what their next move should be and she replies how she would like to get her hands on the Fist of Flame. He suggests that perhaps they relieve the old Chinese man of his “burden” just as I Ching reaches out and grabs a nearby mouse as it scurries by. He holds the creature in his hands and says that if anyone knows a back way into this cave then it is the mouse. He then asks it to show Gray Mouser and Catwoman the way and the two thieves race after the mouse as it scuttles into the distance.
Enjoying the chase, they hardly notice into what crevice they have run into and suddenly find themselves inside the cave with its huge machine. A black cat suddenly springs from nowhere and sends the frightened mouse off in another direction just as Gray Mouser tries to grab it. As he smiles ruefully at Catwoman they hear a voice from above demand to know why they have intruded his domain. Looking up they see Gawron the Sorcerer on the stairwell, pointing down at them and raging that he has forbidden anyone to come into contact with his Dimensional Energy Transfer Matrix Machine. They must pay the price of disobedience with their lives!
Meanwhile at the cave entrance Diana and Fafhrd approach the guards and as they are challenged other guards suddenly emerge from the cave! But Diana and Fafhrd give no ground and fight them all, forcing their opponents back into the very cave itself. Still the two of them pummel their way through the guards and at last they approach the chamber containing the Dimensional Energy Transfer Matrix Machine, while more guards continue to charge them. Fafhrd sees Gray Mouser and Catwoman standing by the machine while outside, the little mouse has scuttled back to I Ching. He hears its frantic squeaking and senses it is time he entered the cave himself.
Still carrying the Fist of Flame he enters the cave and makes his way quickly to the chamber, arriving just in time to see a random jump of the Eye of the Ocean take place. The sorcerer Gawron rejoices that his Emerald has returned to him but wonders who the individuals are that have accompanied it. Diana realises that they are Jonny, Lu Shan and her henchmen!
Gawron’s guards charge at these new intruders and Lu Shan, recovering from her surprise at suddenly finding herself on Nehwon, orders her own men to defend her. Fafhrd wonders how he and the others are going to escape now that they are surrounded by all their enemies. For his part, Gawron sees that I Ching has the Fist of Flame in his hands and races down the stairs to retrieve it. Gray Mouser sees where he is heading and tries to outrun him for the gem while Diana fights her way towards the still bound Jonny. She reaches him and undoes his bonds. Meanwhile Fafhrd and Catwoman find the odds becoming insurmountable. The female cat burglar vows not to desert Diana at her hour of need though, especially when the Amazon Princess had saved her life twice before.
Finally free, Jonny joins in the fight as Diana rushes to assist I Ching. She sees that her companions are just about holding their own but there are just too many opponents! She decides that they cannot win this fight and must instead try to escape! Not far away Lu Shan is surprised to see that Catwoman is fighting on Diana’s side.
Meanwhile I Ching picks up the Eye of the Ocean that still lies on the floor and runs towards the machine with both jewels. Placing them in their sockets within the machine, his body suddenly surges with energy that opens the gate between worlds. He orders his companions to head towards the light and as they do, Gawron and his men are hot on their heels! One after another the heroes dive through the glowing portal until the last, Gray Mouser, makes a final snatch of the Eye of the Ocean from its socket and dives through. With one jewel now gone the power is cut and the portal closes – perhaps forever – leaving a furious sorcerer and a now trapped Lu Shan!
Back on Earth Diana and her companions find themselves standing in Jonny’s office. I Ching explains that he had willed the magic of the gems to bring them here. Diana smiles and says it is good to be home. Catwoman also smiles at Diana and says that she is glad she could be be of some help to the Amazon Princess. Jonny then asks what will happen to Fafhrd and Gray Mouser. The two barbarians reply that they are going to explore this new world and find some new adventures! Diana wishes them luck as they may need it!
As the two thieves step outside though they find to their shock the blaring horns, fumes, garbage and traffic of a modern day city. Horrified, they run back inside the office saying that they wish to return back to their own world! Almost in answer, the Eye of the Ocean which Gray Mouser still holds in his hands bursts into life and its energy surrounds the two men. They disappear through the portal and Diana guesses that the two barbarians must have just experienced another random jump which has carried them back to their own world!
Jonny then says that all this appearing and disappearing is making him wonder if all of this had really happened. I Ching replies that their understanding of the universe is small. He then smiles and says however that he senses adventure ahead – of the kind that is a bit more down to Earth!