Wonder Woman – Volume 1 – 226

General Info

Issue No:
226
On Sale Date:
July 1976
Cover Date:
October-November 1976
Era:
Bronze Age
Story Title:
A Life in Flames

Creative Team

Cover Artist:
Ernie Chan, Vince Colletta
Writer:
Martin Pasko
Penciller:
Jose Delbo
Inker:
Vince Colletta
Letterer:
Not Stated
Colourist:
Not Stated
Editor:
Julius Schwartz

Characters

Main:
Wonder Woman (Diana Prince), Steve Trevor
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
Hephaestus
Olympians:
Mars (Ares)
Amazons:
N/A
Other:
Julie Gabriel, Stanley
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Synopsis

The story begins with a prologue on board a night train, actress Julie Gabriel is reading a newspaper article out loud to her husband/manager sitting opposite. The paper talks about her new movie called ‘Security Council’ which tells the story of the founding of the United Nations and begins shooting in New York next week. The article focuses on her ‘temperament and lateness’ and wonders whether she will spend the whole film locked up in her trailer as usual.

She begins to cry, asking why must they write such awful things about her. She is loved by the people isn’t she? As her manager tries to calm her down she suddenly demands that they get off and return to Hollywood. She tells him to call the studio first thing in the morning and tell them that she has quit. He replies that he has heard this all before and she promptly storms out of the buffet car and back to her cabin.

Her annoyed and frustrated husband races after her and finds the door locked. As he calls to her, banging on the door, a porter walks by and asks whether he can assist. He replies that he needs the door opened and when they finally get inside they see Gabriel lying on the floor with a bottle of pills lying beside her. Her husband’s anger instantly evaporates and he tells the porter to get a doctor immediately…

Diana and Steve are having a bit of a ‘lovers quarrel’ as Steve asks her whether she would have preferred it if he had stayed dead, because everything he seems to do makes her angry. She tells him that he is being silly but he retorts that he feels very out of place here in 1976 and asks for her to be patient while he readjusts. She holds him in her arms and replies that it is not as simple as that and that he does not understand anything. She herself has gone through some heavy changes too. She had been overjoyed when Aphrodite had brought Steve back to life and had looked forward to everything being as it once was. But then what does he do? He changes his name and dyes his hair too!

He tells her that he had to give himself a new name in order to get his spy job. He could hardly start calling up his old friends and say “Hi! I’m Steve Trevor! You may not remember me! I’m Dead!”. He then tells Diana that sometimes she has as much common sense as a lump of clay!

In order to stop the fire, Wonder Woman has to knock herself out!For a moment, Diana simply seethes at this remark. She grabs his coat and hands it to him, saying that she has had quite enough of him for one night! Instead of taking it from her though, he suddenly frowns and asks her why it is so hot in the apartment? Suddenly, they both realise that the room is on fire! She tells Steve that at last ‘Hephaestus has made his move’ and using her lasso, transforms into her Wonder Woman costume. Steve almost casually acknowledges the fact and replies that “this is the part where you save me, right?”

As she drags him outside to her balcony, he continues to ask that if she is so nostalgic for the good old days, does she want him to act all helpless and do his damsel in distress act for the big strong hero lady? She tells him to calm down as the more emotional he gets the higher the flames will rise!

She rushes back inside yelling for him to climb down the fire escape and leave the fire to her. Using her super speed, she gathers every burning object in the apartment and pushes them to the centre of the room. She then binds them together with her lasso, heaves the bundle into the air and swings it round and around in a wide arc thus dousing the fire. Or so she thinks, because every time she puts out the flames, a new fire starts up somewhere else in the room!

She thinks fast, desperately trying to find a solution and suddenly she has it! She guesses that while she is managing to contain the fire, she is also fueling it too. She realises that there is only one way to stop the fire and using her fist, she administers a punishing blow to her own face, knocking herself out! As she slumps to the floor surrounded by the burning furniture, the flames begin to die away until the fire is no more.

A few hours later she comes to and finds Steve looking over her. He helps her to her feet and confirms that the fire died out as soon as she struck herself. As she changes back into her Diana Prince guise she wonders why no one had called the fire brigade by now and Steve replies that it is probably because no one smelled any smoke. Diana agrees, telling him that Hephaestus creates magic fire that burns all-consuming but without giving off any smoke. Steve asks her who this Hephaestus guy is she keeps referring to and she replies that he is the God of Fire…

Meanwhile across the street, Hephaestus is perched upon his chariot on the roof of a nearby building, surrounded by three golden robots. He congratulates one of them, telling her that she had planted the Viscero-Combustor exactly as he had wished. He tells them that they will all be rewarded well, especially if they not only succeed in unleashing the passion flame on Man’s World, but also in slaying the daughter of Hippolyta as well!

Back at Diana’s apartment, the aforementioned daughter of Hippolyta is explaining to Steve what is going on…

Her mother had seen something in the Magic Sphere which she felt Diana had to see and so she had summoned her back to Paradise Island. The Sphere had shown Hephaestus and Ares, the God of War, in conversation. Hephaestus had told Ares that he had an answer to the War God’s boredom and had found a way to enliven Man’s battles. The weapons used currently, such as Atom bombs, biological warfare etc. were all useless to Ares because they also destroyed the planet itself. Hephaestus had then reminded Ares that he had promised to correct the Fire God’s misshapen legs and make him as handsome as Adonis if he delivered a solution to the problem. Hephaestus then produced the Viscero-Combustor and had told Ares that he could now set aflame human emotion itself. Whenever strong emotions were present, such as joy, sorrow, rage etc., the environment in which the device was activated would burst into flames. What better weapon to use in a war, where emotions run high?! Ares had been pleased and had instructed Hephaestus to test the device and when it had been perfected, to then pose as an ambassador to the United Nations from a major power and start a war! Ares had then told the Fire God to test the device on an Amazon who had long thwarted his plans – and to make sure it destroyed the Wonder Woman!

Diana finishes telling Steve the background and then prepares to leave for an appointment on the set of a new movie called “Security Council”, where she has been reassigned to act as a technical consultant. She says good-bye to Steve as he sets off to continue his search for a new apartment and she boards a waiting cab. Unknown to her, a disguised Hephaestus follows in another cab…

Meanwhile in the dressing room of Julie Gabriel, who has recovered from her overdose on the train, we find the actress staring into the mirror worried that she cannot remember her lines because she is scared. Her husband rests a comforting hand on her shoulder and tells her to relax. She begs him not to leave her but he replies that he has to go and smooth things over with the director as they have been waiting for her to come out of her trailer for three hours. Alone, she continues to panic as she does every time she faces going on set, withdrawing into an inner world, hoping to find the strength she desperately needs.
On the set, Diana arrives and is taken to the director, Mr. Kurland, who is in conversation with Julie’s husband. He is pleading with Kurland to give Julie a chance as this is the first picture she has done in eight years. Kurland is unsympathetic, replying that she is getting paid seventy five grand a week to perform and that she will get her “exhausted, overwrought carcass out here right away or else!”

Just then, Julie emerges, colliding with a chair and stuttering her words. Kurland asks what is it this time – booze or pills? Her husband swears that it is simply nerves and so they prepare to shoot the first scene. In it, Julie plays the wife of the General Secretary who has just found out her daughter is dying from Leukemia.

As Diana watches with the rest of the crew, the shoot begins with Julie sitting by her daughter’s bedside. And though they had been cursing her name an hour before, the crew watch awestruck as Julie delivers a performance of pure emotion, moving those watching to tears.

However, in the gloom of the stage set, the disguised Hephaestus sees his chance to kill Diana as he senses the room is full of highly charged emotion. He activates his Viscero-Combustor and instantly the set catches fire! During the resulting commotion, Diana uses the opportunity to transform into Wonder Woman and dives across the floor of the set, carrying Julie and the child actress away from harm.

Hephaestus reveals himself and tells her that now is the time of her death! Wonder Woman realises that he must have followed her here and that she must stay calm. Using her lasso to encircle the film crew, she commands them all to empty their minds and feel nothing. Instantly, the fire is extinguished and she prepares to face the Fire God himself. But he unleashes his fist of flame which strikes the unprepared Amazon and sends her flying.

She quickly recovers however, and wrenches one of the sound booms from its housing. She clouts the surprised Fire God over the head but then finds herself surrounded by his golden robots. As they launch their attack on the Amazon Princess they find out too late that they are no match for her fighting skills!

Hephaestus joins the battle and swings a stage light down onto Wonder Woman, but she uses her bracelets to deflect the blow and uses them again to repel his subsequent hammer attack. Suddenly, Hephaestus creates a wall of fire, momentarily trapping Wonder Woman long enough for him to board his golden chariot and escape with his robots.

Wonder Woman quickly uses her lasso to turn herself into a human spinning top , whirling to create a vacuum with which she extinguishes the flames once more.

Later, after she has restored the emotions of the cast and crew and transformed back into her Diana Prince guise, she helps Julie to her trailer. Diana introduces herself as the UN technical advisor on the film and asks if the actress is all right? Julie thanks her for her concern and invites her in for a drink.

Meanwhile, Hephaestus begins to see the power which Julie Gabriel has – to be able to create such strong emotions in other people! He begins to form a new strategy…

For her part, Diana knows that the Fire God will not give up and that she must stop his and Ares’ plans. For what the two Gods do not know is that the little war they wish to start will eventually turn out to be World War III!