Wonder Woman – Volume 1 – 227

General Info

Issue No:
227
On Sale Date:
September 1976
Cover Date:
December 1976-January 1977
Era:
Bronze Age
Story Title:
My World...in Ashes!

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:
N/A
Amazons:
N/A
Other:
Julie Gabriel, Hesione
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Synopsis

The story continues atop the Statue of Liberty a few days later, where the fearless Amazon battles another of Hephaestus’ golden robots while the sea around Liberty Island rages on fire.

Wonder Woman administers a double booted kick which sends the robot toppling downwards out of control and she realises that she must have disabled its control centre. Quickly, she shatters the robot with another kick before it plummets down onto the helpless sightseers below.

Next she uses her plane to over fly the burning water, which she sees is nothing more than burning oil and uses her lasso to stir up the sea and douse the flames. Her job done, she returns to her apartment hoping that ‘Hesione’ is right about what all these confrontations are leading to…

In flashback, we see Diana and Steve talking outside a rehearsal hall and she tells Steve that she will go and collect the tickets for Julie Gabriel’s concert to be held later that night. Steve voices his reservations about getting involved with Julie because of the stories which portray her as a very mixed up lady. Diana reassures him that the press stories are rubbish and that, while she does have her problems, Julie is in fact a very nice person.

Having said their goodbyes, Diana enters the hall and sees Julie in conversation with a dance instructor who is coordinating the dancers’ choreography behind Julie’s singing numbers. Diana is greeted by Julie who hands her two tickets for Carnegie Hall and tells her that they have all sold within two days of the concert being announced. She tells Diana that she is looking forward to seeing her and Steve later and Diana then leaves.

She then hears on a police bulletin that weirdly coloured fires are breaking out in the most unlikely of places and guesses them to be the work of Hephaestus and his golden robots. At numerous sites such as the George Washington Bridge, Grant’s Tomb and the Lincoln Tunnel, she confronts a golden robot who she has to overcome before putting out each blaze. She assumes that Hephaestus is using these fires as decoys to keep her from finding out what the Fire God is really up to.

She decides at fire number four to question her robotic foe after knocking her out. She therefore takes the robot back to her apartment and discovers a master control switch in the robot’s back. When she presses a tiny red button the golden robot begins to speak at an incredible speed about how she can at last speak freely about the Fire God’s cruelty and slave driving ways, and it takes a few moments for Wonder Woman to adjust the speed.

Eventually, she is able to understand the robot who explains that when Hephaestus made the golden robots, he made them too life-like, meaning they reproduce human emotion perfectly. He therefore had to install a shut off valve for their emotions so that they did not trigger the Viscero Combustor (see last issue). When the Amazon Princess had pressed the button she had shut off this valve allowing the robot, whose name is Hesione, to let out her true feeling towards Hephaestus.

Wonder Woman asks whether Hesione dislikes him enough to join her in the battle against him and she agrees, saying that she has valuable information. She then tells the Amazon Princess that while she had been putting out the various fires, Hephaestus had been hiding several Viscero Combustors in Carnegie Hall. His plan is to ignite the venue as Julie Gabriel gives an emotional performance. He had also told the robots that Wonder Woman would be powerless to stop it and that she would also perish in the fire.

As Wonder Woman lets this sink in, the Hesione adds that her former master had also boasted that the Amazon would be unable to use her lasso…

Bringing us back to the present again, when realising that Julie is the key, Diana visits her at her hotel. She is met at the door by Julie’s husband and she asks to see the singer urgently. When he prevents her coming in, thinking she is some kind of autograph hunter, she pleads with him to let her through because Julie has to cancel her performance tonight. He remains unmoved until Julie sees it is her friend and invites her in.

Once the two women are alone together, Diana spends the next half an hour trying to persuade Julie to stop the show, thinking up every rational reason possible but the singer is not convinced. Realising that drastic measures are needed, she grasps the magic belt which always hangs from her belt hook invisibly and transforms into Wonder Woman before Julie’s astonished eyes!

She then tells Julie the whole story about Hephaestus’ plan to test his device before using it to start a war in order to please Ares, the God of War. But when the passion flames erupt as if from nowhere, panic will sweep the world and what the two gods fail to realise is that so too, will the passion flame, thus turning earth to a cinder! She explains that the Fire God has planted several of the devices in the theatre and plans to use her emotions to ignite the place, killing the hundreds inside, including the singer herself.

Julie is finally convinced but tells Wonder Woman that there is less than three and a half hours to the start of the show. Therefore the only place to announce a cancellation would be at the theatre itself. The last time she had had to do this the angry fans stormed her dressing room and nearly caused a riot. If that does not also set off the Viscero Combustor then nothing will!

Wonder Woman realises that she is right – they are ‘damned if they do and damned if they don’t’. She decides there is only one thing to do and asks Julie to give a mediocre performance – enough to give the audience their monies worth but not enough to get them too excited. In that way, the flames will be kept to a minimum buying the Amazing Amazon enough time to find and stop Hephaestus.

Using her lasso, she compels Julie to give an uninspired performance, although the singer tells Wonder Woman that even with her magic rope she is not sure that she can deliberately give a bad show. She has been an entertainer all her life and ‘the voice’ is all she knows. She has always been asked to sing people a song ever since she was young, but once the song had finished people would tell her to go away. She became frustrated that they treated her like some ‘freaking juke box’ as opposed to a person with needs and feelings.

She turns to Diana, who is now back in her civilian guise, and tells her that she had thought of her as a friend, but now she knew who she really was and that to Wonder Woman, Julie Gabriel was also simply ‘the voice’. And maybe she is right – perhaps that is all she really is.

Julie says to Diana that she wants to help but that singing the way she does, with what ever effect it has on people, is all she has ever known. So where does that leave Julie Gabriel? Scared to face her audience once more…

And so later, at the theatre, Diana and Steve take their seats and soon the performance commences. As Julie steps onto the stage and launches into her first number, Diana tenses in trepidation. But she can see the dullness in Julie’s eyes and hears a distant quality in the singers voice.

However, Julie’s most loyal fans are in the audience tonight and have shared the singers highs and lows. To them, she is the queen of sorrows, the heiress of pain and no matter how she performs they will always respond the same way – with tears!

And so the passion flame ignites, unnoticed at first as the audience applaud the end of Julie’s first number, but suddenly the fire catches hold and the crowd scream in panic. As they stampede for the exit, Diana struggles to stay on her feet and reaches down for her lasso. But she finds to her horror that the invisible lasso has fallen from her belt hook and now lies undetectable on the floor! Now she knows what Hephaestus had meant about her not being able to use her magic lasso!

Realising that it must have been knocked from her belt on purpose by someone nearby, she turns to one of the female members of the audience and rips away their mask to reveal a golden robot, just as she had suspected! Diana then uses brute force to push her way through the milling crowd, desperately trying to find the golden lasso, but to no avail. She realises that she needs help and using the mental radio unit in her invisible tiara, contacts Hesione who is still back at Diana’s apartment.

Using her powers of flight, Hesione is at the theatre in seconds and flies in through an open doorway. Following Diana’s mental instructions, she begins to vibrate at hyper speed until she becomes invisible, in just the same way as Diana’s lasso and costume remains invisible on her when not in use. Once in the same state as the lasso, she is able to see it lying on the floor and quickly hands it to Diana.

Meanwhile backstage, Julie’s husband yells to the singer to escape out the fire exit. But Julie is looking through the curtain and sees that the fire is raging throughout the theatre – in other words Wonder Woman’s plan has not worked. She decides she has to do something and attempts to step back onto the stage but is grabbed by her husband. Although hating to do it, she turns and slaps him round the face, allowing her to break free…

Back in the auditorium, the Amazing Amazon, now in full garb, is using her lasso to encircle the crowd in order to compel them to lose all emotion. But before she can issue the command a hammer blow slams down nearby breaking her concentration. It is Hephaestus himself and the Fire God and Amazon are soon interlocked in battle!

Suddenly, over the roar of flames and the screams of the audience, Julie’s beautiful voice floats through the air. She sings her trademark song, a number that brings back all the little tortures of her life – the nightmares that do not leave her and the happy memories that do. As she sings, the flames begin to quiver, dance and then as one leap towards Julie. And as she continues to sing with an overwhelming sadness that even overpowers Wonder Woman’s compulsion spell on her, the flames surround her…

Back up in the circle, Wonder Woman delivers another powerful blow to the Fire God and Hesione arrives on the scene to take over the fight, allowing the Amazon Princess to use her lasso and drag the remaining members of the audience out of the building, including Steve who plays ‘dumb’.

That done, she races back inside and notices that the flames seem to have died out all of a sudden. But her puzzlement is cut short as the robot she had unmasked attacks her. She replies with a lethal kick, shattering the robot and she ironically then uses a fragment to clout Hephaestus over the head. Removing her lasso, she then hurls it across the room to clamp around his hands like a pair of handcuffs. With his hands movements restricted, it allows Wonder Woman to bind him more securely with her lasso until she can later summon Aphrodite, who she knows will be able to imprison the Fire God properly. Hesione watches with pleasure as her former master bemoans his defeat.

With Hephaestus tightly bound, Wonder Woman races back down to the stage where she discovers a pile of ashes. As the Amazon stares in horror hardly believing what she sees, Hesione confirms that these are indeed the remains of Julie Gabriel, who had sacrificed herself to save the audience and allow Wonder Woman the time to overcome Hephaestus.

As Steve reappears, Wonder Woman begins to cry, telling him that she thought she had been imagining the haunting song she had heard during her battle with the Fire God. But that it had been Julie all along.

And as they leave the auditorium, the Amazon Princess tells Julie that she was wrong to think that all she ever had been was simply a ‘voice’. Julie knew courage and selflessness and above all knew better than most people what humanity was truly all about…