Wonder Woman – Volume 1 – 241


Wonder Woman – Volume 1 – 241

General Info

Issue No:
241
On Sale Date:
December 1977
Cover Date:
March 1978
Era:
Bronze Age
Story Title:
Three Roads to Destiny!

Creative Team

Cover Artist:
Joe Staton, Dick Giordano
Writer:
Gerry Conway
Penciller:
Joe Staton
Inker:
Dick Giordano
Letterer:
Clem Robins
Colourist:
Adrienne Roy
Editor:
Larry Hama

Characters

Main:
Wonder Woman (Diana Prince), Steve Trevor
Heroes:
The Spectre
Villains:
Sumo, Bouncer
Olympians:
N/A
Amazons:
N/A
Other:
Emperor Hirohito, Etta Candy, Lieutenant Pierre Marchand
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Comments

This issue sees the surprise return of an enemy Wonder Woman battled and defeated in the “Superman vs Wonder Woman” Collectors Edition. The story in this particular issue is told by the superhero known as The Spectre, although no real reason for this is given apart from the fact that it relates to the villain redeeming themselves through a turn of fate.

Synopsis

The Spectre begins his tale at the Court of Emperor Hirohito of Japan, where a figure presents himself to the Emperor and his War Minister. Hirohito greets the stranger, telling him how pleased he is to see that he has survived his ordeal against all the odds – a tribute indeed to his Samurai heritage.

However, the War Minister informs his Emperor that the samurai before them has been stricken with a strange radiation plague as a result of his experience and that this plague will soon end his life. But before this happens, he may yet be able to use this plague to serve his nation and with that, the Minister asks the samurai to demonstrate his powers.

The samurai gestures with his hand towards a nearby flower arrangement and instantly they wither and die. The Minister tells the surprised Emperor that the intense radiation has altered the samurai’s nuclear metabolism and as a result, any living thing will crumble and perish simply at his touch.

The Emperor agrees that this power is indeed impressive but asks his Minister in what way it can serve the Empire? Smiling, the War Minister informs his master that the samurai will use his death touch against one very special victim. Japan’s most dangerous enemy…Wonder Woman! The Emperor agrees to the plan and commands the samurai to obey the War Minister and do whatever he asks. Bowing, the samurai acknowledges his Emperor…

Hundreds of miles away we find ourselves at the Manhattan Waldorf Astoria where a fundraising ball is in progress. Present are Major Steve Trevor and his special date for the evening – Wonder Woman. As Steve dances with the Amazon Princess, who tonight wears her ceremonial cape and star-spangled skirt, two older ladies look on disapprovingly. One says to the other that she thinks it is shameless the way Wonder Woman goes around half-naked and her companion replies that it reflects the times and that young women have no dignity!

Unknown to the two women, Steve and Wonder Woman can overhear their conversation and the Amazon Princess whispers to her lover that nothing anyone says about her can bother her tonight and that “Prejudice is its own Punishment”. She then tells him she has never attended anything quite like this before and that she is thoroughly enjoying herself.

As they continue to dance, Etta and Pierre pass by and Etta tells Wonder Woman that this is the dreamiest night of her life. The Amazon replies that although she would not go that far, the evening is certainly rather enjoyable. Suddenly, they hear a crash and turning in the direction of the noise they see a man in a tight-fitting green costume and mask crashing feet first through the display case where the valuables to be auctioned are being displayed. He introduces himself as the Bouncer and that he has come to rob all these rich folks of their valuables.

Grabbing a handful of items he says good-bye and bounces away. Moving quickly, Wonder Woman removes her cape and skirt and leaps after the arrogant crook. Together they fly out of the window and Steve cries out to her, knowing that they are on the twenty-fifth floor. As the two of them plummet earthwards the Bouncer curses his rotten luck at choosing the one venue attended by Wonder Woman. He tells her to let go of him or else they will both be killed. She calmly replies that she has her lasso to break her fall whereas he has nothing – unless he surrenders.

The Bouncer tells her “Not a chance” and using his legs to push against her stomach he springs away from her grasp. Seeing that he is now plunging seemingly out of control towards the ground she can only assume he has gone mad. But he knows precisely what he is doing and using his legs he bounces off the side of the hotel and onto the side of another. He has nurtured his unique ability over many years and training arduously has turned this freak mutation into a skill he can use. He can bounce like a human frog and he demonstrates that skill now by bouncing from wall to wall until he has slowed his descent to the speed of a drop by parachute.

By necessity, Wonder Woman’s downward journey is less rapid as she climbs down her golden lasso. By the time she reaches street level she finds to her dismay that her quarry has gone. Suddenly she is surrounded by members of the public desperate for her autograph. Frustrated in her attempts to find the Bouncer, she curses to herself how one minute the people consider her an enemy of the state and the next she is a major celebrity! Raised on an island where personal privacy is sacred, she has never adjusted to the the less-mannered ways of Man’s World.

Her temper finally breaks and she yells at everyone to get out of her way. As the shocked crowd scatter, she moves off down the street hoping to find a trace of the Bouncer’s whereabouts. Her movements are watched by the samurai from a nearby parked car. He wears a leaden suit of armour to contain his leaking radiation. He tells his driver that they have missed the opportunity to strike because there are too many people around. If he is to use the radiation plague on her it must be when she stands alone. He must not risk wasting any part of it on another creature, for he has no way of judging how much energy remains. A samurai’s greatest weapon is patience and he knows there will be other opportunities. With that, he orders his chauffeur to drive off.

A little later, unaware of how close to death she has recently been, Wonder Woman returns to her hotel room after bidding Steve farewell for the evening. She transforms back into her Yeoman Prince guise and continues to brood over her anger at the hypocritical crowd earlier on that evening. Suddenly, her thoughts are interrupted by the phone ringing. She answers it and is greeted by a near hysterical Etta who tells her that Pierre Marchand, her dashing French boyfriend, has asked her to marry him!

Diana is stunned and Etta asks her to be her maid of honour. She of course agrees and a giddy Etta tells her that they will talk some more tomorrow. All the while Diana feels uneasy about the whole thing – as if everything seems just a little too good to be true. When she hangs up, Diana ponders to herself that although Etta is a sweet girl, it seems impossible that a ‘slick wolf’ such as Pierre would fall in love with her so quickly. She decides that the next day she will check out the Lieutenant just to make sure for Etta’s sake.

At this point the Spectre summarises the main characters in this unfolding story – a Japanese warrior with the touch of death, an Amazon Princess who has become a symbol of America, a woman in love, and a mutant thief. The thief will play the most crucial role in this whole story and so it only seems fitting to learn more about the man…

The Bouncer sits in his apartment reading the newspaper story about the robbery the night before. He revels in the expressions on the faces of the people he had stolen the jewelry from. He hates those women – “those society frauds”. Their talk of charity and culture means nothing.

When he was young he had taken ballet lessons encouraged by his mother and her society friends. She forced him to study dance because his legs were abnormally strong but all it did was cause him to suffer abuse at the hands of the other boys of his age. His mother gave him no sympathy however when he returned home in torn clothes after yet another fight, because his appearance caused her embarrassment in front of her society friends. As he grew older, he learned just how strong his body really was and he swore revenge on those who had tormented him by stealing their treasured valuables and taking from them what they held most dear. Now, as he scans the paper for suitable forthcoming charity events to rob, he vows to make them pay again. Including punishing Wonder Woman for her interference last time!

The next morning Manhattan’s Women’s Society hosts a carnival for war orphans in Central Park. Wonder Woman has been invited as the guest of honour and as she entertains the adoring orphan children with her feats of strength, Steve watches on approvingly. The Amazing Amazon whispers to Steve that she is disappointed that Horst and Frieda, the two Jewish children she had rescued from a nazi concentration camp, could not be here today. Apparently the Women’s Society has a prejudice against the Jews and she tells Steve that as a result she had almost decided not to attend out of principle. But she had reconsidered for the sake of the other orphans.

She asks him how America can be so contradictory and he replies that it is still a young country which has still to mature and learn. Someday its people will act consistently with their ideals and these children will be there to see it happen.

Suddenly, the sombre mood is shattered by the arrival of The Bouncer! Flying through the air laughing, he plummets down feet first and bowls Wonder Woman over. Using the winded Amazon as a launch pad, he bounces again to next floor Steve.

The crowd scream as the burglar makes his way to where the charity donations are. He ruthlessly knocks women out of his way saying that they are worse then “the harpies in Riverside Park!” but just as he surveys his rich pickings, he is kicked in the shin by a small young girl. He looks down angrily and considers breaking her arms but then sees the police are closing in. He quickly grabs the little girl and bounces away. One of the police officers prepares to fire but is stopped by his partner, who tells him that he might hit the child.

A few moments later Wonder Woman and the police question one of the women who had got in the Bouncer’s way. She tells them that he had mentioned something about Riverside Park and Wonder Woman surmises that he might live somewhere in the vicinity. She quickly summons her invisible jet and lifts off to get an eagle’s eye view of the area.

Hidden in the shadows, the samurai curses another missed opportunity and vows to track her to her destination – and strike!

Shortly, the Amazing Amazon cruises in the skies over Riverside Park and catches a glimpse of the Bouncer with his hostage in tow, springing across the rooftops. Moving swiftly, she leaps from the craft and ploughs into the surprised Bouncer from behind. The girl is flung clear and Wonder Woman grabs the burglar, warning him that if he has hurt the child he will pay.

But the Bouncer’s powerful legs save him once more and he pushes her backwards, launching himself towards the child, grabbing her again and using her as his unwilling hostage.

Meanwhile unseen, the samurai has climbed the stairwell and arrived on the rooftop behind him. The samurai sees that at last he has a clear path to the Amazon. In an instant his work will be done. However, he can hear by the tone in the Bouncer’s voice that the man is mad. He will surely slay the child unless Wonder Woman apprehends him. He therefore decides to allow her this one final deed for he has no wish to allow children to be slaughtered.

Unaware of the samurai’s presence, Wonder Woman makes a desperate effort to snare the Bouncer in her lasso. But he moves too fast and he evades capture, bouncing across to the edge of the rooftop. He maniacally tells her that women will not mock him anymore – including her! She watches in horror as he holds the child by her arm over the edge. Wonder Woman sprints towards him but she knows she will not get there in time…

But there is someone who can. Using the full force of his radiation, the samurai unleashes it against the Bouncer. Crying out in pain the Burglar spins round to see who his attacker is and drops the child onto the roof. His body quickly incinerates and Wonder Woman watches in horror as he plummets off the roof and down to the ground below – dead.

Wonder Woman kneels down and comforts the distraught child who is thankfully unharmed physically. She turns to the samurai who still wears his suit and mask of lead, asking him who he is and what he has done to the Bouncer. He removes his helmet to reveal his identity to be that of Sumo – the samurai she had battled some months before to regain possession of a stolen atomic reactor. In the end Sumo and his German counterpart, Baron Blitzkrieg, had perished in an atomic explosion or so she had thought. But here he was – alive!

She readies herself for a new battle and he tells her that he has come here to kill her. But the miracle that saved him from the atomic blast has apparently saved him for failure and he informs her that he has used the last of his excess radiation to keep the child from death. In doing so has failed his Emperor. Now he must die without honour.

With that, his body consumes itself in fire and as Wonder Woman watches his death, she tells him that he was wrong to think he had died without honour. His honour is intact, for a life sacrificed to save a life is far better given than a life in war.

She muses sadly to herself that perhaps it is better that he died without knowing that his gesture was in fact for nothing. Wonder Woman had already commanded her invisible jet to intercept the child’s fall had the Bouncer dropped her, so in fact she had never been in danger at all.

But Sumo’s death was not in vain she thinks to herself – the soul he had saved was his own!