Adventure Comics – 460


Adventure Comics – 460

General Info

Issue No:
460
On Sale Date:
September 1978
Cover Date:
December 1978
Era:
Bronze Age
Story Title:
The Quest for the Stolen Soul

Creative Team

Cover Artist:
Ross Andru, Dick Giordano
Writer:
Jack C Harris
Penciller:
Jack Abel
Inker:
Frank Giacoia
Letterer:
Milt Snapinn
Colourist:
Gene D'Angelo
Editor:
Paul Levitz

Characters

Main:
Wonder Woman (Princess Diana), Steve Trevor (Steve Howard)
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
N/A
Olympians:
Aphrodite, Pluto/Hades
Amazons:
N/A
Other:
Morgan Tracy
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Comments

This issue follows directly on from “Wonder Woman” issue 248, where Steve (Trevor) Howard dies again. It provides a nice closure to those events, proving just how much the Amazon Princess really loved him and just how far she is prepared to go to get him back.

Synopsis

Delegates and officials standing in the United Nations’ Plaza look on in amazement as a sobbing Wonder Woman arrives carrying the dead body of Steve Trevor Howard in her arms. As they move towards her she orders them to stay back and that nobody comes near until Morgan Tracy has been summoned.

The United Nations Security Chief is therefore hastily called for and stares in disbelief when he sees the distraught Amazon crouching next to the lifeless body of her lover. As Morgan inspects the corpse, he asks her how Steve had died and she icily informs him that he will no doubt find out from the same “officials” who caused Steve’s death. He tries to explain that all he knew was that Steve had been under some sort of investigation but Wonder Woman no longer wishes to listen to his excuses and turns, fleeing in tears.

She quickly uses the air currents to carry her up and away from the crowds. Her mind races, thinking to herself that Steve’s life cannot be over and that if Aphrodite can bring him back from the dead once – she can do so again!

But for all her prayers, the Goddess of Love has so far not responded to her requests and as she approaches her apartment, she decides that there are drastic steps she must take herself.

She drops through the skylight of her loft apartment, vowing to herself that she has suffered too much torment to lose her lover all over again. Her thoughts are suddenly interrupted though by a vision of Aphrodite which appears before her. Wonder Woman clasps her hand in joy, thanking the goddess for answering her prayers. But Aphrodite informs the Amazon Princess that while she has heard her prayers, the answer is no!

Wonder Woman stares at her incredulously, asking why, if she had risen Steve from the grave before, she was not able to do so again? Aphrodite tells her that although the force of life is a strong one, it is a force that weakens with age in mortals, as well she should know.

Wonder Woman retorts that she has no time for a lesson in mortality and states that if Aphrodite will not help her then she will handle this in her own way. The goddess replies that she knows what the Amazon Princess plans and that she will learn a lesson in doing so. She reminds Diana that when she left Paradise Island she gave up her immortality. Does she now dare to risk death claiming her as it has with Steve?

A determined Wonder Woman responds that being mortal sometimes means taking risks and she promptly begins to spin her lasso at super speed in a circle in front of her. The air begins to hum and the fabric of time and space is parted. Wonder Woman dives through the gateway which leads to the Domain of Pluto, Land of the Dead and also known as Hades, where all souls must pass.

Aphrodite watches her depart, warning her that this journey may be Diana’s last …

Wonder Woman tumbles through the portal, beginning to wonder whether she can even find Steve, let alone bring him back. As she finally lands in a dark, desolate landscape, a voice booms out to her, asking her what makes her think that even she will be permitted to leave?

She recognises the voice of Pluto and orders him to reveal himself – unless he is afraid to do so. Suddenly, hands spring out from the gloom, grasping at her. She beats them off, reminding Pluto that he rules those who are dead, while she is still very much alive.

At last Pluto shows himself and Wonder Woman immediately leaps towards him. She tells him that he has no power over those who live and that he should consider her an invading army to which he must surrender. But as she demands to know where Steve is, Pluto’s image fades into nothing, only to appear several yards away. He bellows that for a millennium the souls of the Amazons have been denied him, taken away by their gift of immortality. And yet she dares to enter his domain – she, the only mortal Amazon!

With that, he orders his minions to take her and Wonder Woman quickly finds herself in the mouth of an enormous beast. As she fights to keep the jaws from closing on her, she begins to realise that she cannot keep fighting them all as their numbers are endless. She wonders whether she can perhaps bargain instead, while Pluto tells her that although her strength of life is able to fend off his beasts, sooner of later her strength will wane as well as her spirit.

Escaping from the creatures mouth, she confronts Pluto again. She says to him that if he returns Steve’s soul to his earthly body, she will remain with Pluto for eternity. He is not impressed with her offer and spits that her spirit and body must die for her to remain here. With that, he commands the very rocks themselves to surround the surprised Wonder Woman and as she is slowly buried, she realises that as the rocks have never ‘lived’ they are under Pluto’s control!

As the pile of rocks entombs the valiant Amazon, she cannot understand why, if Pluto has waited so long for the soul of an Amazon, he has thrown away the chance to trade for the life of a mere mortal like Steve? For some reason he obviously wants her to fight for her own life and if he wants a fight, then that is what she will give him!

But as she tries to break out of the pile of rocks, she hears Pluto telling her that her strength is depleted battling the ‘dead’ things. She begins to realise that he is right, as every time she expends energy she finds there seems nothing to replenish it. As she begins to sweat from the exertion of trying to escape, she cries out for Hera to help her. As if in answer, she suddenly sees a vision of her body lying on the floor of her apartment next to the open portal. She realises that it is impossible for the living to go to Hades in physical form and that only her spirit has made the journey. Her body remains on Earth as an empty, unprotected shell!

With that, she summons all her energy and bursts out of the pile of rocks. Immediately she is attacked by a wild animal which claws her back as Pluto looks on, but she manages to throw the beast over the edge of a nearby cliff face. As she weakly crawls on all fours towards Pluto, she asks him why he refuses to trade for her soul. Is it because she acts in the name of love? He replies that he will not bargain for something that he already possesses!

From the pit below, the dying Wonder Woman hears the echoing calls of the long dead, beckoning to her to join them in death. She meekly replies that she will do as they ask and put up no fight just as long as they return Steve. Pluto looms over the body of Wonder Woman, now sprawled on the ground. He roars that he must have her but that he cannot bargain – for he does not have Steve Trevor’s soul!

Wonder Woman manages to pull herself to her feet, realising that Steve is not in this land of the dead after all. Enraged that she has been victim to some cosmic joke and finding new strength, she launches herself at Pluto who once again fades into nothingness. The angry Amazon cries out to Aphrodite, demanding to know why, if Diana’s own time on earth was up, the goddess had resorted to this trickery to make her enter hell itself?

As she screams out “WHY?” across the darkened landscape, Pluto watches from afar and laughs. Exhaustion overcomes the Amazon Princess once more and her vision begins to blur. She sinks to her knees, holding her head in her hands. She can no longer feel her body anymore and knows her life is slipping away. As the mystic barrier between life and death begins to fade, the dark clouds of the unknown envelop Wonder Woman like a thickening shroud. She realises that she has lost Steve in both life and death…

Suddenly though, she hears her name whispered and calls out in the hope that it is Steve. She sees a figure surrounded by blinding light appear before her and cries out to it again. But she cannot hear any reply from the strange figure and so she explains that she is lost and does not know where Steve is. The figure beckons to her and she understand that it wants her to come towards the light…

Back on Earth, the lifeless form of Wonder Woman still lies on the floor beside the shimmering portal, which begins to grow smaller and smaller. But at the last possible moment Wonder Woman’s hand reaches through from beyond the other side Her spirit body climbs through the closing portal, having been shown the way back by Steve. As total exhaustion overcomes her astral self, she swoons and melds into her physical form on the floor.

Hours pass before consciousness finally returns to the Amazon Princess. She calls out to Aphrodite, telling her that she knows the Goddess of Love can hear her and that she now understands. The man known as Steve Trevor is really dead.

In reply, Aphrodite confirms that his time on Earth is indeed done. Hera had prevailed upon Zeus to take his soul and put it among the stars as he had once done for Orion. And though he may be dead – his love lives on!

Aphrodite’s words linger in Wonder Woman’s mind as she takes flight once more into the night skies over New York. And as she goes, she knows that Steve’s love not only lives on, but will always be with her!