Adventure Comics – 463


Adventure Comics – 463

General Info

Issue No:
463
On Sale Date:
February 1979
Cover Date:
June 1979
Era:
Bronze Age
Story Title:
The Insanity Swarm

Creative Team

Cover Artist:
Ross Andru, Dick Giordano
Writer:
Gerry Conway
Penciller:
Joe Staton
Inker:
Frank McLaughlin
Letterer:
Ben Oda
Colourist:
Jerry Serpe
Editor:
Ross Andru

Characters

Main:
Wonder Woman (Diana Prince/Princess Diana)
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
Queen Bee
Olympians:
N/A
Amazons:
N/A
Other:
Conrad Starfield, Professor Stone, Bill, Stacy
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This issue features a villainess known as the Queen Bee who Wonder Woman first encountered in Justice League of America #23

Synopsis

In the skies above the Houston Astronautics Training Centre Wonder Woman patrols the skies in her invisible robot plane. She is on the look out for something in particular and looking down below she finds her quarry – a swarm of bees!

Men in protective suits armed with flame throwers are standing guard and as they hear the buzzing of the approaching bees they open fire. But to their astonishment the bees seem to deliberately avoid the bursts of flame as if they are intelligent.

What is more, they even lead the men to accidentally open fire on themselves and Wonder Woman jumps down to rescue them. She spins her magic lasso at a great speed so as to create a powerful wind. As she does so she thinks to herself that the actions of these bees has confirmed her suspicions that they are more deadly than any natural swarm. The wind she has created blows out the burning suits of the men just in time to avoid injury, although their protective layer is now full of holes. She knows that if the fleeing bees return and enter their suits the men will not stand a chance. She races to her plane intent on tracking down the swarm to their destination so as to neutralise them. Wonder Woman remembers how all this madness had started just the day before when the swarm first attacked the Space Flight Centre…

The morning of that previous day she had been speaking with Conrad Starfield in the persona of her alter ego, Astronaut Trainee Diana Prince. As part of her training she had been instructed to climb inside a Sensory Deprivation Chamber in order to simulate the sort of isolation she might encounter in outer space should there be a malfunction in the space shuttle. Reluctantly she had clambered inside to spend the next six hours locked inside. And although she had at first thought it a waste of her time she realises now that it had probably saved her life!

Looking out of the window of the chamber she had seen a swarm of bees enter the building. The bees had attacked the watching technicians and Diana knew that these were no ordinary bees because they would only have attacked people if disturbed. Conrad had tried to tell the technicians not to panic but the bees had swarmed around him and a horrified Diana watched as he was stung over a hundred times! He, together with the technicians, had fallen down unconscious and as the bees departed, Diana had wrenched the door off to check on her colleagues. She was relieved to find them all still alive although in some sort of mindless coma.

Later, Diana had attended a debrief by Professor Stone on what the bees had done to Conrad and the others. Stone had explained that instead of producing paralysis or death, the bees’ stings had created a condition of coma. The bee venom had disrupted the normal synaptic flow in the brain reducing their colleagues to little more than human vegetables. Unless they could find an antidote they would remain in this comatose state until they died. Diana had then asked whether capturing the bees would provide an antidote and although the Professor agreed it was an excellent idea, he added that the swarm had apparently vanished and there was no way of tracking them down.

Suddenly though the bees had burst into the briefing room and everyone had run for their life. Diana had made a dash for the far corner out of sight of the others and had changed into Wonder Woman. She had then used her lasso to spin at a certain vibrational frequency so as to mimic the “mating call” of a Queen Bee. The bees had responded and followed her lasso as she leaped out of the window and outside. She had then lead the bees to the Sensory Depravation Chamber and lured the swarm inside the airtight compartment. Once inside she had shut the door on them, hoping to study the captured bees so as to find an antidote, but to her surprise the bees had vanished before her very eyes!

Now, as Wonder Woman pursues the swarm she vows that she will not let them out of her sight a second time as her friends lives depend on it. As the swarm takes flight again she summons her robot plane to swoop down. She leaps aboard and races off in the same direction as the swarm. She thinks to herself that this is the sixth attack by this swarm since yesterday and the only attack she has been able to follow thus far. Normally, the bees have usually vanished by now just like the ones in the Depravation Chamber had done. But this time for some reasons they have changed their behaviour and she has a fairly good idea why – she is being lured into a trap!

After traveling some one hundred miles north of Houston she finally sees the bees’ destination – an Alien Spacecraft in the form of a Bee Hive located in the desert below her. She guesses that this ship can only belong to one person – Queen Bee of the Planet Kroll. Inside the ship, Queen Bee herself watches on a monitor with glee as the Amazon Princess approaches. When she had first learned that Wonder Woman was connected with the humans’ so-called space programme she had wondered if she should perhaps cancel her plans to avoid involving the Amazon and thereby invite capture. But she had then realised what a perfect addition Wonder Woman would make to her “Collection” and thus she has used the swarm as bait to lure the heroine to her doom!

As Wonder Woman flies over the craft a tractor beam suddenly strikes her plane, pulling it towards the ground and into the spacecraft itself. Wonder Woman disembarks and prepares for confrontation.

Seconds later the villainess appears and she tells Wonder Woman that she can resist if she must but that the outcome of their conflict is predestined. The Amazon’s mind will be hers while her body will die! With that, thousands of bees suddenly swarm towards Wonder Woman in a flying wedge formation and she knows she cannot avoid them. She uses her bracelets and instead of “bullets and bracelets” she plays “bees and bracelets”! She moves with the speed of Mercury deflecting stunned bees as she goes.

But even so she feels the approach of panic and is almost relieved when the battle assumes a more brutal directness as Queen Bee, who has lost patience with her insects, opens fire with one of her Stinger Blasters instead. Wonder Woman manages to deflect the blast and throws Queen Bee over her head, capitalising on Queen Bee’s strategic mistake. The Villainess is sent crashing through a doorway and Wonder Woman follows her inside the room. She demands that Queen Bee gives her the antidote to the bee venom and an explanation for what she has done. Queen Bee begins to stand up, responding that she is a noble of the Planet Kroll and that she owes no explanation for her deeds as her will is reason enough. Wonder Woman grabs her legs and wrestles her back down to the ground, wrapping her up in her golden lasso.

She tells the Villainess that she must now obey her instructions and asks again – why? The Queen Bee gestures to a computer with twinkling lights and says that she has stolen the minds of the stung scientists and imprisoned them inside. There they will remain until the end of eternity and not even Wonder Woman’s lasso can command her to set them free. She continues that before the Amazon had arrived she had programmed the computer to self-destruct at the slightest tampering – even from her own hand! She smiles and adds that perhaps Wonder Woman can still save them though – if first she becomes the Queen Bee’s slave!

To be continued…