In my personal opinion, the cover to this issue is probably one of the worst pre-crisis images ever. Wonder Woman’s almost childlike appearance seems to suggest perhaps a Manga influence on the part of the artist which I really don’t think works in the context of Wonder Woman. Call me a traditionalist I guess!
High above the beautiful Paradise Island, Wonder Woman uses the air currents to gracefully glide earthwards. As she touches down she is greeted by her mother, Queen Hippolyta. She tells her daughter how glad she is to see Diana so full of life and cannot believe it is just riding the air currents that has bought such radiance to her cheeks. Diana replies that she has lately been feeling a sense of great satisfaction in her role as Wonder Woman. She has long been frustrated by the ways of Man’s World and angered by the complacence with which they accept the rise of evil and power lust. But she has also come to realise that because of this, she is needed even more there than ever, as one who will fight for justice, reason and love.
She continues that these attributes are the cornerstone of Amazon Society and she thanks her mother for having taught her so well. Hippolyta replies that no thanks are necessary but Diana responds in turn that no thanks could be enough. Her mother has shaped her, given her life and provided her with a place to come when her spirit needs renewing.
The Queen tells her that this will always be her home but the reason for her summoning Diana was not for rest and devotion. She has reason to believe that the Amazons are in grave danger. Diana asks what kind of danger and Hippolyta leads her to the Magic Sphere. She says that although the device fails to show her the true nature of the threat, she knows that it comes from a mystic source although it also appears to bear the stamp of madness from the outside world too. But whatever the origin, it is a powerful force and is bent on the destruction of the Amazon way of life!
The Magic Sphere reveals many Amazons slain in battle and a horrified Diana asks when this battle will take place? Hippolyta replies that perhaps it will not; it may only be a possible future that they see and one that they can still prevent. Diana responds that she will use all her resources to find their unknown enemy and let nothing disturb the peace of Paradise Island.
Meanwhile, across the world in Athens, an armed gang congregate in a small house. The leader points a gun to the head of their hostage who is bound to a chair. He tells the struggling Ambassador that his government must not think very highly of him or otherwise they would have responded by now. The Ambassador replies that his government do not deal with terrorists. The gang leader says that in that case he no longer serves any usefulness to them and proceeds to ruthlessly execute the Ambassador in cold blood. He then orders his men to dispose of the body as they get into their car waiting outside.
A short while later the police discover the dead Ambassador lying by the roadside and they have no doubts as to the identity of his murderer – a man named Nikos Aegeus. At the same moment that very same Nikos Aegeus and his gang have arrived at the beach and rush to the waters edge where a motor launch awaits. He says to one of the gang members, whose name is Bridget, that he hopes she has found a safe spot for them to lie low. She tells him that the island they are heading to is not even on the charts.
Some time later the boat approaches the seemingly deserted island and soon they are wading ashore. Seeing there is nothing here except some old ruins, Nikos says to his followers that they will rule here now and that out of the rot of the old civilisation the new order will emerge. However, hiding unseen in the shadows, a figure spies on the intruders and decides that Nikos will serve his purposes well.
Nikos meanwhile suddenly feels there is someone watching him and draws his gun. Suddenly they see a bearded figure emerge from the ruined Greek temple and when Nikos demands to know who the stranger is, he is told that the figure is his new master! The stranger’s voice carries the weight of the millennia and not a single member of the terrorist gang dares raise a hand against him. He begins to tells them of his long nurtured plan…
Days later at the Pentagon, Diana Prince is working in a top security computer room at the Pentagon. She has exhausted the files of ongoing intelligence operations trying to look for something that might indicate a threat to the Amazons. But she has so far turned up nothing. As she leaves the room, she thinks to herself that her fellow Justice League members have come up with nothing too which means she may have no option but to wait for the danger to make itself known. Just then she meets Etta who says that Colonel Trevor has been looking for her all over.
Soon she is sitting in Steve’s office listening to him explain about “Red Flag’, which is the codename for an inter service combat exercise. He can see from her files that she is supposed to be one ‘crackerjack’ pilot, although she does not appear to have clocked up many flight hours recently. She smiles to herself that she actually flies her invisible plane as Wonder Woman almost daily! He continues that he wants to see what she can do in a plane and so they are going to take part in “Red Flag”.
Not long afterwards they are boarding jet fighters at a nearby air base. As Diana prepares for take off Steve informs her from his own craft that Navy pilots will be posing as MIG 21’s and will initiate a confrontation. Therefore she needs to stay alert at all times during the exercise. He asks her if she can handle it and she tells him not to worry because she has learned to take care of herself a long time ago. He, on the other hand, has a serious problem at six o’clock! An ‘enemy’ plane is hot on Steve’s tail and she dives down to intercept it. Using her Amazon skills she locks on to the target and scores a ‘kill’. Steve tells her that she has not done too badly so far but she should not get too cocky. She is heading straight into the sun and the enemy can dive out of the glare at any time. She knows he is right of course and that anyone without her Amazon trained senses would not be able to see an enemy approaching. And as if to prove a point she makes out the speck of a Navy fighter in the distance. But as she draws near she is shocked to see that in fact it is not a plane at all but a figure riding a flying horse!
Nikos Aegeus bellows that the ‘winged merchants of destruction’ and their puny weapons and armaments are no match for one who wields the Thunderbolts of Zeus! As he opens fire with his lightning blasts, she thinks to herself that if they really are Zeus’s Thunderbolts then he commands tremendous power. As the planes turn to avoid the oncoming bolts though Steve’s plane is hit. Diana watches in horror as his plane begins to go into a tail spin. Quickly she summons her own invisible plane and orders it to swoop underneath Steve’s, bringing it down to earth in a controlled manner. At the same time she lands her fighter jet and transforms into Wonder Woman, ready to do battle with Aegeus.
He sees her emerge from behind the parked plane, saying that he had not expected her appearance here. He continues though that despite the fact that no Amazon can hope to match his Olympian powers, he must forego a battle with her in favour of more urgent tasks. However, Wonder Woman wastes no time in looping her lasso around the tail of Aegeus’s fleeing horse. As she tries to order it to land though she finds the horse does not obey her and lifts her into the air.
Aegeus says to her that it is a pity that he does not have the time to show her just how badly outclassed she is but that pleasure will have to wait for another day. As he gloats she uses the opportunity to glide in closer. But Aegeus announces his work here is done and lifts his hand. With a flash he and his horse disappear and Wonder Woman finds herself alone in midair. She wonders what he meant by his business being done. As she glides back down to earth she thinks to herself that at one point she had though that perhaps Aegeus was the threat her other had spoken of. But all he did was attack Steve’s plane before disappearing. She touches down where her invisible plane has landed together with Steve’s craft. By this time one of the Navy pilots has also landed and has already opened the cockpit canopy. Dumbfounded, he tells her that it is empty – Steve has vanished!
Meanwhile, somewhere off the coast of Greece on the uncharted island, Steve finds himself surrounded by the armed terrorist gang. He asks them what they want from him but is told that he is not here to ask questions but instead answer them. Just then Aegeus appears in the sky above them and tells Steve that it is good that the colonel grasps his situation, because while his previous thunderbolt had merely transported Steve here – the next bolt can kill him!