We finally see the payoff to all the build up we have seen in the past several issues.
We finally see the payoff to all the build up we have seen in the past several issues.
We see inside the mind of Hermes as he has a vision of Diana floating lifeless in a dark void. He dreams he is holding the beautiful Amazon Princess who sleeps peacefully in his arms. He knows she must awaken though if she is to be safe. He bends down and whispers her name “Diana”. But she does not hear him for she is lost in her own dream – a nightmare of metamorphosis. Bark splinters her flesh. Her ears are muffed in wood and she is choking on the foliage of her tongue. She is slipping from him! And then she is gone, swept away by discordant passions he is afraid to recognise, though he must if the woman is to have a chance or returning from the inferno to stand at the gate of Paradise and reclaim her soul!
The Messenger God cries out her name, startling Steve Trevor who only just manages to keep the car in the right lane! He asks Hermes what the hell the matter is. In reply Hermes rips apart the seat belt and rushes out of the car across the field. Steve yells after him as the God scans the sky calling for Diana…
Meanwhile on Paradise Island the feast is about to begin. Menalippe performs the opening rites but something does not seem right to the listening Lois Lane. The oracle speaks with little conviction and as the reporter glances towards Diana to see her reaction there is none. Just then the Amazon Princess realises she is being observed and stares back coldly. Lois is unsure whose eyes are staring back.
Menalippe wraps up her sermon but before the banquet begins proper, Diana stands up and addresses them all. She says that they should all honour Menalippe and her fine words by partaking of her gift to the banquet. She indicates the apples in front of each person and tells the room to taste their sweetness. As she speaks Rovo Quashi whispers to Lois not to eat the fruit and the reporter realises that she is not the only one who feels something is wrong. She asks him why not, as the blind boy obviously cannot see the emptiness in Wonder Woman’s eyes that Lois has picked up on. He replies that he can hear it in Diana’s voice. As the others take a bite from their apples Lois and Quashi palm theirs. Diana sees and asks the reporter why she has not eaten the apple. Lois replies that she is on a diet…
Back in Patriarch’s World, Hermes feels that the real Diana is losing her struggle. Steve walks over and says that they have to get to Hackensack by three o’clock as Steve has to testify in a tribunal. He asks Hermes to get back in the car but the God shakes his head and says that Diana is in great need. Her soul no longer inhabits the mortal plane. A shocked Steve assumes she is dead but Hermes continues that her soul does not reside in Hades. It is somewhere else. He closes his eyes and concentrates, determined to locate her again…
On Themyscira Lois’ initial concerns are vanishing as everyone in the room seems to be enjoying themselves. There is free and open dialogue…laughing…singing…and music. Women dance and wine flows. But then so does the hemlock! Rabbi Hecht suddenly throws his meat onto the plate in disgust, snapping that the food is not Kosher. One of the Amazons serving the food assures him that they had followed his instructions to the letter, but he remains unconvinced and calls her a liar. He rages that she had tried to poison him and that it is not going to work! Many people have had the same idea in the last three thousand years and the Jews have survived them all – even Hitler! And they will survive her and her merry little band of Amazons too!
Vladimir Morakov smiles and tells the Rabbi that he is obsessed with his rituals and that food is the one and only thing women are good for. On hearing this a snarling Rabbi raises his fists and challenges the russian to a fight! Phyllis Haller tells Morakov that women do not take that sort of submissive garbage anymore and she goads the Amazons to rise up and show the men what they are made of! Hellene applauds these sentiments and suggests the Amazons cross over into Man’s World and conquer them forever.
Across the table the Reverend Alan Witherspoon says that this is what happens when the natural order is defied. Mnemosyne asks him “whose natural order?” and he tells her not to get snotty! “Even the Bible tells us it is better to marry than to burn”. Robert Cantwell asks him what he means and the Reverend snaps back for him to keep his nose out. A shocked Cantwell tries to reason that the clergy man is insulting the beliefs and culture of their hosts, but is interrupted by Henri Claude Tibet. The architect warns the Reverend to keep his hands of Mnemosyne, while suggesting that the Amazon herself should be careful or else she may find herself with a strange bedfellow. The listening Amazons take offence and accuse the men of thinking about nothing but sex!
Elsewhere in the room Maritza Nitumbe accuses Phillipus of being a traitor to her colour by submitting herself to a white queen when her sisters and bothers are crying out for freedom. Robert Cantwell again tries to intervene, telling Maritza he doubts very much that Phillipus knows or would understand the terminology she is referring to. Maritza tells him to shut up, accusing the British of being so polite but turning a blind eye to the Mau Mau. Felix Zumac piles into the debate, snarling that he knows they are all thinking the same – that he is Haitian and that he is responsible! Asmund Lindel tries to encourage everyone to calm down before it is too late, yelling “I order it!”.
Diana stands up enraged and tells him that he has no right to order anything. She reminds him he is nothing here – just a man and only on Paradise Island because she had brought him here on her authority. Then Queen Hippolyta jumps up, arguing that Diana is an upstart and that she is the queen, not her daughter.
Lois listens to these rantings in astonishment and realises this is the story of the century. As she raises her camera though to get some photos it is snatched out of her hands by Lin Koo Teng. The chinese girl snarls that Lois is a stupid American journalist who never learns. Her so called colleagues had also taped the Tiananmen Square massacre and showed it on television – all in the name of freedom and democracy. Lin Koo then smashes the camera on the ground as Rovo Quashi tries to reason with her, saying that Lois was never in China when it happened and is not responsible for what had happened to those students that spoke out against the massacre. Lin Koo in turn slaps him, accusing him of not being able to know what it was like to watch her friends die.
Robert Cantwell grabs the almost hysterical girl as around them an all out brawl breaks out between delegates and Amazons! Lois knows that this madness must have something to do with the apples as Cantwell suggests they get out of the banquet hall and out of harm’s way. As he drags the kicking and screaming Lin Koo with him, Lois grabs Quashi and they make for the exit but are spotted by Diana. Lois cannot believe that this woman with the cold hearted expression on her face is the same incredible woman who had brought them all here. She is almost afraid to look at the Amazon Princess as Asmund Lindel confronts Diana. He warns her that the world will not look kindly upon the treatment of its citizens by her countrywomen, but Diana casually tosses him aside.
Elsewhere, seemingly floating in a darkened void of nothingness, the real Wonder Woman sees these events taking place and struggles to break free. But she falls into unconsciousness once more as thousands of miles away, Hermes pleads with her to come back. He sinks to his knees in frustration as Steve asks him why he cannot re-establish contact with her. The God replies that Diana’s soul has been cut loose from hope. Without hope the soul has no anchor and it drifts in the sea of despair and confusion. Steve snaps back that neither his soul nor Hermes’ has been cut off so the Messenger God can “damn well try again!”. Hermes clenches his teeth and fists as he wails that Diana’s mission has all been for naught. Turned to dust. Dead. Steve says that dreams cannot die but the Messenger God replies that the men and women who dream can… and do die…
On Themyscira meanwhile, the fighting mob has followed the fleeing foursome out onto the street. Lois leads them down a deserted alley and runs straight into a waiting Diana. The journalist demands for the Amazon to let them through but Diana has other ideas. She asks whether Lois is perhaps in a hurry to file her story. Diana then suggests some headlines that Lois can use…”Themyscira Summit Collapses Amidst Angry Words” or alternatively “Cultural Exchange Dismal Failure”. She even offers to provide a direct quote from “Wonder Woman” herself – strictly on the record of course.
“This Great Mission of mine. It was all a farce. An act. Designed to prove what miserable people we all really are”!
Lois scowls and replies that there is only one miserable person on this island and it is the Amazon Princess herself! But Quashi interrupts, saying that this is not Wonder Woman before them. Diana would never talk in such a way. Cantwell agrees and then Lois reveals that she already knows this Wonder Woman is an impostor. She demands to know where the real Princess is, but the Diana before them asks why they are giving so much credence to a blind child’s opinion. She then asks Lin Koo what she thinks. The chinese girl says that maybe this Diana is the real one and maybe she is not – but one thing she has learned from her homeland is that leaders can never be trusted.
An enraged Diana leaps hands outstretched towards the “impudent girl” as the others try to stop her. But they are thrown aside like dolls as Lin Koo makes a run for it and hides. As Diana scours the undergrowth for the girl, Lois creeps up behind the Amazon and smashes a rock over her head. Diana casually turns round smiling and grabs a startled Lois by the throat, slamming her back against a marble column. The others try desperately to pull Wonder Woman off as Lois fights for air. As blackness begins to close in around the journalist as she is suffocated to death, Lois sees a vision of the real Wonder Woman in a void of darkness. She is sweaty, dirty, kicking and struggling with invisible bonds as she fights to overcome her doppelganger.
Suddenly the evil Diana begins to melt like a wax work dummy and Lois and the others watch in shock as the attacking Wonder Woman turns into a puddle! Eris, who also watches these events remotely, scowls as she sees her creation destroyed.
Quashi comments that the steaming puddle smells of apples as Lois asks Cantwell and Lin Koo if they had eaten any of the fruit. The Englishman shakes his head saying that he is allergic to apples while the chinese girl admits she ate one of them. Lin Koo asks why they want to know and Lois tells her that they believe the fruit was tainted. The girl snaps back that they are being ridiculous as she does not feel in the least bit sick. Lois says that she is sick – in a way – as surely even she can hear the hatred in her own voice. Lin Koo scowls, stating that they are obviously assuming chinese girls are quiet, polite and self effacing – in which case they are wrong!
Lois rolls her eyes in futility and suggests to Cantwell and Quashi that they will just have to wait until it is flushed out of the girl’s system. The journalist adds that there had been trouble in the temple earlier in the day between Rabbi Hecht and some priestesses and there had also been apples in there too. Cantwell adds that the chief priestess Menalippe was also the one responsible for bringing the apples to the feast and Lois finsihes that Diana had gone looking for Menalippe! There must be a connection!
They spy a couple of horses trotting loose down the street and grab them. The foursome double up in pairs and mount the steeds, but as they make their escape out of the city they are spotted by Phillipus. Menalippe orders several Amazons to pursue them and if the delegates give them any trouble – they should kill them! The watching Eris wonders to herself where Lois and her foolish friends possibly think they can escape to on an island?
Robert Cantwell and Lin Koo, followed by Lois and Quashi gallop through the woods as they try to put some distance between them and the chasing Amazons. They make several turns and finally lose their pursuers, by chance finding themselves at the statue at Doom’s Doorway. They see the cave opening and Lin Koo tells the others that when she and Hellene had been here earlier today the altar had fully blocked this entrance.
Cantwell grabs one of the burning torches on the altar and says he is going inside alone to investigate, but the others are adamant that they will accompany him. They make their way slowly inside and even with their torches can barely see anything. Quashi’s acute sense of hearing though detects Wonder Woman’s voice calling them. They proceed further into the cave and Lois feels a presence that makes her want to pick a fight, part company and sow dissension. She pushes past Quashi and strides forward with one of the torches, determined to find Diana herself.
Quashi yells a warning too late as Lois falls through a hole in the floor and finds herself plummeting through blackness. She manages to grab a tree root with one hand and hauls herself up to gain a more secure hold. As her eyes become accustomed to the gloom she stares in horror at the sight before her. Eris stands on a rock formation beside a huge tree – and embedded in the gnarled trunk is none other than Wonder Woman…who has been turned completely to wood!