Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 63


Wonder Woman – Volume 2 – 63

General Info

Issue No:
63 (392)
On Sale Date:
April 1992
Cover Date:
June 1992
Era:
Dark Age
Story Title:
Operation Cheetah - Part Two

Creative Team

Cover Artist:
Brian Bolland
Writer:
William Messner-Loebs
Penciller:
Jill Thompson
Inker:
Romeo Tanghal
Letterer:
John Costanza
Colourist:
Nansi Hoolahan
Editor:
Dan Thorsland

Characters

Main:
Wonder Woman (Princess Diana), Inspector Ed Indelicato
Heroes:
N/A
Villains:
Drax, Baron Von Nastread
Olympians:
N/A
Amazons:
N/A
Other:
Cheetah (Barbara Minerva), Deathstroke (Slade Wilson)
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Comments

This issue follows directly on from the Wonder Woman Special #1 and sees William Messner-Loebs begin his time on the title, together with new cover artist Brian Bolland who would produce some truly gorgeous covers over the next year or so. Many fans were both eager and nervous to see how Messner-Loebs could possible follow on and live up to George Perez’s epic five year run, as an edgier, sexier and more mature version of the Amazon Princess was promised and who would become far more integrated into the overall DC Universe than she had during the Perez era. And certainly the themes in this issue are definitely darker as we learn the villains’ intentions for Wonder Woman!

Synopsis

Von Nastread and Drax, who is now carrying Wonder Woman’s lifeless body, descend down towards the castle dungeons. Drax is still concerned that the Amazon Princess is not sturdy enough to withstand the forthcoming ceremony but Nastread reassures him that Wonder Woman has proven her superiority over the Cheetah on numerous occasions. But a still unconvinced Drax reminds the Baron that he had said the same thing about Cheetah before she ended up reverting back to the “pitiful” human state.

As they enter the dungeon a caged, naked Barbara Minerva stares in shock at seeing Drax hefting Wonder Woman’s body and cries out “Diana!”, but Drax warns her to shut up unless she wants to be tortured more. The demon then places the Amazon Princess inside an adjacent cage, chaining her up and then begins to step inside. when Nastread asks what he is doing he snarls menacingly “You are charging me a great deal of power in return for this lovely shell. Surely you will not mind if I inspect the merchandise. As Drax studies her though he sees from her dilated pupils that she is concussed and tells Nastread that they had better hasten the nuptials. As they exit the dungeon together Nastread once again assures Drax that Wonder Woman is “first class wares as befitting his heritage”…

Meanwhile outside, at the foot of the mountain, Ed, Deathstroke and his team of resistance fighters are preparing to scale up towards the castle. The inspector, whom Deathstroke has warned to stay by the car as they have no idea what they are getting into, has stubbornly refused and has insisted on “watching Diana’s investment”.

After the long climb up the almost sheer rock face Ed is the last to reach the top and struggles to haul himself up onto the ledge. An impatient Deathstroke tells Indelicato that he is a liability that is slowing them down and orders a reluctant Ed to wait on the ledge…

Back inside the dungeon, Wonder Woman sits up having ensured that Nastread and Drax had gone, before waving her hand in front of her face. Using the “gift of illusion” given to her by Proteus, she magically removes the appearance of being concussed and effortlessly snaps free of the chains. But as she attempts to bend apart the bars of the cage she finds they will not budge, clearly enriched by some dark magic. Knowing she must break free if she is to free Barbara and to disappoint her suitor, she strains with every last inch of her might and slowly the bars give! Seeing she is free Barbara calls after her and Wonder Woman reassures her that she is here to rescue her.

A meek Barbara asks how the Amazon Princess can have come all this way to save her after all the Cheetah has done to her. “We’re all sisters Barbara. I couldn’t let you die” replies Wonder Woman. Barbara, who from her appearance has clearly been through a terrible ordeal, explains how they had taken her to a place where she was begging for death to avoid the horrific pain she was enduring. Wonder Woman asks what they wanted from her and is told that the demon is married but needs a human host for his mate. A powerful body like Cheetah’s…of Wonder Woman’s. She adds that they are both in terrible danger and must get away. “Let them sacrifice some other poor woman” she adds.

As Wonder Woman prepares to pries apart Barbara’s cage she suddenly pauses – dwelling on Barbara’s last statement and a puzzled Cheetah asks what she is waiting for?…

Elsewhere inside the castle, Deathstroke is making his stealthy way along the many corridors, quietly killing any guards he encounters. Suddenly he hears voices approaching and hiding, watches as a now cloaked Nastread and Drax make their way to the chamber. Nastread is explaining that after removing Wonder Woman’s beating heart the demon must pause for the chant. Drax reassures him that he is familiar with the ritual as he had been the one to write it! Deathstroke realises that the rumours had been true and devil does indeed live in Pan Balgravia.

Drax and Nastread enter the dungeon again and see that Wonder Woman is now awake inside her cage. Drax growls for the Baron to begin the ceremony as he “aches for his reward.” Nastread begins to use Cheetah’s dagger to carve a circular symbol on the stone floor. He then chants and as he does so a mystical portal begins to slowly open in the room. Nastread orders Drax to fetch Wonder Woman. As he reaches inside for the Amazon Princess he smiles “Draw close, my love! Your wedding is here! A ceremony, a feast, then a sweet solitude shared! Your poor dead ghost will not know your body’s bliss”

As he drags the chained Wonder Woman across the floor towards the symbol he adds “But kiss me now and you will have a clue.” But as he leans forward Wonder Woman spits in his face. Enraged, he smashes her across the face sending her flying across the room. Nastread reminds the demon not to damage her yet. But just as he says so the door bursts open and Deathstroke, weapons raised snarls “Don’t damage her ever!”

As the Baron and the Demon turn to look at him in surprise, momentarily hesitating, the assassin uses his advantage and blasts the demon. But as the smoke clears Deathstroke sees that the demon is simply standing there calmly staring back, completely unharmed. This time it is Nastread’s turn to use the element of surprise to his advantage and throws the enchanted dagger across the room, impaling Deathstroke against the wall by his shoulder.

As the assassin struggles to stay conscious Nastread then turns to the demon and announces “I give you your bride.” “Barremargox” calls out Drax as he watches a tentacled create begin to emerge through the now fully open portal. Barremargox reaches out to where Wonder Woman lies on the floor, open eyed in horror, and hisses “Is this the form you have chosen for me? So pink, so curved, so firm, so strangely curved. So hideous! Well done my mate servant! I take her eagerly!”

As the tentacles swarm over Wonder Woman’s body Barremargox hisses again “Her flesh yields to my touch. Are all women thus? I grope for substance to grab onto. I search for her power”. Suddenly she drops the Amazon Princess to the floor again like a rag doll and roars “WHERE IS HER POWER?”

Drax demands Nastread to explain what has gone wrong but the Baron is equally mystified. As Barremargox retreats back into the portal an enraged Drax demands Wonder Woman to reveal what she has done to his mate? As the Amazon Princess kneels meekly, she says “I did nothing” and her features begin to change before their eyes, revealing herself to be none other than Barbara! Just then they hear Wonder Woman’s voice reply” But I did!” as the Amazon Princess charges at them, lasso twirling as she goes!

Once again, the power of Proteus had helped her deceive them. She loops the lasso around a furious Drax and brings him crashing down to the floor, before she leaps on top of him and slams his head into the stone floor. As Wonder Woman keeps the monster pinned they suddenly hear an explosion elsewhere in the castle as Deathstroke’s team launch their attack. The noise stirs the assassin back to full consciousness and seeing that Wonder Woman is also back in the fight, removes the dagger, freeing himself. As the bloody blade clatters to the floor close to where Barbara lays, Nastread makes a run for it with Deathstroke in hot pursuit.

Meanwhile Wonder Woman informs the pinned Drax that women are not meat, merchandise or maggots and are not to be taken, bartered or sold. But Drax’s response is to suddenly blast her with demons fire from is mouth, sending her sailing through the air backwards. He advances on her as she finds herself pinned back against the cage , determined for Barremargox to return and for Wonder Woman to fulfil her ole in the ceremony but the Amazon Princess has other ideas. She suddenly wrenches the cage door off its hinges and smashes it against Drax! But he remains standing and in turn smashes her across the face with a casual blow. as the fight continues Barbara crawls slowly towards where the blood stained enchanted dagger lies…

Meanwhile Deathstroke continues his pursuit of Nastread who uses two guards to act as a momentary distraction for the assassin as he makes his escape. As Deathstroke dispatches them and turns the corner he is surprised to see Nastread being pinned against the wall by Ed! Deathstroke orders him to stand aside and Ed replies that it is over and there is no need to kill the Baron. “If I kill him that makes me no better than he is, and that makes a mockery of everything we are fighting for, right?” asks Deathstroke. Ed nods. “What crap!” snaps the assassin before hurling a knife into the Baron’s heart! They watch however as he simply vaporizes before their eyes.

Drax floors Wonder Woman!As the fight between Wonder Woman and Drax continues Barremargox is drawn back through the portal, attracted by the proximity of Diana’s power. As the tentacled creature advances Barbara finally reaches where the dagger lays and licking the blood, transforms into The Cheetah! Instantly, feeling alive once again, she leaps to her feet and facing Barremargox, snarls that she smells fresh meat. A horrified Barremargox warns her to stay away and tells Drax that they will lose the portal if The Cheetah crosses over into it! As Wonder Woman punches Drax away again sees Cheetah stepping towards Barremargox and asks what she is doing and that the portal is a doorway to another dimension.

Cheetah replies that she knows where it goes and that she has spent a lifetime seeking adventure. And this will be the greatest adventure of them all! Diana cries out “No! Barbara!” as she watches Cheetah leap at Barremargox, and as the two of them plummet back through the portal, it snaps shut! There is a huge explosion of mystical energies blasting both Drax and Wonder Woman off their feet! The Demon hits the wall but it is only a smoking husk that lands on the floor as his life form is extinguished.

Wonder Woman is left sitting on the floor alone, whispering an angry prayed for her lost sister. “You shouldn’t have done that. I could have saved us!”. Just then her sorrow is interrupted by Ed who yells that they need to get out of here.

Some time later in their hotel room back in the city Ed is tending to Diana’s many cuts and grazes. She tells the inspector that she had come here to rescue Barbara but she had failed. He replies that Cheetah had made her own choice – probably the first decent one she’s ever made – and that had been because of Diana’s selfless example to help her fellow sister. Plus, they had helped save a country as Deathstroke and the resistance had gone on to take the country back. Wonder Woman smiles back that if Cheetah is still alive down there then Diana may one day find a way to replay her.

Just then they hear a noise outside and as they look down onto the street below they see throngs of people cheering, celebrating the end of the Baron’s regime.