Gail Simone continues her guided tour of the world of “Sword and Sorcery” and after introducing us to Beowulf in the previous issue, she adds Claw to the list! The story line gives new artist Aaron Lopresti the chance to depict Diana in numerous different versions of her famous costume.
We also discover that Alkyone from “The Circle” story line has managed to escape death from the jaws of the Megalodon – which can only spell trouble for Diana!
On a side note, Gail includes a little in-joke for fans, when in one scene where Sarge Steel is warning Tom Tresser the dangers of not keeping close tabs on Etta and Diana, he states “I need them surveilled. I need evidence, and right damn quick before we get Amazons Attack the sequel!” This of course is a not so thinly veiled reference to the “Amazons Attack” mini series, which was comprehensively panned by fans and non-fans alike as a misguided, badly written and pointless story.
At the Department of Meta Human Affairs Sarge Steel enters into Tom Tresser’s office unannounced and asks him to take a walk with him to the firing range. He tells Tom that they have a problem and that he needs the agent’s renowned espionage skills. As he unloads several rounds at a target he continues to explain that he believes there is a conspiracy going on and that Diana Prince and Etta Candy are involved. He believes they are in fact Amazons! Steel cannot buy the fact that after the Amazons’ attack on Washington DC that they just somehow vanished and are suddenly back in the “peace and love business”. He instructs Tom to keep both women under surveillance and that the agent has full remit to do what it takes to get the job done. He also advises Tom to recruit only men for his support team and that he should start by checking up on Diana Prince first. Steel says that she had known far too much about Gorilla Grodd’s operations and could not explain convincingly why that was. “They may be working together. Keep an eye on her”…
Meanwhile in another dimension Diana and Beowulf and battling with the patrons of the tavern. As she fights, the Amazon Princess ponders the black horizon and how it has a hold on her soul. As she deals with another attacker Beowulf announces that they have a problem. She turns to see that the patrons are transforming to demon-like creatures as he states simply “Sorcery!”. Diana launches herself at them, using her blade to savagely cut through the horde’s limbs with no mercy, but juts as she is about to run one of them through with her sword Beowulf suddenly grabs her and carries her protesting form out of the tavern which during the melee has caught fire.
They grab a couple of horse and race towards the mountains as the tavern collapses in a heap of burning rubble behind them. When they are far enough away they pull up and dismounting, Diana thanks Beowulf for stopping her killing the demon. He replies that he was simply getting them out of the building and that the demon’s death would have meant nothing to him. He watches her as she kneels and asks her what she is doing? She replies that she is doing what she always does when she finds herself lost – she is praying. She prays to Kane Milohai and when Beowulf says he has not heard of such a god before she explains how she had sworn loyalty to him for helping her save her mother. When he asks what had happened to her former masters, Diana replies that the Olympians had not answered her calls and she had no choice but to seek another god’s help choice as her mother’s plight was desperate. “So we are fickle when lost too?”. He words cut deep and Diana chides herself for underestimating this man – this leader of men who is certainly no mere barbarian.
Suddenly he grabs her arm and says that he knows she is hiding secrets. He has enemies who would not be above sending a beautiful courtesan to stab him in his sleep. Diana’s hackles rise and she grabs the hilt of her sword, warning him that she has tried to be respectful but she will not be handled in such a way. But before she can draw her sword she suddenly sees the constellation of Cassiopeia up in the sky The W. The Crown. The constellation of her birth. She takes it as a sign from Kane Milohai and calmly asks Beowulf to sheath his own sword. She explains that in truth she has come to ask for his aid. Just then she hears a voice behind her say “Well, that’s not entirely true is it?” and turns to see Stalker galloping towards them.
Dismounting from his horse he tells Beowulf that he has traveled farther and longer than he can imagine and asks to tell his tale, after which the barbarian can slay Stalker and Diana if he so wishes. Diana thinks to herself that she really must remember in future to tell Stalker to let her do the talking…
Back in the real world Tom is parked outside Diana’s Washington DC apartment keeping it under surveillance. He does not believe for one minute that Diana Prince is a mole as she is one of the dullest people he has met. But suddenly a movement at her window catches his eye and he grabs his binoculars. Barely visible through the shuttered blinds he can see the shape of a gorilla. Immediately he leaps out of the car and radios in to base for back up, adding that Sarge Steel had been right! “It’s Gorilla Grodd!” As he checks his weapon he thinks to himself that he still doe snot believe for one moment that Diana is working with the super-villain – at least not willingly. It must either be blackmail. Or kidnapping. Or torture!
Intent on saving her, he kicks down the front door and gun cocked, orders Grodd to freeze! However, instead of Grodd he is confronted by half a dozen armed but puzzled white gorillas..
Back on the other world, Stalker tells Diana and Beowulf how as a child he had made a poor bargain with a demon. He had been hungry and had no wisdom and had been granted skills by the demon but at the expense of his immortal soul. He had been betrayed as selfish fools have always been betrayed. Stalker had searched the ends of the world in a vain attempt to regain what he had lost and ended up at a place called Geranth, in the cold wastes. There he has met a seer who it was said held an inhuman quality of knowledge. This female oracle already knew what he sought and told him that she also knew what he feared. He had replied that he feared nothing, but she had conjured an image of the devil himself and said “Not even the devil who leashed your soul?” This “Dgrth” as he was known would also claim all worlds and all dimensions as his own. He now wanted to devour all of mankind.
The angry Stalker had replied that his own life meant nothing and that he simply wanted what had been taken from him. Was there no way to stop this monster? The oracle had replied that Dgrth could only be killed on the stone altar at the end of the world. Stalker would also need three other particularsword bearers. Stalker had lost his patience at this point demanding why he should believe her. She had laughed at him and said that she also wanted Dgrth dead because she too had sold her soul.
It had been this same oracle who had subsequently adapted Diana’s speech and garb for this journey. Although quite mad, everything the seer had foretold has come to pass. She had said that Diana in particular would pay a heavy price. The Amazon Princess would agree to help but that she would regret ever laying eyes on Stalker for the rest of her life.
Having listened to Stalker’s tale, Beowulf agrees to aid them on their quest to gather the final sword bearer and slay Dgrth. He asks Stalker how they are expected to travel to these other dimensions though and is shown a stone that the oracle had given Stalker – the soul of the Rock of Eternity. Together with Diana’s Shell craft it would guide them anywhere.
Almost in an instant Diana finds herself in battle again, this time in another plane of existence and wearing a different outfit. This time she and Beowulf are clashing with the warrior named Claw, who is refusing to come with them willingly. Diana finally knocks the brute out and Stalker removes his gauntlet to reveal the clawed, possessed hand that he is named after. As Diana tells them to carry Claw to the stone altar they stare at her right hand in shock. She looks down to see to her horror that her own hand has become a claw! “Oh mother, my Queen. What is it that I am becoming?”
Meanwhile on Themyscira, a lonely Hippolyta walks along the beach musing how Diana has decided to return to Man’s World once more. Just then she spots a tiara carved from wood lying on the sand. Picking it up she realises that this is a freshly carved version, as she had cracked the original in two herself. It can only mean one thing!
She cries out to Alkyone, demanding she show herself. As Hippolyta walks further along the beach though she finds only the bloody remains of a Megalodon and kneeling in horror, she murmurs, “Athena forgive me. She lives. She lives. The sun sets on Themyscira. Oh gods, what have I created?