With the upheaval caused by the abrupt departure of Straczynski, the books publishing schedule went into temporary chaos and DC had to bring all hands to the pump to try and keep the book on track. This particular issue was obviously delayed and as can be seen from the credits, required a number of additional artists to ensure it could at least be brought out in the same month even if a few weeks late.
Phil Hester, now onboard as the regular writer and working from Straczynski’s story notes, endeavors to make his mark and bring his own interpretation of Diana while at the same time not deviating too far from the Straczynski vision. Not an easy task.
The issue does suffer from a rather jolting change in pace and a noticeably different feel to it but considering the circumstances, it’s a credit to all involved that they just about manage to salvage something readable from the wreckage left behind by Mr. Straczynski.
After her flight home a weary Diana returns to her New York apartment in a tenant block in a nondescript part of the city. She is greeted by Adrasteia and Diana asks if anyone has been visiting that she should know about. Adrasteia replies that in fact the streets have been much quieter than normal, which she puts down to the Amazon Princess’ victory over the Dark Man. Diana responds that it was not so much a victory but more a holding action. As Diana prepares to enter the building she tells Adrasteia that she had at last managed to fly and had loved the experience.
As she steps inside she is greeted by two ensorcelled Stone Lions who notify her that the building is secure. She thanks them and once inside is in turn greeted by a talking cat named Galenthias. The cat is a little put out that she had greeted the lions before her. “What have they sacrificed? As a priestess I sacrificed my form to become what I am and better serve Hectate. And you of course Princess” Diana smiles and Galenthias follows her into her quite swish and modern apartment.
Galenthias tells her that she should think about getting some sleep as she has lessons with Anthea in the morning. A flabbergasted Diana replies that she has just fought her way out of Hades itself and the priestess still expects her to go to flower arranging classes? The priestess replies that Anthea imparts more than just the knowledge of flowering plants and their proper display. She continues that the Princess is the crown jewel of Amazon culture, the repository of all that they have cultivated. It may seem trivial now but what Anthea teaches speaks to the foundation of proprietary on which their entire culture rests.
Diana says “It’s nonsense” but Galenthias responds that when the time comes for Diana to weave a laurel to dress the grave of a loved one it may not seem like nonsense anymore. Everything they do, they do as Amazons. In life and as Diana knows, in death. “Never forget that Princess.”
Diana then turns on her mp3 player and Galenthias winces at the music that blares from the speakers. The Princess smiles and tells the Priestess that the music relaxes her and helps her get off to sleep. Galenthias, finding the noise intolerably, leaves the Princess to her rest and walks out into the hallway where she is nearly run over by Philippus.
The Amazon Captain apologises and explains that she had been watching Football on the TV but ha snow juts had an emergency called by one of her scouts. Galenthias cannot understand her fascination with the slow paced Man’s World game, particularly when any Amazon could outrun those slow witted fools who seem to barely take a tackle without falling down in pain! Philippus replies that perhaps that is why she likes it as they put their bodies at risk for nothing but valour – while the Amazons have been fighting so long just to survive.
She then continues to explain that Therestra believes she has found the remains of a temple in the South Bronx – one much like theirs but not theirs. The Priestess finds this news troubling but Philippus jokes that it is not as troubling as the racket coming from Diana’s room! But if that’s what she needs to help her sleep then so be it. However, even as they speak the Amazon Princess is preparing to make an unauthorised exit from her apartment window…
Meanwhile in the Congo, the War Goddesses Anann and Bellona, together known as the Morrigan, admire their handiwork. As they survey the burning, death and devastation around them Bellona reminds her sister that while all this is admirable they should be turning their attention back to the Amazons. With that she summons a magical portal and transports them both back to their apartment.
Inside the room, with its eclectic collection of ancient artefacts, they also still find the stone remains of the two men who had dared try to broker power and replace the Dark Man. They had unfortunately entered the room only to find the head of Medusa had been accidentally left out sitting on the table staring back at them – and in an instant had been turned to stone!
Bellona says that they had merely sought out their orders and that the Goddesses should learn that if they wish to use these men as weapons they must remember and accept their limitations. Anann however thinks that perhaps the time for using Man’s ways have passed. The Gorgon’s curse has wasted their bodies but their souls within may still provide service.
She lifts Medusa’s head and emitting tears from the Gorgon’s eyes, she drops them on the stone bodies. They dissolve and then in a burst of magical light reform into man beasts. Anann cries Rise, “Cernunnos, Lord of the Hunt. Rise, Minotaur, Bull of Heaven and Earth.” She then orders them to accomplish what they could not as men and seek and crush the Amazon Diana…in body and spirit!”.
Back with Diana, and as she makes her way to a local pawn shop she recalls a moment from her teenage youth when she had also run away from the temple one day in Turkey. She enjoyed the sense of freedom and the thrill of disobedience. She had only been gone a few hours but during that time she had stumbled across a dwelling where a father was beating his daughter for playing instead of doing her chores. Diana had interjected and and beaten the father, warning him that if she ever saw him doing that again she would break all his bones. And in that moment she had found what she was looking for. Justice.
Her Amazon sisters of course did not approve and no act of valor, however justified, could outweigh the risk of their exposure. But even at that age she could detect their admiration behind their anger. And everywhere they found themselves in their continued flight from their hunters, Diana found injustice and went to war against it.
Inside the pawn shop Diana attempts to sell a gold, four thousand year old statuette of the Banquet Goddess Thalia. She asks for $10,000 but the pawn broker is not impressed and only offers her $1000. Undeterred, Diana persists, arguing that any museum would kill for such an artifact. But again he will not increase his offer. “One thousand is my final offer.”
With that she calmly begins to smash up the counter with one fist and continues to “sell” the exquisite details of the statue. He reaches for a baseball bat but as he swings at her she effortlessly catches it with her hand and snaps it. She says to the now terrified pawn broker “Ten thousand. And that’s my final offer.”
Across town meanwhile Philippus, Therestra and Orithia are exploring the ruins of the temple. The Amazon Captain states that this is definitely no Amazon temple but yet the forms and marking are so similar. A grotesque parody meant for the Amazons’ eyes alone.
Just then Orithia finds some brightly coloured dolls lying amongst the rubble. Philippus studies the red, blue and gold Wonder Woman dolls puzzled. “They could pass for Amazons but for the garish clothes.” They also find a pit containing several skeletons. “There was human sacrifice here, and not long ago. Burnt offerings.” They notice a familiar symbol scorched on the wall – representing the Morrigan – who was originally a Goddess of the Celts, a shrieking ghoul Queen who danced among the corpses after the war. She is not merely one god but a Triune. Three goddesses allied: Anann the Celt, Bellona the Roman and Enyo, the Greek. They feed on the horror of war and grow fat on the blood of the innocent. Imagine their strength in these dark times. Although the Amazon Oracle had told them that at least Enyo had been killed, they are not all so convinced.
Suddenly Philippus’ radio crackles into life and she listens horrified as she is informed that Diana is missing from her room!
Not far away in the shows meanwhile, a figure picks up one of the Wonder Woman dolls…
Across town Diana arrives at an apartment and is warmly greeted by her friend Brianne. Diana apologises for being late this week and as she steps inside she is hugged by an excited little boy named Buddy. A smiling Diana kneels down and hugs him as Brianne explains that he is back in school after Diana had “dealt” with her ex-husband Greg and they had subsequently left his place.
Buddy says he has made a drawing of Diana at school and rushes off to get it from his room. Diana uses the opportunity to hand Brianne a paper bag filled with the ten thousand dollars, saying that it should be enough at least to get them both out of the city and back to Brianne’s mothers. A stunned Brianne is lost for words but the smiling Amazon Princess says that no words are necessary. “It’s what I do, ok?”
Just then Buddy returns and hands her the drawing. Diana looks at it wide eyed, taking in the image of what is obviously supposed to be Wonder Woman playing bullets and bracelets. She suddenly feels faint and sits down momentarily. She assures the concerned mother and son that she is fine and is probably just up past her bedtime.
Suddenly they hear a load thumping at the door and someone call Diana’s name. As Diana heads for the window she tells Brianne that if it’s the police to say nothing. “I promise no one will bother you.” But as she clambers out onto the fire escape she is confronted by Philippus.
A sheepish Diana greets her as the Amazon Captain chastises her for slipping out and reminds her that if she can find Diana..so can her enemies. “Then let’s get going. Race you home!” says Diana and leaps over the railing to drop to the street just as Philippus shouts a warning.
A spear impales Diana as she plummets from the fire exit and as she crashes to the floor in the alleyway below, she finds herself confronted by Cernunnos and several dozen armed shock troops!