This issue more than any other demonstrates just how stretched out the Odyssey plot had become. The issue contains almost no action but plenty of wordy dialogue, as we finally learn the truth behind Diana’s Odyssey – and to be honest it’s not much of a big reveal. The final page however sets up next month’s penultimate issue showdown, as Diana at last confronts her ultimate foe – who introduces herself dressed in the classic Wonder Woman outfit! It’s old versus new – a cunning metaphor on the part of DC perhaps? However, it appeared that as far as the forthcoming DC Universe relaunch was concerned, it would be “Nu Diana” who would clearly be winning this particular battle…
And yet, speculation began to surface regarding photo shopped covers, following personal blog comments made by Cully Hamner, co-creator with Jim Lee of the new costumes about to be unleashed on fans, that the images being released by DC in Previews did not actually depict the finalised costume. Some fans even wondered whether DC were purposely playing ‘mind games’ with fans – and that they were trying to throw misleading curve balls in order to generate further controversy and “buzz”, using altered covers for Previews Catalogue listings – just in the same way they had done for issues 601 through 603, in order to keep secret the fact that Diana would be getting a new origin and costume in #600.
Some people even further speculated that there would be a “big” announcement as part of the huge Comic-Con event in San Diego – which would ensure DC grabbed further headlines. It was certainly an interesting time to be a DC fan – or detractor – and in particular for Wonder Woman fans – it was very much a roller-coaster ride…
As Anann continues to unleash her song of death on Diana, engulfing the Amazon in searing green flames, a mortally wounded and severely burned Artemis musters the last of her strength and crawls towards her bow and arrow. In a last heroic act she fires with deadly accuracy, piercing Anann’s throat with the arrow and instantly cutting of her death song, which becomes trapped in her own throat. As the last remaining Morrigan shrieks in pain and frustration, Diana gets woozily to her feet and staggers over to the dying Artemis. The Princess cradles her amazon sister and tries to lift her but Artemis tells her that she is finished and that Diana should make her escape while she can. As tears run down both their cheeks Artemis whispers that she is going to join her other Amazon sisters and Hippolyta and asks Diana to pray with her that they will forgive Artemis for what she has done.
The song of death builds and builds inside the Goddess as she spasms until finally, with no way to vent, detonates in a spectacular green fireball, instantly vapourising Anann and taking out several of the upper floors of the apartment building. Diana is buffeted by the shock waves as debris tumbles around her and she calls out to Artemis as she watches the Amazon plummet into the maelstrom. The Huge door that had so mesmerized Diana on her first arrival there is blown off its hinges and falls on top of Diana along with more rubble.
Finally, as the dust settles Diana finds herself in darkness but suddenly hears a familiar voice calling her to her senses. It’s Galenthias, who has managed to find her and scrabbles a chink of light in the rubble. Diana manages to crawl out from the pile and sees the cat waiting for her holding her lasso in its mouth. Diana bows her head in futility, telling the priestess that she had wrongly assumed she could she walk right into her foe’s lair…but now the others are all dead. Galenthias reminds her that so will everyone else be if she fails her task. She adds that she cannot pretend to know what trials await Diana but she knows that the Princess must face them alone. Diana now fights for the survival of the world and for the fate of her own eternal soul. “You may lie among the wreckage, among the dead…or you can follow your mother’s lead into battle!”
With that Diana gets to her feet and using the lasso she begins to haul herself out of the wreckage pit. As she finally makes it to the top she finds that the object she had looped the lasso over to enable herself to climb is actually the huge wooden door with the =W= symbol on it. Diana feels this to be a bad omen and tells Galenthias that she had seen a vision beyond that door. A vision of what would happen if she loses. “It was horrible”.
Undaunted however, Diana prepares to lift the door up from where it lays to see what is underneath but suddenly hears a voice cry “Stay your hand, Diana of Themyscira!”. She turns to see the hooded guardians standing there as one of them steps forward, removing her hood to reveal the Goddess Hecate! As the others similar reveal themselves to be the other Olympic Gods and Goddesses Diana explains to an equally surprised Galenthias that they had visited Diana from time to time offering cryptic advice.
The priestess asks how the Gods could have abandoned the Amazons like that and Aphrodite replies that their reasons are their own. The last member of the group finally takes off his hood to reveal himself to be none other than Zeus. He tells them that they have come to Diana one last time to drop all pretense. Placing a gentle hand on her arm he asks the stunned Amazon Princess not to even think of bowing before them as they are not worthy of her respect. It is rather they that should pay honour to her.
Diana asks why they had stayed hidden from her and they explain that it was the only way. They hid not only from her but all of creation. They went into exile – driven away by a god gone mad. “Nemesis” states Diana. “I suppose I knew her presence even before I realised I knew her name.” Zeus replies that she must also know her intentions. Diana asks how one god could have driven them all away and she is told that Nemesis reigns on Earth and not Olympus. She is the goddess if the unjustly slain, the murdered, the war dead. Their pain, sorrow and that of their loved ones fills her veins. their vengeance quickens her blade. Man’s World, given over to wholesale slaughter these many centuries, has filled her coffers of power to overflowing. Her strength is incalculable. Her might is drawn from the well of human atrocity nd that well is bottomless. Even the gods could not stand against her. So they hid.
Just then an angry Ares cries that they should have fought instead. Better to die at the end of her flashing blade than to hide behind the skirts of an Amazon child! He is rebuked by Hera who reminds him that it is his handiwork that has helped fuel Nemesis. He in turn responds that the humans make his machinations quaint compared to their own bloodlust.
Zeus calls for silence before continuing to explain to the Amazon Princess that although they had been driven to exile, Diana’s own burning heart and innocent soul were their only window back into this reality. They had lent her their power and guided as best they could. But in truth they rely upon her than she could ever upon them.
Zeus tells the bewildered Diana that they are the embodiment of the great forces of the world…the storm, the sea, the sun, beauty, brutality. They are the world as humanity experienced it. But she is the world as it might be. She is their better tomorrow. Just as Nemesis draws her might from the word’s despair, Diana draws strength from it’s hope. Where her foe longs to punish, Diana longs to defend. Beyond the door, those two forces will meet in final contest. But beyond that door the Gods cannot offer any portion of their power.
Diana asks how she can possibly hope to defeat her foe where they could not? Aphrodite replies that no god can fell Nemesis. But a human heart given to love and turned away from hate would be the strongest poison to her foe’s blighted realm. The power of Diana the Goddess is useless..but the strength of Diana the woman is incalculable. This is why Clotho had chosen to hide Diana away from Paradise and in the midst of the mortals. So that she might love and be loved…well enough to fight for them. It was a brutal Odyssey they had set her upon. But the loved ones she knew and the discoveries she had made about herself are things she would never have learned hidden away on Themyscira.
“Gods and Amazons mean nothing beyond the portal. Only a woman can conquer there.”
As the Gods and Galenthias look on, a resolute Diana hauls on her lasso to lift the huge door. The lasso continues to stretch down into the smoldering passageway as Diana works her away along it. Continuing to follow the lasso she finds herself in a grey, desolate wasteland. She can see a figure in front of her and recognises Artemis. As she turns her sister to face her she sees dead, soulless eyes staring back at her as Artemis utters a silent scream of death. A shocked Diana suddenly finds herself surrounded by other corpses, seeing Giganta, Orithia, Philippus and finally her own mother, Hippolyta stagger towards her, all with the same horrific death stares.
As they swarm over her she finally has to react and smashes her way out of the corpse pile, shattering them as she goes. as the dust settles she once again picks up the lasso which snakes off into the fog around her. But as she does so she looks on in shock as her foe finally emerges into view, holding the other end of the lasso. Diana finds herself face to face with Nemesis – dressed as Wonder Woman.
“Who did you expect?” smiles her enemy…