This first story arc from the Finch team concludes in this special “Annual” that continues on from the end of “Wonder Woman” #40. in order to wrap up things before the new, “post convergence” version of Diana made her debut in Issue 41, wearing her ghastly new costume – retractable blades and all! But, as often seemed to be the case in the confusing world of DC and continuity, Diana would continue to be depicted in her New 52 outfit in the “Justice League” title for the “Darkseid War” story line – albeit with a skirt and styling that clearly attempted to mirror the Gal Gadot costume from the forthcoming Warner Bros. “Batman vs Superman” movie. What with Diana wearing a completely different costume in the animated Justice League movies being released by Warner’s, the iconic Lynda Carter costume featuring in the “Wonder Woman ’77” special and numerous different costume depictions appearing every issue in “Sensation Comics”, it was quite honestly difficult for any fan – or non fan – to truly determine what was supposed to be her actual canon costume post Flash Point!!
The irony was that by the time we reached this sixth issue of their debut story arc, the husband and wife team had finally begun to show some glimmers that they were finally getting to grips with their respective writing and drawing duties. David was at last depicting Diana as a mature woman, versus a pre-pubescent teenager (and indeed his artwork is particularly good in this issue) while Meredith was finally bringing some substance to both her characterisation and dialogue. The couple were beginning to show indications that they might – just might – bring us a more kind and compassionate version of Wonder Woman – one that was arguably truer to her Post FlashPoint version – unlike the harder edged, more aggressive Diana that Azzarello controversially unleashed on the world with the launch of the New 52.
Alas, these promising signs proved a false dawn because the Finch’s proceeded to introduce a horrendous mess of a costume re-design and new direction the following issue – with the implied emphasis on this being a new, more “bad ass” characterisation of Diana. In a particularly cringe-worthy ham-written scene, Diana tells Hephaestus her justification for the costume change:
“Every day is a struggle to do those roles justice while remaining true to myself. This new costume is a symbol of that. It’s a reflection of everything I am now. God, Queen, Warrior for Justice. It’s finally time for me to leave the girl behind and embrace the woman I’ve become.”
So apparently -according to the Finch’s – the Diana we had known all this time had merely been playing lip service to her role as a heroine, approaching it with the naivety of a childish girl….
Some fans, myself included, found this one of the most insulting affronts to this iconic character yet made. It seemed to us that Diana had truly reached one of the lowest points in her long established existence. Could this really mark the moment when the Wonder Woman character as envisaged by her creator, the great William Moulton Marston, was finally wiped from existence and consigned to the history books?
Incidentally, this Annual also includes a second, back up story that provides the background – and some much needed clarity – to Derinoe’s motivations in creating Donna Troy in the first place.
Synopsis for "War Torn - Final Chapter"
Wonder Woman tells the insectoid queen that had she realised the consequences of casting the First Born into the depths of the earth she would have found another – but that does that not excuse what the queen an her race have done and that it ends now. But the queen responds that they have been trapped here for millennia and that will do what they must to survive. When Wonder Woman asks what she means by “trapped” the queen goes on to explain how their space ship had crashed here millions of year ago. Because their vessel was damaged beyond repair they put themselves into a state of suspended hibernation while they awaited rescue – which never came. And now that they have been awakened again it seems clear that it never will arrive either.
The Amazon Princess replies that even so, that still does not excuse them for what they have done but the queen makes it clear that they will do what they must to survive and she will not condemn her own race to extinction. They would want nothing more than to leave this accursed place but this cavern is all that remains of their spaceship now. But Diana tells them that much has changed since they first arrived on this planet and that there are now other beings from distant stars – who can perhaps help with repairing their advanced technology. Intrigued, the queen asks her to explain more…
Wonder Woman turns and asks Cyborg if it might be possible to repair the ship? He says it is worth a try but he will need to run a few scans first. A short while later he confirms that the ship’s essential components like computers and navigation are still intact and the reactor core is similar to other alien tech they have encountered. It will take some time – but it can be done. Overjoyed at the thought that they can return home, the queen tells Wonder Woman that this is more than they could have hoped for and adds a heart felt “thank you” – much to Diana’s relief and happiness…
A few hours later however her mood is a very sombre one as she surveys what is left of the male camp on Themyscira. She looks around at the dead bodies of the butchered males, asking Dessa who is responsible for this atrocity. She is told that after Diana had left, Donna Troy and twenty other Amazons left the city. It was only too late that the rest realised where they had gone and what they were intending.
Wonder Woman kneels down and tells Dessa that these men only wanted what the Amazons had taken from them all those years ago…a place to call home. “I promised them this would work” she murmurs. Dessa says that she is sorry and that this not what the other Amazons had wanted. Her sisters may not have wanted to share the island with the men but there is a reason Hippolyta arranged to trade them with Hephaestus. “We are warriors…not murderers.” Wonder Woman stands and with steely resolve responds “Not everyone Dessa. But those with blood on their hands will be brought to justice.”
With that she races to the palace and bursting through the door confronts Donna, who is in the middle of addressing the other Amazons. She demands to know what the Amazons have done and Donna replies that they have done what was necessary to cleanse the island of the vermin she had allowed to overrun the place. Diana growls that they were their brothers and were defenceless – and Donna and her breakaway tribe had slaughtered them in cold blood. As the other Amazons scatter, Donna snarls back that the men had been parasites and that had got what they deserved….death!
Wonder Woman addresses Donna in a now empty chamber, telling her that she will regret today and her hatred is consuming everything she touches. But when that fire burns itself out she will have nothing left. Donna smiles back that the only thing she is going to regret today is how quickly Diana is going to die at her hand. But preparing herself, the Amazon Princess replies that she is a lot harder to kill than an unarmed village of men.
Donna responds by throwing the first few blows, rocking Wonder Woman on her heels and drawing first blood, but Diana quickly responds with a couple of blows of her own, winding Donna and sending her flying backwards into the palace wall. as Wonder Woman stands over her, telling Donna she has only shown herself to be nothing more than a coward…and a bully. Donna gets to her feet quickly though and drawing her sword, growls that Diana dares to throw words rather than punches. “It is you who are the coward” she rages as she swings at Wonder Woman who deflects the blow with her own drawn sword. “You have no idea what it means to be a warrior of Themyscira” scolds Diana. As she charges at Donna again she adds that an Amazon knows what it means to make mistakes because that is how she learns.
But Donna kicks Wonder Woman in the stomach, halting her attack. They circle each other warily, watching each other’s sword arm. Wonder Woman adds that an Amazon looks for ways to empower her sisters because their strength is hers. An Amazon is a champion of justice because without justice they have no integrity. She trades blows with her opponent some more and each woman dodges and thrusts their blades in a deadly duel of death. But Wonder Woman suddenly leaps over the head of Donna, catching her off guard and just as her opponent spins round to face her, the Amazon Princess cuts off Donna’s sword arm!
Donna crumples to the floor in shock, blood pouring from her wound as Wonder Woman stands over her in seeming victory. “You are nothing like a perfect Amazon” Diana admonishes her. But smiling, Donna responds “perhaps” before picking up her severed arm and reattaching it before a shocked Wonder Woman! Donna quickly uses the advantage of surprise to launch a counter attack and sends Diana crashing through the floor, causing her to lose her grip on her sword in the process. A victorious Donna stands over the unarmed Wonder Woman lying on the floor, and raises her sword to strike the killer blow. “You are foolish and weak…while I am perfect!”
But as she brings the sword down upon Wonder Woman she finds her blade is blocked by Diana’s bracelet. Holding her opponent in check, Wonder Woman tells her she feels sorry for Donna who has been made the perfect embodiment of Derinoe’s own hatred and fear. Nobody deserves that and it is time Donna faced the truth. With that Wonder Woman unhooks her golden lassos and loops it around the struggling Amazon. Wonder Woman then stands over the humbled Donna and forces her up onto her feet and to walk out of the palace where the other Amazons have been congregating during the commotion. Diana tells her captive that she wishes she could go back and change what has happened but her brothers are all dead and Donna must atone for her actions.
Not far away however Derinoe watches Wonder Woman’s victory and seething with rage, decides that she must end this usurper herself. As Wonder Woman stands before the other Amazons with the bound Donna at her feet, she tells them that their dissension ends today. Those Amazons who participated in the raid on the men’s camp will be brought to justice. “We have forgotten who and what we are.” she states. “An Amazon of Themyscira is more than just a warrior. She is a sister…a mother…a lover…a friend. She does not run from her fears. She embraces them! Because she knows that true strength is that of her character.”
However, as she speaks she is unaware of Derinoe who is creeping up behind her, knife drawn. But as she prepares to plunge the blade into the unwitting Amazon Princess she herself is impaled on the blade of a sword thrown by one of the assembled Amazons. Taken by surprise, Diana sees Derinoe lying there dead as the Amazon who had thrown the blade steps forward and cries out to the others that this does indeed end here and that they, the Amazons, have deceived themselves with fear. “You have not undone us. We have undone ourselves…” she murmurs to Wonder Woman, as the other Amazons heed the truth of her words and hang their heads in shame…
And like that it was over at last. The men’s bodies were given a traditional Amazon funeral on the beach as Wonder Woman and her sisters paid their last respects. Those who had participated in the slighter were sent to Hephaestus to serve and atone in his smelter, like their brothers before them. And Donna was banished from the island forever and taken to a prison on Olympus.
As she watches the funeral pyre Wonder Woman thinks to herself that whatever Derinoe’s motives, she had taught Diana a valuable lesson. Being a Queen requires balance and respect. Change is inevitable but the Amazons need not tear themselves apart before they even begin to try.
Synopsis for "For the Love of a Queen"
Derinoe and Hippolyta had been the best of friends – perhaps even lovers from Derinoe’s point of view – but after Hippolyta’s mother, the queen, was poisoned by the Spartans at a peace banquet that had been arranged by the Queen in good faith to end years of conflict, Hippolyta inherited the throne. Upon questioning the Spartan responsible, the Amazons were told that the men were left with no choice because the sorceress Hectate would only leave Sparta unmolested if they carried out the attack. Undeterred by the warnings, Hippolyta leads the Amazons on a revenge mission to the Spartan capital.
Camped outside the city, she plans their next move with her generals as Derinoe advises. Having agreed to attack the following morning, the others leave the tent and the young Queen sees the concern on the face of her best friend. She asks what is on her mind and a worried Derinoe says they have not seen sight nor sound of the supposed sorceress Hectate. Why has she not made her move? But Hippolyta tells her that it was probably all simply a ruse by the Spartans to keep them off guard and that everything will be alright.
But that night, as Derinoe keeps vigil outside her best friend’s tent, she sees a shadow inside and stepping in confronts a supernatural black shape hovering over Hippolyta, preparing to kill her with a mystical blade. Derinoe throws herself at the creature however and grabs the blade as the shape evaporates. Awakened by the commotion, Hippolyta and the guards who rush in witness the evil power of the blade begin to drain Derinoe’s life force, but before it kills her Hippolyta uses a hammer to knock the blade from her friends’ grip. But the price Derinoe has paid for her bravery is severe, as she has degenerated to the age of an old crone and Hippolyta weeps a tear for her sacrifice.
With that, the Queen orders the Amazons to pack up and returns to the island immediately, vowing never to let another man set foot on the island. In time the sorceress Hectate grew bored of terrorising Greece and Sparta and moved north. And as for Derinoe? She was now an old hag who she believed was no longer worthy of the love and affection of Hippolyta. So she hid herself away and watched over the years as Hippolyta made the same mistake her mother had made and began trusting men again.
Derinoe watched in horror even more recent events as Hippolyta’s daughter – produced from vile male seed – carried on from where her mother had left off by inviting the accursed men onto the island once more. And Derinoe vowed to prevent Wonder Woman dragging the Amazons any further down this path of reconciliation. And she knew just the sorceress to help her succeed in stopping Diana once and for all. Hectate.