This issue we see the return of Hippolyta – though only in spirit form. Meanwhile, while some fans were glad to see the end of the Azzarello era, others were expressing increasing concerns at the “off” depiction of Diana. Accusations of her being portrayed as a “whiny child” and behaving more and more out of character became louder – but others argued that this was all part of Wonder Woman’s internal conflict with the burden of being God of War.
The variant cover is a great pastiche of Rich Buckler’s cover to Issue 250 from the pre-crisis era.
Wonder Woman and Batman explore the caverns into which Superman had vanished. They find the Man of Steel’s communicator lying on the floor and as they venture further into the gloom looking for their friend they are suddenly attacked by the same swarm of insects that had surrounded Superman. As they swat them away Superman finally appears and says that he had encountered the same creatures while exploring the caverns. Wonder Woman says that the swarm had disappeared down one of the tunnels and following in their tracks the three heroes enter a large chamber where they find hundreds of corpses wrapped in what Batman describes as a cross between a spiders web and butter-fly cocoon.
Wonder Woman is horrified at the scene before her, realising that all the inhabitants of the villages that have disappeared are here – dead. As her anger boils up inside her she sees a two legged insectoid like creature. She draws her sword and challenges the creature, who seems surprised. As they spar she demands to know why they have murdered all these innocent people and it hisses back that humans are simply a food source for their queen and to nourish their armies, so that they may emerge again stronger than ever.
She is in no mood for listening however and impales the creature with her sword. As it slumps to the floor severely wounded, she raises her sword once more to strike the killing blow but Superman stops her. He asks her what she is doing and if she has forgotten who they are are and who they are supposed to represent? As Batman confirms there are no survivors, Wonder Woman crouches to her knees, head in hands and asks them to leave her alone for awhile as she takes in the magnitude of the loss of life they have found.
A short while later on board the JLA Satellite Wonder Woman and Batman observe from another room as Cyborg attends to the creature Wonder Woman had wounded. Batman asks her if she would like to explain what had happened earlier. She snaps back that Superman had stopped her from killing that creature which Cyborg is now attempting to heal. Batman responds that she had told him that being the God of War would not change her but today she had crossed a line.
“If that creature dies its blood is on your hands.” he growls. But she asks him whether he is angry because she was prepared to do what needed to be done – or that he wasn’t? He tells her that they have a responsibility to be held to a higher standard but she counters that they have a responsibility to save lives. How many lives have been lost in Gotham because of his higher standard? “I’m not the only one with blood on my hands” she adds. “I’m just the only one willing to acknowledge it”.
A short while later Wonder Woman is back on Themyscira staring wistfully out to sea, deep in thought. “I miss you so much mother” she says. “Was I really so wrong today?”.
Suddenly she hears the voice of her mother reply “That depends on whom you ask.” Joyfully Diana turns around to see Hippolyta standing there in spirit form. The Amazon Queen tells her daughter that each day she had spent as clay had rooted her more and more to the island until she had become a part of it. She adds that she has watched Diana’s turmoil these past few weeks and wishes she could help.
Wonder Woman tells her that she has not been feeling herself and is scared of what she is becoming. Hippolyta replies that as an Amazon she has been trained to channel her fear into battle rage. She is not lashing out because she is the God of War – but is doing so because that is what she has been trained to do. Whether as Queen of the Amazons or as God of War, she will always have to manage conflict.
As if to highlight this fact she gestures to the horizon in the direction of the men’s settlement, where smoke is rising. Wonder Woman thanks her mother and flies to the encampment where she sees that the men seem to be preparing to depart.
She asks what is going on and is told that two days ago the men were denied access to the city. It should not have come as a surprise considering how the Amazons had traded them for weapons like some commodity, so why did they think the women could possibly change now and accept them as human beings? But Wonder Woman pleads with them to give the Amazons more time to adjust and that she will go and sort this out with the council.
But as Wonder Woman arrives she finds the Amazons gathered in the square while they are addressed by Donna Troy. She tells the throng that they will no longer sacrifice their ideals to an absentee Queen. How much more must they pay for the failings of their leaders? They are Amazons and they have crawled on their bellies for far too long! It is time they took back their homeland!
“Let the rivers run with the blood of men!” she cries.
A furious Wonder Woman steps forward and barks “Enough!”. She tells Donna that the men are under her protection and nobody is going anywhere near them. Donna asks who she is and Wonder Woman relies “I am the Queen!”.
But Donna draws her sword and as Diana prepares to defend herself she hears her opponent snarl “No…you were the queen…”