Wonder Woman #2 (1987): Gods and Mortals (part 2 of 7)
Last time on Wonder Woman: The creative powers that be at DC shook things up by delivering a new take on the origin of the Amazons as well as a tweaked origin for Wonder Woman. No invisible jets here, comics fans. We’ve gone mythological!
At the back of this comic is a nice afterword from editor Karen Berger, who introduces herself and explains how she got into the business. Karen notes that Wonder Woman has crossover appeal and maybe that’s the secret to her longevity. She also talks about how she hopes she’s seeing a new trend: female-oriented comics. She cites Amethyst, Angel Love, and Misty. Amethyst, I remember, Angel Love I had to look up, and well, judging by the art, it’s an acquired taste much like Squirrel Girl, and I have no clue whatsoever what “Misty” was. Did it spark a new trend? Well, I honestly think over the decades DC and Marvel have both striven to produce female-led comics… but yeah, admittedly, it’s still a male character dominated market. The big two keep trying, but with comics being $4 per issue on average and in my opinion a lot of art being sub-par, consumers stick with what they know and like.
Issue #2 opens up with a stormy night and narration from a man who discusses his bloody past. A USAF fighter pilot, he reminisces about his time in “’Nam” and how he played the part of whistleblower, which has caused his career to stall. It’s all a bit info-dumpy; I think we could have learned all of this over the course of the story, but it’s not offensively expository or anything. The man is Colonel Steve Trevor and… wait a minute. ‘Nam? Just how old is Steve, anyway?
Judging by those craggy features and hairline, he’s well into middle age. Are we going to see a May-December romance here? Hmm, interesting if true. Colonel Trevor’s been ordered into his flight suit, and instead of piloting a desk tonight like he’s been for the last three years, he’s taking up a jet to the middle of nowhere. He starts to question his orders but gets immediately shut down by someone named General Kohler, who all but calls him a coward. Personally, I’d call whistleblowing among the bravest things a person can do, but the general’s obviously a bad guy, so let’s move on.
Trevor checks out his aircraft and meets his co-pilot, a captain named Slade, who obviously hates Steve’s guts. Then again, General Kohler probably attracts officers with his mindset and ability to shove their own heads up their asses. Steve checks out his ride, which is an F-4 Phantom, a plane that was getting pretty long in the tooth by 1987, and Steve wonders what’s so special about flying an old aircraft to an empty patch of sea. Me, I loved the F-4 when I was a kid, and then I saw Top Gun and the F-14 won my heart. Trevor also laments that it’s bad enough they’re heading off into a stormy sky, and now he’s got a gung-ho co-pilot to contend with. As he takes off, Kohler watches through his window blinds and thinks to himself that Trevor’s will shall be broken, and he shall serve Ares, the god of war. Ruh-roh!
Elsewhere on a particular island paradise in the middle of nowhere, it’s storming too. Diana, clad in her red, white, blue, and gold finery, astride a steed, prays before a statue of Artemis mounted upon a ridiculously tall pedestal. Nearby, Queen Hippolyte and her entourage watch pensively, while the oracle Menalippe exposits that tonight Diana shall learn from the gods the nature of her mission, as well that they shall grant Hippolyte’s daughter a weapon she can use against Ares. What the nature of the weapon is, even the oracle doesn’t know. Meanwhile in Olympus…
…bitter old god Hephaestus is forging the new wonder weapon. That is, if the wimmenfolk will stop pestering him. Seriously, he’s got Artemis, Hestia, and worst of all his ex-wife Aphrodite nagging him. And why is Aphrodite his ex-wife? Because according to myth, she stepped out on him… with Ares. Well, some girls love the bad boys, don’t they? I bet it was all that black leather.
Hephaestus thinks the women are wasting their time, because if Zeus won’t get involved, they don’t have a prayer of beating the god of war. But hey, he hates Ares something fierce, so if they want a super-weapon, he’ll deliver one. He holds up the Lasso of Truth, forged from the girdle of Gaea herself, so it’ll work on gods and mortals alike. Artemis takes the lasso, ties it to an arrow and fires it to Earth below, where it lands in a bolt of lightning at Diana’s horse’s hoofs! Diana dismounts to retrieve it, then she meets… Hermes!
Well, no, not that Hermes. The Greek god of messengers, and a whole slew of other stuff.
Honestly, when you look at Hephaestus, he pretty much represents people who make things. Hermes is the god of messengers, borders, shepherds, with a minor in fertility. Then his caduceus became a symbol of medicine. It’s like he got all the jobs nobody else wanted. Hermes says that while Diana is indeed fair, he can’t spend as much time on Earth as he might like, and all he can do is lead her to her first clue. The two disappear with Hippolyte upset she couldn’t even say goodbye.
Elsewhere, Colonel Trevor and Captain Slade fly through stormy skies. They’ve lost communications with the base and Steve’s wondering if they’re where they’re supposed to be. Slade assures him the instrumentation’s got them in the right place, but then according to the funky screens and such, they’re where they were two hours ago. Suddenly, they’re hit by massive turbulence and the plane’s in a tumble, and it’s all Steve can do to keep it together, but finally he rights the ship. But all’s not well, as Slade hears a voice in his head like “bones rattling within a hollow grave”. Something tells me the cover of this issue has given us a pretty accurate idea of what’s to come.
Meanwhile, Hermes takes Diana to, according to him, and place where even eagles can not go.
Welcome to Areopagus, Ares’ former condo, now left to rot as he’s gone… elsewhere. Hermes says the war god’s “fetid presence” rotted everything. I’m starting to think Ares ain’t so popular on Olympus. Hermes explains Ares has done a runner and he’s hiding on Earth somewhere. The pair have to head into Ares’ bungalow of doom to see if they can find some sort of clue as to where he’s gone. While Hermes’ caduceus lights the way, Diana admits that seeing all this ruin has got her wondering if the gods aren’t as all-powerful as she was taught. Hermes says that thinking’s going to make her grow old before her time, and he calls her his daughter. And I guess, yeah, in some weird way maybe he’s sort of her dad, since he and the five other goddesses gave Diana her powers. Maybe he’s her… godfather. Badump-bump!
The pair come across someone in all the ruins: the goddess Harmonia. Hey, remember how I said Aphrodite made time with Ares? Well, poor Harmonia was the result of that union. You’d think the daughter of the goddess of love would have been born beautiful, but Ares really does corrupt everything he touches. Diana asks where Ares has run off to, but Harmonia doesn’t know. However, she does have a gift for Diana.
The talisman may lead Diana to Ares, if it doesn’t corrupt her first. But before Harmonia can give up more secrets, Hermes hears a cry of alarm from Paradise Island. Steve’s Phantom has burst through the storm overhead. And behind him, Captain Slade has turned into some sort of foul monster.
Seeing him is giving me some serious Heavy Metal vibes:
Slade… or I should say the thing in Slade’s body, tells Trevor his skill was needed to get through the storm surrounding the island, but his usefulness has come to an end. But wait! What’s that bursting through the clouds? Why, it’s Diana! The thing inside Slade—and I’m pretty sure it’s Ares—freaks out: he wasn’t expecting flying Amazons today. He releases the button that drops the bomb the Phantom was carrying. Diana has no idea what a bomb is, but she knows all about projectiles and figures this honkin’ big one can’t be good for the island and her sisters below. She lassos the bomb and it almost wrenches her arms from their sockets.
Meanwhile, Steve’s still fighting with faux Slade, as the Phantom spins out of control towards the ocean below. Diana uses the bomb’s weight and spins it around, then lets it fly. The bomb explodes and… I’m not sure whether or not it was a nuke? There was no signature mushroom cloud, but maybe Perez didn’t want to go for a cliché. Whatever it was, it was supposed to be big enough to wipe out an island. The Amazons realize Diana saved their bacon and one of them spot her diving into the ocean…
…and she meets her first man. Oh, and also, Themis is “goddess of the seas”. Wow, there’s a whole lot of gods showing up in this story. Let me wiki Themis; she’s the goddess of justice. Uh, maybe she moonlights as the goddess of the seas? She creates an air bubble around Steve, and Diana’s convinced that the man, despite being all noble-looking, showed up in “the metal bird’s skull” so he’s probably the enemy. Themis suggests Diana’s got a lot to learn and to take the man ashore. Considering these are ancient Greeks, I’m thinking Steve’s in for some hot irons in unpleasant places and fingernail pullin’. Meanwhile back in the regular world, someone named General Hillary stalks the corridors of power, hunting down General Kohler, with Lieutenant Etta Candy in tow. It turns out Kohler is Hillary’s subordinate, and the little trip he sent Steve on wasn’t authorized. But I’m sure Ares will have warned Kohler he’s in trouble, so his faithful servant can get out of dodge before he has to face the music.
Or, Ares just burned another subordinate now that his usefulness has ended. Back with the Amazons, Steve’s been taken to the “isle of healing”. In the old days, they would’ve just used the purple healing ray on Colonel Trevor and he would’ve been good as new. Now? I dunno; I guess it’s leeches and fermented goat urine or something. Philippus, the Amazon who took shots at Diana last issue, wonders why they don’t just kill Steve and be done with it. Like many of the Amazons, she was raped by a man back when Heracles tricked them, and she now thinks the only good male is one impaled on her lance. But Diana points out the emblems on Steve’s flight suit match her own outfit and there must be a connection, and if the gods wanted Steve alive that means he can help them find Ares. It’s then that Athena shows up and gives props to Diana’s deductive reasoning. She says Harmonia’s amulet is one-half of a powerful talisman, and now it’s time to head off to Man’s World with Steve to tackle the next part of the adventure. Diana says her tearful goodbyes to her mother and sister Amazons and she heads off with Hermes…
…who uses Steve’s own thoughts to guide them to where they need to go. What they’ll find there, even Menalippe can’t tell, because Ares is throwing up some god-powered jamming that’s preventing her from seeing. Diana’s future is uncertain.
Back in Man’s World, Kohler’s remains are shipped out and Hillary wants answers. Colonel Michaels—Steve’s best friend—hasn’t got any; Steve called him up and asked him to cover his desk duties for a while. Etta stands up for her boss, but Hillary is still skeptical. When Steve shows, he’ll have some serious explaining to do. As the Air Force officers discuss matters, it turns out they are being observed.
It turns out Ares’ other kids, Deimos and Phobos, are elbows deep in the wickedness and can’t wait to deal out some more mayhem.
Next time: Diana reaches Man’s World, and makes new friends, as well as a new enemy.