Wonder Woman #3 (1987): Gods and Mortals (part 3 of 7)

Last time on Wonder Woman: Vietnam veteran Colonel Steve Trevor was ordered to fly an F-4 Phantom to the middle of the ocean while Diana with the aid of Hermes tracked down clues to Ares’ whereabouts. Trevor’s co-pilot went all Evil Dead on him and tried dropping a nuke on Paradise Island, but Diana saved the day. Now Diana returns an unconscious Steven Trevor back home.

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The first thing I noticed is co-writer Greg Potter is no longer on the book, and it’s Len Wein doing the scripting, with Perez handling the plotting. Hmm, interesting. Looking at Wikipedia, I see the explanation is that Greg went off to go continue his career in advertising. Searching online really doesn’t net me any other results; there’s no gossip and there’s nothing in the comic explaining what happened. I do think it’s interesting that Perez is now credited as the sole plotter though. Creative differences? Who knows? I’m not going to speculate on why Potter left; it’s possible that he just wasn’t happy writing comics. To geeks on the outside looking in, it seems like a dream job, but who knows how frustrating it can sometimes be?

Issue three opens with Diana and Hermes floating over New Y—

—oh, it’s Boston, Massachusetts. Well, color me pleasantly surprised. You know if this were a Marvel comic, it would have been the Big Apple. DC might have its faults, but cramming five hundred super heroes into one metropolis was never one of them. Diana is stunned by the beauty of the city and yeah, I guess everything does look better when you’re flying five hundred feet above it. She wonders how people who could make such a wonderful place could be capable of such potential destruction. Hey, the Romans built some amazing structures and they had most of Europe and Northern Africa enslaved.

It seems the Amazons are utterly ignorant of the goings-on in Man’s World. Hermes tells Diana not to judge them too harshly, and that a lot of bad stuff is going on in the world, and we get a nice little insight into that in the foreground where a newspaper shows the Bruins game got called off by a bomb scare, and talks with the Russkies has fallen apart. We’ve also got a dude with a sign telling people to “Repent!” who’s walking around a statue of Paul Revere on his horse. Hermes blames Ares, but isn’t that like blaming the Devil for every evil thing people do? There’s this thing called “free will”.

Diana spots a passenger jet and notes how it’s like the “metal bird” that man had been flying, and yeah, now I’m wondering what the hell happened to Steve Trevor, anyway. Cut to Hascomb Air Force Base, in Concord, Mass., and the “sterile corridors” of the base hospital. General Hillary comes bursting through doorways like a juggernaut with Etta Candy in tow, demanding some answers. The doctor on duty explains the night nurse found Trevor in one of the beds unconscious, and nobody has any idea how he got there. Trevor’s been hurt but he’s on the mend and is “already healing”, which I guess implies the Amazons used some magic medicine on him or something. But before Hillary can ask more questions, it seems there’s another General on hand.

Both are major generals, so I’m not sure why the new guy Tolliver is calling Hillary “sir”. Maybe in deference to his age? Tolliver’s on hand because he wants to ask Trevor some questions, namely to find out what he did with the F4 Phantom and if he crispy-cooked his superior General Kohler. Normally, I’d say it’s suspicious that a general would take a personal hand like this, but Trevor’s a Colonel and one of Tolliver’s brothers in brass has been offed, so I guess he feels Steve has earned his personal attention. That, or Tolliver’s a pawn of Ares. In any case, if Tolliver is on the up and up, Steve’s got the cards stacked against him.

Cut to Harvard University, where Hermes has led Diana to the next phase of her quest. He explains that she’ll find a “mentor and guide” to help her navigate Man’s world and figure out Harmonia’s talisman. It occurs to me that Hermes’ involvement with Diana kind of feels like a NPC in a video game, providing the hero with a quest and much needed information. Then again, this interaction also reminds me of Clash of the Titans (the original. You know, the good one) or Jason in Jason and the Argonauts where brave mortals with divine powers are given godly gifts and are aided by the gods in seemingly impossible quests. Hermes bids Diana a fare thee well and fades out.

Across campus in a library, a young man with a stack of something I think they used to call “books” staggers under their weight as he carries them to a table at the behest of a mature woman standing on a ladder. Said woman is Professor Kapatelis, and it may be she’s involved in some sort of shady academic behavior, because despite the fact she told the kid it was totally okay to buy the books, he had to sneak them in. What, are they the collected works of Mark Twain and Harper Lee? The young man staggers out, clutching at his lower back, lamenting how the professor has the campus record for most student intern casualties. Now alone, Prof. Kapatelis reaches for a volume, but over-extends herself! She falls…

…and I’ll just assume Hermes teleported Diana here. Kapatelis is grateful for the save and assumes Diana’s all dressed up for the Founder’s Day celebration, which apparently was a holiday celebrated on October 11th to commemorate the defeat of the British at the end of the Revolutionary War… despite the fact they didn’t officially get beaten until January. So… like a Fall Fourth of July? I honestly had no idea this holiday existed. I’m a bad American.

Diana speaks to the Professor, and we discover that all this time, our heroine and everyone she’s interacted with has been speaking something akin to Ancient Greek. Well, color me impressed: the hero actually has to learn English! Diana realizes there’s a big communication gap and decides to show the professor Harmonia’s amulet. Wonder Woman does this cool trick of twisting her wrist and making it disappear, which prompts the professor to reach out and touch it. What follows is a trip more intense than her days at Haight/Ashbury in the ’60s when she likely tried a tab of really bad acid—but that’s a story for another day—where she gets a glimpse of Diana’s life story, including impassable seas and a magnificent island full of bold warrior women. Kapatelis comes out of the trip and finds herself on her ass, and Diana helps her to her feet. The professor examines the amulet more closely, albeit with our heroine holding it this time. Realizing there’s a bona fide mystery here, the professor uses her rusty Greek to offer her services and finds out her new friend’s name is Diana.

Elsewhere, someone looks on with concern: Phobos, one of Ares’ two sons, sees that Diana has made a smart friend who could aid her on her quest and he decides to do something about it. Apparently, his brother Deimos is the brains of the operation, but Phobos figures that rather than wait for his sibling to come up with some complicated scheme, he’ll act and take all the credit. He heads to a chamber where the “heart of the Gorgon” awaits him.

And in no time, Phobos has himself an insta-minion. But where’s Deimos during this time, you may ask? He’s in some secluded old school mansion deep in the woods, rallying the troops, and noting how the idiots in charge don’t love the country like he and his followers do. Um, is Deimos passing himself off as an American? As a good guy? I mean, look at him:

The guy looks like Cobra Commander’s dad. The guy’s not even dressed in red, white, and blue like a decent ‘Murican! You’d think he’d at least try to take on some sort of cool disguise. Unless the poor sad bastards believing his spiel are seeing something else? And who are these people? Well, surprise surprise, Tolliver’s in the crowd. Color me shocked.

Back with Diana and her new ally, they’re stuck in Boston’s rush hour traffic and our heroine has picked up a new blouse and an apparent headache from all the noise. Yeah, things don’t look so sweet at ground level, do they, Princess?

Meanwhile, Trevor is being interrogated by Tolliver with a nurse standing by. Hey, shouldn’t Steve have a JAG officer present if this is an interrogation? Shouldn’t there be a court recorder? Steve’s already been shafted by the system when he tried whistle blowing; you’d think he’d want to cover his butt. Trevor can’t tell Tolliver much, just that his co-pilot attacked him (he wisely leaves out the part where he became undead), that he came upon an uncharted island, and that he had been in the arms of a beautiful woman who could fly. Tolliver calls this a delusion and an “outlandish story”. I don’t think Tolliver realizes he lives in the DC Universe. The nurse—hey, she was with Tolliver at the Deimos pep rally!—tries to kill Steve with an embolism, but he sees her pump air into her syringe. He clocks her so hard it gets a sound effect.

Tolliver’s got a decent punch of his own, but Steve’s a legit badass. He flips the General off of him just as the MP comes in. But Trevor’s got an answer for that, using a metal pitcher like a football and kicking it into the man’s face, then delivering an elbow to his jaw. Steve, realizing there’s some legit insanity afoot that involves people trying to kill him, high-tails it out of the hospital. The MP reaches a phone and tries to call out an alert, but Tolliver shoots him dead. Guess who’s going to get blamed for that? It’s like those Jack Reacher movies, only, you know, thirty years earlier.

Cut to Beacon Hill in Boston, where a postman suspiciously delivers a late package to the Kapatelis household, and a girl named Vanessa accepts it. We get a whole lot of clunky expository dialogue about who she is, and isn’t this what thought bubbles were supposed to be for? Remember thought bubbles? I miss those. The package turns out to contain Phobos’ statue.

Cut to the apartment of Etta Candy, who’s on the phone with Steve’s friend (who at this point is probably also part of the conspiracy) Colonel Michaelis. As predicted, Steve’s been framed for murdering the MP and is on the run. The colonel promises to do what he can for Trevor and to stay in touch. Etta hangs up, and again we get clunky dialogue best left to thought balloons. Honestly, who talks like this?

It would at least make sense if the ladies were talking to their cats or something. As Etta frets, a hand snakes out from behind a curtain and clamps down on her mouth. It’s Steve! And… okay, he’s still wearing his hospital jammies. How did he get into town? How did he get into Etta’s apartment? Damn, not only is he an ace pilot, not only is he a rough and tumble badass in hand-to -hand combat, he’s super stealthy too. If we see him exhibiting any detective skills, I’m going to have to believe he’s really Batman.

Elsewhere, in someplace very cold and snowy (first guess? Houghton, Michigan), Deimos is speaking before another crowd and gives the exact same speech, only this time it’s to a room full of Russkies, because he’s speaking Russian. The plot thickens! Back in the U.S. of A., the professor gets Diana back to her home and introduces her to her daughter, Vanessa.

Wait… daughter? Did I grossly miscalculate the Prof’s age? Maybe it was those half glasses. And man, taken out of context, Diana’s thoughts seem a little, well, stalker-like. Maybe Vanessa picks up the creepy vibe Diana’s giving out, because she retreats to her room before things get all ancient Greek… and before she tells her mom about the strange statue that arrived… and is now sitting on their mantle. Later, we discover the reason behind Vanessa’s abrupt retreat: she’s on the phone with her boyfriend and realizing how bad it would be if he met a “fox” like Diana.

Cut to Diana diving into a mountain of textbooks and rapidly learning English under Prof. Kapatelis’ tutelage, while Vanessa passes out in front of the TV. Behind the girl, the statuette awakens! Diana and the professor hear Vanessa scream, and her mother dashes from the room for the stairs but they collapse under her feet, because the wood is rotted through. Diana catches her for the second time that day and glides her to the foyer. That’s where they encounter…

Let me say here that between Ares, Deimos, Phobos, and Decay here, Perez is absolutely nailing it with these supervillain designs. I’m also glad to see the creative team here aren’t limiting themselves to the Greek mythology playbook and aren’t afraid to generate some new threats. Okay, yeah, there was a Supergirl bad guy named Decay, but that was a wholly different animal. As for Vanessa…

…it turns out everything Decay touches, well, decays. Diana’s eyes, wide with shock (and let’s be honest here, maybe a touch of fear, because this is the first legit Bad Guy she’s facing. No, nukes don’t count) prompts decay to vomit out energy at the ceiling, bringing the house down on everyone’s heads.

Next time: Diana vs. Decay over the streets of Boston!

Tag: Wonder Woman: Gods and Mortals

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  • GreenLuthor

    Marvel crams 500 superheroes into one city, DC crams 500 extra cities onto Earth. (All in all, I prefer Marvel using real cities, and the idea of having multiple heroes in one city helped sell the Marvel Universe as a shared continuity. But it really would have been better to put multiple heroes in multiple cities, rather than just having everyone in New York. But I guess when your offices are in New York, it makes it a lot easier to use the territory you’re familiar with…)

    • Thomas Stockel

      Personally I love fictional cities like Gotham and Metropolis; they often become characters in their own right.

      And I think the shared continuity would have happened regardless of whether or not all the heroes had been in the same place. The Hulk’s stomping grounds were the Midwest but it didn’t stop the Fantastic Four from tussling with him, or him having his altercation with what would later become his future team mates, the Avengers.

      • Xander

        I remember in JLA/Avengers, the heroes discuss the relative sizes of the planets, discussing that there were countries on each planet that weren’t on the other and some cities that were missing or added. It was a nice touch recognizing the ways the respective universes were different.

        Also, I’m loving this recap. So far we’re three issues in and a ton of things have happened, but there’s also been a ton of world-building and character moments and side plots set up. I’ve said it before, but I miss the days when comics were generally written like this where they were thick and layered and gave you your money’s worth as opposed to some modern comics where we’d be on issue five or six by now just to get to this same place.

    • I remember feeling that part of the X-Men’s “outsider” status extended to them being based 50 miles north of Manhattan.