Wonder Woman #6 (1987): Gods and Mortals (part 6 of 7)
Last time: Team Diana figured out some of Ares’ plot and fought Deimos and Phobos. Killing off the first and driving off the other, they used both amulets together to face off against Ares, whose mortal stooge General Tolliver has taken over a nuclear missile base and is ready to start World War III.
We open with a page giving the 411 regarding what’s going down, but rather than delivering several paragraphs of small text like some comics do, this is presented in a nine-panel news report and told from an outsider’s perspective, with reporters and press secretary laying down the facts. Reagan’s press secretary is some old dude in glasses; say whatever you want about the current POTUS, at least his press secretary is hot, amirite? The news anchor reports that it appears there’s a Soviet general pulling the same shenanigans on the other side of the world. And as the news returns its viewers to “Me and the Chimp”, we cut to our heroes…
…who have seen better days. The gang stare up at Tolliver having a good ol’ time monologuing, and Diana’s got marks on her legs and arms and I get that they’re from Deimos’ snake beard (which sounds like an awesome Viking name: Ulfgar the Snake Beard!) but the problem is, the marks just make it look like Diana doesn’t shave.
The good guys are suitably freaked out over the fact that they’re seeing an ancient god, although I don’t know why, because they just faced down Deimos and Diana took him out in like thirty seconds. Ares mocks Diana and tells her that soon she’s going to see the most epic war ever and he’s going wipe out the gods, and then he fades out. Michaelis whispers to Steve that he’s got a plan, and now that I think about it, Trevor’s been all but useless during this story. He almost blew up Paradise Island, he needed Etta’s help to get out of town, and then Lt. Candy was the one who discovered the Ares file. Michaelis is the one who brought the toys to the fight last issue, and now he’s the guy coming up with a plan to stop Tolliver from entering the vault to use the keys to launch the nukes… which Tolliver could have done by now if he hadn’t taken a hot minute to tell the gang what he intends to do. I guess a prerequisite of being a general is loving the sound of your own voice.
Behind Michaelis’ back, Etta and Steve retrieve small canisters from his bag while Prof. Kapatelis is told to rush Tolliver. But Diana knows enough English by now to get that. She’s reluctant to put the gang in any more danger, but the only way the gang could be in more peril is if a volcano erupted under the base. Tolliver enters the code to open the door, then Michaelis shouts, “Now!” and the three officers throw the gas grenades.
Diana flies right at Tolliver and throws him into his men. He drops his missile key but Diana’s still weak from Deimos’ venom and she’s unable to hold off the renegade general’s men. Steve and the others provide their fair share of automatic fire but it’s no use: Tolliver’s got the key and makes a dash for the door which begins to seal behind him. On the floor below, Etta proves she’s pretty badass by blowing away a traitorous soldier to save Kapatelis, then Steve makes a desperate dive and gets through the doorway before the massive steel door closes behind him. Diana attempts to tear the door open, cursing Ares for hiding behind Tolliver. But before Diana can tear the door open…
…she’s whisked away to… somewhere else.
Meanwhile, Steve Trevor’s a man on a mission, and he dashes quickly but carefully down metallic corridors in search of his man. And he finds him. Tolliver’s got the key in play and he’s ready to—waitasec. Don’t you need two people and two keys to launch nukes? It’d be one thing if I was getting my information from one film, but I’ve seen Damnation Alley, WarGames, and The Hunt for Red October and in each case there’s a failsafe to keep this very thing from happening. One madman is a possibility, but two madmen assigned to the same place? It’s highly unlikely. Although I’d love to see the statistics on that. Then again, maybe not. I don’t want to know how many times we came close to nuclear annihilation.
Tolliver tells Steve the launch codes are in play and all he has to do is turn the key, and for god’s sake man, stop talking about it and do it before Steve shoots you! Aaaand… too late. Steve guns down Tolliver before he can turn the key, and suddenly I take back all the bad things I said about Colonel Trevor. Steve goes for the key, and…
Tough luck, Steve; this time Diana ain’t around to save you. Speaking of Diana, where is she? Well, the thing is, remember when she was mentally berating Ares, and claiming he was hiding behind a mad mortal and wanting to get a piece of the god,? Yeah, Ares heard all of that. So he summoned Diana.
Be careful what you wish for, Princess. Now that Diana’s face-to-face with the God of War, she asks him why the heck he’s doing all this. Oh, so now you want to reason with him, Diana? But hey, Ares is a typical villain, meaning he’s all about telling the hero his Master Plan. He explains that there’s a cycle; as Uranus was killed by Kronos, and Kronos slain by Zeus, it’s his turn now to commit patricide and become top dog. Does this mean Ares was ultimately expecting Phobos, Deimos, or Harmonia to try and kill him eons from now? Well, judging by the three of them, he didn’t have much to worry about.
Ares shows Diana images of events going on worldwide and also nearby, of Trevor duking it out with zombie-Tolliver, and of growing tensions across the globe where people are willing to kill over something as simple as skin color. He shows the Soviet general ready to unleash nuclear hell. But wait, there’s more! Ares points out that the gods can’t help her and their powers are waning. Even now Paradise Island is dying, and not only the trees and other plants are withering.
Damn, Mom there has given up on Diana, but Phillipus hasn’t. I guess we all know who Diana’s real friends are, huh?
Diana’s seen enough, so she launches herself at Ares but she’s still weakened by the darned Deimos venom. Ares easily smacks Diana around and explains that she’s in his house and he’s, well, a god here. He could kill her easily, he says, but first he wants to hear her admit he’s the bestest, more powerful god ever, or else she’ll die in unimaginable agony. Honestly, after his pathetic monologue-ing, I can’t see Ares being able to do much worse to her. But Diana’s not beaten and like any good adventurer knows, you never throw away an artifact until you identify all it can do. And so, she slaps Ares in the face with Harmonia’s amulet.
Damn, is there nothing the amulet can’t do? The blow is enough to stun Ares, but it’s also pissed him off as well. He starts smacking Diana around something fierce. And then he ignites the very air around Diana, starting to cook her alive. As Diana burns, Ares ramps up the mental torture, showing how her friends are failing to save the day. Etta has shut down base security so people can get in, and Michaelis figures that one of the people out there is bound to know how to shut off the nukes. You know, that Michaelis is alright; he’s a “glass is half-full” kind of guy. I’m sure everything’ll work ou—
Um… yeah. Damn, I get the feeling George Perez’s greatest regret in life was not illustrating for Eerie or Creepy in his youth and he’s making up for lost time. The zombified troops attack and it looks like Michaelis might be going down. Ares mocks Diana, pointing out if she can’t save three mortals, she can’t possibly take out a god. Diana despairs and wonders why the gods—the other gods—won’t answer.
Meanwhile, some of those other gods, cooling their heels on Charon’s dock, do a little despairing of their own, wondering if their faith in Diana was misplaced. The irony here that both sides are finding the other wanting is not lost on me. Persephone says it’s time to go, but Artemis is bolstered by Athena’s faith and tells the ferryman to wait. Back in Ares’ world, Diana still burns, but her hands finds something to bolster her resolve: the golden lasso, forged from the girdle of Gaea herself! Ares is shocked that she hasn’t given up yet and Diana points out that not since Heracles has an Amazon been bested, and today’s not that day either. Ares is through playing around but it’s too late, because Diana lassos him like a steer. And the effect…
…is devastating. While Diana saw the lasso as merely a potent weapon after the way it destroyed Decay, it’s more than that. The Lasso reveals the Truth, and Ares is forced to face the truth that this war will ultimately result in a charred cinder of an Earth with no worshippers, and with his life’s meaning taken to its logical conclusion which in the end would mean his own dissolution. The God of War is forced to admit to his innermost self that his purpose in life is meaningless, and in the face of that truth… he weeps. But Diana pleads with him to not turn away from what he now knows is true. Reluctantly, the god agrees and he asks Diana for the amulet. No, Diana, it’s a ruse! Don’t give him the amulet!
Back on Earth, Steve’s fight with flaming zombie Tolliver isn’t going so well, and it looks like he’s going to lose and the zombie will turn that key. But just before the world goes up in a nuclear fireball, Tolliver is consumed and he wonders why his lord has forsaken him. As it turns out, Ares is on the side of the angels now. Well, okay, he’s at least not on the side of the devils.
Ares uses the amulet to wipe out Tolliver and his Soviet double, although why he needed the amulet to do that, I have no idea. Maybe Perez wrote himself into a corner and couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the magical McGuffin. Ares turns to Diana and says he’s through messing around with man; if they blow themselves up, it’s their own damn fault, and it’s up to Diana to teach them that. With that, he sends Diana back to Earth. So… I guess he doesn’t know about Deimos yet? Or maybe Ares didn’t think much of Deimos? Or maybe he was secretly relieved two of his three kids were dead because it means the odds on patricide went down?
Back on Earth, General Hillary views the carnage. His people assume the reason why all of Tolliver’s men burned up is there was some weird suicide pact going on. Sadly, Colonel Michaelis didn’t make it, and you know, I should have pegged him as the sacrificial lamb from the outset. They sure as hell weren’t going to kill off Steve, now were they? But Michaelis went down as a hero, saving Etta and Kapatelis. Hillary looks around and wonders where Steve Trevor is. He doesn’t have to wonder long, however.
Next time: Gods and Mortals, the finale!