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

Last time: Diana defeated Ares by wrapping Gaea’s lasso around him, which she discovered could force a person to see the truth of things, and Ares came to realize this new war would be the last and a lack of followers would cause him to perish. He abandoned the field and the world was brought back from the brink, but did Diana pay the ultimate price for victory?

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Our issue opens with Hermes telling his fellow gods to rejoice.

Damn, he looks like he’s about to break out into song:

Brother and sister gods hear my voice!
I have cause to make you rejoice
The threat of Ares has now been ended
The halls of Olympus can now be mended

Okay, it’s not Phantom of the Opera, but you get the idea. Cue the double spread splash page!

Zeus is all smiles and says it’s a day for celebration, so let the wine flow! Uh, where the hell have you been, Zeus? Hiding out in the hold of the bone ship, I reckon. He and Hera talk to Athena and the Father of the Gods actually gives props to the Amazons. I was half… well, mostly expecting him to take credit for all of this: “Hey, ain’t those Amazons great? I’m so glad I thought of them!” But no, he gives props to Athena.

Annnd then he starts getting all Creepy Uncle when he thinks maybe he should keep a closer eye on the Amazons, while Hera shoots a dagger stare at the back of his head. I bet if this were a Silver Age comic, Hera would definitely have Dagger Vision. Meanwhile with the Amazons, on the Isle of Healing, Diana is being attended to by her sisters… and I’m wondering how she got back? I mean sure, Hermes probably did it but… never mind, I’m nitpicking. Diana’s laying in the water, with her nude body strategically covered by towels to maintain our PG rating. The healing, however, is not going well. The injuries sustained during the Deimos fight combined with the beating endured at Ares’ hands have taken their toll; Diana is close to death.

Up in Olympus, the gods look on with concern for Diana’s fate. Well, most of them do. Pan’s got a seriously creepy leer going on as he notes the possibilities of an island full of only women. Hermes tells his son—wait, Pan is Hermes’ son? I did not know that. This book is both entertaining and educational. Man, Harmonia, Deimos, Phobos, and Pan. I get the feeling there’s this whole generation of gods the older gods are just embarrassed to admit they spawned.

Hermes tells his horny (cue snare!) son to dial it back, because the grownups are talking. Zeus agrees with Hermes, and damn, he even admits Queen Hippolyte schooled his son Heracles. Zeus almost sounds like a decent human be—sorry, he almost sounds like a decent god. He takes it a step further and decides Diana needs to live and deserves a little divine intervention. Zeus calls on Poseidon and Aeolus. Aeolus? Now Perez is just showing off his Greek mythology cred. The Amazons look to the skies and they realize their prayers might have finally been answered. Diana’s body sinks beneath the waves and some well placed bubbling insures the title can still be displayed on spinner racks in in 7-11s nationwide. Diana, still unconscious, is met by none other than Poseidon.

Damn, just look at that art. You might get tired of reading it, but I never get tired of writing about how much I love George Perez’s work on this book. Poseidon calls for the Nereides, the “fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris” to attend him. Damn, could you imagine having fifty kids? What would you name them? How would you keep track of their birthdays? Christmas would bankrupt—Oh, right, these are pre-Christian gods. Never mind. The Nereides set to work healing Diana. Up on the surface, the Amazons wait anxiously. Hippolyta is told to have faith, and she assures her sisters she does, but when it comes to Diana’s life, well…

And just then, Diana comes bursting up from the waters in a bolt of light as Zeus says the queen’s prayers have been answered, and he looks forward to the Amazons serving him further… and them sharing in the “true love” of Zeus. Ew. It’s a message so blatant you don’t need to be a seer Persephone to know what Zeus has in mind.

Up in Olympus, Artemis tracks down Athena and points out Zeus’ new interest in the Amazons is going to undercut the reason for their existence. Yeah, because honestly, warrior women who are both asked to put their lives on the line and are also forced to whore out to a rapacious Zeus aren’t exactly going to have any faith in any of the gods. Athena fears Artemis has a point, and that Pan has put some unsavory thoughts into Zeus’ noggin. Yeah, judging by Zeus’ track record, he didn’t exactly need Pan’s help in that regard. Artemis wonders what they can do, other than firing an arrow into Zeus’ crotch. I made that last part up, but I’m sure the Goddess of the Hunt’s first impulse is to shoot and skin Zeus’ trouser snake. Oops, sorry, that should be “chiton” snake. It’s then that an unexpected ally showed up: Hera. She says her love of Zeus often blinded her in the past, but now she sees he’s always going to be a dog, and now maybe it’s time to do something about it.

Back on Paradise Island, Diana pleads with her mother to let her go back to “Man’s world”. Her work isn’t done, and she needs to find out what happened to all her friends. And Vanessa’s life hangs by a thread. Hippolyte is reluctant to let her daughter go, since she almost died the first time and she just now got her back, but they receive another message from the gods. It’s Artemis this time, and I’m wondering just how often the gods touched base with the Amazons before this story began. Was it a fairly regular occurrence, or have the half-dozen or so visitations since issue #2 been unprecedented? Artemis explains that he has a gift from Hermes, and Diana will know what to do with it. Why doesn’t Hermes deliver them himself? Maybe he’s shy about giving gifts. Actually, that would have been a fantastic storyline: Hermes having feelings for Diana beyond paternal and deliberately avoiding her because he wants to keep it all platonic. Because maybe he’s seen what a total bastard Zeus has been over the eons and wants to be a god worth worshiping. Oh, and the gift?

Diana says they’re Hermes’ winged sandals, but we’ve never actually see him wear them. Maybe he had them specially made for his boy Pan, and since the kid was born with cloven feet, they’ve been sitting in the closet all this time. Hippolyta says she was looking for a sign from the gods, but this is not the one she wanted. She agrees to let Diana go, but like any mom, she says there are conditions.

Cut to Boston’s Meredith Medical Center, where Vanessa Kapatelis’ life is slowly slipping away. General Hillary is on hand and he’s having a hard time believing any of the stuff Trevor or Etta have been telling him. He wishes the “girl in the star-spangled suit” had stuck around, but she vanished. Etta is with him and is trying to talk the man down, but he insists there has to be a logical explanation. Again (and again), you’re living in a world full of aliens and sorcerers and whatnot. Before the argument can start again (and credit to Candy for verbally sparring with a two star general. But then again, after surviving Deimos, I’m thinking nothing will phase her ever again) they get an alert from Vanessa’s floor. The pair rush off to find some beaten up MPs and Vanessa’s doctor, who says they’ve got a… specialist on hand.

He has no idea how Diana’s concoction is working, but it is. Vanessa’s vitals are growing stronger. Diana asks Etta how the others are, and she explains Steve’s on another assignment (is that a euphemism for court-martial? Because there’s a couple of murder raps still hanging over his head) and Michaelis is dead. Etta also tells Diana that Julia is back at Harvard. Hillary is all grumpy-faced about the affair, but he can’t very well go on arresting a woman who just saved a teenage girl’s life. Besides, who’s he going to get to arrest Diana? Unconscious MPs? He lets Etta make the call to Harvard.

Meanwhile at Harvard, Julia gets a visit.

It’s Myndi Mayer and she’s a publicist, which makes her just a couple steps above lawyers and professional wrestling promoters. She knows Julie’s got a direct line to Diana and wants her to arrange a meeting, but the phone rings and it’s Etta delivering the good news. Julia predictably blows Myndi off; Diana’s a friend and the last thing she’s going to do is feed her to this opportunistic shark. Unfortunately, this shark won’t be denied.

Julie reaches the hospital and finds her daughter cured… and seemingly having her attitude seriously adjusted as well. I guess nearly dying at the hands of a supernatural beast’ll do that to you. Unfortunately, General Hillary is an epic killjoy and tries to cut the reunion short, because he wants to debrief Diana. And unlike Zeus, when he says “debrief” he doesn’t mean it literally. Diana’s confused and chalks up Hillary’s boorish attitude to Ares still having some influence on him or something. He wants names, places, and events, and Diana tries to explain that’s exactly what she wants to do. Although, what she really wants is something grander. Sadly, she lacks the vocabulary and experience to express her message. Hmm, if only there were someone skilled in in such things, someone whose job it was to act as a voice for celebrities…

Later on in the day, Diana is in a modern dress because her “work clothes” are just a little too flashy for this meeting. Julia takes her to meet Ms. Mayer…

…who’s read the situation right and figures “flashy” doesn’t cut it with Julia. They have a sit-down and Myndi suggests a new name so people don’t confuse Diana with Princess Di. How about Diana Prince? Diana doesn’t think hiding behind a fake name sends the right message, so Myndi scratches that out. The three sit down, and soon the media blitz is on!

Myndi has Diana on the front cover of every major magazine in existence short of Rolling Stone and Playboy. I love how each magazine stays true to itself, from People’s “move over Superman!” to Ms.’ feminist message of “Remember your power”, to National Geographic’s focus on Diana’s lasso and its ancient origins. It’s a nice touch, and an awareness that each magazine has its own focus and distinct identity. Myndi notes that while Diana doesn’t take cash, there’s a “slight remuneration” involved, since Diana might need it for a rainy day. Like Michaelis, I’m having a legit hard time telling whether or not Mydni’s friend or foe. Which, honestly, is pretty cool.

Elsewhere, General Hillary gets a debrief of his own as his bosses aren’t crazy about Myndi’s machinations making Diana essentially untouchable. None of them believe that Ares “nonsense” and want a lid put on the whole thing so they can control the narrative. It turns out Steve really is on another assignment, which takes him in the opposite direction of Etta, who has one of her own.

Far away on a chopper, Steve reads a newspaper article about Diana and he’s happy she’s getting her story out to the masses, while at the same time he laments that a job he used to love is one he can barely stand. Cut to Nottingham, England and an ancient castle… and the incongruous sight of what appears to be an aged African dressed in what may be traditional garb in some regions of the continent. Hey, I get they want to show the dude’s from Africa, but the name “Chuma” kind of implies it. He’s in the service of one Dr. Barbara Minerva, and he delivers the morning papers to her. She finds the “Wonder Woman” story a fascinating one, and if Professor Kapatelis isn’t talking out of her behind about the origin of the lasso, then it would be a prize beyond price.

It’s time for Chuma to prepare the potion, so the Cheetah can live again.

So that wraps up Gods and Mortals AKA War of the Gods. What did I think of it then, and how do I feel about it now? Frankly, my opinion hasn’t changed that much at all. Oh, I’m older now and full of snark, but for the most part this story is as entertaining as hell, and to me is as beautifully illustrated as the day I bought it from my local comic book store.

Perez, Potter, Patterson, and Wein gave Diana a much needed makeover, delivering a new and intriguing facet with the inclusion of the Greek gods as actual characters who were both antagonists and supporting characters in Wonder Woman’s saga. When I bought the series all those years ago, I got a definite Clash of the Titans vibe, and years later when I saw Jason and the Argonauts, I thought, “Hey, this reminds me a bit of the Wonder Woman reboot.” And these aren’t bad things. People find inspiration in literary works and film and TV; just ask George Lucas or Gene Roddenberry. The inclusion of characters like Vanessa and Julia Kapatelis, and the tweaking of characters like Steve Trevor and Etta Candy were also smart creative choices. I think after issue #1, everyone assumed it was only a matter of time before Steve and Diana hooked up again. By making Steve decades older, that suddenly threw those assumptions out the window (and Steve would ultimately form a relationship with Etta).

Now, what did I hate? Okay, “hate” is too strong a word. What did I not like or was annoyed by? Well, I wasn’t crazy about Diana starting out in a modern costume. I mean, really, where did the Amazons work up that outfit? Couldn’t there have been another way to introduce it into the story? Couldn’t it have been a gift from the gods? (Then again, that would have been yet another gift.) Couldn’t it have been Persephone suggesting the costume as her visions showed her images of superheroes? It’s not nearly enough to make me hate the series, I just would have liked to have have seen a better origin for Diana’s duds. I certainly understand why Diana appears in it so soon; Batman was wearing the cape and cowl by issue #2 of Year One and Superman’s got the red and blue tights on by the end of the first part of Man of Steel. Wonder Woman not getting the costume until Myndi introduces it to her in issue #7 probably wouldn’t have worked.

When reading this story, I had assumed this was a tale of Diana’s past, and that the series would stay there and we would get a “modern” version of Wonder Woman in the pages of Justice League and the like. Then Legends came out and we discovered that wasn’ot going to be the case. This raised all sorts of questions and problems, like: Who founded the Justice League (we later found out it was Black Canary, about the only choice left to the writers when you consider the dearth of prominent female heroes in DC’s history)? And who rescued Wonder Girl when she was a baby? I would have thought the answer would be Wonder Woman’s comic focusing on her past. Silly me; I hadn’t thought about the logistical nightmare that would have caused writers and editors over time. We saw something similar attempted with the New 52 when Perez wrote Superman, and Grant Morrison was writing Action Comics, with the former being a modern day Man of Steel, and the latter taking place in the past. Apparently, there were miscommunications between writers and editors to the point where it caused Perez to quit DC. I mean, imagine you’re writing Wonder Woman and someone comes in and says, “We want an invisible jet.” And Perez and Wein say, “But we got rid of that,” and then the other writer says, “But she might get a new one down the line, right?” Who could keep track of all that? Who the hell would want to?

DC should have done a hard reboot following Crisis on Infinite Earths, but that would have meant taking some serious risks, and canceling comics that were still selling well. I get the economic reasons why they did what they did. Still sucks, though.

Finally, after re-reading this story, I feel this should have been the plot the Wonder Woman movie should have used. I enjoyed Wonder Woman, but after re-watching it, the flaws are pretty glaring (and may be fodder for an article at a later date). Having a story take place in the ’80s would have accomplished what Warner Brothers is going for with Wonder Woman 1984. Gods and Mortals is just a better story overall. Even so, you can see Gods and Mortals had at least a little influence on the motion picture, both in plot and look.

Next week: It’s time for me to go back to the movies, and to return to the world of Conan the Barbarian.

Tag: Wonder Woman: Gods and Mortals

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