Release: April 1987
Writer: George Pérez
Pencils: George Pérez
Inks: Bruce D Patterson
After two really evocative issues full of really interesting character work, this book is mostly just plot machinations, so expect far less in the way of recaps. There are lots of pictures, though!
First things first, let’s get Steve Trevor out of the way. After Wonder Woman brings him back to the city, he’s taken to a military hospital where he’s being accused of murdering the general who sent him on his mission (in actuality, Ares killed him last issue, I didn’t bother covering it). Long time Wonder Woman sidekick Etta Candy, in this version a lieutenant who works with Steve, is the only one who is willing to vouch for him. We’re given the reason why when we see the sons of Ares, Phobos and Deimos, manipulating all the military leaders of the world in a giant hall, implying that Ares is single-handedly working to keep the cold war warmer than anyone is comfortable with. That same influence extends down to the hospital, where a nurse tries to kill Trevor by injecting him with an empty syringe. Steve leaps into action and beats everyone up, because he’s an Action Man, I guess. Steve’s kind of dumb.
Meanwhile Diana is looking for someone who can help with figuring out what to do with her magic amulet, and manages to stumble across fashionable librarian Julia Kapatelis, a researcher who Diana literally rescues from falling off a very hazardous ladder in true heroic fashion. Julia can barely understand Diana because of their language barrier, so Diana decides to just show Julia the amulet to try to get her to understand. With disastrous results.
That’s right, exposure to the amulet envelops Julia in some sort of firey aura, where she proceeds to trip her face off:
Thankfully it seems to be an expository trip, so Julie decides to help Diana on her quest and the two begin to establish a halting rapport despite the considerable language barrier between the two women. Julie does the neighborly thing and brings Diana home with her, amid some fish out of water bits about Diana being totally distracted and overwhelmed by the noises and sights of traffic in the city. Meanwhile, at Julie’s home, her teenage daughter Vanessa opens a mysterious package addressed to her mother because she’s a precocious teen. It seems to be a weird statue, and Vanessa seems transfixed by it, made all the more alarming when the eyes of the statue open when Vanessa isn’t watching it.
When Julie and Diana do arrive at the Kapatelis household, an important bit of Diana’s character comes to the fore. You see, Diana suddenly becomes very very gay.
One of the interesting things about Diana as a character is that she’s almost always been impossible not to read as bisexual and often polyamorous to boot. Part of that is that William Moulton Marston, her creator, based her off of a combination of his wife Elizabeth and their live in partner Olive Byrne. The three of them spent most of their adult lives in a relationship that would be progressive now, much less in 1940, and it’s really hard not to read those influences into Wonder Woman. I’m sure lots more about Marston’s beliefs will come up as we get deeper into this, but it’s pretty clear that Diana is imbued with many of those same beliefs.
More pragmatically, Diana grew up on an island of all women who basically had nothing to do but make art and compete for thousands of years. The comics have (for the best, probably) not really gone too deep on the sexual activities of Themyscira, but you have to believe that most of its citizens have been having sex with each other. Probably a lot. The Amazons don’t have any hang ups about that sort of thing, at least in any depiction I’ve read. They’re very Greek, anyway.
I say bisexual instead of gay because in basically every version of Wonder Woman that has ever existed she either immediately or swiftly decides that Steve Trevor is the man for her, and I don’t want to erase that. I think there’s something very pure about Diana being infatuated with the first man she’s ever seen, honestly. Even if Steve is kind of a bore, he’s like nobody she’s ever encountered. Of course she wants to fuck him. If I grew up hearing about aliens and then one of them landed in my backyard and seemed pretty harmless and friendly, I’d probably at least wonder what it’d be like to get with that alien. Diana’s down for new adventures.
So that’s why I say bisexual. If you want to headcanon her as gay, be my guest, but know that in the future she’s going to have lots of hetero relationships, so that’s just going to become a big friction point. But we’re going to operate as if any interest she expresses towards other women can and should be read as genuine, and that’ll be the framework of how her relationships are going forward. Good? Good.
Anyway, Diana seems very taken with Vanessa, and Julie basically introduces her as if she’s Julie’s new live in girlfriend, offering her daughter a perfunctory ‘she’s gonna stay with us for a few days’ before Vanessa goes to hide in her room like teens do and Diana and Julie work late into the night to try to both get Diana up to speed on the world she’s in and try to figure out what exactly this amulet is supposed to do against Ares. It’s late at night, and Diana and Julie are basically smack dab in the middle of the research part of a contemporary horror movie, when suddenly the evil statue strikes where Vanessa is. Wonder Woman, amazingly dressed in a flannel shirt over her normal costume, manages to be both visually at home in this sudden 80s style horror heroine mode, and also still pure superhero, when she saves Julie from a collapsing staircase.
I bring this up only because one of my entry points into Wonder Woman was the New 52 relaunch of the character, which is Vol 4 (and probably al ong way off), and that book was both praised and maligned as a tonally inconsistent drift of Wonder Woman into horror elements. I’m frankly very surprised to see them show up here, especially after two issues of dense myth stuff. Anyway, Diana and Julie end the issue facing a villain named Decay. I have no idea if she’s a regular villain or a one off, but she’s exceptionally drawn as a creepy cartoon nasty, totally incongruous with both the realistic tone of most of the book and also the more sedate style of the time. Honestly, she looks like a 90s villain, and I think that’s pretty cool here as our final splash page.