Release: June 1987
Writer: Len Wein
Pencils: George Pérez
Inks: Bruce D Patterson
This book opens with a sudden and stunningly over-rendered return to the Amazons and the gods, as the Amazons try to contact the gods, who seem mostly ready to get the hell out of the mortal plane as whatever Ares’ machinations are have seemingly become so likely that they’ll get on a big giant bone boat instead of dealing with the mess of the mortal world. Also Apollo is seemingly just asleep, not sure if that’s going to come back or not, but it seemed like a dangling plot thread.
Meanwhile, it turns out the evil guy who assaulted Etta at the end of the last book wasn’t evil at all, he was just worried about Etta and checking up on her, and managed to startle her and she fell on the ice and hit her head. Not only is he here to help, but he can speak Greek enough to talk to Diana. It’s one of those immediate reversals of the status quo that makes comics sometimes a ludicrous storytelling medium, as you can watch writers just back the entire truck up and go down a different road in real time. I find it charming, but it is definitely weird especially since this story has, up to this point, been pretty contiguous as a larger arc.
With everyone finally there and with Etta’s file on the Ares Project, they have enough info to at least make a map of where Ares’ plan is happening. It turns out that he’s been infiltrating all the nuclear silos around the country and in Russia, and will eventually turn them against each other and trigger a nuclear holocaust that will destroy the world.
Meanwhile, Diana realizes that the other half of her Talisman is with Phobos and Deimos, who live in a hell dimension she can access with the amulet through a mirror, as it seeks out its twin and the mirror is enough to link her amulet with any other amulet. Everyone, in haste, gears up for this big battle, including Steve’s friend who managed to bring every gun. Also, on the exact same page, Diana has been speaking English and because they’ve been too busy to get into it someone just outright asks her and she shrugs it off. It’s book 5 of 7, there’s no time for anything but plot, I guess. I dunno. I feel like with Len Wein coming onto this book a few issues ago the writing has definitely taken a dip. Let’s pray it doesn’t fall any further.
Anyway they all pile into the hell dimension to deal with Phobos and Deimos, who have the talisman and actively have been tasks to stop Diana before she can disrupt any of Ares’ plans. There’s a big fight, where mostly the guys with guns are useless and Diana gets wrapped up in weird snakes and tentacles from both of the sons of Ares. No, really, look at this.
There’s probably something to be said about Wonder Woman being put in perilous monster situations that align with traditional damsel in peril pinup art, and I’d be happy to say it, but maybe a little later into this when there’s a worse issue with less happening. I do think that it is definitely intentional that she’s been put up against two bondage-y villains, but a lot of the Wonder Woman bondage stuff is Golden Age stuff that we aren’t quiet at yet. Either way, it’s worth noting that Wonder Woman definitely has a history of bondage as part of her character, both literally and artistically, and while the comics haven’t quite addressed it in the text yet, these images feel very deliberate and I’m definitely not entirely here for her being wrapped up by snakes and beard fibres five issues into her new run. Thankfully, neither is Diana, and she responds in the most this-is-still-just-Sailor-Moon way by straight up murdering Deimos with her tiara. It’s one of the best panels.
If we ever get far enough to talk about the Maxwell Lord stuff, there’ll probably be many words spent on Wonder Woman and whether or not she’s a murdering superhero. But, to put it briefly, Diana comes from warriors and was trained to be a warrior. She’s been literally raised on Greek myths. In my opinion, while she’d probably mostly be willing to abide by the laws given to her by the country in which she finds herself, I don’t doubt she has zero guilt about murdering her foes when necessary. And that’s not to mean Diana’s the Punisher or anything, I just think that the sort of both ways moralizing of Superman and Batman around killing would probably seem naive and useless to Diana, and I’m glad we’re given her cutting the head off of her foe here in the very first story.
As we conclude, Phobos manages to escape, but Wonder Woman does have both sides of the amulet. As she unites the two halves, the entire team of heroes is transported out of Ares’ hell dimension to the staging ground of his plan: a missile silo, commandeered by those soldiers who are now happily serving the god of war. The general who has been out in the press calling for Steve Trevor’s capture is there, and as the guards under his command surround them, a swirling mist appears and resolves itself into the form of Ares, merging with a nuclear missile in the silo, the vehicle by which his grand plot will finally take shape.