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You are in: Galleries > Wonder Woman > Volume One > Issues 251-300 > Issue 253

Issue Number: 253
Published: March 1979
Cover Artists: Jose Delbo, Dick Giordano
Writer: Jack C. Harris
Pencils: Jose Delbo
Inker: Frank Chiaramonte
Letterer: Milt Snapinn
Colourist: Jerry Serpe
Editor: Ross Andru
Story Title: Spirit of Silver...Soul of Gold
 
Main Characters (in order of appearance):
Wonder Woman
(Diana Prince)
Hippolyta Astarte
Stacy Macklin Mike Bailey General Novack
Althea Diana Aphrodite
Athena    

Cover of Wonder Woman Issue 253

Comments:

This story links to the 'Tales of the Amazons' back up feature in issue 247

Synopsis:

On the surface of the moon, Wonder Woman has summoned her mother, Queen Hippolyta, and her Amazon Technicians to come and examine the frozen forms of the Empress and her Silver Snake.

The Amazing Amazon recounts the last few hours, explaining how she had saved the shuttle crew and that, somehow feeling that she had been defeated, the Empress, named Astarte, had changed herself into lead. Once Wonder Woman had repaired the damaged shuttle, she had used the lesser gravity to allow herself to hurl the craft back towards Earth. Then she had requested the help of her mother, as she felt that this creature, whatever it was, used magic and therefore the Amazon Queen might be able to help find out who the Empress really is.

As Hippolyta steps forward to take a closer look at the Empress, Astarte's eyes suddenly glow and she jumps into life! Screaming "Hippolyta, you betrayer!" she attacks the startled queen. Immediately, the other Amazons leap to their queen's assistance and open fire with their ray guns. But the lack of gravity multiplies the recoil and they fly backwards from the blast.

Wonder Woman orders them to unsheathe their swords instead and they charge at the Empress. Enraged, Astarte clouts Hippolyta, sending her flying. She rants at the queen, saying how dare she send her Amazons against her and asks why she seems to hate he so?

As Wonder Woman helps her mother to her feet, she questions why Astarte speaks as if she knows Hippolyta? But the queen assures her daughter that she has never met the Empress in her life. Astarte then points at the queen and tells her that she has made an enemy this day and that her vengeance shall be devastating. With that she leaps into the mouth of her Silver Snake and it lifts off.

Wonder Woman prepares to pursue her in the Amazon Spacecraft but her mother tells her to let Astarte go. She tells her daughter that there is something about the Empress that seems hauntingly familiar. She suggests they use what information they have on her and run it through the computers back on Paradise Island. Wonder Woman agrees and after saying her good-byes, departs in her plane back to Earth before her alter ego, Diana Prince, is missed by NASA.

Onboard the Amazon spacecraft, Hippolyta muses to herself that she could not let Diana know what she was thinking in case she thought her mad, while in the invisible plane, Wonder Woman ponders on why she has an eerie feeling that her mother almost certainly is keeping something from her...

Wonder Woman arrives at NASA and quickly changes into her Diana Prince guise...Soon she has re-entered Earth's atmosphere though and is approaching the NASA headquarters in Houston. After landing, she performs a quick change into her Diana Prince attire and rushes to the training centre where she is greeted by Stacy and Mike. Meanwhile General Novak makes a disapproving look at his watch, as Diana has only just made it in time again!

The recruits put on their spacesuits ready for the days weightlessness training. As the two women finish changing, Stacy comments on how Diana seems to be giving Mike the cold shoulder. As they enter the zero gravity chamber, Diana replies that she does not mean to, but that she has recently lost someone in tragic circumstances. As Stacy passes on her condolences she suddenly shouts a warning to Diana too late, as the Amazon is hit by a medicine ball playfully thrown by Mike. He tells her that she needs to be more alert in space as the next time it might be a meteor that hits her!

He goads her that if she can hit him with the ball, he will stop bugging her for a date. She duly obliges and launches the ball at him. The force of the throw sends her crashing back into Stacy and the ball flies past Mike. He laughs that she must have forgotten her physics, which states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. She smiles back at him that she certainly did not forget - but that he obviously had and goes on to say that with no gravity, a thrown object will not stop until it hits something. The medicine ball promptly rebounds off the far wall and hits Mike squarely in the back!

She thinks to herself that Mike does seem like fun and that she cannot allow the ghost of Steve Trevor to haunt her forever. With that, she tells Mike that he can still have his date - at the most expensive restaurant in Houston! He willingly accepts and the recruits continue on with their rigorous training programme.

Meanwhile out in space, Astarte stands on an asteroid of silver and gold in orbit around the moon, surveying the earth below. She fumes over her recent encounter with the Amazons and is convinced that the being possessing the body of Diana has somehow subverted even the other Amazons against her. Her gallant feats of rescue as Wonder Woman were merely a ruse to make Astarte think that she was not an evil being. The Empress therefore decides that she must deal with Diana alone - face to face - right now! She fires a ray of energy from her eyes, directed towards Earth...

At the NASA centre meanwhile, Diana is helping Mike into the centrifuge capsule for G-Force simulation. He jokingly asks her to join him so that he can really get her head spinning. She smiles and replies that she wants to see how well he will stand up to G-Forces before she lets him down hard!

Diana watches from the observation chamber as the capsule begins to spin round and round, faster and faster. Suddenly, energy rays slice through the roof and cuts though the arm securing the capsule. It breaks free, hurled at super speed through the wall towards her. She manages to catch it and lowers it to the ground safely. Opening the capsule, she worriedly checks on Mike, praying to Aphrodite that he is all right.

Diana and Mike enjoy a very passionate kiss until he calls her Angel...Before anyone else has entered the demolished observation chamber, a groggy Mike opens his eyes. He tells her he does not know what happened but that he is grateful to have woken up to such a beautiful vision. With that he kisses her on the mouth. Moments later technicians enter the room and find the two recruits in a passionate embrace.

Parting their lips at last, Mike says to her that "for someone who wouldn't give me the time of day a few hours ago, that was some kiss, Angel!". The word 'Angel' suddenly brings back all the pain of losing Steve and she rushes away distressed, leaving a confused Mike to wonder what on earth he has said to upset her.

Moments later, flying high above NASA in her robot plane, Diana has changed into her Wonder Woman costume and is contacting Paradise Island. She advises that the Empress has attacked anew. She fumes that she can cope with enemies that try to destroy her, but when they try to get at her by harming innocents around her, she gets angry.

Once up in space, she tracks the original path of the energy rays by their residual radiation and finally reaches their originating point - the Empress herself, standing on her asteroid of Silver and Gold. At the same moment, a fleet of Amazon spacecraft commanded by Hippolyta arrives, having also tracked the beams to their source.

Disembarking onto the moon's surface, mother and daughter lead the Amazon warriors in a charge towards Astarte. As they run, Wonder Woman advises that they must overcome her completely this time, not just simply contain her. She asks her mother whether she has managed to find out anything about the Empress. But before she gets an answer, Astarte fires her eye beams at some of the Amazons' bracelets, instantly fusing them together. She then fires again at another group, this time shattering the bracelets.

Wonder Woman and Queen Hippolyta find themselves on their own, realising that Astarte knows their every weakness. She has managed to rob some of the Amazons of their strength by fusing their bracelets together, and for the ones whose bracelets she has destroyed - she has driven them mad! Astarte grabs Hippolyta and lifts her into the air, exulting that once she has removed the queen's magic girdle given to her by Aphrodite, all the Amazons, including Wonder Woman, will lose all their powers!

As Wonder Woman fights of the berserker Amazons who are attacking her, she pleads with her mother that the fact Astarte knows so much about the Amazons must mean she is known to them. Who is she really?

Finding herself lofted high above Astarte's head, the helpless Amazon Queen cries out that she know who Astarte must be, although she cannot understand how she can be here now, looking like she does. She reveals that Astarte can only be one person -her sister, Diana!

Putting the queen down, Astarte acknowledges her real name and holding her head in her hands, realises that Hippolyta is not under any spell as she still obviously remembers her. And yet she cannot understand why Hippolyta still refers to this Wonder Woman, who she believes has possessed her real body, as Diana also?

Wonder Woman holds the Empress while Hippolyte recounts a tragic event from Amazon history...The Empress goes on to recount how she and Hippolyta had last stood together when fighting against Hercules for their freedom. She cannot remember what happened after that battle, but next recalls seeing Hippolyta lead the Amazons to an enchanted Island. Time was confusing to her, but her spirit remained there, watching them build a mighty city and become a technically sophisticated civilisation, with a powerful army of its own.

But the longer Diana had observed, the weaker she had become. She found that she could draw strength from the stars and went to them. Eventually she came across the asteroid. Her spirit became one with the silver and unified with the gold and she arose in a solid form. She existed again! Through some cosmic accident, the asteroid of gold and silver allowed her astral spirit to gain control of it and shape it to her will. She decided to return to her sister Amazons in a vehicle fitting to her new configuration and created the Silver Snake.

And so she returned to Earth with new powers, allowing her to see over all the Earth and seek out the Amazons. But during her search she spied her physical body, dressed in a strange red blue and gold costume, battling seemingly helpless men. She believed that somehow, during her own fight with Hercules, her spirit must have been driven out of her body and that now something of monumental evil had taken possession of it!

She had decided to exorcise this evil but as she had approached mother earth, she once more felt her weakness return. Seeing that the world had drastically changed since she was last here and that people now attempted to reach the stars in mighty ships of metal, she decided to wait until the impostor came to her - and she had!

The Empress cries out to Hippolyta, trying to understand why her sister does not assist her in reclaiming her body from this evil being. She then tries to fire upon Wonder Woman again with her eye beams, but the Amazon Princess avoids them and grabs her. She holds her in a head lock, while demanding to know from her mother whether the Empress speaks the truth?

Hippolyta confirms the story, explaining that when it was time for her daughter to come into the world, she had made a new body from clay in the image of her sister. The Empress stares in amazement, and asks why Hippolyta had made her daughter in the image of her? Tearfully, Hippolyta replies that she had done so as a tribute because when Hercules had run his sword through her sister all those years ago - Diana had been killed.

The Empress, shocked at the revelation, moans at the news. Distraught that she is in fact dead, she at last gives up her spirit as was meant to be eons before. Her spirit form is greeted by Athena and Aphrodite, who tell her that like so many warriors, she fights death even beyond its calling. She has fought long and well and with great honor but now it is time for her to rest.

Hippolyta and Wonder Woman watch as the airless silence of space closes around Diana and the two goddesses until they are no longer visible and the two warriors stare wordless beyond their awesome vision - and ponder the infinite...

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