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You are in: Galleries > Wonder Woman > Volume One > Issues 251-300 > Issue 261

Issue Number: 261
Published: November 1979
Cover Artists: Dick Giordano
Writer: Gerry Conway
Pencils: Jose Delbo
Inker: Vince Colletta
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colourist: Jerry Serpe
Editor: Ross Andru
Story Title: Quest to The Palace at the Edge of Time!
 
Main Characters (in order of appearance):
Mars Wonder Woman
(Diana Prince)
Hercules
Aphrodite Martin Markham Hermes

Cover of Wonder Woman Issue 261

Comments:

None.

Synopsis:

Enraged that he has not been able to locate Wonder Woman, Mars begins to vent his anger, smashing the top of the Empire State building off!

New Yorker's look on, stunned and frightened, but also angered at the outbursts. The Mayor calls up to the God of War and tells him that things have gone far enough. While New York is grateful to his ally, Hercules, for capturing Wonder Woman because she had become a menace, it is not a licence for the War God to become the same!

Hercules listens, unable to believe that this mere mortal dares to address the God of War in this way. The Mayor continues, telling the bemused Mars that they were thankful when he had offered to find the Amazon after her escape from prison, but as yet Mars has failed to find her and has now gone berserk himself, smashing up Public Monuments like some petulant child! On behalf of the city, the Mayor asks Mars to leave.

For a few seconds the God of War stares in smoldering silence, then erupts into laughter. He bellows that he will never leave and that from this day forth, he rules the Earth! The Mayor and all his people are but ants, to live or die at his will!

Wonder Woman is told by Aphrodite that she has been tested...Across the city, his laughter thunders and Wonder Woman listens from her apartment,wishing she could crush his arrogant throat. Quickly, she summons her invisible plane and leaps on board, setting course for Paradise Island. But Mars hears the sound of her plane and although cannot see it, realises the Amazon Princess must be trying to escape. He conjures up the Hounds of War, three huge, fiery dogs which race after the fleeing plane.

Wonder Woman sees the hounds following her scent and knows that their bite means instant death! She prays to Hera to help her fly like she has never flown before, looping about to avoid the gnashing dogs. But her attempts to shake them prove futile and she knows that they will pursue her until the ends of eternity. She suddenly has a flash of inspiration and dives her craft down towards the ocean below. The hounds blindly follow her until the plane strikes water and although she dips beneath the waves only to rocket back up once more, the hounds are not so fortunate and extinguish themselves in the water!

Minutes later, Paradise Island comes into view but to Wonder Woman's dismay, she sees the entire island is covered by a transparent dome. What is more, her sisters standing within have all turned to ghosts! Suddenly she hears a voice telling her that it is all an illusion cast by Mar's ally the Duke of Deception. She turns to see the cloaked figure standing on the wing, holding her bracelets and as she climbs out the figure reveals herself to be Aphrodite.

The Goddess tells the Amazon Princess that she has been shadowing her and has watched her fight the compulsion to violence. Although under great strain, she has seen the Amazing Amazon triumph over her inner demons and Aphrodite cannot ask for more than that. She then presents Wonder Woman with her bracelets. As the grateful Amazon puts them on she asks why, if she had had them all along, the Goddess had not returned them until now. Aphrodite replies that she wanted to test Diana's strength of will and that she will now need all her strength if she is to seek the Palace at the edge of time!

She then explains how Zeus has departed from Olympus on a mission and in his absence, Mars has taken over. She tells Wonder Woman about Mar's scheme to turn people against her and make him their champion. Then he intends to use his favour to call up an army to attack Paradise Island! The plan will succeed unless Wonder Woman seeks out Zeus at the Council of the Gods, held far off across the universe in the Palace at the edge of time.

Wonder Woman smashes the giant statues with her invisible plane!The Goddess of Love tells Wonder Woman that she will guide her there and as the Amazon Princess climbs back inside her plane, Aphrodite gives her the gift of faster than light travel.

Back on Earth, jet fighters have been summoned to attack Mars and he warns them that he can destroy them with a gesture. But to demonstrate that he is a gracious god, he lets them live and merely destroys their machines. A helicopter then flies towards him and the Secretary of State asks Mars to stop the violence and suggests they can perhaps make an accommodation. But the War God replies that the only accommodation is total obedience!

Watching from up on Olympus, Martin Markham moans that Mars is doing it all wrong and that he has the public relations acumen of Attila the Hun! Hermes remarks that Mars is simply displaying his true nature and that he cannot change. As Markham curses the fact that Mars has thrown away all the good work in setting up Wonder Woman, Hermes warns him to keep his comments to himself if he values his life because Mars has many spies throughout the palace.

Far off in the reaches of Galactic Space meanwhile, the invisible plane plunges through the void at incredible speed. As Wonder Woman follows a homing beacon supplied by Aphrodite, she spies up ahead a whirlpool of stars. While beautiful to behold, it hides a burning hell of swirling radiation and gravitic disruption! Only the Amazing Amazon's determination sees her through the madness as she plummets through the stellar maelstrom.

At last she is through and finds herself confronted by a barrier manned by colossal stone statues. Suddenly they spring to life and strike her craft. Leaping out, she realises she is going to have to fight back and uses her lasso to snare the giants while ordering her craft to smash through them, destroying them. She then continues towards the palace, a magnificent structure floating in space.

Wonder Woman strikes the gong three times...Wonder Woman enters the palace and walks for seeming miles before coming upon a chamber that she knows instinctively to be the Council Hall of the Gods! All the great Gods are seated here, the Titans, Ymir, even the Aztec God Quetzalcoatl but none of them are moving. As she gets closer she realises that they are cold, like stone, as if their souls have left their body. She begins to despair, thinking that she is too late but an astral projection of Aphrodite appears and tells her that the Gods are not dead but have merely sent their astral selves to a plane beyond comprehension. The Goddess then points to a golden gong and says that it is the Gong of Justice. She tells Wonder Woman to take it and return to Earth. Once there, strike it three times and justice will be done.

Sometime later Mars, standing in New York harbour, finds himself under attack once more from warships this time. He retaliates by smashing his fist into the water creating a huge tidal wave which heads towards shore. But suddenly the invisible plane flashes out of the sunlit sky and breaks the sound barrier, throwing up a shock wave which disperses the water.

Enraged, Mars sees Wonder Woman step out onto the wing of her plane and as he prepares to strike she hits the gong three times. The three chimes resonate across the city - once to destroy war, twice to remove all memory of the events and thrice to return everything to the way it was before Mars took over Olympus.

Soon afterwards atop her apartment, Wonder Woman hands the gong back to Aphrodite, saying that it is too great a responsibility to be held by mortal hands. The Love Goddess accepts it as the Amazon Princess goes on to say that she wishes she could have lost her memory like the others have. She still cannot forget the way they turned on her, for one transgression. Aphrodite responds that humanity is weak and that is what makes them human. She must learn to have patience with them. Wonder Woman replies that she will try.

Meanwhile, in the offices of Markham, Menditz and Monroe a certain Martin Markham locks up and wonders why he feels so tired today. He muses it must be boredom with the advertising game...as nothing ever happens!

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