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You are in: Galleries > Wonder Woman > Volume One > Issues 251-300 > Issue 268

Issue Number: 268
Published: June 1980
Cover Artists: Ross Andru, Dick Giordano
Writer: Gerry Conway
Pencils: Jose Delbo
Inker: Vince Colletta
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colourist: Jerry Serpe
Editor: Len Wein
Story Title: Battleground France
 
Main Characters (in order of appearance):
Wonder Woman
(Diana Prince)
Animal Man
(Buddy Baker)
Krispin
Prime Planner
(Morgan Tracy)
Red Fang The Changeling
Lumber Jack    

Cover of Wonder Woman Issue 268

Comments:

This issue we actually see Diana transform into Wonder Woman on a public beach in front of dozens of onlookers. It seems that she is not so concerned about her secret identity being revealed in France!

Synopsis:

On a sunny beach in Marseilles, France, Buddy Baker and Diana Prince, alias Animal Man and Wonder Woman, mingle with the other holiday makers by posing as just another couple sunbathing.

Although wearing a bikini, Diana still wears her golden lasso surreptitiously around her waist in case of trouble. While Buddy pretends to apply some suntan lotion to her back, he whispers to her, asking what exactly they are doing here in France? She replies that they are keeping tabs on a man currently wading in the ocean nearby with his young daughter, in the hopes that he will lead them to the Prime Planner.

Removing her lasso, Diana races across the beach...Buddy is skeptical that the harmless looking bald man with a cigar can provide the lead they are seeking, but Diana asks him to remain patient. She reminds him that the map they had discovered in the Cartel base had indicated this place and she had suspected it to be a lure to trap them here. She had asked an old friend in Military Intelligence to find out who the number one crime boss in Marseilles was and they came up with this man, whose name is Krispin.

Buddy complains that they have been following this guy ever since they arrived in town. He much prefers direct confrontations than all this sneaking around. Just then though he suddenly realises that Diana has sprinted off down the beach towards Krispin and is unhooking her lasso. As he looks out to where the crime boss is playing with his daughter in the waves, he notices further out to sea a weird looking submarine tank rising out of the water.

Meanwhile Diana, who had already spotted the craft, uses her lasso to transform into Wonder Woman while running to save Krispin. The amazed onlookers watch the Amazon Princess enter the water and protect Krispin by using her bracelet to deflect the oncoming fire from the tank. She manages to deflect the barrage back at the tanks tracks but the commotion causes a panic on the beach. Buddy sees he cannot make his way through the fleeing crowds to get to the tank but notices some seagulls flying overhead. He uses their power of flight to lift himself up and over the holiday makers towards the attacking sub-tank.

Back in the water, Wonder Woman continues to shield the terrified Krispin and his daughter from the oncoming fire when she spots Buddy swooping down towards the tank. She is about to shout a warning to him that it is probably booby-trapped but too late, he lands on the hull and is zapped unconscious by an electrical discharge!

The sub-tank begins to pull back with Buddy's motionless body still draped across the turret. Wonder Woman quickly leaps across the water knowing that she must save him from drowning before the tank submerges. She uses her lasso to loop around his body as he disappears beneath the waves. She pulls him back to the surface and coughing and spluttering he begins to regain his senses, asking what happened? She requests that the next time he has the urge to play hero all by himself - he resists it!

Once back on the beach, they attend to the shocked Krispin and his daughter and Wonder Woman converses with him in French. She explains that the attackers have gone for now but that they will no doubt be back to finish the job. As they see police officers approach, Krispin becomes even more nervous as these are the last people he wants to talk to and Wonder Woman summons her invisible plane to make their escape. Swiftly, she and Buddy help Krispin and his daughter on board and to the frustration of the police they fly off.

Meanwhile, somewhere deep in the ocean, the Cartel's Submarine Headquarters receives the returning sub-tank into its hangars. The crew are ordered to report immediately to the Prime Planner. They enter the massive control centre and step up to the large chair where the mysterious head of the Cartel sits. He is most displeased at their failure to not only kill Krispin but to destroy Wonder Woman too. He snaps his fingers as the crew try to plead with him for mercy and out of the shadows step three men.

The Prime Planner introduces the finest assassins money can buy..."Red Fang" who is a renegade Mongol tribesman found and educated by the Cartel until he has become the deadliest martial artist in the world, made even deadlier by his slashing sliver blades; "The Changeling" who is a master criminal from Europe, once acting as a freelance killer who specialises in disguises until he was persuaded by the Cartel to join them for even greater profit; and "Lumber Jack" who was a sideshow freak from the Canadian Northwest, reviled by his fellows and hating them in return until the Cartel offered him a way to gain revenge on a world that made him an outcast.

On his orders, the three deadly killers proceed to execute the crew...

Back on the mainland, in a modest 18th century chateau surrounded by armed men, Wonder Woman and Animal Man converse with Krispin. They explain to him that his life is in danger from a group known as the Cartel, but the crime boss insists he finds it hard to believe that such an organisation exists. They remind him of the attack on his life earlier and how, if it had not been for them, he would be dead. He waves it off as a misunderstanding, saying he is not convinced he was actually a target.

Wonder Woman is brutally chopped down!Wonder Woman's patience wears thin and she tells him she will not be mocked by him. With that, she removes her lasso and ensnares him in its golden coils, demanding he tells the truth. Unable to resist the power of the magical rope, he recounts how a man came to him three days ago and demanded that he leave France and turn over his entire organisation to a man known as the Prime Planner. He had naturally refused and had heard nothing more from them until the incident today.

Suddenly the window shatters as machine gun bullets spray into the room, narrowly missing Wonder Woman. As the Amazon Princess and Animal Man peer outside, they see Krispin's guards under attack from the three Cartel assassins. They immediately leap out through the window and join the battle.

The Changeling opens fire on the approaching Amazon, who uses her bracelets to ward of the bullets. Meanwhile, Animal Man tries to take on Lumber Jack, narrowly missing a swipe from his ax. But the huge Canadian proves more than a match for Animal Man and as Wonder Woman knocks down her opponent, she sees out of the corner of her eye that he is in trouble. But as she is about to go to his aid she receives a deadly karate chop to the back of her neck from Red Fang, who has crept up behind her. She cries out in pain, feeling as if her whole spine is on fire.

A struggling Animal Man sees her collapse to the ground and realises he now has both Lumber Jack and Red Fang to contend with! Thinking quickly, he spots a mole on the lawn nearby and uses its digging ability to burrow down into the ground, escaping the two assassins. Just then Changeling approaches, telling them to forget about Animal Man as they now have Wonder Woman. Once they also get Krispin's daughter they will have the crime boss exactly where they want him.

Wonder Woman, who has been playing posum, leaps into action!Inside the house, the sounds of gunfire have made Lauren Krispin hide in the shadows. But now the commotion seems to have ceased and she hears a familiar voice from the open doorway call to her. She rushes into the arms of her father who assures her everything is all right. But little Lauren does not realise that the man who comforts her is not her father at all, but the Changeling in disguise!

Moments later as Buddy resurfaces again, he is just in time to see the assassin's craft lift off . Krispin races out of the chateau after it, but is too late to stop his daughter from being taken from him. Animal Man realises that it is up to Wonder Woman now...

Soon the craft approaches the yacht Excelsior as it makes its way through the waves. Once it has touched down on deck, the assassins take the unconscious Amazon and frightened little girl down into the bowels of the hidden submarine underneath the boat, finally arriving in the huge control centre. The Prime Planner watches them drag the lifeless Amazon towards him, pleased with the fact that they finally have her in their grasp. He gloats that it will be quite a shock for her when she discovers that the Prime Planner, who she has been searching for all these weeks, had been by her side all the time. She never guessed that in fact the Prime Planner is none other than Morgan Tracy, head of United Nation's Security!!!

Who else could have arranged the murder of Wonder Woman's lover, Steve Trevor? Who else could have allowed the Bushmaster to come so close to killing UN delegates? What will her reaction be when she learns that a man she trusted was actually her deadliest enemy?

Quite casually, Wonder Woman raises her head and replies, "I imagine I'll react something like this!". With that she hurls both Lumber Jack and Red Fang over her shoulders. Tracy yells at them for being fooled by her faked unconsciousness, allowing herself to be brought before the Prime Planner himself! As she races over to where Changeling holds Lauren, Wonder Woman tells Tracy that she would love to stay and tear the place apart but she has the little girl to think about. She knocks the third assassin out of the way and grabs Lauren's hand.

As guards move in to intercept her she decides to create her own escape route. With one mighty blow she punctures a whole in the hull and as the sea rushes in, she swims out and up to the surface, taking Krispin's daughter with her. Inside the doomed sub, Tracy orders everyone to abandon ship, cursing that the Amazon has won.

Sometime later, Wonder Woman, Animal Man and Krispin watch as the French authorities take Morgan Tracy into custody. A-Man exclaims that it is over and the Cartel has been closed down for good. But the Amazon Princess is not convinced, asking where could Tracy have obtained the resources for such a big operation? Someone else must be behind it all, but learning who that someone is will be a problem for another day...

The End

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