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You are in: Galleries > Wonder Woman > Volume One > Issues 251-300 > Issue 276

Issue Number: 276
Published: February 1981
Cover Artists: Ross Andru, Dick Giordano
Writer: Gerry Conway
Pencils: Jose Delbo
Inker: Joe Giella
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colourist: Jerry Serpe
Editor: Len Wein
Story Title: Seek the Serpent...Find Death!
 
Main Characters (in order of appearance):
Wonder Woman
(Diana Prince)
Kobra Etta Candy
Colonel Steve Trevor    

Cover of Wonder Woman Issue 276

Comments:

None.

Synopsis:

The story opens at a Maryland cemetery where a burial service for Priscilla Rich is taking place. Hiding in the shadows, Wonder Woman watches the event, her intuition having told her she should attend unseen. Now she is glad that she did because she can sense evil here today.

She is certain that someone brainwashed Debbi Domaine in order to turn her into the new Cheetah. That same someone may have had an interest in the old Cheetah too and that interest may have brought them here.

Just then she sees what looks like a flash of sunlight reflecting from a lens, emanating from a copse of trees on the hill overlooking the cemetery and she quickly summons her invisible plane. As she flies to the spot she peers down to see a figure with a sophisticated viewing device and deduces the individual is probably connected with those responsible for Debbi's brainwashing. As she leaps down the man hears her approach and looks up, firing small projectiles from his armoured glove. But the Amazon Princess is prepared for violence and uses her bracelets to deflect the deadly incoming bullets.

She dives at the man using both fists to punch him in the chest. But she discovers that his scaled costume is also some sort of armour and her blows are ineffective. His blow, however, is more successful and with a crack his armoured fist connects with her chin.

It takes Wonder Woman a few moments to shake off the effects of the blow, allowing the man to race to his waiting flying saucer craft. As it prepares to lift off she tries to regain the lost seconds with a fantastic leap across to the vessel. Her fingers manage to grasp an open hatchway and the next moment a startled Amazon finds herself airborne as the craft zooms into the air at super sonic speed and Wonder Woman cries out in pain as the hatchway slams shut on her fingers, trapping them.

Wonder Woman finds herself trapped by the slamming hatch!Meanwhile inside, the pilot reports to the shadowy figure of his master who appears on a monitor screen in front of him. He explains that although he has managed to obtain film of Priscilla's funeral, the Amazon had attacked and even now clings to the outside of the vessel. He is therefore unable to return to base. A displeased Kobra bemoans how Wonder Woman for a third time interferes with his plans, firstly having destroyed the Cartel and secondly eliminating his new agent, the Cheetah. The pilot knows what his master expects of him and reaches towards the craft's self destruct button.

A few seconds earlier outside, Wonder Woman has been struggling to free her fingers from the hatch. Even though it appears to be sealed with some kind of magnetic lock, she uses every ounce of her strength to pry them free. At last she manages to rip the hatch off but at the same moment the craft turns upward, causing her to lose her balance and fall away.

As the plummeting Amazon Princess quickly summons her invisible plane the flying saucer explodes in a fireball, showering her with flaming debris. As she uses her bracelets to deflect the flying metal, she realises the pilot has purposely destroyed his craft rather than be captured. What sort of madman would do that?

Many miles away in the subterranean lair of the Kobra, his minions scurry around their control consoles as he makes his way to his throne. He has a feeling that he is still not rid of the Amazon even after the destruction of the craft she was riding, knowing that she must be eliminated before they enter the final phase. Just then one of his men approaches and reports that their agents have purchased the necessary missiles and that all that is required now is the payload. Kobra is pleased that they have finally reached the culmination of months and years of subterfuge. Their efforts have ruined economies, overthrown governments and plunged the world into chaos! Now they are ready for the master stroke that will bring the leaders of all nations to their knees. And when it is done...Kobra will rule the world!

The following morning at the Pentagon, a pensive Captain Diana Prince sits at a limited access computer trying to unravel a mystery. She has entered a description of the man at the funeral but she cannot make any sense from the computer's response:

SECURITY ACCESS LEVEL ONE ONLY
SEE: KOBRA FILE DOD NO. 3L214
REFERENCE: CARLSBAD CAVERNS PROJECT
SUB. REFERENCE: DOD NO. 3L215
UNITED NATIONS CLEARANCE
VIS. TRACY

Just then her thoughts are interrupted by Etta who has entered the room and has been speaking to her for the last couple of minutes. Diana asks what the matter is and Etta replies that Colonel Trevor has received a phone call from Mountpeak Point, the radiation laboratory that their special projects team manages for the Department of Defense. Whatever was said, he had immediately asked for Diana.

As the two women return to the office, Steve ruses out and asks where she has been. Before she can reply he tells her he is going to be at Mountpeak Point for the next few hours which leaves her in charge of the office until he gets back. He icily tells her to try not to 'wander off' this time.

Diana spends the next few hours puzzling over  the cluesOnce she is alone in the office, she muses how it takes quite a bit to turn Steve nasty and she hopes it is something he can handle as she has her own concerns right now. She studies the computer print out again, trying to make sense. She spends the next few hours puzzling over it but makes no headway and at last goes to lunch with Etta, hoping that her head might be clearer after some food.

Meanwhile at Mountpeak Point, Steve is being helped into his radiation suit by technicians from the laboratory. As he prepares to enter the containment building, he is warned about the dangers of going inside. The plant has malfunctioned and spilled radiation throughout its containment structure. However, since the cobalt 93 Project is managed by his team, Steve feels it should be him who takes the risk. He asks one of the technicians whether there is any chance that Dr. Haliday is still alive inside, but is told the chances are slim as everyone else managed to escape during the first few minutes. If the project director is still inside it is a safe bet he is never coming out!

Once he is helped through the airlock, Steve uses a torch to search the large, dark and eerie interior of the containment building. As he makes his way to the control room he asks himself how could all of the safety equipment have failed simultaneously? Cobalt 93 was a special Defense Department project to develop the ultimate "dirty" nuclear bomb, the idea being to make it so awful it would never have to be used.

As he at last enters the control room he sees Dr. Haliday slumped in his chair, dead as they had feared. But on closer inspection Steve sees that there are darts in his neck and realises that Haliday has been murdered! He notices that the vault door where the Cobalt 93 is stored is open and when he peers inside he finds the container empty! Someone has stolen the Cobalt 93!

Some miles north in Washington DC, Etta and Diana find themselves a table in a Fish and Chip restaurant and sit down. Etta bemoans the fact that while she has to fight every pound and because she loves food, not eating is sheer agony, Diana seems to not care less about whether she eats and her figure shows it! As Diana replies that Etta places too high a value on externals and that what matters is inside a woman's soul, she overhears a news broadcast on a nearby radio about renewed fighting in the Middle East and how in recent months the trend towards warfare has deepened.

The words ring in her ears and she finally realises the significance of the computer print out. This strange Kobra cult is somehow responsible for the growing trend towards chaos across the world, just as her mother had suspected. She now knows what she must do.

Etta looks down momentarily at her plate but when she looks up again she finds Diana has gone. She has slipped to the rear of the restaurant, unseen and uses her magic lasso to transform into Wonder Woman. She recalls the reference to 'Tracy' in the print out and deduces it must refer to Morgan Tracy whom she had unmasked as the head of the Cartel. At the time, she had suspected another organisation supporting it in the background and her instinct now tells her that this Kobra cult was behind it from the beginning.

But what is their goal and what are they planning next? She decides that the answers will be found at Carlsbad Caverns and swiftly makes her way there using her robot plane. Back at the restaurant, Etta walks to the rear after someone has told her they had seen a woman in an air force captain's uniform come this way. But there is no sign and Etta wonders what is going on with her roommate and why has she been behaving so strangely lately?

Approximately twenty minutes later, Wonder Woman approaches Carlsbad Caverns National Park and touching down, she makes her way inside. As she walks into the darkened cave, she recalls how the print out made reference to the Carlsbad Caverns Project. If the Kobra cult had managed to infiltrate one of their people into United Nations Security, they have probably done so at the Pentagon too. She believes that the project referred to is a front for Kobra, unwittingly supported by the US military!

Wonder Woman is attacked by Kobras men!She reaches a branch tunnel closed off from the public and leaps over the barrier. She discovers what looks like the cult headquarters, though seemingly now abandoned. But why would they leave a reference to it in the Department of Defense computer? Could it be a trap?

The answer to her question comes quickly as a group a Kobra cultists charge out from a hidden chamber, firing their projectiles at her. She uses her bracelets to defend herself, guessing that the computer must have been programmed to warn the cultists if any inquiries were made. The cult had abandoned their HQ but left a rear guard to take care of any unwanted visitors.

As the cultists race forward to attack her she sends them flying with a powerful kick. This time she is prepared for their costumed armour and places her blows at its weak points, piercing it. In moments the fight is over and the cultists are out for the count on the floor.

Wonder Woman enters the large control room of the empty complex, finding sophisticated computer equipment. As she examines the chamber she suddenly hears the whine of jet engines and races to the rear of the cavern. Too late she sees a flying saucer lift off and speed away. The haste of the getaway makes her wonder if the escapee had time to take everything with them and after hunting around she discovers a copy of a top secret Pentagon report left behind regarding Cobalt 93.

As she reads its contents her eyes widen in horror. She has found the secret of the serpent...and the secret is death!

To be continued...

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