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You are in: Galleries > Wonder Woman > Volume One > Issues 251-300 > Issue 279

Issue Number: 279
Published: May 1981
Cover Artists: Ross Andru, Dick Giordano
Writer: Gerry Conway
Pencils: Jose Delbo
Inker: Dave Hunt
Letterer: John Costanza
Colourist: Gene D'Angelo
Editor: Len Wein
Story Title: The Strange Disappearance of Etta Candy
 
Main Characters (in order of appearance):
Wonder Woman
(Diana Prince)
Mother Juju General Darnell
Etta Candy    

Cover of Wonder Woman Issue 279

Comments:

This particular issue is noteworthy in so much that half of the story is told in a flashback, as Wonder Woman recounts to Mother Juju what has befallen her...

Synopsis:

It is night time in downtown Washington DC and Mother Juju is woken by a knock at her door. She opens it to reveal Wonder Woman, bruised and bleeding and she helps the battered Amazon stagger inside.

As the old woman guides Wonder Woman to a couch, she tells the Amazon Princess that even in 'that outlandish costume', she recognises Diana as being the same woman who had sought her help in discovering the whereabouts of the Kobra. As she lays the injured Wonder Woman down, she gently encourages her to drink some water and tells her to rest. As she assures the Amazon that she will be back to check on her around midnight, Wonder Woman suddenly cries out and strikes out at unseen foes, yelling at them to "get away!" from her.

General Darnell kisses Diana passionately on the lips.Mother Juju soothes her and tells her to calm down, assuring her that there are no bogey men here. Wonder Woman replies that the old woman does not understand what has happened and that she has seen what they were doing to Etta. Mother Juju asks her to recount her story and so the Amazon begins...

Diana had been returning from a late dinner with her superior, General Darnell. She had told the General that he was being unfair, pressing her to go out with him when she has made it clear she is not interested. In reply, he draws her near and kisses her passionately on the lips.

She storms inside to her apartment, furious with Darnell whom has continually tried to be charming but has instead become a crushing bore. She wonders why love is so complex here in Man's World, where the likes of Darnell will not leave her alone and yet Steve, her true love, does not have the time of day for her as Diana Prince and only has eyes for Wonder Woman.

His affection for her alter ego is beginning to look like an adolescent infatuation. Was she wrong to accompany him back to America after his crash landing off Paradise Island? Has she fallen in love with a man whose understanding of caring is hopelessly flawed? She finds herself confused due to the topsy turvy values of this world and wonders how any society can be sane when it is run by little boys? Her roommate, Etta Candy, is a perfect case in point. She is a lovely person, kind intelligent and loving. Yet because she fails to meet male standards of beauty she spends her evenings home, alone.

Just then she notices that oddly she has seen no sign of Etta who is normally still awake when she gets home. Lately, she has been greeting Diana with a mug of hot chocolate and they have spent hours talking. She wonders if Etta is unwell and gently knocks on her bedroom door. When she gets no reply she assumes Etta is asleep but just then she notices green smoke wisps seeping under the door.

She immediately kicks the locked door in, fearing for her roommate's life but finds that it is not smoke but some kind of awful sulphur smelling mist. It is so thick that she cannot see across the room and she opens a window to vent the place. To her dismay she sees that Etta's bed has been rumpled but she is nowhere to be seen, yet the bedroom door had been locked from the inside.

As her mind races she hears the sound of chanting through the open window. As she peers down she realises that the strange incantations are coming from the apartment below. Both her and Etta had been bothered by noise from the occupants for the past few weeks and Etta had intended to complain to the landlord, Senator Abernathy. Could the tenants have heard Etta's complaint and taken some action against her?

Diana decides she does not like the sound of the chanting as it makes her flesh crawl, especially if Etta is also down there too. Suddenly it comes to her - sulphurous mist, otherwise known as brimstone and chanting in Latin can only add up to one thing - demon worship!

She quickly transforms into Wonder Woman, knowing that even if they are simply fanatics without true powers, they could still be deadly dangerous. She decides to confirm her suspicions first without letting herself be seen, which might put Etta in further danger. She therefore steps out onto the window ledge and loops her magic lasso over the chimney above. Slowly, she begins to lower herself down the golden rope until she is level with the window of the apartment below.

An injured Wonder Woman finally comes to her sensesShe can see lights glowing inside and as she stares through the window her eyes widen in shock. At the same moment the window explodes outwards and glass flies everywhere. Instantly she uses her bracelets to protect herself from the lethal shards but in doing so lets go of her lasso.

She tumbles downwards unable to find any air currents to glide upon. She manages to twist about just before impact so as to land on her shoulders to keep from breaking her neck. But even so, she smashes into some dustbins in the alleyway and for an unknown number of minutes she lays there in pain and shock, unable to move. Finally, she begins to feel sensation slowly returning to her limbs and manages to pull herself up.

Badly cut and bruised, she nevertheless staggers around to the building's side door and makes her way upstairs. The door to the apartment is locked and it takes all her strength to break it down. She makes her way to the room where the sulphour smell is coming from and cries out to Etta. But the room is now deserted though still thick with the oily yellow fog. Wonder Woman sees a pentagram chalked onto the floor and bends down for a closer look at this surreal scene. She runs a finger over the wet blood between the chalk lines and knows this is no dream. That is when she decides to speak with Mother Juju.

As her story finishes, the old woman replies that she has done the right thing and that perhaps she can help. But first she must hear what Wonder Woman saw through that window. A terrified Amazon replies that she does not want to remember but nevertheless agrees to her request.

At first, all she could see was the amber glow of candles through the thick fog. But then, just for a moment, the mist cleared enough for her to see Etta lying bound on the floor in the centre of the pentagram. A dozen or so horrible robed figures loomed over her, hands clutching knives, voices raised in prayer. She must have gasped at the sight or made some sort of sound because their leader, wearing a goat's head mask, stiffened and turned to look at the window. His eyes met hers and it was all she could do not to scream. At that point the window blew outward.

Ever since she has come to, she has been haunted, wondering why the sight of that man paralysed her so with fear? Mother Juju tells her that she is a good, brave woman but that there are certain kinds of evil where being good is just not good enough to fight it. Wonder Woman replies that she does not care about her initial reaction and that she can deal with that. What is more important is what has happened to Etta.

Mother Juju leads her to the garden and pours a specially prepared potion into a brick cauldron, which bursts into flame. As she watches the old woman seemingly pretend to work voodoo, Wonder Woman begins to doubt her sanity in coming here at all. She had hoped that Juju could perhaps give her some hint as to how to find the black mass worshippers. Mother Juju is the only person the Amazon knows who has any connection with 'black magic' and she was the first person who came to mind. But perhaps the Amazon's judgment had not been as sound as it should have been.

Wonder Woman swiftly decks two armed guards!However, the Princess is made to eat her words as the flames burst upwards and a vision appears in the smoke! A building named the Delphi Foundation reveals itself and Wonder Woman recognises this as a top secret government funded think tank on the Chesapeake Bay. What possible connection could this have with the demon worshippers?

As the vision fades Mother Juju sags with the effort and Wonder Woman helps her steady herself. The tired old woman replies that she cannot explain what the connection is and that is all the magic reveals. The Amazon Princess thanks her and quickly summons her invisible plane.

Soon she is gliding over the Chesapeake Bay and touches down in the moonlit waters. As she dives into the bay, she has decided to trust in Mother Juju's magic and believes that she will find Etta here. As she swims stealthily to a nearby jetty, she muses over what little she knows about the Delphi Foundation. It has contracts with the Pentagon and its director, a man named Oscar Pound, is rumoured to be the living model of Doctor Strangelove! Delphi is also supposed to be paranoically security conscious which means she had better strike first!

With that, she floors two surprised armed guards with a powerful kick. Swiftly she runs to the perimeter fence and decides that as it is no doubt alarmed she will simply jump over it. But as she does so she spies an electronic eye on the other side and her landing breaks the beam. Immediately alarms blare and searchlights trace the grounds.

Realising that she has lost the element of surprise she decides on brute force and smashes her way into the building through a large plate glass window. A technician is startled by her entrance and tries to run away but she grabs him around the neck and demands to know the whereabouts of Etta.

Although he is not familiar with the name, he assumes she is referring to the 'heavyset' woman who is helping with project "summons". He leads the Amazon Princess to a room sealed with a security door. He uses his card to open the door and clouds of green mist belch out.

She steps inside as he ducks away and makes her way into the room. As the clouds clear she sees the nightmare image of Etta, hands bound and on her knees, surrounded by the hooded worshippers and their leader. But what is most shocking of all is the sight of a real, horned demon looming over her terrified roommate!

To be continued...

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