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You are in: Galleries > Wonder Woman > Volume One > Issues 251-300 > Issue 280

Issue Number: 280
Published: June 1981
Cover Artists: Ross Andru, Dick Giordano
Writer: Gerry Conway
Pencils: Jose Delbo
Inker: Dave Hunt
Letterer: Todd Klein
Colourist: Jerry Serpe
Editor: Len Wein
Story Title: In the Claws of Demons
 
Main Characters (in order of appearance):
Wonder Woman
(Diana Prince)
Etta Candy Baal-Satyr
Colonel Steve Trevor Oscar Pound Klarion
Mother Juju Jason Blood
(Etrigan The Demon)
Randu

Cover of Wonder Woman Issue 280

Comments:

None.

Synopsis:

Wonder Woman cannot believe her eyes as Etta cringes in the grip of the horrible monster. The Amazon steps forwards to help her friend but the demon raises his hand and gathers up the mist in the room. It changes into a solid form and decks her with a powerful punch.

As she tries to get up it swirls around her throat and begins to choke her. She realises that this is no illusion and the demon tells her that it is as real as him.

Wonder Woman is slashed by the claws of the demon!He reveals himself to be Baal-Satyr, high lordling of the lower depths! The robed ones gathered here have summoned him to do their bidding and Etta is the payment for his aid. Wonder Woman can see her roommate is in a state of shock and thinks she is dreaming, but while she herself is occupied with the deadly mist trying to strangle her, she cannot help Etta. Therefore her friend will have to help herself.

The Amazon Princess cries out to Etta, telling her to look around herself and snap out of it. Hearing the Amazon's voice, she realises that this is not a dream after all but in terror, passes out. Wonder Woman, seeing that she must try and save them both, finally manages to reach for her lasso and unhooks it. She begins to whirl it around at super speed, hurling the fog away in billowing clouds towards the direction of the watching robed followers, who themselves begin to choke.

High up in an observation platform, technicians from the Delphi Foundation have been watching these events with growing dismay. They fear the experiment has got out of hand but a shadowy figure in a wheelchair responds that, on the contrary, everything has gone to plan. They have achieved their primary goal and must now eliminate the participants. The technicians hear the tone of their master and the dark rage it portends. They quickly activate the weapon systems.

An automated machine gun begins to rake the laboratory with bullets. Wonder Woman uses all her skill to deflect the barrage with her bracelets while at the same time racing over to where the demon and Etta are. As she moves, the machine gun swings around after her and she knows she must try to get between Etta and the bullets. But she finds Baal-Satyr blocking her way.

However, the creature takes the bullets instead and becomes annoyed by the patter of steel slugs against his warty hide. He reacts with blind fury and belches flame from his mouth, roasting the machine gun and turning his attention to Wonder Woman! He falls on her like a collapsing building, crushing the breath from her with his weight. His own breath is a hot, fetid wind which is so foul it makes her almost faint. Claws tear at her flesh and fangs snap at her throat. It is all she can do to keep her balance until with an effort that can only be described as despairing, she manages to brace her knees against the creature and thrusts with all her might!

But her boots meet empty air as he disappears before her eyes. His voice still booms around the room, mocking her and proclaiming his power. As she tries to get her bearings once more he suddenly materialises from the fog and taking her by surprise, hurls her across the room with the force of a hurricane. She slumps unconscious to the laboratory floor...

When she finally comes to she finds herself lying on the verge of the Potomac Parkway. As her muscles complain, she eases herself to her feet, wondering how she got here and what has happened to Etta?

An hour or so later at the Pentagon, Captain Diana Prince arrives for work and is greeted by Steve. He inquiries on Etta's whereabouts, but Diana simply replies that she has vanished from her apartment the previous night and that she believes her to be a captive at the Delphi Foundation. Steve presses her further but she refuses to say any more, replying that if he respects her as an officer he will humour her on this one.

The witch boy KlarionAs they make their way in a car to the Delphi Foundation she muses to herself that while Steve loves Wonder Woman, he simply sees Diana Prince as just another soldier. She wonders why she ever got involved in this whole game of secret identities? But then she reminds herself that it was to allow her to observe Man's World as one of its people and perhaps understand the causes of cruelty and violence.

They pull up at the guarded entrance to the institute and Steve shows his ID. He tells the guard that they are here to see Oscar Pound and they are allowed through. They are lead to an office where a fat, bearded man sits behind a large desk smoking a pipe. As they are greeted by Pound, Steve inquires about the whereabouts of one of his people, Etta Candy. Pound replies that he is not familiar with that name and asks whether it is perhaps a code word for a new government project? He hopes the Colonel will explain himself and Steve continues that Captain Prince believes he might be somehow involved with Etta's disappearance.

Pound begins to laugh and says that it all sounds so wonderfully melodramatic. He explains that because of his confinement to a wheelchair he spends much of his time reading. Steve's story reminds him of one of those marvelous old pulp novels! He summons one of his aides to show Steve and Diana around the complex to prove he has nothing to hide.

Once they have gone, he tells an unseen figure to come out of the closet where he has been hiding. The evil looking witch boy, named Klarion, steps out carrying a cat and Pound says to him that he had been assured by the boy that there would not be any problems. The boy smiles and replies that he had lied and that there are always problems. However, even Pound must admit that the results of their endeavor so far had been all he had promised.

Pound mutters to himself, asking why he had listened to the boy in the first place and Klarion reminds him that he had offered Pound something that science could not . Pound asks the boy at what price though, involving him and his organisation in witchcraft? Klarion continues that his alternative to science had given Pound the ability to walk again and the head of Delphi raises himself out of his chair. He replies that yes, the boy has delivered what he had promised once Pound had fulfilled his side of the bargain.

He had blackmailed Senator Abernathy into providing them with an apartment in his townhouse, below the room of those two women, Candy and Prince. Then he had his people perform black mass to lure the woman Candy into their clutches in order to summon the demon Baal Satyr. He had then traded the woman for the demon thing's aid in repairing his ruined legs, just as Klarion had said it would.

But although he can now walk again, an innocent woman is gone to some Netherworld hell and he now owes Klarion a debt he can never repay. Klarion replies that he is sure he can think of a suitable payment while Pound nurses his aching legs, which feel like they are almost bursting apart.

Meanwhile, several floors below, Steve and Diana are being lead down a corridor by the aide. Diana recognises the door ahead as that of the chamber she had been in last night. The aide opens the door and they step inside. But to Diana's dismay the room is filled with computer equipment and Steve apologises for wasting the Foundation's time.

Diana replies that she must have been mistaken, knowing inside that what she had seen was real and that Steve must think she has gone mad making her accusation. Which means that if she is going to find Etta, she will have to do it alone!

Wonder Woman suddenly turns and recites the ancient transformation rite!Later that night at the shop of Mother Juju, Wonder Woman and the old woman discuss the situation. Having been told about how the demon thing had taken Etta, Juju tells the Amazon that there is always hope. She must seek the demon and hound him to his retreat. To do that she will need help and she shows Wonder Woman a picture of a man named Jason Blood. As the Amazon Princess studies the photo, Mother Juju explains that he is a strange man, if a man at all, and she goes on to tell her his story...

A little later at an apartment in Gotham City, the man named Jason Blood practices his karate moves with a bearded man in a turban named Randu, who is his closest friend. Suddenly, Wonder Woman swoops in through the window and she asks Blood for his help. She adds that she knows his real name - Etrigan. As the two men look at each other, she goes on to say that she knows he is a demon summoned almost a thousand years ago by Merlin, to protect a dying Camelot. Merlin had died but Etrigan lived on as an immortal man named Jason Blood!

Randu replies that she must realise that what she is speaking is utter nonsense and that his friend is as human as they are. He adds that she must have been misled and the two men lead her towards the door. But suddenly she turns and says that Mother Juju had warned her that they would not admit it. So she had told the Amazon Princess to say:

"Change change o'form of man!
Release the might from fleshly mire!
Boil the blood in heart of fire!
Gone, gone the form of man!
Rise the Demon Etrigan!"

Outside, thunder rolls across the sky and lightning stabs like a fresh-struck sword. Jason Blood screams and as ancient furies are unleashed within him, he changes from man into something not quite a monster - the demon known as Etrigan! The demon laughs at his new lease of life as Wonder Woman tells him that she has summoned him for his help. The grateful demon says that he will gladly help her as she explains that a very good friend of hers has been taken by a demon named Baal Satyr.

Randu warns his friend that if this trail leads to the Netherworld he may lose his way back. But the demon cares not for Randu's advice and takes Wonder Woman's hand. As they step into a mist which suddenly surrounds them both, he warns her that they are about to journey to a place beyond mortal ken and only the gods know if they will ever return!

To be continued...

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