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You are in: Galleries > Wonder Woman > Volume One > Issues 251-300 > Issue 281

Issue Number: 281
Published: July 1981
Cover Artists: Ross Andru, Dick Giordano
Writer: Gerry Conway
Pencils: Jose Delbo
Inker: Dave Hunt
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colourist: Jerry Serpe
Editor: Len Wein
Story Title: The Castle Outside Time
 
Main Characters (in order of appearance):
Wonder Woman
(Diana Prince)
Etrigan The Demon Etta Candy
Baal-Satyr Randu Glenda
Klarion Colonel Steve Trevor  

Cover of Wonder Woman Issue 281

Comments:

This issue contains a first - the Amazon Princess being deluged with urine of all things!

Synopsis:

Wonder Woman and Etrigan materialise in a place that is not a place, where the eddies of time have pooled and turned back upon themselves. As the Amazon stares in amazement at her surroundings, Etrigan informs her that they have arrived at one of the Netherworlds where mortal, physical laws cannot and do not apply.

As they touch down upon a floating, treelike outgrowth, she sees a strange small creature scuttle away and Etrigan warns her that the creatures here are like nothing on earth and that even the vegetation is hostile.

The Amazon Princess gasps in horror as she sees Etta chained to a wall!He instructs her to cast her lasso over the stump and she tells him she does not like taking orders blindly. He replies that either she does as he says or she will have to find her friend on her own. Wonder Woman knows she has no other choice and does as he asks. He then tells her to hook the other end around a farther stump. With that done, they proceed to use the golden lasso as a tightrope bridge, crossing the void.

As they go, Wonder Woman recaps to Etrigan how Etta had come to be in the clutches of the demon Baal Satyr. Her demonic companion then conjures up a vision of Etta's current whereabouts. The Amazon Princess gasps in horror as she sees Etta chained to a wall, sitting on a floor strewn with skulls while Baal Satyr stirs a cauldron of boiling liquid!

Wonder Woman grabs hold of Etrigan's shoulder in panic, telling him they cannot possibly reach Etta in time before she is devoured by the Demon. But Etrigan assures her that time does not flow the same way here and what seems imminent is still hours away.

Suddenly he is interrupted by the sound of flapping wings and they both look up to see terrifying winged creatures approach. Etrigan tells Wonder Woman that these creatures are called Reptawks and their sting causes first paralysis, then death! The two of them prepare to defend themselves as the Reptawks swoop down upon them. Etrigan gleefully crackles bolts of demon fire at them while the Amazon Princess uses her wits and skill to defend herself with her bracelets while using her lasso to ensnare the creatures. She cries out to Etrigan to stop killing them needlessly but he is lost in the dark side of his nature. She sees the madness in his eyes and she begins to wonder if they will ever return from this hell.

Meanwhile the events in the Netherworld are being observed from our world through the eyes of Randu. Although blind, he has powers that let him see other things. He tells the blond girl standing next to him, named Glenda Marks, that although they struggle against a deadly foe they will triumph. As the vision finally fades Glenda says how she hates the fact that Jason Blood, the man she loves, is also the demon Etrigan. Randu understands her frustration but reminds her of the facts. Jason had lived ten centuries never knowing who he really was until a few years ago. He survived the shock of learning his true identity and he is sure his friend will survive this latest trial too.

However, Randu fears that he may still lose psychic contact with Jason and without such a delicate thread linking them, Etrigan would be unable to find his way back from the Netherworld. He must therefore not be distracted and he has called upon Glenda's help to keep him focused. Suddenly, the window smashes and Randu senses black hearted energy approach. A glowing ball of fire races into the room and strikes Randu down. Glenda rushes over to where the unconscious form of Randu lies, while the sphere begins to break apart, its job done...

Half a thousand miles away in the office of Oscar Pound, the witch boy Klarion chuckles. Stroking his cat, he muses to himself how Randu has been punished for interfering with his plans to destroy both Etrigan and Wonder Woman. He walks towards where Oscar Pound sits in the shadows and the head of the Delphi Foundation curses the boy for what he has done to him. As his long finger nailed hands reach out, the boy replies that Pound had got his wish to walk again - but at a price!

Wonder Woman is deluged in urine!He tells Pound that giving Etta to Baal Satyr was only payment for his services. Klarion has yet to render his own bill. In the meantime he has another debt to collect. Etrigan has caused him problems in the past and Wonder Woman has threatened his arrangement with Pound. Therefore he will see to it that they never bother him again...

Back in the Netherworld meanwhile, the fight continues as a seemingly never ending wave of Reptawks attack. But at last the creatures numbers dwindle to such an extent that they turn and flee, although Etrigan assures Wonder Woman that they will be back soon. They quickly continue on their way until at last they reach Baal Satyr's castle floating in the void. She asks Etrigan how they can hope to approach without being seen and he tells her to remain where he is while he begins to make his way along the trunk towards the entrance. She watches him crawl into the darkness like a cat and suddenly vanish.

A minute or so later she hears him call to her and she realises he is hanging underneath the castle's base. He tells her to swing over to him and although she does not like his imperious attitude, she does admit he seems to get results. Once she has joined him he shows her a waste chute into the castle.

As they begin to make their way up the chute, Wonder Woman feels the slippery walls and she has a sickening idea she knows what the substance is. Etrigan suddenly calls down to her that she is about to have her suspicions confirmed and warns her to hold on tight. Foul stenched fluids cascade down upon them but they continue to make their way until they reach a cross passage.

They lift a block of stone and emerge in one of the castle passageways. She tells him that although she has been through some foul experiences in her time, that was one of the worst! He replies that she should save her complaining until they reach safety and they make their way along the passage. Etrigan sniffs and says he can sense evil - Baal Satyr is nearby and he has Etta. He points in the direction they must go and informs Wonder Woman that even her dulled senses will soon detect Baal Satyr's stench. She clasps her nose and replies sarcastically that her nose is more sensitive than he thinks!

Meanwhile back in the real world, Steve finds that neither Etta nor Diana are in their office. Come to think of it, he has not noticed them arrive to work this morning either. Yet when he called their apartment earlier and there was no reply he had assumed they were on their way in. He decides to get over there in case they are in trouble.

Wonder Woman cannot understand why Baal Satyr would deliberately go into the flames unless her was invulnerable to them - and Etrigan were not!In Gotham, Randu finally comes to as a worried Glenda hovers over him. She is glad to see he is all right but he stiffens with alarm and she realises that he has lost the link with Jason. He and Wonder Woman are doomed! But Randu tells her all is not lost if they act quickly. He gives her a key and asks her to remove a certain book from the display cabinet nearby. He instructs her to turn to a particular page and she comments on the strange lettering inside. He tells her it is best she does not know the nature of the book and to tear out the incantation she finds inside. As she passes it to him he proceeds to chalk a pentagram on the floor and tells her that by harnessing the evil in the book, perhaps they can regain contact before it is too late...

Back in the Netherworld, Etta wakes from a dream of utter horror only to find that her surroundings are even worse than before! She screams as the demon snaps her chains and lifts her up in its arms. She struggles to fight back as she is carried towards the bubbling cauldron. Suddenly demon fire flashes across the room and destroys the cauldron. Baal Satyr turns in surprise to see Etrigan and Wonder Woman enter.

Baal Satyr tells Etrigan that he, as Merlin's slave, must be mad to come here and bring the "mortal wench" with him. Etrigan replies that lunacy is an old friend of his and that as for being a 'slave', he might say the same of Baal Satyr. Had he just not sold himself to a mortal's bidding in order to collect Etta as a fee? Baal Satyr hurls Etta to the ground in anger and replies that he serves no man! He had helped a fellow demon spawn instead, serving Oscar Pound only as a masquerade!

Wonder Woman tells Etrigan to attack while the demon is raging and they both land blows on the creature. But Etrigan warns her to leave Baal Satyr to him as they are old enemies and that Satyr is his by right. Baal Satyr agrees with Etrigan that she should stay out of it, taunting that there will be time enough for her to know his tender caress - just as she has already known Etrigan's no doubt! Enraged, Etrigan leaps at the other demon and Baal Satyr draws them both into the fire.

Wonder Woman cannot understand why Baal Satyr would deliberately go into the flames unless her was invulnerable to them - and Etrigan were not! For all his crudity and harshness, Etrigan has endangered himself on her account and she wonders if she will ever understand him. She quickly uses her lasso to pull up a geyser of water from a nearby trough and hurls it at the two fighting demons. Baal Satyr screams as the water dissolves him.

Etrigan picks himself up and laughs at the look he had seen on the other demon's face, as he realised he had been destroyed by a woman! With Baal Satyr slain, Wonder Woman rushes over to where Etta lies. Her roommate lies ill, in a state of shock but Etrigan assures her that once they have returned to the normal world she will be fine. To her, it will have all seemed like a dream.

Then Etrigan tries to contact Randu to lead them home but finds the link broken. He tells the Amazon they cannot find their way home and a horrified Wonder Woman realises that they are trapped here - forever!

To be continued...

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