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You are in: Galleries > Wonder Woman > Volume One > Issues 251-300 > Issue 284

Issue Number: 284
Published: October 1981
Cover Artists: George Perez, Dick Giordano
Writer: Gerry Conway
Pencils: Jose Delbo
Inker: Dave Hunt
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colourist: Jerry Serpe
Editor: Len Wein
Story Title: Shadow of the Dragon
 
Main Characters (in order of appearance):
Wonder Woman
(Diana Prince)
Colonel Steve Trevor Lao Chen
Red Dragon    

Cover of Wonder Woman Issue 284

Comments:

None.

Synopsis:

Wonder Woman strikes the dragon with all her might!As Red Dragon's men begin to flee the advancing monster, Wonder Woman realises that without the medallion which she had smashed, the dragon cannot be controlled even by them. She quickly picks up the open mouthed Lao and Steve and whisk them away from danger as the dragon rears up ready to spring.

Back out on the street, Steve protests at her protecting him once more but Lao is most grateful for her intervention! She asks the Chinese man to see if he can talk some sense into Steve while she returns to the bakery. But the dragon has already smashed down the wall and clambers out onto the pavement. It breathes out fire as it goes and the terrified onlookers scream and flee.

Wonder Woman watches as the creature turns its attention to her and she surmises that it is "programmed" to protect the arms smugglers who were using the store as a hideout. It sees her as an intruder but she is not prepared to be a sitting target. She leaps up and strikes the beast's jaw with a powerful double fisted punch. But she is dismayed to see that it is barely staggered by the blow and realises she will need a different strategy.

She dodges a mighty clawed arm as it crashes down onto a nearby car, flattening it. It then proceeds to pick up the wreck and moves forward intending to bring it smashing down on Wonder Woman. Steve watches in horror, fearing for her life and yelling at her to run. But she shouts back that he should know her better than that by now and ducks as the car narrowly whooshes past her head.

She removes her golden lasso and tells Steve that she has a plan. With that, she loops the rope around the dragon's neck and using all her might begins to swing the massive beast around and around. Finally, when she has built up enough speed she lets go, sending the dragon flying across the street and into a lamppost, whereupon it explodes into flames!

As Steve and Lao run towards the spot, they see the dragon had actually been a robot. Lao asks Wonder Woman how she knew and she replies that only a mechanical creature would have been controlled by a computer chip in a medallion.

Before the local police arrive they take the opportunity to explore the bakery. As they walk down into the basement they find several floors of weaponry stolen from Defense Department Contractors. The Red Dragon is obviously stockpiling enough weapons for shipment back to China in order to fight a small war!

Just then Steve spies some empty crates and recognises the markings on their side. He tells Lao and Wonder Woman that they had once contained parts for the 120-7 missile, one of the Pentagon's top secret cruise missiles. The weapon can evade all known antimissile systems, which means the People's Republic of China may be in a lot of trouble! Lao asks Steve to accompany him back to China to help them fight this weapon, while Wonder Woman meanwhile slips away unseen. Steve replies that he will need State Department and White House clearance but as far as he is concerned, he is only too happy to do so.

As they shake hands Diana Prince runs up and the two men suddenly realise the Amazing Amazon has disappeared. As they shake hands Diana Prince runs up and the two men suddenly realise the Amazing Amazon has disappeared. They ask Diana if she had seen Wonder Woman leave but she replies "no". Steve gives Diana a long, suspicious look and she begins to wonder whether he suspects her...

Fourteen hours later Diana, Steve and Lao arrive at an airfield outside Peking. They are greeted by officials who thank them for their aid against the 'counter revolutionary' known as the Red Dragon. Diana notices that Steve seems uncomfortable with all of this and she feels the same way too. It is not just that everything here seems so drab, but somehow there are just too many people. There is no room to breathe and she muses they will never understand a culture in which privacy is not so much a right - as a luxury. The country seems so alien that it makes Washington seem as warm and familiar to her as Paradise Island. And yet she can see in the faces of the people here humanity; laughing and smiling, frowning and tears. Perhaps beneath the surface every culture and creed all share the same hopes and dreams. It is a lesson she has been taught by her mother and she must therefore believe in it.

They are taken to the highly secret "war room" where technicians monitor consoles and Lao tells them that they take the threat of the Red Dragon very seriously. He indicates a point marked on the huge map on the wall and recounts how five weeks ago, they had sent a troop of their finest soldiers on a mission to explore a mountain range. They had heard rumours of strange Quasi Governmental activity in the hills. But two weeks past and what was left of the troops returned, broken and battered. They babbled insanely about a secret castle ruled by a Feudal madman named the Red Dragon!

Their intelligence reports now indicate that the Red Dragon is planning a major offensive against the government, seeking to return to the cruel Feudal System of a hundred years ago with himself as the warlord! As Diana listens, her instincts are alerted to a technician. She shouts a warning too late as he throws a gas grenade and they are all overcome by the fumes.

Some time later Diana awakes with an aching head to find herself lying in a hospital bed. She sees Steve in the bed next to her in the same condition. A nurse informs them that they are suffering the lingering aftereffects of a sleeping gas, but nothing more serious than that. Steve asks Diana if she is OK and she replies that she is fine, asking him the same question in return. He says that he has the "granddaddy of all headaches but otherwise all systems are go". However, unknown to Colonel Trevor a small organic implant now nestles behind his left ear.

Just then Lao enters the ward and tells them that the technician had committed suicide before the security team could capture him. Thankfully though, it seems his assassination attempt had failed and soon they will act to stop the Red Dragon's plans. Diana however, is not so sure...

Meanwhile, in the distant mountains of the Central Tibetan Plateau, a great multi-tiered Pagoda can be seen rising from the cool mists. Inside the castle of Red Dragon, one of his underlings dashes through the corridors on his way to his master. He enters the master's chamber and Red Dragon orders him to speak. The costumed underling bows before his revered master and reports that Steve Trevor, who has brought to China the computer codes that might upset the course of the 120-7 missile, has been neutralised! Although pleased, Red Dragon replies that the colonel may also prove useful to them at the proper moment. He then orders his lackey to prepare the control crystal to do whatever is needed to achieve their ends and to commence the operation proper.

Lao gives a shout and points up into the sky, where the 120-7 can be seen streaking towards themThe underling races off to the control room manned by more costumed men and announces that the time has come to strike. With a press of a button the missile is launched and less than six seconds later an alarm is triggered in the Peking war room. The long distance radar shows an unauthorised missile launch targeted at the Great Wall of China!

A few minutes later, Steve, Diana and Lao climb aboard a jeep and set off to the target site. Diana asks Lao whether they have tried to shoot the missile down with their own fighter craft and Lao replies that unfortunately, the Americans build their missiles well and that the weapon had managed to evade them. It is now up to Steve with the automatic abort signal he has brought with him from America.

Steve smiles and tells Lao to relax, holding up the remote control device. He explains that the Department of Defense spent millions on the gadget which is the key to the entire 120-7 system. With it, an observer can control, guide and if necessary, abort the missile. Diana asks him whether he is certain he can stop the missile and he assures her everything is under control.

As they arrive at the Great Wall of China passing by hundreds of fleeing citizens though, Diana begins to feel uneasy about Steve's tone. She feels something is very wrong! Lao gives a shout and points up into the sky, where the 120-7 can be seen streaking towards them. The Chinese man tells Steve to stop the missile quickly but Steve replies that although Lao may want it stopped, the Red Dragon does not. With that he drops the device to the ground and crushes it with his foot!

Lao stares in shock at a smiling Steve's act of treachery while Diana looks up into the sky in horror...not sure that even Wonder Woman can save them now!

To be continued...

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