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You are in: Galleries > Wonder Woman > Volume One > Issues 251-300 > Issue 286

Issue Number: 286
Published: December 1981
Cover Artists: Ross Andru, Dick Giordano
Writer: Robert Kanigher
Pencils: Jose Delbo
Inker: Dave Hunt
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colourist: Jerry Serpe
Editor: Len Wein
Story Title: Be Wonder Woman...and Die!
 
Main Characters (in order of appearance):
Amy Kelley Dr. Wolfe Colonel Steve Trevor
Wonder Woman
(Diana Prince)
Etta Candy Mack Kelley
Konrad Kardion Hippolyta  

Cover of Wonder Woman  Issue 286

Comments:

This dramatic cover is rather misleading and the relevancy to the actual story is pretty tenuous. However, covers like these were common in the comic medium around this time and even today, publishers still take artistic license on occasions!

This story is set against the back drop of real life events in the form of the shooting of President Ronald Reagan and also contains a couple of cameos by the DC comics creative team themselves no less!

Synopsis:

As President Reagan lies in a hospital in the nation's capital, being treated for an assassin's bullet, another celebrated figure is being scanned by medical science's latest technology. Once the scan is complete the doctor asks the Amazon figure dressed in the famous red blue and gold costume how much she wishes to be told about the results? She calmly replies that she wishes to be told everything.

Once in the privacy of his office, he explains to her that the CAT scan has confirmed that she is suffering from Metastatic Melanoma. She asks how long she has to live and the doctor replies that with radium treatment, medication and hospitalisation when necessary, there is always the possibility of a remission halting the spread of the cancer. She asks him not to pamper her and demands to know how long she really has. He quietly replies that she has six months.

Determined, she tells him that she will not be hospitalised and will not receive any treatment. She chooses to spend the rest of her life protecting innocent people against the forces of evil - right up until the end. She insists that he keeps his findings privileged information under his Hippocratic Oath. He accedes to her wishes and hands her a box of pills for when the pain becomes unbearable. As she turns to leave she says to the solemn doctor that he should not feel so dejected. It is not how long one lives but how well one lives it...

Later that day atop a nearby skyscraper, a gang of armed crooks hold a group of terrified people hostage. If their demands are not met by the authorities they promise to toss one hostage off the roof every ten minutes until they are. One of the hostages is a white haired old Jewish man who cannot believe that after having survived a Nazi Death camp during the war and been rescued by the Israelis from terrorists at Entebbe, he now faces slaughter here.

Below, as TV cameras film the tense situation, Steve Trevor confers with the officer in charge of the armed forces surrounding the building. He plans to parachute down onto the roof with a backpack containing the terrorists 20 million dollar ransom as requested. Ten minutes later, the gang expect a giant helicopter to then airlift them away to a waiting jet bound for Libya. However, Steve aims to knock them out with a vial of sleeping gas before that happens.

At that moment in the Pentagon, Etta Candy is asking Diana Prince whether she has any news on the disappearance of the blueprints of America's advanced killer satellite. Diana replies that nothing has turned up yet and that all they know is that the blueprints have not yet left the country. Just then they hear the TV report about the hostage situation and Steve's parachute drop and Diana decides she must get to the scene at once!

Wonder Woman plays bullets and bracelets!Meanwhile, Steve has dropped from a hovering helicopter and drifts down towards the roof top. As per their instructions, he drops the backpack on the roof when he is about 1000 feet up. Seeing their money is inside, they lift up their machine guns and prepare to shoot him in order to convince the authorities not to delay their escape chopper. As bullets zing past him he tries to swing out of their line of sight before he is hit. Suddenly, the old man who is horrified at the imminent cold blooded murder of Steve, leaps onto the back of one of the terrorists, trying to disarm him. Another crook mows the Jew down with his own gun and the old man sags to the floor, mortally wounded. He attempts to utter the words of the Hebrew Prayer for the dead with his last breath just as Wonder Woman arrives and leaps down from her invisible plane. She sees the dying Jew and a moment before his death the sorrowful Amazon, who is versed in all languages, brings peace to the old man by finishing the prayer for him. The astonished terrorists recover their composure and open fire on Wonder Woman, intent on cutting her down in a hail of bullets. Not far above, Steve watches aghast and unclips himself from his chute, dropping down towards the firing thugs.

As bullets blaze at the fearless Princess, she uses her skills to deflect every shell while Steve ends his daring freefall with utter disregard for his own life and clouts the surprised thugs over the head. The remaining gang members raise their weapons and threaten to shoot Steve unless Wonder Woman freezes. She dare not risk Steve's life and yet she must save the hostages. What should she do? Steve makes it easy for her by jumping off the edge of the roof to plummet towards the ground far below. Anguish turns to rage as Wonder Woman unleashes her magic lasso and deflecting bullets as she goes, charges at the astonished thugs. With the speed of a whirling comet she whips the golden rope around them and leaving them safely bound, she leaps off the roof after Steve. She orders her plane to dive at maximum speed while below, the watching camera crews trace Steve's descent. He suddenly finds himself in Wonder Woman's arms and says to her that he was wondering how long it would take for her to catch him up! As they safely touch down onto the wings of the invisible plane she tells him not to ever do that to her again!

Later that day in a theatre, a group of actresses dressed in Wonder Woman costumes are being auditioned for the starring role in a new film. Studio executives and Wonder Woman herself sit in the auditorium as each girl delivers her lines. The next girl steps up but nerves get the better of her and she dries up She is asked to step down and the next budding actress is called. The rejected actress walks off stage and removes a box of pills from her pocket. She is is agony from the cancer inside her and needs relief quickly. Donning her coat she leaves the building and ponders that although she had fooled the doctors into thinking she was really Wonder Woman, in fact she is nothing more than a nobody, always facing rejection. As tears well in her eyes, she considers how she will also die a nobody as if she had never existed.

Meanwhile, at a sleazy club, an old clown desperately tries to perform through the jeers of the uncaring patrons. But suddenly the cat calls are turned to silence when Wonder Woman apparently steps onto the stage. She demands that they stop tormenting the clown. Can't they see he is just an old comic trying to make them laugh? She leads the old man to the dressing room while the shamed audience cheer and salute their beloved Amazon Princess. In the dressing room though, this 'Wonder Woman' turns out to be the dying girl whose name is Amy. The old man says to her that the crowd were cheering her but she tells him that it was only because they thought she was the real Amazon and not, in fact, just his daughter. As father and child leave for the night, he tells her that he can sense their luck is going to change. He just knows that she will get the part as Wonder Woman in the film. With him as her manager, they will be on top of the world! She replies that she just wants to get home and get out of the costume.

Once they have arrived back at their apartment and Amy has changed, the old man wallows in nostalgia about how he had appeared with the greats such as Judy Garland, Liz Taylor, Mickey Rooney and had even won an Oscar. He tells Amy that it is in her blood too. She nods unconvincingly and notices a headline on the paper he is reading. The article tells of how Wonder Woman had rescued the hostages and in the process given some unscheduled excellent publicity for the new Wonder Woman film in the process. This gives Amy an idea...

Meanwhile across town in an expensive hotel within sight of the Washington Monument, a man takes a shower. The man's name is Konrad Kardion and he is pitiless and without any feeling. This is because his diseased heart has been replaced by a mechanical one. As he freshens up, he ponders on how the terrorists he had hired had served their purpose by putting the police and National Guard on alert, looking elsewhere for similar outrages. While they are preoccupied he will be able to recover the killer satellite blueprints he has hidden and for which the Soviets are waiting impatiently to pay a small fortune for!

The following day Diana and Etta are again in the monitor room when Diana sees another live TV report about a fire at the film studios where the Wonder Woman film is to be shot. She watches in amazement as a woman dressed in a Wonder Woman costume rushes into the burning building. Obviously an impostor, but nevertheless risking her life to save those trapped inside. Quickly, she summons her robot plane and transforming into her own costume, she soon arrives at the scene. At the same moment Steve is driving towards the Pentagon and hears on the radio that no sign has been seen of Wonder Woman since she dashed into the raging inferno a few minutes earlier. He decides he must go to her assistance and speeds to the studios.

Inside meanwhile, Wonder Woman has dropped in through a skylight and has located the impostor, seemingly overcome by the smoke but otherwise safe. She decides to leave her here for now while she leads the trapped people out to safety. She instructs them to hold each others hands to form a human chain and cover their noses and mouths. With that, she guides them through the dense smoke and directs them to the street outside. She then turns back for the girl and helps her out too.

Steve sees the apparent figure of Wonder Woman emerge through the smoke and sweeps her up in his armsShe tells Amy that she admires her attempt to rescue the trapped people and that she has the courage of an Amazon, if not the powers. She asks Amy why she did it and the girl replies that she was trying to win the part to play Wonder Woman but she had failed, just as she had in the auditions. She is a loser, rejected all her life. Taking pity on her, Wonder Woman tells Amy that she will not reveal her true identity and gives her the opportunity to step out of the building on her own in order to play the part of Wonder Woman for real.

As the TV crews wait for news they see the figure of an air force colonel race towards the burning building. Kardion, posing as a cameraman, realises that he has overdone his little distraction and will need to return later to recover the blueprints he has hidden here. Meanwhile Steve sees the apparent figure of Wonder Woman emerge through the smoke and sweeps her up in his arms. In doing so, he dislodges her wig, revealing Amy! As he realises she is an impostor she begins to apologise for any harm she has caused. But as the crowd cheers Steve presents her to the watching cameramen and says that she deserves a medal for bravery and that she has the heart of an Amazon.

By morning the papers carry the whole fantastic story of her heroics and announce the fact that Amy has been selected for the role! On the first day's shooting studio executives and DC Comic's very own Publisher and Editor, namely Jennette Kahn and Len Wein, look on as Amy prepares for her first take. Her father looks on proudly and hands out cigars, telling everyone that he is her manager and that nothing will stop them now. As the cameras role, Amy plays out a scene where Wonder Woman renounces her mortality to enter Man's World and says good-bye to her mother, Queen Hippolyta She plays the part magnificently to the delight of everyone watching.

The next day as Wonder Woman is about to visit Amy in her dressing room she encounters the doctor, who explains how Amy had impersonated her when she had visited the hospital for tests. He tells a shocked Princess that the girl has only months to live and will die in agony unless she returns to hospital to make her last days free of unendurable pain. Wonder Woman agrees to persuade her to go but when she confronts Amy, the young actress explains that her father is someone important again after being a has-been for years. If he found out about her condition he would be crushed. Also, if she is not left to finish the film she will die as if she never existed. She pleads with the Amazon Princess to keep her secret. Wonder Woman reluctantly agrees.

Day after day, using a diminishing supply of pain killers, Amy fights against the time that's running out for her. Similarly, Wonder Woman's heart shares the agony of Amy until in desperation she contacts her mother on Paradise Island. They agree that as soon as Amy has finished the last take she should be brought to the island for treatment to see if Amazon medicine can save her. And so finally, on the last day's shooting as they prepare for the last take, Wonder Woman enters Amy's dressing room to find her sleeping. She decides to let the girl rest as the last shot is just a fade-out with no dialogue and she can take Amy's place without anyone noticing. But as she emerges from the room, Wonder Woman finds everyone on the set cowed by fear before Kardion, who is wearing a Nazi Stormtrooper uniform and packing a flame thrower!

As Wonder Woman struggles against the flames she manages to remove her tiara...He heartlessly tells them that they are in his way and in a few seconds they will be nothing but a pile of ashes. As he unleashes the deadly flame, the Amazing Amazon hurls herself like a human shield in front of the helpless captives. She desperately lunges from one side to the other to avoid being incinerated by the scorching bursts of flame while using her bracelets to absorb the blasts. But as he turns up the power she stumbles backwards and he moves forward for the kill. She quickly removes her tiara though and sends it slicing through the air to clout Kardion on the chin, sending him toppling. She then quickly removes her lasso to bind him and he is forced to reveal that he is here to recover the stolen blueprints hidden in the cellar. The director, who has managed to capture the events on film, decides to forget the script and use that as his final scene!

In the commotion as the spy is taken into custody, Diana races away with the weakening Amy to her robot plane waiting outside. They fly to Paradise Island and soon Amy is resting in the palace. But after a thorough examination by Amazon doctors, Hippolyta tells Diana that they are too late and that there is nothing they can do. In her delirium, Amy actually believes herself to be the real Wonder Woman and lifting her hands meekly towards the queen's concerned face, says "mother". She tells Hippolyta that she feels so sleepy and asks to be kissed goodnight. As Diana sheds tears, Hippolyta gently kisses Amy's forehead and whispers "sleep well...daughter" as the young woman finally passes away.

That night, an Amazon torch-lit procession strides to a lofty promontory overlooking the calm seas surrounding Paradise Island. Amy is buried at the foot of a large tree and Diana announces to the watching Amazons that it is more fitting that Amy's final resting place is marked by a living thing, green with hope, than cold, lifeless stone. She bids Amy farewell...

Almost a year later at the Oscar ceremony, Wonder Woman presents the Best Actress award to Amy, which is accepted on her behalf by her weeping but nevertheless proud Father. The Amazon Princess tells the hushed audience that while she is no longer with us, she is sure that Amy would have been very happy to be awarded such an honour. This brave young woman will live forever as the cinema "Wonder Woman" and although she was not born an Amazon, because of her sublime courage she died an Amazon!

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