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You are in: Galleries > Wonder Woman > Volume One > Issues 251-300 > Issue 298

Issue Number: 298
Published: December 1982
Cover Artists: Frank Miller, Dick Giordano
Writer: Dan Mishkin
Pencils: Gene Colan
Inker: Frank McLaughlin
Letterer: John Costanza
Colourist: Carl Gafford
Editor: Marv Wolfman
Story Title: Catacombs
 
Main Characters (in order of appearance):
Wonder Woman
(Diana Prince)
Etta Candy General Darnell
Hippolyta Bellerophon Colonel Steve Trevor
Nikos Aegeus Carlo Peter
Sofia Constantinas Athena  

Cover of Wonder Woman Issue 298

Comments:

In stark contrast to last issue's effort, this excellent cover by Frank Miller and Dick Giordano uses more traditional style artwork and is both atmospheric and chilling in equal measures.

Synopsis:

In a Pentagon debrief session, General Darnell is shown camera footage of recent events. An officer explains to Darnell and the others in the room how Aegeus had appeared out of nowhere and that by the time Wonder Woman had appeared on the scene, Steve Trevor had gone. The General asks whether he means that Steve had been killed and the officer replies that they are not certain, although their guess is that he is not dead.

An image of Steve's jet being hit by a thunderbolt is shown, and the audience watch the craft plummet out of control before Wonder Woman's robot plane brings it under control. Because the plane itself seemed to be intact they have concluded that the bolt somehow teleported Steve somewhere else, in the same way that Aegeus himself subsequently vanished.

General Darnell then asks about this Aegeus and is told that he has been identified as one Nikos Aegeus, a Greek National who is well known as a terrorist leader responsible for a recent political kidnap-execution in Athens. On hearing this, Darnell suggests that their first course of action should be to establish a liaison with the Greek Authorities. Etta advises him that Captain Prince has already volunteered for the task and should be somewhere over the Atlantic as they speak...

Hippolyta states that if Bellerophon managed to keep the Golden Bridle he may have passed it on to Aegeus.In fact though, Diana is approaching Paradise Island in the heart of the Bermuda triangle on board her invisible jet. After landing she goes straight to the palace and tells her mother, the Queen, about the recent incident. She asks Hippolyta how a mortal such as this Aegeus could have gained such power as the thunderbolts of Zeus? Her mother responds that the Magic Sphere confirms that Aegeus had been astride the legendary winged steed of Zeus, Pegasus. What is more, it is not the first time that a normal human being has mastered him.

In Greece's Golden Age, there lived one called Bellerophon, nobly born but cast out by King's to wander alone. Feeling for his plight, the Goddess Athena gave him a magic Bridle with which to tame Pegasus. With the aid of his winged mount, Bellerophon slew the awesome Chimera and ever the proud and restless one, sought to prove his greatness again and again. He attacked the Amazons and destroyed their city and finally tried to ride up to Olympus itself and take his place there with the Gods. But Zeus would have none of his impudence and hurled him back to Earth! Blinded and crippled, Bellerophon was returned forever to his wanderings, hounded by the Gods and shunned by Humanity.

Hippolyta then continues that if he managed to keep the Golden Bridle he may have passed it on to Aegeus. Diana ponders her mother's words and agrees that it makes sense. Yet, if one or both of them are the threat to the Amazons that the Sphere predicted, then why would they abduct Steve Trevor?

Elsewhere on an uncharted island off the coast of Greece, Bellerophon asks Steve once more where Paradise Island is located. Steve in turn replies once more that he does not know. Looking at this old, bearded man with his blind, bandaged eyes, Steve nevertheless feels Bellerophon is looking right through him. He continues that although he has been to the island, he only reached it by accident and was still recovering from the crash when Wonder Woman flew him home. He then asks what Bellerophon wants from the Amazons? The old man replies that he wants their advanced science, namely the Purple Healing Ray, to restore his sight and return him to his former vigourous state. Just as he had defeated Hippolyta and her warriors before, he will force them to submit again but this is only possible if he can learn the whereabouts of their homeland.

Aegeus decides that they need to use more persuasive methods and summoning one of his gang members to grab Steve roughly by the arm, he asks Steve to reveal the location before his arm is snapped like a twig. Steve winces as pressure is applied to his arm but replies that even if he knew he would not tell them. Bellerophon orders Aegeus to stop it at once, reminding him who it was that had instructed him how to steal Pegasus and Zeus's Thunder. As the gang member loosens his grip a little Steve seizes the opportunity and jams his elbow into him. As Aegeus bellows in rage that Steve is escaping, the colonel punches him and begins to sprint across the beach towards the ruined temple. Stunned but unharmed, Aegeus prepares to fire his thunderbolts at the fleeing Steve but Bellerophon intervenes, reminding him that they need him alive and that his gang should instead track him down.

Steve dashes further inland wondering whether he could double back to the boat they have moored there. But he decides that Aegeus would have no trouble stopping him out on open water. If he could perhaps lie low until nightfall he might have a chance but there hardly seems anywhere to hide. Suddenly there is a crash and the floor beneath him gives way. He finds himself in an ancient passageway and hopes that Aegeus and his gang were too far behind to have seen what happened. Hopefully, he can hide in these catacombs for a while. As he makes his way further down the passage he sees light ahead and walks out into a chamber. He gasps and his blood turns cold as he sees a skeleton in armour lying on the floor, with long raven hair and still wearing a familiar tiara. Wonder Woman!? His eyes fix on the golden, gleaming tiara and grow wide with apprehension, his heart stung by soul piercing dread...

Captain Diana Prince is discussing the whereabouts of Nikos Aegeus with the local authoritiesMeanwhile on the Greek mainland, Captain Diana Prince is discussing the whereabouts of Nikos Aegeus with the local authorities. The police captain tells her that he cannot tell her anymore than she already knows. She has already read the files on the suspect and she even has the advantage over them because she has actually seen him in his 'super villain' guise. She asks about their efforts to track down his gang. Surely they must have some leads? A sergeant replies that they fled by motor boat into the Aegean and they have been combing the area ever since with no success. However, there are certain strange areas where uncharted islands seem to arise and disappear in ways unknowable to man.

On hearing this fact, Diana exclaims 'Themiscyra!'. She thinks to herself how the island used to be the home of the Amazons before they abandoned it for Paradise Island thousands of years ago after their ruthless subjugation by men.

She departs the police station and is soon flying across the ocean as Wonder Woman in her invisible plane. She deduces that the terrorists must have stumbled across Themiscyra while fleeing the police and are now using it as their hideout...

At the same moment in the catacombs of Themiscyra, Steve is examining the skeleton. Picking up the shield that lies beside it, he thinks to himself that this cannot be the Wonder Woman he knows. For a start she is wearing this strange armour and she has no traditional Amazon bracelets on either. As he muses whether this place is a temple or some sort of tomb, he is suddenly discovered by an armed terrorist! He holds the shield up in self defense as the man advises him that the old relic was not meant to stop a bullet. Apparently, Bellerophon had told them about the existence of the catacombs although he had never mentioned there was anything down here worth looting. He spies a Golden Scepter but as he picks it up there is a flash of light and he screams. Instantly he is vapourised into a skeleton before a shocked Trevor. If not for the shield, he too would have perished from the deadly rays.

Just then he hears footsteps and an armed woman enters the chamber. She sees her dead comrade and demands to know what Steve did to him. But as Steve tells her that he is not responsible a ghostly vision of Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, appears in the room. She addresses the startled woman by name, appealing to the goodness and wisdom within her. The vision tells 'Sofia' that her leader, Nikos Aegeus, is sick with power lust and has been seduced by it, as she has been seduced by him. Sofia replies that they have been fighting oppressors but Athena tells her that the cause may be hers, but not his. Aegeus seeks only to amass power to himself in order to wield it over his fellow mortals. Though he pretends to care about liberation, he has twisted Sofia's efforts in order to to murder and terror - a dictator's tools! She in turn has become a crueler and more unforgiving person since joining him. Can a new and better world be built on such qualities?

Sofia tries to protest, retorting that they do what they have to although she does not always like it. As she ponders Athena's words, she adds that perhaps there is some truth in what the Goddess has said. Suddenly though a thunderbolt lights up the room as the ceiling is blasted to pieces. Aegeus looks down on them through the hole as the vision dissolves. He congratulates Sofia for finding Trevor and orders her to bring him up at once. But for a moment Sofia does not move. Aegeus asks what is wrong, demanding she does as he orders. Slowly she responds and pointing her gun at Steve, instructs him to come quietly. Steve, disappointed that the ruthless gang leader's charismatic hold over Sofia has proven stronger than Athena, reluctantly obeys although he secretly takes the Golden Scepter with him.

A horrified Steve watches helplessly as the Scepter strikes Wonder Woman and with a flash of light she plummets earthwards.He is ordered to climb onto Pegasus so that he can direct Aegeus to the Amazon's homeland. As he does so, Steve wonders about Sofia. He is concerned that she has seen him hide the Scepter under his jacket and although she has not said anything to Aegeus, she could still ruin his plan. As they prepare to take to the sky, Bellerophon tells Aegeus that once he has destroyed the Amazons and disposed of Steve, he must return at once. Together, they can then unlock the secrets of the captured Amazon science which will mean great power for both of them.

Once airborne, Steve asks Aegeus whether he really has any intention of sharing power? The Greek replies that he is right and that the old fool Bellerophon will find himself bowing down before him along with the rest of them. Suddenly, Wonder Woman's invisible plane appears from behind the clouds and the Amazon Princess stands on the wingtip, twirling her magic lasso.

She tells Aegeus that she has heard that kind of talk before from would be tyrants and she has stopped all of them. She throws the Golden Rope in an attempt to ensnare Aegeus but he avoids the lasso, telling her that she has met her match this time. With Zeus Thunderbolts and his deadly aim she is finished!

As he lifts his bow ready to fire, Steve panics that his beloved Angel is trying to rescue him unaware that he already has a weapon to beat Aegeus. He had been planning to wait for a better opportunity to use it but it looks like it is now or never! He quickly wraps his arm around a surprised Aegeus's neck and removes the Scepter from his jacket, saying that the Greek should not have let his guard down. But Aegeus slaps Steve across the face sending him rolling off the back of the horse and making him lose his grip on the Scepter

A horrified Steve watches helplessly as it strikes Wonder Woman and with a flash of light she plummets earthwards. A jubilant Aegeus gloats that instead of stopping him, she has been slain at the hands of her own lover! A lifeless Wonder Woman plunges into the ocean far below as Steve hangs on to the tail of Pegasus, knowing that he has played his only card and that Aegeus is now in the drivers seat! And far worse than that, he may have just killed Wonder Woman!

To be continued...

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