Sometimes It Takes More Than Powers To Be the Heroine
Wonder Woman is a busy woman! As the Amazing Amazon she’s all over New York City battling Hephaestus’ golden maiden robots as they try to distract Wonder Woman from her true concern. As Diana Prince, she’s protecting entertainer, Julie Gabriel. Prince isn’t just worried about how her new enemy the Greek God of Fire plans to involve the unwitting Gabriel in his plans of the destruction of Earth, but also revive the ailing confidence of the woman who’s become her new friend.
Using the Wisdom of Athena, Diana manages to reprogram a robot of Hephaestus, Hesione, into not only revealing her master’s plans, but also into joining forces with the Princess. It seems that Hephaestus hopes to please Ares the God of War enough so that the more powerful god will cure him of his misshapen appearance. With his device, the Viscero-Combuster, Hephaestus will ignite mankind’s emotions into an uncontrollable blaze of magical fire causing war to continue without end and powering his evil master to further extreme levels. Julie Gabriel is in the midst of a comeback, dedicated to her fans, but because of the intense emotion her singing and career stir in the hearts of millions, Hephaestus plans to use her first return to the stage as a way to begin a blaze that will kill all within the theater and spread further, with no end in sight!
In a desperate move to prevent this diabolical plan to coming to fruition, Diana beseeches Gabriel to hold off her performance until Hephaestus can be found and incarcerated. The word of a United Nations official is not enough to dissuade Gabriel, so Diana challenges the entertainer to refuse a higher authority – that of Wonder Woman. The Amazing Amazon convinces her new friend that if she can only perform some of her songs, or not to her normal degree of perfection, then perhaps the Viscero-Combuster will not cause the level of destruction its creator hopes for. Still unsure that she can follow Wonder Woman’s request, the Amazon Princess uses her magic lasso to command Gabriel to make a so-so performance (!). Let’s pause for a minute and think about this, yes, Wonder Woman could potentially be saving the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands, but to take away the free will of woman she’s befriended – unbelievable!
Flash forward to Julie’s big night, on stage as she performs, with Diana Prince and Steve Trevor in the audience waiting for Hephaestus’ assault. Even though Julie does as Wonder Woman ordered, Gabriel’s loyal fans still feel such a strong emotional attachment to their returning idol that the Viscero-Combuster creates an uncanny blaze that only grows with the heightened panic of the audience! Wonder Woman and her robotic ally battle the Fire-God while trying to rescue as many people as possible, but the magical fire refuses to be doused. In the end, while Wonder Woman finally defeats her powerful foe, Julie Gabriel breaks her mental conditioning and stands alone on stage putting her all into one final heart-breaking song, luring the living flame to her and away from the theater patrons. Before Wonder Woman can arrive in time Gabriel’s song has ended the fire, but only after sacrificing herself.
This was an interesting two-part Wonder Woman tale that I overall enjoyed, though clearly writer Martin Pasko had his own thoughts as to the morality of the Amazing Amazon. The Wonder Woman I know and love inspires women and men to do their best, not order or control them through mystical means. And while Hephaestus made for a perfect Wonder Woman rogue, the God of Fire could have been made to have been more of a sympathetic character rather than the typical selfish and foolish bad guy. The art by Jose Delbo and Vince Colletta remains some of my favorite from the late Seventies – early Eighties and most definitely did this tale complete justice.~ Hype