The Game of the Gods

WW #189WW #189: April, 2003. "Figure of Earth" WW #190: May 2003: "Red Eyes in the Morning..." WW #191: June 2003: "Deities and Demons...!" WW #192: July 2003: "Sisters' Sorrow" WW#193: Aug 2003: "The Passion of Diana!" WW #194: Sept. 2003: "The Passion of Trevor!" Writing: Walter Simonson; pencilling: Jerry Ordway; inking: P. Craig Russell; editing: Ivan Cohen. Covers by Adam Hughes.

Jan. 1, 1879, London: The "Sisterhood of the Silver Iris" has invited a Mrs. Cranmer, rumored to have the "ear of Madam Blavatsky herself," to translate cuneiform from Ur using psychic means. She channels: "...Before the beginning and shall be again after the end. My words setteth the lightning in the sky and the thunder shall be my voice, thereof. And when the... of existence shall hath run its course, then will... Shattered God return to... and consume the sevegram.. My will... unmake all things and... was broken shall... restored. Amen."

A lightning bolt shatters the pieces of cuneiform to dust, and Mrs. Cranmer prophecies that the Shattered God may be the Cause of the universe itself, but that he is coming back to this plane... probably towards the close of the millennium.

NYC: 2002: At the offices of the UN's Rural Development Organization, Trevor Barnes directs his staff on their various projects until he's made aware that his friend, Daryl, hasn't reported in for over two weeks from India.

Trevor worries about this as he worries about not having heard from Diana in some time. He's accosted by tabloid TV reporter Ransome Mackelvane, who hassles Trevor about his relationship to Diana.

Arriving at home, Trevor discovers that his neighbor, Alvin, is troubled by his friends who are dealing drugs. Trevor tells him an Aesop fable about two jugs, one of clay and one of brass, that float in the same current and how, because of their natures, the brass jug couldn't help but hurt the clay should they bump together. Trevor likens this to Alvin's situation, that Alvin may be hurt whatever he does as long as he keeps associating with these friends.

Again, Trevor tries to contact Diana and even her embassy, but cannot get an answer.

On Oa, the Guardian Ganthet is startled to sense a shrieking disruption in the universal harmony.

"Elsewhere," we find a group of Victorian-looking people holding a funeral for a "daughter of the sky, sister of the Earth," when a lightning bolt crashes into the gravesite. There stands Diana, dressed all in white (deliberately hearkening back to the Mod Era. Indeed, one of the Victorians looks an awful lot like Ching). She has complete amnesia and no powers other than her Amazonian heritage.

The Victorians attack, changing into red-eyed, armed demonic creatures, and Diana shows her stuff as a supreme warrior.

The demons seem to want something within the coffin she'd arrived on, and she defends it. After she defeats the demons, she finds a clay statue of a toddler inside the coffin. As she realizes she's been poisoned by one of the spears, she sees a matching wound on the statue and fixes it—which makes her own wound heal and the poison flush from her system.

Looking around she sees that the graveyard is filled with giant statues, which the reader recognizes as being gods. Above one column floats a model of Earth, and using her familiarity with Harry Potter, she thinks it may be a teleportational key. When she touches it she vanishes with the statue in her arm.

WW #190Diana materializes at Columbus Circle, NYC, shocking onlookers. She runs to Central Park and hides the statue and a sword she had wrested from one of the demons high in a winter-bare tree.

Searching for clothes to replace her ragged ones, she wonders for a while if she could be a Valkyrie; perhaps Brunhild.

Around her some onlookers suddenly get red eyes and stare at her. A man coming out of a subway station gets a red-eyed look and attacks her. She easily bests him and his eyes and mind snap back to normal. He begs her not to hit him, that he's never done anything like that before. He gives her all the money he has if she won't tell anyone, and she takes it. She knocks him out before she leaves so he won't go possessed on her, and manages to buy a suitable white outfit, leaving her with $16.37 to survive in NYC.

At the library she gets on the Internet to see if anyone's reported a missing woman. An old, red-eyed couple follow her out. She confronts them, but they dissolve before her eyes. Perhaps they've been possessed for too long.

Now animals seem to be trying to tell her something. She follows them. A bird pecks at a lower-level apartment window, and one Becca Doherty spots Princess Diana passing by.

Becca claims she's WW's biggest fan ever and pesters her to sign her autograph book. She's thrilled that Diana has amnesia and gets her to come into her apartment for food and information. Becca teaches Diana to spin to get in and out of her WW outfit, but the costume is incomplete. Diana's tiara, bracelets and lasso are missing.

Becca tells her her origin as a person and as superhero.

Meanwhile, at Paradise Archipelago, Philippus confronts Artemis to see if she's heard from Diana. The JLA has told her that she's missed one important meeting, too.

Suddenly an Amazon interrupts saying that she's just returned from Olympus (!) and that the place is deserted.

In India, Trevor Barnes searches for his friend. Locals claim that the friend defied the local gods and has been punished, as they've punished the land with a drought. Trevor finds his friend's body, but it disintegrates from dehydration as he nears.

A dust devil sweeps through and a four-armed goddess, Karisin, appears to tell him to fly to the land of his ancestors. Trevor interprets this to mean Zambia, where his paternal ancestors originated, and sure enough, a UN worker soon shows up with an emergency ticket to Zambia.

Back in New York, Diana needs to disguise herself. She asks for a pair of scissors, and Becca screams at the sacrilege of Diana cutting her hair badly. Instead, Becca uses her skills as a beautician and gives Diana a horrible, very-short haircut. She also gives her glasses that her mother had forgotten at her apartment, and Diana goes off to reconstruct her past and discover what has happened to her.

WW #191
(Note: Our cover on issue 191 was a terrific shot of Paradise with some boy in a Wonder Woman costume standing in front of it. Oh—That's supposed to be Diana?)

On Paradise Archipelago, Amazons while eternity away by discussing where Diana might be, and if she's dallying with that beautiful man, Trevor Barnes. Two Amazons practice swordsplay in a scene that goes against established continuity: they are surprised that their weapons can hurt them. But if they're on any of the non-weapon islands, they shouldn't be able to practice, as their swords would become immaterial, rendering practice useless.

Still, a sword cuts one of the Amzons and Philippus calls an end to the practice as something is wrong.

A woman claiming to be the Roman goddess Diana (I doubt this for many reasons and think she could be an assosciate of the goddess Artemis instead) bursts upon the scene, riding one of the heads of the Scylla. She says that Aphrodite's non-weapons spell is null now that Aphrodite herself is helpless. She accuses the Amazons of giving up their identities when they embraced the new ways, and wants them to die proudly under her sword so she can bless them before sending them to Elysium.

The Amazons attack the Scylla. Diana-god has augmented its abilities so that it turns the Amazons into statues. Artemis (the Amazon) arrives with a rocket launcher she was going to demonstrate, and instead uses it to attack the beast. She takes out a few of the heads of the monster, but Diana-god stuns her and has the beast turn her into a gold statue as a reward for her warrior spirit.

In gloating over her victory, Diana-god explains that the Shattered God enabled her to escape being merged with her Greek equivalent when the pantheons merged. Because of her alliance with him, she still lives even as the Olympians are gone. As she shoves her sword into the soil of Paradise, the skies turn black.

In NYC, a red-eyed dog comes to Becca's apartment and then inside we see that Becca's eyes turn red. She opens a scrapbook that tells of Trevor Barnes' relationship with Diana and gives his address. The red-eyed dog departs, leaving Becca unpossessed.

Diana races across nighttime rooftops, having lost the glasses, and descends outside the Themysciran Embassy. A palm print identifies her to the computerized security system, and she finds the interior of the place dusty and deserted. Inside the ambassador's office, she spots a large mirror, in which an image of Paradise Archipelago appears. As she reaches through to touch it, she is transported.

In Zambia, Trevor Barnes jeeps through drought-struck fields, talking to himself. First a dust devil appears, then a pouring rain. Then Lady Ala, a goddess of the harvest, appears for a few moments as a symbol of "the united will of my sisters." She brings their blessings and benediction to Trevor, resulting in a flash of light. Then she tells him that only he can save Diana, and that she is the key to foiling some plot that involves the gods. Then Ala disappears.

Diana appears on Themyscira and remembers the place. She discovers the entire population turned into statues, and then begins to remember her past as Wonder Woman.

She finds the fires lit at her mother's temple and tells her that she doesn't remember everything clearly yet. She also apologizes that they parted in anger and declares her love for her. Diana's tiara then appears at the base of Hippolyta's statue, and Diana Spins into Wonder Woman.

A red-eyed Scylla attacks her. Diana battles it by throwing columns and trees (with ordinary Amazon strength, since Diana has not regained her powers). She decapitates its remaining heads with her tiara.

A flock of red-eyed birds then attack, and as she remembers she has a plane, it appears before her to help her escape. She decides to try to find Trevor Barnes.

The Shattered God appears overhead in the skies of Oa.

Trevor Barnes's brother meets him at Charlotte, NC, where a quick comment "explains" why Trevor's hair is so different from the Jimenez run. His family notices something fundamentally more different for him, and as he takes a walk in a park, Trevor muses how he feels more connected to the land now.

The deafening sound of the Invisible Jet's engines announce Diana's arrival, and as soon as she sees Trevor she faints. A flashback shows us that, apparently a couple weeks before, she had been flying in the Rockies on her way to a UN meeting when she spotted a car going off the road. When she rescued the driver, she discovered that it was Trevor. When he grabs and kisses her he displays surprising strength, and then "terrible ecstasy" envelops her and she doesn't remember anything else.

As she awakens in the present and flies away in shock (mistake; she had no WW powers at this point), she realizes that her assailant hadn't been the real Trevor.

She fills Trevor in on what's happened to her and declares that all her memories have returned. As Trevor tells here his story, she says that "the pantheons RARELY collaborate... unless there's some great need." She's convinced that a single entity is behind all this trouble. She and Trevor take off to visit Olympus.

Meanwhile, Trevor's young friend Alvin hides as he sees two of his drug-dealing friends break into Trevor's apartment to blow it up. They want to teach Alvin a lesson about "shooting his mouth off" to others about them (but how did they find out?).

A red-eyed dog knocks Alvin down before he can go for help. The dog attacks and kills the intruders, then dissolves into nothingness.

Inside Trevor's apartment, Alvin tries to find a phone number to call Trevor. When he does, his eyes turn red. Alvin collapses afterward, otherwise unharmed.

Diana and Trevor arrive at Olympus, which they find deserted except for the god Diana and a great pile of loot (including some sandals of Hermes and two gauntlets of Atlas; is THAT where they've been!) that she has sacked. Diana doesn't attack Diana-god until she realizes that she's wearing Diana's bracelets.

Thus begins a slugfest. Though Diana-god says, "A simple Amazon is no match for a GODDESS!" the fight goes on fairly even-sidedly until Diana (a big clue this is not the real goddess) spots the bodies of four Amazons who had been in a scouting party. Diana-god has abviously killed them as she has stripped them of their armor.

Diana renews her attack and uses the bracelets' Aegis effect (?? it's not clear) to blind Diana-god. Diana kicks the goddess into a statue of Zeus, which collapses upon her.

As Diana-god lays dying, she explains that she'd bargained with the Shattered God to save her existence apart from Artemis. She begs forgiveness with her last breath.

As Diana puts on her stolen bracelets, Ganthet and the young Guardians are again witness to a spectacle in the sky of Oa: the Shattered God reforming.

WW #193 (Note: issue 193 gave us an unnecessary crotch shot cover. Good ol' AH!)

Diana and Trevor return to Charlotte (mistakenly called "Charlottesville" in the narration) to see Trevor's mother. Now Diana notices the difference in Trevor, especially when he says he can hear "the calling of the Earth."

As they relax on a porch swing, Trevor invites Diana out on a real date and Diana hugs him. His red-eyed sister, Vivian, then swats Diana with a frying pan, and does the same for Trevor. She ties Diana with duct tape, which IMMOBILIZES Diana, and then releases some essence of the Shattered God, which bonds with Diana.

The SG explains that he had tried to seal her away so that any of her enemies couldn't hurt her before he was ready. He gives her her magic lasso as "wedding present", and explains that he existed before the universe, and spoke to give the universe form. "But at the first syllable... the order of creation... disintegrated into chaos. And so did I."

Through the eons the SG has expanded with the rest of the universe until he gained awareness at last. Then he began to reassemble himself in the core of Earth, which held what he needed most: "a creature of Earth and sky": Diana.

Hey, I like that description of her. Don't you?

During this time he also discovered the various pantheons of gods, and figured that by disrupting them he could disrupt the cosmos and then start again.

Now sporting a halo to show her link with the SG, Diana's memories are slightly stirred by the sight of Trevor telling her to fight the possession. She kisses him, injuring him, and then takes off.

Trevor finds Vivian, who confesses that she's always hated Diana because of the influence she had on Vivian's son. Trevor assures her that she has nothing to fear from Diana.

Trevor bids his mother what will be a final goodbye and takes off in the Invisible Jet to NYC, because Diana's kiss gave him the information he needed to know where the statue of the child was.

In Central Park, we find that it's now summer*, and that a global drought has left all the forest leafless—except for the tree that Diana hid the statue in. The tabloid press is calling this a miracle and people gather around the tree to watch scientists take samples of the soil.

Trevor eludes security to grab the statue and sword. Reporter Mackelvane panics on-camera because he thinks that Trevor's coming after him with the sword. Then Trevor takes off in the Invisible Jet to go to the Cryptocombs.

Over Oa, Diana and the SG start what will be a "final merging of body and soul" to resurrect the SG. Ganthet witnesses a mighty conflagration in the sky.

Ganthet urges the young Guardians to take shelter away from the windows as the SG coalesques in the sky above Oa. SG attempts to fulfill his task, to restart the universe—and nothing happens. The answer lies on Earth.

There, Trevor takes off in the Invisible Jet with the clay child and a sword, and red-eyed humans watch him leave. The SG/Diana follow him to the Cryptocombs as SG realizes that Diana has not gotten her powers back (a reason to believe that Zeus had been the one to take them away in the first place). Without her gods-given powers, Diana cannot fulfill the SG's plan.

At the Cryptocombs, the SG, wearing a variation of Diana's form, confronts Trevor. The SG releases Diana in order to possess Trevor and uses him to destroy the clay figure, which releases Diana's powers (including her long hair!) back to her. Now that she is whole, he plans to possess her again—but finds he cannot leave Trevor's form. The goddesses have given Trevor the power to ensnare him.

Trevor urges Diana to kill him while the SG may be vulnerable. Asking forgiveness, Diana swings the sword, but the SG can still prevent harm from coming to the body he inhabits.

When SG's threat mentions that he hasn't completely killed all the gods yet, Diana prays to Zeus for his thunderbolt, which she can only hold for a few seconds. She uses the bolt to restore Zeus from his statue state.

The enraged SG wants to resurrect himelf now with or without Diana. He summons the remaining bits of himself from across the universe. They'll burn Trevor to dust if he succeeds—but Diana plays Bullets and Bracelets with the bits as Zeus restores the other gods. Under Zeus's instructions, Wonder Woman tells the horribly-aged Trevor to release the SG. "Come back to me," she pleads.

As SG gathers himselef as a separate being, the gods channel their power through Zeus and break the Shattered God once again.

Trevor dies in Diana's arms.

Diana calls upon the gods to restore the man who has saved them. Zeus tells her that "the gods dispense mercy, not justice." Suddenly Gaea appears and the gods and Diana bow before her (leading us to believe that this indeed is a terrestrial-based event). (The story works so much better as such, don't you think?) Gaea says that she chose Trevor and through the goddesses invested him with the "beauty of the world" which combined with his mortality to contain the SG long enough to ensure victory. She declares that Trevor will be reborn, and we see him transformed to a rain that covers the Earth as well as Oa.

Zeus is about to return Diana to Earth when she starts asking questions:

"How were you caught? How did the Shattered God entrap the gods?"

"The Roman Diana betrayed us. The Shattered God took us as we slept."

"But... you're gods. You don't need to sleep."

"Quite true. That's what made it so clever!"

"And my Victorian funeral? What was that about?"

But Diana is transported to Earth before she can get an answer besides a laugh. I think I hear Simonson chuckling as well.

Diana informs Trevor's mother of his death. She thanks her and hugs here, and then goes to pray as the rain falls.

In New York City the next day with it still raining, Diana takes Alvin and Becca to a movie. One of the hoods Alvin knows comes out to attack him for Skemmie's death, but Diana easily subdues him and sics a police officer on him.

Diana's narration gives Trevor a final, touching epitaph.

*I asked about this on the message boards and Mr. Simonson very kindly replied that he likes to link his stories to the season in which they'll be published. That's a nice gimmick, but in this case it works against the story by presenting a drought that the reader can easily (mis-)read as a continuation of the leafless winter season that we saw in the first issue. We thus don't see the drought; we see normal winter.

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