Greatness Calls

Issue #74, May '93: William Messner-Loebs—writes; Lee E. Moder—draws; Ande Parks—inks; Bryan Augustyn, naps.

cover image: Wonder Woman and Micah sit placidly amongst a bunch of hoodlums

This is another of my all-time favorite covers. Ain't it cool?

We begin with Diana flying to the rescue, only to see a crazed guy with flamethrower mitts take out a policewoman. They're on the top of St. Elgius Memorial Hospital, so the policewoman falls. Diana catches her and keeps her dangling as the crazed guy, Dickie Loder, boasts of how tough he is. He's got nothing to lose; he might as well kill Diana.

She stands on the ledge and tells him where best to aim to kill her. Dickie says that he's a crackhead. "I wake up in the morning an' I'm so evil, the wickedness comes outa me like a stinkin' fog!"

Diana tells him that he can't hide his better nature; he can become a hero by saving her, the policewoman, and himself.

The White Magician and his newswoman stooge (what IS her name?) (oh, here it is, later in the story: Cassie Arnold.) watch the tape of the event as Dickie surrenders. WM is worried that Diana knows that he's behind so much, but she hasn't come after him yet. Ms. Arnold reports that Diana's so down on her luck she doesn't have time for the WM.

Back at the 19th Precinct, Diana is chewed out by Insp. Indelicato, who calls her "nuts." He passes on a message from Isabelle Modini, the cop who'd been shot, that he should tell Diana to keep her liberal social theories to herself when there's a real cop dangling like a yo-yo 60 feet above the ground. Apparently, the lasso cracked ribs and dislocated Modini's neck.

Indelicato tries to excuse Modini's language, then warns Diana about spending time with Micah Rains, a "sleazeball." "Not ONLY is he CERTIFIABLE... Not ONLY is he THIS far from havin' his license jerked... Look, most PIs skate close to the EDGE, but Micah Rains... He LIVES there!" See why I love Micah so? Such a pity that later writers completely forgot about him.

Indelicato asks why Diana's sparing Micah a minute and she replies, "Because he is the only one who OFFERED to HIRE ME." To her credit, Diana doesn't laugh outside when Micah demonstrates his stupendous training by cracking various places around his body to impress her.

Micah shows her his "office," a bar filled with losers (the gentlemen on the cover). A large Black man, Juice, owns the place and unkindly tells Micah, "Don' be havin' folks leave no messages at m'bar."

Some roughnecks enter and beat Micah soundly for money owed. Diana calmly watches from a barstool as Micah finally manages to best his opponents. "You were having so much fun, it seemed a shame to interrupt you," is her excuse for not joining in.

Our two stalwarts respond to the odd message left for Micah. At a sprawling mansion, they meet Mrs. Eliot, aging mother of one Brian. Though her facial features seem terrified to Diana, Mrs. Eliot assures the two that she'd been worried about her son and possible violence directed toward her, but things are better now; they aren't needed. So Micah is surprised when Diana takes Brian up on an offer to go upstairs to see his computer equipment.

Brian has just bought a new kind of chip. "It's almost alive," he says wonderingly. It heals itself from damage and might be capable of accomplishing...anything.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Eliot's odd necklace starts to strangle her as she sits alone downstairs. Brian explains to Diana how his mother had constantly abused him, jealous of his intelligence, but Mrs. Eliot makes it upstairs and declares that she was the one who protected him all these years from his father, who wanted to steal his genius. Brian's anger at his "lying" mother sends a tremendous shock through her via the necklace, and when Diana demands he stop, Brian fuses with the chip, becoming a demonic being of blue-white electricity. The transformation dazes Diana, and Brian sends a bolt to Micah, who has drawn his gun.

Now Brian crashes up through the roof, where we find that Cassie Arnold is filming the scene. That means of course that the White Magician is nearby. He calls Brian "expendable," and retrieves the chip. This sends Eliot flying in flames to the ground, but Diana catches him.

As the cameras and reporters focus on the WM, who claims that Brian's flaming was self-induced, Diana makes sure that Brian is taken to a burn center. Micah reports that Mrs. Eliot seems to be shocky but okay. He also says it's mighty suspicious that the White Magician claimed that Brian had taken the name "Central Processor of Death" as his nom de guerre, when Brian had never mentioned such.

Diana muses on circumstances, that Brian must have called the press himself (unless of course it was the White Magician who managed things). Micah says, "I supppose this would be a BAD TIME to ask if you want to JOIN UP with me and be a PI?"

"Yes," Diana replies as she watches the press and Magician.

No lettercol.

Notes: We're getting solo issues here that build and build upon the White Magician (and later, Ares Buchanan and the Sazias) storylines. These are solid plots, filled with interesting characters who will reappear in surprising new roles. Such a great era!

And just a further bit: The other day I mentioned on a message board (about RetroActive 90s) that Lee Moder was not my favorite artist, but as I sit back re-reading these issues I see that when he's working a consistent style, he does terrific work. Look at the body language. Look at the facial expressions. See how he makes sure Diana is very tall. The heroes all have lovely hair. Sometimes Moder's work looks hurried, and that's when the sour taste begins. But when it's not, his work is quite satisfying! So apologies, Mr. Moder. My bad, not yours.

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