The Last True Hero

Issue #75, June '93: William Messner-Loebs—writer; Lee Moder—penciller; Ande Parks—inker; Bryan Augustyn, editor.

As they work at TacoWhiz, Diana and Hoppy watch the TV news, reporting on how the White Magician stopped two members of the Laser Killers gang. Diana tells Hoppy that she still hasn't made up her mind as to whether to join Micah Rains as a PI; helping people for money seems "unworthy."

Instead Diana demonstrates how much she's been studying her TW job. She can put together a taco breakfast in only 7 seconds. Blindfolded. And she's been studying Hispanic cooking.

Diana mentions that she's contacted Inza (Dr. Fate), but for whatever reason, Inza has not replied yet. Perhaps she's off-Earth. Hoppy says, "Yeah, that the TROUBLE wi' all my friends who are POWERFUL mystics... THEY all off-Earth TOO!"

Before she's needed for the noon rush, Diana heads to the hospital to visit the wounded Officer Modini:

Officer Modini berates Diana for saving a worthless perp and wrecking her career.

Modini tells Diana to stay the heck away from her. Diana leaves. Insp. Indelicato visits and informs Modini that her would-be killer is drying out downstairs and wants to apologize. He also says he's posting a uniform outside her room as protection. Modini's scheduled to testify against a man named Danzik, and he's threatened her. "I'm shakin'," she says.

Diana happens to pass a doctor who had been caring for the two Laser Killers whom the White Magician had subdued. She says that they'd appeared to be mindless. An hour before, both had died, screaming.

Then Diana visits the badly burned Brian Eliot. His computer chip's circuitry has been fused into him by the explosion. "What was HUMAN was so badly BURNED that I'm afraid it's just a matter of TIME," the doctor says.

"There may BE a way," Diana says, and begins to display something we haven't seen since WW Special #1, a year before:

"There are RESOURCES I can sometimes reach... Powers that exist... past the vale [sic? To me this should be "veil"] of normal life." Standing, she closes her eyes and goes into a trance.

But her astral form leaps away from earth, "finding the SPACE BETWEEN THE ORDINARY AND THE REAL... This is the world where EVERYTHING is available, if only you can find the RIGHT KEY to make it MANIFEST." Yeah, this is the land of deus ex machina, but it's done with a lot of atmosphere and metaphor and effort on Diana's part.

A kraken devours her, manipulating her emotions to be terrorized, but Diana realizes the metaphor and begins to eat it from within, controlling it and ultimately becoming the kraken herself by embracing it. When she accepts it as part of herself, she emerges whole again.

"The more important the GOAL you have to reach in this place, the more dificult your path becomes." Diana climbs a cliff to the Isle of the Sun. Her goal is a piece of Golden Fleece, which has healing powers. She has to use her tiara to shear the tough wool, but as she does so, Apollo's guardian left to defend the sheep fires a flaming arrow at Diana. It is all she can do with the wound to escape, and her only escape is back to the "real world."

But while all this has been taking place, Modini has actually been reading one of the "stupid books" Diana has brought, The Blue Knight. She sets it down and angrily thinks about that perp who tried to kill her and now wants to apologize. "Like that would make a DIFFERENCE! I only WISH that PERP was here."

And then he appears at her door. He's a junkie, thief, street scum, the kind of person she hates. He stammers his confession to her, admits to being a dope fiend. He says that sometimes he gets crazy and just wanted to apologize.

"What a loser!" Modini thinks.

The door swings open, with Loder behind it. An officer steps in and Modini thanks her lucky stars. She's about to warn him about Loder when the officer pulls a gun and announces that he's already killed the nurse.

As the "officer" screws in a silencer (you'd think it would have already been on, to deal with the nurse, but I digress), Loder stands sweating behind the door. He'd just come up to apologize. That was all. Modini notes that Loder is still very weak. All he has to do is stand there and be quiet, and he'll survive.

But Loder lets out a shout for help. The gunman shoots him. With his dying breaths Loder keeps screaming for help, and knocks the aim of the shooter off. The man empties his final bullets into Loder instead of Modini. Then he leaves.

Back to Diana. For the doctor standing next to her, she's only been in her trance for a few minutes. Concerned, the doctor asks if Diana is hurt.

"The pain... is not physical... It's the PRICE I must... pay to do this..." Diana says, clutching her side.

The doctor applies the fleece to Brian Elliot's chest. Within minutes he's healed. The doctor asks Diana if the fleece will heal anyone, but Diana does not know. The doctor takes off, and Diana collapses behind her.

When she wakens Diana is in a hospital bed and has been there for 3 hours. She missed the TacoWhiz noon rush. The doctor had taken the fleece to the children's burn ward, and the fleece lasted long enough to cure five kids before it disappeared.

The doctor says Diana has had a friend waiting to see her for over an hour. In rolls Officer Modini. "Hello, Diana," she says with a tentative smile.

No lettercol.

Notes: The White Magician's nasty PR efforts continue as we get this LOVELY LOVELY tale of how Diana can turn the darkest of hearts to good and redeem lives. Sure, we got the whole deus ex bit, but it took effort on Diana's part, it took a toll on her, and it's phrased in a way where Diana can't utilize it every time she needs a miracle.

Perhaps it is the faces that put me off Moder's art a bit. Very few people in his universe have beautiful faces; most are quite plain looking (or worse), as in life. But his Diana is beautiful, and when his characters have a tough time we can see all their pain by their body language and the way their features contort.

Did you know that taco salads were 3 for $5 at TacoWhiz? Let's have lunch there!

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