Dead—Again

Issue #88, July '94: Christopher Priest—guest writer; John Ross—guest penciller; Ray Kryssing—guest inker; Paul Kupperberg—editor. "Dead—Again."

Issue #89, Aug. '94: Christopher Priest—guest writer; John Ross—guest penciller; Romeo Tanghal—guest inker; Paul Kupperberg—editor. (Wm. Messner-Loebs—plot assist) "Home."

cover to issue 88

Ah, Mullet Superman! Floating about 6 inches in the air, trying to look impressive next to Our Gal. And there's Diana, gazing at us with a look that says, "Why did Bolland pose us this way? I'm not interested in Supes romantically, you cretins. Why, we aren't even looking at each other in this."

Well, that's how I see it.

Christopher Priest guest-writes a story involving a bargain. He'll write another one about another bargain (Legends of the DC Universe), and get it just as messed up where it counts.

Anyway, the first part of this story ties slightly into Man of Steel #35 as Diana arrives in Metropolis, looking for Superman's help (apparently to find an excuse to get him on her cover and up sales, for he's zero help within this story). She prays to Mercury (instead of Hermes) for swiftness and dispatches some robot guy who'd kayoed Supes by sneaking up on him from behind.

For some reason it's important to Diana to appear strong and calm in front of her close friend Supes (though he says he instantly spotted that she was troubled). He goes into his own comic between panels to solve the attack problem, then returns so Diana can talk with him. She asks him to stop her if she should go out of control.

The problem? She feels that the energy and focus she had put into finding and rescuing Nessie in the previous story arc was a BAD thing. No, really. She thinks she's gone out of control. Here our story shows the media playing her actions up as a "rampage" of "super PMS." And Diana buys into it.

Utterly and profoundly ridiculous, isn't it? Do we look stupid?

Betcha if she had a comic book penis, no one would have THOUGHT to accuse her of untoward violence. Betcha if she wore little bat ears, people would have congratulated her, given her a medal. If she'd had a glowing green ring on her hand they would have cheered.

Let's side-step this heapin' helpin' of sexism to discover that Diana's also been waking up to visions of her elderly-looking (??) mother asking for her help. We will not notice that Diana is not sleeping in her room at Camille Sly's place. Perhaps she is temporarily lodged at the Kapatelises as Julia is still in the hospital?

Afraid to go back to sleep, she walks the streets of Boston and comes upon a carload of Black men who call her "bitch." Smart people. She stops the car by grabbing it in motion, causing the riders (who were eager to run her down) no little injury, and finds the true owner of the car, whom she'd deduced by seeing the "4 EDITH" vanity plates, locked in the trunk. Instead of being grateful for the rescue, the woman shrieks and cowers from her. A gang of cops immediately come on the scene and point their guns at Diana, telling her they need to take her in for questioning.

Taken in context with the rest of the story, perhaps EVERYONE here, including Diana, is under some kind of mind control to act like idiots.

But Diana flies away. "I spent the next few hours talking myself out of trashing the local police precinct. That, and crying," she informs Supes.

Supes thinks it's stress. Diana says she's confirmed that her mother, people and Circe are dead, so this must be psychosis. And then Dr. Fate shows up. Wise, penis-owning Superman immediately thinks there's something odd going on with Fate, but he flies off anyway, leaving Diana alone with her.

Inza/Fate says that she's also been having nightmares. Here Priest has Diana drop a clue that in retrospect makes zero sense for her to do. I'll tell you when it comes around again.

Inza takes Diana back to the place where Themyscira lies underwater, and replays the "let's view what happened" spell from issue #76 with a new rider that will protect the both of them from energy backlashes. Inza extends the spell to see what happened afterward, but instead the scenario they had witnessed begins to loop so they see the same thing an additional three times.

Diana realizes it has all been a lie, that the Amazons aren't necessarily dead. She rips Fate's helmet off. "JUST WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?!" she bellows. (From before: she'd mentioned to Inza that they'd spoken on the phone about the missing Amazons, when actually she'd merely left messages, as Inza had been on vacation. Why would Diana have phrased things that way? Hm? If Circe had been the one to mention it, it would have made perfect sense. But not Diana.)

But anyway: "Dr. Fate" is unmasked as Circe.

Letters: Robert J. Tolleson, Gary Halpin, Matthew Wilbur.

cover to issue 89This is one hideous outfit, what with the chastity belt, the chains, and whatever the hell that outer demi-bra is. And green and purple, blech. Luthor colors. I want my Circe to have a little fashion sense, y'know? Oh well, I also want my Circe not to be mixed up with Medea. If wishes were horses...

We get a similar clue in this chapter as we did in the last, a slip of the tongue. Wait for it.

While holding Diana's Lasso of Truth, Circe puts together an illusion that she has broken the lasso, struck Diana with a spell and sent a small army of water-dwelling demons upon her. Action page, action page, action page. As Diana throttles Circe and ages into a skeleton (hello, cover image), she gets Circe to drop the illusion. Her lasso, of course, cannot be broken, which gave the trick away. She doesn't mention that Circe should not be able to create deception from within the lasso's truth, but maybe we're supposed to look the other way at that plot point. After all, it has gotten us through five pages of fight scene.

Circe reveals that she has sent Paradise Island to another dimension, a realm of fire (I call it a Demon Dimension) that is only reachable during certain natural phases, as this night is. The Amazons are fighting for their lives. Circe will trade Diana's life for theirs... But then she has a better idea:

"I want you to live your life knowing you've perpetrated a heinous wrong. My offer is this, Diana: I'll bring back Paradise Island if—and only if—you, in return, will kill an innocent soul." She has until midnight to do this. Circe will point her to the soul in question.

As Diana ponders this, she again berates herself for doing the logical thing in rescuing Nessie. What's up with that? Does Priest think that Wonder Woman has to act like a prim little lady to be considered sane? "If you could, sir, please release and don't molest or otherwise harm my young friend. In return I'll be your beeeest friend." Anyway, Diana spots a prostitute wearing a WW costume and figures this is Circe's target. Out of curiosity, she follows the woman home and looks through her stuff, including a scrapbook holding a picture that is conveniently signed, "Granny loves Cynthia." The woman says her name is Jane Doe.

Diana holds off "Jane's" pimp (whom Circe had supplied with the WW costume for Jane) with a game of Bullets & Bracelets. "Hey—Watch the ricochets! What—You tryin' t'kill me?!?" Jane yells, and Diana considers the irony.

Diana will take Jane home to the house she saw in the convenient picture, but Jane wants to avoid her stepfather. She's been trying to save up to get her grandmother out of that house, but her pimp keeps stealing from her.

Instead of addressing this stepfather problem in the slightest, Diana gets Jane some clothes and they take off to Oregon. Granny opens up the door for Jane, exclaims, "Jane—!" and Diana punches her hard. Of course you guessed it: Granny would have addressed her granddaughter as Cynthia. This "granny" is Circe in disguise.

Circe transforms the mailman and the milk man (milk man? What year is it?) into wolves, who attack Diana. And get this—DIANA HAS A DIFFICULT TIME WITH THEM. "Hard to focus," she thinks. Ah, a little lazy writing, I think.

Cynthia/Jane runs from the mayhem, straight out into the road, where she is hit and thrown by a pickup. Let's see... Residential neighborhood speed limits... No, don't think. Cynthia lies dying in Diana's arms. "At least you got me home," she murmurs as she kicks the bucket.

Circe gloats from the house doorway and disappears, promising to bring Paradise Island back since Diana has fulfilled her end of the bargain.

But Diana hasn't. Any idiot can see that. Diana did not kill Cynthia/Jane by either action or inaction. How goofy. It was all an accident.

The final page has Diana flying over Paradise Island to see that at least the buildings there have returned.

Letters: Jojo Punsalang, Kevin Bennett, Arpana Patel, Kevin Fischer.

Notes: Of course this might have been a decent story if the story holes had been plugged and if some respect had been paid to the idea of the legitimacy of a strong, focused woman who was able to get needful things done efficiently. But nooo, we get "super PMS" and a Diana who doubts herself over actions she carefully considered, and which turned out to be correct. Sheesh.

Kupperberg does get big points for adding editorial footnotes telling the reader which previous issues held pertinent info. He gets points taken away for phrasing them in a semi-witty way in the midst of a serious fight (he is no Stan Lee), thus completely breaking dramatic tension.

previous issueNavigation back to Synopses Table of Contentsnext issue