Sisters

Issue #98, June '95: William Messner-Loebs—writer; Mike Deodato, Jr—artist; Kupperberg—editor. "Sisters."

Issue #98, Early July '95: William Messner-Loebs—writer; Mike Deodato, Jr—artist; Kupperberg—editor. "The Rest of the Story." ("special thanks to Carlos Mota")

Issue #100, Late July '95: William Messner-Loebs—writer; Mike Deodato, Jr—artist; Kupperberg—editor. "Blank Madness." Oversized: 38 pp of story.

cover to issue #98: Diana tossing Artemis through a windowcover to issue #99: Hippolyta kneeling and crying at Diana's feet

T&A returns with a vengeance for this final storyline of the WML era. Our first page gives a full-page shot of Artemis, her massive boobs barely capped by her Wonder top, and with muscles tightened in her legs that Henry Gray never dreamed of.

An annoying sideways spread shows her bursting into Ed Indelicato's office, where we discover that Diana's visitation with Pan left her loopy enough so that she's not quite sure where all the villains from the last storyline have gone.

Artemis berates her for losing Joker and then asks, "Who is the Joker?" Then she's all blah blah, Diana's incompetent and responsible for Amazonian ideals not being respected, blah blah.

"I saved the rain forest. Ended a major war, saved a women's shelter and stopped the exploitation of immigrants. She wasn't able to even stop a miserable little gang war.... Whine and temporize all you want, sister, it proves my point. You are incapable of real action! Your weakness has cost you your home, your name, and your legend. It has cost you the love of your mother. I have replaced you in everything. And yet you have learned nothing."

Such a lovable character!

Then Artemis vows to clean up Boston so that the Justice League will recognize that she's the true Wonder Woman. After she leaves, Indelicato is taken aback by the way Diana excuses Artemis' words, and says "Nobody'd blame you if you let out a little..."

And Diana pulverizes his file cabinet.

Then she asks Ed to get her some information.

In the meantime, Artemis flies to the Sazia compound, where she lays waste to a huge mob of robot security guards provided by Lexcorp. Injured but still eager, she makes it inside, where a hologram of Sazia greets her. Sazia releases a net of robotic arms which she thinks will kill Artemis. In the event they do not (which they don't), Sazia triggers a blast that destroys her house. Artemis barely escapes.

Once again Brian Eliot uses his computer skills to help Diana. He discovers that there has been no change in the rate of rainforest deforestation or of sweatshop proliferation. The women's shelter Artemis had supposedly saved has been torn down on schedule. The Chauvinist, the guy who'd confronted Artemis at that women's center, had actually left his card... with his agent's name.

Diana flies to California, where she meets Bill Baker, aka the Chauvinist. He's pleased she saw him in the women's center bit, and praises her on the talent of Artemis. "I'll bet she's method, isn't she? Rilly, rilly good focus.... I'd love to work with her again," he says. He thinks it was all a movie. He'd gotten special sfx from the White Magician—a huge body with muscles on top of muscles, no sweat or steroids needed—and is now hoping for a part on Melrose Place to result.

Diana flies to New York City only to be attacked by Artemis, who accuses her of jealousy and of coming there to plant lies to turn her friends against her. Diana reminds Artemis that out here in the world she is not stripped of her powers as she is on Paradise and...

Belts Artemis across the sky.

Artemis crashes through buildings for three glorious pages, finally landing in her own offices. As her male staffers rush to bolster her ego, Diana points out about a file cabinet: "These files are locked. My guess is they hold records that show your friends hired the villains you've been fighting... and beating. They've been paid to lose." Artemis has been used for media entertainment. The foul, false surface has apparently been vanquished, but the true rot underneath remains.

"Somewhere in there [the files] should be letters from Asquith Randolph, the White Magician. He's the real owner here." But Diana is off to Themyscira, to find the one person she should be fighting.

Letters: Dennis B. Harrell, Johnny Samsel, Melissa Page, Stuart Brynien, Steven Post Hitchcock.

Circe wordlessly confronts Diana before she can land on Paradise, but for some reason during the attack Circe vanishes.

Meanwhile in Boston, Donna M. helps with physical therapy on Julia K., something she's been doing all the while. Julia is getting stronger in that she says she no longer has to use an iron lung so much. ??? Iron lung? Ahh... Let's just skip that part, even though the art shows us Julia wearing a sort of backwards backpack. I checked Wiki and... Skip!

That unnamed doctor checks up on Julia and reminds her and Donna M. both that they shouldn't be alive, as well as Donna's baby. Julia surmises that Diana exudes a force field that can create medical miracles. When the doctor asks, she complains that she can't feel anything in her legs besides the usual burning and tingling. Then she realizes what she's said, and everyone celebrates that Julia can indeed feel her legs now.

Back on Paradise, Diana discovers that her mother has gone a bit mad. She's moved the bust of Antiope into a sacred clearing, and has been there flagellating herself ever since. Diana goes to her to ask why she's put her through all this. Hippy replies that she had had visions of the past, saw again how she'd betrayed everyone for the love of Herakles—and here she reassures Diana that she was indeed made of clay and is not Herk's daughter—but that she'd also seen into the future, and seen that Wonder Woman was soon to die. Therefore, someone else had to be chosen for the title, and who better than one of the Bana? (B-but... didn't Hippy refuse to let the Bana enter the Contest?) Thus Artie became the new Wonder Woman.

In the meantime, Cassie Arnold slips into something more comfortable in order to reignite the interest of the White Magician. In a shadowy room, he tells her that he's been dipping far into dark power, seeking to ally with major demons in order to become more powerful. His human passions have gone, and he rises from his chair, slightly demonic in appearance.

He needed an animalistic familiar, and reveals that he has chained the Cheetah into a pet, "which I am training for obedience!"

"Filth!" Cheetah cries. "When Diana finds out, she will eat your heart!"

But the Magician is not deterred. He grows and grows, becoming even more demonic. "I am a high lord daemon now! I am beyond petty good and evil... beyond pain and pleasure! I am the stuff of which the universe is made!" To keep this power, he must provide blood gifts to his brother demons—and he picks up Cassie and Cheetah and sacrifices them.

Back in NYC, Artemis has killed the men who had handled her, but one remains, and she tortures him for information. A demon distracts her, but she kills it as well, and then her victim blabbers a location where the Magician may be gathering his strength. For some reason Artemis lets him live as she flies off, and he grins evilly behind her. Is he supposed to be the White Magician in disguise? Hellifiknow.

Letters: None.

special centennial issue sealThis #100 issue gets a special logo. It's not exactly a centennial edition, as "centennial" implies 100 YEARS. Oh well. This is one of the rare times DC has observed a special occasion in the WW universe, so why dwell on it?

Diana finds the Randolph mansion mouldering, and for some reason she suddenly has the power of super-smell as she smells the odor of evil and, upon a bloody knife in a dungeon, the Cheetah. Quickly she flies off, but is it to go after the Cheetah and White Magician?

No, she goes to visit Julia K. For the first time Donna M's little girl gets a name: Lyta. Diana pooh-pooh's the force field theory, but starts putting clues together.

Circe is a powerful sorceress, yet of late Diana has been able to defeat her or run her off with little trouble. The attacks do not feel of the real Circe, who loves to embroider her schemes.

Add to that that Circe would want to witness Diana's distress from a close distance. She would have known about the coming of Ares through Ares Buchanan, and know that Ares could disrupt her schemes if he sensed her. So Circe must have transformed herself so thoroughly that she herself was lost in the transformation.

Circe would have been ready to strike, but had not reckoned on falling in love and gaining friends—even the friendship of her sworn enemy, Diana.

Everyone looks at Donna.

Donna M. shouts that there's no way she could be Circe. Diana challenges her to recall certain events in her past, but Donna cannot, other than specific, limited events that gave her a background she could share with others.

Donna screams with confusion and then tells Diana to leave her alone. But Diana cannot, for if she is indeed Circe, she can transport Diana directly to the place where Artemis might be getting killed by the Magician.

"I'm a laywer!" Donna exclaims. "If you want to go to Artemis, then go. Leave me alone!"

And Diana disappears.

Artemis has indeed walked into the Magician/demon's trap. He summons the Cheetah and Cassie—both demons now—to attack the two of them. Even Cassie-demon is too strong for Artemis; Diana faces Cheetah-demon, a being who does not know who she is. Again Artemis refers to her gauntlet in the plural, though there is just the one, and says that it's not enough. She uses her arrows to distract the Magician-demon from Diana, but winds up with her arrow flicked back, impaling her in the chest.

The Magician rips into her and uses the lasso to fling her back and forth into the walls. Meanwhile, the groggy Diana sees the ghost of Diana Trevor urging her to fight for what's right. "You have to make me proud of you."

Diana rises up to renew her attack, and is aided when Circe appears. She can barely recall how to work magic, but tries to send the Magician to hell. Instead he rips her Circe appearance from her, leaving Donna. The only thing she can do, when faced with an attack from the lesser demons, is to teleport away, taking demon-Cheetah and -Cassie with her. She screams, "You're my only friend, Diana!" as she disappears.

Artemis dies, with her lip gloss still firmly applied but the front of her thong ripped.Dying on the floor, Artemis urges Diana to take the Gauntlet, even though that is the only thing keeping her alive. Finally Diana does so, and batters at the Magician-demon for five full pages until he dissolves in flames.

She turns to Artemis, and assures her at her question that the Magician is dead.

"Good. Take back your uniform, Diana. I have... dishonored it. My ambition and arrogance nearly got... us both killed... YOU are Wonder Woman."

Diana: "Your arrogance was one of your most appealing features, little sister. I won't hear you disparage it."

Artemis reminds Diana that she will need a coin placed under her tongue to pay the ferryman for the ride across the Styx.

Diana swears she will remember to do so. "I will tell them all how you fought to the end. How you were a true warrior and I was proud to be at your side. Look, Artemis... You can see the Elesian* fields... all the warriors of all the ages are raising their shields to greet you... Look..."

And Artemis dies in Diana's arms.

 

Letters: Timothy S. Villa, Jeff DeWitt, Rob Sinclair, Chris Abell. Kupperberg says adieu to the creative team, and notes that "during [WML's] tenure, Wonder Woman has become one of the fastest-rising titles in the DC line-up."

Notes: Okay, I'll say it. Artemis had one of the all-time best comic book deaths. Beautifully written. We'd see a slight echo of this with Hippy when DC's War Against Women, OWAW, came along during the Phil Jimenez era.

Would I be a cad if I mentioned that the front of Artie's thong was ripped in her death scene, but that the gloss of her lipstick never wavered? I would.

*And damn it, during the height of Diana's speech, they misspell "Elysian."

We had to drag ourselves through the last of this out-of-continuity crap to get to the end of an action-packed (if gory) storyline that wrapped up the WML era with a bang. There are a few hanging threads, but they are minor.

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS ERA, there was one more great issue to be had: RetroActive Wonder Woman: the 1990s, written by WML as a salute to this run. It's great fun and one of the best WW stories ever!

Also, Artemis spun off from Hell into her own mini-series, Requiem, which was not worth the paper it was printed on. Blech!

According to the final lettercol, publication would skip a month before the Byrne era, but there'd be an annual to fill in the gap. Then again, the final two issues of this were labelled "early July" and "late July," and the final #100 issue was larger than normal, so unlike what happened in later eras, the readers weren't short-changed and left hanging.

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