Wonder Woman #253 (March, 1979)
“Spirit of Silver… Soul of Gold”
Writer – Jack C. Harris
Penciller – Jose Delbo
Inker – Frank Chiaramonte
Letterer – Milt Snapinn
Colorist – Jerry Serpe
Editor – Ross Andru
Cover Price: $0.40
Welcome to day two of our Wonder Weekend… where we’re celebrating, ya know Wonder Woman stuff.
We open on the Moon with Diana explaining to her mother Hippolyte how her battle with the Empress of the Silver Snake went down. The fight ended with the Empress peering into Diana’s soul expecting to find a great evil… instead, realizing she has immense courage, then turning herself to lead! Hippolyte (which I’m sure I’m going to type as Hippolyta at least once) approaches the leaden figure… whose eyes begin to glow red! The Empress attacks calling out Hippolyte as a betrayer!
The Amazons, seeing their Queen being attacked, leap into action. They fire a few blasts from their rayguns… the force of which causes them to fly backwards due to the lack of gravity. Diana can tell from the way the Empress speaks that this is not the first time she’s encountered Hippolyte. She wants an explanation, however, that’s going to have to wait. The Empress hops on her Silver Snake and flees… and Hippolyte allows it. The Amazons are puzzled.
We rejoin Diana back on Earth where she is heading to work at NASA. She is an astronaut trainee, and she arrives just in the nick of time to participate in the Weightless Chamber. Among her fellow trainees is a man named Mike Bailey who she appears to be a bit standoffish with. We get the impression that he might remind her of somebody she was once close with.
While Diana and company are having a game of Zero-G catch, we revisit the Empress. She reveals that she believes that Diana is somehow occupying her body… and has also turned the Amazons against her. Not sure what any of that means, but the plot is sure thickening!
Back at NASA, Diana and Mike are readying for an exercise in the subterfuge. As Mike goes for a (literal) spin, his capsule breaks free, slamming into Diana… who, thankfully has the power to stop it before it does any real damage. She pulls Mike out of the capsule, and in the heat of the moment, they share a kiss! He refers to her as “Angel”, which was also what Steve Trevor once called her. Confused and perhaps ashamed, Diana rushes away.
Later, Wonder Woman and Hippolyte lead the Amazons back into space to face off with the Empress for their final battle. The lady warriors charge, leading to the Empress reacting by blasting the bracelets of the Amazonian “extras”. This causes them to go mad… like frothing at the mouth mad!
The Empress grabs Hippolyte with the intentions of relieving her of her magic girdle. Diana attempts to interfere, leading to the baddie hoisting the Queen over her head, at which time she refers to her as… her sister?! Uh oh…
Now we finally get an explanation. The Empress is really the sister of Hippolyte… Diana! She had been killed many years prior in a struggle with Hercules… after which, her ethereal form just sorta floated around… watching. When she returned to Paradise Island, she found a group of Amazons that were unfamiliar to her… they were fortified and armed. As she observed… she continually grew weaker. She headed into space where she came across an asteroid comprised of silver and gold… and so, she decided to craft herself not only a new physical body… but a neat-o Silver Snake spacecraft!
With her new body, the Empress went back to observing. This time around she sees Wonder Woman whuppin’ on some fools. The Empress is puzzled… why would an Amazon impose herself on an ordinary man? And, more importantly, how did this Amazon in particular wind up in her body?!
Back in the present, the Empress wonders aloud how Hippolye could hate her so much that she would give away her body. Before she might attack, Wonder Woman catches her in a full nelson. At this point, Hippolyte decides to come clean… Wonder Woman is her daughter… who she crafted in the image of her late sister Diana! Well, that’s all new information to me! It’s at this point that the Empress fully grasps the fact that she is… dead.
The issue ends with the Empress begrudgingly accepting her fate… and she is greeted to the afterlife by a pair of Amazon spirits, finally about to go to her final rest.
Wow, wasn’t expecting to find out how Diana got her looks in this issue! How ’bout that? I really wasn’t expecting all that much to happen here… just figured it was any ol’ pre-Crisis issue… they always seemed so interchangeable to me.
I like the idea that if Diana had to be “created” it was done in the image of someone Hippolyte held dear… perhaps even in tribute of that person. That’s a neat little wrinkle that I’d never known… or even considered.
I don’t really consider Wonder Woman a “cosmic” character… that is to say, didn’t expect to see a space adventure here. I’m usually think about Greek pillars and architecture, not stars and spaceships. I’m not a fella who really digs space stories, but I gotta say, I was a bit relieved when I cracked this open.
The NASA bits were good in that I got the impression that these characters had been part of Diana’s cast for at least a little while… and they were written in such a way that I didn’t feel lost. I didn’t need to know their backstories, as the only one we needed to worry about here was Bailey. Harris did a fine job letting us know all (I feel) we needed to know for this particular chapter.
Overall, a nice issue. We get a big reveal (perhaps a really big reveal) without interrupting ongoing subplots. If I were a betting man, I’d say nothing that happens here still “matters”, but I feel it’s still well worth giving a look if you come across it. As far as I can tell, this issue has not been made available digitally… and to my knowledge, has yet to be collected. If anyone knows otherwise, please let me know.
Just like I said yesterday, I hope all the folks who headed out to the theater over the past couple days had a Wonder-ful time!