When Wondy was Awesome, part 13 (Amazon Queen)
Back in the summer of 2001, DC kicked off one of their many epic, universe-spanning Crossover Events with an issue of SUPERMAN in which Pluto goes missing. Yes, Pluto, the planet astral body. This Crossover Event was "Our Worlds at War," and it was not particularly well-received by fandom. Which makes sense; the plot was needlessly byzantine and, as ever, there was a lot of c-list fodder happening, particularly with women, surprise surprise. I find it fairly mediocre standard crossover fare myself, but '01 was quite a while before ICk and Shamazons, so I don't know if that's just a calibration issue and maybe it was pretty bad for the time.
But I will say this for it: despite being, ostensibly, Superman's crossover (his badguys, mostly his book, his long-term plot threads), the impact on and contribution from Diana and her corner of the DCU was significant, which is something you don't usually see - major impact on Diana's obviously not unheard of, but contribution in proportion to that impact is much rarer and worthy of note and approbation - and it had one of the greater Wondy moments on record, which is what we'll be looking at today.
Okay, first off, a little bit of context is needed. The first bit is that way, way back in the very first arc of Byrne's run, Darkseid lured and kidnapped Diana and sacked Themyscira in an attempt to locate the Greek gods and steal their power. By the end of the arc we had this scene:
Thousands of slaughtered amazons, folks. Never gets old. ::facepalm::
Then later in Byrne's run, we find out that Darkseid once tricked the Greek gods into dividing themselves (into the separate beings of the Greek and Roman pantheons) in order to reduce their power. So in a nutshell, Darkseid is a fairly significant Wondy rogue by this point, and she and the amazons have many reasons to loathe and despise him.
The other important bits are from the roughly two years of Jimenez preceding this - first, the amazons had a civil war, and Polly and Diana abolished the monarchy and were asked to leave the island as part of the peace effort. And second and more importantly, Polly and Diana are having a falling out, because Jimenez was writing Polly to be the selfish, self-important, irresponsible dumbass she was in WML's run, rather than Perez' nurturer or Byrne's hero, and Diana would like her to please act like a fucking queen for a second instead of playing hero in Man's World and causing Amazonian civil wars.
Ugh. And I must say I'm not entirely certain why Diana doesn't just stop her right here and say "actually, the gods were pretty pissed off when I had Phillipus give you the mantle." Come on, Jimenez, you're all about the continuity porn, I know you remember that.
Anyway. That's where we are when OW@W starts, with the disappearance of Pluto and the arrival of an Imperiex probe, and of Apokolips, which appears in the sky above Metropolis so Darkseid can propose an alliance (never a good sign). Imperiex is this evil energy entity who's consuming the universe for more energy, including such familiar locales as Daxam, Tamaran and Almerac (home of Maxima, who, of course, died in this crossover).
The Imperiex probes are these big fighty metal robot shells that pretty much require a Green Lantern or better to even make a dent in 'em. And if you do manage to take one down, it explodes with a force reasonably comparable to a small nuke. Naturally (since Earth is, after all, home to the galaxy's largest concentration of Lantern-or-better level players), the scattered refugees of the galaxy, plus Darkseid, plus Braniac, have all decided to ally with the locals and make their stand here, which means that there are a crapton of aliens and a crapton of Imperiex probes on their tails all hanging out in the atmosphere, and Topeka gets bombed off the face of the planet, and everything has gotten very nasty, and the JLA have gone out into space to hack away at the bad guys.
Also, the big thing with this crossover is famous war speeches as narration, for some reason. They work really well in some issues, and come across very stupid in others.
Regardless. Diana gets blowed up good and spends the next six issues of the event lying around half-dead. This turns out to be jobbing, since the probes get mysteriously easier to kill after that (not easy, but certainly easier and significantly less lethal), but the point is, Diana gets taken out of the picture, and Polly, who's hanging out on the medical spaceship, takes her place in the battle.
Yeah, not so much with the saving the universe. But she does get into a tangle protecting the ship from some probes.
The "hollower" that's falling toward Greece there is the machine Imperiex uses to convert planets to energy. So this is a Bad Thing even beyond the mere danger of impact. Meanwhile Diana wakes up, hears from Kyle that her mom went out to be heroic, and charges out into space after her.
She gets to her just in time for them to get attacked by a probe.
She, like Diana, blew up a probe while right on top of it.
She, unlike Diana, is not particularly impervious to harm.
This is, actually, a pretty good death. It's incredibly heroic, but on a tangible scale; she's saving her daughter, and most of Greece, which is a huge thing, but still small enough that you can wrap your head around it, as opposed to something more abstract like the entire universe or whatever. It was Polly's choice, and Polly's story; she had total agency and badassery throughout and the whole thing was definitely not sexy or cheap. The impact on her corner of the universe was real and lasting, as we'll see in subsequent chapters. And it got her safely out of the storyline so we didn't have to keep watching Jimenez make her stupid and irresponsible and buried by a fake nonsensical midlife crisis, which was of the good as well. If the Queen must die, let her die like this, and I am happy.
Anyway. Polly's dead. Things immediately get very complicated very quickly.
Various victories achieved by the JSA and the assorted heroes of the world force Imperiex to come to Earth in person. Everyone pours on the heat, and Darkseid gets set to boom tube the energy from the resulting explosion to a non-harmful place (like the dead galaxies whence it came).
That works, so far as it goes - Brainiac fires off a massive canon from Earth, and there's apparently some weird stuff with Strange Visitor, and Darkseid lays in with the Omega beams and crap, and then Imperiex cracks open. But just as it does, Pluto - restructured by Braniac into a new War World - reappears right on top of it and absorbs all the energy. Now supremely powerful, Braniac sends out a "tendril" of energy from War World to Apokolips which pretty much wracks the hell right out of it, and just like that, Darkseid is out of the game.
Naturally, Braniac then sends a second tendril out against Earth. The only way to save the planet is to intercept it. But what do they have that's large enough and strong enough and fast enough to get in the way?
Why not fucking Themyscira? Massive amazon sacrifice: it's how you know this battle's For Real!
Meanwhile the amazons themselves have all piled into the lansinar tech (form of: personal space-worthy shuttlecraft!) and launched an attack on War World and the looming tendril.
The amazons are forced to fight alongside the parademons, while Diana goes to find Darkseid. And here, my friends, is where the asskicking begins.
(Apparently Raven needs to be involved as a spiritual conduit for this to work. I think that's probably fair; faith in Darkseid isn't something your average Amazon is going to be able to do without an intermediary.)
More entirely-too-complicated plot stuff here. Imperiex isn't gone, just contained, and Braniac has made things worse. So they have to Boom Tube him back to the Big Bang in order to prevent the end of the universe. Whatever. Day is saved. And then?
SO. BAD. ASS.
And lest you think "oh, whatever, like that means anything," fifteen issues later, check out the Ev0lest Dude in the Universe:
I think the phrase you're looking for here, Diana, is "suck it."
And in a sense, that's actually the single most impressive victory anyone has ever achieved over Darkseid. Yeah, you can nail him to the Source Wall, but he'll come back. Yeah, you can sing at him until he explodes, but he'll come back. He's the god of tyranny, an insanely prominent Kirby legacy, a creature too cosmic to lose. He'll always come back. Physical defeat, ideological defeat, those things are temporary.
But this? This doesn't get fixed. This is too quiet for any other writer to notice, too subtle and insidious to be easily excised or dismissed. This is permanent. The guy who laid bloody waste during Final Crisis? He still had a little piece of purity in his tyrannical bastard soul, quietly tormenting him with its presence. When we next inevitably see him? He still will. And that is some solace to me against Morrison's crap use of Diana; he got to corrupt her, sure. But she corrupted him first, and it stuck, and she didn't need Anti-Life to do it.
Next time: The League is imperialist and Diana pretty much singlehandedly justifies every statement Clark or Bruce have ever made about hating magic.