Princess Diana had searched for the famous star-spangled costume she wore as Wonder Woman before rushing out into the night, yet only her traditional Amazon tunics could be found.
“My baby gone! What madness is this? The Thought Master! Could he be behind this maddening illusion?” she wondered as she ran down the marbled hallways, ignoring the bubbling fountains and pristine artwork and sculpture that made the lovely sanctuary a place of splendor.
She saw a demure yet gorgeous blonde girl in a skimpy red tunic. “Hola, Mala! Thank the gods you are here!” she said rapidly as she embraced her closest childhood friend. “I awoke to find myself without child. My costume and Paula are both gone, too! I was in D.C. when last I went to sleep!”
Mala tossed back her golden locks, and her crystal blue eyes widened in worry. “Diana, what do you mean without child? Were you entertaining one of the infants from Duxo or one of Infanta’s soldiers?” she asked, referring to the children the Amazons had sheltered or befriended for centuries.
Diana grasped Mala’s arm tightly. “No. My baby. Mala, you know of my pregnancy,” she said grimly. “I told you and Etta immediately after I learned that Steve and I were expecting!”
Mala rubbed one ivory arm and said, “You’re hurting me. Diana, I know you have long wished for a child, as have many of us here, but you know by Aphrodite’s decree of old — no male may set foot upon our sandy shores. You have no mate or child! You are wild with fear and fever!”
Diana shoved the blonde aside with more force than she normally would have dreamt of using upon one so dear to her. “You are Lyta’s godmother,” she insisted. “She carries your name as her middle one!”
Mala frowned and remained sprawled on the floor. “Oh, Diana! Please calm yourself!”
Diana touched her own gleaming bracelets. “Athena, give me wisdom. I alone recall my life in Man’s World,” she said with fire in her darting eyes. “Surely some foe has brought this madness upon me. If it is a battle he wants, then Wonder Woman will give it to him! This comes all too close to me. This is personal!”
She returned to the lab and noticed the now-empty hall lacked many of the devices she had invented herself or had brought back from battles with fiends like the Mask or Doctor Psycho. There is nothing here that came from my career as Wonder Woman! Not my costume, or even the golden lasso, she mused. Nor is Paula known to my sister Amazons, though she and Gerta have long dwelt among them.
“It is as if there never was a Wonder Woman — only a Princess Diana who never departed from this isle!” she whispered.
Wonder Woman, for so Diana considered herself even without the red, blue, and white raiment that had made her a legend, noticed that the Venus girdles, the Sky Kangas, and the Space Transformer were but a few of the wonderful items now missing from the lab and neighboring stables.
“The Magic Sphere can reveal all that has occurred at any given point in time; it can solve this riddle,” she breathed in relief.
The amazing artifact had been a treasured source of information on the island for eons and was not directly associated with any particular adventure in Man’s World. Thus, the rounded screen gleamed as she rushed over to it.
“Still here! Thank Athena!” she muttered and adjusted the controls even as sandal-clad feet rattled across the floor. Someone is coming! she mused. No doubt Mala or Dr. Althea think me mad and summoned aid!
“Show me my recent past!” she commanded, thrusting her tunic sleeve within the screen’s slot. Images flickered across the screen that were in direct contrast to the evening she remembered.
“It shows me playing a game of skill with Mala,” she said. “Yet I know that last night I stopped a gang of thieves outside Georgetown University!”
Dr. Althea marched inside, leading a squad of Amazon guards. The stern woman peered over her spectacles and said, “There she is! She is clearly ill.”
Diana whirled to face the wise, if cold, Amazon scientist and her own regal mother, Queen Hippolyta. “Mother, I need your help. Do you recall the contest in which I won the costume of Wonder Woman?”
A redhead sniffed in dismay. “What a fanciful name!” said Orana.
“Orana! You, here?” said Diana. “You should be in the prison at Transformation Isle!”
“Diana, there is no prison here. Apologize to Orana at once!” snapped Hippolyta.
Of course! If they don’t recall my career in Man’s World, then nothing occurred to make Orana mad with jealousy and desire for the costume and identity, she realized. (*) “Mother, I beg your pardon, but I seek answers. Do you not remember Steve Trevor?”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Infinity Inc: Times Past, 1985: The Wonder Years.]
Queen Hippolyta shook her head and touched Diana’s face tenderly. “Child, I know of no male. The last man I suffered to come near me was Heracles himself, eons ago.”
Mala stepped closer. “Di, go to your bed. You need rest.”
Diana stepped back. “Mala, you were there that day we pulled Steve from the waters to the shore in the 1940s.” But Mala almost wept as she saw her friend’s insanity.
“She is as maddened as a very Bachae!” said Hippolyta. “Take her to her quarters. Restrain her, if necessary.”
Princess Diana jumped backward and raised her arms in defense. “No one shall touch me!” she cried. “I am still a princess royal!”
“And I am a queen!” said Hippolyta.
“This pains me greatly, but my world depends upon my being free to act!” said Diana as her mother’s troops closed in on her. She spun, and a leg sweep dropped two guards even as she jumped high over Orana’s head and flattened her with a right hook. “That I don’t regret!” she said to herself with a trace of her old spark and humor.
“Diana! I command you to stop!” yelled Hippolyta as her child shoved down two other guards. Dr. Althea hid behind Hippolyta as the warrior queen charged toward her child.
Diana shook her head. “This must be done! Only in America can I find the truth!”
She used her speed and training born in countless battles against gods and monsters, Nazi troops, and common thugs, to dodge Hippolyta’s clutching arms by inches and race past Mala, who stepped aside.
“I see you feel this is vital,” said Mala. “Somehow, I trust your instincts. Don’t prove me wrong.”
Diana smiled at her friend and hurtled through the night sky toward the long line of swan ships. No invisible plane yet. Better make do with one of the swan craft, she realized, and climbed inside the ornately carved flying ship that looked for all the world like a marbled swan with elaborate metal wings and feathered plumage.
At her expert touch the magic craft soared skyward, and she zoomed into the night sky. “I leave Paradise Island as an outlaw, but I pray to return to the life and family I’ve loved so long,” she said to herself.
Far away, a mocking figure watched and laughed in a chamber full of scientific marvels. “Oh, you shall, you shall, but only when I wish it to be so!” he laughed.
As Princess Diana made her way across the ocean toward America, she could not help but recall her first trip away from the isle of Paradise. At that time she had traveled in an invisible plane and had worn a red bustier with a star-spangled skirt. It had been the costume that marked her role as the greatest of the Amazons and the chosen champion of Aphrodite in Man’s World. She had been selected to represent the goddess of love and beauty in a wartorn world and to escort the injured Steve Trevor back to Washington, D.C. She had won the right to be this ambassador and heroine by defeating all of her sisters — except for some few who were ill, like Orana — in a series of contests. The loyal and lovely Mala had been the runner-up.
Steve Trevor had crashed near the ancient home of the Amazons after an aerial chase with a Nazi agent called Von Storm. He was brave, handsome, boyish, loyal, and entirely reckless. He had a male chauvinist attitude at times, but his heart was pure, and he fought for ideas not that far removed from those of the Amazons. He was also completely enchanted by Princess Diana, or his angel, as he called her, as she nursed him back to health.
“Oh, Steve! You were the first man I ever saw, and now I fear I may never see you again!” she said in concern as she bravely flew into an uncertain reception. “What of our life together and our children?”
She headed over the city of Georgetown, peering below at the familiar grounds of the Holliday School for Young Ladies. There’s Etta Darnell’s academy, where she and her husband run a private school, she thought. It was originally Holliday College for Girls back in the 1940s when I met Etta during her student days. Now she runs the place as a school for young girls. I never imagined back then that fun-loving, plump Etta Candy would one day marry Diana Prince’s boss, Phil Darnell, and buy the place!
Diana frowned with concern as she saw that the college grounds were badly in decay, and no life seem evident below. “That’s odd. The place has become a ruin overnight,” she said to herself as she zoomed closer. “Can it be that Etta never met her husband and never bought the school, since… she never met me to begin with?”
Wonder Woman hid the swan craft in the same old barn she had used to hide her plane back when she first arrived in D.C. and established her secret identity as plain Diana Prince, aide to Philip Darnell and friend to Steve Trevor.
“At least the old barn is still here,” she said, having noticed during the flight that the Georgetown home where she and Steve had lived after their wedding twenty years after their first meeting had never been built. “So I never came here, and I never met Steve. We never married, and thus never bought the land and built our home. Hera help me! That means poor Lyta was never born, either, and my baby never will be!”
She sank to her knees on the lawn, struggling to come to grips with all she had lost. “I’m acting like a frail female from some movie,” she said finally. “I can restore my life. All I have to do is fight for it. Still, even a mystery-woman would hesitate after learning her entire life may be at risk.”
“That’s right! Keep fighting,” laughed the man who watched her from afar. “It’s no fun to see you give up so soon!”
Wonder Woman made a quick call from a pay phone and learned that the number of Lyta’s home in California was not in service. My daughter must be a victim of this plot, she thought. The only way to save her and restore my pregnancy is to fix this riddle. Mind games? Any of a number of my old foes could be behind this! Hypnota! The Wizard? Mars himself?
Diana frowned. “The Wizard! Of course! He did the same thing to Superman once. He made him forget who he was. (*) Perhaps he has merely made the world forget me as Wonder Woman!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Superman Takes a Wife,” Action Comics #484 (June, 1978).]
She attracted stares and whistles as she walked down the streets of Georgetown wearing only the skimpy, slip-like tunic and sandals.
I suppose I’d better seek the Justice Society’s help, she thought. They may not know me, but I know they will help. I could especially use Charles McNider’s cool, soothing manner about now. Even Johnny’s lovable humor would help me keep calm before I go as berserk as I once did without my bracelets!
Then her keen hearing picked up the whispered name she would have noticed under any circumstance. “We can ransom Trevor tonight,” said a sneering thug. “The military bigwigs will pay through their noses for their hero’s safety!”
Diana charged forward and gripped one thug by his coat, lifting him high off the ground with one hand. “You said Trevor! Take me to him now!” she said determinedly.
The goon tried to shake himself free but could not break her iron grip. “Help me!” he gasped. “This peep-show babe is some kinda super-woman!”
She spun him around and sent him crashing directly into his partner. They fell in a heap, and as crowds gathered and pointed at the Amazon princess in action, she sprinted to them and stood defiantly posed with her hands on her hips.
“You boys don’t want to make me mad,” she began. “Take me to the man you abducted. Take me to–”
Having pulled guns from their coats, they opened fire upon her. With the ease of years of action experience behind her, Wonder Woman deflected every bullet in an harmless direction with her Amazon bracelets.
“There’s no need to risk an innocent being harmed by a stray shot, so I’ll just end this now!” she said as she stalked forward and crushed both guns to balls of metal.
Police rushed toward her. “OK, let those men go!” said a cop. “This little brawl is over!”
“Officer, these men are criminals,” began Diana. “I suspect them to be involved in an abduction!”
“We are loyal aides to the Embassy of Pogolana!” said the smoother thug. “We have full diplomatic immunity, and we know nothing of this matter. This madwoman attacked us!”
“I can explain,” said Diana. “Trust me. If they work for Pogolana, then their mistress is an old foe of mine.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Sinister Countess Hatra,” Comics Cavalcade #28 (August-September, 1948).]
The men showed official documents and rushed off as the police stepped between them and Diana.
“Hold it, sister!” said the cop as Diana started to chase the Pogolanai. “You’re unknown, and you’re super-strong. That makes you dangerous. You aren’t going anywhere!”
She turned and shoved the officer aside. “I have no time for this! No legal niceties can come into play with lives on the line,” she said. “I won’t fight you men, but neither will I be stopped by you!” she declared as her black locks blew in the wind, and she stood glorious and unyielding in the street.
Jumping into the air, she cleared the edge of a rooftop nearby, then raced across the city from one roof to another as her mind moved even more quickly. If Steve is in the hands of agents from Pogolana Island, or “Pogoland” as he jokingly called it once, then I can’t waste a moment. Their leader is a madwoman!
The cop shook his head. “That woman is dangerous,” he said to his partner. “She’s as tough as Power Girl! We’d better call in the Justice Society to bring her down fast!”