On Paradise Island, Cassandra awoke with a shudder. She composed herself and tried to shake the images of nightmare from her mind.
“Hera preserve me!” she sighed. “May this be but an errant whim or eerie phantasm sent by the capricious son of Hypnos.” She laced up her sandals and gazed out at the moonlight as it bathed the marble courtyard in silvery splendor.
“If this be a true vision and not a nightmare, then how can I go on,” she said. “How can any of us continue in a world turned as mad as the raging Maenads?”
The prophetic dreams of the lithe, redheaded Amazon were often true, and in this case they were omens of dread.
The night upon which this vision so disturbed the girl was a tense one for most of her lovely sisters. Their beloved Princess Diana, known in Man’s World as Wonder Woman, had come home to give birth.
Her husband had faced Nazi agents, alien invaders, and crooks both costumed and petty, yet Steve Trevor seldom had such a stirring in his stomach. The expectant father-to-be paced back and forth nervously while his angel gave birth to their second child within the palace medical center.
“Steve Trevor, why do you worry so?” asked the raven-haired beauty who ruled the Amazons. “Our Dr. Althea is a brilliant daughter of Asclepius. She shall see my child and your bride through this fateful hour. And Paula is ever ready to help. See how she provided the anti-gravity platform on which you tread above the sacred soil of our island home?”
Steve had never lost his awe in the company of Queen Hippolyta, though she had been his mother-in-law for over twenty years. “I know, I know,” he said sheepishly. “You’ve got all the bases covered, but this waiting is tough on a man of action.”
Within, the lovely Diana smiled in relief as Dr. Althea and Paula Von Gunther eased her rest.
“Princess, you’ve give birth to a handsome boy!” said Dr. Althea. “He has the look of you and the reckless spirit of his sire.”
“Praise Hera,” sighed Wonder Woman as she held her new son.
“Troy Trevor,” said Steve sometime later as he held Diana. “Angel, he’s wonderful. He has your looks, thank goodness.”
Diana kissed her beloved and said, “Let’s hope he won’t be able to play upon you so willfully as Lyta does, or you’ll spoil him, too.”
Steve grinned. “Gosh, growing up in the Midwest made me appreciate the nice things I can give — we can give — our kids. I just want the best for my son.”
Diana laughed. “I’m teasing. I know you to be the best of fathers and husbands, though I wish you did not have to rush off soon to join Steel.”
Steve frowned. “I’m lucky he let me join you at all, since we’re in the middle of a new case. (*) I need to get back soon; can’t leave those kids in his grasp for long. The man is so driven, so ruthless. I’d hate to think of this little guy working for him someday.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Suicide Squad: Path of the Immortal.]
Diana nodded. She hoped to sever Steve’s tie to Steel’s group, too, when she was recovered.
Mala hugged her goddaughter, Lyta Trevor. “It’s a boy — the first male to be born on Paradise Island!” gushed the lovely, demure blonde.
Lyta touched her own bulging belly. As Diana’s daughter, she knew the isle’s history well. She wondered if her child should also be born there amidst the ancient glory and magic. “I can’t wait to see my new kid brother!” she said eagerly. But she also sadly thought of the man in her life, Hector Hall. He and she were apart. Would they ever reunite? The beautiful blonde just didn’t know. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Infinity Inc: Ancient Prophecies and Malcontents.]
“He’s… well, wonderful, Mother,” said Lyta Trevor as she held the tiny infant. Her grandmother, the regal Queen Hippolyta, smiled fondly at the scene.
“To think that I was childless here with my sisters for so long before the merciful Aphrodite and the other goddesses blessed me with Diana,” said the queen. “And now, through her, I have more loved ones.”
Lyta grinned. “But will this little sprout be able to touch the ground when he starts crawling, or will the no males ban apply to the son of an Amazon?”
“That matter rests, as do all of our fates, with Aphrodite and the Olympians,” said Hippolyta.
“Speaking as one who has been both blessed and cursed by them, I hope my son keeps his distance from the whole bunch of them!” said Steve, glancing down at his body. Late last year, he had been transformed into the tall, musclebound, long-haired figure he now was. But he had also been imbued with the spirit of the legendary Odysseus, who caused him to become the worst kind of vigilante. This, in turn, had placed him in a situation where he was forced to join Commander Steel’s Suicide Squad in exchange for a pardon for his crimes. His absence from his wife during her pregnancy was all thanks to the gods; it was no wonder that he held no love for them. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See DC Universe: Crawling from the Wreckage, Book 3: Reconstruction, DC Universe: Crawling from the Wreckage, Book 4, Chapter 1: Odysseus Unbound, and The Suicide Squad: The Price of Redemption.]
“Steve!” admonished Diana.
“Daddy, this is not the time for a debate on Greek culture. That may be a platform you’re standing on, but not a soapbox,” joked Lyta to lighten the mood as her grandmother’s face darkened.
Steve smiled back. “OK, little angel. I get the hint. No offense, Your Majesty.” As they departed to leave mother and child to sleep, a new figure appeared.
She was lovely, yet her features were distorted with a rage and madness that drove her relentlessly. Her name was Helena Kosmatos, and as the first heroine known as Fury, she had fought the Axis briefly alongside Johnny Quick, and later in the 1950s, as part of Team Justice, she had sought to fill the gap left by the inactive JSA. (*) Still, her powers came from the Furies of myth, and those harsh mistresses had threatened to rob the girl of her mind and morality.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: Team Justice: Times Past, 1959: Justice in the Making.]
Helena had retreated from Man’s World twice and had found sanctuary on Paradise Island, where she worked as a scholar of Greek culture, religion, myth, and antiques. Many books bore her name, and she was a respected scholar, if a forgotten heroine. Yet now the unaging woman was possessed by the Furies, who forced her to do an act she would have never considered if she were in her right mind: they drove the Greek beauty to steal the newborn infant.
“You are ours now,” she cooed madly as she grasped the child. “We shall raise you free from the taint of the milk-blooded Amazons. We shall nurture in you a spirit of retribution.”
Diana stirred and rose shakily. “Helena, release my son!”
The original Fury scowled and said, “This infant is sought by those who would end his life. We merely seek to preserve it!”
Wonder Woman stepped forward, but she could not act with anywhere close to her normal speed and strength so soon after giving birth. Thus the lovely woman staggered as her son vanished in the arms of a madwoman. “Steve! Mother!” she cried.
Queen Hippolyta burst into the room, as did Trevor, Lyta, and Mala.
“What is it, daughter?” asked the queen with worry in her tone.
“Angel, where’s little Troy?” cried Steve.
Lyta ran outside on to the deck. “That magical flash!” she shouted. “Someone took my brother, didn’t they?”
Diana sank into her husband’s arms. “Steve, the first Fury — Helena — she stole our baby… she says his life is in peril!”
Mala gasped and embraced her best friend. “Easy, love. We’ll find him.”
Steve frowned. “No woman or man from myth or reality may wrong the scion of Odysseus!”
Across the island, Cassandra cried out in earnest. “I tell you, the Olympians have turned against us! They seek our deaths!” she insisted as she related her dream once more to a stolid guard.
“If this be true, then what shall become of us all?” whispered the guards.
Paula Von Gunther worked feverishly in her lab. The pretty Austrian rejected one idea after another. The woman who had once been Hitler’s proudest scientist had long since devoted her talents to the Amazons and their patron goddess, Aphrodite. She sought a way that the weakened Diana could rescue her son. She had recently employed an android host body, but that poor artificial woman was now shattered and scattered beyond repair. (*) Thus Paula paced and worried. “Mental transference? A golem? An exo-skeleton?”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Wonder Woman: It’s a Wonderful Life, Chapter 3: The Surrogate.]
Then an idea occurred to her as a butterfly passed her window in the morning sunlight. “Desira,” she said, smiling.
Meanwhile, Hippolyta prostrated herself before a statue of a towering beauty in the Temple of Aphrodite. “Great Daughter of Cypress, hear my plea. Save my grandson!” she cried.
The statue shook suddenly and fell directly toward the queen as she flung herself to safety. “Athena preserve me,” she gasped among the shards of the once-majestic statue.
A voice — terrible in its severity — spoke from the thin air around her: “You seek the source behind the whelp’s abduction? Well, thou shalt know the truth all too soon, Hippolyta of the horses!” The dark tones echoed in the chamber.
Meanwhile, Steve Trevor retreated deeper into the persona of Odysseus once more as his daughter Lyta attempted the thankless task of soothing two raging and worried parents.
“Daddy, you are Steve, not Odysseus!” she insisted. “You must recall that. Mother needs you, not some battle-happy berserker!”
Diana herself was risking her health in her exertions and stress. “If Mother delays much longer, then I’ll go to him and rip the truth from his lying teeth!” she vowed with a steely glint in her blue eyes.
“Him? Who do you mean?” asked Lyta. “The original Fury stole my brother Troy.”
Diana shook her head. “No, Hippolyta. Fury was but the mad pawn of the Olympian who hates me most. It is Mars alone who plotted this foul act.”
Hippolyta rushed within. “No, I know the truth. It is an Olympian who threatens us, but it is not the dweller in Areopagus. Athena help us… it is Aphrodite herself!”
Wonder Woman could not believe her mother’s shocking words. “Aphrodite — the golden goddess of love and beauty — is behind the abduction of my child?” said Princess Diana. “How can this be? She has ever stood for the ideals we Amazons embody! She is virtue and love personified!”
“Aye, and she be more as well,” said Odysseus. “She was the honey-tongued seducer who betrayed Hephaestus for Ares. She was the vain and cruel beauty who cursed many a maiden whose beauty rivaled her own. Still, whatever guise she wears, she shan’t rob me of Ithaca’s heir.”
Lyta and Diana exchanged worried glances at how deeply the worried Steve was descending into his Odysseus persona for the first time in many months.
“Diana, the goddess spoke to me in her temple,” said Hippolyta. “She said that the Furies robbed her of her chance to destroy the abomination that was your son. She was angry and said that they alone would have the nerve to defy all of Olympus. It seems, as horrible as it is for me to even put it in words, that Aphrodite seeks the death of your baby! Aphrodite claims that it was a treason against her authority for you, an Amazon, to wed a mortal male and to have a son by him. She regrets ever allowing you to leave the island and marry. She said–”
“The Flower of Cynthera speaketh for herself!” said Aphrodite as the gorgeous blonde goddess appeared before them. She loomed gigantic above them all in a filmy pink tunic and gleaming armored feet and arms. “’Twas ere my deluded manner to govern with kindness when a firm hand would better serve my cause. You Amazons betrayed me once with Herakles and his army, yet I showed you mercy and granted you freedom and this isle. Yet you bear the bracelets of submission to this day as a sign of your rebellious conduct eons ago. Now the daughter of your queen, the child I gave life to from formless clay, has dared to wed a mortal male and consort with other costumed men. She did all this, and I sanctioned it… until now!
“Now I see her for the harlot she is! A male baby is a symbol more so than that stripling there of your flagrant defiance of the ancient command that I gave you to dwell apart from men. I even ordered you not to wed, if at all, until you had vanquished evil from the world. Only now do I see clearly that the infant must die, and my will shall be heard. You will find the baby and surrender him to me for destruction, or I shall visit my wrath upon you all. Then I shall lead you all in open warfare against the Man’s World beyond this cloudy realm, where my will or that of brawny Mars shall reign once and for all!”
Hippolyta stepped in front of Diana. “Please, Aphrodite, hear us! My child has ever served you well!”
“Hear me as well!” cried Diana. “Goddess or woman, sane or mad, you will not get away with this! Wonder Woman vows it!”
Steve roared and raised a fist toward the blonde icon. “I have great power as well, and I can fight you,” he cried. “I was cursed and tempest-tossed by your kind for ten long years. I forget naught, and I forgive less!”
“What has been freely given may be taken away as easily,” said the goddess.
Steve cried out and fell to his knees upon the antigravity platform that kept itself beneath his feet as his moved. He seemed a smaller man at that moment.
“Hera help us!” gasped Diana as she was helped to her man’s side. “He has lost his powers!”
Lyta shook her head. “Daddy! No one hurts my father. Not even a blonde bunny from a bad beach flick!”