Gods of Gotham
WW #164-167. This story was collected in trade paperback format as Gods of Gotham.
WW #164: Jan, 2001. "Gods of Gotham," pt. 1: "Discordia" Story & pencils: Phil Jimenez; co-scripter: J.M. DeMatteis; inks: Andy Lanning; editor: Tony Bedard. Cover: Adam Hughes. WW #165: Feb 2001: "Gods of Gotham" part 2: "Avatars" Story & pencils: Phil Jimenez; co-scripter: J.M. DeMatteis; inks: Andy Lanning; editor: Tony Bedard. Cover: Adam Hughes. WW #166: March, 2001. Story and pencils: Phil Jimenez; Script assist: J.M. DeMatteis; Inks: Andy Lanning, with special thanks to Cam Smith; Editor: Eddie Berganza. "Gods of Gotham Part 3: Fear" Cover: Adam Hughes. WW #167: April, 2001. Story and pencils: Phil Jimenez; Inks: Andy Lanning (with special thanks to Cam Smith); Editor: Eddie Berganza. "Gods of Gotham Part 4: Faith" Cover: Adam Hughes.
This is the perfect story to wave in a skeptical Batophile's face, shouting, "Wonder Woman is TOO great! Look! She's just like Batman!"
Of course, that may not be a good thing from a Wondie-phile point of view.
The rage and hatred of the people of Gotham City awaken Eris, daughter of Ares, who in turn seeks their worship. This has been much abetted by her brother Phobos, who has released her from Hades. Since both are required not to interfere with mortals, they have decided to circumvent the decree by possessing the bodies of Poison Ivy (Eris) and Scarecrow (Phobos). Similarly is Deimos now in Joker's body, and a Gotham cathedral is now used to gather worshippers for them. Harley Quinn has not been possessed, but is kept captive and confused.
On Paradise, Artemis and Diana fly to meet Queen Hippolyta. Hippolyta tells them that her duty to her people comes first, and yet she wears her WW costume, having just come from a JSA mission. This aggrieves Diana, and Artemis follows the two, wondering "have these Amazons begun worshipping themselves?" as they pass through a museum primarily devoted to Hippolyta's exploits as WW. She well remembers that the queen is responsible for both Diana's death as well as her own.
The Amazon oracle Penelope has summoned them all. Penelope gives a dire warning of panic and discord and darkness engulfing the world if it's not conquered, originating in Gotham City.
Batman tells Diana to keep out of Gotham, but she is determined to go, and takes Artemis with her. She rebukes her mother, who is ready to help, in that she is needed with the Amazons "in this time of crisis." So we have two huge cases of overinflated egos at work.
In Gotham, Batman instructs Oracle to tell WW to turn back, that he doesn't believe in gods (though he's certainly dealt with enough in his time). Batman and Huntress watch the cathedral and the crowd of undesirables that have gathered there. Maxie Zeus speaks to the crowd, telling them that gods live within the church and that they will give the crowd power if they will only worship them.
Eris now appears and hands out golden apples that the crowd eats, letting their "passions run free." Violence and unprotected sex break out. Oracle repeats the myth of the golden apple of discord that helped cause the Trojan War.
As Batman and Eris battle, Poison Ivy's personality surfaces for a moment, only to be overcome by the goddess, who hurls Batman away. Deimos/Joker reveals to Harley that the apples will funnel the psychic energies of the worshippers to the children of Ares.
Themyscira appears in Gotham's Sprang River (never raising a ripple with its spacial displacement). Diana checks in with Oracle, who reports that she's lost contact with Batman and Huntress. In the middle of the crisis, Diana asks Oracle to say hello to Black Canary from her and her mother. Artemis questions Diana's decision not to have her mother help, and Diana forcibly reiterates that her mother's duty lies on Themyscira and that her mother is wrong to continue helping in the outer world.
Diana orders Artemis to team with Huntress while Diana enters the church via the dimension-spanning powers of the Amulet of Harmonia. She materializes in a red dimension with a "vibration of evil... of naked depravity," and a stench. Diana immediately recognizes the possessed villains as the gods they are. They tell her that she can resist their "charms" because she possesses "such a pure and powerful spirit."
To get her to display malice to power Eris' golden apple and herself, the gods release the Chimera (a fire-breathing monster with the head of a lion, body of a goat, and tail of a serpent).
Meanwhile, Huntress has inexplicably lost Maxie Zeus' trail and flees his acolytes. She suddenly encounters Artemis—both have their bows drawn—and each thinks the other is an enemy.
Diana lassos the Chimera, declaring that she won't slay it but rather "it's in my power to subdue you—and with a gentle touch, send you down—into the arms of Morpheus." In other words, she touches the beast and puts it to sleep.
Batman appears, but he thinks the possessions are Maxie Zeus' doing. The Chimera's tail (apparently not so asleep) knocks him out of commission.
With Diana entangled in his snakey hair, Diemos introduces himself and his siblings and says, "We like your Gotham City VERY much! So much that we're going to REMAKE it in our father's IMAGE—and from this place, the war-god will STRIKE—and bring DEVASTATION to the Earth—WITH HIS BELOVED CHILDREN BY HIS SIDE!"
"Wonder Words": Morgan Butler. An "Oracle File" contains info on Diana and Hippolyta.
[A little off-topic: Just because DC loved to throw the word "avatar" around during this era (it was almost one of Donna Troy's noms de guerre), let's look up what it means. Merriam-Webster defines it as: "(1) the incarnation of a Hindu deity (as Vishnu); (2a) an incarnation in human form (b) an embodiment (as of a concept or philosophy) often in a person; (3) a variation phase or version of a continuing basic entity." You can see why I never want this word used to describe Donna; it makes her into less.]
A first page juxtaposing "computer" visuals with "pottery" visuals brings the reader up to date as far as characters. Oracle and the oracle Penelope are juxtaposed (as are all the characters in this story, have you noticed?) in their concern for Our Heroes.
Deimos/Joker voices his delight at imprisoning Batman and Wonder Woman. He promises Batman terrible things that Joker dreams of doing to him, and assures Diana that she'll be beheaded as she beheaded him. First, though, the gods must secure Gotham City, and Deimos begins to transform the cathedral interior or other dimension or whatever into a new Areopagus, drawing pieces of the original to the spot.
Poison Ivy's personality occasionally surfaces within Eris as Deimos searches Diana's soul—and discovers that part of it is missing. He gives the Gorgon Stheno Harmonia's Amulet to find the missing part, meaning Donna Troy. (Nooo! Don't legitimize the Byrne origin!)
Donna is working in Aurora Photo Studios' darkroom, trying to update her portfolio. Her partners have been helping her, and she is pleased with the results. Suddenly she's wracked by a mental scream coming from Diana (as Deimos/Joker's snake appendage bites her to inject Joker venom into her) (this effect has never been referred to before or since, and is probably NOT a result of Diana and Donna's closeness, but rather a machinization of Deimos) (that's my story and I'm sticking to it) and falls to the floor. Someone begins to knock on the darkroom door, and Donna politely asks them to go away. After a while she spots her partner, Carl—who has been turned into a statue. The last of the Gorgons, Stheno, stands behind him and tries to get Donna to look at her face in order to statue-ize her as well.
We break briefly to check in on Huntress and Artemis, who have been found by Maxie Zeus. He claims that their destruction will fill his apple of discord with power. Huntress makes some derogatory comments about worshipping the Greek gods and then strangely says that next thing you know, they'll be downing poisoned Kool-Aid—a device that CHRISTIAN zealots used. Note that by now Maxie Zeus's acolytes are all in uniforms of dark, hooded robes and golden masks. Huntress and the atheist Artemis (whom Huntress insists on treating as a pagan) have an existential discussion of contrasting religions as they beat the stuffing out of the acolytes using their fists.
The theological discussion continues as we focus on Batman in Phobos' clutches, who tempts him with images of people who have died because of Batman's failures. Batman discloses that he is an atheist, for how could a universe with a god or gods have allowed a world like the one he has lived in? He acknowledges that Diana, Donna and Capt. Marvel are great heroes whose origins are based among gods, but he says, "Life has no meaning. EXCEPT FOR WHAT WE BRING TO IT." He calls Phobos a psychopath, and his lack of fear disrupts the images.
The Joker venom shows itself by Diana's grin. Still, she has the strength to try to talk (and talk) Deimos down. Harley Quinn interrupts to complain that they're not speaking in English, and Eris/Poison Ivy creates a giant, vegetative (but mobile) form of Ares with instructions to devour her.
Meanwhile, Diana silently prays to Asklepios (Aesculapius), god of healing, and Athena to heal her of the venom and make her mind clear. Even as she is being healed (it takes less than two pages of conversation), she reminds Phobos that Eris has already betrayed the family and he cannot trust her. Batman joins in, and Poison Ivy's personality again surfaces (as Joker also begins to). This gives Diana a chance to use her tiara to cut herself free of Deimos' restraining net of snakes. Batman uses a lightburst to stun Phobos. Diana slugs Deimos.
Back at Aurora Studios, Nightwing comes to pay Donna a visit and ask her if she'd like to join in the Gotham City brou-ha-ha (funny that he'd be so casual about it and not radio for help). Donna tells him to "aim for the head!" and Nightwing uses a suddenly-lethal Batarang (or whatever you call his weaponry) to slice Stheno's head off even as he (with no warning to) covers his eyes. Dick is distraught: "I'm NOT a killer!" (then why is his equipment suddenly lethal?), but Donna excuses the murder because Stheno's not human, la la.
Donna takes her time getting into complete battle dress (including earrings) and has a chatty conversation about accessorizing with Dick even as her sister lies, for all she knows, dead or dying somewhere. Finally she puts Stheno's head in a bag, takes the Amulet of Harmonia, asks Dick if he wants to go with her (though she knows he's there to get her to come with him), delivers one of her characteristic "I love you (only as a friend, of course, so stop staring at my boobs)" declarations to Dick, and they transport to the cathedral interior.
Maxie Zeus is unable to find Huntress and Artemis (though they must be leaving a trail of unconscious bodies behind them), and the two heroes keep to the trees, wary of the golden apples: "They have HYPNOTIC EFFECTS and the ground beneath us is LITTERED with them," Artemis tells the unobservant Huntress. Artemis finishes up their theological discussion and the two heroes watch the cathedral blur.
Inside, the chimera wakens, sending edifices crashing or at least rocking in its wake. Nightwing and Donna appear overhead. Deimos stands before the reconstructed Areopagus, which will serve as headquarters when Ares comes to take command of Earth. Harley is strapped to an altar, ready to be sacrificed in order to bring Ares into this dimension.
Wonder Words: Chris Connelly and Andy Oliver. An "Oracle File" contains info on Artemis and Donna Troy.
"An interdimensional NEXUS... A mystic BRIDGE between worlds, hidden in the bowels of GOTHAM CITY" is where we find most of our heroes and villains now. Diana argues that if Deimos sacrifices Harley, it will mean nothing to Ares, for Ares takes his offerings from the battlefield. Deimos calls the Amulet of Harmonia and head of Sthemo to himself. The Chimera attacks Nighwing as he sets off to free Harley, and Deimos, avoiding a straight look at Stheno's head, discards it.
Just as Deimos holds the two halves of the Amulet to open a rift to his father, the personality of the Joker breaks through, demanding his body back. Batman and Diana plot to sic the various personalities against each other, while Eris uses the hubbub as a diversion to attract negative energies to power her apple of discord.
Outside the cathedral, Artemis and Huntress continue their theological discussion and thus do not detect Maxie Zeus and a host of acolytes behind themselves. But then Cassie the Wonder Girl and Robin arrive to help beat up the crowd. Huntress starts to sass Cassie unnecessarily, and Cassie returns the favor in spades. Robin breaks up the impending chick bickerfest (do we note a pattern beginning for this run?). While Oracle reports that interference is breaking up communications, Cassie ponders an apple of discord.
Diana helps Donna deal with the Chimera by giving it one punch and then leaves to lasso Phobos and Deimos. "The lariat of TRUTH will force you from your hosts and BACK to Lord Hades' realm!" she cries. Though Diana lectures them, the trick only barely begins to work. Meanwhile Batman talks to Eris, trying to lure Ivy out. Nightwing goes to Harley's rescue and takes the giant plant-man out of action. Donna throws a huge statue at the Chimera to knock it out.
Outside, Medea Zeus hands her father Maxie a ripe apple of discord. Hearing the gods summon him, he takes it and runs inside the cathedral. It is Robin who leads the small group of outside heroes safely into the cathedral. Maxie offers the apple, "RIPE with the ENERGY af DISCORD... with HATE and STRIFE" to the gods, but uses part of its energy to blast Diana out of the sky. The apple's energy makes Eris rise again within her borrowed body. Maxie attacks Nighwing so he can sacrifice Harley, but the plant man rises behind him and Maxie willingly allows himself to be sacrificed. He calls out to the gods to remember his service.
Phobos utilizes the released energies to open a doorway between Olympus and Earth via the Amulet. As the portal starts to open, Artemis's cobra venom-laced arrows kill the Chimera and free Donna. Batman stares into the vortex that is filled with dark emotions, including "the divinity of fear" and weakens enough for Phobos to take him over as "the ultimate GOD OF FEAR!"
Wonder Words: Diego Barizo, Cory Enns. Oracle File on Cassie Sandsmark.
Fear sweeps through Gotham City. First it strikes criminals, then people who have been the victims of criminals, and then everyone else. The cathedral is transforming into a sinister temple, decorated with skulls and giant torches. Maxie Zeus' acolytes enter the cathedral of panic to find the Areopagus.
Inside, Dark Angel confronts Donna. Huntress quivers in fear of failing before Batman's eyes. Cassie flies to Diana's rescue, only to have apples of discord explode about her, bringing her under Eris' power. Robin's afraid to jump, though Nightwing tells him the fear is not real. Phobos/Batman gloats as Ares appears over his Areopagus.
Phobos presents the acolytes to Ares, who says he's impressed. Eris sees that Ares believes that Phobos has orchestrated all this, and that Ares will probably send her back to Tartarus unless she either absorbs the power of the apple herself or uses it as a weapon.
Phobos takes the apple and its great energies to present it to Ares. Joker whispers to himself (with Wonder Woman in hearing distance) that Eris has poisoned the apple. Diana throws herself at the apple, knocking both her and Ares into limbo. Diana reminds him of her promise to him to save mankind from itself and Ares' power.
Meanwhile, the maddened Cassie slugs Robin (who merely receives a shiner from his god-powered teammate). Nightwing uses Stheno's head to turn Dark Angel to stone, which finishes releasing Donna from her fear. Artemis convinces Huntress to have faith in her God, and Donna hauls Cassie off Robin while Robin talks Cassie down.
Ares reappears and declares that he rejects his children., who "are nothing more than squabbling VERMIN who would POISON their father with TREACHERY and VENOM." He tells the acolytes to reject them as well, and releases the energy of the apple (which stuns Eris) to give it back to the people it was "stolen" from.
Diana talks for three pages at Phobos, encouraging the Batman within and telling him how much she respects "a man who believes in COMPASSION and RESPECT and HONEST CAMARADERIE."
Ares pulls Eris out of Ivy's body, and Deimos out of Joker. Even after he tells Deimos that he has been a sore disappointment (and then consigns Eris once again to the bottom of the Styx), he tells Phobos that Deimos was his favorite son, and Phobos "the greatest EMBARRASSMENT of my immortal life." He sends Phobos to be shackled to Ixion's wheel in Hades.
When Ares tries to lure the acolytes to worship him, Diana asks him to remember that he promised he would "NEVER again take an active role in man's DEMISE." Ares departs, but says, "the MORAE have given me a glimpse of the future. Soon, mankind will... demand from you everything you have... everything you are... for soon, you will face your greatest challenge—!"
As he departs, the Areopagus collapses, and the heroes are kept busy saving everyone inside. Outside, Wonder Woman saves Medea Zeus, who is terrified of Batman. We see a sprout from an apple of discord coming through the rubble, unnoticed. Dick gives Donna a backrub as she says that Diana has told her that there's a possibility that the Purple Ray could cure Carl. The criminals are taken into custody except for Harley, who escapes.
On a rooftop, Diana and Batman converse. They tell each other how much they admire the other's ideals, and they also point out that they're uncomfortable in each other's environments. Batman admits, "When you 'DIED' all those months ago, I found myself... WORRIED... that the ONE person who could LEAD the heroes of today to see that dream [the end of crime and inequality] fulfilled was GONE." Diana tells Batman that he must have faith.
Wonder Words: Robert Jones, Jr., Frankielaz, Brendan Walsh, Vinny Bellizia, Ted Longbottom.
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