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""The Princess and the Power!"": This story is reprinted from Wonder Woman (Volume 2) #1.


Quote1 We are commanded to choose a champion -- the very best among us! She shall prove herself through tournament and the Trial of Flashing Thunder! She alone can save us and she alone shall face Ares in the world of man! Quote2
-- Menalippe



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Synopsis for "The Princess and the Power!"

This story is reprinted from Wonder Woman (Volume 2) #1.

During the late stone age, a caveman is exiled from his tribe for failing a hunt - a failure that has also cost him his hand. His pregnant mate tries to console him, but her pity enrages him, spurring him to attack and kill her. Moments later, the caveman is shocked to see his mate's corpse twitching, and hear a voice whispering from the Earth.

A blinding light suddenly flies from the cavewoman's corpse, into the sky above.

Many millennia later, the Gods of Mount Olympus discuss a pressing issue: their worshipers' dwindling faith. Zeus, King of Olympus, hears competing proposals from Ares, God of War and Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt on the matter. The former proposes cowing man into obedience through force and bloodshed; the latter, creating an all-female race who will enlighten man.

Zeus eventually loses patience with the debates, proclaims the issue beneath him, and leaves; his wife Hera likewise refuses to engage. This dissuades neither Ares, who plots to surpass all Olympus, nor Artemis, who has already allied with five other Olympians: Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest, Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth, and Hermes, Messenger of the Gods. With Hermes' help, the five Goddesses journey to the Cavern of Souls, a portion of the Underworld where Gaea has housed the spirits of all women unjustly killed by men.

By pooling their divine powers, the Goddesses withdraw these spirits - save one Athena notes a "special destiny" for - and reincarnate them into grown women. These reborn women, tasked with raising man's virtue and piety, are dubbed the Amazons and given blessings by each Goddess; the first two reborn, Hippolyte and Antiope, are additionally gifted with golden girdles, crystallizations of Gaea's power, that mark them as the Amazons' leaders. Under Hippolyte and Antiope, the Amazons soon build the renowned city-state of Themyscira.

Unfortunately, the Amazons' success attracts jealousy and suspicion from Greece's other rulers, which Ares wholeheartedly fans. The War-God's influence eventually snares Zeus' son Herkales, who gathers an army and tries to invade Themyscira; upon being outfought by Hippolyte, Herakles feigns surrender and proposes an alliance, which the Amazon Queen accepts. The two parties celebrate well into the night, Herakles romancing Hippolyte while his companion Theseus pursues Antiope. None of the Amazons, save the oracle Menalippe, suspect their new "allies" are giving them drugged wine.

Once the wine takes effect, Herakles and his men easily sack Themyscira and enslave the Amazons; subsequently, Herakles claims Hippolyte's girdle as a spoil and rides off in search of new conquests. When the beaten, manacled Hippolyte begs Olympus' forgiveness, Athena replies, chiding the Amazon Queen for forgetting her mission and isolating her race from the rest of mankind. By Athena's instruction, Hippolyte forswears any thoughts of revenge and rededicates herself to the Goddesses, regaining the strength to break her chains.

Hippolyte quickly frees the rest of the Amazons, sparking rebellion against Themyscira's remaining occupiers; and though she repeats Athena's instructions, many Amazons - chief among them Antiope - embrace their hatred and kill the occupiers to the last man. In the aftermath of this brutal "victory", Antiope bitterly renounces Olympus, surrenders her girdle to Hippolyte, and secedes from Themyscira with many like-minded Amazons.

Downcast but still devout, Hippolyte leads the remnants of Themyscira to the Aegean Sea, where the Goddesses have prepared their new destiny. With Poseidon, God of the Seas as their guide, the Amazons travel to a lush, uncharted island, beneath which lies countless demons. To repent for their failures, Hippolyte and her followers must keep these demons confined and keep the island hidden from all mortal men. So long as they maintain this vigil, they will retain Olympus' favor and remain unaging.

Over the next three thousand years, Hippolyte and her followers hold true to their new purpose, building a stronger, grander Themyscira in the process. Though undisputed Queen of this new Themyscira, Hippolyte remains unfulfilled until her deities tell her - through Menalippe - that she had been reincarnated from a pregnant cavewoman, and thus desires a child. At their direction, Hippolyte sculpts a baby from Themyscira's shoreline clay - which Artemis and her allies bless and infuse with the Cavern of Souls' last occupant.

Thus is born Diana of Themyscira, first Princess of the Amazons.

As Diana approaches adulthood, Menalippe receives another vision from the Gods: that Ares has grown in both power and madness, and plots to destroy the entire world. There is but one hope: Themyscira must send a single champion, selected through tournament and "Flashing Thunder", into Man's World to battle Ares. Hippolyte obeys this edict but, fearing for her daughter's well-being, forbids Diana from competing in the tournament.

Wonder Woman 0169

Diana participates in the "Trial of Flashing Thunder"

With Athena's blessing, the stubborn Diana disobeys her mother and enters the tournament, knowing all the contestants will be masked to guarantee impartiality. The disguised Diana out-performs her fellow Amazons and proves herself worthy of being the Champion - much to Hippolyte's horror. Though remorseful, Diana insists she has only obeyed the Gods' will, and Hippolyte has little choice but to give her the Champion's silver bracelets and let her take the final challenge – the Trial of Flashing Thunder.

The "Flashing Thunder" is revealed to be a handgun - a weapon from "Man's World" wielded by Queen Hippolyte's chief general Philippus. Diana is ordered to defend herself against it with nothing but her silver bracelets, and succeeds, though not without difficulty. With this final challenge concluded, Diana is officially proclaimed Themyscira's Champion, attired in the armor of a great warrior from ages past, and readied for her journey into Man's World.



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