WONDER WOMAN : THE MEASURE OF A HEROINE


Chapter 4.
"Look there ... on top of that rubble!" One needn't know the teenage Amazon Wonder Girl to detect the dire tension and worry in her voice. "It's Wonder Woman's tiara and it's covered with blood stains!" The Teen Titan is flanked by Green Lantern, Superman and Supergirl. All four are grim-faced as they survey the nearly deserted streets of Gateway City. Signs of a brutal battle are clearly evident, yet the combatants are nowhere to be found.

Frightened and confused women emerge from hiding upon the arrival of the super heroic contingent. They flock towards the foursome. Frantic questions are uttered by all, thus resulting in a muddled gibberish. Superman speaks for the group. He urges everyone to remain calm and offers reassurances that efforts are underway to recover the missing men. Green Lantern adds that Batman has also been returned and he is putting his brilliance and resources to work alongside the super heroines to expedite the retrieval process.

Supergirl asks the citizens for any information they may have on the whereabouts of Wonder Woman and Doomsday. Before any answers can be given, one feminine voice drowns out the crowd. "Comin through! Move it! Scuse me! ... Heide Rockwell, WSLT news." she announces. "What's going on here? The public has a right to know." the reporter demands.

Rockwell's question is deferred due to the remaining threat Doomsday poses. Debra Mulvihill speaks up with significant eyewitness testimony. The pilot recounts the liquid nitrogen attack and notes that Wonder Woman flew the notorious beast out of the city, heading due north. Mulvihill expresses her concern that the Amazon princess is badly hurt. She marvels how the heroine saved Gateway City despite her grievous injuries. "It was the most remarkable thing I've every seen!" she lauds. Heide Rockwell does not share her pilot's praise for Wonder Woman, but she sees an opportunity to attain some undeserved credibility. "Heroes ..." the reporter arrogantly chimes in. "At MY suggestion, I offered Wonder Woman the use of our news helicopter to heft that ugly monstrosity out of here." Fully expecting the gratitude of these heroes and heroines, she continues "If you could just take me along .."

It is clear to all that Rockwell is not sincere. Supergirl respectfully and deftly puts the overbearing reporter in her place as she and her colleagues prepare to depart. "Your selflessness is most inspiring Ms. Rockwell," the girl of steel rules, "but I'm afraid it's too dangerous for you to join us."

*****

Fifty miles north of Gateway City, the desperate transport of Doomsday is coming to an end. Since liftoff, the monster has strained to overcome the effects of his liquid nitrogen exposure. Although his arms and head remain immobile, the monster is regaining flexibility in his legs and spine. He violently twists and jerks his body in an effort to shake himself loose. The resulting stress is too much for the damaged helicopter to endure. The landing struts give way, thus separating the line from the failing craft.

Both Doomsday and the helicopter plummet towards Thompson Lake, the monster at a faster pace because the machine's blades still whirl. Wonder Woman disembarks from the helicopter to give chase. The noose of her magic lasso is wedged and frozen underneath her foe's shoulder blades. If at all possible, she must retain possession of her golden lasso. The heroine clutches the opposite end of the line. She rapidly winds the lasso completely around her left hand so as to protect it from the intense cold. The Amazon strikes a precision blow against the monster's left shoulder spike. As she hoped, even Doomsday's bones are somewhat brittle from the intense cold; hence the protrusion snaps.

With his shoulder spike broken, Doomsday slips out of the noose and falls into the lake. The Justice Leaguer dives in after him. The water surrounding his frame freezes almost instantaneously. The ice sheath encasing his body increases in size as more and more water freezes solid. He descends further and further down due to his great weight and momentum. Eventually, this should change because ice floats to the surface of water. Diana ensures otherwise however by observing her adversary becoming entrenched in the lake floor.

Two hundred feet down, the selfless Amazon suddenly discovers that she is in big trouble. In peak condition, she can hold her breath underwater for an hour at a time. With her injured ribs, she finds herself in drastic need of oxygen within minutes. Wonder Woman struggles to ascend back to the surface. Overcoming her pain and exhaustion, Diana gasps for air as she manages to poke her head above the waves. The beleaguered heroine strains to resist a feeling of utter hopelessness. "Hera help me when he gets loose!" she exclaims in despair.

As if on queue, Wonder Woman's prayers are answered, not by the gods of Olympus, but rather the timely arrival of her super heroic colleagues. "Relax Diana, the cavalry is here!" Green Lantern announces as he gently lifts her out of the water with a giant hand formed from his power ring. The tired Amazon is immensely relieved at the sight of her four friends. She is still worried about the threat Doomsday poses, but Hal Jordan reassures her that they have the wherewithal to handle him.

It isn't until Green Lantern sets her down on the lake shore that the others realize just how injured Diana truly is. The proud Amazon is rather unconvincing in her attempt to allay her younger sister's concerns. "I ... I'll be fine, Donna." she says. Supergirl disputes Wonder Woman's self assessment, for her x-ray vision indicates otherwise. "Fine?" Kara scoffs. "You've got four broken ribs, internal bleeding and a punctured lung! Need I go on?"

Donna insists that they return Diana home to Paradise Island so she can be treated by advanced Amazonian medical science. The elder sister understands her need for such care, but she is more concerned with the crisis facing Earth. Refusing to sit idly by, Wonder Woman unsteadily rises to her feet. Hal Jordan has seen this before. His JLA comrade tends to push herself with uncommon, and sometimes ill-advised, determination. He knows better than to try to dissuade her here. Rather, the hero alleviates some of Diana's pain by creating a flak jacket, back brace and gauze bandages with his power ring.

Wonder Girl, Super Girl and Green Lantern give the Amazon princess a brief summary of the day's events. As Diana had originally theorized, an alien invasion attempt was responsible for the disappearances of Earth's men and the coinciding arrival of Doomsday. The super heroines thwarted the plans of the Barratta, a plant-based alien species, which had hoped to conquer the supposedly defenseless planet. The men are currently trapped in an inter-dimensional void and a plan to recover them is just getting underway. To facilitate the rescue effort, Green Lantern, Superman, Batman and Hawkman have been individually returned.

Included in the Barratta's takeover scheme was a means by which to neutralize the menacing Doomsday. The alien flora developed a special organic compound which, when ingested, overpowers the brain and causes the subject to become detached from reality. Doomsday would thus believe that he is causing mayhem when in actuality his physical body is docile. Supergirl sternly asserts "I can't wait to ram this stuff right down that ugly brute's throat!"

"We'll have that chance momentarily Kara," Superman warns as he descends from the sky to rejoin the others. "Doomsday is close to freeing himself from his ice cocoon." he adds. Opinions differ as to their best battle strategy. Wonder Woman obstinately refuses medical help for she would require assistance to get there. The Amazon reasons that the entire group is needed to handle the monster and she insists that she has the plan to subdue him.

Moments later, Doomsday emerges from the cover of the lake as if he were a missile fired from an underwater submarine. Superman and Supergirl offer the first wave of resistance as the nefarious beast lands a dozen yards off shore and makes his way towards the beach. Green Lantern and Wonder Girl are stationed two hundred yards back from the water. They safeguard the prone form of Wonder Woman. The Amazon princess' condition is deteriorating. Wrapped in Superman's cape, the feverish heroine lies on a power ring generated bed. She remains lucid, however, thus Donna and Hal can not, in good conscience, override her will to stay.

The Kryptonian cousins each concentrate full intensity heat vision beams onto Doomsday's left shoulder blade. This causes him considerable pain, because the break area is sensitive. Noting such, Supergirl suggests that an opportunity to destroy Doomsday may have been missed. "If the liquid nitrogen caused the shoulder bone to break ..." Kara begins. "Could catastrophic damage have been done?" Superman asks. Given his vast experience with the monster, the man of steel believes not. He reasons that Doomsday's hide is so dense and resilient that no force could soften him up enough to allow for utter demolition.

The heat vision attack slows Doomsday's approach, but only momentarily. He quickly adjusts to the intense pain and seems to use it to fuel his wild rage. The behemoth charges the Kryptonian pair. His unprecedented power is well chronicled, yet it is the accompanying speed and quickness that is often understated. Despite anticipating the assault, Superman is unable to avoid the beast's right-handed blow. The impact slams the hero into his cousin, thus temporarily toppling them both.

Doomsday forges ahead towards the remaining trio. Green Lantern erects a transparent cage around the Amazon sisters to shield them from the onslaught. The Justice League hero makes a creative effort to contain the violent menace. Green energy engulfs the mighty frame of Doomsday. Huge, thick chains take shape and tightly bind the brute. A jackhammer also materializes. Hal Jordan wills it to pound away at the vulnerable left shoulder blade. Green Lantern understands that these tactics will not subdue the enemy, but he is the nonetheless astonished at how easily they are overcome. Doomsday bursts free of the chains and shatters the jackhammer with a single blow. Before Jordan can initiate another attack, the monster throws a vicious body block which propels the hero out of the immediate vicinity.

Wonder Girl eyes the colossal terror from her vantage point within Green Lantern's protective cage. She is incredulous at the ease with which Doomsday has fended off three of Earth's most powerful heroes. The Teen Titan fears an impending showdown as the beast whirls around to face her. "What can I do against that kind of power?" Donna privately frets.

Before he reaches the Amazons, Doomsday encounters further resistance. Superman returns to engage the beast. The hero lands a fast flurry of punches. Although each one connects solidly, his opponent is barely staggered. Doomsday will not yield ground. He retaliates with a roundhouse right-handed shot and the Kryptonian is jettisoned from the scene.

As Superman fades off into the distance, Supergirl soars in to challenge the monster. She attempts to lift him off his feet to no avail. The girl of steel finds herself face to face with the vile monstrosity for which she feels nothing but disdain and hate. Unlike any other foe, there is no need for her to exercise restraint against Doomsday. Kara's eyes burn bright red as she scorches his face with scalding heat vision. Undeterred, the beast slugs the super heroine, sending her reeling.

It is an anxious moment for Donna Troy as Doomsday once again rivets his attention upon her. While she battled the notorious creature earlier, she was at full strength with others at her side. Now Wonder Girl, with a separated left shoulder from the day's activities, must face him alone. Princess Diana lies seriously wounded at the hands of this menace. Not only is she Donna's sister; Wonder Woman is also her mentor and best friend. Until now, it was unimaginable that big sister Diana, the greatest of all Amazons, could suffer such punishment in a purely physical confrontation. Wonder Girl reveres her sister's capabilities and harbors understandable doubts that she can cope with this formidable foe.

Wonder Girl holds her ground for she is all that stands between Doomsday and Wonder Woman. Sweat beads on her forehead as she attempts to project confidence and strength. Diana senses her younger sister's tension and offers inspiring words of encouragement. As Doomsday smashes through Green Lantern's energy barrier, Donna Troy feels renewed confidence. "Diana has more faith in me than even I have in myself." she marvels. "I must prove that her belief hasn't been misplaced!"

The teenage Amazon courageously battles the hulking giant. As with the others, however, her gallant efforts simply aren't good enough. Incensed from his day long battle and the liquid nitrogen bath, Doomsday is obsessed with destroying Wonder Woman. Other super-powered heroines and heroes are simply obstacles in his path. The beast finally dispenses with the last of those delaying actions as he clobbers Wonder Girl and hurls her aside.

Her friends look on in horror as Wonder Woman falls into the clutches of her nemesis. The weakened Amazon offers no resistance as she is yanked to her feet. In desperation, Diana's colleagues launch long range strikes as they race to her aid. Heat vision and power ring beams hit the massive beast in the back as his fist is cocked for a death blow. Doomsday is riled by the attacks and he is momentarily distracted. Diana capitalizes upon the opportunity. The super heroine whips the Barrattan compound out from underneath the cover of Superman's cape. At point blank range, she jams it down the unsuspecting behemoth's throat.

There is concern as to whether the alien substance will ultimately overcome him. Doomsday adapts to enemy attacks, but the presumption here is that he has no defense. This compound does no physical harm, nor does it actually cause pain. His genetically engineered physiology theoretically will not evolve beyond it, because it will not be recognized as a threat.

Doomsday instinctively shoves Wonder Woman to the ground. He bellows in a combination of confusion and anguish. The infernal beast does not understand what is happening to him and knows not how to combat it. Diana is rejoined by her colleagues and they all anxiously look on. The monster jerks his head side to side and his body shakes vigorously. Suddenly, his violent twitching ceases and he stands virtually still. Wonder Woman breathes a beleaguered sigh of relief. "It's over!" she declares solemnly.

*****

Good news travels fast with communication lines restored. Black Canary and Huntress are reached at the command center on the JLA satellite. Dinah is elated to learn that Diana has survived her deadly skirmish with Doomsday. She informs the group that worldwide recovery efforts are underway and that they hope to have all the men returned within the next 24 to 36 hours. There is still much work to do. An immense cleanup and salvage effort lies ahead, but the threat to the Earth itself has been averted.

Green Lantern and the Kryptonian cousins plan to escort Doomsday off the planet. With Donna's help, Wonder Woman will return home to Paradise Island for medical treatment. As they prepare to go their separate ways, Wonder Girl gratefully exclaims "Thank Hera it's over!" Superman wholeheartedly concurs. "The world owes all of you heroines a great debt of thanks!"