In 1987, George Perez relaunched Wonder Woman, which had long been one of DC Comics most recognizable properties. Let's be honest - up until this point, Wonder Woman comics weren't very good. They sucked major ass, actually. Perez was tasked with overhauling the Amazon princess Diana and making her the equal of her male counterparts Batman and Superman.
He nailed it.
Perez (with scripter Len Wein) revisited Wonder Woman's origin from square one, with a heavy emphasis on her Greek mylthological origins. He kept some iconic elements and characters (Steve Trevor, Etta Candy) but reworked them for his own purposes. Perez wisely ditched some classic elements that didn't work with his more serious take on the character, like the Invisible Plane and Wonder Woman creator William Marston's fondness for bondage and all-girl marching bands.
The Ares storyline running through issues 4-6 of the series is Wonder Woman 2.0's first full-on adventure in Patriarch's World, aka 20th Century Earth. Diana is a fish out of water, trying to adapt to her new environment while spreading the Amazon tenets of peace through superior firepower. While she's trying to adjust, Ares, the Greek god of war, is hatching an evil if ultimately self-defeating plan that may wipe out all life on earth.
Over the course of three issues, Wonder Woman and her somewhat bloated cast of supporting characters are harried by Ares' agents until they finally figure out what his deal is. First there is Decay, the Joan Rivers of supervillains. "Her touch means death!" She has the power to turn anyone she touches into Keith Richards.
Here, Wonder Woman figures out that the key to defeating Decay is by using her magic lasso, which hurts like a motherfather if you're a demon:
After kicking Decay's shriveled ass all across Boston, Diana is lauded in the press, which has decided that she's a superhero and thus needs a superhero name:
Thus the name Wonder Woman is born! Since this is Boston, shouldn't it be "Wicked Strong Woman?" I kid, Boston! Stay sexy.
In the next issue, Diana and Co are that much closer to figuring out Ares' plan. They do battle with his kids, Deimos and Phobos, who are not attractive godlings at all. While Wonder Woman grapples with Deimos and his beard o' snakes, his troll-like brother Phobos steps up to take out her friends:
Phobos is aptly named, because he can rip your deepest fears out of your mind and make them For Reals. Here the supporting cast is menaced by their various fears:
Dude is afraid of cats? I can understand spiders and drowning and being buried alive - but cats? I know, I know - phobias are irrational fears, but man, if I had a fear of cats I would feel like a big pussy.
Thank you! I'll be here all week. Try the steak.
To be fair, the guy is facing off against a Giant Cat with Eyebrows, which anybody would be afraid of. Maybe the caption should read: "For the one called Matthew Michaels, the ancient fear of fuckin' huge cats with eyebrows!"
You're probably dying to know what Ares is up to, aren't you? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway. He has possessed an American general and a Russian general and their respective troops, causing them to simultaneously hijack missile silos in both Russia and The States. (1987, remember?) The two generals are going to trigger a massive global thermonuclear war, the ultimate expression of Ares dark art.
Wonder Woman and Her Amazing Friends get hip to the God of War's plot, and they battle the possessed troops inside a missile silo in an attempt to stop them from launching the missiles. Lots of 'splosions, lots of bullets-and bracelets action.
"Again they use the flashing thunder--? Is this their answer to every problem?"
Speaking as a man, Wonder Woman, I can say yes. Yes, the flashing thunder is our answer to every problem. The printer at work breaks? Flashing thunder. Can't figure out how much to tip the waiter? Again, bring the flashing thunder. In my defence, I should say that it's not the answer to every problem. Sometimes I bust out with my hurricane kick, and sometimes I use a mega-earthquake punch.
Ultimately, Ares and Wonder Woman face off in an otherworldly realm. It's not much of a face-off, really. Ares beats her up and calls her names. I really like Perez's design for Ares - he looks scary and powerful and very very tall. That's what a godly diet of ambrosia and nectar will do for you.
Diana turns the tables on Ares with her handy Lasso of Truth. Is that your answer to every problem, Miss Patronizing?
The unbreakable Lasso of Truth forces Ares to confront the reality of his plan: if he sets off a global nuclear war that wipes out mankind, who will worship him? Who will be around to wage war? Nobody, dumbshit! He needed somebody to point this obvious truth out to him? They should call it the Lasso of Duhh.
The two-page sequence where Ares hallucinates the ultimate consequences of his plan is brilliantly laid out and drawn, and is a great example of how sometimes comics can just kick ass over other mediums. It's the climax and high point of the story, and is just Pure Radness.
So there you go, Wonder Woman # 4-6. Do yourself a favor and go check out the trade paperback that collects these issues.
Oh, have I mentioned that there are flaming soldier zombies? Well, there are.