Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wonder Woman Annual #5 (1996)


Those who once might have called it home are long scattered to the endless stars.

But in that scattering, on a thousand different worlds, by a thousand different ways... Earth's greatest legends live on.

A giant starship coasted through space. From a distance, it might appear majestic, but within and without it was well worn by untold time. Strange creatures eked out an existence aboard the craft-- winged sharks, giant spiders, all of some shared ancestry.

AlyXa appeared to be human as we know it. Aside from black markings about her eyes, she could be mistaken for an eighteen year old woman playing Pocahontas. At six foot and 120 pounds, she was quite the prize of her tribe. Her intelligence, curiosity and bravery were less heralded, as they had sent her to explore unfamiliar parts of the ship (though the Unremembered had no conception of the craft they existed within.) AlyXa was now lost and hunted by ratbats and other beasts, their long tongues pursuing her even into a narrow ductway. AlyXa made her escape, and was surprised to see her reflection in statues she found-- in fact the helmets of spacesuits.

The Unremembered were the last human race anyone was aware of, and they lived a savage life of subsistence. Speaking only in clicking sounds, their men were hunters who resented the women workers for continuing to produce resource draining offspring. Clearly the women did this out of carelessness and spite, with the blameless men deserving their elevated position in the hierarchy.

ValXan knew AlyXa wasn't some petty creature like other women, and led a party in search of his runaway bride. KarXyn got slapped for suggesting there were other fish in the sea, while CatXon held his tongue about his own more progress views of the fairer sex. The party was set upon by ratbats, whom they killed while sustaining only minor injury.

That night, KarXyn told tales of the long ago times over a campfire, recalling variations of Superman, Hawkman, the Flash, Batman and Green Lantern. These peculiar ancestral heroes even counted females among their numbers, with takes on Wonder Woman and Catwoman depicted. Humanity's departure from its birth world to the "stars" (whatever those terms met) was recounted, as was the terrible accident aboard their vessel that sent the survivors back to the stone ages. OlXus, a wizened elder, pointed out the common ancestry between the Unremembered and the ratbats, tracing back far beyond the point of recollection.

AlyXa found an advanced laboratory, where for the first time she saw a female ratbat. The creature operated a device that sent signals into its mind powerful enough for AlyXa to pick up on some of them. AlyXa saw visions of Wonder Woman, soaring unaided through the sky, swatting bullets with bracelets, saving the sick and the needy. Wonder Woman battled evils like the Cheetah and Doomsday. It was incredible to behold. After the ratbat stood up unsteadily and departed, AlyXa copied her motions to reactivate the machine. AlyXa saw herself as Wonder Woman, "amazed to find herself accepted as an equal by the men whose power she rivals and exceeds!" To the left of Wonder AlyXa was Superman, and Martian Manhunter was on the right, which was surely intentional.

AlyXa's vision continued, offering a history of ratbat culture, which accepted females as equals and conserved resources well enough to allow for unrestricted offspring. These were no savage beasts, but a society in many ways more advanced than that of the Unremembered. However, the search party caught portions of this psychic story in the manner AlyXa had with the ratbat, and the horrified group attempted to slaughter a ratbat village. Cornering a group of children, the murder was haulted by a ratbat female dressed in a ragged approximation of Wonder Woman's costume. The warrior female tore into the hunting party, defeating the lot before turning around and arguing to save their lives from other vengeful ratbats.

ValXan saw this as an opportunity, retrieved a spear, and pressed it against Wonder Ratbat. A sword soon pressed to ValXan breast, held by AlyXa. "This female is not our enemy, "she clicked. "None of the ratbats are!" They fought only to protect their own, and were as distant kin to the Unremembered. AlyXa made peace with a grateful Wonder Ratbat, and shamed the hunting party into recognizing the faults in her people's ways. If ever the worldship finally landed on an inhabitable planet, both species and all genders would have to share it as equals. "A world such as was prophesied by the first, true Wonder Woman."

"The Unremembered" was by John Byrne, Dave Cockrum and Norm Breyfogle. Cockrum's trademark stiffness was nicely smoothed over by Breygogle, who benefited from Dave's more fleshed out figures while offering softening embellishment. The only weird thing was that on the few pages featuring the classic Wonder Woman, the combination looked like Mike Collins, of all people.

ElseWednesday featuring Wildstorm!

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