Freedom Fighters Pt. 21: Wonder Woman #291-293
Beginning a three-part mini-series featuring the amazing Amazon -- and dynamic DC’s mightiest, most magnificent super-heroines!
Book One: Judgment in Infinity!
Chapter 1: Comes the Adjudicator!
When a gigantic man/monstrosity appears floating in midair near the Washington Monument, Wonder Woman arrives on the scene. Fearing that the military’s warning shots will alarm it, she deflects a mortar shell. However, when it explodes nearby, the military thinks the creature deflected it and increases its fire.
As she wakes from being hurled against the Washington Monument, Wonder Woman is able to access the creature’s mind telepathically. She learns that “the Adjudicator” travels throughout the universe…
...acting as both judge and executioner for countless worlds -- first finding those planets wanting and decadent -- then destroying those whose flaws and frailties have not caused them to destroy themselves.
Earth perplexes him, though, because it has somehow survived despite being unworthy. He sees other Earths in the multiverse and wonders if this one survives because the others are worthy. He vanishes to begin a “fitness test” for four other Earths before passing judgment on this one.
Wonder Woman calls an emergency meeting of the Justice League (and Supergirl.) The group concludes that the Adjudicator’s first stop will likely be Earth-Two, so one of its former residents, Black Canary, transmits herself there to warn them.
Chapter 2: Horsemen Four!
The Adjudicator’s strategy is to send the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, one to each of the four Earths, to administer his tests. Zatanna senses something will happen in India, so uses a spell to transform her and Wonder Woman to Calcutta, where sure enough, Famine appears…
The two heroines defeat him, but are concerned about three more Earths and three more tests.
If one fails, then all must die!
Book Two: Seven Against Oblivion!
What is the world coming to? Perhaps to the end of its long, frayed tether… the inglorious finish of its eons-old, arduous climb from much and mire to the pinnacle of human civilization!? True, it’s been a most uneven climb -- leap in art and technology, coupled with economic inequality and the fanatical inhumanity of terrorism -- atomic missiles and killer satellites in the hands of a species who rode horseback into battle, sabers flashing, as recently as the second world war. A heartbreakingly imperfect world -- but it’s our world, blast it - - ours! And no self-appointed Adjudicator is going to obliterate it -- without our putting up a fight!
The next horseman, Plague (aka Pestilence or Disease) arrives on Earth-Two. In Atlanta, unless the staff of the Disease Control Center can do something to prevent an unexpected and terrible plague…
It’s impossible to defeat this horseman, but Black Canary, Power Girl, and the Huntress give it their all until the Adjudicator whisks him away with a polychromatic beam.
Chapter II: “X” Marks the Spot…
On Earth-One, Linda Danvers (aka Supergirl) visits Madame Xanadu, who senses the arrival of the next horseman, War…
The two heroines from Earth-One and Phantom Lady defeat him, but Linda Danvers leaves Madame Xanadu wanting to pretend that none of it really happened…
‘Cause that would mean our Earth… is still in deadly danger!
Book Three: Countdown to Chaos!
Inside Titans Tower on Earth-One, Raven starts screaming like "a soul in mortal agony." Wonder Girl and Starfire take her to Paradise (Island) in hopes that Amazon science can help her. Queen Hippolyta sends them through a portal… the same portal through which the Adjudicator sends the last horseman, Death.
When the Adjudicator retrieves Death like he has the other horsemen, Raven disappears, as do the heroines that battled on other Earths.
Finale: A Judgment Rendered!
The Adjudicator intends to take the heroines as…
...time-frozen specimens for all eternity -- to remind myself that I must never again underestimate a world I mean to judge.
He’s still a little perplexed: he senses that many humans feel that the spirit of self-sacrifice is what separates them from animals, yet it is the animal side of their nature that causes them to sacrifice themselves for others. He doesn’t contemplate too long before declaring:
At heart, I am an executioner, not a scholar. If I paused too long to weigh the worthiness of the worlds I judge and destroy, I would never get any work done.
Using her lasso, Wonder Woman is able to escape the crystal that imprisons her. She attacks the Adjudicator, who summons the four horsemen. In the explosion that accompanies them, the other super-heroines are also released to help Wonder Woman. While he’s distracted, she throws her lasso around his neck:
It turns out that the Adjudicator was sent by his alien overseers to destroy worlds simply to keep him out of mischief! Wonder Woman proclaims,
You’re not a real judge of worlds at all -- but only a madman!
The Adjudicator and his ship disappear, sending each of the women back to their own Earths and leaving us with a happy ending.
This is a flawed but entertaining saga. My biggest issue is that it’s never explained why only the women fight the big bad villain. When Wonder Woman summons the Justice League in Wonder Woman #291, everyone’s there: Superman, Batman, Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern, Atom, and Elongated Man. Besides Green Lantern and Superman flying to Oa and the Fortress of Solitude, respectively, the male species isn’t mentioned again in the entire story.
There’s also no sense of continuity for the Freedom Fighters. I kept looking to make sure their series ran before this story. Yes, it ran in 1977-78, while this story ran in 1982. Granted, it was four or five years later, but how did the Freedom Fighters end up back on Earth-X? It seems like a footnote would have indicated the issue that it happened. Of course, since we never learned what happened to them following the cancellation of Freedom Fighters, there wouldn’t be a previous issue or a footnote.
Still, it’s a fun sort of crossover for Wonder Woman and Phantom Lady, which ostensibly means the Freedom Fighters, as well. It’s the last mention of either the woman or her team for over a year. That brings us to the final pre-Crisis appearance of the Freedom Fighters in DC Comics Presents #62, which we’ll examine next week...
Title: Wonder Woman
Issue #: 291-293
Cover Date: May, June, July, 1982
On Sale Date: Feb. 4, March 4, April 8, 1982
Plotter: Paul Levitz
Scripter: Roy Thomas
Penciller: Gene Colan
Editor: Len Wein