Wonder Woman and Superman save various bystanders, including a little girl, from Hurricane Gardner, and in the process Diana gets homesick for her mother and native Themyscira. Journeying home, she finds, everything, right down to her downstairs toilet, destroyed. Not only that, her mother, plus all the Amazons, have been turned to stone. It’s the work of hilariously garbed sorcerer Felix Faust, who is apparently after some mythical treasures and turned the Amazons into garden ornaments for refusing to help him. Wonder Woman, understandably peeved, threatens to kick seven shades out of him, until he revives her mother, Hippolyta, then solidifies her again. He threatens to keep doing this until Diana agrees to help him.
Wonder Woman asks Batman to dig up some dirt on Faust, and this gets Bats understandably more sceptical than a Copperfield fan at a David Blane show. Diana sets about recovering the artefacts her nemesis (who it seems is actually working for the Devil himself) wants, but lacking finesse, sets off every alarm from Gotham to Metropolis. In nicking the first artefact, Wonder Woman incurs the wrath of some large stone guardian who is looking after it, and promptly gets her behind handed to her – until she gets even more angry and turns it into gravel (reminder – do not annoy Wonder Woman, the girl is tough). Superman appeals to her sense of loyalty and gets her to stop, before the League agree to help her find the remaining relics. Flash and Martian Manhunter get one and end up fighting another monstrous defender (who Jonn dispatches with one punch), while Superman and Wonder Woman end up fighting each other after the artefact they retrieve makes them hallucinate the other is a foul beast.
While everyone else is busy flexing their muscles, Batman is scaring the bejesus out of a Professor Erlich about Faust, who is busy concocting more of his dastardly scheme with his Satanic boss.
After their smackdown, Superman and Wonder Woman get a call from Batman, who has uncovered some of Faust’s secrets, pointing the League towards a brief history lesson of the man pulling Faust’s strings, Hades. Turns out he had a fling with Hippolyta, and was cast down to rule over the dead after a failed deal to get Olympus conquered. It turns out the relics are part of a key to unlock the gates of the Underworld that Hippolyta was cursed to guard. Faust’s desire to rejoin them is a means to an end of Hades re-merging and conquering the world. Diana is faced with a difficult choice: Free her mother and doom the planet, or leave her entire race entombed forever.
Faust is gleeful as Diana returns and pretends to hand over the relics, only for The Flash and the rest of the League to intervene. As part of the bargain, Faust freed Hippolyta, who is none too pleased that her daughter has brought men to the realm of Themyscira. The sorcerer’s magic though, is more than a match for the League, and he escapes with the key – and Diana’s mother.
Stupidly having decided not to substitute the real key for a fake one (who’s the clever one now Batman?), Faust opens the gateway and Hades comes tramping through, with the scheming magician offering up Hippolyta has a welcoming sacrifice. Diana strides to her rescue, as do the rest of the League, but only to find the Lord of the Underworld is far more powerful than they can imagine. Draining Faust of his life force and leaving him a withered old man, he overpowers his adversaries with a mixture of Hellfire and undead warriors. Battering the male members of the team, it’s left to Hippolyta and Diana to fight back. Faust tries to assist, but only succeeds in making Hades even more powerful. And even more brutal scuffle ensues, and Diana destroys the key, opening up a vortex to suck Hades back from whence he came. The League struggle to escape, and Faust meets a rather grisly end, dissolving into dust ahead of the fiery event horizon. Wonder Woman manages to grab her mother as Hades passes through the portal, which seals itself once he’s back in Hell.
That leaves the Amazons still stuck as statues, only until The Flash somehow manages to operate Faust’s trinket (Batman explains this is less to do with Flash’s ability, and more to do with Faust’s death), changing them back to their normal state. While thankful, Hippolyta can’t forgive Diana for breaking the most sacred of Amazonian laws – bringing men to their sacred isle. For that she is banished, leaving her with a bittersweet victory.
Let me write that down (connections to DC Comics and their history):
Felix Faust has a long history in DC Comics, usually popping up as an enemy of Justice League Dark, comprising John Constantine and his other misfits.
Themiscyra is Wonder Woman’s home, as well as that of the Amazons. Hippolyta is seen for the first time, but no mention is made of her other major relationship with Zeus, rather than Hades.
Hurricane Gardner, the storm at the start of the episode, is likely named for long time writer and artist Gardner Fox.
“Bernie’s News”, the newsstand that’s destroyed by Hurricane Gardner, carries the same name as the newsstand in the comic series “Watchmen”.
Hades’ initial look before draining Faust of his life is reminiscent of Darkseid’s lieutenant Steppenwolf, but this look is quickly discarded.
Did you DCU that? (connections to other DC Animated Universe shows):
Diana hasn’t been back to Themiscyra since she left to fight the White Martians in the first episode of the series.
Her exile doesn’t end for a while – Diana isn’t allowed back until the Justice League Unlimited episode “The Balance”.
I’ll get you next time (characters and consequences that will show up in later episodes):
The revelation of Hippolyta’s affair with Hades is also expanded on later in “The Balance”, revealing that before the affair ended, Hades sculpted Diana from clay along with Hippolyta, though life was not breathed into Diana until after his banishment.
Faust, in a non-corporeal form, also returns in “The Balance”, overthrowing Hades but eventually beaten by Wonder Woman again.
It does an excellent job of world building, fleshing out Wonder Woman’s character when she’d largely been neglected up until this point. Faust is arguably a more intriguing villain than Hades, who is a the type of god-like character the League will come across more often – but the whole point of this is a showcase for Diana, and in that regard it succeeds.