Wonder Woman sighed as she sat alone inside the Hall of Justice. It had been a very slow day, which was mainly attributable to it being the American holiday of Thanksgiving. Apparently, even the villains took a day off to stuff themselves, she thought as she scanned the network for activity.
She was working today because she was one of the few Justice Leaguers who didn’t have any commitments for the holiday. Batman (as Bruce Wayne) was hosting a huge charity dinner at Wayne Manor. Flash and Green lantern were with their families, Superman attended with Lois Lane, and Hawkgirl had flown back to her planet of Thanagar – she said she couldn’t stand to be around on a holiday where a bird was killed, stuffed, and eaten….
So that just left Diana and the Martian Manhunter to staff the Hall of Justice for the holiday.
Normally Supergirl would have been on duty too… but nobody had a clue where she was! She had been investigating the disappearance of a famous supermodel, when she had disappeared herself, without a trace. The League had done a thorough search of the last area she was known to be in and turned up nothing; the assumption was, being that she was still a bit immature and flighty, that she had gotten frustrated again and flown away to another planet, as she had once before.
Wonder Woman looked up at the clock, it was 2 pm and there was one more hour before her replacement would show up. Just then she heard a beep that indicated a message was coming in. She turned to the computer screen and clicked a couple of buttons, and then read the message that came through:
All is well! I have a new direction for my life and am very happy! But I miss you, and want to tell you all about it…
I’ll be at the corner of 10th and Main in downtown Gotham at 4pm today, if you can meet me there that would be great!
“Well,” thought Wonder Woman to herself, “so that’s why she disappeared… a new direction…” she looked up at the clock again; there was no reason she could think of why she couldn’t meet Supergirl at 4pm. And find out what was going on, and hopefully convince her to return to the Justice League. Diana had always had a strong influence over her Kryptonian friend, almost like a big sister. And Kara trusted her, which is why she chose to contact her of all the Leaguers, Diana thought to herself.
3 o’ clock came and J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, arrived to take over the watch for the rest of the day. Wonder Woman had checked the JLA computer maps to ensure she knew exactly where this address was, and immediately took flight towards Gotham.
As she flew, Wonder Woman gave a bit of thought to what she might say to her younger blonde teammate. In the past, she had used both the firm approach, reminding Kara of the great responsibility they had for the safety and welfare of so many millions of people, but she had also used the kinder, gentler approach, showing Kara how much she was loved and appreciated by the rest of the team. Maybe a combination of the two would be most effective, she decided as she arrived in Gotham, with a full 20 minutes to spare!
Wonder Woman landed near the intersection and started to look around. Downtown Gotham was completely quiet and empty, as was to be expected late on a Thanksgiving afternoon. This time tomorrow it would be the opposite, loud and busy with the sounds of the shoppers bustling about, rushing from store to store. She found the corner of 10th and Main, and wondered why Kara would have chosen this place to meet. There seemed to be nothing of significance here… the only thing that caught Diana’s eye was a storefront right on the corner, but whatever had occupied the shop appeared to be out of business as far as she could tell, as both of the street window displays were completely empty. The sign above the door read ‘Curious Collectibles’ in a somewhat Gothic font.
Wonder Woman walked over and peered through one of the dust-streaked windows, but couldn’t see anything beyond the empty window display. “Well, this is an interesting place to want to meet someone…” she said to herself, then walked over to the solid door and leaned against it, looking around for any sign of her friend, when quite to her surprise the door creaked a bit and pushed open.
She was quite surprised as well by what her eyes saw as she walked in. The store was clearly not ‘Out of Business’… the lights were on, and the store was full of things… Diana slowly began to walk around, taking it all in. The walls of the store were lined with a number of antique-looking and beautiful wood framed display cases, and inside most of them were treasured items, many of which she thought probably belonged in a museum somewhere. The center area of the store was more of what she expected, with shelves full of merchandise, dolls, toys and other collectibles for purchase. The items in the center all had price tags, while the items in the display cases along the wall did not; Wonder Woman assumed those items were probably so expensive that the store owner didn’t want to give customers a shock by displaying the prices.
She made her way towards the back of the store, where the checkout counter was. “Hello?” she said in a loud whisper. “Is anyone here?”
After a moment, a head appeared from behind the counter, as a short, older, smiling woman stood up. “Hello there! Welcome to Curious Collectibles… I’m Mary. How can I help you?”
Diana couldn’t help but smile, the older lady was adorable, like a grandmother, with a twinkle in her eye that seemed to say ‘Everything is going to be just wonderful! Here, I baked you some cookies!’ “Yes hi…I’m W—”
The lady interrupted her with a smile. “Of course, Wonder Woman! Everyone knows who you are, young lady! It’s an honor to have someone of your heroic stature in my humble little shop…!”
Wonder Woman beamed and smiled. Being told how amazing she was never seemed to get old. “It’s quite a nice little shop… I’m supposed to be meeting a friend at four o’clock; I just, you know, thought I’d look around while I’m waiting…”
“Please do! And please, don’t hesitate to ask me any questions, dear…” Mary walked slowly and a bit stiffly around the counter to the tall and powerful Amazon. Diana looked down at her; the little old lady barely came up to the bottom of her chest. “I’m sure you have lots of questions, don’t you, dear?”
“Well, actually…” Wonder Woman started as she began to look around the room once more…”I was wondering… you have a lot of really rare and valuable pieces on display in here…”
“Yes, thank you for noticing… this is my life’s work here in this little shop.” Mary beamed as she followed the mighty super-heroine over to one of the displays. Inside were a number of antique-style delicately crafted porcelain dolls. “Every single one of these is literally the only one of its kind in existence… If I find that another one exists somewhere, then it ceases to be a part of my collection…”
Wonder Woman’s eyes widened a bit at this statement. “You mean…” she began as she pointed to one of the porcelain dolls, “if you find another doll just like this one somewhere, you’ll get rid of this one?”
“Exactly, my dear,” Mary replied. “I would auction or sell it off at the earliest opportunity. I pride myself on the uniqueness of each and every item in this collection. Many of these items were the only ones of their kind ever made, and the others, if there are duplicates, they have probably been lost or destroyed through the passage of time… I see you walked right over to one of my doll cases. Do you like dolls, Wonder Woman?”
“Well…” Diana started to answer, as she thought about it, dolls weren’t something she had ever really thought about before. They didn’t have them growing up on the Amazon island of Themiscyra. She started to say something more, but Mary began to speak before she could say anything.
“Of course you do… every girl likes dolls. I’ve loved playing with dolls too since I was a little girl! Sometimes I forget that they are dolls, they seem like so much more than that sometimes… I have always taken care of my dolls as if they were my own children. They are all very special to me… maybe that’s why I’ve enjoyed collecting them for so many years… and unlike real children, they never disappoint you. You can put them in their case and they just smile, and look pretty, and remain perfect…”
Wonder Woman stood and listened to the small frail woman talk, her voice had a very soothing quality about it, and the twinkle in her eyes made Diana feel very much at ease and interested in what she was talking about. She watched as Mary moved slowly over to her left, to what appeared to be a large case covered by a dark blue curtain.
“Would you like to see my newest display that I have just finished, Wonder Woman?” Mary asked as she took a hold of the edge of the curtain with her small hands.
“Sure…” Wonder Woman answered, glancing up at an antique clock on the wall… it was almost 4.
“You are the first person to see this,” Mary stated as she slowly pulled the curtain away, “my tribute to the greatest doll ever: Barbie!”
Wonder Woman’s eyes widened in amazement as the display was completely uncovered. It was a large, three-part case, painted completely in bright pink, yellow, and other vibrant theme colors, and measuring about six feet tall by four feet wide! The side panels had shelves holding an assortment of Barbie dolls, some in their boxes, some on little stands, even one on a music box; all with plaques in front describing them, when they were made, and attesting to their originality. But what really caught Wonder Woman’s eye was the figure in the middle… a life-sized Barbie doll, wearing a short, low cut, pink dress, perched in high heels on a beautiful marble pedestal that was slowly rotating inside the glass case. The golden plaque below simply read “Barbie” and the date 6/22/88, which Wonder Woman assumed was the date this piece was made.
“Wow…” was all she could muster.
“Quite amazing, isn’t it?” Mary beamed, as she watched the heroine’s reaction with intrigue.
“Yes,” Diana said, “I’ve never seen a Barbie doll that big before…!”
“I am sure you haven’t… as with all of my collection, this is a unique item, the only one just like it. I only acquired it just recently…” Mary smiled as she paused. “It really makes the whole display so much more impressive, I think. Don’t you?”
Wonder Woman nodded in agreement. “It is an amazing collection you have here, Mary… almost like a museum!” She turned as Mary slowly began to walk towards the counter once more.
“Yes, quite,” Mary smiled. “I do enjoy collecting… it’s one of my two true passions in life…” She passed the front of the counter and walked to a display to the left of the counter, a display that Diana had completely missed seeing before. She gasped in surprise.
The display was three shelves tall, and filled completely with Supergirl dolls. There must have been 100 boxes there, showing the Maid of Might in a variety of heroic poses.
“My other passion, one that I have recently discovered, is doll making,” Mary said. “Here you see my latest endeavor.” She waved her hand across the Supergirl display.
“You… made these?” Wonder Woman exclaimed in surprise. She knelt down in front of the display for a closer look. The dolls were all of extremely high quality, and incredibly lifelike as well! “How…”
“I thought you would ask that,” Mary chuckled. “I have found a fairly new process I use to make my dolls; it is quite labor intensive still but yields amazing results, in my opinion. But it requires the assistance of the actual subject, and Supergirl was extremely gracious to consent to both allowing me to make and sell these dolls, as well as providing me with her likeness – you understand, the quality and accuracy of the dolls I make is of utmost importance to me.” Mary paused and glanced at the clock herself. “You said you had to meet a friend, right?”
Wonder Woman stood up and looked at the clock. “Yes… and would you believe it, Kara, Supergirl is the friend I am supposed to meet! No wonder she picked this location, she’s been here before.”
“Well then, I’m sure she will be along shortly,” Mary smiled. She watched as Wonder Woman looked up, above the display, where Mary had placed a sign: ‘Supergirl: World’s Greatest Heroine.’
“World’s Greatest Heroine?” Diana repeated, her expression a bit surprised and angry.
“Ah,” Mary laughed. “Don’t take offense, honey. That was my idea – I figured it would help sell the dolls a bit faster… and after all, Supergirl is the only heroine doll I have at present… so to me, she is the World’s Greatest. I am sure you are pretty great too…”
Diana bristled a bit. “I was out saving the world long before she ever came here… I am a founding member of the Justice League…”
“A bit jealous, aren’t we?” Mary chuckled. “And arrogant… I suppose it comes with the territory. After all, you have to exude total confidence if you’re going to defeat all those evil villains, right?”
“Exactly!” Wonder Woman stared at the mocking display, her face still in an angry pout.
Mary smiled. “Maybe we can do something to fix things… would you like that?”
“Fix it? You mean take down the sign?” Wonder Woman turned to face her, puzzled.
“Well, in a manner of speaking, yes,” Mary replied with a chuckle. “There’s an empty display over here on the other side… would you like me to make a doll of you, Wonder Woman?”
“A doll of me? You mean like you did of Supergirl?”
“Yes, dear, exactly like Supergirl… then I wouldn’t have any problem putting the ‘World’s Greatest Heroine’ sign under your name, over here…” and she pointed to the right of the counter where some empty shelves sat.
Diana’s eyes brightened. “What do you need me to do?”
Mary grinned a bit wickedly, though Wonder Woman didn’t pick up on it. “Well…” she began as she walked behind the counter and opened a folder, “I need you to sign one of these forms, like your friend did, giving me the power to make, sell, and use your likeness… and then just step in the back for a few pictures… that’s it!”
Wonder Woman walked over to the counter and looked over the form; it had a lot of big lawyer-y words which she didn’t understand, but she saw a form just like it underneath the blank one, signed by Kara. “That seems simple enough…” and without another thought she signed her true name at the bottom.
“Excellent. Now follow me to the back and we can get started!”
“Now?” Wonder Woman asked. “But Supergirl”-
“You’ll see her soon, I am sure of it!” Mary said wryly as she opened the door to the back, allowing Wonder Woman to walk through it first, and then Mary followed after and closed the door behind her; it locked itself automatically.
“It’s dark – I can’t see a thing…!” Diana exclaimed.
“Oh dear – I forgot to turn on the lights before we came in, how silly of me!” Mary replied. “There should be a pull string a few feet in front of you, if you wouldn’t mind…” and with that she reached into her pocket, pulled out a pair of night-vision glasses and put them on.
“Where…” Wonder Woman asked as she reached clumsily around.
“A bit to your right… no, your left…” Mary watched and chuckled to herself as the mighty heroine stumbled about until finally her hand grasped a cord hanging from the ceiling.
“I got it… I think…”
“Okay,” Mary answered as she reached behind her and flicked a switch to the on position… “now just give it a good strong pull!”
And Wonder Woman did…
“AAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!” she screamed as a million volts of electricity suddenly shot through the cord and into the surprised heroine’s body… she struggled as her knees buckled under her, finally releasing the cord as she crumpled to the floor, flat on her stomach, her eyes rolled back, dazed, stunned, and almost knocked out by the powerful current.
Mary flicked another switch on the wall, which turned the real work lights on. Then she laughed as she picked up a bag and walked over to the dizzy and weakened form of Wonder Woman lying on the floor. She reached into the bag, pulling out a thick steel collar, which she easily snapped around the shocked heroine’s neck.
“Electricity and you just don’t get along, do they?” Mary chuckled. “Must be that whole ‘made from the earth’ thing…”
Wonder Woman struggled to pick her head up and look up at the short woman next to her, who until a minute ago had seemed completely benign, harmless, sweet…
“The restraint I’ve put on you is capable of delivering a strong electric current into your body, much like you just experienced… in case you get any silly ideas of resisting or attempting escape. Just a push of the button on this control in my pocket is all it will take.” Mary laughed as she reached down to the heroine’s narrow waist and unclipped her lasso. “I have a nice safe place for this; safe from your mental telepathy that is…” she explained, reaching back into the bag and extracting a metal case that she slid the lasso into and then closed it. Then she took a couple of steps back, towards the wall, and watched Wonder Woman slowly try to regain her senses.
The dazed heroine pulled herself up to her hands and knees, still looking up at Mary, an incredulous expression still on her face. Her hand slowly went to her neck, feeling the collar, then to her waist, feeling the place where her lasso should have been. “What’s going on… why… what’s the meaning of this…?” she mumbled. “M-my lasso… you took my lasso…”
Mary smiled as she listened. “Why yes, I did. I’m fully aware of its capabilities. As I am of yours.” She kept her attention squarely on the Amazing Amazon as she fingered the remote in her pocket. “I’ve been studying your type for years, analyzing all of your amazing powers, and of course your weaknesses too.” Mary took a small step back as she sensed Diana’s strength beginning to return. “When I decided to get into the doll-making business, I spent a fair amount of time deciding what kind of dolls I would make. What would be the most popular? Who do little girls look up to? Of course there is Barbie. But Mattel would never give up the rights to her. So who else is out there? And then it hit me. The world’s greatest super-heroines would also make great dolls!” She looked down, smiling as she saw she had Wonder Woman’s full attention. “You did say you wanted me to make a doll of you, didn’t you, dear?”
“Yes,” the heroine quickly replied, “b-but why did you have to do this… you said you just needed a few pictures…!” Her hands went back to the collar around her neck.
Mary laughed. “Oh dearie, that was just a little fib to get you back here. I need more than a few pictures, I’m afraid. I need your whole body, and I need it for a pretty good period of time.” She paused to let this statement soak in.
“My body? What for? How long?”
“Well, you see, the process of making an exact doll replica of you is a very difficult thing. It requires you to remain absolutely still inside the duplicating machine for hours… for each pose that is taken.”
“You never told me anything like that! I won’t do that!” Diana stated indignantly.
“That’s what Supergirl said too, and it’s perfectly understandable, which is why I needed to trick you both, to get some kind of control over you. Fortunately for me, tricking you two wasn’t terribly difficult…”
“Wait; what did you do to Supergirl? She’s not really coming to meet me, is she?”
“Silly girl, she’s already here…!” Mary exclaimed as she hit a button on the wall. A motor began to whir behind the confused Amazon Princess, and as she turned to look, a curtain began to open, revealing another tall glass case, with the motionless form of Supergirl inside, placed on some kind of stand, slowly revolving, a blank expression on her face.
“Great Hera! Kara!” Diana screamed in shock. She got to her feet and ran to the case. There was no sign at all that Kara recognized her. Then she turned her head back to the shopkeeper, “What did you do to her?”
“Don’t worry; her body is completely unharmed. You see, her investigation into the missing supermodel – she’s that life-size Barbie doll – brought Supergirl here. I pretended not to know what she was talking about, and when I told her about the dolls, and how hers would be marketed as the ‘World’s Greatest Heroine,’ her overinflated ego got in the way of any sense of caution she should have had. She signed her form as easily as you did, and once I got her back here to slip a Kryptonite collar around her pretty neck, she was finished.”
Wonder Woman gasped. She looked back at Supergirl, and then back again to Mary. “She’s not wearing any collar now! What’s keeping her from breaking out of there?”
Mary chuckled once more. “I said her body was completely unharmed, I never said anything about her mind… She’s been, how shall we say, ‘reprogrammed’, and now all she thinks about is doll things, like how pretty she looks, or how perfect her body is, or how wonderful it feels to have people looking at her, playing with her. All those other silly thoughts you heroines have, about justice, fighting crime and such, they’re completely gone.” Mary paused. “She’s my doll now! Just like Barbie out there in the store display. And just like you’ll be, very soon now.” She had a look of total victory on her elderly face.
Diana glanced back at her friend, turning helplessly inside the case. Wonder Woman’s expression changed, becoming very very angry, as she swept back towards the triumphant evil doll maker. “I’m going to stop you! Make you fix whatever you did to her!” And the Amazing Amazon, without hesitation, left her feet and flew straight at Mary, her fists extended. Mary didn’t have to wait more than a second for the impulsive heroine to get close enough for her to press the button on the device in her pocket…
“AAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!” Wonder Woman screamed as the powerful electric shock stopped her in mid-air, her fists inches away from the smiling old woman’s face. Mary kept her finger down on the button as the overconfident heroine convulsed in the air, fighting against the current surging through her. After a minute, Mary finally released the button, and Wonder Woman fell to the floor in an unconscious heap.
“Stupid girl,” Mary muttered as she looked down. “So powerful, and yet so predictable. Let’s get you processed, shall we?” And she turned back to the wall behind her, flicking a switch. The rear wall of the room began to open, revealing a hidden workroom behind it, filled with a number of interconnected machines. Mary knelt down and grabbed a low rolling platform next to her, slid it over next to the unconscious heroine, and slowly rolled her limp body onto it. Then, she rolled the platform towards the machines…
Some time later, Diana awoke, feeling like she had just had the strangest dream. The first thing that told her it wasn’t a dream, was that despite her eyes being open, she was still in total darkness. The second indication of something wrong was that she couldn’t move her arms or legs at all. The third and final thing was that she couldn’t feel any part of her Wonder Woman outfit on her body, save for her bracelets.
“Where am I… what’s going on…” she mumbled, opening her eyes.
“Welcome back, Wonder Woman,” a soft feminine voice responded.
“Who are you… where am I… what happened…” Diana struggled to move, to break free of whatever was holding her in place. She could feel her strength was at its normal amount, which puzzled her even more as to why she couldn’t overpower the restraints.
“Now, now, just relax; I’m going to be the one asking the questions. What is your real name?”
Diana gasped as she felt a powerful tingling in her head. And she knew immediately why it was that she couldn’t move… she had been tied in place with her own Lasso of Truth! Its strength and invulnerability had aided Wonder Woman in the defeat of many a villain, and now that same power was being used against her. In addition, she had no choice but to answer any question honestly to whoever was holding her lasso.
“D-Diana… Diana of Themiscyra…” she muttered softly.
“Good girl. Do you think you’re pretty, Diana of Themiscyra?”
“Yes,” Wonder Woman breathed in reply. She continued to struggle against the lasso but it was no use.
“And do you think your body is perfect?” the feminine voice asked sweetly.
“Yes,” the heroine answered, unable to show any modesty under the lasso’s influence.
“Pretty face, perfect body, sounds like the description of a doll, doesn’t it?”
Diana struggled for a moment but slowly replied, “Yes…”
“Tell me, Wonder Woman, how does it feel, knowing you’re about to be reprogrammed into becoming a doll, with your own lasso being used to help do it?”
The heroine gasped in shock! She had to resist this somehow! She was the most powerful heroine in the world! This was so… “shocking… humiliating…” were the words that came out of her mouth, in reply to the question.
“Yes, humiliating.” The voice took on a more scolding tone. “Good. It’s a nice by-product of this process, that the arrogant, overconfident, egotistical do-gooder is going to feel a little humiliation, get knocked down off of her pedestal… metaphorically speaking, of course.”
“Please… you can’t do this…” Wonder Woman whimpered, “the world needs me…”
“I can and I will. The process has already started… the initial conversion began while you were out, you just can’t sense it yet. Your weak, soft mind is ready for whatever I put into it. An hour from now, you won’t have any thoughts other than how wonderful it is to be a pretty, mindless, displayed doll. As for the world… trust me, there’s plenty of arrogant, muscle-bound wannabes just dying to take your place. And as long as I keep making and selling these dolls, nobody is going to forget you, WonderDoll…”
“No… please… please don’t do this… I’ll do anything…” Wonder Woman begged.
“Anything, huh? There are two things I want you to do, then, WonderDoll.”
Diana’s eyes widened. “What are they? I’ll do it! I’ll do anything!”
A light suddenly came on inside the box, as a pretty pink spiral began to slowly spin in front of the surprised heroine’s eyes. “Watch…” the voice said, and then, as ear-buds came out from either side, moving into her ears, the voice added, “…and listen.”
Wonder Woman desperately tried to look away from the spiral, but it was so close to her eyes, and so pretty, and so captivating, that her eyes were drawn into it, and in a matter of moments they were locked in place. Her mouth gaped slightly open as she stared blankly, helplessly, deeply, into the inviting spiral. Her breathing settled into an easy measured rhythm as the messages coming through the ear buds did their work on her consciousness and memories.
It took but thirty minutes to wipe her mind, and another thirty to replace her old thoughts with the new ones that would bind her as a doll, forever. The rest of the night, the heroine was kept in a deep, restful state, deepening her conditioning to make it permanent, while the duplicating machine posed her magnificent, unresisting body into the positions it needed to make several different dolls.
Early the next morning, Diana awoke, rubbing her eyes. The room she was in was brightly lit. The bed she was lying on was bright and pink. She looked down at herself; she was dressed in her Wonder Woman outfit again, but her mind didn’t register any knowledge of what that meant. Her eyes widened as they became accustomed to the light. She smiled as happy, blissful thoughts slowly took over her conscious state. She stood up, blinked, and turned her head to the right, as she saw Supergirl rising from the bed next to hers. The door opened, and a strangely familiar, elderly, small woman entered.
“SuperDoll, WonderDoll, you’re both awake. It’s almost six a.m., time for you both to get into your displays. Follow me!” And without hesitation, she turned and walked out the door towards the storefront. And without a contrary notion, the two empty-headed super-heroines followed her, their only thoughts being of how wonderful it was to be on display, to be looked at, and admired, for nothing else except how pretty and perfect their bodies appeared – they were dolls, after all.
As they arrived at the front of the store, the woman stopped. She pointed Supergirl towards the window on the left, and Wonder Woman to the window on the right. As each heroine stood on the pedestal in the center of her window display, the pedestal sent a tingling sensation up through their boots, upwards, until it reached their conditioned minds, where it took control of the dolls’ motor functions. The pedestals began to slowly turn, as the heroines’ bodies stood rigid, posed themselves in the same pose as one of their duplicate dolls on the display shelf inside, and froze them in place. Every thirty seconds, their poses changed, looping continuously. Mary smiled, watching them.
A clock inside the store chimed six times, as the woman opened the front door, putting up the ‘OPEN’ sign, and turned on all the lights, including the ones illuminating the new window displays. The Black Friday crowds who were already on the sidewalks quickly began to congregate in front of ‘Curious Collectibles’, and all the chatter was about the amazingly life-like window displays!
Thousands of Supergirl and Wonder Woman dolls flew off the store shelves that day. The two inspirations for the dolls never knew this fact, though. They continued to rotate happily in their displays, blissfully unaware of anything except how wonderful it felt to be a doll…