This week on First Strike, the Amazing Amazon comes face-to-face with the God of War himself! (No, not Kratos.)
After a brief text introduction about the evils of war and the Greco-Roman myths surrounding our villain, we open on the planet Mars, where Mars himself is headquartered. (Apparently, in the Golden Age Wonder Woman comics, each god lives on the planet that was named for them.) He's receiving a report that another gang of Nazi spies have been apprehended by Wonder Woman, and he's furious that her efforts could lead to an American victory and an end of the war. He decides to put an end to her once and for all, and enlists the aid of his top three henchmen - the Duke of Deception (who went on to become a major villain in his own right), the Earl of Greed, and Lord Conquest. They kidnap Wonder Woman's would-be boyfriend, Major Steve Trevor, and Wonder Woman heads to Mars to rescue him.
This isn't a bad first confrontation between a superhero and an arch-foe, although we don't get much of Mars himself - much of the story is taken up by his three underlings (who, to be fair, are well-developed characters by Golden Age standards in their own right, and it's interesting to show how they're influencing the Axis powers). In terms of his personality, Mars comes off as little more than a blowhard jock, which makes sense when you think about it. Also, despite the lack of grandeur and majesty, he is still a god, and definitely more powerful than most of Wonder Woman's other foes, not to mention the likes of Lex Luthor or the Joker. The fight between them is brief - the panels I posted below are the entirety of said fight - but Wonder Woman hasn't been an action-oriented character for most of her career, particularly in the Golden Age, and having a fight scene at all is noteworthy.
Even if he is upstaged by his henchmen in this story, for a Golden Age villain, Mars certainly stands out from the crowd, as does his first full appearance in the comics. It's been reprinted several times, including in The Wonder Woman Archives Vol. 2 and Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Vol. 1, so getting a hold of it shouldn't be too difficult. I'd say it's definitely worth a read - and a re-read.