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After the drama and serious tone of "The Circle" storyline, Gail
Simone provides readers a more light hearted issue using her trademark writing
style and sense of humour. Also, as part of Simone's
drive to "humanise" Diana a little more, she explores the possibility
of some romance in Wonder Woman's life between Diana and Tom.
The Dodsons provide their final cover artwork for the title - which is incorrectly accredited to Bernard Change. Chang instead provides the interior art and while rendering a pretty enough version of Diana, does not quite match the at times lush beauty and drama of the Dodson's art style.
Wonder Woman arrives at the hospital where Tom is still recovering from their recent encounter with Captain Nazi. She is directed to his room by the receptionist and tells Tom that they need to talk. He replies that this sounds serious and she continues to ask if he is currently of sound mind? He points to the bandage wrapped around his head and says that he is fine and that he has only been kept in hospital as a precaution because of his recent run in with the Stygian Hornets.
She then proceeds to produce a Nectarine Pit and says that it signifies a bounty hoped for but not yet achieved. Diana asks him if he will wear it around his neck and never remove it. As he agrees and puts it on she says "That Thou art full of promise". She then holds out a bracelet and putting it on him explains that the ribbons wrapped around it have meaning: the blue represents hope, the red, danger and the gold is a request to Athena for her blessings. "That Thou shall know the heart of another" she says.
Still a little perplexed by her actions, Tom says that these items clearly have significance for her but he is not sure in what way? Wonder Woman replies that this is the first stage of courting as performed by the Amazons. It is not an engagement...more a bond of consideration...to determine their compatibility and propensity.
Smiling back he asks whether he has a say in all of this and she jokes that he can refuse - but that she will have to run him through with a sword! He then asks what about the courting rituals of his people? Again, in jest, she replies "What, of the midwestern American species? Do you really want dinner and a movie and to meet my parents?"
She tells him to rest and to let it sink in and that they should not talk again until he has had time to consider her offer.
As she exits the room she is met by a sea of people wanting her autograph and the receptionist leaps to the Amazon's aid, reminding them that this is a hospital and that Wonder Woman probably has more important things to do than chat. As she is ushered away by the receptionist Diana thanks her and says she has a kind heart and would make a good Amazon. Suddenly she is distracted by a noise outside and rushes out to see a huge Khund warship park above the hospital.
A transporter beam fires down and a Khund by the name of Kharhi materialises in front of her. He unscrolls a declaration that as advisor to the emperor, he has been granted permission by his master to wage war against her using every last weapon in the Khund arsenal! She asks him to clarify whether he means her country or her planet? He replies "No Princess, against you!".
Just then dozens of Khund warriors materialise behind him and he orders them to attack and kill Wonder Woman! She immediately prepares herself for battle as they charge at her, weapons firing. She cuts through them like a knife through butter, enjoying the combat as only an Amazon can. She wrestles one of the large artillery pieces from it's crew and uses it to fire upon the craft above. The desperate advisor orders his remaining troops to kill her but the tide has already turned in the Amazon's favour. As she hefts up into the air yet one of the final few troops standing, Kharhi pleads with her to put down his corporal.
She duly obliges and the submissive Kharhi asks her why she thinks the Khund had attacked her with such a large and mighty force? At first she replies "A test?" but as he tells her to think like a Khund she understands and replies "A tribute. To honour me". As the corporal removes their helmet Diana sees it is a young female Khund, who seems joyous and over-awed to meet Diana in person. Kharhi introduces his daughter, Kho and continues that the Khund need Wonder Woman's assistance.
As they are beamed aboard the Khund warship and make their way to the Khund home world, Wonder Woman hears how the Khund have been laid low by an invader. As they touch down among the ruins of the capital the advisor continues that a race called the Ichor has defeated his people. In fact, "defeated" gives the Khund too much credit as in reality, the Ichor barely seem to notice their existence. The Khund have yet to actually see their enemy in the living flesh and have only seen their ships. These land in major cities and burrow into the ground. There are never any survivors. The Khund are simply killed in the backwash of their enemy's engines.
As they walk through the ruined streets Diana suddenly sees a huge statue of herself, though with the features of a Khund. She points to it puzzled and surprised and Kharhi explains that there are many still standing throughout the city - built to honour her after their defeat at her hands.
Kharhi then says he has a surprise for the Amazon and suddenly a smiling Etta emerges from a building and the two woman embrace warmly. Kharhi explains that they had assumed Diana would require a second Amazon - a trusted squire. He then tells them that the Khund have arranged transport to the closest of the burrows and will offer any assistance Wonder Woman requires in vanquishing their foe. Diana asks why they had chosen her in particular, when there had been many other heroes who had helped stop their invasion of Earth. He tells her that the Ichor do not attack the weakest civilisations but the ones with no allies, so that no one else in the galaxy will miss their sudden disappearance. Wonder Woman is Earth's finest warrior and had soundly defeated the Khund. They cannot ask help from outsiders as the Khund are despised, but there is a legend about her. How else could a single female defeat them? To that end they believe that Diana might somehow be part Khund. "Will you help your people?" he asks her.
A short while later Kharhi reports to the emperor. He says that Wonder Woman and Etta are being escorted to the burrow as they speak. The emperor asks if the advisor had told Diana about the alien and Kharhi shakes his head. As he leaves the royal chamber Kho, who has over heard the conversation, demands to know what her father is planning. He snaps back that he has traded the lives of two brave earth women to save their own civilisation.
Meanwhile a few miles away Wonder Woman and Etta arrive at the edge of the burrow. Picking up her friend in her arms the Amazon flies down into the bottom of the dark chasm. As they touch down on the floor they find it covered in a foot deep layer of a strange green liquid. Etta wonders what it is and Diana replies that it has a small electrical charge coursing through it and could be some sort of warning system or weapon...or a sensory organ of some kind.
As they make their way across the chasm, the perceptive Etta asks the Amazon Princess what had been bothering her since they had said goodbye to Kharhi. Wonder Woman replies that she had gotten close enough to the advisor to touch him with her lasso. For the most part he had been telling the truth but the invader's name suggests an omen. Etta says that "Ichor" means seepage and Diana nods, adding that it also has an older, more frightening meaning. "The literal lifeblood of the Gods. The juice of their veins and heart".
As they turn a corner they find themselves staring at a ship. Wonder Woman warns Etta to stay back as the Amazon cautiously approaches it. She senses something powerful and familiar here.
She announces her presence and asks those onboard to parley for the terms of their immediate surrender or face the consequences. She counts down from three but before before she can utter the last number she is punched hard across the face. As she quickly regains her senses and Etta too raises her weapon defensively, the two women find themselves confronted by a Green Lantern!
"You are not welcome here Amazon. This race is under my protection! Leave now. Or face the wrath of the Green Lantern Corps!"
To be continued...