This installment of Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman is a two part story titled “Expatriate.” Art in these issues was done by Bernard Chang.
The story opens with Wonder Woman visiting Tom (Agent Tresser) in the hospital. I’m assuming he’s in the hospital because of the fight against Captain Nazi from several issues ago. It’s unclear what exactly is injured, as he has the generic “injured person” bandage head wrap on. More unclear is why Wonder Woman is holding what at first glance appears to be a coconut. Even if the injured party likes coconuts, a whole coconut seems like an odd thing to bring into a hospital room. What they going to do with it, crack it open with a bedpan? Gross.
To make matters worse, she opens with the line “We need to talk.” I know of no conversation, in the history of conversations, where that line has led to a pleasant conversation. And Agent Tresser knows that no good conversation begins with “we need to talk.” Seeing that he’s obviously apprehensive, Wonder Woman tries to calm him with this not exactly being a bad thing. Personally, I’d be more certain that this was not going to be a good conversation at this point. And to make matters worse, she specifies then that it may be a perilous thing. Personally, her bed side manner could use some work.
So the conversation starts with Wonder Woman asking Tom if he is of sound mind. You know, because his head is bandaged because he’s in the hospital. I feel like I should sue my doctors from when I was in the hospital for not wrapping my head. Tom blows it off saying that the doctor is only observing him because he was nearly killed by killer hornets a few weeks ago. I fail to see the connection between possible concussion now, and a killer hornet attack weeks ago. And seriously, how in the world would wrapping the head in bandages help a concussion? When starting this story, I didn’t think “head bandages” would be a point of contention. Learning new things about myself every day.
Tom admits that Wonder Woman is scaring him a little, to which she replies “good.” Again, this has zero makings of a pleasant conversation. Next, Wonder Woman opens what had looked like a coconut and reveals a nectarine pit, signifying a bounty, hoped for but not yet achieved. She asks if he will wear this around his neck, to which he says yes. Is this some Amazonian courting ritual? It certainly seems like one. Next, she puts a small bracelet on his arm, representing hope, danger, and Athena’s blessing. Oh, and there’s also thorns on the dang thing.
Quite confused, Tom straight up asks what is going on. Quite bluntly, Wonder Woman goes that she’s courting him. HA! It totally was a courting ritual. Weird. She explains that this is the first step to see if they are compatible. Tom asks what about the rituals of his people, to which she derides the classic date I assume most of us have been on, the dinner and a movie. Come on, it’s a classic for a reason. There’s some more banter about dates to go on, ending with Wonder Woman expressing that it’d be best if they didn’t talk until he had considered her offer, because the next stage is something to worry about. Again, she really isn’t selling this as a good conversation to be having. Though, this conversation does end with a funny moment when Tom puts it together that this is a courting ritual of her people, people that only includes females. Asking if he, a guy, could even go through the rituals, Wonder Woman states that they’ll adapt. Again, not the most reassuring thing she could say.
Leaving the hospital room, Wonder Woman is hounded by people asking for autographs and whatnot, until the hospital nurse working the desk runs them all off. Then Wonder Woman has to excuse herself because there’s a huge, freaking, alien spaceship just outside the hospital. In this ship is a group of Khunds. The leader of this group appears, and declares that they are waging war against Wonder Woman. And so they fight. Wonder Woman wishes that she could just let loose against the Khunds, because they long to fight, but she has to remember that she’s fighting them next to a hospital. Even with this limitation, Wonder Woman makes short work of the Khunds, until the leader asks her to cease. Even after the Khunds starting the fight, Wonder Woman agrees to cease, as diplomacy is always more desirable than bloodshed.
The Khund leader explains that they attacked Wonder Woman not maliciously, not even as a test, but rather as a tribute to honor her. The leader’s name is Kharhi, and the soldier that Wonder Woman released at the end of the fight is his daughter Kho. Kho, is confusingly excited to have almost been killed by Wonder Woman. She’s definitely fan-girling over Wonder Woman, even asking for an autograph. Even after Kharhi asking if genocide was still considered a crime by her people, it’s still quite unclear what is going. However, Wonder Woman beams up to the main Khund ship with the two of them anyways, because, why not. Although, at least she knows to be cautious, as an enemy’s mercy is a weapon to them.
On the Khund home world, Kharhi explains the Ichor have been defeating them, though defeating is putting it mildly. The Khund haven’t stood a chance. The Ichor’s ships burrow into a major city, killing everything around it. A very dishonorable way of dying, in Kharhi’s view. And Wonder Woman is doing her very best to pay attention to Kharhi as he’s delivering this truly tragic news, but there’s something catching her eye that she just can’t ignore. That is a giant statue that “looks” like Wonder Woman. Eventually, she’s able to interrupt Kharhi who explains that these statues were erected some time in the past after Wonder Woman had thoroughly defeated them. They were so impressed with the beat down they received by her hands, that they had to put up statues to honor her. However, the artists did need to adjust the appearance of Wonder Woman a little to conform to the Khund standard of beauty. Wonder Woman doesn’t consider herself vain, but finds this difference in looks quite disconcerting.
Kharhi says he has another surprise for Wonder Woman. Unfortunately, it’s not another statue with “artistic expression.” Instead, Etta Candy walks out. Kharhi said that they figured Wonder Woman could use a second. Etta has had a look around, and sampled the local cuisine, so she’s able to confirm that what they say is true, and to not bother with dinner. Wonder Woman again asks Kharhi why just her, and not any of the other people that helped defeat them. To this, Kharhi gives some half-baked excuse that the Ichor only attack hated civilizations that no one will help, so they can’t bring outsiders in, but Wonder Woman may be a figure in one of their prophesies, and therefore part Khund, which is why they can ask her. If you ask me, I say it all stinks. It’s all too convenient.
Kharhi updates his king that Etta and Wonder Woman are heading to a burrow to see the Ichor. The King ensures that Kharhi did not tell them about an alien advisor, and only the invaders. After tonight, for better or worse, everything will be finished. See? Something is a miss. Knew this smelled rotten. As Kharhi is leaving, Kho confronts him, but he just tells her to shut up, or go die fighting. It doesn’t matter either way. With Kho’s reaction, it certainly seems that the Wonder Woman idolization is at least sincere, even if they’re using that to their own advantage.
Wonder Woman and Etta are exploring one of the holes created by this Ichor ship, and find this fluorescent green substance at the bottom of it. Wonder Woman comments that she was close enough to Kharhi to touch him with the lasso, and most of what he said is true. Which we as the readers know is technically true, since he omitted some facts, but lied about nothing. For Wonder Woman, it’s the name of Ichor that has her worried. While Ichor could mean a seepage, it also can mean the lifeblood of the Gods. As she has this thought, they come upon the Ichor ship. Wonder Woman presents herself, and starts a countdown for their surrender, when all of a sudden, she is punched by a Green Lantern.
The Green Lantern introduces himself as Procanon Kaa. Wonder Woman tells him to stand down, and of course he refuses. So, they fight. I want to pause for a moment and highlight the art here. There are 8 tight, close-up shots, focusing on some small detail between Wonder Woman and Procanon Kaa. The page is book-ended by panels showing just each of their focused eyes. Between that, you have various cues to show how each are going into this fight. The Green Lantern already has a fist, the ring emitting energy not only lighting up his hand, but also the Green Lantern symbol on his chest. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman’s hand is still relaxed. She’s hoping that she can talk him down, and that this won’t escalate. The Lantern has his teeth gritted, and Wonder Woman hasn’t gritted hers until after Procanon Kaa has responded, also lifting her arms into the defensive cross position. It’s a moment that I love, because it reminds me of my favorite Sergio Leone Westerns. Where you’re just focused closely only the combatants, the tension reaching a crescendo until it finally breaks, and the fight begins.
And the fight has begun, and Wonder Woman knows this is going to be a difficult fight. Etta brings up the obvious question of, “aren’t Green Lanterns supposed to be the good guys?” To this Wonder Woman brings up that no two countries on Earth define who the good guys are the same way, let alone two vastly different planets. To me, while that is true, and seems deep, it’s really Wonder Woman just saying that she doesn’t have the foggiest idea why this Green Lantern would be attacking them, and cannot contemplate such things while in the middle of a fight with said Green Lantern. Knowing that Etta is definitely no match for a Green Lantern, Wonder Woman tells her to find a way out.
Meanwhile back on Earth, in the Department of Metahuman Affairs, Agent Tom Tresser is struggling with a couple things. First, young recruits make him feel old, which isn’t all that unusual. Secondly, he’s not exactly happy about this whole “courting” thing Wonder Woman sprung on him. At one point, he flat out lies to a young agent when asked about the gifts he is wearing. But it doesn’t really seem that it’s an embarrassment thing. Tom is finding himself filled with doubt that he is even worthy of Wonder Woman. As he puts it, everything about her is finding out the truth, when he is a liar at his core. At this point, not certain if the “liar” comment by him is hinting at something more nefarious, or just your basic, done things he’s not proud of and not told anyone kind of liar.
Back on the Khund world, Kharhi is informed that Kho has stolen a Hover, and we see her racing off to save Wonder Woman. Kharhi is pretty much, welp, that’s the way it goes, she’s going to die. A real supportive father figure we have here. Really hope he comes back shows that he cares somewhat about his daughter.
Wonder Woman, still fighting Procanon Kaa has noticed a couple things. His will falters a bit when the Khunds are mentioned, and he’s made this personal and has put himself in his own constructs. This gives Wonder Woman the opening she needs to defeat him. Having him down, but not wanting to ruin her chances of finding out what exactly is going on here. Kaa sees her open hand, and proceeds to just lay into her. Letting his anger show, he pummels her, saying she has allied herself with murderers, genocide, and demons. Kaa eventually stops, realizing he’s given in to anger, all the while Wonder Woman still has her hand extended in peace. I want to call this strategy “lull a lantern,” but it’s not exactly like “rope a dope” since she never retaliates.
Procanon Kaa explains that most of the Khund empire exists within his space sector, and they are an absolutely awful nation. Conquering worlds, causing genocide, enslaving people, all of that stuff. His world was conquered, with his daughter dying in the warning attack. This has made him start to doubt that he shares the Green Lantern’s belief in justice. To which Wonder Woman comments that if loss makes you doubt it, then you never believed it. Again, terrible bedside manner, but she has a point. It’s the idea that it’s easy to have beliefs when nothing is challenging those beliefs. It’s when things are difficult that we all learn who we truly are.
Procanon Kaa goes on to say that no force in the universe could change the Ichors’ minds. If they have deemed the Khunds deserving of extinction, then the Khunds are done for. Kho rushes in and tells Wonder Woman that her father is launching a radioactive suicide bomb to take out the whole hemisphere. Probably should have seen this coming, with all the, doomsday foreshadowing. The Khunds are a very proud people, and don’t like being defeated. So, rather than be defeated by an outside force, again, Kharhi is going to ensure mutual destruction. Wonder Woman was only sent down here to distract the Green Lantern. So, I guess the Green Lantern was the alien advisor to the Ichor. With Kharhi being the one to order the destruction of his planet, highly possible that Procanon Kaa directed the Ichor to the Khunds.
Wonder Woman gives a very inspiring pep talk to Kaa, and flies off to stop Kharhi. As she crashes into his ship, Kharhi of course pressed the button. Thankfully, Procanon Kaa had followed her, and uses his ring to contain the blast. Meanwhile, Etta Candy was able to just convince the Ichor to leave. Something about ending the cycle of violence. But in leaving, the Ichor have made Wonder Woman responsible for any crimes that the Khund empire commit in the future. Since they are only existing now because of her. Also, that they’d be back for Kaa. He figures it’s for “interplanetary crimes,” being that he saved the Khund, they’ll likely regroup, and finish what they started on his planet. Of course Wonder Woman has a plan.
This plan is to form a connection between the two planets. Kaa has no daughter. Kho has no father. So, it only makes sense to pair them together. Not sure exactly how Kho gets a Green Lantern ring out of this deal, but whatever.
That is all for “Expatriate.” We get the beginning of Wonder Woman courting Agent Tom Tresser, even though he is really skeptical of the entire process. We also have a chance to see her really put her diplomacy skills to the test. Letting the revenge happen would have been the easy way out, but all you’re asking for is a never ending string of revenge wars if you let that happen. Moving forward, I am curious where the courtship will go. Yes, I know that ultimately they don’t get married. At least, I assume not. Though with things kind of resetting with issue #600 and then New 52, I can’t be certain. Also, none of the questions from the last story were really addressed here. We still don’t know how the Nazis so easily got to Themyscira, or who that mysterious man that was meeting Etta in Diana’s apartment was. Maybe next time.
Up next, “Ends of the Earth.”