We continue with the ongoing saga of Black Lightning vs. Tobias Whale and the 100 vs. the Metropolis Police Department. Black Lightning has just stopped a drug shipment at the docks, but the cops show up to arrest him. He fights back (which probably isn’t going to endear him to the fuzz) and wonders how the police always seem to know where he’ll be. He thinks Jimmy Olsen might be the one tipping them off, since Olsen was the one who told Lightning’s informant Two Bits Tanner where to find Whale’s headquarters. So when Jimmy shows up at the docks with the cops, Lightning goes after him. Jimmy insists he doesn’t know what Lightning’s talking about, but Lightning doesn’t buy it and roughs him up a bit. Jimmy actually decks him, but gets a punch in the gut as a reward. (Lucky bastard—I’m sure we’ve all wanted to gut punch Jimmy at one time or another.) After Lightning takes off, Jimmy tells one of the cops (Corrigan—though I’m pretty sure he’s no relation to the Spectre) that he really didn’t snitch on Black Lightning and Corrigan says it was an anonymous tipster who clued them in. Corrigan also thinks to himself that Black Lightning looks … familiar. Nearby, Tobias Whale makes plans to take care of Lightning and we see the informant, but we still have no idea who it is since he’s wearing gloves and some kind of gimp mask. We also get a look at Whale’s newest henchman, Cyclotronic Man. Black Lightning mulls over the fact that the cops (and the 100) always know where and when he’s going to strike. He’s already reconsidering Jimmy as the snitch, and narrows it down to either Two Bits Tanner (who’s the obvious suspect since he’s, y’know … a professional snitch) and Peter Gambi, Lightning’s mentor and confidant. Naturally, Lightning assumes Tanner is the snitch and goes to talk to Peter, who introduced them. But Peter is nowhere to be found; at first, Lightning is worried, but he soon figures he’s just getting paranoid. He maybe should’ve gone with his first instinct, because we see Peter’s broken glasses on the floor by the table. But Lightning doesn’t notice them and heads back out. Jimmy visits Inspector Henderson in hospital and they talk about why Lightning would accuse Jimmy of setting him up. As Jimmy’s leaving, he’s jumped by Cyclotronic Man, who wants to use him to draw Superman out. He flies Jimmy around near the school to get Superman’s attention, but he’s away on a JLA case. Luckily for Jimmy, Jefferson Pierce is at work and sees Jimmy’s predicament. He goes after Cyclotronic Man, dragging all three of them down onto some decrepit building. They fight (with Jimmy helping Black Lightning), but Cyclotronic Man’s powers are pretty intense: he can affect matter on a molecular level, so he can do stuff like speed up decay rates (to make the roof crumble under Lightning’s feet) and set up ionic fields (to attract or repel people). Jimmy saves Lightning from falling off the roof and gets slammed for his trouble. Lightning is about to get the same, but uses the repulsive power of his electromagnetic belt to fuck up Cyclotronic Man’s energy field and deck him. Lightning goes to check on Jimmy, but has crappy timing because that’s when Superman shows up, thinking Lightning’s the one who clocked Jimmy in the first place. Looks like the heroes are gonna fight each other … it’s just like a Marvel mag! We’ll see what happens next time.
- Cyclotronic Man is an old Batman villain formerly known as Bag o’ Bones.
- When Black Lightning is sitting on a roof reading a newspaper, a cigarette billboard nearby reads “They cause cancer, but at least you’ll die happy!” I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be an anti-smoking joke or not.
- Jefferson is still avoiding Lynn Stewart, but we don’t find out why yet.
This one starts with Jonah Hex robbing a stagecoach and shooting the driver. Out of character you say? Well, seeing as how we saw two Jonah Hexes at the end of last issue, and the title of this one has the word chameleon in it, I think it’s safe to assume the guy robbing the stage is an impostor. In fact, we get a quick flashback to the end of last issue, where the impostor (an Eastern sage actor who speaks in quasi-Shakespearean tones and who calls himself the Chameleon) took a shot at Hex, left him bleeding in a creek, and went off to rob the stage looking exactly like him. Hex is later found by a good-looking woman named Joanna Mosby, who takes him back to her cabin. She patches him up even though she knows he’s wanted for murder. She then proceeds to get the hots for him almost instantly. That seems to happen to Hex a lot … or maybe Joanna’s just really lonely out in that cabin by herself. When someone knocks on the door, she hides Hex, but it’s just some old one-legged Civil War veteran. He asks for a bit of food and water and when Joanna’s getting it, he plants a bag of loot in a trunk. Of course, it’s the Chameleon exercising his skills as a thespian, but Joanna’s clueless and he leaves. Chameleon quickly changes into another brilliant disguise, this time as Gabby Hayes … or a pretty close approximation. He dresses up as a grizzled prospector and tells the local sheriff he just saw Jonah Hex holed up at the Mosby cabin. The sheriff has just received a Wanted poster about the stagecoach robbery, so he and his posse head out to Joanna’s place. Hex must be a hell of a lay, because when he’s ready to take off, Joanna wants to go with him. But before he can tell her to go to hell, the sheriff and his men show up. Joanna pretends she’s alone, but the posse finds the loot that Chameleon planted. They also see some boots sticking out from under a screen and blast it to toothpicks. Unfortunately for them, the boots are empty—Hex is outside on the roof. He jumps off, knocks out one of the posse, and runs off all the other horses before riding off like the wind. He tracks Ned Landon for a week (Landon being his link to Wyandott, and the one who set him up to get killed by El Papagayo in issue #2) and finally tracks him to the old barn where we saw him get killed. Of course, Landon was buried after being shot, but an effigy of him hangs in the barn to greet Hex, along with a familiar face—Quentin Turnbull. He still blames Hex for the death of his son, so he’s the one who’s been framing him and trying to get him killed for the last few issues. He tells Hex everything about the Chameleon and mentions that Joanna might be his next target. Hex freaks out, but gets conked by some Stepin Fetchit-sounding henchman named Solomon. When he wakes up, Hex rides like hell back to Joanna’s place to warn her about the Chameleon, but the tricky actor is already there, dressed as Hex again. They fight and the real Hex decks him, but Joanna conks him on the head and ties him up. Who saw that one coming? Everyone? That’s what I thought. Anyway, Chameleon turns on her and ties her up too (Everyone saw that coming too? Thought as much.), then sets the place on fire. Hex flips his gun into Chameleon’s balls (at least, that’s what it looks like), then kicks him in the face. Joanna gets Hex’s Bowie knife from is neck and cuts them loose just in time for them to escape.
Joanna apologizes for betraying him, but he ain’t in a forgiving mood. He takes off and Joanna tells the sheriff some bacon grease caught fire. The sheriff tells her Hex is cleared of he stagecoach robbery, since the Chameleon, the brilliant actor, put the scars on the wrong side of his face. Later, we see the Chameleon crawling out of the smoking ruins of the cabin, his face burnt to shit, vowing revenge. So, that’s another mortal enemy Hex has made. Join me next issue to see if he adds any more to the list.
- Just before the sheriff shows up, Hex is putting his shirt on and Joanna seems to be lying in bed (though she’s still wearing her dress, I think); I’m guessing the implication was supposed to be that they’d been banging and that’s as explicit as they could get back in 1977?
- I’m not sure whose boots Hex used as a lure in Joanna’s cabin … he was still wearing his when he escaped.
- Seems like Hex was kinda sweet on Joanna; he made a six-day ride in record time because he thought she might be in trouble. That’s sweet, but how long had he known her at that point? A few hours at most. She must be quite the lay, as well.
- The implication at the end is that Joanna was working with Turnbull and Chameleon all along; she says she didn’t know she end up falling in love with Hex when she agreed to help them, so it must’ve been before she met him. But as I said, she hadn’t spent that much time with him, so when did she fall in love? He really must be a hell of a lay