Comics Review: Flash 254, Wonder Woman 236, Green Lantern 97

Flash 254 coverFlash #254 – “To Believe, Or Not To Believe” – Cary Bates/Irv Novick/Frank McLaughlin

This one’s a bit weird, though I suppose you could say that about a lot of Bronze Age Flash stories. It starts innocently enough: a girl crawled out onto a ledge to rescue her cat and now she’s stuck. The cat wiggles free, so the girl jumps after it and Flash shows up just in time to save them both with one of his famous updrafts. But as he’s returning the kid (and cat) to their apartment, he spots Mirror Master through one of the building’s windows. He pulls Mirror Master out with another “vacuum effect”, but it turns out to be just some old dude in bed. Flash replaces him in his apartment and notices Mirror Master’s just hanging out on the street below. Flash goes after the villain and soon realizes it’s an image he’s chasing, but as fast as he goes, the image stays just ahead of him. The image leads him to an abandoned windmill and he suspects a trap. When he goes in, Mirror Master is there, along withrogues con Captain Cold, Trickster, Pied Piper, and Weather Wizard. Yup, it’s a Rogues Convention. Flash figures they lured him there to kill him, and his suspicions seem borne out when he’s gassed from a hidden floor vent. The gas is some weird form of “dry ice” whipped up by Captain Cold, which freezes the spaces between his body’s molecules. Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to me either. But it does seem to stop Flash from being able to move at all. But instead of wasting him, the villains give him an award … a Roscoe, named after the late Roscoe Dillon aka The Top. Flash assumes the Rogues have all gone nuts and decides to get the hell out of there. He says not every molecule in his body has been frozen yet, so he vibrates one molecule, starting a chain reaction that unfreezes him. He goes outside and totals the windmill, but when he looks through the wreckage, all the Rogues are gone. Even the award they gave him as vanished. He takes off and we see someone nearby who has been demon summoningwatching. Flash gets home and finds Stacy Conwell is back from Europe; I was wondering what happened to her. Now she can get back to wrecking Barry and Iris’s marriage. (I know, that never happened, but come on … a hot college girl is living with the Allens; you know she’s banging at least one of them.) Anyway, Barry goes to say hi to Stacy and finds her summoning a demon in her room. That’s what happens when you let your kids go to Europe … they come back as demon worshipers. Iris gets home and Barry doesn’t want her to know about the demon worshiping, so he heads her off in the kitchen. He tries to tell Iris about Stacy’s new hobby (maybe he could start with the good news … she didn’t take up smoking), but he’s distracted by a news report on TV about the girl on the ledge. Apparently, he didn’t save her earlier, the fire department did. There’s no mention of Flash being there at all. Barry freaks, but he’s interrupted by Stacy coming in to greet Iris (and the way they’re looking at each other seems to confirm my earlier theory).

Iris and Stacy
Oh yeah, they’re doing it.

Barry disappears from the kitchen, but not by his own volition; his molecules are being vibrated by some unknown force, causing him to drop through the ground into a cave. He changes to Flash on the way and confronts a strange dude named Mazdan, who he fought way back in Showcase #4. Mazdan is from the future (anMazdan blasted Abra Kadabra prototype, maybe?) and he’s come back for revenge. Flash collapses the cave and drags Mazdan out, then whirls him around at super speed in preparation for sending him back to the future. But Mazdan reveals his revenge is already underway; he zapped the sensory part of Flash’s brain, causing him to hallucinate events that aren’t really happening … like the current fight with Mazdan. Barry snaps out of it and is still in his kitchen. He sees the Roscoe Award on the counter and freaks again when the women can’t see it. Stacy and Iris think he’s whacked out and Iris takes him to lie down. He theorizes that his rescue of the girl and the weird encounter with the Rogues must’ve been illusions and wonders how he’ll tell reality from fantasy. He gets a signal from the JLA and heads out, but runs into Trickster on the way. He makes short work of the villain and drags him along. He runs into Hawkman and Aquaman and they say they need him for an important mission. They then hold hands and sing “Pop Goes the Flash losing itWeasel” … yeah, Flash is totally losing it now. Trickster escapes by using a teleport lens he got from Mirror Master (which is how the Rogues escaped the smashed windmill earlier). Trickster tells the others about Flash losing his shit and they figure they can take advantage if Flash is whacked out of his skull. Apparently, their awarding him the Roscoe is part of some plot to destroy him (duh) and they think it’ll have a better chance of working if Flash is distracted by whatever’s making him nuts. They also mention that the Roscoe vibrates at a certain frequency, so only Flash can see it. We’ll find out what the hell is going on next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • When Flash replaces the old man in his bed by reversing his whirlwind, it looks like the bed is flying back through the window pretty quickly; I hope Flash stopped whirling before the bed slammed into the wall.
  • The Roscoe Award looks like a lightning bolt. I think there’s a real life award that looks like that, but I can’t remember what it is. The Shazam, maybe? The Alley? Anyone know?
  • When Stacy is chanting gibberish to summon a demon, Barry mistakes it for the “latest disco hit”; I think that’s either a meta-comment by Cary Bates about disco, or a story comment about how square Barry is.
  • I was thinking Stacy’s demon worshiping was another illusion, but going by the “Next Issue” blurb on the last page, it’s legit. Unless they pull a fake-out next ish and say it WAS an illusion after all.

Wonder Woman 236 coverWonder Woman #236 – “Armageddon Day” – Gerry Conway/Jose Delbo/Vince Colletta

This continues the Armageddon sabotage story from the last few issues. In fact, we continue immediately from last ish, where a mutated Steve Trevor got blasted by the Army just as Wonder Woman was getting through to him. Wonder Woman goes nuts and starts smashing tanks, beating the shit out of soldiers, and ranting about the warlike nature of men. Ah, 70s feminism. She’s about to get blown away, but calms down when Dr. McNider reveals that Steve the mutate is still alive. Steve is taken to hospital and Wonder Woman is told she’s not allowed to get involved in the Armageddon case. After the Army leaves, Dr. McNider reveals his secret identity of Dr. Mid-Nite and tells Wonder Woman he recognized her as Diana Prince because his blindness makes him pay attention to nuances in people’s voices. He tells her about tracking Armageddon to the power plant last issue and she goes to check it out. She finds a weird piece of brass that looks oddly familiar, but beforetearing up floor she can figure out what it is, she hears a distress call about a fire at the Treasury. She heads inside and the place is in flames. She figures someone replaced the printing ink with gasoline (!) and feels a vibration in the floor. She tears the floor up and finds the saboteurs with a big sonic vibing device. She goes after them, but gets jumped by Armageddon, who has vibration powers of his own, mainly when he kicks something—or someone. He kicks Wonder Woman and busts one of her bracelets, causing her to Hulk out again. She goes wild, pounding the Army guys until she manages to overcome her berzerker frenzy and get back to Armageddon attacksnormal. The Army wants to take her in, but she escapes with the help of her robot plane. Later, when she’s listening to Etta ramble about random bullshit (oh Etta, just tell Diana you’re in love with her and get it over with!), she figures out why the brass thing she found at the power plant is so familiar: it’s a brass fishing rod mount from a boat. She heads down to the docks and checks a bunch of boats until she finds … one with a missing rod holder I guess? But it was a trap and she gets gassed by Armageddon. She wakes up tied with her own magic lasso and Armageddon reveals he has the antidote to turn Steve human again. He also shows her his giant vibrator. Before Wonder Woman can get too excited, he says he going to use the machine sabotage a U.S. rocket test, setting the war effort back … a few weeks? Months?

smashing vibrator
Etta later cried on hearing of the loss of the giant vibrator.

She busts out of her lasso and smashes the vibrating machine, but Armageddon tosses the vial of Steve’s antidote toward the ground. She chooses to grab the vial instead of Armageddon and he gets away. Later we see a newspaper story about Steve being turned back to normal. In the photo, Diana is sitting next to him in his hospital room. Why is that significant? Because the person reading the newspaper says she’s the real Diana Prince and the one in the photo is an Axis agent! We’ll see what that’s all about next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • When Wonder Woman is totaling the tanks, the perspective looks way off; either that, or that is one damn small tank.tiny tank
  • Apparently, Wonder Woman’s robot plane can relay radio calls to her—telepathically.
  • I think Gerry was still in Marvel mode for these stories. Wonder Woman goes nuts twice and fights the Army (like the Hulk) and when she gets to the burning Treasury Building, a bystander makes a remark about not knowing if she started the fire, which was something that happened to Spider-Man pretty much on a daily basis.

    Spidey reference
    Damn Perry White and his editorials!
  • I also get the feeling Gerry didn’t know (or care) much about Wonder Woman continuity. He has one of her indestructible bracelets get smashed, then has her resist the berserker rage that ensues. Maybe he was trying to redefine her mythos?

Green Lantern 97 coverGreen Lantern #97 – “The Mystery of the Mocker” – Denny O’Neil/Mike Grell/Vince Colletta

This one starts where last issue left off, with Green Lantern holding a dead Guardian of the Universe. But how can a Guardian die when they’re supposed to be immortal? Good question. The Guardians realize their defenses have been penetrated and Hal and the other GLs head outside. They find an alien ship attacking and go to confront it, but they’re attacked by solid cloud-creatures. Hal figures someone in the ship is controlling the deadly clouds, so he busts in … and he’s immediately knocked out by some gas. Yup, this is a Green Lantern comic. Back onfighting clouds Earth, Ollie and Dinah watch over Katma Tui and Dinah’s jealousy is still running wild. A doctor shows up and wants to take Katma to the hospital, so Green Arrow carries her. Outside, some weird-looking guys attack them, thinking Katma is Carol Ferris. Green Arrow and Black Canary kick their asses, but Katma has disappeared, so they split up to look for her. On Oa, Hal is put into a machine by some chunky aliens, but he busts loose right away. Apparently he was faking getting knocked out … looks like he finally learned something after being rendered unconscious all those times. He kicks the crap out of the aliens, then smashes all the controls on the ship, thus getting rid of the cloud-creatures outside. He asks how the aliens got Lantern busts loosethrough Oa’s impenetrable defenses, but the aliens say there were no defenses—they just walked right in. The alien signals another of their ships to launch cobalt bombs at Oa, so GL heads out to intercept it. He finds the alien ship hiding by the gigantic weird-looking ship he encountered drifting in space last issue. He deflects the bomb into the huge ship, where it explodes harmlessly. Well, maybe not harmlessly, since it opens a break in the big ship and some weird energy thing emerges. But GL doesn’t notice it; he’s too busy trying to figure out who could get past Oa’s defenses and take over the minds of the Guardians and the whole Corps. He gets back to Oa and charges his ring, but inside the Central Power Battery, a ghostly image of Green Arrow coalesces and tries to kill him. He blasts the image and isMocker confronted with someone inside the Battery. No, it’s not Parallax, it’s some weirdo who calls himself the Mocker and speaks in a weird Errol Flynn/David Niven cadence. Mocker says he’s the one behind everything that’s been happening on Oa lately and then he zaps GL straight back to Earth. GL shows up beside Green Arrow and is so freaked out by everything, he has to ask if Arrow is real. We’ll find out what’s going on next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • The guys who attack Green Arrow and Black Canary are really strange. They seem to be after Carol, but never quite say what their motive is, other than “she’s rich”. The leader introduces himself as “Junior Musto, the terrorist. My father is Musta Musto, the terrorist. Maybe you’ve heard of him?” I wonder if he has business cards that say “Junior Musto, of the terrorist Mustos”? The terrorists seem pretty useless overall; I guess they were just there to give Ollie and Dinah something to do.terrorist smash

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