Comics Reviews: Flash 256, Wonder Woman 238, Green Lantern 99

Flash 256 coverFlash #256 – “Prisoner of the Past” – Cary Bates/Irv Novick/Frank McLaughlin

If you remember, last issue ended with Flash defeating Mirror Master and disguising himself as the villain so he could infiltrate the Rogues’ meeting. This one starts with Weather Wizard and Pied Piper finding “Mirror Master” in the alley—though I’m not sure what Flash did with the real Mirror Master’s unconscious bod. The two villains grab their colleague and prepare to head for their hideout, but they’re stopped by a couple of cops. Pied Piper amplifies the cops’ siren to knock them out and Weather Wizard whisks the three Rogues out into the countryside, where Captain Cold and Trickster are waiting outside an abandoned silo. But when they take “Mirror Master’s” mask off,Flash pounds Rogues they’re stunned to see Flash staring back at them. He uses the old “persistence of vision” trick to make it seem like there are four Flashes. The Rogues each blast one Flash, but the Scarlet Speedster is a step ahead of them—he’s in the middle of the group and conks them all out with a quick whirlwind of fists. He’s about to take the crooks in when he’s interrupted by another of his long-time foes—except this one’s dead! Yup, it’s Roscoe Dillon aka the Top, who died back in Flash #243. He taunts Flash a bit, then fades away, leaving Flash to wonder if Top is really still alive or if Flash is going nuts. There’s a third possibility, but Flash forgets about it before he can form a coherent thought. I know that sounds weird, but it’s the beginning of a theme. We see Iris at work, learning of Flash’s capture of the four Rogues. Barry amnesiaBarry is waiting for her outside, but he’s acting really weird. She soon figures out that he’s forgotten the last few years—their marriage, the death of the Top, the fact that she knows his secret identity. She plays along as she tries to figure out what to do. Barry goes to the police lab where he’s confronted by the Top, who knows he’s the Flash. Barry changes to his costume and goes after the Top, who kinda slaps him around. A reporter asks Flash about fighting the supposedly-dead Top, but Flash seems confused and says the Top never died. Iris is watching the news report and knows Barry is still screwed in the head. She’s surprised by Mazdan; you remember him, don’t you? He’s from the future, was one of Flash’s first enemies, and has been messing with his mind for the last few issues. Mazdan tells Iris he’s the one who made Barry forget the last few years, to make up for the years Mazdan spent in prison. He also says the mind-fucking has slowed Flash’s reflexes enough for Mazdan to finish him off. He traps Iris in an energy web so she can’t warn her husband, then leaves. Elsewhere, Golden GliderFlash vs Top (aka Lisa Snart and the Top’s girlfriend) was also watching the news, and she’s pretty pissed off that someone stole her dead boyfriend’s shtick. She vows to find out who it is and make them pay. Barry is outside Iris’s old apartment wondering why she doesn’t live there, when the Top (who’s Mazdan is disguise, in case you hadn’t figured that out yet) attacks him again. Top wraps Flash up in some constrictive streamers that threaten to crush the life out of him. But Flash reveals he knows the Top is really Mazdan and vibrates down through the sidewalk to escape the Flash wrapped upstreamers. Mazdan prepares to blast him with a destructo-gun, but it flies out of his hand and Flash reappears and kicks his ass. Flash explains that the last time he and the “Top” tangled, the shock of getting knocked around jarred Flash’s mind enough to overcome Mazdan’s hypnosis. He played along, pretending to be confused on the news and afterward, to lure Mazdan into attacking him. After Flash takes the villain away, we see Mazdan’s destructo-gun dangling nearby. Oh, you thought Flash knocked it out of his hand at super-speed? Nope, it was Golden Glider on a nearby rooftop who snatched it (though her method—a fishing rod—was rather low-tech) and now she plans on using the deadly weapon to get revenge on Flash.

Noticeable Things:

  • When Flash surprises the Rogues, each of them spouts a corny line that fits with their powers. Flash even points out how stupid it is.
  • Amnesiac Barry goes back to his crew cut from years ago; so, does that mean he actually went to a barber to get his hair cut? Or did he do it himself? I’m assuming it didn’t spontaneously regress like that.
  • There are some plot contrivances on display in this issue, like when Barry goes to the police lab instead of home to his (old) bachelor apartment. He even wonders to himself why he did that—because the writer wanted you to, Barry.
  • I’m not sure how Golden Glider got out of prison so fast after Flash caught her in Flash #251.

Wonder Woman 238 cover Wonder Woman #238 – “Assassin of a Thousand Claws” – Gerry Conway/Jose Delbo/Vince Colletta

This one continues right from last issue, with the Japanese assassin Kung (who can change to different animal forms) attacking Wonder Woman to try to get to General Mac Arthur. Kung has changed into a large cat (I’m not sure what he supposed to be, exactly; he’s big enough to be a tiger or a leopard, but there are no stripes or spots) and Wonder Woman tries to take him down with her lasso, but Mac Arthur orders the soldiers to fire. They wound Kung and Wonder Woman freaks out and disarms them all, which gives Kung a chance to escape. MacArthur is pissed off and General Belushi (!) tells Wonder Woman she’s officially banned from allWW fights Kung Army Intelligence operations. Since Belushi is filling in for the still-injured Steve Trevor, he has the authority to make it stick, so Wonder Woman agrees to back off. She changes to Diana Prince and decides to keep an eye on MacArthur in her civilian identity in case Kung tries again. We see Kung (in human form, with a wounded arm) going to Chinatown, where he goes to his sister’s apartment and keels over. At the Waldorf-Astoria (I assume the Army is picking up the tab), Diana calls Sandman to investigate who might be after MacArthur. Sandman and Sandy, his sidekick, go out to run down some leads. At the Waldorf, some French dude shows up looking for Etta, but she’s so embarrassed at him seeing her come out of the Etta embarrassedbathroom wrapped in a towel that she almost faints. The French dude says he has a message from Etta’s brother in North Africa, and Diana says to come back in an hour. In Chinatown, Kung (whose real name is Thomas) is tended to by his sister Nancy. We get some of their background; they were Japanese-American citizens whose father died during the Depression. Thomas blamed the Americans and his vitriol caused their mother to have a heart attack (which he also blamed on America, for some reason). Thomas returned to Japan to train as a “samurai”, then took extra special training, which worried the hell out of his sister. Obviously, we have some idea of what that training entailed. Thomas is determined to complete his mission to assassinate MacArthur and asks Nancy to help. She seems reluctant, but says she will. Elsewhere, Sandman rousts some crooks to get info on who’s gunning for MacArthur. At the Brooklyn Navy Yard, MacArthur is due for a photo op and Diana is sticking close in case KungWW vs Kung shows up again—which he does, with a bang! He turns into a rhinoceros (!) and smashes through the gates. Sandman and Sandy show up and tackle the rhino, giving Diana time to change into Wonder Woman. She tries to use her lasso to calm Kung, but it doesn’t work on his rhino form and he opens the flood gates and tries to drown MacArthur and some other top officers. Wonder Woman catches them, but the flood knocks a ship off its moorings, threatening to crush them all. Wonder Woman tries to hold up the toppling ship as Sandman and Sandy tackle Kung. Just as Kung is about to stomp Sandman, Nancy rushes in to stop him. He realizes his sister is about to be crushed by the falling ship and sacrifices himself to save her. An honourable death, I suppose.

Noticeable Things:

  • Sandman is wearing his purple-and-yellow costume here. After reading Sandman Mystery Theater, I much prefer the jacket-and-gasmask ensemble. In fact, I prefer the whole noirish atmosphere of that series; there’s a DC show that needs to happen!
  • At the hotel, Etta is taking a bath with the door open; yeah, she’s definitely got the hots for Diana. Actually, that would’ve made an interesting storyline, Etta being (openly) in love with Diana, Wonder Woman, or both. But I guess they couldn’t have gotten away with anything like that back then.
  • The French soldier who got Etta so worked up will be back next issue.
  • It’s interesting that MacArthur is so down on women in general, and Wonder Woman in particular, but when he’s about to die he’s telling her to help him.
  • I’m not sure if Thomas and Nancy are meant to be Issei (first-generation Japanese immigrants) or Nisei (second-generation, children of Issei). In the flashback, Thomas says “I wish we’d neverbig crash come here” (suggesting they’re from Japan), but their American names make me think they might be Nisei. Doesn’t much matter, I guess; both were treated like shit by the U.S. (and Canadian) government at the time.
  • I can’t tell exactly what happens at the end; Kung (still in rhino form) seems to hold up the falling ship long enough for Nancy (and Wonder Woman) to get out from under it, but Nancy was right at the edge of the dock and with the size of the ship she’d have been a hell of a long way from safety.

Green Lantern 99 coverGreen Lantern #99 – “We Are on the Edge of the Ultimate Ending” – Denny O’Neil/Mike Grell/Vince Colletta

We start this one where we left off last time, with Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and Katma Tui in space about to enter a huge ship to look for answers about the Mocker, who’s been screwing with them, the Guardians, and the Green Lantern Corps for the last couple of issues. Green Arrow starts acting like a dick (even more than usual) and slaps Itty and Katma around, then punches Hal. Katma grabs him with her ring, but Arrow suggests he and Lantern settle it the old-fashioned way, so they get into a boxing ring and beat the shit out of each other. Back on Earth, Black Canary is exercising when some truck driver shows up and gets mouthy.Canary calisthenics Of course, she tosses him around like a sack of shit. Turns out the big rig is for Hal. Yup, he musta seen too many episodes of B.J. And the Bear and decided to become a truck driver. Carol is financing his little venture. In space, Hal and Ollie finish their fight and head into the spaceship with Katma. They’re immediately caught in a plastic energy field of some sort, which Ollie takes out with an explosive arrow. They walk into a room full of crazy bullshit and know Mocker is behind it.crazy room Green Arrow reveals that Mocker has been hiding inside Itty—a logical deduction, since he hitched a ride from Oa back to Earth somehow, and he apparently couldn’t inhabit humans for some reason. Mocker appears out of Itty, confirming Ollie’s deduction and tells them this is his ship. He’s been bopping around the galaxy for 12,000 years, but recently ran low on energy, so he started grabbing it where he could, starting on Oa. He kicks their asses and imprisons them in weird glass-like tubes where they’ll freeze in space for a lifetime, aware of their torment the whole time. But someone shows up out of nowhere to save them—Green Lantern!Green Lantern shows up Yeah, it turns out the GL who was captured with Ollie and Katma was a ring-conjured illusion. Ollie suspected Mocker was hiding in Itty, so he staged the fight and clued Hal in. Mocker is captured by GL—very anti-climactically, I must say—and Katma says she’ll take him to prison on Oa, so Hal and Ollie head for home. So, I guess their fight was basically just a big fake-out to the readers.

GL vs GA
You’re welcome, slash-fic fans.

This whole Mocker storyline has been pretty stupid. His motivation seems to be that his planet was a utopia but got wiped out by a plague—except for him—so he went around doing random bullshit because he thought life had no true meaning … or something. I can’t even understand it. He was called Mocker in the first part of the story and here, but was referred to by a different name last issue. The whole storyline was confusing, with the stuff happening on Oa, then Earth, then this mysterious ship. And was the energy tendril thing that escaped from the ship supposed to be Mocker himself? Was that when he first inhabited Itty? But wasn’t he already on Oa before that, inside the Central Power Battery? And he had enough power to affect the Guardians and the GLC, but not enough to power his ship? The whole thing just makes my brain numb. Next ish is #100 and I hope it’s better than this shit.

Noticeable Things:

  • Black Canary seems to be exercising in Carol’s back yard—at least, there’s a swimming pool there—but the asshole guy drives the semi right up to her. How big a yard does Carol have?
  • I’m not sure why they think Mocker will be okay imprisoned on Oa. Hasn’t he already proved capable of dominating Green Lanterns and even Guardians? Maybe he can only do it when he has an energy source, so if they keep him confined, he’s harmless?

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