Between the guest villain (Black Hand) and the opening scenes (in Coast City) you’d think this was a Green Lantern comic. Don’t worry, Flash will be showing up soon enough. As I said, this issue starts out in Coast City, at the museum, where a bunch of people are looking at a work of “Modern Art” supposedly made by Green Lantern. The tour guide tells a story of how a meteorite was heading for Coast City not long ago and Green Lantern stopped it with his ring, melting one large piece of the meteorite into a weirdly-shaped slag puddle. Some hipster decided it was a work of art and it was placed in the museum. As the tour moves on, one guy stays behind; it turns out to be GL’s old foe, Black Hand. He absorbs the residual energy from the “sculpture”, which is kinda his schtick, and takes off, saying he’s heading for Central City. In Central City, Flash is getting an award from the mayor and a huge crowd is applauding him. Some familiar faces are in the crowd, Barry and Iris’s neighbours, the Sands, with their kid, Barney. You might remember him from issue #248, when he “created” a super-villain that almost killed Flash. Now he’s just taking pictures of Flash getting his award, but Barney’s thrilled to see another superhero make the scene. Green Lantern swoops down to congratulate Flash, but when they shake hands, Flash disappears momentarily, then pops back weak as a kitten. GL kicks him under a truck and reveals himself as Black Hand before slapping down the mayor. Flash vibrates through the truck and tackles Black Hand, who uses some Green Lantern energy against him. Flash ends up surfing on the energy beams and blasting Black Hand’s flying platform, but the villain gets away. Barney is thrilled to have photos of the clash, but when he develops them at home, all the shots of Flash are blurred. Makes sense, I guess; taking photos of someone moving at super-speed should be physically impossible. Next door, Barry’s mowing the lawn and wondering what Black Hand’s master plan might be. We don’t have to wonder, since Black Hand explains it all for us: when he zapped Flash with his handshake, it did something to reverse the aura that protects Flash when he moves at super-speed. Ever since, the aura has been bleeding off, being absorbed by Black Hand, which means when Flash uses his super-speed again he’ll burn to a crisp from friction. Barney’s still trying to be an artist, but blurry photos aren’t helping him capture Flash’s likeness, so he goes next door and asks Barry to emulate a Flash pose … not knowing that Barry actually is the Flash, of course. Barry humours him, but spots something downtown and distracts Barney so he can make a hasty exit. A giant black hand is poised over downtown Central City and when Flash arrives he gets a green fist in the face. Black Hand attacks Flash with more stolen energy, So Flash uses his super-speed to fight back. But he notices things are getting a bit warm and Black Hand tells him about his protective aura being siphoned away. Flash starts burning up but can’t slow down from his super-speed in time and seemingly incinerates. Black Hand gloats and promises us he’ll reveal the rest of his big plan next issue.
- I’m not sure smashing a meteorite with two giant green energy fists right above the city is the best way to handle it. There’d be rocks of various sizes raining down on civilians.
- I’m not all that familiar with Black Hand, but he keeps spouting clichés like a failed stand-up comedian, and he breaks the fourth wall to tell the readers what he’s doing. I don’t know if that’s standard operating procedure for him, but it’s kind of annoying.
- Golden Glider is in the crowd when Flash gets his award. She’s in her civilian identity of Lisa Snart, but it’s still pretty risky; Flash knows what she looks like without her mask.
This one starts right where last issue left off, with Wonder Woman being arrested by the Army after attacking a bunch of sailors. But it wasn’t her fault … Duke of Deception made her think the sailors were Nazis invading New Jersey. Unfortunately, the illusion is still in effect, so she sees the American soldiers as Nazis and starts pounding the shit out of them. Eventually, they overwhelm her with sheer numbers and knock her out. Nearby, Duke of Deception is gloating that if Wonder Woman is branded a traitor it’ll demoralize America and prolong (or lose) the war, which will please the Duke’s master, Mars. The Duke also sent an illusion against Flash last issue, but Flash realizes it’s not solid and gets rid of it. The Duke thinks more direct methods may be needed to take care of Flash. Flash finds Wonder Woman chained up by the Army and tries to get her released, but General Belushi is adamant that they put her on trial for treason. In prison, Wonder Woman is helpless because her wrists are bound and compares her status to slavery; I’m not sure that comparison is completely valid. General Blankenship and Etta say they’ll try to help and Wonder Woman tells Etta to get a hold of Steve, because she has a plan. We see Duke of Deception at some Bowery flophouse, recruiting a dude named Napoleon Jones to help him. At the trial, Wonder Woman is vilified by the crowd as she enters the courthouse. Before she can be indicted, the courtroom is attacked by a Nazi weirdo calling himself Siegfried the Speedster. Wonder Woman fights him and the crowd loves her again. I’m not sure how simply fighting a Nazi (or being hated by the Nazis, as the crowd observes) wipes out the fact that she attacked American servicemen, but whatever. Duke of Deception is watching from the gallery and isn’t happy that Wonder Woman is back in America’s good graces, so he tells Napoleon Jones to strike. As the fight with Siegfried moves outside, Jones—who was apparently some kind of gangster before the War—uses an illusion device to make it look like a his men are a bunch of Nazis. It’s kinda like what happened last issue, except now everyone sees them as Nazis, not just Wonder Woman … which kinda defeats the purpose of the illusion, if you ask me. Wonder Woman tells herself the Nazis must be an illusion, but for some reason she keeps fighting them, so Jones uses his device to make the sidewalk turn into a monster. Wonder Woman figures out that’s an illusion too and stops fighting, which makes the sidewalk crumble in front of her. She grabs Jones and interrogates him with her magic lasso, learning that he got the device from someone called the Duke; obviously it wasn’t John Wayne. So, Wonder Woman’s a hero again and Siegfried turns out to have been Flash in disguise, which I’m sure most of you guessed two seconds after he showed up. In the epilogue, we see Mars punishing Duke of Deception for his screw up by making him ugly. The Duke swears vengeance on Wonder Woman, natch.
- With her super-strength, it seems weird that a rifle butt to the head could knock Wonder Woman out.
- Etta’s two-faced French boyfriend says Americans are fickle when the crowd is booing Wonder Woman. Apparently he’s right, because they change their minds pretty quickly after she fights “Siegfried the Speedster”.
- Siegfried’s costume looks almost exactly like the one worn a few years later by Zyklon in All-Star Squadron; I’m assuming that was done on purpose.
- I’m not sure why Wonder Woman’s bracelets and lasso weren’t confiscated when she was arrested.
- Etta’s French boyfriend is still acting weird here; next issue we finally find out what’s up with him.
This issue is obviously a filler, written by a guy who never wrote anything else, as far as I can tell. Maybe “Frank McGinty” is a pseudonym? Anyway, we start with Green Arrow and Black Canary pounding some thugs who were running a protection racket. They make short work of them and Green Arrow switches to Oliver Queen and heads for Coast City to try and get a PR contract with a think tank called Braintrust Inc. In Coast City, Hal Jordan is hanging out in a bar when he sees a headline about Hector Hammond running a mysterious new cult. He checks with the prison warden, who tells him Hammond was a model prisoner so he was released early. GL wonders if Hammond used his mental abilities on the parole board (or maybe on the warden). Oliver goes to Braintrust Inc. and finds out the PR contract was just given to someone else, without Oliver even making a bid. He protests and gets tossed out on his ass. Hal tells Ollie he wants to check out Hammond, so he breaks into Braintrust Inc. and looks through their files. He finds they’ve been bankrolling Hammond’s cult and wonders who might be running Braintrust. He gets jumped by guards and starts pounding them, but his ring rebels against his commands and starts choking him. He overcomes it with his willpower and escapes, and we see a dude named Baggins(!), who claims to have been responsible for taking over GL’s ring. At one of Hammond’s cult seminars, Ollie doesn’t learn much; it seems to prey on vulnerable people and promise an end to their troubles, like most religions. Hal tells Ollie about getting his ass kicked at the Braintrust offices, which gives Ollie a good laugh. Hal and Ollie go to his brother Jim’s place for dinner and learn that Jim is the PR dude who snatched the Braintrust account from under Ollie’s nose. Jim’s wife Sue says that Braintrust Inc. runs Hammond’s Mission downtown; she did an article about it for her newspaper. So, Hal and Ollie decide to check out the Mission and make some extra preparations in case GL’s ring is messed with again. They get into the Mission and overhear Hammond and Baggins bragging about how Hammond used his power to manipulate the stock market and build u a fortune from inside prison. Baggins was his “leg man”, so to speak, running everything until Hammond got out. GL realizes Baggins is actually Bill Baggett (from GL #67), who can use his own willpower to control GL’s ring … which explains why it turned against him earlier. Hammond and Baggett are aware they’re being watched and Baggett uses his control of the ring to drag the heroes into the room, where Hammond uses his mental powers to immobilize them. But Green Arrow fights back, launching a gas arrow that stuns Hammond. GL tosses his ring on the floor and he and Baggett embark on a test of wills to see who can control it. GL wins and decks Baggett, then captures Hammond before he can recover from Green Arrow’s gas. They explain to Hammond that GL put most of the ring’s power inside Arrow’s body, which is why Arrow was able to resist Hammond’s mental powers. So, that’s that. Next issue I think we get back to the regular storyline.
- I’m not sure why Hal and Ollie knew there was a connection between Braintrust Inc. and Hammond’s cult. Maybe the newspaper article mentioned Braintrust?
- Jim Jordan’s wife is named Sue, and looks a bit like Sue Storm-Richards from the FF.
- Apparently, Sue doesn’t know that Hal is Green Lantern, but I’m not sure if Jim knows or not.
- This was an okay issue for a filler; the plot was interesting enough, though there was a lot of info-dumping. I still like Alex Saviuk’s art, though not as much as his later work on Web of Spider-Man. I don’t know if it’s the inking here, or just because his style hasn’t fully formed yet, but his later stuff is even better than this, as far as I’m concerned.