Comics Reviews: Flash 270, Wonder Woman 252, Green Lantern 113

Flash 270 coverFlash #270 – “A Fast Way to Die” – Cary Bates/Irv Novick/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts with Flash returning from a leisurely morning jog. Of course, this is the Flash we’re talking about, so his jog consists of zipping around the world at super speed. He gets back to Central City just in time to interrupt a new villain called the Clown as he’s stealing a collection of rare coins. This guy looks like a goofball, but he’s got some pretty lethal gimmicks, like a pogo stick that turns into a missile and a clown car that comes apart and almost buries Flash. The Clown’s jalopy has a race car underneath, but that’s no match for the Flash’s speed; unfortunately, the Scarlet Speedster gets a face-full of ether-soaked pie and keels over,ether pie allowing the Clown to escape. Later at the police station, we see a shifty-looking dude coming out of the evidence room. He’s thinking about a bunch of heroin from a recent bust and how he’s going to steal it all. On another floor, some cops are laughing about how the Clown made Flash look stupid and Barry Allen has to pretend he’s not bothered by it. Barry is called to the Captain’s office and told that his graduate thesis has been used as the basis for something called the “Nephron Process”. Barry is ordered to go to the State Prison and meet Dr. Nephron to see what it’s all about. When he calls to tell Iris he won’t be home for dinner, she’s not too happy and hangs up on him. Elsewhere, a woman listens to a tape of Flash getting an award and gushes over him. She sounds pretty obsessive and contemplates how discovering his secret identity might make it easier to “snare” him. At the prison, Barry sees Dr. Nephron’s Process demonstrated when a starving rat refuses to eat some cheese. Apparently, Nephron has stalkerfigured out how to stimulate the pain center in the rat’s brain and has made it averse to cheese. He also says he could make the rat eat poison, by stimulating its pleasure center. Nephron figures he could use the Process on humans, making the very thought of committing a crime anathema to them. So, kinda like “A Clockwork Orange”, except without prying their eyelids open and forcing them to watch violent movies. Nephron and the prison warden have been broadcasting the experiment to all the prisoners and they’re now given a chance to volunteer for the Process. Whoever volunteers gets a full pardon (assuming the procedure works), but none of the prisoners are eager to have their brains rewired—except one. A guy named Clive Yorkin, murderer and armed robber, volunteers to undergo the Process, and Dr. Nephron guarantees he’ll be a changed man. At the police station, two crooks disguised as cops take the heroin from the evidence room and stash it in Barry Allen’s lab. They figure moving the stuff is easier than trying to smuggle it out of the building, and if thecalliope attack drugs are found, Barry will take the heat for it. The next morning, Iris is still giving Barry the silent treatment, so he takes off for work, but sees a message from the Clown and goes to check it out. He finds a calliope and sees a tuft of hair sticking out of a manhole cover. Flash uses a super speed updraft to pull the Clown out of the manhole, but it turns out to be a dummy on springs with a little surprise attached—a bomb. Flash uses his speed to avoid the bomb’s destructive force, but the shockwave pushes him toward a brick wall. He vibrates to pass through the wall, but only makes it part way and ends up with his legs stuck. Before he can gather his wits, the Clown pops up and uses the calliope to launch rockets right at the helpless Flash. And on that note, the issue ends; we’ll have to wait until next time to see how Flash gets out of this one.

Noticeable Things:

  • I’m not sure about the ether pie that knocked Flash out; wouldn’t the ether have evaporated? Maybe the cream in the pie kept it from vapourizing too much. And Flash was revived when a dog licked the pie off his face, but wouldn’t the ether knock the dog out too?
  • I don’t know who the dude was who came out of the evidence room. He was wearing civilian clothes, but a uniformed cop saw him and didn’t blink an eye. Maybe he’s a plainclothes cop and that’s why he has access to the evidence room.
  • I’m not sure who the mystery woman is who’s obsessed with Flash. I thought it might be Fiona Webb, but it’s too soon for her. It’s not Golden Glider, because she already knows Flash’s secret. We never see her face, so it could be someone we’ve met before; maybe Stacy Conwell, the student who was living with Barry and Iris? We haven’t seen her for a while, and judging by the hair it could be her, but I don’t remember her being this worked up over the Flash before.
  • The fake cops say the stash they hid in Barry’s lab was 15 ounces of heroin; that’s not exactly the huge score I thought it was.
  • It seems like Cary is dangling a few subplots here, which I like; I appreciate foreshadowing. Speaking of which, the cover mentions Flash’s life changing and never being the same again … I’m thinking that’s foreshadowing Iris’s fate just a few issues from now.

Wonder Woman 252 coverWonder Woman #252 – “The Empress of the Silver Snake” – Jack C. Harris/Jose Delbo/Joe Giella

This one starts with Wonder Woman saving a NASA capsule that’s falling from the sky. The astronaut is babbling about someone called the “Empress”, but by the time Wonder Woman gets him back to solid ground, he sounds less crazy. She leaves him for the ground crew and heads off to her new civilian job. That’s right, Diana Prince is undergoing astronaut training in Houston. Obviously, this is meant to shake up the status quo in the comic; we’ll see how successful it is. Diana shows up and the NASA field rep (whose name, I’ll remind you, is Starfield) introduces her to the people she’ll be working with: Army rep General Novack, and fellow trainees Stacy Macklin and Mike Bailey. Bailey starts hitting on Diana right away and she seems kinda into it. I guess she’smeeting fellow astronauts over Steve’s untimely death. Bailey looks a bit like Steve, so maybe Diana has a type. General Novack asks Starfield about the astronaut Wonder Woman rescued earlier and we see that astronaut (whose name is Layton) being debriefed in another building. He tells his colleagues that his capsule was grabbed by a silver spaceship in the shape of a snake. A golden woman emerged and said she was Astarte, Empress of the Silver Snake, and she was looking for someone. But after examining Layton, she decided he wasn’t who she wanted, so she shoved him back into the capsule and tossed it out of orbit, which is where we came in. Mission control says there was an anomaly in orbit with Layton and debate shutting down all launches until they figure out what’s going on. The trainees finish their tour and Diana spots the astronaut she saved. She decides she’d better head up to space to see what caused his Wonder Woman meets Astartetrouble, so as soon as Bailey drops her off at her place, she changes to Wonder Woman and heads spaceward in her invisible jet. We see the space shuttle being launched from Florida and Wonder Woman tracks it to make sure there are no more “accidents”. On Paradise Island, Diana’s mother Hippolyta is still worrying about the gods wreaking vengeance on Diana for playing fast and loose with their rules. She tries to keep an eye on Diana, but the images are fuzzy. In space, the silver snake spaceship attacks the shuttle, but Wonder Woman shows up and challenges Astarte. Astarte seems to recognize Diana, but thinks she’s evil for some reason and attacks her. Astarte accuses Diana of being inhuman and possessed by evil, and tries to drive her soul right out of her body. Astarte’s eye-blasts are powerful and Wonder Woman’s magic lasso has no effect on her.  They end up on the moon, beating the shit out of each other, but Wonder Woman breaks off the fight to save the space shuttle from crashing. Astarte realizes Diana is good after all and that it’s her own fault the astronauts almost died. Astarte stands against her snake ship and transmutes it—and herself—to lead. change to leadWonder Woman takes the shuttle back to Earth and vows to learn all she can of Astarte, including why she has such a hate-on for Diana. We’ll see where that goes next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • I wonder if this astronaut “Layton” is a nod to real-life astronaut Deke Slayton? Layton is a Colonel and Slayton was a Major, but there’s a certain resemblance and Slayton was still at NASA in 1979, doing tests on the space shuttle.
  • When Bailey drops Diana off, it’s obvious he was expecting to be invited in. Dude is either really confident, or really deluded.
  • I get the feeling Harris is really into astronauts and space training. He has a lot of fact-based stuff here. He’s obviously starting a new direction for the comic, hence the new characters being introduced. Stacy Macklin and Mike Bailey will both turn out to be important later on.

Green Lantern 113 coverGreen Lantern #113 – “ … that They May Fear No More” – Denny O’Neil/Alex Saviuk/Frank Chiaramonte

This is a Christmas issue; I guess it would’ve been on the stands around Christmas of 1978. It starts with Hal Jordan driving his semi through a blizzard. Hal has trouble staying on the highway and realizes the terrain around him is shaking like hell. He sees a car hit the ditch and changes to Green Lantern to save the passengers. They turn out to be a band called the Slog (who we saw ripping off a store back in issue #108) and the singer’s wife Marcy, who’s pregnant. GL tells them his “friend” Hal Jordan will take them to shelter in his big-ass truck. Some hillbillies are watching from nearby and are freaked out about GL saving the people from the car wreck. The old lady says it’s a miracle and it must have to do with the pregnant girl. The hillbillies are worked up about the mountain doing something to them, but Granny figures if they can get a hold of the unborn baby and sacrifice it, the mountain will leave them alone. Hall takes theHal knocked out--again Slog to a ski lodge where Dinah and Green Arrow are waiting. Arrow remembers the Slog, but they say they’re reformed now, so he welcomes them with some spiked punch. Hal goes out to get firewood and gets knocked out (naturally) by one of the hillbillies, who steals his ring. The hillbillies bust in on the others singing Christmas carols and Green Arrow goes after them, but the Slog get in the way. Dinah has better luck until Granny threatens to shoot Marcy. Granny says the mountain will rain fire every hundred years if a sacrifice isn’t provided. She takes Marcy so they can sacrifice her baby, leaving the others tied up. Green Arrow and Dinah talk about how the hillbillies aren’t truly evil, just stupid. Arrow uses an arrowhead to cut his ropes, and Hal stumbles in saying his ring is gone. I guess that’s a story device to keep things from being wrapped up too easily. They break out the skis and go after the hillbillies, accompanied by Rance, the singer, who’s worried about his wife and unborn drill baby drillkid. The prophecy starts coming true, as a long-dormant volcano under the mountain begins erupting. The hillbillies take Marcy to a cabin, but before they can do anything to her, some wolves show up and attack. Green Arrow uses a net arrow on one wolf and Hal asks for his ring back. The hillbilly hands it over without a fuss, rather anticlimactically I must say, and GL gets rid of the wolves. He leaves a green ball of light for the others, then flies to the mountain and creates a giant drill to let the pressure off and keep it from erupting; I guess he’d better hope there are no people in the way of that lava flow he just started. GL almost passes out, but the green light he left at the cabin guides him back. Granny says everything in the prophecy technically came true—the mountain erupted and concern for Marcy’s baby drew GL there so he could save them. GL is too tired to argue with her and heads into the cabin, where Marcy and Rance are holding their new baby. I guess that’s supposed to be some kind of Jesus thing.

Noticeable Things:

  • Dinah says the ski lodge belongs to a client for whom she’s done some designs, but I thought she ran a flower shop? Maybe she does interior design too? Either way, I’m sure this guy let her use the lodge because he wants to get into her pants.

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