This one starts right where last issue left off, with Flash stuck halfway inside a wall about to get blasted by some rockets. Last issue, a new villain called the Clown showed up with a bunch of gimmick weapons and in their second encounter, a stunned Flash tried to vibrate through a wall but only made it half-way. The Clown then unleashed the rockets from his trick calliope. Flash tries to vibrate again to avoid the rockets, but they blow the wall of the building to pieces and there’s no sign of Flash anywhere. The Clown is happy until the cops show up and try to arrest him. But his gimmicks save him again; he uses an ejector seat in the calliope (and some pretty acrobatic moves) to spring to the nearest rooftop, then dives back down on a jet-powered trapeze and covers the cops with cotton candy that threatens to suffocate them. Flash emerges from the rubble of the wall; his vibrations saved his life, but weren’t completely successful. He stopped vibrating before the explosion ended, so his body is riddled with pieces of stone from the building. There are so many pieces throughout his body hat he’s afraid to use his super speed lest the pieces move to a vital spot and kill him. But when he sees the cops choking on the cotton candy, he uses his speed to save their lives, then heads for home at a more leisurely pace, only speeding up at the end to make sure nobody sees him entering Barry Allen’s house. Iris is home and wants to talk about her feelings (they’d been arguing a bit last issue), but Barry doesn’t want her to see the state he’s in. He hides in the bathroom while carefully vibrating his body so all the pieces of stone fall out, but by the time he’s done, Iris has gotten pissed off that he’s been ignoring her and taken off without him. At the scene of Flash’s battle with the Clown, we see the mysterious woman from last issue—you know, the one who’s apparently obsessed with Flash. She walks right past the cops guarding the site and picks up a fragment of stone … but not just any fragment; she sifts through the rubble until finding one she wants. The cops are paralyzed somehow and when she leaves, she says they’ll forget she was even there. She returns home to add the rock fragment to her collection of “mementos” and says with every new memento her power grows and she gets closer to having the Flash. At work, Barry gets a call from Iris about dinner, but he has to go to the prison to observe the first test of the Nephron Project, so Iris gets mad and hangs up. Barry leaves his lab assistant to finish his work and heads for the prison, followed by a shifty-looking dude with a beard. The Nephron Project is a “Clockwork Orange” type thing, where a Dr. Nephron claims he can “cure” criminals of the desire to commit crimes by stimulating the pleasure and pain centers in their brains. A con named Clive Yorkin volunteered (since he gets a full pardon if it works) and Barry’s watching him undergo the procedure tonight. It really is like “A Clockwork Orange”, with Nephron showing Yorkin images of crimes, then zapping his pain receptors. He then switches to images of lovey-dovey stuff and stimulates Yorkin’s pleasure receptors, but Yorkin passes out. Nephron says it’s just sensory overload and straps Yorkin into a strait-jacket, but Nephron’s matter-of-fact attitude toward the whole thing bothers Barry. Elsewhere, we see the Clown getting ready for more mayhem. He takes a clipping from an old scrapbook and puts it in an envelope addressed to the Flash care of the cops. He leaves with the envelope and we see more clippings in the scrapbook, these ones about an accident at a circus a year ago where a family of acrobats fell off the high wire when a blackout plunged the tent into darkness. Three of them died, but one, Lyle Corley, barely survived. Flash was supposed to appear at the circus too, but never showed up. The next day, the mayor, the governor, and the head of the Central City power company are a few miles outside town, looking at a location to build a new power plant. They mention the blackout last year and blame each other for why it happened and why it’s taken them so long to even discuss building an upgraded plant. The Clown shows up and gasses them, then knocks out the helicopter pilot and flies off with the three hostages. At the police station, the cops get Clown’s note (which says by the time they read this, three VIPs will be missing) and newspaper clipping. Barry happens by and checks it out just as the cops get a report about the kidnapping. Barry reads the newspaper clipping about Flash appearing at the circus and remembers he didn’t make it because of an emergency JLA mission; he also remembers the people who died at the circus and how various fingers pointed the blame at the mayor, the governor, and the head of Consolidated Power. He changes to Flash and starts scouring the city; his attention is caught by some fireworks outside of town and he heads out to see what’s up. He finds the hostages tied into an elaborate unicycle atop the high tension power lines. The unicycle is moving due to the power in the lines, but the Clown is screwing with the lines, which could make the unicycle fall. Flash realizes the Clown is recreating the Corliss’s fatal accident and figures out who the Clown must be … as I’m sure you all did quite a while ago. But the Clown has one more surprise up his sleeve; he plays a certain frequency on his calliope that paralyzes Flash, giving the villain a chance to deck him and add him to the unicycle with the other three. The Clown’s oscillating frequency cancels Flash’s powers, so he can’t vibrate loose; in fact, he can barely move. The Clown prepares to cut power to the lines, plunging all four of his captives to their deaths … and we’ll have to wait until next issue to see if he succeeds.
- Until this issue, I hadn’t actually noticed that the Clown never speaks. It’s weird, because villains are usually spouting a bunch of bullshit, but in all his encounters with Flash, the Clown never says a word. I’m assuming the circus accident affected him—physically or psychologically—so he can no longer speak.
- Barry’s reason for not just telling Iris what happened to him seems contrived to ramp up the marital tension; he says if she saw him riddled with pieces of rock, he’d “never hear the end of it”, but Iris has seen some pretty intense stuff since they’ve been married. I’m sure she could’ve handled this.
- Still no idea who the mystery woman is, but her face is seen this time and it’s not Stacy Conwell or anyone else we’ve seen before. I’m not sure why they made such a big deal of hiding her face last issue, unless they just want to reveal information about her bit by bit.
- I’m honestly not sure if this bearded guy following Barry is a brand new character, or one we’ve seen before. Since he started shadowing Barry inside the cop shop, he might be the crooked guy we saw in the police station last issue, whose gang stole drugs from the evidence room and hid them in Barry’s lab; or he might be someone new, I’m not sure.
- I’m not sure why the Clown is mad at Flash, but maybe he figures if Flash had showed up at the circus that night, he’d have rescued the Corlisses and they wouldn’t have died. Spurious reasoning, but grief can make you stupid.
You may remember last issue Wonder Woman confronted some crazy lady named Astarte on the moon who seemed to recognize her, but thought she was evil and attacked. When Wonder Woman showed how compassionate she was, the woman transmuted herself (and her snake-shaped spaceship) to lead. This issue starts with Wonder Woman having called her fellow Amazons (and her mother Hippolyta) to check out the lead statues. Astarte comes back to life and attacks Hippolyta, who she seems to recognize, but Hippolyta claims not to know her. The other Amazons attack and Astarte gets pissed off and leaves in her snake-ship. Hippolyta orders the Amazons not to pursue and says she’ll try to figure out who Astarte is. Wonder Woman gets the feeling her mother is holding something back—which she is. She thinks there’s something familiar about Astarte, but it’s too outlandish to be credible, so she keeps it to herself. Wonder Woman returns to Earth and changes to Diana Prince so she can get to her astronaut training. Her fellow trainees Stacy Macklin and Mike Bailey, are waiting for her and they all do some weightless training. Stacy mentions that Diana has been standoffish with Bailey (though I got the impression she was interested in him last issue) and Diana thinks maybe it’s time she stopped mourning Steve Trevor. She bests Bailey in the training exercise, then agrees to go out with him. Astarte is still stewing about Wonder Woman, thinking she’s an impostor, so to precipitate a confrontation, she sends a force beam down to Earth. The beam hits Mike Bailey as he’s in the centrifuge and it breaks loose, almost killing him. Diana catches it—without anyone seeing—and she and Bailey smooch it up. I guess she’s over Steve. But when he calls her “angel”—which was Steve’s pet name for her—she freaks out and takes off. She changes to Wonder Woman and tracks the force beam into space, ready to take Astarte apart. Hippolyta has tracked the beam too and is there in a spaceship full of Amazons. They attack and Astarte uses her powers to fuse their bracelets and destroy them, which first renders them powerless, then makes them go nuts. Wonder Woman starts pounding the crazed Amazons while Astarte goes after Hippolyta, trying to steal her magic girdle (which would render all the Amazons powerless). Hippolyta addresses Astarte as Diana, her sister; turns out Diana was killed years ago by Hercules and her spirit watched the Amazons in their exile as they mastered technology and hid themselves from the world. Diana’s spirit flew into space and encountered an asteroid composed of silver and gold. Her spirit bathed in the gold and was reincarnated as Astarte, who then created the snake-ship from the asteroidal silver. Diana (or Astarte) returned to Earth looking for Hippolyta, but being near the Earth drained her power, so she had to stay in space. She observed Wonder Woman (who apparently looks exactly like Astarte did when she was alive) and mistook her pounding criminals for attacking innocent people, so she vowed to get her body back from Wonder Woman. Hippolyta admits she copied her sister Diana’s body when she made her daughter out of clay, as a tribute because Diana was dead. Astarte finally realizes she not supposed to exist and she flies off to the heavens with a couple of Greek goddesses who show up out of nowhere. So yeah, that happened.
- During training, Diana is wearing what I thought was a standard jumpsuit, but turns out to include some pretty tight shorts. I wonder why her outfit is different from everyone else’s?
This one starts with Green Lantern getting ready to haul some cargo in his civilian identity of truck driver Hal Jordan. Unfortunately, the cargo he’s hauling is liquid propane gas (LPG), which is pretty volatile, and social crusader Green Arrow is on hand to give him shit. Arrow says taking LPG through populated areas is a disaster waiting to happen, but Hal says he was contracted to move the stuff so he’s going to, and argues he’s the best candidate since if anything goes wrong he can contain it as Green Lantern. Arrow is still mad, but Hal leaves anyway. The contract is to haul the LPG up a winding mountain road for someone who’s on a deadline to complete some important building project. Farther up, we see a weirdo in a costume testing his power on a concrete bridge; his power is to disintegrate stuff and the bridge crumbles to dust, sending a bulldozer that was parked on it sliding down the mountain. Guess where it lands? Yup, it almost hits a bunch of construction workers and does hit Hal’s truck. He changes to Green Lantern right away and rights both the truck and the bulldozer. But the LPG tank is leaking and GL has to warn off a construction worker with a cigar. He surrounds the truck in a protective aura to contain the leak, then heads into the woods and recharges his ring. This being Green Lantern, he’s knocked out by a falling tree, which we soon see is the work of the same guy who destroyed the bridge … the Crumbler. Now, you probably remember that GL’s ring is charged for 24 hours at a time, and since he just charged it before he got knocked out, the protective shield around the leaking LPG tanker will last 24 hours, then … BOOM! Green Arrow and Black Canary hear about GL being in trouble and head to the scene. They meet the guy who contracted for the LPG (Tuttle), who’s building a resort up on the mountain. He’s kind of an asshole and tells them to leave or else. Tuttle also looks a hell of a lot like the Crumbler. In case you’re wondering, sixteen hours have gone by. Arrow goes to see GL in hospital, but GL is still out of it. Arrow worries that when the charge on GL’s ring wears off, his mask and costume will disappear and everyone will know he’s Hal Jordan. Arrow leaves and GL wakes up but is too fucked up to talk; he’s freaking out because he knows something that could be fatal, but can’t communicate it to anyone. Outside, Arrow sees Crumbler lurking around and tries to get him in a net arrow, but Crumbler just disintegrates it. He then disintegrates the roof and Arrow falls into the hospital, scaring the shit out of a nurse. GL tries to get out of his room, but another nurse puts him back to bed. He’s worrying about what’ll happen with the LPG leak when his ring’s charge runs out. On the mountain, Black Canary has learned that Tuttle is almost broke and can’t even meet his payroll, which makes Green Arrow suspicious. A bunch of the construction guys have started a bonfire right beside the truck; you’d think construction workers would know better. Tuttle shows up with some thugs but Green Arrow and Black Canary pound them, so Tuttle reveals himself as Crumbler and says he’s the one who’s been sabotaging his own project, for the insurance money. Arrow and Canary’s interference has screwed up his plans and he’s gone a little nuts. He prepares to waste them, but GL stumbles onto the scene to warn them about the LPG leak. The force field fizzles and thanks to the fire right next to the truck, everyone is in danger of being blown to shit. GL is still too whacked out to help (though capable of walking halfway up a mountain), so Arrow piles snow on the fire until it goes out. Everyone backs off and GL says the gas will evaporate harmlessly as long as there’s nothing to ignite it. (If that’s the case, why was he so worried in the first place?) His mask starts dissolving and they notice Crumbler has escaped. Arrow says they’d better find him before he pulls some more crazy shit.
- When Green Arrow is bitching about Hal hauling LPG, he says, “Don’t you remember what happened in Spain? Or Mexico?” The Spain reference is to the (real life) Los Alaques disaster, where over 200 people were killed and 200 more were burned. I’m not sure about the Mexico reference; there was an LPG explosion in Mexico in 1984, but I couldn’t find anything in the late 70s.
- If GL was so worried about the charge running out, why didn’t he just recharge the ring in the hospital? Doesn’t he carry the battery everywhere invisibly? He said he was too woozy to stop the LPG leak again with his ring, so maybe he was too out of it to recharge the ring?