Comics Reviews: Flash 274, Wonder Woman 256, Green Lantern 117

Flash 274 coverFlash #274 – “The Mark of the Beast” – Cary Bates/Alex Saviuk/Frank Chiaramonte

You may remember last issue Flash stopped a prison riot that was touched off by the prisoners’ opposition to the Nephron Procedure, an experimental treatment to remove criminal impulses by stimulating the brain. Flash found a whacked-out Clive Yorkin, the only prisoner to volunteer for the Process, in a chair that’s wired to deliver either pleasure or pain to a person’s brain. Turns out Yorkin isn’t strapped in—he sat in the chair voluntarily and he’s been pushing the “pain” button over and over, delivering pure agony to his own nervous system. Flash realizes Yorkin has gone off the deep end and tries to get him out of the chair, but Yorkin goes nuts and tries to strangle the Scarlet Speedster. The experimental treatmentYorkin strong seems to have increased Yorkin’s strength and he starts crushing Flash with his bare hands. Flash tries to vibrate away, but Yorkin somehow matches the vibrations and turns them back on Flash, who he hurls through several floors down to the basement. Dr. Nephron, the procedure’s inventor, comes in to check on his lab and finds Yorkin acting like a lunatic. Yorkin crashes out of the lab, pounding the guards and ripping the doors off the elevator shaft. When Flash gets back to the lab, he finds Dr. Nephron strapped into his own machine with the “pleasure” and “pain” settings cranked to the max. The double dose of neural energy has turned Nephron into a vegetable. Flash wrecks Nephron’s machine and follows Yorkin down the elevator shaft, but the trail ends in the basement, where Yorkin fled into the sewers. The next day, Barry meets with Police Chief Paulson about the drug smugglers that have been using Barry’s lab as a hiding place for the dope. The captain introduces Barry to the Barry meets Curtisbearded dude who’s been tailing him lately; it turns out he’s an undercover cop named Frank Curtis who’s been tailing Barry to see if he’s crooked or not. Curtis has decided Barry’s okay, so Paulson tells them to figure out what to do about the dope ring. At a nearby diner, Curtis tells Barry he knows where the drug ring operates from, but if they tell Paulson and make it official, the crooked cops in the department will get wind of it. Barry is the only person Curtis can trust completely, so he says the two of them have to handle it on their own. A shifty-looking dude is sitting nearby listening to them, and he warns his bosses about the upcoming bust. So when Barry and Curtis get to the smugglers’ hideout (a warehouse, naturally) they find the place has been cleared out. Curtis realizes the gang was tipped and it’s a great place for an ambush, so he and Barry run for the door. Barry actually gets shot, but vibrates so the bullets go throughcatching ambushers him. More ambushers are waiting outside and try to run the two cops down. Curtis shoots one driver and the car almost mows Barry down, but he uses it as a cover to change to Flash. That car crashes into a wall and Flash invades the other car at super-speed, tying up the crooks and bringing the car to a halt before Curtis gets run over. He changes back to Barry and helps Curtis round up the gang. Elsewhere, we see the girl who’s been stalking Flash for the last few issues checking into a motel. Apparently, she’s younger than I thought, only about sixteen, because the manager doesn’t want to give her a room. But she uses her psychic powers on him and when she’s in her room, she uses the fragment of rock she collected from the site of one of Flash’s battles to “tune in” on the speedster. Flash is searching for Yorkin, but is suddenly compelled to change course and head for the motel, just as he was compelled to crash into a brick wall a couple of issues ago. At home, Iris is wondering where Barry is, and worries that he might have lost interest in her. We see a crazed Yorkin lurking outside the window, looking very interested. We’ll have to wait until next issue to see what happens, but I’ll warn you … it’s big!

Noticeable Things:

  • Barry compares himself and Curtis to Starsky and Hutch.
  • Frank Curtis has a slight Punisher vibe, but Punisher wasn’t really big at Marvel yet, so I’m assuming that’s a coincidence. Actually, with the undercover narc angle, the beard, and the name Frank, he makes me think of Serpico more than the Punisher.

Wonder Woman 256 coverWonder Woman #256 – “The Return of the Royal Flush Gang” – Paul Levitz/Jose Delbo/Vince Colletta

This one starts with four members of the Royal Flush Gang stealing some kind of high-tech gizmo from the Johnson Space Center. Wonder Woman confronts them, but they wrap her up in a force field of playing cards (!) and by the time she busts loose, they’re gone. She isn’t too worried about it, figuring they’ll be back. The next day, Diana Prince is having trouble with some differential equations in class and engages in some banter with fellow trainee Mike Bailey. Their supervisor, General Novak, comes in to tell them a fancy new cosmological guidance system is being delivered the next day. Bailey says the guidance system was supposed to be there already and Novak mentions the break-in the night before, saying the thieves only got a mock-up of the real guidance system. He warns everyone the lab is off-limits, which pisses off Stacycard capture Macklin a bit, since it almost sounded like he was accusing them of being in on the break-in. Later, Diana studies the JLA file on the Royal Flush Gang and concludes that this is a different bunch of crooks using the same schtick. She wonders why there were only four members at the break-in (King, Queen, Jack, and Ace), and concludes the Gang must be holding back the fifth member (Ten) for some nefarious reason. We see some official-looking guy on a plane heading for the Space Center, reading a United Nations file on Diana Prince. At the Royal Flush hideout, they get a call from Ten, giving them the info they need to move ahead with their plan. On the JLA Satellite, Wonder Woman returns the Royal Flush Gang file and tells Red Tornado she knows what the Gang is after, but isn’t sure why they want it. The next day, Wonder Woman tags along with a fleet of trucks from the Universal Computer Company delivering stuff to the Space Center. She glides aloft to scope out the scene and runs into the Royal Flush gang. They’re Jack caughtmore maneuverable on their “flying cards” until she calls her Invisible Jet. She plays bullets and bracelets, which drives off most of the Gang. Jack stays behind to rob one of the trucks, but Wonder Woman knocks him out and uses her magic lasso to interrogate him. Soon after, she crashes into the Gang’s hideout, but they’re long gone. Later at the Space Center, Stacy tells Diana the computers have been delivered and the ban on visiting the lab has been lifted. Diana wonders why the Gang would want the guidance system, since it’s only used to navigate in space (or where no other guidance system will work). Mike Bailey invites her into town for dinner but makes a stop at a crappy strip mall to take care of some business. While looking through the mess in Mike’s car, Diana finds some cloth that’s used to wrap microchips and realizes Mike has stolen the guidance system and is Ten from the Royal Flush Gang. She changes tosurprising the Gang Wonder Woman and busts in on the Gang, taking them out (rather anti-climactically) with her tiara and unmasking Mike. She leaves them for the cops and heads out, feeling betrayed by Mike (or maybe feeling stupid for believing in him). Later Starfield complains to General Novak that Bailey being a criminal has put the whole space program in jeopardy. Novak tries to calm him down, but the UN Security guy we saw on the plane earlier (Farley) comes in and says he’s there to investigate Diana Prince. Novak then drops a bombshell: Diana has resigned from the space program and returned to New York … to work for the UN! We’ll see what comes of that next issue.

Green Lantern 117 coverGreen Lantern #117 – “Sight—Of the First and Second Kinds” – Denny O’Neill/Joe Staton/Dave Hunt

This one starts with green Lantern and Green arrow visiting Arkham Asylum; no, they’re not finally committing Ollie, they’re there to talk to Crumbler’s psychiatrist, Dr. Wiltman. She says Crumbler’s particular brand of crazy stems from his father not acknowledging him as a person, and she thinks it might be curable. But GL and Arrow didn’t have much interaction with Crumbler—outside of kicking his ass—so they can’t really help much. Arkham is attacked by the giant eye that Guy Gardner and Green Arrow fought last issue. The eye blasts a hole in the wall, knocking Green Arrow out. GL shores up the ceiling to protect the doctor and goes after the eye. It spews darkness, so GL’s power beams go wild, but he manages to zero in when the eye shoots flames at him. Unfortunately, all he catches is a robot decoy; the eye melts a hole in a wall and takes off with Crumbler. Arrow knows Lantern has other business, so heasylum fight volunteers to look for the eye. He heads back to Star City and goes over the place where he and Guy first encountered the eye. He notices an optometrist’s shop nearby and figures that’s too big a coincidence, so he checks it out. The clerk seems nervous and Arrow notices him reaching under the counter, so he pins him to the wall with an arrow. Turns out he was reaching for an alarm button and Arrow wonders who he was trying to warn. We soon see, as Professor Ojo (the Spanish stereotype from last issue who sent the giant eye) and his assistant Mincher lament the clerk’s cowardice. We see Crumbler is with them and can’t wait to take another shot at Green Arrow. We find out what Green Lantern’s pressing business is: he’s informing Guy Gardner’s girlfriend (Kari Limbo) about his death. She freaks out and blames Lantern, then immediately relents and apologizes, asking him to comfort her. Back in shoot out the lightsStar City, Arrow takes the nervous clerk into the basement of the store, where he finds a high-tech door. Before he can blast it, Professor Ojo activates some intense lights to blind the Emerald Archer. Arrow manages to bust all the lights, since he got enough of a look before being blinding to shoot them out from memory. Ojo retreats into the secure room and seems surprised at Green Arrow’s prowess. Crumbler wants to take him on, but Ojo says he’s not ready yet. But Crumbler may not have a choice, as Arrow blasts through the security door to the hidden room. Elsewhere in Star City, Green Lantern brings Kari Limbo to Dinah Lance’s flower shop and asks Dinah to “look after her” for a while. So I guess Dinah’s a babysitter now? Kari tells them she’s psychic, but not one of those phony psychics you see everywhere, she’s a for-really real psychic. Kari also seems to have some kind of flower fetish. Lantern goes to charge his ring and Dinah comes in to tell him Kari is losing her shit. She’s in a kind of trance, having a vision of danger behind a door somewhere. Naturally, the door turns out to beArrow vs Crumbler the one Green Arrow just blasted. He somersaults through, surprising Crumbler, who recovers enough to pulverize Arrow’s bow. Arrow surprises Crumbler again by punching him out, but when he jumps Professor Ojo, Arrow is the one who gets a shock … Ojo has no eyes! His helmet allows him to see psionically, including remotely, which is how he conks Arrow out even when separated from the helmet. Crumbler is about to disintegrate Green Arrow when GL shows up and pounds him with an emerald fist. Apparently Kari’s psychic power not only warned her of Arrow’s danger (even though she’s never met him before), but led her and GL to the place. Ojo uses his helmet to spew more darkness which GL’s ring can’t penetrate. GL, Arrow, and Kari climb out the hole in the wall while Ojo and the others escape. Arrow is pissed off, but GL vows to track them down and Kari offers to help with her psychic powers. So, they’ve got a new teammate; we’ll see if her powers really are a help next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • We get a Joker and Two-Face cameo when Green Lantern and Green Arrow make their way through Arkham.
  • Crumbler was defeated in Star City, which is on the West Coast, as far as I know. I’m not sure why he’d be incarcerated at Arkham, on the other side of the country. Maybe Arkham is the best, or maybe it’s because they specialize in super-villains.
  • Kari Limbo works through the seven stages of grief pretty damn fast.
  • The lights that blind Green Arrow affect him even though he’s covering his eyes. Ojo says that’s because the lights give off radiation that directly attacks the optic nerve. Okay, whatever.
  • Maybe I’m too used to later “decompressed” comics, where it takes fourteen pages for someone to walk up the stairs, but the pacing of this issue seemsKari meets Green Arrow really rushed. Everything just seems to happen way too fast; GL’s like “Hey, Kari, your boyfriend’s dead … wanna come across the country with me and leave behind whatever life you built here?” And Kari’s cool with that. Then GL is like “Hey Dinah, here’s a woman half-crazed with grief who you’ve never met before … wanna take care of her?” And Dinah’s cool with that. Then Kari’s like “Hey, I totally have psychic powers, so let me join your Scooby Gang even though you know nothing about me and I really should still be recovering from the death of the man I love.” And GL and Ollie are cool with that. I just think it would make more sense if they stretched things out a bit, dropping a few hints and leading up to this over a few issues instead of cramming it all in one.

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