Comics Reviews: Flash 281, Wonder Woman 263, Green Lantern 124

Flash 281 coverFlash #281 – “Deadly Games” – Cary Bates/Don Heck/Frank Chiaramonte

You’ll remember last issue Barry finally dealt with Clive Yorkin, the crazed prison escapee who Barry thought responsible for the murder of his beloved wife, Iris, by accidentally burying him in a sinkhole. But at the end of the issue, Barry got a call from his friend, Detective Frank Curtis, who told him he had proof that Yorkin wasn’t the one who killed Iris. Before Frank could elucidate, Barry heard what sounded like a gunshot. This issue opens a moment later, with Barry wondering what’s going on at the other end of the line. Frank doesn’t answer Barry’s frantic pleas and all he can hear is a big clock chiming in the background. We see that Frank is down, apparently shot by some thugs … but Frank’s just faking it and he whips a gun from his ankle holster and wastes two of theFlash saves Frank thugs. Frank grabs some cover as another gunman opens up with an SMG, but the shooter manages to flank him. They blast each other and Frank takes a burst across the chest. Before the remaining two thugs can confirm his death, Flash shows up; Barry recognized the chimes over the phone line as belonging to the big clock tower in Central City Square. Flash gets pissed off when he sees Frank lying in the Square and starts clapping his hands. Yup, you heard me … Flash claps like he’s at a concert. But his high-speed applause sets up shockwaves that blow the two gunmen right off their feet, as well as destroying their cars. Flash checks on Frank and he’s not dead, thanks to the bulletproof vest he’s been wearing for the past few issues. One of the bullets did go through Frank’s shoulder, so Flash takes him to the hospital (disguised in a suit he borrows at high speed from a department store mannequin). Later, we see one of the Paulson gets nervousmasterminds behind the whole mess freaking out that Frank’s body disappeared from the scene after he was shot. It turns out to be Chief Paulson, Barry’s boss in the police department, which is somewhat surprising, though not a complete shock if you’ve been paying attention to the clues. Paulson says his thugs won’t get paid until he has positive proof that Frank Curtis is dead. Right after he hangs up, Barry walks in and Paulson almost shits a brick. He tries to play it cool, but he’s sweating like a pig, and shaking worse than a dog shitting razor blades. Barry informs him that Frank is still alive and that the latest hit must just be part of the whole scheme. Barry and Frank were getting too close to whoever’s running the heroin smuggling racket inside the department, so they were targeted. Paulson congratulates Barry and asks him to keep him up to date. After Barry leaves, Paulson freaks because he assumes Barry overheard his phone conversation. We learn that Paulson is working for a mysterious guy named Mr. Zyx. Zyx won’t be happy that Paulson bungled another hit, so Paulson calls his wife and tells her to get ready to take a long trip. At Barry’s place, Frank shows him video of the night Irisvideo murder was killed; apparently, the guy who owns the mansion is paranoid, so he has cameras everywhere. The footage shows Iris (dressed as Batgirl because it was a costume party), encountering Yorkin. But Yorkin doesn’t get close enough to lay a hand on her. Instead, they both stare at someone—or something—behind Iris, and Iris ends up keeling over even though nobody touches her. Yorkin’s attention never wavers from whoever is off camera (behind the door) and when Barry staggers in to find Yorkin standing near Iris’s body, Yorkin freaks and jumps out he window. Barry feels like shit, knowing that Iris’s killer is still out there. He watches the footage over and over, trying to figure out some clue to what really happened. Something in the video nags at him, like it’s something he should be seeing but can’t quite figure out. His ruminations are interrupted by the report of a gun battle at the old Coleman Milk Factory. Flash gets there to find some cops exchanging gunfire with thugs, but before he can act, the cops Zoom taunts Flashget turned upside down so fast they don’t even know what’s going on. But Flash can see it’s his old foe, Reverse-Flash aka Professor Zoom. Zoom taunts Flash to chase him, which the Scarlet Speedster does after pounding the gunmen. But however fast Flash runs, Zoom stays ahead of him, except when he allows Flash to catch up so he can taunt him some more. Flash eventually feels exhausted, like his legs are made of rubber, and he collapses in the middle of the Sahara Desert. Turns out Zoom was just fucking with him, using future science to stay ahead until Flash wore himself out. Now Zoom slaps some heavy gravity boots on Flash’s feet, which triple their weight every split-second, dragging Flash down into the sand. Zoom mentions that he knows who killed Iris—since he comes from the future—but refuses to tell Flash, since it would be cruel to tell him the truth now that he’s helpless to do anything about it. Who really killed Iris, and will Zoom reveal the truth? We’ll see next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • I’m not sure why Barry borrowed the department store clothing to drop Frank at the hospital; he says there’d be awkward questions if Barry Allen or Flash brought the wounded cop to the ER, but I don’t see why. Doesn’t Flash do that sort of thing all the time?
  • Paulson assumes Barry overheard his conversation on the phone, but Barry gives no real indication that he has. He might be playing it cool to freak Paulson out, or maybe he really didn’t hear Paulson and doesn’t even know he’s involved.
  • The whole “gunfight at the Milk Factory” comes out of nowhere, but will supposedly be explained in a future issue.
  • Zoom says he “reversed polarity” on his super-speed aura, so whenever Flash approached him, he just pushed Zoom farther away. Sounds like those video games where the opponent you’re racing gets farther away the faster you go.
  • I’m sure we’re all thinking the same thing … Paulson’s boss, the mysterious Mr. Zyx, is Zoom.

Wonder Woman 263 coverWonder Woman #263 – “The Power and the Pampas” – Gerry Conway/Jose Delbo/Vince Colletta

Last issue, a secret cabal of criminals sent Bushmaster to kill Wonder Woman for interfering with their attempts to kill a UN diplomat. Naturally, Wonder Woman pounded Bushmaster, and this issue starts with her bringing him to a hospital. Apparently, when she tried to interrogate the assassin with her magic lasso, he swallowed a couple of capsules—disguised as fake teeth—to wipe his memory so he couldn’t spill anything about his employers. And it worked; the doctor confirms that Bushmaster has some kind of chemical-induced amnesia—though she stresses he doesn’t have brain damage. Wonder Woman is disappointed, but there’s nothing she can do. We see the control room of the cabal, where the Prime Planner—his face always hidden from our view—watches a costumed operative named El Gaucho take on some armed opponents. Gaucho’s schtick is that he dresses like a South American cowboy (hence theGaucho practices name) and uses high-tech versions of traditional weapons like guns, lariat, and bolas. Gaucho passes the test and Prime Planner says they have a job for him in Washington, D.C. One of the other minions asks about Wonder Woman and Prime Planner says the Washington assignment is top priority at the moment, but they’ll take care of Wonder Woman soon enough. At the UN Building in New York, Diana Prince ponders the increased security before meeting with her (potential) new boss, Dr. Fischer. Fischer says she’s just been appointed to oversee a UN International Relief Fund and wants Diana to be her aide. Diana mentions her background is in security, but she’s a bit disillusioned with that at the moment. Fischer urges her to consider the position, saying she’ll be perfect for it. Before Diana can make her mind up, they’re interrupted by Diana meets her bossFarley, the UN Security guy Diana used to work with. They didn’t part on amicable terms, and Farley’s still a dick. He mentions Diana’s file was stolen by Bushmaster (which he finds suspicious), but says he had a copy in his office. When he checked Diana’s background details, it turns out all her qualifications are bullshit. Diana says if she takes Fischer’s job, she’ll answer Farley’s questions … otherwise, he can go to hell. Farley’s questions get Diana wondering what kind of files the government has on her, so she heads to Washington to check out the National Archives. Coincidentally, Gaucho is in Washington, getting chased by a couple of jets from Andrews AFB. He downs the fighters and heads for the Capitol Building. Wonder Woman is getting the runaround at the Archives and notices one of the fighters Gaucho disabled about to crash into the city. She telepathically commands her invisible jet to catch the plane and land it safely. TheWW captured pilot tells her about Gaucho and she sees his flying horse heading for the Capitol. Gaucho’s target is a Senator, but Wonder Woman uses her tiara to intercept the assassin’s explosive bolas. She tries to lasso him but misses, and Gaucho uses his lariat to snare her. He says this is his chance to redeem Bushmaster’s failure to defeat a “mere woman” and drags her off into the sky. We’ll see how Wonder Woman fares against this South American sexist next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • Diana wonders about the intrusiveness of all the security scans she has to go through, and says children will grow up thinking that body and luggage searches are normal. Remember, this was written in 1980, so Gerry was well ahead of his time. Diana also gets a little Minority Report, as she wonders when body searches will turn into mind searches.
  • The guy at the National Archives says Wonder Woman needs a court order to see the files on herself, according to the Freedom of Information Act. Is that really how it works? I always assumed you just walked in and asked to see your file and they had to show it to you.

Green Lantern 124 coverGreen Lantern #124 – “The Secret of Sinestro” – Denny O’Neil/Joe Staton/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts with Green Lantern arriving at the dedication of a new museum. Things are still tense with Green Arrow because Lantern wouldn’t let him help rescue Guy Gardner from Qward last issue. As GL changes into Hal Jordan, we see things are no less relaxed between Hal and his employer, Carol Ferris. She reminds him that they aren’t dating anymore and that the only reason she hired him back to work at Ferris is because he’s a great pilot. Tom Kalmaku is there too for some reason and reminisces with Hal. Just as the museum is being opened, Sinestro shows up and starts blasting the shit out of it. Hal changes back to Green Lantern and rescues everyone from the museum, but the damage Sinestro caused is enough to bring the whole building down. GL says he’ll track Sinestro down and make him pay; he decides to start on Sinestro’s home planet of Korugar. He rejects Green Arrow’s offer of help again, makingmuseum attack Tom wonder if that’s the end of their friendship. GL says they just need a break from each other. I guess even the greatest bromance can’t last forever. GL heads through a space warp to Korugar, landing outside the main city so as not to attract too much attention. He uses his ring to summon the Green Lantern of Korugar’s space sector, Katma Tui. He explains his presence and Katma says Korugarian law forbids her from attacking Sinestro unless he actively harms Korugar or its citizens. She does tell GL that Sinestro’s father operates a null chamber—which is something like an opium den on Earth—outside the city. GL goes to check it out and finds dozens of Korugarians having their life forces drained by yellow beams. Apparently “tasting death” is the ultimate pleasure for a Korugarian, so they pay to have themselves drained almost to death, then revived. Before GL can ask about Sinestro, he’s seized by GL grabbedthe yellow energy, which starts draining his life force. The proprietor turns out to be Sinestro himself, disguised as his own father (who’s also a victim of the life-draining energy). GL starts seeing images of Carol and Kari Limbo—two women he loved—and Sinestro tells him it’s part of the process and that he should enjoy it as his life gets closer to its end. GL keeps Sinestro talking as he sends out an SOS in Morse Code with his ring. Sinestro raves on about how he hates the Guardians so he’s striking at GL, just as he destroyed the museum because he hates GL. Lantern says Sinestro is nuts, which makes Sinestro decide to finish him off right then. But Katma shows up and destroys the null ray machine, freeing everyone from its power. Sinestro is ready to waste her, but GL returns the rescue by using the same technique he did last time he fought Sinestro … he beats the shit out of him. GL’s relentless pounding keeps Sinestro from concentrating long enough to use his ring, but before Lantern can finish him, one of the null ray addicts runs into him, giving Sinestro time to teleport away—most likelypounding Sinestro back to Qward. GL thanks Katma for rescuing him, though she points out that his SOS meant nothing to her (since she’s not from Earth and doesn’t know Morse Code) but it attracted her attention. She asks why he didn’t just use the ring to summon her like he did when he first arrived, and Lantern admits he was thinking in Earth terms. He gives her a kiss to thank her and she says despite her appearance, she’s not like Earth women so the kiss is meaningless to her. Considering that she later has a romance with John Stewart, I figure she’s bullshitting here … though Denny might’ve meant it to be sincere at the time. I don’t know if Denny was planning to leave at this point (I think his last issue is #129), but this whole issue seems like it could be setting up his departure by getting things back to the status quo (Hal back at Ferris, Arrow gone, Tom back) and setting the stage for whoever takes over.

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