Comics Reviews: Flash 286, Wonder Woman 268, Green Lantern 129

Flash 286 coverFlash #286 – “The Color Schemes of the Rainbow Raider” – Cary Bates/Don Heck/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts with Barry Allen leaving the police station rather late. His new captain has been running him ragged, and Barry’s exhausted from all the overtime. But there’s no rest for the weary, as he overhears an alarm call for an art museum downtown. Barry changes to Flash and heads over at super-speed. He’s startled to see a rainbow outside the museum, even though it’s night-time and not raining. Flash finds the museum security guards inside crying their eyes out, but they manage to clue him in to the thief up on the third floor. Flash heads up and meets a new super-villain, Rainbow Raider, who’s stealing a bunch of paintings. Raider tries to shoot Flash with a blue beam and Flash wonders if the beam isFlash gets blasted what caused the weepiness in the guards downstairs (since blue is the traditional colour of sadness). Flash tackles Raider, who uses a mirror to hit the Scarlet Speedster with a black beam that takes the wind out of his sails. When the cops show up a few minutes later, Rainbow Raider is making his escape (riding on a rainbow!) and Flash is nowhere to be found. Flash managed to pull himself together enough to speed home, but he’s afraid to let anyone see him since Raider’s beam has drained all the colour from him, leaving him a ghostly white. Meanwhile, Rainbow Raider has returned to his hideout (a trailer in the woods) and starts recounting his origin to himself … mighty nice of him, since I’m sure we were all wondering. Basically, he had tons of artistic talent but was colour-blind, so he couldn’t take advantage of it, which left him bitter as hell. His father was an optometrist and tried to invent some glasses to make Roy see in colour. When he died, Roy tried the glasses, which didn’t cure his colour-Barry misses out on Fionablindness but did let him shoot beams of various colours. He turned to crime, figuring if he couldn’t appreciate great works of art, neither could anyone else … hence the art thefts. The next morning, Barry’s hot neighbour, Fiona Webb, comes by to drop off some mail that ended up in her box by mistake, but Barry can’t even open the door since he looks like Casper’s twin brother. Barry figures Raider’s black beam must’ve affected him so his body no longer reflects any light (since black absorbs all light), thus leaving him colourless. He uses some of Iris’s old makeup and some peroxide (I don’t even want to know why he has those lying around) to make himself look normal and heads to work. Since Raider’s weird energy is sapping his speed, he doesn’t want to waste his powers running to work, so he gets there late, which Captain Frye isn’t happy about. In the lab, Barry sees a news report about a new art gallery opening and figures Rainbow Raider might show up, so he changes to Flash and zips over. The gallery is in chaos, with all the patrons brawling like kids in a schoolyard; I’m assumingFlash takes out Rainbow Raider Rainbow Raider used an “anger” beam on them (most likely red). Raider is getting away on one of his rainbows when Flash shows up to challenge him. Raider dazzles Flash with a burst of light and the speedster falls toward an auto-wrecking yard. He manages to vibrate before impact and passes through an old green car. When he gets up, he sees that he’s absorbed the colour green from passing through the wreck, and notices that some of his energy has returned. Flash figures he must’ve been vibrating at the exact wavelength of that green car when he passed through it, and quickly starts vibrating at other frequencies and phasing through different-coloured cars. He absorbs more colours and regains more of his lost energy until he’s finally back to normal. Rainbow Raider is watching from above, but his colour-blindness keeps him from realizing what Flash is doing; he thinks Flash has gone nuts and is just running around at random. Raider heads down to blast Flash with his red anger ray, but is shocked when Flash easily evades the beam. Raider finally realizes Flash has his power back, but it’s too late; Flash buries him in dirt and takes his prisma-glasses to render him harmless.

Noticeable Things:

  • Rainbow Raider’s name is Roy G. Bivolo, though he’s only referred to as Roy here; I think that’s the most “on the nose” civilian super-villain name I’ve ever seen.
  • Would colour-blindness really be that much of a hindrance if Roy was as talented as he claims? He could’ve gotten his parents to describe the proper colours to use, or stuck with a monochromatic palette, or went abstract …
  • I gotta say, the final capture of Rainbow Raider is a bit anti-climactic, taking only two panels; Flash just kicks a bunch of dirt on the villain and takes his glasses.

Wonder Woman 268 coverWonder Woman #268 – “Battleground: France” – Gerry Conway/Jose Delbo/Vince Colletta

Last issue, Wonder Woman went to investigate the Cartel, who have been sending assassins after her (among other targets) for a while. She ran into Animal Man, trying to clear his friend of a murder that was actually committed by a Cartel member. They found a Cartel base near Los Angeles, but it was basically abandoned. The Cartel leader, the Prime Planner, was long gone but he left them an invitation to follow him to the Cartel’s back-up base in the south of France. Obviously, it’s a trap, but sometimes you have to walk into the lion’s den. This issue opens with Wonder Woman and Animal Man in civilian clothes (well, swimsuits) on a beach in Marseilles. They’re watching a local crime boss named Krispin, who’s there with his daughter. Buddy isn’t happy with all the sneaking around (though he doesn’t seem to mind rubbingWonder Woman on the beach suntan oil on Diana’s bikini-clad bod), but Diana figures the Cartel will make contact with Krispin sooner or later. Turns out she’s right, but not exactly in the way she thought. A mini-sub rises out of the water and tries to blow Krispin away. Diana quickly changes to Wonder Woman and  plays bullet-and-bracelets with the laser beams. Buddy absorbs the powers of nearby seagulls and goes after the sub, but gets knocked out by the electrified hull. Wonder Woman just manages to snag him with her lasso before the sub disappears under the waves. Wonder Woman figures Krispin won’t want to talk to the cops, so they take off in her invisible jet. The sub returns to the Cartel base (which is inside a way bigger submarine), where the Prime Planner gives them shit for missing Krispin. He introduces the next three assassins: Red Fang, Changeling, and Lumber Jack. I gotta say, these guys look like complete idiots, especially assassins attackLumber Jack. It’s implied that the assassins kill the Cartel members who failed to liquidate Krispin, but that’s not actually shown. Speaking of Krispin, Wonder Woman and Animal Man are at his château, but Krispin’s pretending to be a humble businessman who knows nothing about the Cartel. Wonder Woman uses her lasso to compel the truth from him and he says the Cartel recently told him to turn over his entire outfit to them and leave town because they’re setting up shop in Marseilles. I’m not sure why they didn’t just blow him away and take over, but that does seem to be their plan now, as the three Cartel assassins show up to waste Krispin. Wonder Woman and Animal Man tackle them and A-Man almost gets decapitated by Lumber Jack, but manages to use the power of a nearby mole to burrow to safety. Wonder Woman is knocked out and Changeling uses his power of disguise to grab Krispin’s daughter. They take off with Wonder Woman and the kid, leaving Animal Man to comfort Krispin. AtWonder Woman sinks sub Cartel headquarters, Wonder Woman is brought before the Prime Planner and we finally learn that he’s … Morgan Tracy, Diana’s old boss at the United Nations. He claims to have orchestrated Steve Trevor’s murder, as well as all the other shit that’s gone down lately. Wonder Woman has been faking unconsciousness and tosses her captors around like rag dolls. She grabs Krispin’s daughter and smashes her way out of the sub, leaving it to sink. I was thinking maybe everyone drowned, but we see Tracy in the last panel being arrested, so I assume most of the Cartel members survived. Wonder Woman figures Tracy must’ve gotten the resources to set up the Cartel from somewhere, but says that’s a mystery for another day. I have no idea if that’s ever followed up on.

Noticeable Things:

  • Wonder Woman speaks fluent French … not surprising, I suppose. It is the language of diplomacy.
  • I guess the Cartel assassins are supposed to represent various continents: Gaucho was South America, and Bushmaster was Africa; now we’ve got Changeling for Europe, Red Fang for Asia, and Lumber Jack (who reminds me of Black Jacques Shellac from the old Looney Tunes cartoon) for North America. I’m surprised Australia didn’t have a guy named the Wombat or something. Anyway, I refuse to believe these are the greatest assassins in the world.
  • Another story where the bad guys are defeated in two panels right at the end. Seems like the creators were having pacing problems.

Green Lantern 129 coverGreen Lantern #129 – “The Attack of the Star Sapphire” – Denny O’Neil/Joe Staton/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts with Green Lantern saving the life of a cocky test pilot named Rance Rideout (!), who took a Ferris jet out during a storm. When he lands safely, Carol and Hal Jordan both give him shit for being so reckless. Afterward, Carol reminds Hal that used to act like that and she put up with it, as well as his double identity. Tom mentions Carol’s double identity (as Star Sapphire) to Hal, but he’d rather not think about that. Unfortunately, Fabian (the kid who’s been staying with Carol and who we know is actually Qwardian General Fabrikant) overhears them and figures he can use Carol to get back at Green Lantern for ruining his invasion of Oa. (Fabrikant doesn’t seem to know that Hal Jordan is Green Lantern.) That night, Fabrikant steals the Star Sapphire gem from the museum where it’s kept (shouldn’t something that dangerous be kept somewhere safer?) and uses it to transform Carol back into Star Sapphire. He uses the gem to control her mind and as a test, orders her to kill Hal Jordan. At Hal’s trailer, Rance Rideout shows up drunk to kick Hal’s ass, but Hal notices Star Sapphire approaching. He decks Rance and uses his power ring to burrow to safety underground,Star Sapphire upset just before Star Sapphire blows his trailer to pieces. She goes back to Fabrikant and tells him Hal is dead, so he orders her to kill Green Lantern next. That confuses her (since she knows GL’s secret identity) and when GL shows up, Fabrikant finally figures out that he is Hal Jordan. GL reveals that he knew Fabian was Fabrikant after his ring warned him of danger around the kid. Fabrikant’s uniform turns yellow, so GL can’t hurt him, and he orders Star Sapphire to waste him. She hesitates, torn between Carol’s love for Hal and her own hate for GL, but hate wins out and she tries to blow him away. GL realizes some part of Carol hates him for betraying her (even though she was the one who broke things off), so he’s forced to fight her. Fabrikant clonks GL on the head (who didn’t see that coming?), but for once he’s not knocked out, only stunned. Fabrikant orders Star Sapphire to kill GL, but she hesitates just long enough for him to burrow underground again. GL sends a blast of green energy that stuns both his faking Carol outopponents and when Star Sapphire regains her wits, she’s confronted by Hal Jordan and Green Lantern. She’s confused, but Hal says since she already killed him earlier, all she has to do is waste Green Lantern and she’ll be rid of them both. GL tries to protest, but Star Sapphire blasts him through the wall. Turns out Hal used the energy blast to change back to his civilian identity and disguise Fabrikant with Green Lantern’s costume, so Star Sapphire just blasted Fabrikant. The Qwardian’s uniform kept him from being killed, but he’s unconscious. Hal takes advantage of Carol’s confusion to pull the Sapphire gem off her head, restoring her to normal. Hal imprisons Fabrikant and asks Carol if they can go back to being “friends” like they used to, just for that night. If that means what I think it does … well, this is Denny’s last issue, so maybe he wanted to end things with a bang … so to speak.

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