Last issue, Flash ran into his old nemesis Dr. Alchemy, who was back committing crimes again, stealing from the police lab. Flash was disappointed, since Albert Desmond had gone straight, gotten married, and put his criminal past behind him. When Barry went to see Desmond he swore he was innocent, but Desmond’s wife contradicted his alibi and the stolen stuff was found in his garage. He later escaped from police custody, making Flash certain he was guilty. We saw that Desmond was innocent and was being set up by another Al Desmond, who doesn’t look the same but who masqueraded as Desmond well enough to fool everyone. Flash doesn’t know about the second Al Desmond, so he’s out searching Central City for Dr. Alchemy as this story starts. He almost forgets a briefing he’s supposed to give at police headquarters, but shows up only a few minutes late. As Barry Allen, he fills the cops in on Dr. Alchemy’s power to change elements and warns them to be careful. After work, Barry stops by to see his neighbour, Fiona Webb, but she won’t even open the door. In fact, she’s freaking out, accusing Barry of harassing her and saying she’s already talked to the cops about him once. Barry gets the hint and leaves, but is called by another neighbour, Troy. Troy is worried about his dad, Mack, who works at STAR Labs. A news bulletin on TV shows the STAR Labs Building flopped over partway like it had too much to drink. Barry changes to Flash and heads downtown, but by the time he gets there, the building has fallen over even farther and Flash figures Dr. Alchemy must be behind it. All the doors have been welded shut, so Flash has to bust in. He evacuates everyone and finally finds Mack on the top floor, trying to free a colleague from under a fallen shelf. Flash gets them out and Mack tells him they drilled through the wall to see what was up with the building and found the whole steel skeleton of the structure has been turned into rubber. That explains why the building is flopping over … the frame can’t support the weight of the rest of the building anymore. Flash does the old whirlwind trick, pushing the building upright until it flops over the opposite way. He continues going back and forth as the building flops from side to side like a Weeble, until it finally subsides and stays upright. As Flash rests, he’s informed that Dr. Alchemy has robbed a bank three blocks away while the Scarlet Speedster was screwing around with the building. We see the new Dr. Alchemy and his prisoner, the original Al Desmond, in Alchemy’s cave hideout. He tells his counterpart (who’s in some kind of hypnotic trance) his origin story. Apparently, the two Albert Desmonds were born at the exact same moment on opposite sides of the country, making them “psychic twins”. Even though there was no physical resemblance, both of them studied chemistry and had the urge to commit crimes. While Al Desmond Number One became Mr. Element (and later Dr. Alchemy) his counterpart sought therapy for his urges. Eventually, he noticed that his own criminal thoughts subsided whenever Dr. Alchemy was on a crime spree and flared up when Alchemy was acting like a law-abiding citizen. Once Al went straight for good, the other Desmond’s urges overwhelmed him and he used the psychic link to find where Al had hidden his Philosophers Stone. He took the identity of Dr. Alchemy (figuring any crimes he committed would be blamed on Al) and even discovered a new element he calls Desmondium. Desmondium makes people susceptible to hypnosis, which is how Alchemy got Al’s wife to lie about his alibi, and how he’s keeping Al hypnotically enthralled now. Alchemy figures it’s time for him to finish off the Flash, once and for all. Later, Flash hears a report about a mound of burning sulfur in Central City Park; he knows it’s Dr. Alchemy setting a trap for him, but he has to check it out. Sure enough, Alchemy is waiting and blasts Flash with the Philosophers Stone, turning him into water vapour. Alchemy takes off his mask, so Flash can see he’s not the original Dr. Alchemy, then takes off, leaving Flash to dissipate in the breeze. But Flash retains enough control of his molecules to agitate them, heating up until he rises into colder air and forms a cloud. He then precipitates as rain and falls to the ground, reforming into the Flash. It’s comic book science, okay? When Alchemy gets back to the cave, he finds his prisoner is gone; obviously the hypnosis wore off and Al got out while he could. Alchemy isn’t too worried, figuring that if Al goes to the cops they’ll never believe the psychic twin story and will just arrest him again. But Al hasn’t gone to the cops; we see him in a shitty hotel room, donning his old Mr. Element costume. Looks like we’re in for a showdown next issue!
- Barry doesn’t seem put out, or even surprised, when Fiona accuses him of harassment and says she’s told the cops about him. He’s barely spoken to her and they’ve never met face to face except passing in the hall, so obviously something else is going on. You’d think Barry would wonder about it, but maybe he’s just distracted by everything else going on.
- When Barry changes to Flash after leaving Troy’s apartment, he hears a door open and zooms away at super-speed, assuming whoever it was didn’t see him changing. I’m thinking that’s going to be significant in future issues.
- If the steel framework of a building was turned to rubber, wouldn’t the building just collapse under its own weight? And if it did flop back and forth, wouldn’t that be enough to destroy it, especially with the weight of all the stuff inside?
- Apparently Al Desmond has kept his Mr. Element costume in a bus station locker all these years. You know, just in case.
Last issue, Wonder Woman got tired of all the crazy shit going on in Man’s World, so she went home to Paradise Island to renew her spirit. She confided to her mother, Hippolyta, that she was still grieving for her lost love, Steve Trevor. Hippolyta decided to do something to help Diana get over Steve. This issue opens with Hippolyta praying to Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, to remove Diana’s memories of Steve so she can heal and move on with her life. Aphrodite agrees, but says even if Diana’s mind forgets, her soul might not. Aphrodite sends a mist that envelops Diana as she sleeps. Back on the East Coast, a blond Colonel is testing a new jet (the F-38) that’s supposed to make Mach 10. He seems a bit cocky, but takes off in the jet. Hmmm, I think I see where this is going already. On Paradise Island, Diana is out with a couple of fellow Amazons gathering seaweed when their boat is attacked by some kind of water elemental. It capsizes the boat, almost drowning the Amazons, but Diana manages to save them. Before it fades, the elemental addresses them as “intruders”, telling them they’ve already been warned with fire (the Salamander from last issue) and water; the next warning will be with air and will be the last. Elsewhere, the mysterious Colonel gets in trouble when he tries to push his jet to the max and ends up flying into the Bermuda Triangle, frantically calling for help. Off the shore of Paradise Island, the Amazons sail toward an unnatural storm. Their ship is beset by ball lightning, but Diana fends it off and sees a hole in the clouds that looks like a portal. A voice comes from the portal, telling the intruders to leave. Diana jumps through the portal and finds herself in another dimension where she communes with weird energy beings. Turns out these aliens have lived in the Bermuda Triangle (which contains a portal to their home dimension) for millennia but were away for the last few thousand years. When they returned, they found the Amazons there and thought they were trying to invade their turf. Diana explains the Amazons didn’t know about the aliens’ prior claims and since the Amazons have been there for a few thousand years now, the aliens apologize for the misunderstanding and say they can stay for a few thousand more. As the storm dissipates, a jet crashes into the ocean nearby. Diana swims out to rescue the pilot, who turns out to be … you guessed it, Steve Trevor. Thanks to Aphrodite’s spell, Diana doesn’t remember him, but Hippolyta sure does, and she wonders how he can be possibly alive. Good question … we’ll get some answers next issue.
This one starts with Green Lantern saving a kid from a burning building; pretty routine, except the sun suddenly flares up, bathing everything in yellow light and making Green Lantern’s ring useless. Luckily, smoke from the fire obscures the light enough for GL to save the kid. When he returns to Ferris Aircraft, Carol tells him the yellow light wasn’t just a local phenomenon, it was global. She also orders him to test a new pressure suit that’s supposed to be able to handle ten times what the old suits could. GL isn’t happy with Carol’s assignment, figuring he should probably find out what’s affecting the sun before it’s too late. Another flare of yellow light bathes everything and GL charges his ring before heading into space to examine the sun. He finds more than he bargained for, as Evil Star turns out to be behind the recent sun flares. They start fighting and Evil Star uses his Starlings—which are indestructible duplicates of Evil Star—to grab Green Lantern. Evil Star says he’s going to make the sun go nova and wipe out Earth. GL points out that would take years and Evil Star says he planted a device in the sun a long time ago, before he and Green Lantern met and it’s been stimulating the sun ever since. In a minute or so, the sun will go nova and there’s nothing GL can do about it. Naturally, Lantern begs to differ; he breaks free of the Starlings and tackles Evil Star, but they’re too evenly matched and time is running out. GL seems to sacrifice himself when the last solar flare goes off, but it turns out he was faking it and decks Evil Star. Apparently, he put on Carol’s super pressure suit, which protected him from the flare. But he still needs to stop the sun from going nova. He realizes the Starlings are indestructible, so he can use them to destroy the device inside the sun. He tosses the Starlings into the sun, smashing the device just in time. Evil Star is no longer a threat … it seems the sun’s radiation was keeping him young (which is why he wanted it go nova, so he’d have way more energy to feed on) and now that GL has thwarted his scheme, Evil Star has turned old and feeble. GL takes him to Oa for confinement and returns to Earth, telling Carol that her new pressure suit works great under adverse conditions.
“The Trial of Arrkis Chummuck: Evidence” – Bob Toomey/Alex Saviuk/Vince Colletta
This continues from last issue, where a Green Lantern named Arrkis Chummuck is on trial on Oa for murdering a member of a species called Xanshi. Chummuck’s species (Toomeyans) are warlike, and tried to invade Xanshi but were repelled by a Xanshi Green Lantern named Reever. Chummuck (who’s a researcher, not a warrior) figured out how to defeat Reever, but went a little too far and killed him. Before dying, Reever gave Chummuck his GL ring, saying he was worthy of it. Chummuck then admitted to the tribunal that he ate Reever’s corpse, which is his species way of honouring a fallen enemy. His lawyer (who’s also a Xanshi) asks what Chummuck did next. Chummuck says he tested the power ring by flying into the sun, then returned to his home planet (Toomey VI) and went to see the leader. The leader wanted Chummuck’s power ring, but Chummuck refused so the leader and his guards attacked. Chummuck kicked all their asses and after being defeated, the leader did the “honourable” thing and disintegrated himself. Chummuck says the leader’s death can’t be blamed on him, as he was just following custom. Chummuck then admits that if the verdict goes against him, he’ll be dishonoured and compelled to take his own life. We’ll see if he does next issue.
- Evil Star was a scientist on the planet Aoran who developed a weapon called the Star-Band, which is even stronger than the GL power rings but can only be used for evil. He and GL met previously way back in Green Lantern 37 and 44.