Comics Reviews: Flash 292, Wonder Woman 274, Green Lantern 135

Flash 292 coverFlash #292 – “Mirror, Mirror, Off the Wall” – Cary Bates/Don Heck

This one starts with Barry Allen and Fiona Webb on a date at the carnival. Fiona seems to have gotten over her negative feelings toward Barry, and (judging by the smooching they do in the House of Mirrors) Barry’s over Iris as well. But the fun is interrupted when Barry sees the face of Joe Scudder (aka his old enemy Mirror Master) in one of the mirrors. Scudder telepathically recaps an encounter between himself and Flash the previous day, where he tricked Flash into stepping into some “mirror puddles” which blew up. Not only did the explosion allow Mirror Master time to escape, but it planted a hypnotic suggestion in Flash’s mind to visitfatso Flash the carnival’s House of Mirrors to receive Scudder’s telepathic message. (Since Scudder isn’t really there, he can’t see Barry, so Flash’s secret identity is safe.) Fiona gets pissed off because Barry is distracted by the message (which she’s unaware of, naturally) and storms out. That night, Flash zooms all over town looking for Mirror Master, then finally returns to the carnival. Mirror Master is waiting for him in the House of Mirrors and somehow turns Flash’s body into one of the distorted reflections, making the Scarlet Speedster unnaturally tall and thin. Flash still has his speed, but Mirror Master phases inside a mirror, leaving Flash to smash into it, since he doesn’t know the proper vibratory frequency to enter the “mirror dimension”. Flash has now turned short and fat, and decides to quit fucking around. He shatters all the mirrors at super-speed, but Mirror Master has disappeared. Flash’s body is back to normal, so he figures the earlier coffee problemtransformations were just illusions. But when he heads for home, he’s so wobbly he almost crashes. Even trying to change clothes at super-speed is a challenge, like he’s having an attack of vertigo or something. He assumes it has something to do with Mirror Master’s manipulations and decides he’d better go home and get some rest. The next day, Fiona comes over to apologize for freaking out at him. As she’s pouring some coffee, Barry notices the coffee pot lid coming off and tries to replace it at invisible super-speed, but his coordination is still shot to hell. Fiona ends up with coffee all over her dress and storms out (again). Barry realizes he hasn’t recovered from whatever Mirror Master did, a fact that becomes even more obvious as he wobbles his way to work at super-speed. After slipping and falling on his ass, he sees his reflection in a puddle and figures out what’s going on. Before he can decide what to do, he sees a TV broadcast in a nearby store window about MirrorFlash tests the mirrors Master stealing a huge reflecting mirror from a telescope and holding it for ransom. Flash heads back to the carnival, where all the mirrors have just been replaced (courtesy of the city, since Flash is the one who broke them). Flash realized Mirror Master somehow reversed his very being, which explains why his coordination is off … he’s basically backward to what he should be. He figured it out when he noticed his reflection—his chest symbol was pointing the right way instead of being reversed, which means it already was reversed on his chest. He figures if he can find the right vibrational frequency to enter the mirror dimension, he can get back to normal. After a lot of trial-and-error (and a lot of broken mirrors), he gets the right frequency and crosses into the mirror dimension and when he returns, he’s back to his old self. He takes off, leaving the carnival owner to freak out over Flash races the heat raythe newly broken mirrors. Flash finds Mirror Master with the giant mirror on top of a nearby mountain. Turns out Mirror Master wasn’t really trying to hide, since he knows Flash is incapacitated. He turns the mirror to catch the sun and directs the reflected beam toward Central City, where it’ll burn down an office building. Normally, Flash would have no trouble outrunning the beam, but in his present condition … But it turns out Flash pasted a fake symbol on his chest to make Mirror Master think he was still reversed. He decks the villain and races to Central City, grabbing some silver paint on the way. He slops the paint over the building just before the deadly beam strikes, reflecting it harmlessly into the sky. Let’s hope no planes are flying past at that moment. The next day, Barry and Fiona (yes, they made up) go back to the carnival and find a sign on the House of Mirrors saying everyone is welcome … except the Flash.

Noticeable Things:

  • The telescope mirror that Mirror Master steals is said to be 404 inches (!) and comes from the telescope on Mount Malomar.
  • I’m not sure why reversing Flash’s body would reverse the symbol on his chest; his clothes really shouldn’t have been affected.
  • When Flash is racing to beat the beam to the office building, the captions talk about how many hundredths-of-a-second have elapsed, but I think light moves a bit faster than that.

Firestorm jumped by HyenaFirestorm – “The Hostages of Precinct 13” – Gerry Conway/George Perez/Bob Smith

This one starts right where last issue left off, with Hyena going nuts and attacking Firestorm. They tumble off the roof and Firestorm gets knocked around, barely managing to save himself from splattering. Hyena is weird; she hates criminals with a passion, but also has some kind of deep-seated hate for law-and-order types like Firestorm … and cops. So she gets distracted during the fight and heads into the nearest police station to wreak havoc (or maybe that’s where she was going in the first place when Firestorm jumped her). She takes the desk sergeant hostage, threatening to disembowel him ifHyena wastes robbers Firestorm doesn’t get a TV news crew there fast. Firestorm has no choice and when the reporters arrive, Hyena rants about how useless and corrupt the cops are. When a call comes in about a robbery nearby, Hyena gets distracted again, leaving the police station to go after the criminals. Firestorm follows and gets the store owners to safety, which gives Hyena time to slice up the would-be robbers. Hyena takes off before Firestorm can stop her, but he vows this will be the last time he lets her get away.

Noticeable Things:

  • I’ve been referring to Hyena with female pronouns because I know who she really is, but in the story everyone assumes she’s male, and addresses her that way.

Wonder Woman 274 coverWonder Woman #274 – “One Super-Villain: Made to Order” – Gerry Conway/Jose Delbo/Dave Hunt

This one starts with Wonder Woman swooping in to save an oil tanker that’s spewing crude into Chesapeake Bay. She puts out a fire on the ship’s deck and then seals the rip in the hull (by pushing the torn sides together and pressure-sealing them … okay, whatever.) A yacht pulls up full of environmental activists, including the yacht’s owner, a young woman named Debbi Domaine. Debbi is with a group called OES (Organization for Ecological Sanity), which I guess is something like Greenpeace. They film ecological disasters to get the word out about their cause. Debbi offers to let Wonder Woman use he shower on the yacht and tells her about how she used to hang out at her aunt’s place as a kid, and once found a bird covered in oil that later died. So now she’s an activist. Wonder Woman thanks herDebbi in trouble for the shower and Debbi heads back to Washington, where she gets a letter from her aunt. Her aunt is dying and wants to see Debbi one last time, at the old house Debbi was telling Wonder Woman about. Some coincidence, huh? Wonder Woman heads to the Pentagon, where she changes to Diana Prince to attend a meeting with General Darnell about funding a solar-powered city. Darnell likes the presentation, but says he’d like to discuss it over dinner. Diana agrees, even though Wonder Woman already has a date with Steve Trevor tonight. Hmmm, I think we’re going to see some secret identity hijinks. Debbi arrives at her aunt’s house, unaware that someone is watching the place. Debbi’s aunt turns out to be Priscilla Rich (a name that should be familiar to Wonder Woman fans) and Priscilla isn’t too happy that Debbi showed up. She seems to know the place is under surveillance and tries to new Cheetahwarn Debbi to get out before “he” finds her there. The strain is too much and Priscilla dies, which freaks Debbi out so much she stumbles back into the closet, knocking herself out. A familiar spotted costume falls out of the closet onto Debbi, and the last thing she sees is a guy coming into the room. The guy also wears a somewhat familiar costume, looking quite … serpentine. Debbi is taken someplace and tied up, then shown disturbing images of ecological disasters, like a milder version of A Clockwork Orange. The endless parade of atrocities is too much and her mind starts to go. Diana has managed to arrange both dates for the same restaurant at the same time, but she still has to change back and forth between identities. Meanwhile, Debbi’s transformation is complete. She’s become the avenger of wronged nature, the saviour of oppressed animal-kind, she’s … the Cheetah! We’ll see the new Cheetah’s first fight with Wonder Woman next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • There’s a bit more political commentary than usual in this story. Wonder Woman talks about how stupid people are for depending on fossil fuels, and Debbi remarks that most male environmentalists are just in it for the chicks. I’m thinking those might be Gerry Conway’s opinions leaking through.
  • The mastermind behind Debbi’s transformation isn’t quite revealed at the end, but he’s wearing a snake-shaped cowl and sitting on a snake-shaped throne, to it’s not hard to guess who he is.
  • Priscilla Rich was the original Cheetah, who fought the Earth-2 Wonder Woman back in the Golden Age. I’m not sure if this Priscilla is supposed to be the same one, or an Earth-1 counterpart.

Power Girl madHuntress – “The Speaker in the Shadows” – Paul Levitz/Joe Staton/Steve Mitchell

This one stats with Power Girl in District Attorney Harry Sims’ office, giving him shit about his proposed crackdown on costumed vigilantes. Huntress comes in to calm Power Girl down and they leave, but something in Huntress’s demeanor has triggered a memory in Harry … he realizes she’s really Helena Wayne, his fellow attorney. As Helena and Karen Starr (Power Girl’s civilian identity) have lunch, they hear a bulletin that Sims has canceled his plans to crack down on super-heroes, with no explanation why. Helena is curious, but Karen figures they should just chalk it up as a win. At Helena’s office, they’re almost run over by the receptionist, Carole, who’s in a hurry to go somewhere. Carole heads to the park to pay off a blackmailer, something we’ve seen hints of in earlier stories. The blackmailer leaves Carole for another clandestine meeting … with Harry Sims. The blackmailer turns outPG and Huntress fight thieves to be the JSA’s old foe, the Thinker, and he’s got some kind f deal with Sims. Thinker’s not happy that Sims has pulled back the anti-vigilante measures he was supposed to enact. Thinker has an elaborate plan in place, and warns Sims he’ll be a dead man if that plan is upset. At that moment, Thinker’s men are starting a fire at an engraving plant so they can sneak in and steal the plates for a number of currencies and bonds. Power Girl and Huntress interrupt them and capture the thieves quite easily, but are startled to realize they’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. The entire city is being overwhelmed by a massive crime wave.

Green Lantern 135 coverGreen Lantern #135 – “Doctor Polaris Conquers the Universe” – Marv Wolfman/Joe Staton

Over the last couple of issues, Dr. Polaris trapped Green Lantern at the North pole, stole his ring, and is using it to enslave people in order to take over the universe. No thinking small for him. GL managed to escape and make his way back to California, where he asked Tom Kalmaku to help against Polaris. The two of them slip into a crowd that Polaris is draining energy from with GL’s stolen ring. Apparently, Polaris has found a way to drain magnetic energy from the people he’s enslaved, and thinks if he can drain enough energy it’ll make him all-powerful. Because of his close proximity, Hal Jordan can exert enough will power over the ring to keep himself and Tom from being hypnotized, but it turns out Polaris is just screwing with him … he knew Hal was there all along. Polaris enslaves TomGL fights Dr. Polaris and forces him (and other bystanders) to attack Hall. Hal has brought a device that Bruce Gordon (who works at Ferris Aircraft) whipped up for him, but he has to fight off the mesmerized crowd and Polaris’s ring-based weapons. Hal finally triggers the device, which bathes him in yellow solar energy, rendering him immune to the ring’s power. Polaris apparently doesn’t know about the ring’s weakness (I thought everyone knew that?), so he’s taken aback at first. But he gets his shit together and uses his own magnetic powers to rain meteorites down at Hal. Just as Hal is about to be crushed, Polaris saves him, saying he wants Hal to see his ultimate triumph. Polaris has been absorbing the magnetic energy from his enslaved followers and using it to make himself more powerful. Polaris says there’s a great magnetic core, a “universal glue” that holds the cosmos together. (GL says Einstein mentioned the universal glue in his research … I wonder if that’s the Unified polaris gets more than he bargained forField Theory?) If Polaris can tap into the core, he can become powerful enough to rule the universe. GL is afraid Polaris’s tampering with a fundamental force of the universe might destroy reality, so he uses his will power to (telekinetically) take back his ring while Polaris is distracted. GL tackles Polaris and they duel back and forth in hyperspace. Polaris sees the magnetic core he’s been seeking, but before he can try to absorb its power, GL pushes Polaris into the core. Polaris ends up being absorbed and turns into pure magnetic force … which, in a way, is kinda what he wanted all along. He is basically a fundamental force of the universe now. With Polaris gone, all his victims recover, and GL grabs Tom, telling him it’s time to find out what happened to Carol. Of course, we know she (and her parents) were kidnapped and spirited overseas, probably by the same guy who’s been sabotaging Ferris Aircraft. But will GL figure that out? We’ll see, next issue.

2 thoughts on “Comics Reviews: Flash 292, Wonder Woman 274, Green Lantern 135”

  1. Don Heck was a really good artist who was not especially suited to drawing super-heroes. Almost any other genre — horror, mystery, sci fi, romance, war, Westerns — and he could do incredible work. I think this is amply demonstrated here. By far the best page from this issue that you have a scan of is the one with Barry, Fiona, and the spilled coffee.

    On the other hand, I love Joe Staton’s work on anything and everything. His art for both the Huntress & Power Girl back-up story and the Green Lantern series here is wonderful.

    1. Yeah, I think Heck’s romance roots show through in the way he draws civilians; he usually makes women look great, which is why I generally liked him on stuff like Wonder Woman. You’re right about his super-hero work, especially on teams … he’s no George Perez, that’s for sure.

      I really like Staton’s Huntress stuff and his Legion work is pretty good too, but some of his other work seems a bit … scratchy? Blocky? I don’t know what the precise term is, but it doesn’t always work for me. I think the inker has a lot to do with it, and there’s definitely a difference when Staton inks himself.

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