Comics Reviews: Flash 293, Wonder Woman 275, Green Lantern 136, Jonah Hex 44

Flash 293 coverFlash #293 – “The Pied Piper’s Paradox Peril” – Gerry Conway/Don Heck

This one starts with Pied Piper playing a tune by a fountain in downtown Central City. Flash happens by and removes the musical miscreant by carrying him away from the crowd on a waterspout. Piper protests that playing music in public isn’t a crime, and that he’s actually doing the people a service. Piper claims his playing is keeping wild elephants from stampeding through the downtown area. Flash figures he’s nuts, but a herd of elephants does come clomping down the street toward the crowd. Flash removes all the people from danger at super-speed, then uses friction to melt the pavement, causing the pachyderms to stick to the street like mammoths in a tar pit. Pied Piper points out that he didn’t summon the elephants, they only appeared after he stopped playing. He adds that more elephants are on the way and will do untold damage before Flash can stopelephant rampage them … unless the city pays Piper to lead the elephants away. So I guess he’s going back to basics. Flash is sure Piper is scamming the city, but officials can’t take the chance, so they write Piper a check for $250,000 just as another herd of elephants appears. Piper uses his music to calm the beasts and lead them away. Flash is certain Piper will try the same scam again, since it worked so well the first time, and vows to be ready. Sure enough, a few nights later, Pied Piper shows up downtown playing his music again. Flash zips to the police lab where he stashed a bunch of wind instruments and plays each one at super-speed to disrupt Piper’s music. Flash figures Piper must be using subsonic frequencies to control the animals, but can’t figure out how he generates them when he stops playing. Flash gets an idea and grabs Piper’s ostrich attackpipe, tinkers with it, and replaces it … all so fast that Piper doesn’t even notice. This time when Piper stops playing, a herd of ostriches shows up, rampaging down the street. Flash tells Piper the town will pay anything to get rid of the birds, but when Piper tries to send them away, the ostriches attack him. Flash says he’ll save Piper if he returns the money; Piper has no choice, so Flash pulls the birds out of town in a high-speed slipstream, then returns to grab Piper. Flash tells the crook that he realized Piper was using the pipe keys to send subsonic signals to the animals without actually blowing on it. So Flash altered his pipe so that the sub-sonics would draw the ostriches to Piper instead of driving them away.

“The Fastest Deadliest Man Alive” – Gerry Conway/George Perez/Rodin Rodriguez

This one starts with Flash zooming over the ocean’s surface, causing a sonicFlash blasted by Atomic Skull boom. The shock wave goes up in the air and hits Superman Island, the floating prison for super-villains. Flash realizes his sonic boom might’ve caused trouble on Superman Island, so he hitches a ride on a jetliner to check it out. When he reaches the orbiting prison, he’s knocked out by a brain blast from Atomic Skull. Apparently, Flash’s sound wave disrupted Atomic Skull’s cage long enough for him to escape and knock out the guard. Skull says he’s going to find some radioactive material to increase his powers, and tells Flash the brain blast he gave him has infected him with radiation and he’ll soon be dead. Skull takes off (though I’m not sure how he got down from the high-flying Island) and Flash figures Firestorm might be able to absorb the radiation in his body. We see firestorm trying to talk a jumper down from the Empire State Building, but he ends up scaring the guy into falling. Firestorm saves Firestorm blasts Atomic Skullhim, although Professor Stein gives Ronnie shit for being so impulsive. Firestorm sees Flash zipping around the city, leaving a glowing trail that spells “Firestorm Help Me”. Firestorm absorbs the deadly radiation, but the influx overwhelms his system and he starts acting like he’s drunk. Flash figures Firestorm should expel the excess radiation and thinks he can use it against Atomic Skull. Skull is in Colorado, digging up uranium to absorb. Flash buries the uranium and dodges Skull’s angry blasts. Flash needs Firestorm to hit Skull with a dose of his own radiation, but Firestorm’s still out of it, so Flash mouths off to get him mad. When firestorm takes a shot at Flash, the speedster dodges and it hits atomic Skull, knocking him out. Firestorm is fine, though a bit “hung over”.

Wonder Woman 275 coverWonder Woman #275 – “Claws of the Cheetah” – Gerry Conway/Jose Delbo/Dave Hunt

This one starts with Cheetah (the new one from last issue) attacking Hampstead Dam in Maryland and wrecking it. The resulting flood wipes out the town below. The next day, Diana and Etta are talking about their noisy downstairs neighbour when a General named Riger storms out of Steve Trevor’s office. Apparently, Steve convinced Riger to use Defense Department tech in Hampstead Dam and now that he dam is wrecked, Riger says he’s not taking the shit for it. Steve tells Diana they’re going to look at what’s left of the dam. When they check it out, Steve realizes someone must’ve burst the dam on purpose. Diana changes to Wonder Woman to rescue people from what remains of Hampstead and sees Cheetah zipping around in a speedboat. At first, Wonder Woman assumes this is the original Cheetah, but soon recognizes her as Debbi Domaine, theWonder Woman meets Cheetah environmental crusader she met last issue. They fight and Wonder Woman is tossed overboard, and gets knocked out. Cheetah assumes she’s dead and keeps her lasso as a trophy. Cheetah takes off, intending to report to her new “master”, who opened her eyes to her mission to destroy anyone who abuses the planet. Steve pulls Wonder Woman out of the water and she’s fine. Steve doesn’t seem to have noticed Diana’s disappearance just as Wonder Woman showed up; I guess he’s pretty, but not too bright. Steve shows her a report about the original Cheetah’s death, which confirms Wonder Woman’s suspicion that Debbi has taken over the mantle. Wonder Woman leaves (since without her lasso, she can’t magically change back to Diana Prince … you’d think Steve would really notice that Diana never came back) and heads home. Etta almost catches her changing back to civilian clothes and Diana blows off her Wonder Woman vs Cheetah round 2supper plans, which causes Etta to react like a put-upon wife. Don’t tell me she’s not in love with Diana. Diana goes to the marina and searches Debbi’s yacht, where she finds her lasso and changes back to Wonder Woman just before Cheetah walks in. Cheetah starts raving about her Master, who warned her Wonder Woman wasn’t really dead. Cheetah says she’ll make sure this time and attacks. She so pissed off that she doesn’t notice the yacht is about to be run down by a ferry. The yacht blows up and Wonder Woman searches for Cheetah, but can’t find her. She vows to find Cheetah’s Master, who filled her head with such bullshit. We see the “master”, who turns out to be Kobra, and he’s vowing to kill Wonder Woman for disrupting his plans again. We’ll see if he succeeds next issue.

Huntress – “The Thinking Man’s Crime” – Paul Levitz/Joe Staton/SteveHuntress and Power Girl fight crime wave Mitchell

Last issue, we saw Thinker making some kind of deal with District Attorney Harry Sims to crack down on costumed crimefighters. But when Sims figured out that Huntress was his fellow attorney Helena Wayne, he dropped the anti-vigilante crusade. Thinker unleashed a crime wave in Gotham, which Huntress and Power Girl are now fighting. They pound dozens of crooks, with help from the cops, but the cops aren’t as grateful as you’d expect; they tell the heroes to make themselves scarce, since Sims’ anti-superhero legislation is still up in the air. Power Girl is pissed off (especially since the cop was kind of condescending), but Huntress defends Sims, saying he might have a good reason for his stance. In Sims’ office, we see Thinker gloating about his Huntress and Power Girl save Simssuccess influencing the city’s criminals to go on a rampage … though he admits he can only force people to do what they’re already predisposed to do. Thinker is pissed off that Sims reversed his stance on superheroes, but Sims says he won’t legislate against vigilantes so Thinker can have carte blanche to run his schemes. Thinker uses his powers to give Sims a mild heart attack as a warning, then leaves. Helena is waiting to see Sims, but his secretary says nobody is allowed in today. Helena changes to Huntress and calls Power Girl so they can confront Sims about his anti-superhero crap. They see Sims leaning out his window like he’s getting ready to jump, and it turns out he really is considering it as a way to get out from under Thinker’s thumb. Sims changes his mind, but has more chest pains and falls out the window anyway. He’s caught by Power Girl and Huntress, who he addresses as Helena, letting her know he’s figured out her secret.

Green Lantern 136 coverGreen Lantern #136 – “Space Ranger Strikes Back” – Marv Wolfman/Joe Staton

This one starts in the year 5708, where a group of Solarites are being attacked by Gordanians. They desperately need help and decide to bring Green Lantern from the past to help them, as he’s done several times before. One of them (Iona Vane) is against bringing GL to the future, since there’s no guarantee they can return him to his own time. (She also has the hots for GL, but he always loses his memory when returning to his own time, so she’s not looking forward to that either.) Chairman Dasor says they don’t have a choice; billions will die without GL’s help. In the present, GL is cleaning up at Ferris Aircraft (which was bombed to shit a couple issues ago) and wondering where Carol is. He knows she’s been kidnapped, but not by whom, though he figures it may be related to the destruction of Ferris. Elsewhere, we see Carol being hunted for sport by some asshole, while her parents are forced to watch. GL andEclipso appears Tom go to see Bruce Gordon, hoping he can shed some light on what happened at Ferris. They find him chained to the wall and see him transform into Eclipso. Eclipso easily busts the chains (which makes me wonder why Gordon even bothered) and fights GL. Eclipso brings the roof down on Tom and takes off. GL tries to disintegrate the falling rubble, but he’s shanghaied to the future before he can complete his task. By sheer dumb luck, his blast takes out a bunch of attacking Gordanian ships. Unfortunately, those aren’t the Gordanians he was supposed to be fighting; the time device fucked up, so instead of landing in 5708, GL is stuck in some other time period, but still without his memory. He’s hailed as a hero for wiping out the Gordanians, but his amnesia makes his less than effective as a fighter, since he doesn’t even GL and Space Ranger fight Gordaniansknow the source of his own power. The scientists call in the local hero of the time period, Space Ranger, who tries to figure out who GL is. Space Ranger’s girlfriend, Myra Mason, thinks GL’s lantern symbol looks familiar and Space Ranger gets an idea. He takes GL to his hidden armory and shows him a power lantern that he picked up out in space. GL still can’t remember anything, even though the lantern obviously matches his chest symbol. Before he can contemplate it too long, the Gordanians show up, blasting their way into Space Ranger’s hidden cave. The Gordanians pound Space Ranger and GL (and Ranger’s shapeshifting companion, Cryll) and take them aboard their mother ship. Myra sees them being taken, but can do nothing to stop it. Once aboard their ship, the Gordanians receive orders from their masters (the Citadel) to tow Earth to the Adaran system, where it’ll be auctioned off to the highest bidder. we’ll see if anyone buys Earth (maybe it’s Manga Khan!) next issue.

Jonah Hex 44 coverJonah Hex #44 – “Showdown of the Century” – Michael Fleisher/Dick Ayers/Tony DeZuniga

Last issue, Hex was arrested by famous lawman J.D. Hart, after being framed for murder by the mayor and banker in Feldon’s Gap. Hart and Hex were ambushed by Apaches and escaped by jumping into a river. Unfortunately, the Spast gang (who Hart had tossed in jail earlier) are waiting to ambush them as they crawl out of the water. Hart sees a flash from the ridge, but takes a glancing bullet across the temple. Hex drags him back to the water and gets a round through the shoulder. Hex manages to grab a couple of reeds as he tumbles into the river. When the Spasts come to check their handiwork, Hex and Hart stay underwater, breathing through the reeds. The Spasts assume their quarry is dead and head back to Feldon’s Gap. Hex pulls Hart out of the water and carries him for miles until they find a farm. The farmer (Forrester) takes care of themHex kills the Spast gang and Hex recovers quickly. He leaves a note for Hart and heads back to town to see why the mayor tried to set him up. Last issue, Hex was reunited with his old love, Mei Ling, and vowed to give up his violent life and marry her. Once he clears himself of the phony murder rap, he intends to settle down with Mei Ling. Speaking of her, she’s been recuperating from a sprained leg at a local farmhouse, but she’s gotten worried that Hex hasn’t returned, so she decides to go into Feldon’s Gap to look for him. She finds the Spasts in the saloon and hears that Hex is dead, but when the Spasts try to put the moves on her, Hex shows up. Mei Ling begs him not to be too violent, but he guns down the Spasts when they try to use her as a shield. Mei Ling seems to understand that he has no choice and agrees that he has to clear his name before they settle down together. At the Forrester farm, Hart is doing much better and Forrester gives him the note Hex left. Someone tosses a firebomb into the house and Forrester says a mob has been trying to get rid of him and a Hex vs Hartbunch of other sheep ranchers in the area, with some success. Hart climbs up the chimney and jumps the raiders, kicking the crap out of them. (Unlike Hex, Hart tries to take people alive whenever possible.) Back in town, the mayor is lamenting how his brilliant plan went off the rails; turns out him and the banker (and their other “friend”, whom they killed to set up Hex) want to run off the ranchers so they can acquire their land and make a shitload of money when the new railroad comes through. They’d hired Sugar Wallace’s gang to get rid of the ranchers, but Hex caught them, so they tried to use Hart to get rid of Hex. The banker comes in to tell the mayor their plan is half-working; Hart caught the gang that attacked Forrester’s place, but Hart is still after Hex and there’s about to be a showdown. Out in the street, Hex and Hart face off and Hex guns the marshal down, even putting a couple extra rounds into him after he’s dead. The banker rushes back to tell the mayor the bad news, and Hex followsHart learns the truth him. Hex tells them he knows their game and wants in on the action. They admit killing their friend and framing him, and explain about the new railroad line coming in soon. But it turns out the duel between Hex and Hart was fake and Hart was listening outside the door. He walks in and arrests the mayor and banker, congratulating Hex for his great plan (which he outlined in the note he left Hart at the farm). Hart and Hex part on good terms, with Hex saying he’s finally done with bounty hunting and he’s going to marry Mei Ling. Hart wishes them the best, but privately wonders if a guy like Hex can ever really settle down. Judging by the title of next issue (“Blood Wedding”) it won’t be easy. But we’ll just have to wait and see.

Noticeable Things:

  • Hart says he can’t stay for the wedding because he’s heard rumours of another range war in Lincoln County; that might be setting up a future story, or it might just be a reference to the real-life Lincoln County War, which involved Billy the Kid.

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