This is basically a retrospective of Flash’s history for the 300th issue with tons of flashbacks to earlier stories. Last issue we saw someone swathed head-to-toe in bandages in a private clinic called Morningside an hour outside Central City, and we were told it’s Barry Allen. This story starts with Barry’s doctor (Wyngarde) calling in a specialist named Petrou to consult on Barry’s case, which apparently involves multiple personalities. Barry has confided in Wyngarde, telling him he’s the Flash and Wyngarde assumes Barry is crazy. Petrou says he can cure Barry of his delusions, though he seems equally interested in writing a bestseller about the case. Petrou introduces himself and plays a tape from one of Barry’s therapy sessions where he recounts how he got his Flash powers. He also tells how he created his costume and became a crimefighter. Petrou turns off the tape and tells Barry a different version of the explosion in his lab. In this version, Barry was found almost dead, soaked in chemicals and completely paralyzed. He was sent to Morningside Clinic to recuperate, but his mind couldn’t deal with being paralyzed so he created a fantasy world based on his love of old Flash comics (which chronicle the adventures of Earth-2’s Flash). Eventually, Barry came to actually believe his delusions and devoted most of his conscious thought to his fantasy of being the Flash. Petrou says for Barry Allen to truly recover, those delusions have to go. Barry freaks out, getting all hysterical and breaking down. Dr. Wyngarde gives Petrou shit about his harsh methods but Petrou says it’s necessary to break Barry’s delusions before they can cure him. But once he’s left alone, we find out that Barry was just faking his freak-out because he sensed Petrou expected something like that. He knows he’s really the Flash and figures somebody has set up an elaborate ruse to convince him otherwise. Barry thinks back to his meetings with Earth-2’s Flash and then wonders which of his Rogues’ Gallery could be setting him up. He considers various candidates—Mirror Master, Pied Piper, Captain Boomerang, and Weather Wizard—but dismisses them all. Barry gets some visitors: Ira West (Iris’s dad), Wally (aka Kid Flash) and Dexter Myles (curator of the Flash Museum). But they see to think he’s been at the clinic for years and when Barry mentions Wally’s career as Kid Flash, Wally doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Dr. Petrou tells Wyngarde that Barry’s trying to pull Wally into his fantasy is a good sign, since it means Barry’s delusions are starting to crumble and he’s getting desperate. Barry figures whoever has trapped him here must already know his secret identity, so he reviews some more possible foes: Gorilla Grodd, Abra Kadabra, Heat Wave, Captain Cold, and the Top (who’s dead), plus Top’s erstwhile girlfriend, Golden Glider. Barry gets more visitors, this time his JLA teammates Green Lantern and Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny … but they tell him he’s not really the Flash too! He mentions GL’s secret identity, but Lantern says he just revealed his secret on TV last night, so naturally Barry would know it. Barry asks GL to remove his paralysis so he can demonstrate his super-speed, but GL reminds him that one of the chemicals that paralyzed him was sulfur, which is yellow so GL’s ring can’t affect it. Barry relates Ralph’s origin to him in detail, but Ralph points out that Barry could have gotten all that from his advanced copy of the biography Sue is about to publish. Barry starts wondering if maybe he is deluded and considers more people who might be screwing with his head: Mr. Element and Dr. Alchemy, Trickster, Rainbow Raider, and Reverse Flash. That makes him think of Iris and she appears in his hospital room. Unfortunately, she just makes things worse, telling him that his marriage to her was all part of his fantasy and she’s actually married to Wiley Summers, Barry’s best friend from college. She introduces him to their two kids and that really puts Barry over the edge; he starts laughing like a maniac, which Petrou thinks is a good sign. Petrou tells Barry he’s not really paralyzed, it’s all part of his delusion; he’s all bandaged up because he had skin grafts and plastic surgery to restore his body to normal. If Barry can let go and admit that Flash is just a fantasy, he can walk out of the clinic and move on with his life. Barry mentions seeing Iris buried and leaving Professor Zoom stranded in the time-stream in retaliation. Petrou says he’ll bring Zoom into the room to prove that Barry is wrong and Barry says that’ll convince him once and for all. Outside, we see Petrou surrounded by Barry’s “family”, who Petrou seems to have conjured from nothing. He conjures a Professor Zoom and tells the assemblage that convincing Barry to disbelieve his Flash identity will be the surest defeat any villain has ever managed. That gets him a round of applause, which he soaks up … hmmm, I think I know who Petrou really is. Petrou takes the conjured Zoom into Barry’s room and Zoom removes Barry’s bandages at super-speed. That finally convinces Barry and he admits his whole idea of being the Flash was just a fantasy. He gets out of bed, but is startled when the Flash shows up in the doorway. Petrou is more than startled, he’s blown away. Barry mentions the persistence of vision principle, that if he really is the Flash, he could zip back and forth fast enough to look like he’s in two places at once. Flash forms a whirlwind around Petrou, revealing him to be Abra Kadabra, the 64th Century magician who craves accolades for his feats. Flash ties Abra up and explains that Abra himself gave Barry the clue he needed to break Abra’s psychological warfare … if the real Flash never existed, how could Abra bring in a Reverse-Flash? And that’s the anniversary issue, which was basically a retrospective of Flash’s career with a paper-thin threat for a framing device.
Last issue, Wonder Woman and Etrigan the Demon defeated Baal-Satyr (another demon) and saved Etta Candy from being consumed, but Etrigan’s link with Randu Singh was broken, stranding them in the netherworld. This issue starts with Randu re-establishing the link long enough to bring Wonder Woman and Etrigan back. They appear outside Diana and Etta’s apartment, where Steve Trevor is looking for them. He’s freaked out by Etrigan, but Wonder Woman says he’s a friend … of sorts. Wonder Woman takes Etta inside and changes to Diana Prince in time to answer Steve’s knock at the door. She gives him some bullshit about why she and Etta weren’t at work and he ass her to submit a full report. After he leaves, Diana goes downstairs to see the landlord, Abernathy. Demon returns home and is forced to change back to Jason Blood by Randu. Jason says he has to find out who broke the psychic link and tried to strand him and Wonder Woman in the netherworld. At Diana’s building, Abernathy confesses that he rented the room to Etta and Diana because Oscar Pound of the Delphi Foundation asked him to rent to a woman. Abernathy had gotten confidential documents from Pound when he was a Senator, so Pound had leverage. Diana decides to check out Delphi again and sneaks in as Wonder Woman. She runs into Glenda Mark, Jason’s girlfriend, who says she and Jason came to check out Delphi but Jason’s been inside for twenty minutes. Before Wonder Woman can head inside, a minotaur busts through the door and starts pounding her. The minotaur turns out to be Oscar Pound, victim of Klarion’s spell to make him walk again. He’s walking but now he’s a minotaur … some trade-off. Klarion has promised to restore Pound’s humanity if he kills Wonder Woman, but she knocks him out and crashes through the window to Klarion’s office. Klarion has taken control of Etrigan, who’s strangling Glenda. Klarion sends his cat (Teekl) after Wonder Woman; Teekl turns into a were-cat, but Wonder Woman tosses it out the window. I’m sure it landed on its feet. Klarion orders Etrigan to kill Wonder Woman, but she reminds him that they are friends and Etrigan breaks Klarion’s control. He goes after Klarion, reducing him to a stain on the floor … just vanquished to his own netherworld, not dead. When he sees Glenda crying, Etrigan chooses to give up his demonic side and recites the rhyme changing himself back to Jason Blood. They find Pound outside; he’s changed back to human, but he’s paralyzed again, so all the bullshit he put everyone through was pointless.
Huntress – “First Laugh” – Paul Levitz/Joe Staton/Steve Mitchell
Last issue, Huntress vowed to track down the Joker after he assaulted her friend Harry Sims and almost killed her. She tries tracing him through his venom dart drug, but none of Gotham’s usual pushers are supplying the mad villain. Huntress goes to work (as Helena Wayne at her law firm) but finds it hard to concentrate, so she decides to do something she’s been avoiding for a while … she goes back to Wayne Manor. She heads down to the Batcave, overwhelmed by memories of her parents. The next night, Joker is in a sleazy bar when a news report comes on TV about Batman being seen swinging around Gotham. Joker is thrilled that Batman is still alive, since this gives him the chance to kill him. We’ll see if he succeeds next issue.
Last issue, Green Lantern and Carol Ferris found themselves among the Omega Men, freedom fighters from the Vegan system who came to Earth after escaping their evil Citadel overlords. The Citadel’s minions tracked them to Earth, so Green Lantern agreed to help the Omega Men fight their pursuers (Gordanian slavers), but they all ended up getting captured. Meanwhile, Demonia (the most xenophobic of the Omegans) tried to kill Carol, but was stopped by Auron, a newly formed Godling who used to be an Omegan named Lambien before sacrificing himself to defeat some Citadel starships. On a Citadel ship, hunter robots (who look like Gordanians) try to remove GL’s ring, but he blasts them and starts to work himself loose of his bindings. Auron zaps Demonia when she tries to kill Carol again and he takes Carol with him to confront the Citadel’s slavers, something he doesn’t relish but says must be done. GL tries to break free and his ring’s energy bounces all over, destroying part of the Citadel ship and freeing the Omegans from stasis. The Omegans attack the slavers, pounding the shit out of them as GL gets free of his shackles. A shadowy figure watches the fight on a monitor, lamenting that the slavers were used to crew the ship instead of warriors (who were needed elsewhere by the Psions, apparently). Auron shows up and prepares to slaughter all the Gordanians, but Carol pleads with him not to be a killer like his enemies. Auron says part of him doesn’t want to kill, but the other part is guided by X’Hal (the Goddess), who demands vengeance. Auron sweeps all the Gordanians and hunter robots up in an energy beam—including the giant robot that Green Lantern is fighting (which he compares to Raydeen of the Shogun Warriors). Auron dumps the Gordanians back to Earth, but sends the robots out into space, hurtling toward the sun. Lantern works himself loose just before the giant robot plunges into the sun and he heads back to Earth, where Auron and the Omegans have defeated most of the Gordanians. Auron uses his godlike power to save Kalista, queen of the Omegans. A Gordanian reports to his shadowy master, who says a war station has been dispatched to deal with Earth, not just for helping the Omegans, but also for sheltering the escaped slave Koriand’r (aka Starfire from New Teen Titans). Primus, the Omegans leader, vows that they’ll stop running and take the fight right to the Citadel.
This one starts with Jonah Hex preparing to ride into town to pick up a couple of things. His wife, Mei Ling, isn’t too happy since she’s about to give birth any time … plus, they were just in town a couple days ago, so what could Hex have to buy now? Turns out Hex wants to get a comforter for Mei ling and the baby, but he wants it to be a surprise, so he’s being close-mouthed about it all. He tells Mei Ling the doctor and a midwife are on the way out to stay with her and he heads out. In town, some black-hatted asshole comes into the saloon saying he’s there to shoot it out with famed gunslinger Jonah Hex. He wants to waste Hex where everyone can see it, but a gang of town kids (who sometimes help Hex out on the farm) figures this dude doesn’t have a chance. The guy slaps down one of the kids (Petey) and says if Hex doesn’t kill him, he’ll come back and shut Petey’s mouth for good. Meanwhile, Hex has arrived in town and gone straight to the dry goods store to get the comforter. The sheriff finds him and tells him about the gunfighter who’s looking for him, but Hex says he doesn’t care about some loudmouth asshole; he’ll be heading back to the farm as soon as he has something to eat. On the street, the gunslinger calls Hex out, and even tosses him a pistol when he finds out Hex is unarmed. Hex ignores all the guy’s insults and heads to the restaurant for lunch, but the buzz of the townsfolk—about whether Hex has become a coward or not—sticks with him while he eats. Hex thinks back to when he was a kid and his father forced him to compete in a boxing match at the county fair … one of those “stay in the ring for three rounds and win money” challenges. His opponent was way older and bigger, and Hex tried his best, but he got his ass kicked. Afterwards, his father called him a coward and beat the shit out of him. Hex is ready to head home when he runs into Petey outside, who’s wondering if Hex is afraid to face the blustering gunfighter. When Hex finds out the guy slapped Petey around, he returns the favour, beating the hell out of the bully. The guy tries to shoot Hex in the back, but Petey warns him so the shot just grazes his arm. Hex tosses the comforter into the gunslinger’s face and Petey grabs Hex’s Winchester and throws it to him. Hex blows the gunfighter away and gathers up his comforter—a little dirty, but at least not full of bullet holes—and heads back to the farm. He gets back just in time to hold his newborn son and give Mei Ling the comforter.