Comics Reviews: Flash 301, Wonder Woman 283, Green Lantern 144, Jonah Hex 52

Flash 301 coverFlash #301 – “And the Beat Goes Off” – Cary Bates/Carmine Infantino/Bob Smith

This one starts with Captain Frye, Central City police captain, being kidnapped by a gunman hiding in his car. At police headquarters, Barry Allen reports to work, apologizing to his lab partner (Patty Spivot) for being absent the last three days. Of course, we know Barry was being held at a clinic outside Central City by Abra Kadabra, but he can hardly admit that without blowing his secret identity. Patty reminds him they’re supposed to be testing a new device (the Nuclear Detection unit). But Barry finds a letter of termination from Captain Frye in his locker, so it looks like Patty’s on her own again. Barry does get some good news, though … his father calls to say his mom is out of her coma.Flash starts tracking pacemakers Barry heads over to the hospital to see her and his dad says things are finally looking up. Before Barry can mention getting fired, he gets a call about Captain Frye’s kidnapping and heads over to Frye’s house, where Detective Curtis is talking to Mrs. Frye. She mentions her husband having a pacemaker, which Curtis already knew but it’s news to the Flash. He wonders if Frye’s obsession with punctuality has something to do with the pacemaker; maybe Frye tries to make every moment count after coming close to death. Flash figures the pacemaker could help him find Frye and he heads upstate to talk to the manufacturer. He attunes himself to the vibrations of the radium battery in the pacemaker and gets a list of everyone who’s had one installed. He starts tracking the pacemakers by the vibrational frequency, eliminating possibilities so he can home in on Frye. Back at the hospital, Flash captures the kidnappersBarry’s father is talking to someone on the phone about Nora Allen’s recovery. We’ve seen Barry’s father acting weird over the last few issues and that continues here, as he talks shit about Nora and talks all sexy to whoever’s on the phone with him. Flash eventually tracks Frye to a boat moored at the docks. (Central City’s in the middle of the country, so I assume the docks are for a large lake or river, not the ocean.) Frye is drugged but unharmed and Flash notices a couple of thugs taking off in a speedboat. They’re talking about how they can get away before Frye wakes up and saying something about a “big blast” at City Hall the following day, but before they even make it to the docks Flash grabs them and kicks their asses. He takes Frye to the hospital where he checks out just fine. The next day, Barry is cleaning out his officeBarry wonders about Malloy's plan when Curtis stops by to give him some info on Frye’s kidnappers. One of them turns out to be a nuclear terrorist named Malloy who’s known for building—and planting—homemade nukes for the highest bidder. Rumour has it the Malloy’s been working on a micro-nuke … a device small enough to fit on a shirt button but powerful enough to take out four city blocks. Barry knows the kidnappers were going to let Frye wake up and leave the boat, so why did they take him in the first place? He wonders if Malloy’s plan is still in motion. Later at City Hall, Captain Frye prepares to demonstrate the Nuclear Detection Unit, which can detect any nuclear radiation at a distance of a mile and not even lead shielding can beat it. Just as the NDU is about to detect some plutonium a mile away, Frye disappears. Flash saves FryeFlash zoomed in at top speed and grabbed him, telling Frye that Malloy put a micro-nuke inside his pacemaker. The radium battery camouflaged the bomb’s radiation, but the blast would take out City Hall and the NDU would be assumed to be faulty and discontinued … thereby leaving nuclear terrorists like Malloy to operate with impunity. (If you’re wondering how Frye didn’t notice his pacemaker was tampered with, he’d just had the battery changed a week ago so he was still wearing a bandage.) Flash figures Malloy rigged the micro-nuke to be detonated by Frye’s heartbeat, so he takes Frye out to the middle of nowhere. Just as the bomb detonates, Flash vibrates himself and Frye out of phase and zips them to safety. He tells Frye that Barry Allen was the one who figured everything out afterHenry Allen and his young tart comparing Frye’s old and recent EKG charts and noticing a discrepancy. Frye’s not thrilled, but he does give Barry his job back. Barry goes to the hospital to tell his mother the good news. Meanwhile, Barry’s dad is having some sexy fun with a hot little redhead. She wants him to get rid of his geriatric body and switch it for something better … like Flash’s body. He assures her that Flash will soon be as dead as his “real father” is. What’s that all about? We’ll find out next issue. (Here’s a hint; the fake Henry Allen’s girlfriend is named Lisa …)

Firestorm – “How Laughs the Hyena” – Gerry Conway/Denys Cowan/Bob Smith

This one starts with the Hyena prowling around the New York subway system. Not far away, Ronnie Raymond and Doreen Day are heading out to see a movie. They’re interrupted by Cliff Carmichael, who’s an insufferable asshole as usual. When they see some punks pounding an innocent guy, Doreen insists they help. Naturally, Carmichael runs away and when theHyena attacks thugs punks get ready to come after Doreen, Ronnie figures he has to blow his secret identity to save her. But before he can, Hyena shows up and slices and dices the punks. When the transit cops arrive, Hyena’s hatred of police flares up and she attacks them. Doreen freaks out and Hyena stops pounding the cops and takes off by jumping on a train. Ronnie takes Doreen home and goes to Professor Stein’s place to ask his advice. They become Firestorm and Stein says they can track Hyena by using their fusion powers to create ghostly afterimages from Hyena’s residual body heat. They track the images to Doreen’s house, and when Firestorm sees Doreen and her sister Summer coming out of the house, Ronnie realizes someone in the Day house must be Hyena. Well, it can’t be Doreen, since she was there when Hyena attacked, so …  We’ll find out for sure next issue.

Wonder Woman 283 coverWonder Woman #283 – “Encounter” – Gerry Conway/Jose Delbo/Dave Hunt

This one starts with Wonder Woman busting into a high-tech factory complex in Pacific Palisades, California. After running a gamut of deadly security devices—guns, trap doors, flamethrowers—and smashing them all, she captures a guy in a black and white costume and forces him to shut down the whole complex. A few minutes later, a joint government and military task force, headed by Steve Trevor and including a Chinese envoy named Lao Chen, shows up to invade the place. They’re surprised to find most of their work already done for them, and even more surprised to find the prisoner wrapped up like a Christmas present. He turns out to be Chinese as well, though obviously not on the same side as Lao Chen. Wonder Woman pops up, admitting she’s the one who cleared the way, and showing them what she found … a hugebest playset ever stockpile of American military weapons that looks like an ad for the G.I. Joe toy line. Wonder Woman says she came in first because she was worried about Steve and didn’t want him to gt hurt. That makes Steve feel like a big wimp in front of the other manly men, so he gives her shit, but she says only little boys worry what their friends think. Steve and Agent Fairbanks find a lockbox and talk to Lao Chen about who might be smuggling American weapons back to China. Lao says he has some suspicions, but doesn’t elaborate. Steve is surprised to see Diana Prince there, but she says she’s his adjutant so where else would she be? (Of course, we know she’s also Wonder Woman.) When Lao jimmies the lockbox, a cloud of red gas billows out. Diana uses the gas as cover and blowing away the gasblows it right through the door and out to sea. (She’s shown blowing it away the same way Superman does, which doesn’t really fit with her powers; she says it’s because of her Amazon affinity for air currents, but it would’ve made more sense to use her lasso to create a whirlwind or something.) Steve and the others are fine, but Lao gets worried when he finds a medallion in the box with a red dragon on it. He says if the Red Dragon is behind the weapon smuggling, the entire world could be in jeopardy. The others have never even heard of the Red Dragon, but there’s a card from a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco in the box, so Steve figures that’s a good place to start … though he’s aware the whole thing might be a set-up. At the restaurant, Steve tells Diana to stay back because of the danger, which is ironic considering how he got mad at Wonder Woman for protecting him. As Steve and Lao break into the restaurant, Diana notices a bunch of guysred dragon attacks sneaking in the side entrance, and they’re wearing black and white costumes like the guy at the factory. Steve and Lao are jumped inside the restaurant and the spokesman for the thugs says the Red Dragon wants to return China to the old feudal system and take over. He takes the red dragon medallion and points out some printed circuitry on the back. He activates it, saying they’ll regret meddling in Red Dragon’s affairs. Wonder Woman busts in, smashing the medallion and grabbing the leader. He freaks out, saying without the circuitry on the medallion, “It” can’t be controlled. Wonder Woman asks what he’s talking about and gets an answer, as the whole floor caves in and a gigantic red dragon—a real one—rises up from below. Where’s Jack Burton when you need him? We’ll see how Wonder Woman handles this revolting development next issue.

Huntress splashHuntress – “Last Laugh” – Paul Levitz/Joe Staton/Steve Mitchell

Last issue, Huntress vowed to catch the Joker and came up with a plan to attract his attention … bringing Batman back from the dead. After Batman’s return is reported in the newspapers, Joker does take notice and he’s happy, since he gets to kill Batman himself this time. Huntress gets an alert that someone’s using the Bat-signal and she figures her ruse has paid off. Meanwhile, at Cranston, Grayson, and Wayne (the law office where Helena works), Cranston tells the staff they’re being sued for libel for releasing false data in a customer survey. Helena’s not at the meeting, but he hopes she’ll support his decision to fight the lawsuit. Cranston gets some unexpected support from a shadowy figure, but we’re not told who it is. Downtown, Huntress arrives at the Bat-signal, which is being operated by Joker to draw his old enemy out. Huntress tackles him and he uses his arsenal of tricks to almost escape, but he’s distracted whenHuntress decks Joker the supposedly-dead Batman shows up. Joker’s thrilled to have another chance to fight his nemesis, but Batman says he’s just there to watch … and watch he does, as Huntress decks Joker. She figures she can get a sample of Joker’s new poison so his victims (including her almost boyfriend, Harry Sims) can be cured. Later, we see Dick Grayson stop in to visit Helena; yeah, it was him impersonating Batman. He acknowledges that Huntress was going to try the same thing, but says he’s probably a bit closer to Bruce’s build than she is. Dick mentions the lawsuit against the law firm (he was the shadowy figure in Cranston’s office) and says he’ll need Helena’s help to fight it. This is obviously setting up a Huntress/Robin team-up, which we’ll see next issue.

Green Lantern 144 coverGreen Lantern #144 – “The Last Picture Show” – Marv Wolfman/Joe Staton

This one starts with Green Lantern and Carol Ferris bidding farewell to the Omega Men, who are heading back to the Vegan System to fight the Citadel directly. GL flies Carol back to a nearby airport—and I’m pretty sure they bang in mid-air on the way—so they can head back to California. In New York, Tattooed Man is being chased by armed thugs. Apparently, he ripped off some stuff belonging to a bad dude and now his ass is on the line. He uses his tattoos to escape, even though he says they’ve been unreliable lately. The thugs report in to their boss (Stanley), who’s working for a big hulking brute who isn’t happy Stanley’s men let Tattooed Man get away. The brute says if Stanley fails again, not even his “special powers” will save him. Back in Los Angeles, Tom KalmakuGL fights Tattooed Man at airport greets Hal and Carol at the airport, but their reunion is interrupted when Hal recognizes Tattooed Man in the crowd. He changes to GL and goes after Tattooed Man, who really isn’t interested in fighting his old foe. He incapacitates GL and tries to take off, but Stanley’s thugs have tracked him down and start shooting at him. Tattooed Man escapes on a rocket-propelled skateboard (must be a Marvel fan) and by the time GL gets free, he’s gone and the gunmen have disappeared too. Back at Ferris Aircraft, Carol’s dad is still being a complete prick, telling her she’s not tough enough to run the company because women are too soft, blah, blah,blah. She leaves in tears and Hal tries to comfort her, but they’re surprised to see Hal’s old Air Force GL fights robotscommander, Richard Davis, show up. He drops a bombshell … Carol’s dad has appointed him vice-president of Ferris Aircraft. Later, we see Tattooed Man renewing his magical tattoos and preparing to get out of the country. But he needs money, so he hits a bank. That brings Green Lantern and the two of them fight, with Tattooed Man throwing everything he can at GL … pterodactyls, giant hands, and killer robots. Tattooed Man really just wants to take the loot and leave, so he tries to take off but ends up getting gunned down in an alley. GL finds him moments later and vows to find out who killed one of his oldest enemies. We’ll find out more about that next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • As far as I know, Tattooed Man’s death was permanent, at least until the crisis. I know there was a Tattooed Man in post-Crisis continuity, but I don’t know if it was the same character or a new one (although he sure looked different).

Jonah Hex 52 coverJonah Hex #52 – “Rescue” – Michael Fleisher/Dick Ayers/Tony DeZuniga

This one starts with Hex pitching hay on his farm, helped by Petey, one of the local kids. Petey’s in awe of a famous gunfighter like Hex and wants to be like him when he grows up. Hex gives him a few pointers, but stops when Mei Ling shows up. She asks him to look after the baby while she makes some preserves, so Hex puts the kid over by a tree and keeps working; that’s parenting 1800s style! As seen on the cover, the baby gets stung by a scorpion and Hex slices the wound so he can suck the poison out. When he takes the baby inside, Mei Ling freaks out, accusing him of being too busy teaching Petey to be a gunfighter to look after his own kid. She mentions all the times he’s broken his promise to stop killing people and he gets fed up and slaps her. She’s understandablyHex gets rough pissed off and tells him to stay the hell away from her. In town, three gunfighters come looking for Hex, to get revenge for him killing their brother last issue. When they show up at his farm, they’re too smart (or too scared) to take him on directly, but they’ve heard he has a son. When they see Petey riding away from the farm, they assume he’s Hex’s kid and grab him. The next day, Petey’s mother comes looking for him, telling Hex and Mei Ling that Petey never came home. A neighbour told her he saw Petey with three scumbags, so she figures someone kidnapped him. Hex grabs his guns, ready to find Petey and bring him back. Mei Ling gets pissed off, saying Hex has his own kid to look after (currently burning up with fever from the scorpion sting), so he cabin blown sky-highshould let the sheriff find Petey. Hex says the kid could be dead before that happens, so he has to go. Mei Ling tells him if he goes, she and the baby won’t be there when he gets back; Hex goes anyway. He tracks the bandits to town, where one of them is getting a bad horseshoe replaced. Hex beats the shit out of the guy until he tells him where Petey is … in an old miner’s cabin up in the hills. Hex goes up to check it out and busts in, but the shack is empty. Turns out the whole thing was a trap; the bandits are outside and they blow the shack to hell with a dynamite charge. We’ll have to wait until next issue to see how Hex gets out of this one.

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