Comics Reviews: Flash 304, Wonder Woman 286, Green Lantern 147, Jonah Hex 55

Flash 304 coverFlash #304 – “One More Blip … and You’re Dead” – Cary Bates/Carmine Infantino/Bob Smith

This one’s kind of a relic of the 80s, when computers were still considered “new technology” by the average person, but the push was on to make them available to every household. We start at a birthday party attended by Barry Allen, Barry’s neighbour (and sometimes squeeze) Fiona Webb, and their other neighbour Mack. The party is for Mack’s eleven-year old son Troy, who received a computerized flying gizmo called a “Captain Computron” from Barry. TroyTroy loves his toy loves the toy, which is apparently taking the country by storm, selling in the millions. Down at the Wiggins Toy Company (which manufactures the Captain Computron), CEO W.W. Wiggins is congratulating one of his main designers, a nebbish named Nurblin. Nurblin is the one who figured out how to miniaturize the electronics that control the Captain Computron and Wiggins shows his appreciation by giving him an envelope with a bonus check in it. Nurblin sounds like a real company man, and is thrilled to have his work acknowledged, but he’s not exactly rolling in dough … Wiggins gave him a check for $99.95. Nurblin’s wife isn’t impressed and henpecks him like Walter Mitty, but Nurblin doesn’t really seem bothered. He’s Flash saves Mack from the fireobviously got something up his sleeve. That night, Mack’s Captain Computron toy activates remotely and projects some kind of energy beam that coalesces into a vaguely humanoid figure. Whatever it is sets off the alarm Mack installed in the living room and he comes out with a gun. Next door, Barry hears a gunshot, changes to Flash, and vibrates through the wall before the echo has died away. He finds Mack unconscious, the apartment on fire, and all the electronics fried. Flash puts out the fire with an extinguisher and zooms outside, following a trail of highly charged electrons. The trail ends at a lamp-post and Flash realizes the fugitive can change their entire body into electricity … a feat that Flash himself—even with total control over his body’s molecules—would be hard put to match. The next day, Mack draws a sketch of the weird humanoid shape he saw and Troy asks Barry toComputron grabs Wiggins look at his Captain Computron toy, which is no longer working. Coincidence? Ha! Barry finds a strange micro-circuit that doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the toy and figures it’s probably what spawned the intruder. Barry gets a call from the toy store where he bought the Captain Computron, saying that particular model was a special order for W.W. Wiggins. Barry figures the intruder was supposed to appear in Wiggins’s house, not Mack’s, so he returns the toy and starts checking Wiggins’s place. But the intruder—calling himself Colonel Computron—shows up and grabs Wiggins, using a computerized battle suit. Flash notices a broken window during one of his checks and finds Wiggins is gone. He follows the electron trail to the Central Flash inside video gameCity Coliseum, site of an upcoming Toy Expo. Colonel Computron brags to Wiggins about altering his big video game display. As Computron prepares to shoot Wiggins with a weird rifle, Flash pushes him out of the way and takes the hit. The beam reduces Flash to energy and he’s siphoned into the rifle and injected into the video game. Yup, Flash is trapped inside a video game character, in all its 8-bit glory. He’s attacked by in-game versions of Computron and sent bouncing off the walls like in Pong. Every hit erases some of Flash’s “character”, so he has to find a way out before he’s wiped out completely. Having control over his own molecules helps him figure out what to do; he alters his own impulse frequency and shoots through theFlash gets out of the game room’s electrical circuits, emerging from a light fixture and re-assembling his body. Colonel Computron blinks out, which is probably a good thing, since Flash is exhausted from putting himself back together. Flash has no idea where Computron transported himself to, or who he might be, but knows it must be someone with vast electronic skill who hates Wiggins. Yeah, you’re way ahead of me. We see Nurblin and his wife at home again and she’s giving him shit for not standing up to Wiggins like Computron did. Nurblin hints he might know more about Computron than she thinks.

Firestorm splashFirestorm – “The Heart is the Hunter” – Gerry Conway/Pat Broderick/Rodin Rodriguez

Last issue, Firestorm read Summer Day’s diary after fighting the Hyena and realized she’d probably head back home. Sure enough, Hyena is in Doreen’s room and has revealed that she’s really Doreen’s sister, Summer. Firestorm busts in but Hyena grabs him and starts strangling him. When Doreen and Summer’s father comes in, she’s ready to waste him too, but upon seeing Mrs. Day, Hyena takes off. Firestorm hands over the diary and goes after her. The Days read the diary and find out what happened to Summer. Her father (who’s a cop) treated her like crap because she wasn’t a boy, so she tried to be good at sports and even joined the Police Academy. But her heart wasn’t in it, so she flunked out, which just disappointed her father more. She ended up hating is guts and joined the Peace Corps to get away from him. Helping people got her mind off her own bullshit, but when she was in Africa she got bitten by a guy who turned out to be a were-hyena. At first she didn’t believe it but then she started to change into Hyena with the full moon. AtFirestorm fights Hyena first, she tried to help people by attacking criminals, but whenever she saw a cop she went nuts because of her daddy issues. She managed to keep from killing anyone, but her family noticed something was going on and sent her to a hospital in Arizona. She told the doctors there the truth, but they didn’t believe her. Summer’s father feels like an asshole after reading all that, but it’s a little late for remorse now. Firestorm tracks Hyena down and sops her from wasting a cop. He uses his molecular powers to fake her out, constructing statues of her family and pretending they’re apologizing for hurting her. That calms her down enough that she transforms from Hyena back to Summer and keels over. Later, Ronnie tells Doreen that if her parents can show Summer they really love her, in spite of everything, she probably won’t become Hyena again. But of course we know she totally will, sooner or later.

Wonder Woman 286 coverWonder Woman #286 – “Be Wonder Woman and Die” – Robert Kanigher/Jose Delbo/Dave Hunt

This one starts on a down note, with Wonder Woman in hospital being diagnosed with cancer. She’s told she has six months, tops. She takes it well and reminds the doctor not to tell anyone. He gives her some painkillers and praises her bravery. Later that day, terrorists have taken over a building downtown and are demanding $20 million and passage to Libya or they’ll start tossing hostages off the roof. The hostages include an old Jewish guy who complains that he survived Dachau and Entebbe only to be killed by terrorists; man, this guy has the worst luck. Steve Trevor is supposed to parachute down onto the roof with the money, but he’s planning on gassing the terrorists while they’re distracted. At the Pentagon,Wonder Woman fights terrorists Diana and Etta are discussing the theft of the blueprints for a Satellite-Killer weapon from the U.S. Government when the hostage story comes on TV. Naturally, Diana is worried about Steve, so she heads over as Wonder Woman. Steve drops the ransom, but before he can throw the gas the terrorists try to blow him away. The old man knocks their guns off-target and gets shot for his heroism. Wonder Woman shows up in time to recite the Jewish Death Prayer and becomes the terrorists’ next target. She plays bullets and bracelets while Steve lands on the roof and jumps the gunmen from behind. One of the killers threatens to waste Steve if Wonder woman doesn’t surrender, so Steve jumps off the roof to remove the threat. Wonder Woman wraps up all the terrorists with her magic lasso and dives off the roof, catching Steve Amy and her father at homebefore he splatters on the street. Later, we see an actress named Amy Kelley auditioning for the lead in an upcoming Wonder Woman movie (I guess Gal Gadot was busy waiting to be born), but she’s so nervous she totally fucks it up. Turns out Amy is the “Wonder Woman” we saw being diagnosed with cancer earlier and she figured she’d be a lock for the movie role since she fooled the doctor so easily. She goes downtown to pick up her father (Mack), a has-been actor reduced to performing as a clown in crappy clubs. Amy’s dad goes on about how great his career used to be (apparently he won an Oscar) and says it’ll happen for her too. She hasn’t told him about having cancer yet, but gets distracted by the story of Wonder Woman fighting the terrorists. Elsewhere, we see a spy named Kardion (who has a mechanical heart) and find out he’s the one who stole the Satellite Killer blueprints. He’s hidden them until he can sell them to the Soviets. The next day, there’sWonder Woman meets Amy a fire at the movie studio and Amy dresses as Wonder Woman to go in and rescue people. Diana sees her on TV and knows she’s an impostor and Steve sees the news report too and heads over. Wonder Woman rescues the people from the burning building and goes back in to find Amy. Amy says she wanted to play the hero to get the movie role and Wonder Woman tells her to go outside and take the credit for the rescue. Amy starts choking on the smoke before she gets out and Steve rescues her, thinking she’s the real Wonder Woman. He soon finds out differently when Amy’s wig falls off, but the crowd outside assumes she’s the Wonder Woman who led everyone o safety. Amy is lauded by everyone and wins the role in the Wonder Woman movie. Wonder Woman takes Kardion downIn case you’re thinking Amy set the fire just to play hero (I know I was), don’t worry; the fire was set by Kardion as a distraction so he could get the Satellite Killer plans that he hid in the studio. When it turned into a media circus, Kardion had to back off, leaving the stolen blueprints in place. Amy does the movie and the doctor who diagnosed her figures out what happened and tells the real Wonder Woman. Amy begs her to let her finish the movie so she can leave some kind of legacy and Wonder Woman agrees. Amy wears herself out finishing the movie, so Wonder Woman takes her place for the final scene. But Kardion shows up for a bit of improv; he tries to burn everyone up with a flamethrower but Wonder Woman kicks his ass and finds out about the blueprints he hid in the basement. The director says he’s using this fight as the final scene of the movie. Wonder Woman takes Amy to Paradise Island, hoping to cure her, but it’s too late. Amy is so delirious she thinks she’s really Wonder Woman and Hippolyta is her real mother. Hippolyta plays along and Amy is buried on Paradise Island. Months later, her father accepts Amy’s Oscar for Best Actress, as presented by Wonder Woman.

Noticeable Things:

  • At the beginning of the story, the hospital Wonder Woman is at is shown to be the same one Ronald Reagan is in after being shot.
  • When she sees the hostage story on TV, Diana says “Merciful Minerva!” out loud, but Etta doesn’t seem to notice.
  • When Kardion shows up at the studio in a German uniform with a flamethrower on his back, he says “No one looks twice at you in this country if you wear a uniform. Everyone who saw me thought I was on my way to the American Nazi Party demonstration.” I think Bob Kanigher was making a political statement there, though I’m not exactly sure what it was.

Huntress – “Karnage is the Name” – Paul Levitz/Joe Staton/Bruce Patterson

This one starts with Helena (Huntress) Wayne getting jumped as she’s walking down the street in costume. Her attacker is a dude named Karnage who’s trying to make his rep by killing her. He gives her a tough fight, with his enhanced strength and arsenal of weapons, but she holds him off long enough to regroup. Karnage takes off before she can grab him, but HuntressHuntress fights Karnage collects numerous souvenirs from the battle to help her track him down. Later, she feels stupid for having been surprised and goes through some of her old stuff to get her head on straight. She’s interrupted by a knock at the door, but we don’t get to see who it is. We see Karnage reporting to his boss (a gang boss named Stenville, first seen in issue 284), who hired him to kill Huntress. Stenville says they can draw Huntress out by going after Arthur Cranston, since she already risked er life to save him once. Helena is at her law office doing some work with an associate named Charlie when Karnage busts in. Helena might assume Karnage already knows her secret identity and give herself away by changing to Huntress right in front of him … but we’ll have to wait until next issue to find out.

Green Lantern 147 coverGreen Lantern #147 – “Do Not a Prison Make” – Marv Wolfman/Joe Staton/Mike DeCarlo

Last issue, Green Lantern was arrested for breaking into Goldface’s house and assaulting him. To avoid surrendering his ring, Lantern sent it flying away someplace, but immediately started wishing he had it back when he was thrown into a cell with his old enemy Black Hand. Black Hand (who’s still spouting clichés left and right) says Goldface arranged everything, replacing the prison guards with his own men and smuggling Black Hand’s power rod to him. Since GL’s ring isn’t there, Black Hand’s rod can’t absorb its power, but the rod has enough residual energy to blow GL through the wall. One of the fake guards opens all the other cells and the convicts emerge, ready to pound the shit out of Green Lantern. At Goldface’s house, he’s thrilled at the way his plan is going, but gets pissed off when his minion (a guy named Stanley, who hasGL attacks the inmates some kind of powers that have facilitated Goldface’s takeover of the mobs) says he can’t figure out where GL sent his ring. Goldface slaps Stanley around (which he does a lot) and Stanley vows to get revenge … although he’s said that before. Meanwhile, Carol Ferris is trying to get GL out of jail, but the judge is stonewalling her lawyer. Tom Kalmaku hears GL’s ring calling to him and risks being fired to go find it. The ring urges him to go to Hal’s place and recharge, so he heads over there. In prison, GL fights the convicts hand-to-hand, doing pretty well for a guy who’s used to depending on his ring. Unfortunately, the fake guards keep releasing more convicts, and when the real guards try to stop them, they’re captured by the fakes. The cons are about to pound GL into mincemeat, but Black Hand decides to draw things out a bit, so he blows a hole in the wall, giving GL more room to move. At GL is almost overwhelmedHal’s place, Tom searches frantically for the power battery, which Hal keeps invisible. He tears the place apart looking for the battery. In Washington, Carl Ferris is being grilled by a House sub-committee (headed by Jason Bloch, who’s been trying to ruin Ferris because of an old family grudge) about screwing up the Solar Jet contract for the government. Bloch accuses Ferris of sabotaging the project intentionally and says he’s guilty of treason. In prison, GL tries to get away but the combination of fake guards and real convicts is too much. He ends up cornered, confronted by cons with weapons and bleeding from being shot by one of the fake guards. At Hal’s place, Tom literally stumbles over the battery and uses it to charge the ring,GL swats Black hand down which then goes flying back to GL just as he’s about to be overwhelmed. He pounds the convicts and slaps the shit out of Black Hand, tossing him back in his cell after smashing his power rod. Later, Carol tells Hal and Tom that the judge admitted taking a bribe but wouldn’t say who it was from. To make things worse, Goldface made a deal to drop the charges against GL, as long as Lantern leaves him alone completely … if GL even starts asking questions about Goldface, he’ll be right back in jail. Hal isn’t happy about that, but there’s not a hell of a lot he can do about it.

Jonah Hex 55 coverJonah Hex #55 – “Trail of Blood” – Michael Fleisher/Tony DeZuniga

Last issue, Jonah Hex was hired to infiltrate El Papagayo’s hideout and bring the bandido in, dead or alive. Papagayo caught Hex and almost killed him, but Hex got away with some help from Papagayo’s woman, Carmelita, who was working undercover for the Army. Unfortunately, Hex’s old nemesis, Quentin Turnbull, knows Hex is alive and sent a squad of ex-Confederate soldiers (from the Fort Charlotte Brigade) to kill him. They surprised Hex and Carmelita not far from Papagayo’s lair. Turns out Carmelita was really working for Turnbull and led Hex to the soldiers, but her triumph is short-lived as El Papagayo catches up to them and blows her away. Hex and the soldiers (Micah, Shenandoah, Pee Wee, and a youngster named Timmy) take cover in someHex lights the grass on fire tall grass as Papagayo’s men surround them. The soldiers realize Papagayo thinks they’re helping Hex, but they also know Hex is the best chance they have of getting away, so they agree to cooperate. Hex sets the grass on fire to give them some cover as they take off. In Richmond, Virginia, Turnbull goes to visit his son’s grave. He blames Hex for leading the Fort Charlotte Brigade into a massacre that wiped most of them out, including his son. Turnbull’s servant (Solomon) points out that Hex and Turnbull’s son were best friends since they were kids and that Hex always claimed he was set up, but Turnbull won’t listen. Back in Mexico, the survivors of the Fort Charlotte Massacre flee toward the Rio Grande river with Hex. Hex asks Timmy why he’s there, since he was just a kid during the war, and he says his father died at Fort Hex saves Timmy from bandidosCharlotte so he has as much reason to hate Hex as anyone. They pause for a rest and Shenandoah finds a parrot feather on the ground. Hex warns him, but it’s too late and Shenandoah tumbles into a pit filled with punji stakes (or whatever they were called back then). El Papagayo’s men attack and Micah is killed, but Hex, Pee Wee, and Timmy make it through. Hex actually saves the kid from getting killed, which makes him wonder about Hex’s true character. Pee Wee isn’t swayed though, saying Hex needs them alive to help save his own ass. Pee Wee promises that he’ll kill Hex himself as soon as they’re back in the United States. They come to a ferry over the Rio Grande near sunset, but the ferrymen are absent. Hex and the others get on the ferry and start poling across the river. El Papagayo shows up to wish them farewell; he seems way to polite, which makes Hex suspicious. Hexferry blows up searches through the crates on the ferry and finds some dynamite about to blow. The three fugitives jump off the ferry right before it explodes and swim to the American shore. Timmy can’t swim, so Hex helps him across. Pee Wee is ready to keep his promise and shoot Hex, but Timmy protests, saying whatever Hex did at Fort Charlotte he’s proven himself now by saving Timmy’s life … twice. Pee Wee gets pissed off and shoots Timmy, but before he can kill Hex, Timmy blows him away. Timmy tells Hex he’ll put in a good word for him back in Virginia, but his wound is too much and he dies. Hex buries him and rides off, wondering why everything in his life always goes to shit.

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