Comics reviews: Flash 307, Wonder Woman 289, Green Lantern 150, Jonah Hex 58

Flash 307 coverFlash #307 – “Prey for the Piper” – Cary Bates/Carmine Infantino/Bob Smith

This one starts with a helicopter transporting a gigantic gong (from a tribe in the South Seas) to the Central City Museum. Pied Piper uses his horn to take control of the chopper pilots, forcing them to drop the gong on an unfinished building site. The gong bounces around inside the building’s steel skeleton, making so much noise it almost knocks the construction workers off the girders. Luckily Barry Allen is nearby and changes to Flash so he can stop the clangorous gong. He can’t catch it, but he manages to vibrate the gong so its molecules slip between those of the building and the gong ends up stuck in the girders. We see Pied Piper nearby, happy that his plan worked so well; he’s gathering “decibel energy” and the reverberations from the gong gave him quite a lot.Marcy gets mugged Soon he’ll have enough energy in his Sonicator to finish Flash off for good. At the police lab, Barry wonders why anyone would cause a gong to strike a building site; the chopper pilots were no help, having no memory of what happened. Later that day, Morty (the police computer expert) escorts a Picture News reporter (Marcy Dunphy) out of police headquarters after helping her with research for a story. Morty tries to ask her out (and calls her “you foxy thing” … what a smoothie), but she doesn’t seem too into him. Morty gets conked on the head and a couple of thugs grab Marcy and her research … which concerns Henry Darrow aka Pied Piper. Later Barry finds Morty in the Piper powers upparking lot and Morty tells him what happened and that Marcy was using Morty’s computer to get info on Pied Piper. Speaking of Piper, we see him outside of town, causing an avalanche so he can absorb the sound with his Sonicator. Piper says the Sonicator is full, so now he can get rid of Flash, as well as another thorn in his side … his own parents. Barry takes Morty’s files home to study them, but can’t find much since Pied Piper’s background has always been rather mysterious. Barry wonders if Marcy was kidnapped because she found out some secret about Piper’s past. We see Marcy being taken to a fancy mansion, where she’s turned over to the people who hired her kidnappers, a rich older couple named Osgood and Rachel Rathaway. The Rathaways own a publishing empire and they tell Marcy she was about to reveal something potentially embarrassing to them. I think we can allFlash gets blasted guess what the big secret is. Downtown, Pied Piper makes his move, throwing up a solid wall of sound around the Museum (probably much better than the one Sam Phillips had). Flash shows up and vibrates through the sonic wall, knowing Piper is probably expecting him to do just that. He’s right, but Flash didn’t count on Piper leaving a special vibrational wavelength inside the sonic barrier that would be absorbed by Flash’s brain. The special frequency stuns Flash, stopping him long enough for Pied Piper to use his main weapon, a Sonic Boomatron that hits Flash with the equivalent of 50,000 decibels of concentrated sound. Back at Rathaway mansion, the Rathaways give Marcy a rundown of their son Hartley’s life. He was born deaf and they spent Pied Piper originmoney like crazy to fund an operation that cured him. Hartley became obsessed with sound and the Rathaways thought he’d become a great musician. But Hartley was a big slacker, so his dad bought him a college degree and a fancy job. Hartley’s tinkering with musical instruments allowed him to invent a horn that could hypnotize people. That made his life even easier, but it also bored him … and drove him a little nuts. Hartley decided the only way to have excitement in his life was to turn to crime and challenge the Flash. Speaking of which, Pied Piper’s weapon has converted Flash’s body into a sound wave which flies up into the air. Pied Piper takes off with his loot, making his way to his parents’ house where they’re telling Marcy how they covered for Hartley all these years, even setting him upFlash decks Piper with the Henry Darrow alias. Flash is now a sound wave, but he still has control over his body’s molecules, so he accelerates and bounces off several buildings until he can converge the sounds into a huge sonic boom and reconstitute his physical form … or something like that. He detects Pied Piper’s sonic trail and follows it to the Rathaway house, where he finds out Piper has been turning most of his loot over to his parents to pay off the money they spent trying to mold him into someone he wasn’t. Flash decks Piper and the Rathaways figure it’s time the public knew the truth about their son.

Dr. Fate – “Twilight of the Fifth Sun” – Martin Pasko/Keith Giffen/Larry Mahlstedt

The Dr. Fate back-up continues from last issue, with Fate and Inza held captive by Totec, the Aztec war god. Totec Fate pounds demonsturns out to be a demon lord named Malferrazae, who used the Aztecs’ sacrifices to feed his unholy lust for power. He takes Fate and Inza to Mexico where he conjures up Tenochtitlan, the city of the Aztecs. He sends Fate into another dimension to battle soulless minions. Inza hates herself for getting Fate caught last issue, but she also hates Fate for keeping her husband from her. Malferrazae senses Inza’s jealousy of Fate and figures he can use it. Fate defeats his enemies, but Malferrazae conjures a freaky-looking lizard demon from Inza and sends it to attack Fate. Malferrazae says the lizard is Inza’s jealousy incarnate and she can’t really exist without it. Malferrazae thinks Fate might let Inza perish for the good of mankind, and that will make Fate vulnerable. We’ll see if that happens next issue.

Wonder Woman 289 coverWonder Woman #289 – “His Name is Psycho” – Roy Thomas/Gene Colan/Romeo Tanghal

This one starts with Wonder Woman rescuing a Russian ship from a kraken not far from paradise island. After tying the kraken in knots, she heads to Paradise Island to tell her mother about Steve Trevor’s strange condition, hovering somewhere between coma and waking almost as if his spirit is fighting to cross into another world. Hippolyta is alarmed and asks Wonder Woman to bring Steve to the Island for healing as soon as possible. Wonder Woman heads back to Washington where she changes to Diana Prince and checks in with her roommates, Etta and Helena. Diana asks Etta to come with her to visit Steve and Helena invites herself along, which makes Diana a bit suspicious. OfPsycho's origin course we know Helena is really Silver Swan—who’s doing Mars’s bidding on Earth in exchange for power and hotness—and that Helena knows Diana is Wonder Woman. Diana finds out Steve is gone from the hospital, taken to a private clinic in Virginia by a Dr. Psycho. You’d think that name would raise some alarms, but apparently not. Diana leaves Etta and Helena to go see Steve (and changes to Wonder Woman as soon as she can) and Helena ends up bailing on Etta too. In Virginia, we see Dr. Psycho examining Steve and get Psycho’s origin story. He’s dwarf, so he had to put up with a lot of shit from his peers growing up and ended up hating women in particular because none of them wanted to bang him. I guess he was an incel before incels were a thing. Psycho was a genius, who studied ectoplasm (“the matter of the Wonder Woman busts inspirit world”) and he met a woman named Marva, who liked him as a friend. He realized Marva had some connection to the spirit world and, using her as a medium, he could manipulate ectoplasm, using it to create an illusory body for himself and to manipulate people’s minds. Psycho manipulated Marva into marrying him, but could only maintain his handsome form when she was around, so he grew to hate her. She died in an “accident” and Psycho looked for other people with Marva’s strong connection to the spirit world. He never found one … until now; Steve has a strong connection to the spirit world (possibly because of his tenuous state between life and death) and Psycho wants to use his Ectoplasmotron to make himself look like something out of Steve’s mind … an idealized version of Steve himself. Wonder Woman busts in to stop him and Psycho draws an image from Steve’s mind that turns himWonder Woman fights Captain Power into a studlier version of Steve, complete with a costume reminiscent of Wonder Woman’s. Psycho dubs himself Captain Wonder and he and Wonder Woman start fighting. He gives her a good battle (since Steve’s idealized image of himself has Wonder Woman’s power), but she ends up throwing him into the Ectoplasmotron, smashing it. That wakes Steve up, breaking the ectoplasmic connection and turning Psycho back to his old self. Wonder Woman slams him into the wall and frees Steve, who’s fallen back into his strange coma again. Wonder Woman prepares to take him to Paradise Island, but Silver Swan busts in and says she’s there to kill them both.

Huntress – “Walls of Stone, Chains of Steel” – Paul Levitz/Joe Staton/Bruce Patterson

This one starts with Helena (Huntress) Wayne getting jumped outside her apartment and captured. She wakes up in a dungeon and sees her captor is the same crimelord she’s foiled twice before, who’s now going by the original and totally-not-stupid name of Crimelord. He’s dressed like a medieval knight and he tells Helena he knows she’s Huntress and he canHuntress in trouble expose her identity any time he wants. Or he could go after her friends and family, or just kill her since nobody knows where she is. He seems to take delight in trying to scare her and uses his sword to cut her up a bit (we also learn that Helena doesn’t wear a bra) before knocking her out again. When she wakes, she finds her costume and weapons nearby and figures Crimelord wants to torment her and stalk her through his castle. She puts on her costume and goes looking for him, finding a key he left to freak her out. Instead it galvanizes her into wanting to kick his ass. He ambushes her and she fights off his high tech weapons, but Crimelord manages to grab her and starts strangling her. We’ll see how she gets out of this one next issue.

Green Lantern 150 coverGreen Lantern #150 – “From Qward With Hate” – Marv Wolfman/Joe Staton/Mike DeCarlo

Last issue, Green Lantern was captured by a freaky-looking alien right after he and Arisia saved the planet of Ungara. The alien takes GL back to his home dimension of Qward. Yup, the alien is a Weaponer of Qward who’s been genetically modified into a super-warrior. He’s also an arrogant bastard, but most Qwardians are so I’m not sure if that can be blamed on the genetic modification. He tells the other Weaponers that Lantern has recently decided to quit the Green Lantern Corps and the Qwardians wonder if GL can be manipulated to fight for them now. Back on Ungara, Arisia wakes up and learns what happened to Hal, but Qward is way beyond her skill level so she heads back to Oa hoping to get some help. GL wakes up in Qward and his captors tell him they’ve created an anti-matter LanternQwardians demand GL's ring Corps, complete with rings that can shoot anti-matter energy, which will destroy any positive energy it comes in contact with. But in order to control the rings, they had to boost the wearers’ brain power, which causes the rings to burn out after 24 hours and kills the wearers. They tell GL they need to examine his ring so they can perfect their own. They tell him if he doesn’t hand it over, they’ll kill him. GL says he’ll think about it, but wonders why they haven’t just wasted him and taken the ring. He concludes that they need him alive for some reason, so he’ll have to stall until he can figure out how to escape. On Oa, Arisia tells the Guardians what happened, but they refuse to help since Hal said he was quitting the corps. They say once the last few hours of GL fights the Weaponerspower run out in GL’s ring, he’ll no longer be a Green Lantern. In Qward, the Weaponers are spying on Oa and realize they’re running out of time. But they can’t just take Hal’s ring because the last time they tried that, the ring flew off his finger and disappeared; they need him to hand it over voluntarily. Hal has found out he can’t bust through the cell the Qwardians have him in, so he encases himself in a protective shield and heats up the air in the cell, turning it into a giant pressure cooker. The cell blows open and GL fights his way through some Weaponers. He needs to find the anti-matter battery that powers the Qwardian rings, but has no idea where to look, so he decides to check out the Hall of Records. Arisia is pissed off the Guardians won’t help Hal, so she heads to Earth and goes through the portal to Qward to help himArisia saves GL herself. Hal finds the location of the anti-matter battery and heads in to destroy it, but the entire anti-matter Lantern Corps is waiting for him. They all attack and it’s only GL’s superior strategy that keeps him from being killed. He realizes he has to escape and warn the Guardians about the anti-matter battery, but he ends up surrounded by the Qwardian Lanterns. Arisia plucks him to safety (yes, she definitely still has a thing for him) and they head for the portal to Earth. GL explains that the whole thing with him quitting was a ruse; the Guardians knew Qward as working on some big secret weapon (and that the Qwardians were spying on Oa), so they staged Hal’s defection to draw the Qwardians’ attention, giving Hal a chance to Green Lantern Corps to the rescuefind out what they’re up to. When he and Arisia reach the portal to Earth, the genetically modified Qwardian is waiting for them, looking even more studly than before. The Qwardian has been treated with some substance that turns away GL’s energy beams … and it turns GL evil when the Qwardian touches him. Hal attacks Arisia, who knows she has to get away to warn the Guardians. But the anti-matter Lanterns (or the “yecchoid squad” as she calls them) come at her from one side as GL tries to blast her from the other. Arisia thinks she’s finished, but the cavalry shows up, having tracked her from Oa. Yup, the Green Lantern Corps is on the scene and ready to kick ass. Arrkis Chummuck does something to the super-Qwardian that makes himblasting the anti-matter battery disappear, while the other Lanterns use their power beams to cleanse the evil from Hal. The anti-matter Lanterns attack and they outnumber the Green Lanterns by about twenty to one. Hal worries they’ll be overwhelmed, but Arisia says they need to destroy the anti-matter power battery instead of wasting time fighting the Qwardian troops. Katma Tui agrees, so she, Hal, and Arisia smash into the chamber with the anti-matter battery and blow it to shit. That finishes the anti-matter Lantern Corps, although Arrkis tells them three Green Lanterns died in the fight. That’s three to many for Hal, but everyone else seems to count it as a win. They head back to Earth, sealing the portal behind them, and return to Oa. The Guardians Katma comforts Arisiacongratulate the Corps, but remind Hal that he violated their laws when he refused to help the Ungarans. They say his life on Earth has taken too much of his focus, so he’s hereby forbidden to set foot on Earth until they say otherwise. Hal agrees to the punishment, but asks for a month to clear up all his Earthly business. The Guardians say he can have 24 hours and no more. Hal agrees and takes off. Arisia thinks Hal got a raw deal and wonders why he let the Guardians give him shit like that. Katma reminds her that Hal’s life changed forever when he chose to become a Green Lantern and he has to live with the consequences … forever.

“Meanwhile …” – Marv Wolfman/Joe Staton

Congressman Jason Bloch has been digging into Ferris Aircraft business and has figured out that Hal Jordan is Green Lantern. He calls his brother Benjamin to tell him, and so they can plan how best to ruin Hal’s life likeworking on the solar jet they’ve been ruining Ferris Aircraft. (The Bloch brothers blame Carl Ferris and Hal for killing their father and ruining his company and good name.) At Ferris, Carol has cajoled a couple of her employees (Bruce Gordon, and a mechanic named Gregory) into working on Gordon’s solar-powered jet, even though the government has canceled most of Ferris’s contracts. Carl Ferris is giving his executives a pep talk when his investigators arrive with proof that Jason Bloch is the one who’s been ruining Ferris Aircraft with his smear campaign and blackmail. Carl figures this’ll save his company and plans to head straight to Washington. But one of his executives (Bishop) is actually working for Bloch and calls the Congressman to warn him. Bloch gives Carol saves Bruce and GregoryBishop a special assignment. Tom Kalmaku is at home whining about what a loser he is (again) and his wife Tegra finally gets sick of his shit and leaves with the kids. At Ferris Aircraft, some thugs come in and try to burn the hangar with the solar jet prototype in it, but Gregory and Gordon jump them. In the fight, the fire starts prematurely and Carol ends up having to drag Gordon and Gregory to safety. The solar jet goes up in flames and Carol figures that’s it for the company, but Richard Davis shows up (apparently recovered from his heart trouble) and offers to help. Carol is leery, since Richard took her job, but he says that was her father’s idea and he just wants to help her, since he and Hal go back a long way. Meanwhile, Carl Ferris is being flown in a private jet to Washington by Bishop, who pulls a gun and tells Ferris heCarl and Bishop in the desert works for Congressman Bloch. Carl pounds Bishop and tries to fly the plane, but the controls are damaged in the fight and he has to ditch in the desert. When Bishop wakes up, Carl has the gun and says they’re going to walk through the desert to the nearest town … a hundred miles away. Bishop isn’t too worried, saying Carl will get tired before he does and then he’ll have the advantage. At Bloch Industries in California, Carol, Bruce Gordon, and Rich Davis sneak into the complex on a glider; they’re immediately picked up on Bloch’s cameras. In the desert, Bishop sends a signal to Bloch, who tells his goons to track the signal and take care of Carl Ferris, while he arranges a surprise for Carol and her friends. We’ll see the culmination of all this next issue.

Jonah Hex 58 coverJonah Hex #58 – “The Treasure of Catfish Pond” – Michael Fleisher/Dick Ayers/Tony DeZuniga

This one starts with Jonah Hex coming upon a bunch of guys torturing some old dude (Duncan Bradley) they’ve tied to a tree. Hex kills four of the scumbags and the rest ride off, leaving Hex to cut Duncan down. He’s fading fast, but tells Hex he didn’t break and never told the bandits the secret. Hex asks what secret but Duncan only mumbles “Catfish” before dying. In the nearby town of Saguaro Hill, a guy named Ben Jinks is showing people all the tricks his dog Blaze can do. Ben is a little … feeble-minded, shall we say, but he’s a good guy overall and the townsfolk feel sorry for him. Even though Blaze is pretty decrepit, the people give Ben some money and praiseHex saves Blaze the old hound’s tricks. Someone comes to tell Ben that Duncan is dead, along with four bandits, and Ben is devastated. At the Sheriff’s office, Hex tells the Sheriff what happened and that whatever info the bandits wanted from Duncan wasn’t forthcoming. The banker (Barrett) is pissed off that Duncan is dead; Barrett says Duncan stole $50,000 from his bank and nobody knows where the money is, but the Sheriff isn’t convinced Duncan was the robber. Hex heads for the hotel and runs into Ben. When Hex confirms Duncan’s death, Ben says Duncan was the best friend he ever had. Hex starts to ask about Duncan’s mention of “Catfish”, but Ben is distracted by a miner who needs help fixing his wagon wheel. Ben makes like Lennie in “Of Mice and Men”, lifting the wagon so the guy can put the new wheel on. Blaze decides to sit in Ben goes nuts in the minethe middle of the street right when a buckboard is barreling down the road. Hex grabs the dog before he gets crushed and Ben is so grateful he invites Hex back to his rooming house. Hex asks Ben about Duncan’s “Catfish” remark and Ben says they used to fish at a place they called Catfish Pond. He also mentions there’s an abandoned mine near the pond, so Hex figures he should go check it out, since Barrett is offering a reward for the return of the stolen money. But we soon see that Barrett isn’t the law-abiding citizen he pretends to be; he’s the one who hired the thugs to pound Duncan Bradley, and when they tell him Hex just rode out of town, Barrett figures Ben might’ve tipped him to where Duncan hid the money. Barrett knows they can’t use force on Ben, so he has his thugs kidnap Blaze and tell Ben that Hex did it. Ben goes off to get Hex, followed by Barrett and his twoHex grabs Barrett henchmen. At the mine, Hex finds the money but Ben comes in and attacks him, demanding to know where Blaze is. Barrett and his men show up and tell Ben they took the dog and killed Duncan. Barrett admits that Duncan was his bookkeeper at the bank and they’d been embezzling money; they were supposed to split it, but Duncan took the whole lot. Ben freaks out and attacks Barrett and his men, collapsing the mine shaft. Barrett is close enough to the entrance to get out, with the stolen money in hand. Hex climbs out a ventilation shaft and goes after Barrett, lassoing him right off his horse. Blaze turns out to be fine (he was tied to a tree not far from Ben’s place) and Hex splits the $5,000 reward with Ben.

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