This one starts with Barry Allen and Detective Frank Curtis attending a birthday party for toy magnate W.W. Wiggins’s ten-year-old son. Barry and Frank aren’t there voluntarily; Captain Frye forced them to attend because Wiggins contributes heavily to the police department pension fund, so Frye wants to keep Wiggins happy by having a few cops at the party. Since Wiggins is rich, his son is being spoiled rotten with gifts and a giant cake. But when Wiggins tries to cut the cake, Colonel Computron jumps out and attacks him. (Colonel Computron is the goofball from Flash 304 who has a grudge against Wiggins.) The security guards can’t stop Computron so Barry changes into Flash and goes after him. Flash pulls Wiggins out of Computron’s clutches, but the computerized criminal gets a hold of the Scarlet Speedster instead. Flash tries to vibrate Computron right out of his metal suit, but Computron uses his electronic wizardry to manifest a couple of video game-style jets that shoot Flash with energy pulses. Computron says the jets (which look a bit like the plane from Zaxxon) will track him and as soon as he stops vibrating his body’s molecules, they’ll blow him away. Flash takes off as the cops show up in force to help Wiggins. Flash zips all over the countryside with the deadly jets on his ass. Finally, he spins around in place, causing the jets to get confused and blow each other away. Flash returns to the party as Barry Allen, but Computron is long gone. We do see Basil Nurblin as one of the guests; Nurblin was the guy who designed the Colonel Computron toy and was “rewarded” with $99 by Wiggins. Back at home, Nurblin and his wife accuse each other of being Computron, since neither of them have plausible alibis. I guess we’re supposed to wonder which of them really is Computron, but I’m guessing it could be both of them at different times, and they’re both hiding the truth from each other. We also see their daughter Luna, who’s a college student but lives at home to save money; Luna is tired of her parents’ constant fighting. The next day, Barry examines a clue he found at Wiggins’s estate … some tiny crystalline flakes generated by Computron’s suit. Barry is the only one who noticed them because they’re vibrating at super-speed, but that means he can track them. Downtown, Wiggins is at a toy demonstration when some Computron planes appear of of nowhere and zoom around his head. The planes catch Wiggins in a force field and drag him out of the building. Flash shows up, having found out where Wiggins is after stopping by his office. As Flash goes to help Wiggins, the toy tycoon is grabbed by a couple of boomerangs with ropes attached and dragged up to the roof. The Computron planes detect Flash and go after him, weakening his muscles with their ray blasts. Flash manages to get through a window and smashes the planes when they come after him. On the roof, Wiggins thanks his rescuer, Captain Boomerang; Boomerang go his start working for Wiggins and says he wants to protect him from Computron. Wiggins is happy with that, but Flash shows up and starts spinning Boomerang around at super-speed. Boomerang uses a giant collapsing boomerang ad the centrifugal force from his spin to escape. Flash tells Wiggins he can’t trust Boomerang and he’s better off without someone like that on his side. Flash also tells Wiggins that he tracked Computron’s energy to the employee’s entrance of Wiggins’s company, so Computron is probably one of his employees. Captain Boomerang has gotten away from Flash, but before he can land he’s grabbed by Colonel Computron, who proposes a deal; Boomerang betrays Wiggins and Computron will guarantee the Flash dies. Boomerang says that sounds like a great deal. I get the feeling Boomerang might double-cross Computron, since his gratitude to Wiggins is genuine and goes back a long way … which is kinda funny, considering the later revelation about Wiggins being Boomerang’s biological father. Anyway, we’ll find out what Boomerang does next issue.
- There’s a Dr. Fate back-up (by Gerber, Pasko/Giffen/Mahlstedt) about Fate looking for the source of a bunch of natural disasters. He traces it to a field of corn and finds a ruby inside one of the ears. The farmer shows up and blasts Fate into another dimension; turns out the farmer wa a demon in disguise. Meanwhile, an archaeologist named Vern Copeland calls Inza looking to talk to Kent Nelson about a dig he was on. When Copeland finds out Inza is an archaeologist too, he invites her to dinner and she accepts.
Last issue, a cosmic entity called the Adjudicator came to Earth to judge it and pass sentence, as he had on countless other worlds. Adjudicator was fascinated that humans hadn’t yet destroyed themselves despite all their faults, and found the idea that there were multiple Earths equally intriguing. He created Four Horsemen (War, Disease, Famine, and Death) to test various Earths, starting with Earth-1. He sent Famine there but it was defeated by Wonder Woman and Zatanna. As this issue opens, Wonder Woman is telling Lois Lane what happened and deflecting Lois’s questions about the remaining three Horsemen. Off the record, Wonder Woman says she doesn’t want to freak people out, so Lois agrees to sit on her speculation about the remaining Horsemen for a while. As it turns out, Adjudicator is sending another Horseman (Plague) to test Earth, but this time Earth-2 is his target. Last issue, Black Canary went to Earth-2 to warn the JSA about the Adjudicator’s threat. We see her at JSA headquarters, talking to Huntress and Power Girl, who apparently are the only JSAers who responded to Canary’s emergency call. (There was a brief scene last issue that showed Black Canary talking to a whole roomful of JSAers, but I guess Roy wanted to stick with just the distaff members for this story.) Power Girl is skeptical about Black Canary’s claims that destroying any Earth will start a chain reaction that wipes them all out, but when news reports come in about a plague in Atlanta, she tables her objections. The three heroines head to Atlanta and confront Plague, who’s spreading disease like crazy. Power Girl takes a hit from him and her Kryptonian immune system helps blunt Plague’s power, although she does end up sneezing like a maniac. Huntress and Canary try to fight Plague without touching him and Power Girl knocks him on his ass, but she gets too close and he touches her. Even her super-immune system can’t handle that and she keels over. Huntress distracts Plague by grabbing his horse, then rolls away as Black Canary unleashes her sonic cry. The horse falls over on top of Plague and before he can recover, Adjudicator makes him disappear; apparently Adjudicator was impressed with the way the human doctors risked their lives to help Plague’s victims. The second half of the story starts in Greenwich Village, New York. Following Wonder Woman’s orders, Supergirl finds a certain shop on Christy Street run by Madame Xanadu, who immediately knows who she is (even though Supergirl is in her civilian identity) and why she’s there. Adjudicator knows what’s going on too and decides to accelerate things to get the next test underway. He teleports Supergirl (now in costume) and Madame Xanadu to Earth-X, where World War Two raged on for decades. They land in Paris, which has been devastated by forty years of war and is only now beginning to rebuild, with the Eiffel Tower one of the few structures still standing. Supergirl smashes a tank that’s about to crush a kid and the third Horseman (War) introduces himself. He sends more driverless tanks and Supergirl smashes them all. War also affects the minds of the Parisians themselves, making them belligerent enough to want to attack Americans and throw them out of the country (not exactly a stretch when dealing with the French). Phantom Lady (one of the Freedom Fighters who helped end the War) tries to reason with them, but War knocks her on her ass. Madame Xanadu rescues her from being trampled and show War one of her tarot cards … The Fool. War is almost pulled into the card, but the Adjudicator makes him vanish instead. He returns Supergirl and Madame Xanadu to Earth-1, leaving the French citizens to realize how foolish they were to incite more war, and leaving Phantom lady to wonder what the hell just happened. We’ll see the conclusion of this tale next issue.
- I always thought Power Girl could fly, but it says here she can only jump (about an eighth of a mile at a time), like Superman in his earliest appearances.
- Earth-X was first seen in JLA 107-108, and further explored in the Freedom Fighters comic in the 70s.
Last issue, Green Lantern was assigned to help a planet (M’Brai) where three races—Primitives, Cormm, and Queln) are fighting each other for control. The Queln are using a ray to devolve their enemies into fish. GL wasn’t sure why the Guardians sent him there until he found out the Queln plan to use the devolving ray on the entire planet. GL also noticed a strange burn scar on the faces of a Primitive, a Cormm, and a Queln and that clued him in to the big secret … the guys with the scar were all the same individual. Evolution on M’Brai is cyclical, with beings starting out as Primitives, then turning into Cormm, and finally transforming into Queln. That explains why some of the aliens were popping out of existence last issue … they were moving up in the evolutionary chain, eventually turning back to Primitives and starting the cycle again. But the Queln obviously don’t know that, because if they succeed in devolving the Primitives into sea creatures, they’ll end up wiping themselves out too. GL is trapped in a liquid prison as the Primitives attack the Queln city. He manages to bust out and goes to stop the Queln satellite that’s going to fire the devolving ray over the whole planet. GL doesn’t like leaving the Queln and Primitives to slaughter each other, but when the Cormm join the fight, he figures he’d better take out the satellite since it’s the bigger threat. A handful of Primitives are clinging to the satellite and GL sets them down on the planet, wondering if this whole scenario has played out before in identical fashion except for his involvement. He remembers the meteor swarm he spotted last issue and uses it to smash the satellite, but the meteors just bounce off. The satellite explodes anyway and GL realizes the Primitives must’ve damaged it enough to destroy it. He sees things on the planet are winding down and he aliens who were killed simply move on to their next evolutionary step, so he figures his earlier speculation was right: the aliens have played out this little melodrama countless times before and it always turned out fine without his interference … so why the hell did the Guardians send him to M’Brai in the first place? Lantern finally figures out what the threat is—the meteor swarm that he calculated would strike an uninhabited area of the planet. He realizes that M’Brai’s ecosystem is so delicately balanced that the impact of the meteorites will knock the planet out of alignment a little, thereby screwing up the aliens’ evolutionary cycles. The meteors are too strong to contain, so he threads them like a giant beaded necklace and rags them out into space. Green Lantern realizes he didn’t need to go to M’Brai’s surface at all, and by doing so without taking time to properly assess the threat, he ended up putting the planet’s inhabitants in danger. So the Guardians have taught him a lesson about looking before he leaps. We’ll see what his next assignment teaches him in the next issue.
- There’s a Green Lantern Corps back-up (by Paul Kupperberg/Infantino/Chiaramonte) continued from last issue about a GL named Jeryll on a pacifist world called Glirell. The people of Glirell don’t like Jeryll being a Green Lantern because they abhor violence, so when the world is attacked by the Drelites they forbid her to use force against the invaders. Jeryll tries to fight defensively, but when the Drelites land and start wasting people, the pacifists of Glirell turn bloodthirsty. Jeryll stops them before they give in to their anger, and she goes out to destroy the Drelite fleet herself. She saves the planet and everyone thanks her for stopping them from giving in to violence. Jeryll says she has to leave, not because she used violence to defend Glirell, but because she kind of enjoyed it.
Last issue, Jonah Hex was kidnapped and hauled to China to do an unpleasant job for the warlord of the White Lotus Society. Hex refused, but changed his mind when he found out the warlord was also holding Hex’s wife (Mei Ling) captive. As this story opens, the warlord’s majordomo (Wu) tells Hex what his task is … to assassinate the Emperor. Wu explains that the Machu Empire has become corrupted over the centuries and China needs someone with a clearer vision to lead the country. The White Lotus Society tried to overthrow the Manchus back in 1796, but were crushed. They’ve been building themselves back up in secret, and spreading propaganda among the peasants to foster goodwill for a takeover. Wu has some lackeys jump Hex to test his ability to fight hand-to-hand and Hex kicks all their asses, earning some respect from Wu and the warlord. Hex and Mei Ling are confined to a chamber in the warlord’s palace until they’re needed. Mei Ling says she was trapped after following a telegram claiming Hex was in trouble. She admits she still loves him, but now is hardly the time to discuss it (and she’s not in the mood for any banging either). Soon Mei Ling is sent to Peking to meet a spy in the Emperor’s palace. The spy will slip Mei Ling into the Emperor’s seraglio so she can help Hex carry out the assassination. Hex doesn’t like her being sent undercover as a harem girl, but they don’t really have a choice. Outside Peking, Mei Ling meets the spy (Feng Yu-Hsing), who sneaks her through the stables into the palace, sending her down a secret passage that leads straight to the seraglio. As Feng is sneaking back out, he’s caught by palace guards and dragged off to be interrogated before he can kill himself. Back at the warlord’s castle, Hex is given his weapons and sent with an escort to Peking. Of course, Wu says Hex and Mei Ling will be sent back to America after the Emperor is dead, but Wu is planning to kill Hex as a way to cement the people’s loyalty to the new government. Hex is escorted across China and left outside Peking. He’s studied plans of the palace and climbs a wall near a guard tower. Hex has no intention of killing the Emperor, he just wants to find Mei Ling and get the hell out of there. He runs into a couple of guards and kills them as silently as possible. Meanwhile, Feng has been tortured and ends up confessing the plot to the Emperor, who calls his guards. (At least I assume that’s what’s happening … all the dialogue is in Chinese.) Mei ling slips out of the seraglio and lets Hex in through a door to the garden. Hex is wondering why all the guards seem to have vanished, but he quickly figures out the plan is blown when a contingent of guards shows up in the gardens. Another group of guards approaches down a corridor, hemming Hex and Mei Ling in. Hex starts blasting, but soon runs low on ammo, so he tells Mei Ling to run. She finds her way to the secret passage and gets inside just before the guards see her, but she’s worried about Hex. He’s almost out of ammo now, so he improvises, toppling a huge statue onto the guards before running like hell. He flees through the passageways, trusting his memory of the palace layout, but either his memory or the plans are wrong … he runs right into a dead end, with the guards closing in behind him. We’ll see how he gets out of this one next issue.