This one starts with Barry (Flash) Allen calling his parents to catch up. Apparently he’s not satisfied with the next best thing to being there, so Barry changes to the Flash and zooms across country for some home cooking. He ends up staying the night. Meanwhile in Central City, Mick (Heat Wave) Rory checks in with his parole officer, a guy named Hobart. Mick has a job at a glass foundry, and given his predilection for heat, that might seem a bit suspicious. But Hobart is pretty cool about it, saying Mick can keep the job as long as he stays out of trouble. Mick thanks him and Hobart says he wishes all his parolees were as serious about turning things around as Mick is. On his way home to Central City in the morning, Flash notices a plume of smoke near the highway. He checks it out and finds a flying drone has blasted an armoured car with flames and is now vacuuming the money out. Flash goes after the drone, but gets blasted by a burst of flame. The guards think he’s dead, but Flash vibrated through the ground and followed the drone, hoping it’ll lead him to the mastermind’s hideout. He’s forced to surface when the drone shoots flames at a charter bus; he grabs the drone just in time and shakes it apart, sending money flying everywhere. So Flash’s plan to follow the drone back to the culprit is over, but he’s pretty sure he knows who’s behind this caper, given the heat-based weaponry on the drone. Flash goes to the factory where Mick works, but his co-workers say mick was there all morning. Mick admits he’s the logical suspect for a flame-throwing drone, but assures Flash he has nothing to do with it. Flash doesn’t believe him and when Mick next meets with Hobart, Flash is hiding in the next room listening. Mick assures Hobart he’s innocent and Hobart believes him, but warns Mick to be careful, since Flash is looking for an excuse to put him away. After Mick leaves, Flash warns Hobart he’d better be careful, since Mick is probably guilty. When Flash leaves, Hobart plays with a crystal paperweight as he gets ready for his next parolee, a guy named Wiley. The next day, Barry heads to the State Capitol building to ask his sorta girlfriend Fiona Webb out to dinner. Fiona’s pissed off about Barry’s name being linked with his old friend, movie star Daphne Dean (as we saw in issue 308). But Fiona’s apparently moved on, as Barry sees her going to lunch with her boss, State Senator Creed Phillips, who’s young, rich, and handsome … if you like that type. Later, on the crappy side of town, a shadowy figure dons a Heat Wave costume and prepares for action. The next morning, Wiley returns to his place to find Mick waiting for him. Mick and Wiley used to be cellmates and apparently Mick talks in his sleep. He figures Wiley was taking notes so he could use the Heat Wave identity to commit crimes and let Mick take the fall. Wiley denies it, but Mick burns a hole in the closet, revealing some jewels that were stolen just last night. Mick decks Wiley and drags him to the police station to turn him in. The cops are surprised but grateful, and they tell Mick they’ll have the stolen jewels examined for evidence right away. Barry shows up for work and sees Mick talking to the cop. Barry quickly phases through the wall, not wanting Mick to see him. That goes back to issue 266, when Mick unmasked Flash and saw Barry’s face, but had no idea who he was. Barry doesn’t want to give him any hints now, so he makes sure Mick doesn’t see him. Later that day at Hobart’s office, we see what’s really been going on; Hobart hypnotized Mick and Wiley (with that crystal paperweight, which he calls a “light-mesmerizer”), picking Mick’s brain for info on how to impersonate Heat Wave, and setting Wiley up to take the fall. But Mick was too honest, turning in the loot before Hobart could get it back, so now Hobart has mesmerized Mick again and is going to set him up for the crimes. Hobart tells the hypnotized Mick he’s hitting the Diamond Exchange tonight and commands Mick to come to his place so he can finish framing him. That night, Barry hears a police call from the Diamond Exchange and zooms over as flash. The place has been turned into a super-sauna, sapping the energy from all the guards. Flash figures he’s immune, moving at super-speed, but the info Hobart gleaned from Mick has let him come up with a solution. Flash’s super-speed has upped the absorbtion rate of the energy, causing his molecules to superheat. Flash feels himself start to heat up on a molecular level and realizes he’s only got seconds to save himself. He shoots up into the air, freaking Hobart out. But Hobart soon has bigger problems, as Mick shows up (also dressed as Heat Wave) and challenges him. While the two Heat Waves fight, Flash uses his control of his own molecules to shed all the ones contaminated by Hobart’s energy. Flash zips around in mid-air like a dog chasing its tail, popping off superheated molecules all over the place. He notices Mick and Hobart are about to annihilate each other with fiery blasts, so he interposes himself between them, letting the last of his superheated molecules take the hit. Hobart is knocked out and Mick unmasks him. He tells Flash he was suspicious of Hobart so he cared a tape recorder to their last meeting. When he heard Hobart’s plans, he suited up as Heat Wave to stop him. Mick swears he’ll never wear the costume again and Flash actually seems to believe him for once.
- There’s a Dr. Fate back-up about Fate coming back from the other dimension he was trapped in last issue. Inza decides not to screw around on her husband, but she’s sick of sharing him with Nabu, so they have a big fight. Fate ends up facing the real threat behind last issue’s machinations, a renegade Lord of Order named Ynar.
This one starts with Wonder Woman heading back to Washington during a storm. She sees a semi truck out of control and manages to save it from crashing. She’s pissed off to find out the driver was playing a video game (Commander Video) while driving; good thing cell phones weren’t around back then or she’d really freak out. She turns the driver over to the cops and heads home. When she arrives home as Diana Prince, she’s surprised to find a roomful of people waiting to celebrate her birthday. It’s not her real birthday, just the date she put down for her government files, but she’s forced to play along. Besides Steve and Etta, General Darnell is there and so is Diana and Etta’s landlord, Mr. Abernathy. A few hundred miles away in Bleak Rock, West Virginia, we see Blockbuster hanging out with the family that took him in back in Detective 499. He’s playing the Commander Video game and seems to be addicted to it. When Willie Macon tries to take it away from him, Blockbuster slaps him down. The family is shocked, since Blockbuster has always been gentle toward them. Willie’s daughter gets mad and says she hates Blockbuster and he busts through the wall and runs off. At Diana’s place, Mr. Abernathy tells her and Etta he won’t have to raise their rent after all, which means they can stop looking for another roommate. General Darnell (who still has the hots for Diana from what I can see) gives her a Commander Video game as a birthday present. Diana doesn’t give a crap about video games, so Steve asks if he can try it. He mentions that tons of people at the Pentagon are playing the game. As he turns on the TV, they see a news report about Blockbuster rampaging near some missile silos in the Appalachians. The party breaks up and Diana changes to Wonder Woman and heads for the missile base, wondering why Blockbuster suddenly went nuts. When she arrives, Blockbuster is pulling a Hulk, tearing up the Army base and tossing soldiers around. Wonder Woman tries to reason with him, but he attacks her. She fights back and they pound each other for a while. Blockbuster is tougher than she thought, but she gets some unexpected help; Willie Macon’s daughter shows up and interrupts the fight. Blockbuster stops himself from harming her and she gives him the Commander Video game Willie took away from him. Willie mentions Blockbuster got the game from a truck driver he helped and couldn’t put it down. Willie has removed the batteries, but Blockbuster doesn’t seem to notice. Wonder Woman figures if a broken toy keeps him calm, what the hell. She remembers the truck driver playing the game while driving and decides she’d better look into the whole Commander Video thing. She returns to Washington and talks to Steve briefly before going off to check on Darnell, since he gave Diana one of the suspicious games. After she leaves, Steve pulls out a Commander Video game and starts playing with a glazed look on his face. The addictive video game thing reminds me of that Star Trek: TNG episode “The Game”, although I suspect this was just Marv and Roy’s way of jumping on the video game bandwagon, since they were a big deal at the time.
Huntress – “By Dusk’s Dying Light” – Paul Levitz/Joe Staton/Jerry Ordway
We finally get back to the Huntress storyline from issue 290; Huntress defeated the Crimelord but he told her he sent some of his thugs to the New Stratford Repertory Theater. The phone lines are down, so Helena Wayne is driving to the Theater like a bat out of hell (yeah, I said it). We’re not told who is at the Theater that’s got her so worked up, but I can make a pretty good guess. At the Theater, the thugs are playing cards, having taken out their target and tied him up. They bagged a bonus hostage too, District Attorney Harry Sims, Helena’s almost, sorta boyfriend, who was visiting the other victim when the thugs showed up. Harry gets loose and takes off to get help and the thugs hear something that makes them suspicious. They check out the Theater and Huntress takes one guy down on stage. The other is with the hostage, who turns out to be Alfred Beagle, the Waynes’ butler. (Yeah, his last name is Beagle … this is Earth-2, remember?) Huntress takes out the second thug, but he tells her it’s too late. They gave Alfred a pill that’ll release poison into his system in about four hours.
Last issue, Green lantern Hal Jordan met a fellow Lantern (Dalor of the planet Timron) who charged the beings in his space sector every time he helped them. GL was appalled and tried to stop him. Their argument delayed them helping a planet in trouble and an alien chief died. Hal accused Dalor of being responsible for the chief’s death and the Guardians convened a hearing to decide if Dalor is guilty or not. This issue opens on Oa, with the Guardians listening to both sides of the story. They say Dalor’s guilt will be decided the old-fashioned way, by proving himself worthy of being a Green Lantern. Dalor will go through a test of his skills and if he dies, that means he was guilty all along. GL thinks that’s a bit primitive, but for once doesn’t question the Guardians. Dalor agrees to the test and is sent into a portal where he has to face anti-matter bolts and yellow energy discharges, among other things. GL figures Dalor will end up dead for sure. The Guardians agree and send him to Timron to inform Dalor’s family of his imminent demise. GL’s not too thrilled with that, but he is the one who accused Dalor in the first place, so he agrees to go to Timron. He warps through space and finds the people of Timron have mistaken him for Dalor and are trying to give him piles of money and gems. Even when they know the truth, they still try to pay him, but he politely refuses. He finds Dalor’s house (it’s pretty hard to miss) and eavesdrops on his wife and kid. It’s the kid’s birthday and he loves the present his mom got him, so he gives her some money to thank her. He says he has lots of money to give his dad in exchange for his present when he gets back. At first, GL thinks Dalor’s avarice has corrupted his family, but after looking around the city for a while, he realizes his mistake. On Timron, everyone pays for everything: husbands and wives exchange dowries, kids pay cops for helping them across the street, and women pay guys for taking them on a nice date. (No word on whether they pay each other for great sex, but the way things seem to work I’m betting they do.) GL knows he screwed up by judging Dalor’s actions according to the dictates of human culture and not making allowances for the fact he’s an alien. GL zooms back to Oa and heads into the testing chamber. He rescues Dalor—who’s about to get killed—and tosses him out of the chamber, even though GL’s ring is flashing its low-charge warning. GL gets knocked out and drifts in the deadly chamber, as Dalor watches from outside. He tells the Guardians he owes no debt to Green Lantern, since GL endangered Dalor’s life and then saved it. The Guardians ask Dalor if GL’s willingness to admit his mistake and rectify it should count for something. Dalor decides it does, and pulls GL out of the chamber before he gets killed. Dalor says he’s learned that helping people doesn’t always need compensation and says he’ll spread the word on Timron. After he leaves, GL congratulates the Guardians on the way they played him, setting him up to intercept Dalor’s emergency call so he’d be forced to work with him and learn not to judge everyone by the same standards. GL reveals that he charged his ring before coming to help Dalor. He faked being out of charge, hoping Dalor would rescue him, but he didn’t want to get killed in case Dalor wasn’t quite altruistic enough. The Guardians congratulate him on figuring things out, saying he’s becoming a responsible citizen of the universe, not just Earth.
Last issue, Jonah Hex and his estranged wife escaped from China after getting mixed up with a treacherous warlord and his assassination attempt on the Emperor. A friendly first mate, Barnaby “Barnacle” Sledge, offered Hex and Mei Ling passage on a ship (the Malay Tiger) bound for the United States. It wasn’t till after they were under way that Hex discovered the ship isn’t carrying silk but opium. Barnacle tells Hex they recently lost a crew member and they needed someone to take his place fast, so Barnacle tricked Hex into coming aboard. The Captain (whose name is apparently Quirt) says Hex will be fine as long as he doesn’t give them any trouble. But when Barnacle threatens Mei Ling, Hex busts his head open and takes on the whole crew. He gets knocked out and Quirt lives up to his name by whipping the shit out of Hex. The ship’s doctor stops Quirt before he goes too far and Hex is forced to work alongside the rest of the crew. A few weeks pass and one of the crew comes down with cramps, fever, and jaundice. His crew mates recognize it as cholera and toss him overboard, but the doctor tells them cholera is spread through food and water, so half the crew probably has it already. Hex is one of the ones afflicted and ends up in bed with a raging fever. Mei Ling helps the Doc take care of him, but the Doc knows at least eighty percent of the crew will probably end up dying. In his fevered state, Hex has a dream about when he was a kid. He tried to stop his drunken father from beating on his mother by threatening him with a rifle. But the old man took the rifle away from Hex, beat the shit out of him, and went back to pounding his wife. Hex wakes up hearing his mother’s screams echoing through the cabin. He realizes it’s Mei Ling screaming and finds Captain Quirt about to rape her. Hex is weak from the fever, so Quirt gets the upper hand, but Hex evens things up with a stevedore hook to the gut. He tosses Quirt overboard—still alive—before Mei Ling reminds him the Captain was the only one aboard who could navigate the ship. The Doc tells Hex a quarter of the crew is dead and the rest are in bad shape.; what’s more, the food is contaminated, which is probably the source of the cholera. Hex and the Doc toss all the corpses overboard and Hex breaks out some fishing tackle so they can get some fresh food. They manage to live off fish for three weeks, although they have no way to know exactly where they are. Eventually, a storm comes up and drives the ship onto some rocks, breaking her up. Hex gets Mei Ling to a lifeboat, but he and the Doc are set upon by sharks. The Doc is dragged down and Hex stabs a few sharks with his Bowie knife before getting in the lifeboat, although his leg is bitten. He and Mei ling make the best of it (and I think they maybe get it on), but his leg swells up pretty bad and Mei Ling can’t stop saying “I told you so”. After a week, they’re rescued by a ship and taken to San Francisco. Hex’s leg mends and he’s ready to give married life another try. But Mei Ling says sometimes people just can’t live together no matter how much they love each other. Three weeks later, Hex’s leg is mended enough for him to say goodbye to Mei Ling, who’s going to her sister’s place to pick up their son and then … she’s not sure what she’s going to do, but she knows she’ll be doing it without him.