Comics Reviews: Flash 313, Wonder Woman 295, Green Lantern 156, Jonah Hex 64

Flash 313 coverFlash #313 – “3-Way Fight for the Super-Simian” – Mike W. Barr/Carmine Infantino/Dennis Jensen

This one starts in Central City’s slum district, where a drunk in an alley gets a surprise. An entity pops out of nowhere, evolves the drunk’s body into a futuristic form (which he christens Psykon), and pops back through another space warp. Psykon materializes outside Gorilla City in Africa. He fights his way inside, using his vast mental powers to overcome the super-intelligent apes, but ends up disappointed. The object of his quest, a high-tech prison cell, is empty … though the gaping hole in the wall tells us how the occupant left. Back in Central City, Fiona Webb shows up for a date with Barry Allen, who’s running late as usual. (Judging by Fiona’s dress, which is slit right up to hr hipbone, she’s expecting to get lucky tonight.) Barry completes the dinner prep at super-speed and he and Fiona settle down for some romance. They’re interrupted when the lights go out, which could be romantic exceptPsykon fights Grodd the entire city is blacked out. Barry tells Fiona he has to go to police headquarters and leaves, changing into Flash as soon as he’s out of her sight. Flash sees a glow downtown and checks it out, finding Psykon and Gorilla Grodd fighting. Flash has no clue who Psykon is, so after he saves some cops from getting squished, he tries to find out. Grodd isn’t even sure who his sparring partner is until Psykon admits that he’s William Dawson. That name does resonate with Grodd, but if you’re like me you’re probably asking who the hell William Dawson is. Psykon is good enough to fill us in: years ago (back in Flash 115), Grodd escaped his prison cell in Gorilla City by taking a pill that killed his physical body, but allowed his mind to take over the body of a nearby human … William Dawson. Grodd used his mental powers to evolve (or devolve) Dawson’s human body into an exact replica of Grodd’s gorilla bod. Psykon causes Flash to hyper-accelerateGrodd assumed Dawson’s mind perished, but Dawson says his consciousness actually drifted through space all this time, growing in power. A few months ago (in Flash 294), Grodd escaped his cell again by changing his form back to that of William Dawson to fool his guards. Dawson’s mind felt an irresistible pull when his body was recreated, so he’s returned to Earth to oust Grodd’s mind and reclaim his original body. Grodd asks Flash to help him, which Flash does since he can’t just stand around and watch anyone get killed. But Psykon’s mental powers are strong and he hits Flash with a blast that causes his to hyper-accelerate. Try as he might, Flash can’t slow down or even change direction and realizes he’ll soon end up running himself to death. Grodd and Psykon engage in a duel of mental powers; Grodd tries to bury Psykon, who bursts back out of the ground, flinging rocks at Grodd. Flash decides the only way to escape the mental aura that compels him toFlash returns to challenge Psykon run is to speed up. It works and he pulls free of the aura, turning back toward Central City to help Grodd. Grodd needs help, as Psykon is doing the old “stop hitting yourself” routine, forcing Grodd to beat the crap out of himself. Flash distracts Psykon and we learn that Grodd has plans of his own. (Was there ever any doubt?) Grodd escaped from Gorilla City thanks to Psykon distracting the guards and he knew Flash would be noble enough to protect even an enemy. But Grodd doesn’t really care who triumphs, Flash or Psykon, he’s planning on pounding the exhausted winner either way. Flash realizes Psykon draws his power from the electrical grid (hence the blackout), so he generates some lightning and lets it hit Psykon. Unfortunately, it has no effect, but Grodd decides he’d rather have Psykon’s super-evolved body than his own, so he attacks, switching bodies with Psykon. But Grodd’s mental powers Grodd devolvedaren’t strong enough to sustain the hyper-evolved form and he immediately devolves back into the drunken bum we saw at the beginning of the issue. Grodd tries a mental attack on Psykon’s ape form, but Psykon retains enough mental prowess to parry the attack, change the ape body back to William Dawson’s original form, an devolve Grodd’s mind to match his new shape … that of a Skid Row wino. I guess that’s the worst form of punishment for someone like Grodd, who values his mental prowess above anything. Turns out Flash was in telepathic contact with Psykon and proposed the two of them fight Grodd together, since Flash knew Grodd would try a double-cross. Dawson apologizes for some of his antics as Psykon, saying it’s hardBarry getting lucky, Grodd not so much to keep in touch with your human side when you have that much power. Flash is cool with it and lets Dawson go to rejoin humanity. After the blackout ends, Barry Allen returns home and Fiona is still there waiting with dinner; she turns off the lights and they skip straight to dessert. Later, we see Grodd the Wino begging for change, not knowing who he really is. I’m sure Grodd will get back to his old self eventually … you can’t keep a good ape down.

Wonder Woman 295 coverWonder Woman #295 – “Video Mania” – Roy Thomas (plot), Dan Mishkin/Gene Colan/Frank McLaughlin

Last issue, Wonder Woman became aware of a new video game (Commander Video) that seemed to be spreading like wildfire. This was during the big boom in video games, so I guess Roy was trying to be topical. Commander Video seems to enthrall he people who play it, even more than a normal video game does, which is what raised Wonder Woman’s suspicions. As this issue opens, Diana Prince is returning a dress that Etta bought her. The toy store on the next level of the mall is mobbed by crazed customers looking for Commander Video games, so Diana changes into Wonder Woman to do some crowd control. The people are getting intense (though it’s not much worse than Wal-Mart on Black Friday) and they really get wild when they learn the store is sold out of Commander Video games. One guyWonder Woman shores up the walkway grabs a security guard’s gun, but Wonder Woman plays bullets and bracelets and calms the crowd with her magic lasso. They crush of shoppers on the walkway above the storefront causes the columns to start breaking, so Wonder Woman shores them up and herds the shoppers out of the mall. As she takes off, we see someone in a Federal prison watching her on TV. It turns out to be the guy behind the Commander Video scheme, who has a transparent head and a bunch of machinery where his brain should be. His name is General Electric (yeah, I know) and apparently he has some kind of mental influence over the guards and the warden. We get a rundown of his origin: he fought Sandman (that’s the red and yellow Sandman from the 70s series, not the Golden Age one) with an army of robots and got his ass kicked. While in Wonder Woman takes down Darnellprison, he created the Commander Video game and is using it to take over people’s minds, figuring he’ll get farther with an army of enthralled humans than he did with robots. He’s pissed off at Wonder Woman for stopping blockbuster (apparently he was supposed to steal the missiles for the general) and tells the warden the Amazon has to die. The General gets in touch with one of his puppets … General Darnell. Wonder Woman shows up at the Pentagon and smashes the video game Steve is playing. She goes to check on Darnell (since he gave Diana one of the games last issue) and overhears him transferring a pile of nukes to the prison where the General is held. She tries to stop Darnell and he shoots at her, so she kicks his ass. She’s forced to flee whenWonder Woman vs the Army he yells for help and tells the soldiers she attacked him. Wonder Woman goes to stop the soldiers transporting the nukes, but they’re under the sway of the game as well. She pounds them and they launch a missile at her. She evades it for a while, but realizes she’ll have to take the hit in case it ends up landing on some innocent bystanders. She rams the missile with her invisible jet, which crashes. The soldiers drag her unconscious body from the wreck. We’ll have to wait until next issue to see what happens.

Huntress splashHuntress – “Out of the Darkness” – Paul Levitz/Joe Staton/Jerry Ordway

Last issue, Huntress found Alfred being held by a couple of the Crimelord’s thugs at an old repertory theater. She pounded the thugs but learned they’d given Alfred a slow-release poison capsule that would kill him within a few hours. Huntress leans on the thugs, wringing every detail of the poison from them before she decides to get Alfred to a hospital. Harry Sims shows up (the District Attorney who knows Huntress is Helena Wayne … and is in love with her) with the cops and they take Alfred. Harry explains he came to see Alfred to ask about Helena and why she does what she does; Harry loves her but hates her lifestyle, so heHarry, Helena, and Alfred in the graveyard thought Alfred could give him some insight. Of course, Alfred told him nothing, but when the thugs showed up Harry escaped and went for the cops. Helena thinks back over all the losses she’s suffered—her parents, her grandparents—but can’t bring herself to tell Harry about them. The doctor says the poison is too esoteric, so there’s nothing more they can do. Huntress borrows the lab and puts her skills to good use, figuring out an antidote just in time. Later, Alfred thanks Helena and Harry and goes to visit Bruce Wayne’s grave, silently telling him Helena is a great kid. Harry tells Helena he loves her, but we don’t hear her response.

Green Lantern 156 coverGreen Lantern #156 – “Judas World” – Mike W. Barr/Gil Kane

This one starts with Green Lantern answering a distress call on the other side of his Space Sector. GL recognizes the location as that of a planet called Pharon IV, but it shouldn’t be an exact copy of Earth. (Pharon IV is said to be a billion miles from Earth, so I’m assuming that’s in another galaxy.) He runs across a planet that looks exactly like Earth and figures he’d better check it out. This ersatz Earth has perfect replicas of California, Ferris Aircraft, and even Carol Ferris. When Tom Kalmaku and Rich Davis show up, Green Lantern knows he’s being played, but gets distracted by a tidal wave. He stops the tsunami and calls Carol and Tom out on their crap, forcing them to return to their true forms with his ring. They turn out to be red aliens with tentacles and once their ruse is discovered, they blast Green Lantern with psychic energy, seeminglyGL uncovers the fake Carol and Tom and pays the price obliterating him. The aliens change back to their human forms and head off to some meeting, followed stealthily by Hal Jordan, who used his ring to turn human and don a disguise to blend in. He finds out the Pharonians are replicating humans so they can go to Earth and replace their human counterparts. They plan to take over bit by bit until there are enough Pharonians on Earth to build Xeroz tubes, which will move Earth through outer space. They’re going to go kamikaze, directing Earth at their mortal enemies (a planet called Dalgova) and bail out at the last second, leaving Earth to smash into Dalgova and obliterate it. That sounds like a pretty stupid plan; why not choose a planet closer than Earth? GL fights PharoniansAnd if they have tech that can move a planet through space, why can’t they build a weapon to blow Dalgova away? The Pharonians notice Hal spying on him, but he’s warned by one of the Pharonians before they can kill him. He pounds his attackers and thanks the renegade alien (whose name is Trigus) for helping him. Trigus says wiping out Dalgova is one thing (they’ve been at war for eons), but killing a whole planet full of non-combatants is dishonourable. Nice to see this guy has his priorities straight. GL gets an idea how to stop the war and zooms off to Dalgova, just in time to find the Dalgovans preparing a “genocide gas” to wipe out Pharon IV. GL uproots the Dalgovan capital city and brings it back to Pharon IV, where he destroys the gas and the Xeroz tubes. He creates aGL makes the war more personal bunch of old-fashioned weapons—spears, knives, axes, and such—telling the aliens if they want to fight they’ll have to do it up close and personal. This sounds like a nod to the TOS episode “A Taste of Armageddon”, and the result is basically the same. The two alien races aren’t keen on getting their hands dirty, and since neither side can really remember what they were fighting about, they agree to sit down and talk. GL tells the Pharonians to change their planet back to its original configuration and leaves the two races to make peace.

Jonah Hex 64 coverJonah Hex #64 – “The Pearl” – Michael Fleisher/Dick Ayers/Tony DeZuniga

This one starts with Jonah Hex losing most of his money at a poker game in San Francisco. He’s smart enough to walk away and heads for his hotel. On the way, he’s solicited by a floozie in he street, but he tells her he’s flat broke. He’s also still thinking about his estranged wife, Mei Ling, who told him last issue that their problems were too big to work through. hex’s reverie is broken by a scream from the alley. He checks it out and finds some masked thugs trying to twist information from the woman he saw earlier. He pulls one guy off, but getsHex saves Sharon ambushed and shot in the leg. Hex shoots back and kills one guy. The others toss the woman at him and take off. She thanks him and says her name is Sharon Hilliard, daughter of a big copper magnate with a mansion on Nob Hill. Sharon tells Hex she used to date a guy named Rankin who told her about a huge pearl he’d “acquired” and hid in a cave down the shore. Rankin told her where the pearl was hidden just in time; a bunch of thug beat him to death trying to find out where the pearl is, then came after Sharon. She asks him to protect her from the thugs and waves a bunch of money in his face. (She claims her father kicked her out for dating Rankin, Sharon thanks Hex who was poor, so she can’t ask him for help.) Hex agrees to keep her safe, and starts by getting her a separate room at his hotel. (Sharon says she’s eighteen, but who knows?) Later that night, the thugs try to grab her and Hex shoots some of them. The rest take off and Sharon thanks him for saving her by giving him some hot sex. Hex says they should go find the pearl that everyone’s after and heads out to get the horses ready. He’s approached by a dude named Atkins, who works for old man Hilliard, Sharon’s father. Atkins tells Hex Mr. Hilliard really wants to meet him to talk about Sharon, but Hex says he’s busy. Atkins pulls a gun and Hex decks him, but he’s knocked out by one of Atkins’s men. Hex wakes up in Hilliard’s mansion,Atkins knocks Hex out where Hilliard apologizes for the rough treatment, saying Atkins was overzealous. Hilliard tells Hex his daughter is kind of a ho, and that she likes to make up wild stories to get attention from men … like a story about a huge pearl in a cave. Hex figures the guys trying to kidnap Sharon aren’t figments of her imagination, so he’ll keep an eye on her whether Hilliard likes it or not. Hilliard gets mad, figuring Hex is just after Sharon’s money and some cheap sex. Back at the hotel, Sharon gets mugged by the thugs and Hex finds a chloroform-soaked rag in her room when he gets back. He tracks the kidnappers to one of Hilliard’s copper smelting facilities and finds out the leader of the thugs is Atkins. He overheard Sharon telling her father about the pearl, but he doesn’t believe her when she says she made it up. Hex gets knocked out and he and Sharon are tied to the conveyor belt feeding into the Hex pounds Atkins and his mensmelting furnace. For once, the bad guys find and confiscate the Bowie knife Hex hides in his collar, so he won’t be using that to escape. Atkins and his men turn the conveyor belt on and leave their captives to think over their predicament. Hex urges Sharon to tell Atkins where the pearl is, but she admits she just made it all up. Hex works one hand loose and grabs a chunk of ore, tossing it at the control lever and shutting down the conveyor belt. Hex blocks the chimney flue, sending smoke billowing through the place. Atkins and his men freak out, thinking the smelter has caught fire. Hex takes advantage of their confusion and pounds them. Sharon figures Hex will be mad that lied about the pearl, but he says she’s not the first crazy broad he’s met.

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