Comics Reviews: Flash 318, Wonder Woman 300, Green Lantern 161, Jonah Hex 69

Flash 318 coverFlash #318 – “The Killer Who Wiped Central City Clean” – Cary Bates/Carmine Infantino/Dennis Jensen

This one starts with Barry Allen and Fiona Webb having lunch and chatting about Fiona’s relationship with Senator Creed Phillips. Since Fiona and Barry used to date, that seems a bit tacky. Speaking of Phillips, his butler accidentally discovers that he’s really the murderous vigilante known as Eradicator, so Phillips disintegrates the butler to preserve his secret. Elsewhere, Captain Frye is dressed in his Captain Invincible costume, which looks like something a kid would throw together at the last minute. Frye still wants to be a costumed crimefighter, despite his heart condition and lack of any powers or training. He jumps on the roof on a getaway car from aFiona kidnapped by Eradicator heist and the robbers do the obvious … slam on the brakes and let Captain Invincible go flying. Luckily, Flash happens by to save Frye and capture the crooks. At a TV interview, Phillips gets worked up when he’s questioned about his support for vigilantes like Eradicator. Phillips starts ranting about getting rid of all the criminal scum and his eyes start glowing red. He walks out on the interview, dragging Fiona with him. She’s freaked out when he disintegrates a security guard and finally realizes Creed is the Eradicator. He steals a cab and takes off with Fiona. The story makes the news quickly and both Frye and Barry see it. Frye ducks into a car wash to change (I guess there were no phone booths available), while Barry zooms out at super-speed as the Flash. In a cave outside town, Phillips has Fiona tied up, but he talks like he and Eradicator are two separate people. Fiona figures he must have a split Flash and Frye fall to the streetpersonality, which is confirmed when a bear threatens them and Phillips becomes Eradicator and dissolves it into powder. Apparently, Phillips didn’t realize his connection to Eradicator until recently, but he planted a bomb in his apartment to wipe out any trace of evidence in case anyone came snooping. Of course, Flash is snooping at this moment and barely manages to vibrate his body to escape most of the blast. But the sheer force pushes him partway through the brick wall and his concentration lapses, so he ends up stuck there. Captain Invincible shows up and finds Flash sticking out of the wall. He uses some of his “cardio-power” (which I assume draws on his pacemaker somehow) to shake Flash loose from the wall. But he goes overboard, shattering the entire wall and sending both of them plummeting toward the street.

Wonder Woman 300 coverWonder Woman #300 – “Beautiful Dreamer, Death Unto Thee” – Roy and Danette Thomas/Gene Colan, Ross Andru, Jan Duursema, Keith Pollard, Keith Giffen, Dick Giordano, Rich Buckler/Frank McLaughlin, Tom Mandrake, Larry Mahlstedt

As you can tell from the credits, this is one of those all-star jams, with different artists for each chapter of the story. Personally, I find these anniversary issues to be a bit tedious sometimes; it seems like the creators are too busy trying to do something special for the occasion that they forget to actually tell a decent story. I guess they’re hoping the spectacle will outshine the deficiencies. Anyway, this one starts with Wonder Woman being attacked by a weird shadow creature in an alley. She’s been having nightmares for the past week about this shadow-thing, but she’s pretty sure she’s awake now, so the shadow has escaped from her dreams and is attacking her in real life now. Her lasso is useless and she can’t seem to affect the creature, but it can grabSandman saves Wonder Woman her. Before it can choke her to death, she’s rescued by the sudden appearance of the Sandman, who forces the shadow creature to disappear. This is the red and yellow Simon & Kirby Sandman from the 70s (aka Garrett Sanford), not the Golden Age superhero currently popping up in All-Star Squadron. Sandman says he monitors dreams from his Dream Dimension and when he saw the creature manifest in reality he came to help. Sandman also hits on Wonder Woman relentlessly, but she’s not interested. He warns her she probably hasn’t seen the last of the shadow demon and he takes off. Wonder Woman ponders her personal life as Diana Prince, wondering if living two separate lives—especially working with Steve Trevor as Diana while loving him as Wonder Woman—is contributing to her nightmare manifesting in reality. She heads to the Pentagon as Diana Prince Earth-2 Wonder Woman rescueand is surprised to learn she’s been promoted by General Darnell. Darnell kisses her as he gives her the new rank insignia, which he’d never get away with these days. While learning about their next assignment (some conference in Mexico) Steve gets kind of huffy and Diana wonders if he’s jealous because she’ll soon be equal to him in rank. Diana gets tired of Steve’s macho bullshit and walks out, but she can’t help wondering about Darnell’s motives for promoting her, since he’s always had a thing for her. She goes for a ride in her invisible jet and the shadow creature shows up again. She’s certain she’s awake, but the creature distracts her and she almost crashes into the Washington Monument. She’s stopped at the last second by … Wonder Woman. Yeah, while the shadow creature was distracting her, she somehow wound up traveling through the dimensional barrier to Earth-2. The two Wonder Womans have met before, but technically that was forty years agoWonder Woman meets Lyta Trevor in Earth-2 time. Wonder Woman is amazed at how little her counterpart has aged, a few grey streaks in her hair being the only obvious signs. Diana (I’ll refer to the Earth-2 WW as Diana just to avoid confusion) invites Wonder Woman to her place for dinner. Wonder Woman is surprised to find out Diana is married to Steve Trevor, who has aged normally, putting him in his sixties. Diana shows Wonder Woman her Paradise Island museum, which makes her feel at home. She also meets Steve and Diana’s daughter, Lyta, who’s super-strong like her mother. Lyta is excited at the thought of being trained by two Wonder Womans, but her mother says Wonder Woman is heading home right after supper (which was cooked by Steve). As she’s leaving, Wonder Woman points out that Diana is only aging half as fast as Steve. Diana is well aware of what that means (even though she’s given up her immortality by Wonder Woman proposes to Stevemarrying a mortal), but says it’s the years you have that count, not the ones you miss. Wonder Woman heads back to Earth-1 and decides it’s time she stopped screwing around and looked to her own happiness. She goes to see Steve and saves him from some terrorists, then tells him she’s ready to marry him. He’s thrilled and she says they might as well get to it, suggesting they do it in a couple of weeks on Paradise Island. Steve says she can plan everything since he has to go the conference in Mexico right away. Of course, Diana Prince is going to that conference too and Steve doesn’t know she’s really Wonder Woman. Instead of just telling him, she figures the Diana Prince identity will no longer be useful, so she decides to kill off her alter ego. As they’re flying to Mexico they get a warning that the briefcase containing top secret papers (which is chained to Diana’s wrist) has a bomb in it. Diana says there’s no time to waste, grabs a parachute, and bails out. The parachute doesn’t open and theDiana fakes her death bomb goes off, blowing Diana to hell … or that’s what everyone believes, anyway. At Diana’s funeral, Wonder Woman shows up to give a nice eulogy and afterwards is startled when Sandman shows up. He knows her secret identity since he’s privy to her dreams, which makes her rather uncomfortable. He offers to tell her about himself and launches into his origin story. Basically he was a scientist (Garrett Sanford) who found a way to read people’s dreams, which are events that actually occur in the Dream Dimension. When the President’s mind got hijacked into the Dream Dimension, Sanford suited up as Sandman and physically entered the realm to save him. He restored the President’s mind but couldn’t return to the real world. Sandman's originEventually he found a way to manifest physically, but only for an hour at a time. Sandman tells Wonder Woman he’s in love with her and wants her to be his bride in the Dream Dimension She’s not into it and he warns her the shadow creature might pop up again when she least expects it. She wonders if that was a veiled threat, but is too busy planning her wedding to worry about it. She heads to Paradise Island to get things set up, including a giant platform so none of the males invited will touch the ground. She falls asleep in her mother’s throne room and has a dream about when she rescued Steve after his plane crashed near Paradise Island. This version is much like the original story—Diana and Steve fall for each other, she wins the contest to become Wonder Woman and take Steve back to Man’s WorldMala becomes Wonder Woman—but this time, Hippolyta is so sad to see Diana leave, she sacrifices her mortal existence to join the goddesses in Olympus. That leaves Diana as the new Queen of the Amazons, which means Mala (the runner-up) is Wonder Woman and takes Steve back to the States, leaving Diana behind to wonder what might have been. She wakes up and thinks she sees the shadow creature. She talks to Hippolyta (who admits she almost did sacrifice herself to keep Diana on Paradise Island), who knows nothing of the shadow demon. Wonder Woman watches the wedding preparations and falls asleep again, having another dream about saving someone from a plane crash. This time, the guy (who looks kinda like Tony Stark) is named Trevor Stevens and he’s a smooth-talking ladies Wonder Woman captures Trevor Stevensman. Diana falls for him, despite (or because of) her mother’s disapproval. Diana and Trevor take off in the middle of the night and Diana has to fight off an Amazon armada that Hippolyta sends after them. When they reach the States, the cops are waiting to arrest Trevor, who stole an experimental laser. He wastes a bunch of cops and Diana is shocked to see that her mother was right about him. She catches him and he tells her he never gave a damn about her. Wonder Woman wakes up and sees the shadow creature again. She decides to ask the JLA for help and heads up to the Satellite, where she runs into Superman. Instead of asking him for help, she just drops off the wedding invitations and heads back. On the way, she falls asleep and dreams about rescuing Superman near Paradise Island and falling in love with him. They get married, but the pressure of them both being super-heroes means theybreaking up with Superman have pretty much zero time to spend together and they split up. Wonder Woman wakes up and wonders why she’s having these “alternate reality” dreams; theoretically, any of those things could’ve happened, but they didn’t so why are the dreams bothering her so much? Paula advises her to talk to Steve for reassurance. She does, but they’re cut off before she can tell him everything and she falls asleep again. In this dream, Wonder woman goes to Man’s World with Steve, but only because she wants to clean it up and counteract the terrible male influence on the world. In other words, she’s a stereotypical uber-feminist (with possible lesbian undertones), which man-hating Wonder Woman goes on the runseems to be what a lot of men thought feminism was back in the 70s and 80s. She ends up trying to take over the American government (since women are better rulers than men) and when Steve tries to stop her, he’s killed by bullets ricocheting off her bracelets and she becomes a wanted criminal. She wakes up and heads to her wedding, troubled by the implications of the nightmare. The wedding ends up not happening because Steve backs out at he last second. He tells Wonder Woman he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Diana Prince since she died. Wonder Woman tries to tell him she is Diana, but he won’t listen. He says he just can’t marry her until he figures out what’s going on. The wedding is called off and Wonder woman is comforted by her mother. Wonder Woman considers telling Steve the truth about her dual identity, but figures he might never trust her again. She fallsSteve jilts Diana at the altar asleep on the beach and Sandman appears, taking her into the Dream Dimension with him. The Dream Dimension manifests as a wonderful realm of starlight and mist, which Sandman says was shaped by Wonder Woman’s own mind. He tells her he loves her and she seems like she’s kinda into him (probably just a rebound thing), but wonders if he’s been sending the shadow demon after her all this time. He swears he had nothing to do with the shadow creature and says she’s safe from it here. But he’s wrong … the shadow shows up and attacks her again. But in the Dream Dimension, the creature is vulnerable to her attacks and she forces it to reveal its true nature. It’s the manifestation of her self-doubt, her anxiety over her double life. Now that she’s recognized and confronted it, the creature fades into nothingness. Wonder Woman faces the shadow creatureSandman admits he knew what the creature represented, but really believed she’d be safe from it in the Dream Dimension. She tells him she still loves Steve and Sandman says she should try to find a more open and honest way to express that love. Wonder Woman heads back to the real world and goes to see Steve (after stopping in Mexico to send a telegram from Diana Prince saying she miraculously survived the explosion). Wonder Woman and Steve reiterate their love for each other, but there’s no mention of trying another wedding right away. I was kinda expecting this whole thing—especially the almost-wedding—to end up being a dream, but apparently it all really happened, which you’d think would be a bi awkward but Steve and Wonder Woman don’t seem too bothered by it.

Noticeable Things:

  • The whole promotion thing for Diana is really screwed up. When she and Etta arrive at the Pentagon, they’re both addressed as Lieutenants; then Darnell calls Diana “Major Prince” as a way of letting her know about her promotion, but she says “Don’t you mean Captain Prince” before realizing she’s just been promoted. So was she a Lieutenant or a Captain right before her promotion? And Darnell tells her that if she completes the next mission well, she might make Colonel very fast, but later on he actually addresses her as Colonel Prince! If that wasn’t enough, when she’s promoted to Major, Darnell hands her two General’s stars instead of oak leaves as her new insignia. You’d think somebody at DC would know a bit about the military.
  • Lyta Trevor will be showing up very soon as a member of Infinity Inc.
  • Guests at the almost-wedding include: Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Firestorm, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Atom, Zatanna, Red Tornado, Starfire, Wonder Girl, and Power Girl.
  • For the art credits: Wonder Woman’s Earth-2 jaunt was done by Andru/Giordano; Sandman’s origin was Giffen/Mahlstedt (with a big Kirby influence); the Mala becoming Wonder Woman dream was by Duursema/Mandrake; Diana falling for Trevor Stevens was by Giordano; Wonder Woman marrying Superman was by Buckler; the man-hating Wonder Woman was by Pollard; and everything else was Colan/McLaughlin.
  • The inside covers had a couple of cool black and white drawings by George Perez (a forerunner of his post-Crisis series?) and Mike Kaluta.inside covers-Perez/Kaluta

Green lantern 161 coverGreen Lantern #161 – “And They Shall Crush the Headmen” – Mike W. Barr/Keith Pollard/Pablo Marcos

Last issue, Green Lantern ended up on the planet of he Headmen, a super-evolved race that mentally enslaves the rest of the population. A freedom fighter named Onu (who GL met years ago when she visited Earth) was leading an insurrection against the Headmen, but she and GL were captured and scheduled to be executed. Luckily the cavalry showed up, in the form of the Omega Men, to rescue them. The Headmen quickly flee, leaving the Omega Men, GL, and Onu to regroup. (This issue uses the name Dorine to refer to Onu, since that was the name she used when she first metOmega Men rescue GL and Onu GL, but last issue called her Onu so I’m going to refer to her by that name.) The Omega Men are aware that the Headmen have been trying to join the Citadel, and since the Citadel are their sworn enemies, they’re willing to fight the Headmen with everything they have. Harpis gives GL shit because his ring has run out of energy and he has no way to recharge it, but he says he doesn’t need a ring to fight. The Headmen contact Lord Tiror, the new Citadel leader, but the transmission is cut off. The Omega Men, lantern, and Onu split up to invade Headmen headquarters. Onu goes with Broot, Kalista, and Demonia, but they run into a snag … some Headmen have taken some of Onu’s fellow rebels prisoner and threaten to kill them if she doesn’t Onu chooses to fightsurrender. Onu considers it, but decides her fellow freedom fighters might be better off dead than enslaved again, so she attacks the Headmen. The Headmen are defeated, but a couple of the rebel prisoners are killed. Elsewhere, GL and the rest of the Omega Men are attacked by Headmen who have turned invisible. Harpis uses her wings to stir up dust, coating the Headmen so the others can see them … and pound them. Meanwhile, Lord Tiror has been contacted by a Guardian of the Universe (which is why his communication with the Headmen was cut off), who reminds him that the Guardians and the Citadel have a peace treaty going back a long time. By allying with the Headmen and trying to capture a Green lantern, Tiror is putting that treaty in jeopardy. Not wanting to piss off the Guardians, Tiror says he’ll deny the Headmen membership in the Citadel and let Green Lantern leave unharmed. GL and friends are already doing pretty well, busting into the Headmenpounding the Headmen control room and pounding the shit out of them. But it turns out the Headmen were a little distracted because a ship full of Psions is heading for the planet. The Omega Men are familiar with the Psions—a reptilian race that performs hideous experiments on anyone they can get a hold of—so Primus says it’s time to get the hell out of there. GL insists they bring Onu and her rebels and the Omega Men agree, taking off just before the Psions arrive to check out their new playthings, the Headmen. GL suggests Onu and her people settle on the deserted planet that was once Evil Star’s homeworld; Onu thinks that’s a great idea, but assumes GL will be joining her. I guess she took their night of passion before the execution more seriously than GL did.

Jonah Hex 69 coverJonah Hex #69 – “The Gauntlet” – Michael Fleisher/Dick Ayers/Tony DeZuniga

Last issue, Jonah Hex ended up acting as deputy Sheriff in Gravesboro for an old friend named Rehnquist, but got more than he bargained for when a guy named Kincaid showed up. Kincaid was involved in the payroll robbery fifteen years ago that ended with Hex’s fiancée (Cassie Wainwright) getting killed by Comanches. Hex has been killing off the other people responsible (although he wasn’t actually hunting them, they came after him) so Kincaid figured he’d better take Hex down. He arranged an ambush with his partner in crime (a Shoshone Indian named White Claw) at the saloon, but when Hex walks in he sees White Claw’s reflection in the bar mirror. He wings White Claw andWhite Claw takes off guns down Kincaid, but the Indian jumps through the window and takes off. Hex goes after him, tracking him to a farm where he killed a farmer and stole some horses. The trail leads Hex to an old adobe cliff dwelling where he meets a family in a covered wagon heading north. They say they haven’t seen White Claw and Hex warns them to be on the lookout. After he leaves, he hears shots and rides back to find White Claw was hiding nearby but took off when the guy shot at him. Hex goes after White Claw but ends up getting jumped by other Shoshone and dragged back to their camp. White Claw tells the chief that Hex is after him for no reason, but Hex tells him all the terrible stuff White Claw has done. The chief doesn’t believe Hex’s accusations, but has heard of Hex and knows him as a man of courage and running the gauntlethonour, so he says Hex can have a chance at survival by running the Gauntlet. Basically, he has to run through a line of Shoshone who hack at him with clubs and tomahawks and (if he survives that) chase him across country. Hex takes the beating and eventually gains on his pursuers, finally losing them by jumping off a cliff into a river. Half-dead, he washes up on shore and is found by … someone. He wakes up in a cabin and finds his rescuer is Emmylou Hartley. Emmylou has been hung up on Hex ever since he saved her from Indians (back in issue 50), but they haven’t seen each other since she found out he was married (in issue 53). Apparently finding out Hex had a wife didn’t kill Emmylou’s fatal attraction; she’s been following him around for monthsHex fights White Claw and when she saw him jump off the cliff, she pulled him out of the river and brought him to an old trapper’s cabin. Emmyou says she still loves him, and Hex ends up humouring her … by which I mean he nails her. The next morning, White Claw shows up, having tracked Hex to the cabin. They start fighting, but Hex is at a disadvantage since he broke some ribs jumping off the cliff. The fight ends up outside where Hex slips on some ice. Just as White Claw is about to finish him, Emmylou grabs his arm and gets a knife in the chest. Hex goes nuts and butchers White Claw with an axe. Emmylou tells Hex she loves him and he says it back, but I’m pretty sure he only said it because he know she’s dying.

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