Comics Reviews: Flash 319, Wonder Woman 301, Green Lantern 162, Jonah Hex 70

Flash 319 coverFlash #319 – “A Slight Touch of Death” – Cary Bates/Carmine Infantino/Dennis Jensen

Last issue, Eradicator was revealed as a sort of “alternate personality” of Senator Creed Phillips and he took Phillips’s girlfriend (Fiona Webb) hostage. Flash almost got blown up checking Phillips’s apartment and when Captain Invincible (police Captain Frye) came to help, they both ended up plunging through the wall toward the street. Frye slaps the shit out of Flash on the way down, finally waking him up with less than a second to spare. Flash saves himself and Frye, the takes Captain Invincible away for a chat. Frye admits he can use something he calls “cardio-power” to smash stuff, but won’t explain where the power comes from. I’m assuming it has something to do with his atomic powered pacemaker, which seems a bit dangerous. Frye admits he hasn’t quite learned to control the power yet, which is why he smashed the apartment wall and almost sent them both toEradicator tells Fiona his origin their deaths. Flash makes Frye promise to let him catch Eradicator, since Fiona’s life is at stake. In a cave outside Central City, Eradicator tells Fiona how he came to be. Phillips was on the campaign trail a while back and was really pushing his anti-crime platform. Some mobsters took him at his word and tried to kill him by dumping him with some plutonium they’d stolen. But instead of dying, Phillips was transformed into Eradicator, although he had no idea at first. The plutonium somehow made Phillips’s subconscious desire to eradicate crime manifest as the Eradicator. Fiona accuses him of being a murderer, but Eradicator says he’s just cleaning up the streets. Meanwhile, Flash has been searching all through Central City for Eradicator, without any luck. Captain Frye gets a package at the police station addressed to Flash saves coupleFlash from the Eradicator and is shocked by what it contains. Flash saves a young couple from the secondary effects of a safe-cracking gone bad and rounds up the crooks. He wonders if everything that’s been happening lately is causing him to lose his objectivity. Since Eradicator took Fiona, Flash has been forced to admit that his feelings for her are stronger than he’d thought. There’s an interlude with the Guardians of the universe on Oa. Apparently they have some very important—and potentially devastating—news to deliver to Flash. Normally, they’d get Hal Jordan to do it, but he’s currently exiled to space, so they choose a different Green lantern (Tomar-Re) to go to Earth and talk to Flash. I don’t know why they didn’t just get John Stewart; maybe he’s only called in when the GL of Sector 2814 is incapacitated, and Hal technically isn’t incapacitated, he’s just unavailable. Captain Invincible has followed the package instructions to Eradicator’sFlash saves Invincible hideout outside of town, but Eradicator catches him right away. Even though he senses no evil in Frye, Eradicator decides he’d better kill him anyway. The cops have told Flash about the package and he zooms to Frye’s office to check it out. It’s a challenge and a crude map to Eradicator’s hideout and Flash is pissed off that Frye went there without him. Frye’s probably thinking better of it too, as his stun gun is useless against Eradicator. The murderous villain absorbs the stun rays and picks Frye up like a rag doll, then disintegrates him. Eradicator leaves and we see that Frye isn’t actually dead, he’s sprawled under a nearby bush with a broken arm. Flash showed up and rescued Frye at super-speed, substituting pulverized soil to make it look like Eradicator had dissolved Frye’s flesh. Frye admits he was stupid to take Eradicator on himself and wishes Flash luck as he goes after the crazed vigilante. We’ll see the final showdown next issue.

Wonder Woman 301 coverWonder Woman #301 – “Dark Challenger” – Dan Mishkin/Gene Colan/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts with Wonder Woman winning a race on Paradise Island. She congratulates the runner-up, an Amazon named Althea, who gave her a pretty good race. Sofia Constantinas was watching the race and thinks Diana’s powers give her an advantage. Sofia is a mortal woman who received a vision from Athena a couple issues ago and came to Paradise Island to train. Sofia wonders if Amazon training can really make her stronger and faster than others, but Hippolyta reminds her that she’s missing the point. The goal isn’t to outdo others, it’s to challenge yourself to become the best you possibly can. Hippolyta asks Sofia to demonstrate her marksmanship with a crossbow by shooting at Wonder Woman. Diana uses her bracelets to turn the bolts back so they hit two targets beside Sofia. Later, Sofia apologizes for getting mad and says she’sWonder Woman saves Sofia not used to trusting people. Wonder Woman is cool about it and says she made the right call bringing Sofia to Paradise Island. In Washington, Steve Trevor, Etta Candy, and General Darnell are discussing Diana Prince, who’s “on leave” after returning from her (faked) death last issue. A new officer shows up and introduces himself ass Major Griggs; he looks a bit like Tony Stark to me. On Paradise Island, Sofia tries to swim to a small islet inhabited by a sacred eagle to show Diana that she’s taking her training seriously, but she gets grabbed by something under the water. Wonder Woman rescues her and Sofia says it was the thing from the cave where she had her vision of Athena. Wonder Woman dives underwater and meets a skeletal version of Wonder Woman fights skeletonherself wielding a sword and shield, just like the one Sofia and Steve saw in the cave a couple issues back. Wonder Woman realizes the skeletal champion is strong—maybe stronger than she is—and quickly moves the fight to the islet. The eagle tries to help Diana and the skeleton stabs it. Wonder Woman freaks and tosses the sword into the sea. |The skeleton immediately stops fighting and dives in to retrieve it. Diana goes to tell her mother what happened and Hippolyta has an idea who the skeleton might be. It rises from the water and sucker punches Diana with the sword, knocking her out. Hippolyta realizes her fears were true … the skeleton is that of the original Wonder Woman. We’ll see how this plays out next issue.

Huntress – “A Little Learning” – Joey Cavalieri/Don Heck/Larry Mahlstedt

This one has a cutesy framing device of Helena Wayne talking to a junior high school class about her career. They figure being a lawyer, especially aHuntress takes down the Mechanic liaison between her firm and the D.A.’s office, must be really boring. But as Helena describes the daily routine of her job, we see the parts she’s leaving out, like arguing with her boss/boyfriend Harry Sims because he’s worried about her getting hurt as Huntress. She sneaks a look at a file on a killer called the Mechanic, then tracks him to a seedy bar and kicks his ass. The kids leave still thinking her job is boring and later Huntress tracks one of the Mechanic’s men to a guy called the Undertaker (who actually works in a funeral parlor) and it looks like Undertaker might be the big boss.

Green Lantern 162 coverGreen Lantern #162 – “… or Give Me Death” – Mike W. Barr/Keith Pollard/Rick Hoberg

Last issue, the Omega Men helped Green Lantern rescue his old friend (and love interest) Onu from the Headmen who were enslaving them. GL has brought Onu and her followers to Evil Star’s old planet so they can rebuild it and make a new life for themselves. GL and Onu have been pretty cozy lately and it’s obvious she’s in love with him and expects him to stick around. But Hal Jordan isn’t that easy to tie down; he’s not sure how he feels about Onu, so he tries to play things cool. Onu can tell he’s not as enthusiastic as she is about their romance, so GL tries to reassure her by inviting her onto his ship for a tour. When he goes to recharge his ring, he finds the Power Battery is missing. They spot someone running away but it turns out to be a kid named Ph’rax, one of Onu’s followers. The ship takes off by itself and gives GL a message; his Powership takes off by itself Battery is inside an airlock and will be jettisoned in half an hour. It sounds like the ship has become self-aware and resents being “used” by Green Lantern, so it’s taking revenge. GL, Onu, and Ph’rax head for the airlock, but the ship isn’t making it easy, screwing with the environmental controls and slamming doors all over. On Earth, a guy walks past a destroyed building and finds a strange crystal (which we saw a couple issues ago) on the ground. He picks it up and his entire arm starts turning to crystal and a voice speaks to him from inside the stone. The Guardians of the Universe are observing this and agree it could be a major threat to Earth, but since GL is currently galley attackbarred from returning to Earth, they’ll have to figure something else out. On GL’s ship, he and his companions make their way through the ship, but Ph’rax ends up inside an airlock and is blown out into space, where he explodes. GL and Onu cut through the galley, where the ship throws food at them. (Apparently GL eats pretty well on the ship; the food replicators toss steak, cakes, and pies at him, among other things.) He almost gets wasted by a flying table, so he and Onu crawl through the galley to the other side, emerging covered in food. Onu says they were lucky to get out alive, but GL thinks it could have been a lot worse. What does he mean by that? We’ll have to wait until next issue to find out.

Jonah Hex 70 coverJonah Hex #70 – “The Mountain of the Manitou” – Michael Fleisher/Dick Ayers/Tony DeZuniga

Last issue, Jonah Hex was saved by his old flame Emmylou, who ended up getting stabbed trying to help him. I assumed Emmy was dead, but I guess she’s tougher than she looks. As soon as Hex buries his attacker, Emmy is ready to leave the old trapper’s cabin where they holed up. She mentions how the men responsible for the death of Hex’s fiancée fifteen years ago have been coming after him and getting killed. There’s only one guy left from that bunch, but Hex says the fires of vengeance have died down over time, so he has no intention of tracking down the last survivor. But that man (a guy named Ernest Daniels, who’s an upstanding citizen in a nice town) can’t stop thinking about his sordid past. He confesses to the local Reverend his part in the payroll robbery and the deathHex gets his guns back of Cassie Wainwright. He’s used the money he got to build up the town, constructing a school and an orphanage, but he still feels guilty. The Reverend tells him to make amends to Cassie’s closest kin and Ernest remembers Hex. He’s just read about Hex’s adventures in Gravesboro, so he decides to head down to Texas and ask Hex for forgiveness. His sons think he’s nuts (though he doesn’t tell them why he’s going), but one of them (Tim) offers to go along. Down South, Hex and Emmy sneak up on the Shoshone village where Hex was held last issue. He wants his guns back (matched Colt Dragoons, very rare!), so he takes out a guard and starts a fire in an empty tent as a diversion. He goes into the chief’s tent and decks him, steals back his guns , and takes off. He gets away with only an arrow in the arm, which Emmy soon patches up. They hear jumping in the rivershots and go to check it out. Turns out Ernest’s other son (Jason) wants his dad’s money, so he’s hired some bushwackers to kill him and Tim. Of course, Ernest and Tim don’t know who’s shooting at them and Ernest is shocked when Hex and Emmy show up. Hex saves Ernest from getting blown away, then regrets it after he recognizes him as one of the guys responsible for Cassie’s death all those years ago. But Ernest’s ambushers are targeting Hex now too, so he figures they’d better cooperate and settle their personal score later. The bandits have them surrounded and backed up against a cliff, so Hex figures the only way to go is down. They let a rope down the cliff and slide down, but the rope snaps and they plunge into the river. Hex keeps Tim from drowning and they grab a big piece of driftwood to stay afloat. They notice a waterfall ahead and Hex lassoes a dead tree, pulling them to shore. Theycrazy visions take refuge in a cavern with carved steps leading to it, but as soon as they enter they’re knocked out. When they revive, they find out they’re being held by a Native American demagogue with delusions of grandeur. He’s like an Old West version of Charles Manson, believing that a great war between whites and Indians is coming and that he’s destined to lead the Indians to victory. He figures he can jump start he war by dynamiting a river so it floods a prosperous valley, drowning several white settlements—including the one where Ernest lives. He’s going to leave evidence blaming the Indians (a medallion with a swastika on it … I know swastikas were ancient Eastern symbols, but did Hex takes out the guardNative Americans ever use them? Maybe it’s just reinforcing the Manson metaphor.), so the whites will blame the Indians and attack them. The leader and his men go to divert the river, leaving one man on guard. Hex gets a couple of cartridges from his belt and tosses them in the fire to distract the guard. He takes the guard out and Emmy uses his knife to cut them free. There’s only one horse left, so Hex says he’ll try to stop the Indians from blowing the river, but before he can leave, Jason and his ambushers show up to finish them all off.

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