Comics Reviews: Flash 321, Wonder Woman 303, Green Lantern 164, Jonah Hex 72

Flash 321 coverFlash #321 – “Hell in the Fast Lane” – Cary Bates/Carmine Infantino

This one starts with Barry Allen having a weird nightmare. He figures it was prompted by guilt over being in love with Fiona Webb. Part of him still wonders if he’s betraying the memory of his dead wife, Iris, but he can’t help the way he feels. He calls Fiona and asks her out for the weekend. At a prison upstate, an alarm goes out about an escaped prisoner … a very special prisoner. Guards and dogs fan out to search for him, but it turns out the escapee is disguised as one of the guards. He killed a guard inside and assumed his identity to get out, and now he knocks out another real guard and takes off. Who is this mystery criminal? We don’t actually get to see his face, but it’s Saber-tooth, master assassin, who we last saw in issue 291. The next day,Barry escapes explosion Saber-tooth is back at work (so to speak), taking a contract from a shady character on Barry Allen. Barry and Fiona go out to the cemetery to visit Creed Phillips’s grave. Fiona’s still trying to get over Creed’s death and the fact that he was the crazed vigilante Eradicator (as we saw last issue). Barry decides to give her some time to sort things out before telling her how he feels. As he’s waiting by his car, Saber-tooth launches some heat-seeking rockets that home in on the still-warm engine. The car is blown to pieces, scaring the shit out of Fiona, who thinks she’s lost another person close to her. But Barry changed to Flash at the last second, vibrating clear of the explosion and going on a hunt for the killer. He actually runs right past Saber-tooth (who thinks he succeeded in killing Barry) disguised as an ice-cream salesman. Tomar down on the farmAs he looks for clues, Flash wonders why anyone would want to kill Barry Allen. He finds the remote used to trigger the rockets, but it’s booby-trapped and disintegrates, taking any evidence with it. Flash knows he’s dealing with a pro and changes back to Barry Allen. He staggers out of the bushes saying he was pulled clear of the explosion by the Flash. Fiona is overjoyed to see him and thinks it might be a sign that they both have a second chance to face how they feel about each other. On a farm a few hundred miles north of Central City, alien Green Lantern Tomar-Re is devouring pancakes and hanging out with the friendly people who rescued him last issue. Tomar still has to deliver a message to Flash from the Guardians of the Universe, but his ring is out of charge, so he has to figure out another way to travel. In a strange dimension filled with swirling colours and weird shapes, someone who looks a lot like the Flash is changing vibrational frequencies as fast as possible to try and find a way to escape. Back in Central City, a couple ofcemetery punks punks try to steal the ashes from a dead celebrity’s mausoleum when they think they’re being attacked by a ghost. One of the punks starts floating in air and gets slammed into a gravestone, while the other is chased by his own power tools and ends up falling into an open grave. He finally figures out what happened when Flash slows down enough to be seen. The cops haul the punks away and wonder why Flash just happened to be at the cemetery. Turns out he was visiting Iris’s grave, basically making peace with his decision to pursue a relationship with Fiona. Meanwhile Saber-tooth’s employer has realized Barry Allen is still alive, but Saber-tooth promises he’ll finish the job right this time. And e see the “other” Flash getting out of the psychedelic dimension where he was trapped … yup, it’s Professor Zoom and he isn’t happy.

Noticeable Things:

  • Iris’s grave says 1945-1979, but in the next panel the death date says 1972. The first one is obviously right.
  • The two punks were breaking into the mausoleum of old-time comedian Farley Wheaton … maybe a reference to Buster Keaton?
  • Through this entire issue, Saber-tooth’s face is always hidden from view; we’ll find out why next issue.

Wonder Woman 303 coverWonder Woman #303 – “Mystery of the Magnetic Menace” – Dan Mishkin/Gene Colan/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts with Steve Trevor monitoring a test flight of a new jet. Everything’s fine at first, but the pilot runs into some kind of anomaly in mid-air and his jet is completely torn apart. Diana Prince is just returning to work (after faking her death a few issues back), but because of the jet explosion, Steve is too busy to greet her properly. At least Etta’s happy to see her. She introduces Diana to the new member of the team, Keith Griggs. Griggs looks a lot like Tony Stark to me, and he acts like him too, immediately flirting with Diana. Steve and Griggs explain the new project (called North Star) to Diana. It’s a new navigational system based on satellites that map out Earth’s magnetic lines to serve as navigational aids, sort of like how birds navigate. But something obviously went wrong with the first test flight so Steve and Griggs volunteer to go up and check thingsDiana meets Griggs out. They fly a couple of jets up to where the first jet exploded and Griggs is the first to spot something weird … a giant magnetic apparition that looks human-shaped. As communications are disrupted, we get a better look at the apparition and judging by the goofy helmet and magnet emblem on the chest, this is Dr. Polaris. Polaris is undergoing some kind of strange transformation and giving off magnetic energy like crazy. The energy is pulling the jets toward Polaris and Steve realizes the first jet must’ve tried to get away and ended up being pulled apart. Steve figures they can use the pull toward Polaris to give them enough speed to slingshot free of the magnetic field. He Wonder Woman punches Dr. Polarisand Griggs try the risky maneuver as Diana changes to Wonder Woman and comes to help. As the two jets break free, Wonder Woman goes after Polaris, who’s now manifested fully. (Polaris had previously gotten trapped in Earth’s magnetic field when trying to absorb too much magnetism back in Green Lantern 135.) Wonder Woman tries to deck Polaris, but he senses her coming and partially avoids the blow, wrapping her up in the wreckage of the crashed jet. She’s about to summon her robot plane as a distraction when Steve buzzes Polaris, breaking his concentration long enough for Wonder Woman to free herself. But before she can grab Polaris, he uses his powers to aim Steve and Griggs’s planes on a crash course toward each other.

Huntress splashHuntress – “Undertakings” – Joey Cavalieri/Mike DeCarlo/Tony DeZuniga

Last issue, Huntress fought a goofball named Pat Pending, who supposedly died during the fight, making Huntress, the cops, and her boyfriend (District Attorney Harry Sims) wonder if she was responsible for Pending’s death. But upon reflection Huntress thinks there’s something fishy going on and decides to investigate. Sims mentions that another crook Huntress recently brought in—the Mechanic—died a couple days after being released. Huntress checks the death certificates and finds the same doctor signed both, a guy named Amos Tarr. Both funerals were held in the same place, Willow Funeral Home, where a very interesting resurrection is taking place. Pat Pending is being revived by the Undertaker, who used a drug to simulate death in Pending so Huntress would get in trouble and the cops would stop looking for him.Huntress knocked out Undertaker offers to ship Pending out of the country for a 50% share of Pending’s latest score. Pending thinks that’s steep, but it’s better than tangling with the cops—or Huntress. Huntress is outside, recording everything and she gets a real scoop when Dr. Tarr shows up. He gives Pending a “sedative” that turns out to be poison; why settle for half when they can take all the client’s money? Huntress busts in and pounds undertaker, but gets knocked out by their thug, Milo. She wakes up strapped to a conveyor belt that feeds into a cremation furnace, which is where Pending’s body ended up only minutes ago. We’ll see how she gets out of this one next issue.

Green Lantern 164 coverGreen Lantern #164 – “Green Lantern the Barbarian” – Mike W. Barr/Keith Pollard/Dan Adkins

As you can tell from the cover and title, this one’s kinda goofy. It starts with Hal Jordan waking up in a medieval world where he’s known as Haljor the Barbarian, wielder of the Powersword (a magic sword that has a familiar green glow to it). Someone busts into Haljor’s room and he’s ready to slice them up, but it turns out to be his companion, Dorinda, who’s got a slight Red Sonja thing going on. (Dorinda looks just like Dorine, aka Onu, who Green Lantern’s been canoodling with for the last few issues.) Dorinda informs Haljor that the king’s men are looking for him and moments later, a couple of guards burst in to tell him the king orders his presence at the castle. Haljor doesn’t like being ordered around, so he fights the guards, wasting them with his sword while Dorinda faces some more guards outside. During the fight, Haljor has a strange flash of memory asHaljor fights guards Hal Jordan’s personality tries to assert itself, but it only lasts for a second. Haljor and Dorinda soon realize they’re outnumbered and decide to stop fighting. A familiar face is in charge of the guards, Thomal, who looks just like Tom Kalmaku. Haljor and Thomal are friends, so he goes quietly to the king’s Castle on the Coast. There King Caarl (who resembles Carl Ferris) tells Haljor his daughter Princess Caarol (you can guess who she looks like) has been kidnapped and needs rescuing. Haljor still has feelings for Caarol (which bothers Dorinda), even though they broke up a while ago. Hal Jordan’s personality tries again to reassert itself, but is again repressed, and Haljor and Dorinda set out to find Caarol. Meanwhile, someone is watching crystalline dudethis ersatz D&D campaign in a magic crystal. Speaking of crystal, back on Earth, the guy who found the weird crystal a couple issues ago goes to the hospital when his arm starts turning crystalline. The doctors can’t help and his entire body suddenly turns to crystal, making him look like a cross between Iceman and Martinex. He starts talking in a weird alien voice, boasting about growing big enough to threaten the planet as he drains the carbon from every human he can find. On Oa, the Guardians of the Universe are aware of the situation, but since Hal Jordan is currently in exile, they decide to make other arrangements. In the fantasy world, Haljor uses the Powersword (which functions a lot like Green Lantern’s ring) to figure out Caarol is being held at Castle Oan. He and Dorinda are transported there by the wizard Guardon (who looks like a giant Guardian with three heads), whoHaljor fights Guardon tells Haljor he kidnapped Caarol because Haljor was thinking about her too much and neglecting his duties. Haljor gets past Guardon and finds Caarol in a cell. He releases her, but Guardon confronts them before they can leave, throwing a giant piece of stone at them. Haljor can only shield one of the women and chooses Caarol, who he loves more than Dorinda. He freaks out on Guardon, slicing him down to size with the Powersword and threatening to kill him. Before he can go through with it, Hal Jordan’s personality emerges and Green Lantern finds himself in Limbo with the guy who’s been putting him through all this crap … Myrwhydden. Myrwhydden is a sorcerer who was trapped inside the Power Ring by Abin Sur and escaped to fight Hal once before (way back in GL 26). Myrwhydden realized he could sap Hal’s Green lantern outmaneuvers Myrwhyddenwill power to escape the ring, so he engineered the loss of the Power Battery a couple issues back, making Hal exert all his will power to retrieve it. That gave Myrwhydden the power to pull Hal inside the ring, where he concocted the barbarian fantasy to drain the rest of Hal’s will. Myrwyhdden says the medium was his creation, but Hal supplied the details: the sword and sorcery setting, choosing Carol over Dorine, his resentment toward the Guardians. Myrwhydden figures he can keep Hal trapped inside the ring until he exerts the rest of his will power, but Hal decides to stop the sorcerer’s game once and for all by killing himself. Myrwhydden knows if a Green Lantern dies, the Guardians will be all over him, so he releases Hal, who pops back into existence right where he disappeared at the end of last issue. Hal knows Myrwhydden might try the same trick again, so he uses the ring to put Myrwhydden into a deep sleep until the Guardians can deal with him. Hal tells Dorine they have to talk. Back on Earth, John Stewart gets a call from the Guardians that he’s needed … as Green Lantern.

Jonah Hex 72 coverJonah Hex #72 – “Tarantula” – Michael Fleisher/Dick Ayers/Tony DeZuniga

Last issue, El Papagayo kidnapped Jonah Hex’s current girlfriend, Emmylou, to force Hex to masquerade as Papagayo and steal an emerald necklace from the Mexican president’s wife. Hex pulled off the ruse, but as he was mounting a horse to escape, a dozen federales sprang from ambush to shoot him. Hex is gunned down before he can tell anyone who he is and the federales soon determine that “El Papagayo” is dead. They put the body on display the next day to revel in their triumph and lots of people turn out to see the famous bandido’s corpse. Two of the witnesses soon ride back to the real El Papagayo’s hideout to tell him what happened. Papagayo isn’t exactly sad about Hex’s demise (although Emmylou is heartbroken) and figures he can make a play for the necklace (which is on loan from the Spanish government) now that everyone thinksHex jumps grave robbers he’s dead. A few days later, a couple of El Papagayo’s men dig up the grave where Hex is buried to get his fancy Colt Dragoon pistols. But (surprise, surprise) Hex isn’t really dead, so they find a coffin full of rocks. Hex jumps them and kicks their asses before turning them over to the federales. Turns out the whole thing was Hex’s plan; he contacted the federales to tell them about being disguised as El Papagayo, suggesting they “shoot” him so the real Papagayo would feel safe enough to try for the necklace himself. The federales will be waiting when El Papagayo makes his attempt. Unfortunately, they’re overheard by a gravedigger who rushes off to warn El Papagayo about the trap. Papagayo turns the tables, setting up an ambush in a canyon. He threatens to kill Emmylou if they don’t hand over the necklace, but the colonel in charge won’t give it up so Hex knocks him out and forces the Hex and Emmylou in the wellfederales to hand it over. Hex rides off with El Papagayo’s forces, but Papagayo’s still pissed off about Hex’s double-cross, so he knocks him out as soon as they’re clear. Hex wakes up at the bottom of a dry well, tied up with Emmylou beside him. El Papagayo dumps a basket full of tarantulas on them before riding off with the necklace. Emmylou’s freaked out by the spiders but Hex tells her they don’t bite unless provoked, and their venom usually isn’t strong enough to kill. Emmylou cuts her ropes on Hex’s spurs, then unties him before fainting. Hex brushes off the spiders and carries Emmylou out of the well. Later that night, El Papagayo is mourning the death of an interesting adversary like Hex. As he’s talking, Hex silently takes out several guards and disguises himself to get right up to the campfire. Papagayo suspects nothing until Hex pulls a gun on him, then knocks him out. Hex drags Papagayo to the federales (who toss him in jail) and returns the necklace.

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