Last issue ended on a cliffhanger, as Flash was called to the JLA Satellite to see if he would be kicked out of the League after being arrested for killing Professor Zoom. The vote was split and Superman was supposed to be the tie-breaker, but we still don’t get to see the Man of Steel’s decision. Yeah, this is a reprint and it ends on the exact same cliffhanger as last time, with Superman about to render his decision. So we’ll have to wait a little longer to see if Flash stays in the JLA or is asked to leave. As for the reprint, it’s from Flash 165. I won’t go into detail, since I don’t usually bother with reprints, but basically it’s the story of Barry and Iris’s wedding being interrupted by the Flash. Turns out Professor Zoom switched places with Barry and left him trapped in the future while he imitated Barry (and Flash) in the present, planning to marry Iris in Barry’s place. Flash busted out, returned to the present, and interrupted the wedding, pounding the crap out of Zoom and marrying Iris for real (who didn’t know Barry was the Flash at that point). Next time we’ll hopefully get Superman’s verdict on Flash’s fate as a JLAer.
Much like the Flash tale above, this story reads like filler, but at least it’s not a reprint. Wonder Woman and Black Canary are playing zero-gravity handball on the JLA Satellite and Canary expresses doubts about Wonder Woman’s plan to share her secret identity with Steve Trevor. Wonder Woman launches into a tale of the ancient Amazons, back when they were still on the Aegean isle of Themiscyra. Hippolyta was Queen even back then and her best friend Artemis was chosen by Athena and Aphrodite to be the first Wonder Woman and go out into Man’s World. Artemis ran across a sinking ship and rescued its captain, Cleon, who immediately fell for her. One of Cleon’s men (who was actually Ares in disguise) warned Cleon that Amazons only respect those who best them in combat, but Cleon was undeterred. Artemis was hot for Cleon too and Ares went to her, using his godly persuasion to suggest that the Amazons were weak because they had no interest in conquest. Ares said Artemis would make a great leader, especially with Cleon by her side. Artemis swore she wouldn’t betray Hippolyta, but she ended up going to see Cleon, who challenged her (thinking that was the only way to win her). Ares had Eros make Cleon fall hopelessly in love with Artemis and the two of them rampaged across the ancient world, carving out a kingdom for themselves while conducting a passionate love affair. (Sounds more like Xena than Wonder Woman.) Eventually, Cleon suggested they attack Themiscyra, but Artemis refused. Ares brought news that Hippolyta was dead and Artemis headed back to Themiscyra to pay her respects. Ares and Cleon followed her, penetrating the screen of fog that protected the island from outsiders. Of course, Hippolyta wasn’t really dead and blamed Artemis for leading the invaders to the island. Artemis remembered Ares’s words and challenged Hippolyta, saying she was too weak to lead. The Amazons fought the invaders and Artemis came close to killing her best friend, until Hippolyta revealed that Cleon’s adviser was really Ares. Artemis knew she’d been duped and blamed Cleon, but couldn’t bring herself to kill him because she still loved him. Artemis took off and became more and more corrupted by the outside world until she finally challenged Athena and wound up dead (as we saw in Wonder Woman 302). Black Canary points out that the story suports her position … if Artemis hadn’t gotten so close to an outsider, everything would’ve been fine. But Wonder Woman says her interpretation is different; Cleon and Artemis loved each other from the start, but neither one told the other how they truly felt. If they had, Ares could never have led them into lies and betrayal and they’d have had a happy ending.
Huntress – “Avenue XX” – Joey Cavalieri/Tim Burgard/Rodin Rodriguez
Last issue, huntress discovered a weirdo called Earthworm was buying and selling black market babies. This issue opens with Earthworm acquiring some more merchandise from a junkie couple who need money for dope. Meanwhile, Huntress drops by Harry Sims’ office; Harry is Gotham’s District Attorney and Huntress’s boyfriend. Harry tells her the baby she recovered last issue is on heroin withdrawal and is hearing impaired. Harry thinks Huntress holding the baby is adorable, but she’s not impressed by his observation. She knows most of Gotham’s addicts congregate on Avenue XX, so she goes to check it out. Not far away, Nedra (the reporter who wants to end Huntress’s career out of jealousy) interviews Terry Marsh, the head of an anti-vigilante group that’s pressuring the cops to outlaw superheroes like Huntress. Nedra plays him like a violin, stoking up his anger (and his hormones). Huntress sees Earthworm heading into the sewers and follows, but he’s already disappeared. In his place, she runs into a trio of hungry alligators.
This is another filler issue and it definitely shows. Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan has been ordered to investigate a desert planet by the Guardians of the Universe and he brings his recent companion (or girlfriend) Dorine along. Hal can’t wait to end his space exile and get back to Earth, which worries Dorine because she knows she’ll have no part of that life. They land and find an entrance to an underground complex where they almost get killed by a couple of booby traps. Just when they’re wondering if the place is deserted, they hear a voice. When they rush to investigate, they find a short, yellow alien sprawled on the floor. As they try to help him, they’re caught in another trap, but since the cage is glass they quickly break free. They take the alien to safety and he tells them he and his wife are caretakers. He says the people have been affected by the Great Somnolence, a sort of sleeping sickness virus that causes people to fall into a coma, almost a living death. While he’s talking, Hal and Dorine start feeling tired and realize something’s sending them to sleep. They shake it off and the Caretaker is impressed, saying they’re just what he’s been looking for. Turns out he drugged them because he thought they might leave if they found out about the Somnolence, and he wants them to stick around because he needs GL’s ring. Hal blasts the Caretaker’s weapon and he runs off. Dorine examines the weapon and finds it’s designed to drain Hal’s ring of its power. Hal figures the Guardians sent him there to save the planet’s people, so he and Dorine track down he Caretaker. They find him in a vast chamber full of the Somnolent aliens, where he’s using his wife’s life force to try and revive them. The Caretaker says if his wife’s life force isn’t enough, he wants to use GL’s ring as a power source. The machine he’s using goes out of control and Hal shuts it down to prevent it from exploding. The Caretaker keels over as soon as the machine is shut down and his wife reveals that the Somnolent are dead already. The only thing keeping her husband alive was his constant striving to “waken” his people, so she played along to give him purpose. But once the machine was destroyed, the Caretaker had no reason to go on living. Dorine gets pissed off that Hal can’t resurrect any of the dead aliens, but he explains his ring doesn’t have that kind of power. Hal leaves the Caretaker’s wife to mourn, wondering what this was all about. I’m wondering the same thing. I think next issue is finally the end of Hal’s space exile, so maybe we’ll get some better stories.
- If you’re wondering about the “Noel Naive” credited as writer for this issue, it was quite the shit-show. Apparently, Keith Giffen and Robin Snyder co-plotted the story, but Alex Toth ended up deviating from their plot and just drew the story to suit his own whims (something Toth was notorious for). Toth’s changes were so far from the original, Giffen and Snyder asked for their names to be removed, so DC got Joey Cavalieri to come in and do the script to try and make some sense out of Toth’s story. Cavalieri did it, but when he found out why Giffen and Snyder had asked for their names to be removed, he did the same as a show of solidarity. Hence the pseudonymous writing credit.
Last issue, a couple of hick bounty hunters got onto Jonah Hex’s trail after Quentin Turnbull set him up as a bank robber, prison escapee, and possible murderer of the Governor (who actually died hitting his head while backing away from an angry Turnbull). The hicks (Homer and Wilbur) lay a trap for Hex, with Homer meeting him on the trail and asking for water as Wilbur lines up for a shot. Hex hears Wilbur cock his rifle and moves, getting hit in the ribs but not enough to kill him. He blows Homer’s head off and rides into the desert to get away from Wilbur. Wilbur gets pissed off about his dead brother and vows to track the wounded Hex into the desert and make his life miserable before finishing him off. Meanwhile, Quentin Turnbull is conferring with the warden of the state penitentiary. Turnbull is worried because he knows Hex has a letter signed by the late Governor proving he was acting undercover when he was sent to prison for robbery. The warden reminds him that Hex is now suspected of killing the Governor, so even if he clears himself on the other charges, he’ll still hang for murder. In the desert, Wilbur stays on Hex’s ass, pushing him farther into the forbidding landscape. Wilbur doesn’t get close enough for Hex to get a shot at him, but Wilbur’s carrying a Sharp’s rifle, so he has plenty of range. He shots Hex’s horse, forcing him to continue on foot. Wilbur and Hex both have canteens full of water, but Wilbur shoots a hole in Hex’s canteen, so now he’s without water in the middle of the desert. Wilbur yells at Hex, telling him he’s going to hang back and watch Hex die slowly. Meanwhile, Marshal J.D. Hart (who promised Hex’s estranged wife, Mei Ling, that he’d try to help Hex) finds Homer’s body and figures out what’s happened. He heads into the desert, following Hex and Wilbur. Hex has stumbled into a dust storm, which he hopes might help him get away from Wilbur. He comes upon a watering hole and thinks he’s saved, until he sees the sign beside the water proclaiming it poisoned. Hex freaks out, smashing the sign to pieces and yelling to the heavens about his predicament. Meanwhile, Mei Ling still believes in Hex’s innocence and is praying for him to get out of the trouble he’s in. In the desert, Hex’s thirst is making him hallucinate; he sees his parents, with his drunken father cursing him for a coward. Hex stands up and swears he’ll keep fighting to live, but he’s almost dead from thirst. Meanwhile, Quentin Turnbull is sipping French wine and worrying that his business interests might suffer because of the time he’s spent lately trying to get rid of Hex. In the desert, Wilbur finally finds Hex, whose tracks have been wandering in circles for a bit. Wilbur finds him collapsed just a few feet from the watering hole and thinks that’s hilarious. Wilbur has run out of water by now, so he starts slurping it up from the watering hole and soon regrets it … his guts cramp up like hell and he notices the broken sign nearby and knows he’s just poisoned himself. Wilbur realizes Hex’s meandering trail was a ruse to make him use up his water and lead him to the poisoned watering hole. Wilbur dies and the buzzards swoop in to claim him and Hex, who seems to be unconscious. J.D. Hart shows up to shoo the buzzards away, but he isn’t sure if Hex is alive or dead. We’ll have to wait until next issue to find out.