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Monday, 27 January 2020

Supergirl S05E11 Review

A link to my review of this week's Supergirl.

Batwoman S01E11 Review

A link to my review of this week's Batwoman.

Flash 165 - teaming with Captain Cold

Great Bolland cover for Flash 165 (Oct 00), and it's not even a cheat. Johns, Unzueta, and Hazelwood explore the unfriendly Flash-less world further in this issue.

Picking up from the end of the previous issue, Captain Cold explains that he woke up in this reality 3 hours earlier, and has been trying to figure it out since. He heard the news about Wally West's arrest, so came to free him, so they could work together. While the Flash isn't super keen on that, he needs his old foe's help. There is a cute moment when the guards mistake Captain Cold for Mr Freeze, which incenses the villain, who insists that Freeze's gun just shoots snow, while his slows down molecules to create the cold, and then freezes and shatters the guards to prove it.

We see the Thinker in this one, as well as his silver masked gun toting minion, Plunder. They learn of the breakout from the police station, but the Thinker has other plans of a more pressing nature.

Wally figures they need to talk to Jay Garrick to learn how things went awry, but when they go to his house they find Joan married to Edward Clariss, who had been Jay's enemy Rival. Clariss is now an abusive drunk, and Joan explains how Jay got sickened by the fumes of the hard water experiment, but that was it. He later joined the army and died during World War 2. Captain Cold murders Clariss, not liking abusive drunks, and they head on. Oh, and also in this story Cold talks about the death of his sister, Golden Glider, for the first time. I was amazed when he commented that he was glad she was dead. That attitude would change in later years.

Barry Allen is still alive, working as a police scientist, with no super powers. The Justice Society formed, but died in an early battle against Stalker, the fight recounted in the Justice Society Returns miniseries. Similarly, there was a Flash-less Justice League, many of whom died fighting Starro, and a Kid Flash-less Teen Titans who got trounced by Mr Twister. The heroes who remained alive through all that became much more violent, leading to the world they are in now.

Captain Cold also takes the Flash to see the charred remains of Central City, which was sealed off and devastated by the Thinker, Fiddler, and Shade, corresponding to the events in the Secret Origins version of Flash of Two Worlds. But the Flash points out that it was Keystone, not Central, that this took place in in their reality. And that Captain Cold is right handed, but has been using his left hand dominantly since they have been together. They are in some sort of mirror universe. At that point, the cops, and Barry Allen, show up.

The story continues in the next issue.

Flash 164 - in a world without any Flashes

Geoff Johns begins his run on the series with Flash 161 (Sept 00). During his run, I would start reading this title regularly again, for the first time since the very early 80s, and I sought out all the back issues of his run. So for me, this is sort of the first issue of the series. Brian Bolland does the cover, and Angel Unzueta joins Hazelwood on the art.

The story has a very abrupt opening, with Wally West getting hauled into a police station. They say he is a high school teacher in Blue Valley, and none of the cops seem to know who the Flash is, or recognize his outfit. This world is clearly more violent than the one we are familiar with, as there are notices on the walls about the deaths of Dr Alchemy, Mirror Master, Tickster and the Folded Man, and later in the issue we find out Aquaman is also dead. Wally has no idea what is going on, and when he tries to use his speed to get away discovers that his powers are gone. Mick Rory is one of the police, who doesn't understand why Wally calls hims Heat Wave, and there is another brutal cop named Chyre.

Wally gets thrown into a cell, and has a nightmare about Jay Garrick turning into a monster. From the cops we find out that the Thinker is pulling off some major crime spree with a minion called Plunder, and then Wally meets Fiona. She is not given a last name in the issue, but since Wally thinks that she looks familiar, I suspect this is meant to be Fiona Webb, the woman Barry Allen almost married after the death of Iris.

Wally talks to her about the Flash legacy, Jay Garrick being the first, and then Barry Allen taking his place, and then Wally taking on the identity after Barry's death. None of this is familiar to Fiona, who thinks Wally is just making everything up. I love that Golden Glider and the Top are shown together, a rarity despite the fact that they had been a couple.

The water Fiona gave Wally turns out to be drugged, and she suddenly comes off as a malevolent figure. Wally is on the verge of accepting that he is crazy, but he still has his wedding ring on, which means Linda is real, and he trusts that his other memories are real as well.

He makes another failed attempt to use his speed to break out, but then Captain Cold shows up, killing the guards, including Heat Wave, and opening Wally's cell. Captain Cold calls him the Flash, so he clearly knows more about what is going on than Wally does.

A tantalyzing opening, the story continues in the next issue.

Flash Annual 13 - Salamanca and the Argentine heroes debut

Flash Annual 13 is one of the Planet DC annuals from this year, introducing heroes from other nations, in this case Argentina. Chuck Dixon scripts, with art by Enrique Alcatena. As with the other Planet DC annuals, the characters introduced in this story will be almost completely ignored and forgotten about.

But the art is excellent, and that makes it worth looking at anyway. Jay Garrick gets to open the issue, being chased by scary little puffballs. He collapses and gets captured, and then the story shifts over to Wally, who is playing chess against Oracle when Salamanca manifests in the JLA Watchtower, telling him that the heroes of her country have been captured, and that she needs his help.

The villain, Gualicho, shows up as well, and his argument with Salamanca draws the battle lines pretty clearly. He wants to get rid of Argentina's heroes and rule the world. Both he and Salamanca are magically powered, and he mystically defeats and bottles up the woman.

So that leaves the Flash to fight the little puffballs, and save the country. There are a number of other Argentine heroes that we see briefly. Some are visually quite interesting, but we never find out much about them, not even their names in many cases.

Wally accepts a challenge from Gualicho, a race, of course, with the villain sending out nasty creatures to try to stop him. Wally prevails, and Salamanca, Jay Garrick, and the other Argentine heroes go free. 

Flash 163 - saving his friends' lives

Pat McGreal and Ron Lim join Hazelwood for a one shot story that sees the Flash save the lives of four of his Justice League buddies, in Flash 163 (Aug 00).

The story begins as Wally West and Linda Park receive a belated wedding present, a pair of carved doves from Uncle Toby. Once they realize that neither of them has an Uncle Toby, Wally inspects the birds and discovers that they are a bomb. He disposes of it, but as it explodes he picks up a signal, mentioning that there are other metahuman targets.

Tracking the source of the signal he finds an abandoned office, with a computer listing Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and Aquaman as the other targets. So Wally races to each, and in each case the heroes are about to interact with something that appears to be one thing, but is actually a more deadly trap.

I like that Superman is shown in the B13 Metropolis, that the changes to the city were acknowledged. The story is fairly simple, showing the Flash saving the four heroes.

He moves so quickly that none of them are aware of his presence at all, nor the actual danger that they are in.

The villain behind all of this turns out to be the Turtle. He had lead the Flash on this merry chase in order to capture the speed energy he gives off, intending to use to power a device to send him backwards through time, to the 1880s, where he can use his knowledge of the site of a massive diamond to become rich.

But Wally overloads the machine with his energy, causing the Turtle to travel back much further than he intended, to the era of the dinosaurs.

Flash 162 - Captain Marvel and the Flash vs Felix Faust

Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn make their bows by teaming up the Flash with Captain Marvel in issue 162 (July 2000), with art by Pelletier and Hazelwood.

The story takes place in Central City, at a broadcaster's expo. The channel that Linda Park works for has made her an anchor, and she is thrilled to be presented there as such, until they call her Mrs Linda Flash.

Billy Batson is also attending the expo. The following day, as both head to the airport, along with Wally West, Linda and Billy both go into a trance when they hear someone say 6:57, and start chanting. This briefly turns the airport medieval, but it fades. Wally is sure the two things are connected, and becomes the Flash. Before he can investigate, there is a crashing plane to rescue, and Billy changes into Captain Marvel to help out with that.

The pair determine that Felix Faust kidnapped and impersonated the man running the expo, and casts mind control spells on all the broadcasters. At 6:57, they will all start chanting their spells, which will remove all science, leaving only magic functional. Faust then plans to exploit that to take over the world.

But as his plan all relies on the chants being broadcast on a new transmitter, all the heroes have to do to stop him is destroy it.

Not bad, but also not much of a big finale to Mark Waid's long run on the book.