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Flash Fridays – #161 May 1966

posted on March 24, 2017

I must have been home on a break from college at the time, but I distinctly remember it being a rainy Saturday afternoon when this book arrived in the mail. I thought the timing was perfect.What better way to spend a rainy afternoon than with a glass of chocolate milk, some chocolate chip cookies and a comic book (or two). The cover was perfect as well. To me this always struck me and one of the better covers of the Flash Silver Age run. The best ever would always be the “Who Killed the Flash?” cover, but this one was definitely top ten material. In fact, I’d put it up there with one of the finer renderings of the Silver Age period. It had all of the elements that a comic book cover should have. Lettering boxes slapped everywhere and a busy double action scene with another cover stuck in the corner. And go-go checks. Take me now Lord, I’ve seen it all!

The book led off with Robert Kanigher’s version of the Flash’s Final Fling cover. Kanigher resorts to a trope he often used in his war stories where he would personify an object like a rifle or a bullet or something by having someone imagine that the object was talking to them. Here it’s the Flash’s uniform that appears to be talking to Barry as they both discuss the bond they share. Of course something needs to come along to break that up and that something is the Flash being late for his wedding. I don’t really care for an event of this magnitude being used to simply move a plot along. This is the kind of single story one-off thing you would see in say a Superman story where at the end everyone returns to “go” as if nothing had happened (much like your typical newspaper comic strip), but the Flash has already begun to present Barry’s life as moving along a more natural continuum where events are impactful, and the lives of the characters are fateful and destined. The Flash is late because on his way to the wedding he spots a super speed turtle (somewhat reminiscent of Kanigher’s inaugural Flash outing where he had the Flash chasing a villain named the Turtle) and gives chase. He then shows up late for his wedding because the turtle led him to a dimension that was on super daylight savings time. Iris calls off the wedding and Barry decides to call off his career as the Flash and hangs-up his uniform which, as it dangles from the tree has a tear rolling down its mask . In the end, when all is resolved and everyone returns to go, Barry and his uniform are reunited. Personally, I enjoyed the Gardner Fox version of this story in issue #159 much better.

The better story in the issue is the tussle between the Flash and the Mirror Master. As stated in an earlier post, the Mirror Master was one of my favorite Flash foes and he certainly doesn’t disappoint here. This time around he’s developed a mirror that can see the future, and, naturally, he takes advantage of that fact to commit crimes. When the Flash arrives at his hideout, he sees himself shooting the Flash in the mirror and then seconds later in real time, but the the Flash he was shooting was a Flash that had traveled to the future and who, by stopping his, inner vibrations was able to return to his own time at the moment he was shot making it appear that he was obliterated. The Flash then waits three days for the future to repeat itself, goes to the Mirror Master’s hideout, watches himself get shot and disappear and then captures the Mirror Master. A nice little twist on the time-travel motif. On a future Flash Friday, we’ll travel back in time to the June 1966 issue of the Flash.

Flash Fridays – #160 April 1966

posted on March 17, 2017

Issue #161 turns out to be another Flash 80 Page Giant reprint book. Although we’ve already seen all of the Silver Age stories here, they were new to me at the time helping me catch up on the one’s I’d missed. The two Golden Age reprints in the book were also of interest. The first featured the Fiddler who I first encountered in issue #123 in the classic Flash of Two Worlds story. It was fascinating to see him in Golden Age action. The Johnny Quick story was illustrated by the masterful Mort Meskin. I didn’t realize it at the time but Meskin had illustrated the first comic book I ever bought. For the full story, check out the Match to Flame posts.

I haven’t been a huge fan of the modern incarnations of the Flash, but I recently had my interest piqued by this homage to the Flash of Two Worlds cover. Upon checking it out, I found that this latest version has some pretty good art and writing going for it. Enough so that it’s been added to my pull list. It’s interesting that, as the Flash seems to be returning to form, it’s drawn by another artist named Carmine.

Flash Fridays – The Flash #159 March 1966

posted on March 10, 2017

The Flash’s first go-go checks cover is a really nice one. It’s a beautiful Carmine Infantino layout inked by Joe Giella which is different since Joe didn’t ink a lot of the covers. It’s again pretty obviously one of Julie Schwartz’s gimmick covers (in fact he cops to it in issue #161) and this this comes with a double gimmick. Julie assigned Gardner Fox to write the story for this cover and in issue #161 he’ll have Bob Kanigher write a different story based upon the same cover. As much as I didn’t care for stunts in my comics, as an aspiring comics creator, I did find the prospect interesting. Being Gardner Fox, his story naturally has an SF bent. We first see Barry angrily eschewing his role as the Flash until Kid Flash takes him to Earth Two to visit Dr. McNider aka Dr. Mid-Nite which adds a nice layer of cool to the story, but the closest we come to seeing Dr. Mid-Nite is his uniform hanging in the closet. Dr. McNider puts Barry in a narco-synthetic state from which we learn that Barry was visited by a chronal officer from the year 3780. We ascertain that a master criminal named Frand Matter has placed a bomb in Central City in 1966. The coronal officers learn that the Flash lived in Central City in 1966 and that, if he uses his super speed, the vibrations he creates will set off the bomb. Why the bomb wasn’t set off when Kid-Flash vibrated the two of them to Earth Two is never explained. However, since they’re on Earth Two the flashy duo can vibrate to the future where they capture Frand Matter, but not before he sets of the bomb in Central City manually. The two Flashes arrive back in Central City just as the bomb explodes and they drive the explosion harmlessly into the upper atmosphere. All in all a nice little SF time travel piece.

The second story involves Iris’s dad Professor West which a welcome idea as far as it goes, but it unfolds just like the professor’s previous two outings have with the professor being the unwitting dupe of a trio of criminals. Even the number of criminals is the same. These the Professor as Mr. Magoo stories were getting a little too receptive at this point. I don’t mind spilling the same wine once in awhile but these Professor West stories are starting to leave a stain on the carpet.

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