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Flash Fridays – The Flash #267 November 1978

posted on January 22, 2021

The Flash #267 is graced by another less than stellar cover. The recent run of Rich Buckler covers seemed to lack… umm, something. There’s just a certain oddness about them. It’s really hard to put your finger on just where they go south. But as your resident Flash Friday spokesperson, I feel that it’s incumbent upon me to do the finger putting on when it comes to this sort of thing. However, I’m just a bit baffled. The drawing isn’t all that bad really, it just doesn’t work as a cover. Turns out that I’m not alone in thinking this. In the Flash Grams letter cols, readers had kicked up a bit of dust leading to a minor cover controversy. One reader commented that the covers continually show the Flash in abject defeat. Well, sure… but haven’t they always done that? The Flash being turned into a mirror, tub of lard, a puppet and so on has always been de rigueur and that never seemed to be a problem. Another reader suggested getting rid of Rich Buckler and replacing him with Ditko, Heath, Kaluta, Kubert, Starlin and Wrightson much as I did in a letter to the editor way back when. I’m sure that suggestion was met with an equally big yawn… but it would have been fun. There is one thing on the cover that caught my attention, and that was the blurb billboarding the never before revealed origin of the Flash’s uniform. My curiosity as a fan and a writer was properly piqued.

But first, we need to cover the main story where we pick up with Heat Wave having just ensconced the Flash in a cryogenic cocoon. HW then departs having done a good days work leaving the Flash to face his fate. And so the Flash vibrated out of it right? Eh, sort of. Writer Cary Bates thought that was a bit too easy, too overused, take your pick. So, instead he came up with this little piece of work. As he lapses into frozen unconsciousness Barry thinks: “Shooting molecules… that’s it! What I’m thinking of is an incredible long shot… but what have I got to lose? Got to focus all my will power on discharging molecules from the underside of my body in hopes one of them will collide with one of the molecules in the cryogenic cocoon at just the right velocity and trajectory setting up a molecular chain reaction sort of like a game of atomic billiards! If this works out, the molecules in the cocoon will collide into each other so rapidly, a violent wave of vibration will begin, strong enough to spread from the base of the cocoon to the surrounding floor!” In short, he vibrates his way out off it. And, may I add, those of you who snickered at the phrase “discharging molecules from the underside of my body” should be ashamed of yourselves and will have to stay after school and clean erasers sanitize desks. The flash eventually defeats Heat Wave but only after he’s shot into space, turns himself into pure light, and bounces off of a mirrored satellite to return to Earth. The only disquieting thought is that before he froze the Flash, Heat Wave unmasked him, so he now knows what the Flash looks like sans mask. I’m sure Bates has some plans for that.

And now on to the origin of the Flash’s uniform. But, wait, I’ve already wasted more of your time today than I should have and I have a lot to say about this gem of a story. So what say we pick this at our next Flash Friday club meeting, okay? I forget… who’s turn is it to bring snacks?

Match to Flame 140

posted on January 19, 2021

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t help myself much by handicapping the strip with the name Funky Winkerbean. I’m pretty sure I told the name’s origin story in Volume 1 of this series (I did; I just checked), but recapping it briefly: Needing a name for my main character, I had my junior high art classes write down amusing or interesting names. I took all of these home, and Cathy and I went through them. One of the name/titles we came up with was Three-o-Clock High, and I have to say that I found the double entendre amusing. However, the Publisher’s Hall Syndicate didn’t, and the name from among the others we sent that won the lottery was Funky Winkerbean. Had I known that I would still be working on this strip forty-seven years later and the tone and temperament that the work would take, I would’ve gone back to school the next day and had the advance placement classes take a whack at it. For someone whose bent was to add some depth and seriousness to the work, Funky Winkerbean was not the best title choice to help get me there. But, it is what I’m afraid it is (whenever I’m giving a book talk these days, I live in fear that someone from one of my art classes is going to stand up . . . and then their lawyer is going to stand up, and the piper/lawyer will demand some appropriate tribute. Which is why I always arrive prepared with a fiver and a release form in my jacket pocket.)

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 9

John Darling – Take 249

posted on January 17, 2021