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Cover Me 139

posted on May 22, 2021

Flash Fridays – The Flash #275 July 1979

posted on May 21, 2021

Had this cover turned up on one of my early Flash issues, it would have taken me weeks to recover. I would have spent days pouring over it. Even at this late stage in the run, it still captures the imagination. The Grand Comics Database wasn’t able to tell me who was responsible for this gem so I’ll make an educated guess and say Ross Andru pushing the pencil and Dick Giordano splashing the ink. It reflects a masquerade ball that takes place in the issue. Before we get to that, however, step back to the point where the previous issue left us hanging.

Which was that the Flash was in the mental grip of the blond teenage girl who had attacked him before, and Clive Yorkin, the escapee from the Nephron project looking menacingly at Iris from outside a window at the Allen’s home. First things first, the young girl draws the Flash to her hotel room and gets the Flash to unmask. Upon seeing what he looked like under the mask, she expresses her disappointment at how ordinary looking Barry is and leaves in a huff. Honest to God, that’s what Cary Bates wrote. All of that build-up, only to let the air fizzle out of the balloon in a most disappointing fashion. Bizarre is the only word that adequately describes it. Yorkin meanwhile does… nothing. Fizzle number two. Iris, meanwhile, uses a tracking device to track Barry (as the Flash) to the young girls apartment. Broken hearted, Iris flees the apartment, gets into a car crash which the Flash saves her from, and then listens to Barry’s story about the girl and how the girl thought he looked ordinary and makes up with him. Oh, and they decide to have a baby. Fizzle number… well you get the idea. Yorkin pops back up the window briefly so that we can have a page of expository dialogue villainsplaining how he hates Barry Allen because he stood by while Yorkin was tortured by Dr. Nephron and did nothing to stop it.

Flush with romance renewed, Barry and Iris head off to the masquerade ball dressed as Batgirl and, since Barry’s Batman costume didn’t arrive, he goes as the Flash. Segue to the ball, where we see that Barry’s narco squad partner Frank Curtis has shown up sans beard also dressed as the Flash. Barry is called away to take an ominous sounding call from Chief Paulson, and while he’s busy with that, Yorkin, who had stashed himself in the trunk of the Allen car, attacks Frank thinking he’s Barry. Meanwhile Barry is drugged by a blond in a Supergirl costume, and then finds that Yorkin has also attacked Iris. As Barry tries to carry her off to get help, he passes out and we see the both of them lying across each other on the floor. Someone dressed as Batman examines them and says that they have to get one of them to the hospital and that the other one is dead.

So there you have it. But, before you take your leave until next time, take one last look at that simply wonderful cover. It’s worth a second and even third look.

Match to Flame 147

posted on May 18, 2021

Susan Smith had started out as the high school’s shyest girl who blossomed in a story arc that involved Les and Lisa’s engagement. Having put Susan through the wringer in the previous story, I brought her back and put her through the wringer again. There’s an ancient aphorism in regard to playwriting that goes like this: Act One—get your hero/character up a tree; Act Two—throw stones/rocks at your hero; and Act Three—get your hero down. That’s something I can work with, so I had a more confident but still vulnerable Susan attract the attention of a popular school jock who, over time, turns abusive toward her. The piece let me go a little deeper into Susan’s psyche and, when she seeks help from Les and Lisa, to play with time in a new way—as I went back into the strip’s own history to when Lisa was pregnant in high school because she hinted at a similar situation in her own life at that time. Having my own internal history to play with was another offshoot that grew from moving the strip forward in time. I could now revisit various events in the Funkyverse and add different tones and colors to create richer backstories for my characters—once again opening up whole new avenues of exploration. The story also allowed me to address the issue of dating abuse, which was just being brought to public awareness at that time. I approached it with the same mind-set that I did when I dealt with the subject of teen pregnancy: if I wanted to be honest in writing about high school, I should write about everything that’s encompassed there.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 9