Flash Fridays – The Flash #170 May 1967
posted on June 23, 2017
What we have here is another gorgeous Infantino/Anderson art job in the service of a not my favorite kind of cover. I like my covers to be filled with a splashy bravura and over-the-top confrontations between a hero and a villain, and, with a villain like Abra Kadabra, the fiend from the future, the graphic possibilities were certainly there to pull something like that off. The story itself by Gardner Fox is just what you could want with Carmine Infantino’s art never looking better. The tale is replete with mysterious happenings and mystery men and is a perfect example of the mature Silver Age Flash style complete with hands pointing to people and events in the story from nearly every caption box.
The tale opens with Barry and Iris attending a play in which an actor playing Merlin does some amazing magic tricks and then telepathically reveals to Barry that he knows that Barry is the Flash. Barry, as the Flash, decides to follow the actor after the play and, in turn, is followed by three strange men. After trailing the actor to a ceramics shop where the Flash foils a robbery, he’s given a ceramic piece as a reward by the shop owner which has the effect of causing him not to recognize crimes in progress (and thus we justify the cover). Well, it turns out that the actor from the play, and the shop owner were both AK in disguise, and it also turns out the mystery men were the Flash, Doctor Fate and Dr. Mid-nite from Earth-Two. Doctor Fate had picked up an evil emanation from the future on Earth-One traveling back through time (and we all know what that was) and they all came to help that dimension’s Flash deal with it. Together they set off to capture AK and help the Flash undo the spell that’s been put on him, during which we get to see all of the powers of the Justice Society members on display. For us Silver Agers, it was always fun to see the Golden Age heroes show up and show off in The Flash. In the end, back home as the evening winds down for Barry and Iris, we find him still undecided about telling Iris that he’s the Flash. All in all, it’s a taut tale tightly told. What more could you want? Except a better cover maybe.
Epilog: Abra Kadabra now knows the secret identity of the Flash. Usually when a superhero’s secret identity is revealed in a story, at some point the writer will cover his tracks with something like: “And there was a solar flare that wiped the memory from everyone’s minds.” But I’ve been over this story with a finely combed tooth and there’s nothing like that in there. So. Abra Kadabra now knows the secret identity of the Flash. Just sayin’…