Flash Fridays – The Flash #174 November 1967
posted on July 28, 2017
Our Will Eisner/Spirit inspired cover shows the Flash once again taking on his Rogues Gallery all at once… and losing. As I stated in an earlier post, taking on all of his arch enemies at once tends to devalue the one-on-one encounters with the villains, and I’ll also add that repeating the stunt tends to devalue the stunt itself. That being said, the story does spotlight the Mirror Master, my favorite villain, as the lynchpin of the whole tale so that tempered things a bit for me. This is also the issue which has been touted as the one where Barry reveals to his wife Iris that he’s the Flash, and, true to their word, the story shows the Allens looking forward to celebrating their first wedding anniversary that evening with Barry remembering his promise to the Earth Two Flash Jay Garrick and his wife Joan that he would spill the beans to Iris on said date.
Things kick off with the Mirror Master in prison planning his escape with his shaving mirror. I mean, come on, the guy is called the Mirror Master. Would you leave him in a cell with a shaving mirror? I don’t think so. Anyway, as he’s doing this, he opens a window to another dimension where he sees that in that place the Flash is a villain and he’s the hero. He’s watches the good Mirror Master subdue the bad Flash with a special mirror and decides to whip one of those up for himself. After escaping, he frees all of the other Rogues to help him observe the demise of the Flash. However, MM’s mirror doesn’t quite work and he has to go back to the other dimension to find out where he went wrong. He frees the evil Flash from prison to see how the ‘plays nice with others’ Mirror Master subdues him. When he returns, he and the other Rouges again go after the Flash and this time they succeed in laying him low. Victory at last for the Rogues. Except. It turns out that the evil Flash from the other dimension had pinched the Mirror Masters body switching mirror which I didn’t even know he had and switched places with the Barry Allen Flash, thus it’s the ‘doesn’t play nice with others’ Flash who is ko’d by the Rouges. The Flash we know and love then escapes both prison and the other dimension and returns to defeat the entire Rogues Gallery in a single panel. See what I mean about diminishing their clout?
Later at dinner the big revelation turns out to be Iris’s when she tells Barry that he talks in his sleep and that she’s known he was the Flash from day one of their marriage (this would seem to indicate that Barry and Iris, living in the midst of the sexual revolution, hadn’t previously slept together, but, as I’ve pointed out before, DC Comics was rooted to the platform of the past as the sixties were leaving the station). With that taken care of, they’re ready to move on with the next chapter in their lives… except that it’s not such a good one, at least in the opinion of the way-back-when me, but I’ll save that bit of news for next time.
In an interesting sidebar, Julie Schwartz runs a long letter from Peter Sanderson Jr. discussing the merits of each individual Flash villain. It’s interesting to note (to me anyway) that we both agree that the Mirror Master is our fave villain, and that Grodd the Gorilla is way under-used. All I can say is, great minds.