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Flash Fridays – The Flash #197 May 1970

posted on June 15, 2018

Gil Kane graces issue # 197 with one of the finest eye-popping Flash covers ever. As many times as we’ve seen the Flash’s uniform emerging from its hiding place in his ring, it’s never looked this dynamic or dramatic. Kane was really coming into his own at this point by steadily pushing the dynamism in his work and also by pushing to ink his own pencils. No character is going to be in bad shape with Gil handling the art, but this is truly exceptional. The art is complimented by really smart coloring that’s serves to make the Flash’s uniform really pop.

The interior art by Kane and Colletta is equally enjoyable as is the lead story by Mike Friedrich. Friedrich is proving himself to be one of the better Flash scribes of the new generation entering the field at that point. The story is a nice “bottle story” where the Flash is barely required to leave the police department building let alone Central City. It seems that Barry and his lab partner Charlie have a secret signal that they give to each other when one of them solves has a breakthrough on a case. Barry almost tips his secret identity to Charlie when he gives their signal to Charlie at a crime scene while in his Flash costume. It ranks as one of the most natural solutions to working a Schwartz gimmick cover into a story that we’ve seen so far. In the B story, Barry is enlisted to perform in a Shakespearian play directed by Flash Museum curator Dexter Miles. When the whole cast comes down with the flu, Barry as the Flash performs all of the roles by himself, by moving so fast that he appears as each of the characters before the image of that character leaves the eyes of the audience members. He then uses the same trick to convince his lab partner Charlie that Barry and the Flash are two different people.

The second story is a silly outer space tale about the Flash saving an entire planet from exploding. It stretches your credulity and your patience. What might have made that story more interesting would have been if the exploding planet had been Krypton and that, by saving the planet, the Flash would have insured that there would never be a Superman. Now that would have been something else entirely.