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Flash Fridays – The Flash #211 December 1971

posted on December 21, 2018

With the lead story in this issue, Cary Bates taps into the roller craze that was pretty big at the time. It’s a pretty straight forward tale about an alien who, by posing as a roller derby star, is using the roller derby as a device to cause the Earth to break up so that her fellow aliens could use the mineral resources to build a new planet for themselves. I know what you’re thinking, and that’s pretty much what I thought. The attempt to incorporate the roller derby led to a rather lame formulaic story (alien tries to destroy the Earth in secret, alien gets discovered by the Flash, Flash saves the Earth with a super speed stunt, the end) by Bates who, even though he was still pretty much a newbie, had been on a bit of a roll up to this point. Even the drawing of the alien once he revealed himself wasn’t artist Irv Novick’s most inspired work.

The same can pretty much be said for the Steve Skeates Kid Flash story that bookends the issue. It’s an attempt at a “relevant” story that uses a different formula, but a formula nonetheless (find a righteous cause, blame a villain in the establishment, have an antiestablishment hippie solve the problem with the help of Kid Flash, the end) The story is only partially saved by the very nice Dick Dillin/Dick Giordano art.

What is really the gem of this issue, however, is the Golden Age Flash story that’s reprinted here. It’s a John Broome story with art by Carmine Infantino and Bernard Sachs and it’s pretty darn good. Which, when you consider that it’s done by the writer and artist who will soon breath life into their trenchant revival with the Silver Age Flash, is pretty much what you’d expect from that team supreme. The art is dark and moody thanks to Sach’s inks and the story entitled The Rival Flash matches the mood of the art. Broome posits a rival dark Flash who get’s his speed powers from the same heavy water gas that empowered the original Flash. The depiction of the rival Flash as a dark shadowy figure very neatly presages what Broome would do with the Reverse Flash/aka Professor Zoom in his Silver Age stories. As this is the last Flash tale that would appear for a few years, it’s a strong finish to the Golden Age Flash’s formidable run and really overshadows the two current narratives in the book.

In the Flash Grams letter col, a reader complains about the price hike to 25 cents. If only they had a glimmer of what was to come.