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Flash Fridays – The Flash #223 September/October 1973

posted on April 12, 2019

With this issue, The Flash continues its return to its form from a decade earlier. The cover even evokes the covers of the sixties. And it’s not missed by the correspondents on the Flash-Grams page which could aptly be retitled as the Flash-Backs page. Cary Bates’ story has the Flash visited by three speed demons of land, air and sea who announce that they’ll be killed if he doesn’t race each one of them. He does and loses each time, but the opponents are only projections created by Dr. Light who set up the races to lure the Flash to a trap designed to not only get rid of the Flash, but the members of the Justice League as well. The Flash, unbeknownst to the bad Doctor, shows up at the trap ahead of schedule, figures everything out and captures the nefarious night light later when his actual arrival was anticipated.

The readers seem happy about the creative crew’s ability to recapture the past that they remember and love. I have to admit that I certainly appreciate it all these years later, and, sadly, therein lies the problem for the magazine. Readers sometimes fail to remember that beginnings are just that… beginnings. The prescriptive desires of readers to see the familiar constantly and carefully recreated over and over again, can stunt any growth and seal what they love in amber. So while much of the rest of the comics world was taking comic book superheroes into bright white future that would one day see them carrying the weight of the movie industry on their super shoulders, the creators of The Flash were busy doing a beautiful job of gem polishing the kind of stories that  they always told, and that the readers so fondly remembered. So while the fans, for the moment, were getting what they thought they wanted, they were unknowingly helping to send The Flash to its Silver Age doom. This instructive lesson wasn’t lost on this particular Flashcionado.

But, hey, one day the sun is going to burn out and none of this will even matter because there won’t be any… matter that is.