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Flash Fridays – The Flash #239 February 1976

posted on November 29, 2019

This issue marks one of Cary Bates best outings yet on The Flash. It’s chockablock with all of the elements that go into making up a memorable Flash tale and then some. It’s tight, clever and ultimately very satisfying. Where to begin? Let’s start with the symbolic splash page where we see all of the elements of the story on full display. First there’s the large drawing of Paul Gambi, tailor to the troublemakers. I’ve always loved the conceit of having a tailor who makes all of the costumes for the Flash’s Rogues gallery, along with the fact that his name was a nod to a loyal Flash fan Paul Gambaccini. Next up on the splash are the Top, Pied Piper and the Trickster all chasing after the Flash who is running away from them with some of their stolen loot. And in a circle insert we see Kid Flash the guest star of the book length story. All nicely pulled off art-wise by Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin. I mean, seriously, right?

All of this roles out with the Flash foiling an armored car robbery by the Pied Piper. Problem is, all of the money suddenly disappears. The Flash then breaks up another heist where the money doesn’t disappear. The Flash is seen turning the purloined loot over to the police on a tv in Paul Gambi’s apartment. Gambi is musing with pride that the Flash is wearing a uniform that he made for the Flash while in prison and presented to him upon his release. His cellmate Sam Scudder aka the Mirror Master suspects an ulterior motive on Gambi’s part. Then the Flash stops a robbery by the Trickster where once again the stolen good disappear at the end. The Flash’s preoccupation with this problem leads to a blow-up with his wife Iris as he distractedly tanks a date night she had planned. Wally West aka Kid Flash drops by mid tantrum and he decides to follow the Flash as he heads off to stop yet another robbery by the Top where once again the stolen items, jewels this time, disappear. Kid Flash being Kid Flash notices that the jewels disappear because his uncle Barry takes them away at super speed to hid them in a tree stump along all of the items from the previous robberies. And then who should show up but the Mirror Master to reclaim all of the stolen goodies.

It turns out that that Gambi’s uniform gift to the Flash was legit, but that the Mirror Master had tampered with the trademark in the uniform installing a device that would all0w him to control the Flash’s mind whenever it came near the trademark in the uniform of one of the other Rogues. Which is why the money didn’t disappear when the Flash dealt with the average non Rogue crooks. Like I said, clever. Gambi’s going straight turns out to be sincere even as his handiwork is used to commit crimes.

The Stacey Conwell B story about the missing diary pages is teased but left for the next issue for us to learn the (in a full-on channelling of Stan the Man) spellbinding, mind-shattering, conclusion.

I have to admit that this story struck a wonderfully nostalgic chord for me and brought back happy memories of reading similarly well told Flash tales on the eve of holiday seasons way back when.