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Flash Fridays – The Flash #253 September 1977

posted on June 12, 2020

I don’t know if editor Julie Schwartz’s responsibilities with the Batman books at this time were causing him to take his eye off the ball as far as the Flash was concerned, but this book and the previous one dealing with the Molder seemed to be desperately in need of a stronger editorial hand. Writer Cary Bates had been turning in some very credible work up to this point, but it this book and the previous one he goes right off the rails with a story that’s not only silly but downright confusing. The basic gist of things boils down to this: in the previous issue when the Flash swooped in to snatch the Elongated Man away from his wife Sue, which on its face was a dumb thing to do, the EM was drinking some Gingold, the extract from the Gingo tree that gives him his stretching ability. It turns out that the Flash’s vibrations altered the Gingold causing it to morph the EM into the evil Molder. At the end, the Flash is able to find a Gingo tree with a fungus that’s killing it and he injects the fungus into the Molder to return him to the Elongated Man.

But that’s not the worst of it. Thrown into the mix we get Iris sneaking into a hospital disguised as a nurse to use the paddles of life to bring a puddle of Flash back to life, Iris and Sue Dibny sitting in a diner talking about how the Elongated man has become the Molder while a laughable caricature of a Russian spy just happens to be in the next booth overhears them and decides to use the Molder to discredit a Russian defector. This injection of the Russian spies is a total non sequitur needlessly injected into the story. Oh, and the Molder’s (I’m sorry, I wasn’t going to bring it up along with everything else, but that is one really dumb name) hideout is a junkyard. Again, a more forceful editorial hand could have gone a long way towards focusing and fixing a lot of this. And Irv Novick’s art seems to decline as well, as if the stories were breaking the artist’s will. Not the nadir of the Silver Age Flash’s run, but certainly in the running.

While all of this was going on, in 1977 Funky celebrated five years on the comics pages, or one and a half volume’s worth of The Complete Funky Winkerbean. But who’s counting?