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Flash Fridays – The Flash #258 February 1978

posted on August 28, 2020

The Flash takes on Green Lantern foe Black Hand in this issue, and writer Cary Bates hues very closely to the John Broome version of the villain. He even has Black Hand breaking the fourth wall and directly addressing the reader as Broome did in the black blackguard’s origin story. I’m not much of a fan of breaking the fourth wall in stories (or real life for that matter), but it does cut done on the need for a lot of awkward expository dialog. I sometimes wonder how comic book writers could tell their stories if villains didn’t talk to themselves so much.

Black Hand derives his powers by draining the energy from sites where Green Lantern has recently used his power ring. BH uses his “power-lite” to strip Flash of his aura so that the unprotected Flash will combust at high speed. Which he’s seen doing on the cover and in the second to last panel in the story, leaving us to wait until next issue to find if the Flash makes it or not. I’m betting he does because the Silver Age book still has a pretty nice stretch ahead of it. Which is even more remarkable when you consider the context surrounding it. The infamous DC Explosion/Implosion is about to take place wherein the line of books was hit with a big expansion of new characters followed almost immediately by a big owner dictated slashing of the line. It says a lot about the character and quality (not to mention sales I would guess) of The Flash that it was able to survive the ax during that period. In fact, in the book there is a full page ad for newbies Power Girl and Firestorm, along with a Jenette Kahn editorial extolling the virtues of coming up with newly minted comic book characters as opposed to simply producing books based on creations from another medium. (Anyone thinking Marvel and Star Wars here?).

The comparison to the present and to AT&T’s ransacking of DC Comics cannot help but come to mind. Much like the hedge funds ravaging of newspapers, DC is being throttled by an entity that doesn’t give a flying fig about comic books. They only care about the juice they can squeeze from DC before nothing is left but the shriveled husk. The predators it seems have laid siege to the castle of dreams. A castle that was built on the backs dreams of two kids from Cleveland.