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Flash Fridays – The Flash #261 May 1978

posted on October 16, 2020

It’s always difficult to nail down inflection points in art (Just ask people what marked the end of the Silver Age and see how many answers you get.), but, with this issue, Cary Bates seems to have finally made The Flash his own baby. A moment like that is a fugitive idea to wrap your head around, but things are just starting to feel different at this point in Cary’s run. The story is different from anything John Broome or Gardner Fox would have written. No longer feeling beholden to wrapping things up in a bow at the end of each issue like his predecessors, this issue becomes almost an extending and engaging set-up for what comes next (I realize Bates hasn’t been in the bow wrapping business for awhile now, but this is the first time it works without feeling forced.) Basically, the Golden Glider, still on the loose, shows up again to seek revenge on the Flash for having been responsible for the death of her lover the Top. After attacking the Flash and then escaping, she’s captured by a new hero called the Ringmaster. This new costumed crimefighter easily wins over everyone’s hearts, including no less than Iris Allen’s when she interviews him. The Flash sees this and jealously on both the career and romantic level ensues.

Then Bates refines his technique a bit, and instead of having the Golden Glider break the fourth wall to inform the reader that the she is behind everything that’s been happening, the reader is simply made privy to her thoughts as she sits in her jail cell. Same approach – cleaner telling. All of these little touches add up to announce that Cary Bates is now the clear owner of the Flash franchise. Of course, as we all know, unless your name is Bob Kane, no creator really owns those rights. You don’t suppose that’s the real reason everybody seems to hate the Bobster so much, do you?