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Flash Fridays – The Flash #277 September 1979

posted on June 4, 2021

And so comes the second issue in the “Death of Iris West Saga”. This arc was definitely a sharp left for scriber Cary Bates and it’s where he begins pulling together the disparate story snippets that have been floating around in the books for a bit while at the same time taking the book in a new direction in terms of storytelling. That said, the story follows some predictable patterns. The cliffhanger event from the previous issue, the Flash taking on the Justice league in their satellite headquarters, is again dismissed in a couple of pages as Superman subdues him rather easily. Green Lantern then examines the Flash and determines that someone has dosed him with angel dust thus explaining his actions. We are left to wonder who might have done this. The JLAers take him to a hospital where he’s treated as Barry Allen. He’s released in time to attend Iris’s funeral which is given a single page. Given the momentous weight of this event, a single page seems like rather slim attention being paid. The Flash then notifies reporters that he plans a press conference with a big announcement the next day at the Flash Museum.

Once again, following another predictable pattern the Flash runs into the Mirror Master, and, as he has with previous villains, dismisses him quickly and in a rather silly way by pummeling him with candy bars. It’s as if the editorial braintrust is trying to have their candy bar and eat it too by tossing in an old foe for the old fans while they try to take the stories in a more modern direction to attract new fans. Anyway, pronouncing that the MM is going to be someone else’s problem, Barry tosses his Flash costume ring into the trash, whereupon, Melanie, the girl who has been stalking him rescues it. The next day Barry shows up at the Flash museum as himself and takes the microphone preparing to give up his identity and announce his retirement. The crowd, wanting to hear only from the Flash, hounds him off the stage. As Barry runs off, Melanie  intercepts him, gives him back his ring, imbues him with confidence (mental manipulation?),  and convinces him to continue on as the Flash. Whereupon he returns to the stage and tells the crowd that the Flash is here to stay.

DC apparently felt highly enough about the new Flash direction that they gave the story arc about Iris’s death a full page house ad.

I’ve even had Amazon (the knower of all things Tom) recently throw a trade collection of the “Death of Iris West” story at me indicating that they still hold the work in high regard as they strip mine their back catalog for readable material. It will be interesting to watch it unfold in Flash Friday retro real time.