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Flash Fridays – The Flash #289 September 1980

posted on September 3, 2021

The Flash #289 gets a price rise to 50 cents and an extra feature in the back of the book. DC was doing a lot of playing around with prices, sizes and packages of features back then, but, even with the half dollar tag, they still seem cheap compared to today’s prices. But enough with the economics, we’ve got a pretty cool story to contend with here. In a tale titled The Good… the Bad… and the Unexpected we find a three way tussle between the Flash, the evil Al Desmond as Dr. Alchemy, and the good Al Desmond as Mr. Element. It opens with Dr. Alchemy tracking down the escaped Al Desmond only to discover when he finds him in an abandoned warehouse that the good Al has resumed his Mr. Element role and is set upon taking Dr. A. down. Their battle sets the warehouse on fire which allows Mr. Element to take a powder when he finds that things aren’t going his way.

The Flash visits Rita, the wife of the good Al Desmond, who tells him the her husband had a mental flash as to the whereabouts of Dr. A., and that he was going there to bring him in. We next see Mr. Element entering an abandoned salt mine where we find that Dr. A. is planning to use the philosopher stone to turn the nuclear waste stored in the mine into desmondium, a gas that will allow him to control everyone and take over the world. It’s then that we find out that it’s really the Flash disguised as Mr. Element at which point Dr. A. uses his stone to shoot the Flash into space for the umpteenth time by turning him into cavorite, an anti-gravity element (If I may be allowed a short digression… I wonder if back when Julie Schwartz was editing the book and John Broome was writing it that the thought of turning Mr. Element into Dr. Alchemy came about because they found it a bit too restrictive to have to keep coming up with ploys using actual elements, and so they turned him into Dr.Alchemy so they could just transmute things to any phony element they needed at the moment… i.e. if you’re in a cave, then just make up something called cavorite that can repel gravity).

Not to be out pseudo scienced, as the Flash is rocketing through space, he wills his molecules to become anti-matter to repel the cavorite, and then wills them back into regular matter so that instead of being pushed away from the Earth, he’s pulled back. The Flash then returns to the mine and captures Dr. Alchemy. The story ends with the two friends, Flash and Mr. Element hauling the unconscious Dr. A. off to jail.

Ok, I lied. In the past two issues, the writer has dropped in two instances in which Barry has been tiring to ingratiate himself with his elusive but stand-offish neighbor, the beautiful Fiona. In each case he’s angrily rebuffed. This issue actually ends with Fiona at a police station reporting the Barry Allen wants to kill her. Had to include that because I’m sure it’s coming back to haunt both us and Barry.