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Flash Fridays – The Flash #296 April 1981

posted on January 14, 2022

The big news about this issue of The Flash is that the book returns to the drawing board of Carmine Infantino, the artist who helped launch the Silver Age Flash twenty years earlier. For those of us who grew up with and were inspired by those  books (including among them this issue’s writer Cary Bates), Infantino’s work holds a special place in our lives. With his body of work on The Flash as well as Adam Strange, Infantino practically was the Silver Age for a time. So it’s nice to see that elegant style back in the service of a Flash story, and it had to have been a thrill for Cary Bates. I’m not sure how Infantino felt returning to penciling after having been the boss of DC all those years, but the life of a comics pro has never been anything less than Darwinean.

Having the Ralph Dibney the Elongated man join the Flash on this occasion merely adds to the nostalgia. Cary Bates story is a simple one that somehow just feels right for the moment with its call back to the work of the Flash’s early writer John Broom. It’s both short, sweet and reminiscent. In the elevator pitch, the Elongated Man has been on the trail of three circus performers across Europe as they committed robberies at various drug manufactures. It turns out that they’re stealing the medical supplies for a fourth performer whose extreme Elephant Man deformities have resigned him to the circus’s freak show. The Flash stops Ralph as he’s about to capture them, and once he understands the situation, Ralph figures out that one of the stolen ingrediants is gingold, the thing that gives him his stretching ability. He then susses out that the cure needs to be administered along with his specific type O blood. A transfusion takes place, the cure works, and the circus performers are given leniency. In the end, it’s nice to see the two old superhero pals together again as they walk off on into a promising dawn (literally).

So with the return of Infantino, all is good and perfect again, right? Well, good certainly… but, perfect? Mmmm… let’s not spoil the moment. More on that later.