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Flash Fridays – The Flash # 303 November 1981

posted on June 3, 2022

So… there are a couple of things bothering me here. One I’ve been putting off, and another that I’m going to dig into first. For a Flashinado from the way-back-when days, seeing Barry’s father dressed as the Top holding a gun to his head and about to commit suicide is a bit jarring. Compared to what’s perfectly fine to do in comics these days, this is nothing really. And perhaps this is the beginning of what would eventually become today’s Dark Age of comics. Things change, I get it, but when is it ever a good idea to show somebody about to commit suicide on a comic book cover? Obviously, the soon to be doomed Comics Code Authority, was pretty diluted by this point, but, given their charge, it seems that they would have questioned this.

At any rate, we finally get the wrap-up to this bizarre story arc. In a nutshell, the young boy who caused the accident that put Barry’s mother into the hospital meets him there where he says that Barry’s father suffered a heart attack during the accident. As the boy performed CPR, he said that Doctor Allen was dead for about thirty-seconds. As he lay there dead, the astral form of the deceased Top entered his body. How the Top knew there was going to be an accident and that Doctor Allen would be dead for a few seconds is never explained. So the Top enters Doctor Allen’s body while he’s dead, effectively switching places with him in the astral plane, then plans with Lisa Snart/Golden Glider to kill the Flash so the he can enter the dead Flash’s body and live happily ever after with Lisa. Can I go back and change “bizarre story arc” to something more bizarre than that? In a final showdown, the Flash prevents the Top’s astral form from entering his body, while his father returns to the form of his old body. Nothing is mentioned as to whether Lisa/Glider was captured or not. The story ends as if the writer lost track of the page count and had to suddenly wrap things up in the last three panels.

The other thing that concerns me, at the time as well as now, is the change in Carmine Infantino’s art since he return to the book. The artist, whose lithe runner look made the Flash look fast standing still, is suddenly drawing him like a steroid infused football player.

Tight shot of Barry before.

 

Tight shot of Barry after the return.

Slim lithe Flash and Golden Age Flash.

Chunked out Flashes.

I have a personal theory about this based on nothing but a hunch. The hunch is this: When Infantino was the head honcho at DC, he was responsible for bringing Jack Kirby over to DC. Apparently the wheels at DC thought that Kirby’s chunky anatomy was the secret to the Marvel magic, and the reason that Marvel was kicking DC’s butt. This thought apparently never left Carmine’s head, and, when he returned to the drawing board, he eschewed the elegant and graceful look he had formerly given to the Flash in favor of the blockier style. This would be how he would approach figures to the very end of his career. What worked so well for Kirby, unfortunately didn’t work as well for Infantino, especially if you had seen the former chic sophistication that he had brought to the character.