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Flash Fridays – The Flash #213 March 1972

posted on January 11, 2019

 

If you were a subscriber to The Flash back in the day, this issue would have really cheesed you off because it’s entirely composed of reprints. Granted, the reprint of The Vengeance of the Immortal Villain is a darn good reprint featuring the Golden Age Flash and the Justice Society, but it’s a reprint nonetheless and, as such, has already been covered here.

There must have been a fairly serious scheduling glitch with the Flash at that time, and they heroically they try to cover their tracks with an in-house banner that read as follows: “Barry Allen… a bachelor? The Justice Society just out of retirement? Yes you’ve guessed it… this has been a special Flash-Back story (from Flash #137, June 1963)! Why did we present this surprise treat? For one thing, this tale presented the historic first appearance of the legendary Justice Society of America! But more importantly, this story is necessary for the enjoyment of next issue’s monumental return of Vandal Savage in the two Flash novel… Death of an Immortal!” 

Problem is… that story doesn’t appear in the next issue, and, in fact won’t appear until issue #215. I have a theory as to why that happened, but it will have to wait until the next Flash Friday post.

Flash Fridays – The Flash #212 February 1972

posted on January 4, 2019

This Flash issue kicks off with one of the less inspiring covers in the series, but, as cartoonist Rog Bollen of Animal Crackers, Catfish and Funny Business fame once told me when I visited him seeking advice on how to break into newspaper comics, they can’t all be blockbusters. Not the most inspiring advice, but I do get how he was trying to help me avoid a pressure filled trap that he apparently saw awaiting me down the road. And, as was my won’t, I pretty much ignored it as I did with most of the good advice I received at that time. Ah, the ignorance and arrogance of youth. Anyway, probably the most egregious thing about the cover is the fact that the boy on the cover has the opposite color hair and hat from the boy in the story inside. Maybe they can’t all be blockbusters, but they can all be proofread.

The Cary Bates story inside was hamstrung just a bit by have to pretzel things around to fit the no doubt Julie Schwartz, inspired, suggested, shoved-down-your throat cover idea. But Bates made up for it by bringing back the 64th century villain/magician Abra Kadabra. Points not only for that, but also to Irv Novick and Dick Giordano for their rendition of the malevolent master of magic (I know it’s really super advanced science and not magic, but let’s play along) who never looked better. The contrived plot has the Flash being dragged into a kids cartoon show on television. The hokeyest part is where AK impales the Flash with rods designed to dampen his speed much like the rods do in a nuclear reactor. One rod travels through the top of the Flash’s head and out his groin which makes it uncomfortable to look at in the extreme. Bates stays in hokey mode for the manner in which the Flash escapes which involves a rubber bullet shot by the boy bouncing all over to Betsy and back before finally hitting him and breaking the spell. Why it would do this is mystifying at best, but, in the words of the great Rog Bollen…

The Elongated Man story is another tight little mystery story, this time scribed by Len Wein and masterfully illustrated by Giordano. The Elongated Man story, as it has in recent issues, is really the standout in the book (If I may, if you’ve not seen the wonderful DC Showcase collection of EM’s solo stories, I would definitely recommend tracking a copy down. You’ll thank me) (Trust me, you will).

The reprint story is The Snare of the Headline Huntress from issue #126 which I covered earlier in this blog (See somewhere earlier in the blog… the tags will help) and it only serves to remind me once again why I fell in love with this character in the first place lo those many years ago.

Flash Fridays – The Flash #211 December 1971

posted on December 21, 2018

With the lead story in this issue, Cary Bates taps into the roller craze that was pretty big at the time. It’s a pretty straight forward tale about an alien who, by posing as a roller derby star, is using the roller derby as a device to cause the Earth to break up so that her fellow aliens could use the mineral resources to build a new planet for themselves. I know what you’re thinking, and that’s pretty much what I thought. The attempt to incorporate the roller derby led to a rather lame formulaic story (alien tries to destroy the Earth in secret, alien gets discovered by the Flash, Flash saves the Earth with a super speed stunt, the end) by Bates who, even though he was still pretty much a newbie, had been on a bit of a roll up to this point. Even the drawing of the alien once he revealed himself wasn’t artist Irv Novick’s most inspired work.

The same can pretty much be said for the Steve Skeates Kid Flash story that bookends the issue. It’s an attempt at a “relevant” story that uses a different formula, but a formula nonetheless (find a righteous cause, blame a villain in the establishment, have an antiestablishment hippie solve the problem with the help of Kid Flash, the end) The story is only partially saved by the very nice Dick Dillin/Dick Giordano art.

What is really the gem of this issue, however, is the Golden Age Flash story that’s reprinted here. It’s a John Broome story with art by Carmine Infantino and Bernard Sachs and it’s pretty darn good. Which, when you consider that it’s done by the writer and artist who will soon breath life into their trenchant revival with the Silver Age Flash, is pretty much what you’d expect from that team supreme. The art is dark and moody thanks to Sach’s inks and the story entitled The Rival Flash matches the mood of the art. Broome posits a rival dark Flash who get’s his speed powers from the same heavy water gas that empowered the original Flash. The depiction of the rival Flash as a dark shadowy figure very neatly presages what Broome would do with the Reverse Flash/aka Professor Zoom in his Silver Age stories. As this is the last Flash tale that would appear for a few years, it’s a strong finish to the Golden Age Flash’s formidable run and really overshadows the two current narratives in the book.

In the Flash Grams letter col, a reader complains about the price hike to 25 cents. If only they had a glimmer of what was to come.

 

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