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Flash Fridays – The Flash #238 December 1975

posted on November 15, 2019

The Flash tale in this issue is credited to Len Wein and Bob Rozakis. Hard to tell the reason for the Rozakis co-credit, but since Rozakis was handling the letter cols along with various and sundry duties at DC such as driving their ill-fated comic-book-mobile, it’s natural to assume that he provided the spark for the story that Wein wrote. Which in this case would be the fact that a hair dresser could, by the use of telekinesis, switch bodies with someone else by simply touching a lock of their previously shorn hair. No explantation is given for just how the hairdresser acquired these powers of telekineses, just that he suddenly realized he had them. The Flash dubs him Mr. Originality thus coming up with one of the most boring villain names in the history of coming up villain names, and, believe me, there’s some pretty stiff competition out there. The Flash trips him up because Mr. Originality also happen to cut Barry Allen’s hair. When Mr. Originality tries to use Barry’s hair to escape a crime by making a body switch, Barry as the Flash makes sure that he’s in a jail cell when that happens. As Flash stories go, there’s not a lot to chew on here. Which brings us to the crux of what bothered me about this issue. It’s just kind of well… boring. It starts with an uninspired cover, and rides a lame premise to a rather dull and obvious conclusion. Everyone has an off day now and again, and this appears to be one of those times when, as they say, Wein didn’t have an idea for a story but wrote one because he had an issue to finish. No colorful costumed foe, no clever origin story, no real character development, no nothing really. Frankly, the most interesting thing in the story is at the conclusion when we find that the Allen’s house guest, Stacy Conwell, is harboring a secret that she doesn’t dare tell anyone. And then she finds that some pages have been torn from her diary…

 

Flash Fridays – The Flash #237 November 1975

posted on October 11, 2019

The last part of this continued three issue story manages to quite nicely redeem the entire affair. Even though Doctor Fate tried to derail the Flash’s attempt to travel a thousand years into the future to rescue Iris, the Flash manages to outmaneuver him and show up there anyway. So Doctor Fate sends a mystic bolt to the Flash in the future warning him to stay away from Iris and explaining that any contact with her will cause a cataclysmic destruction of their world. No sooner does the Flash come to this realization than up shows the Reverse Flash and suddenly everything becomes clear to Barry, to Iris, and most importantly to the reader. We learn that the Reverse Flash planted the seeds of a lethal energy flux in Iris’s body that he controls with special vibrations. So we further learn that it wasn’t really a pestilence that Iris picked up lord knows where as Doctor Fate had claimed. We also learn that Doctor Fate apparently isn’t a real Doctor. The Flash is able to save Iris by simply countering the vibrations that RF placed in her.

The entire deadly charade was merely another attempt by the Reverse Flash to make Iris his wife. This clever turn of events suddenly makes the the entire three issue arc pull together in a completely logical way, and shows that writer Cary Bates knew what he was doing all along. I stand in line.

It also shows that the Reverse Flash is continuing to cement his claim to being the Flash’s arch nemesis. He’s beginning to lengthen the distance between himself and the other knaves and pettifoggers in the Flash’s rogues gallery. Whenever the rogues gallery appears en mass, the Reverse Flash is never there, implying a uniqueness to his role in the Flash saga. And, with each appearance, the level of his menace seems to increase. The story ends with Iris and Barry sitting down to dinner with her father and Stacy, and with everything, as earlier Flash writer John Broome once observed, settling neatly back into place. But for how long?

Flash Fridays – The Flash #236 September 1975

posted on October 4, 2019

So where were we? Oh, right… after fighting an issue long battle with Vandal Savage, who had kidnapped both Carol Ferris and Iris Allen, Savage is defeated, Carol is saved, but poor Iris is nowhere to be found. This issue picks up the traces with Barry/The Flash desperately searching everywhere for his missing wife. Meanwhile on Earth Two, Jay Garrick, the Flash of that world has enlisted the help of Dr. Fate to help figure out what’s wrong with Iris who, as we remember from last issue is being held as a prisoner at the Garricks. We learn from Dr. Fate that Iris carries a pestilence that, should it come anywhere near her husband’s super speed aura, would cause a cataclysmic explosion. Where she my have picked up this pestilence  is not explained, but it’s a good reminder to always wash your hands because you never know.

So now we come to the yellow hands (and, yes, I know the hand on the cover was green, but in the story they’re yellow). Again, it’s one of those cover gimmicks of Julie’s that poor Cary Bates has to somehow blend into the story and make it work somehow. Most of the time Bates has a clever way of working the cover into the tale. This time he didn’t have a clever answer so he just plunked one in there anyway. All of a sudden in a total non sequitur of a happenstance, the hands show up and start chasing the Flash all over the place. At the very end of the book, they are explained away as a side effect of a magic spell that Fate sent to Earth One to try to reunite Iris with Barry. Both the explanation and the shoehorned hands themselves seem forced. Mainly because they were.

At the end of the of the the chapter, for this is a story being continued for a third issue, Dr. Fate sends Iris to A.D. 2975 which is where her parents are and where he figures the advanced writers of that era might be able to write an ending to this mess advanced scientists of that era might be able to come up with a cure for her pestilence problem. Meanwhile, back on Earth One, the Flash is about to hop onto the cosmic treadmill to go to, you guessed it, 2975 to look for Iris. RUT RO!! (As a total, but not totally unrelated, aside, if they ever came up with one of those cool superhero statuettes showing the Flash on his cosmic treadmill, I’d buy it in a Central City minute. Just sayin’)

 

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