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Flash Fridays – The Flash #230 November/December 1974

posted on June 28, 2019

One of the better Nick Cardy cover graces this issue of The Flash featuring one of the Flash’s oldest villains Dr. Alchemy. Dr. Alchemy is one of the villainous alter egos of Al Desmond whose other bad guy alter ego, Mr. Element, first battled the Flash in the Showcase tryout issues. Back in issue #216, the Flash permanently exorcised Mr. Element from Al Desmond’s personality, but apparently he kinda forgot about Dr. A. So when a falling gargoyle nearly crushes Al and Rita Desmond on the street, the gargoyle’s likeness, which is of Vadtara an ancient fire-demon, causes Dr. Alchemy to reemerge in Al Desmond. Once again, the Flash steps in to help his friend and basically rids Desmond of his remaining alter ego by appealing to his better nature as Barry Allen. Once again writer Cary Bates hews closely to the canon and nicely takes advantage of the loophole that had left Dr. Alchemy still inside of Desmond.

In the Green Lantern story that fills out the issue, GL visits a “Spirit of ’76” exhibit only to discover it run by robots. The exhibit gets drawn into outer space and into a giant spaceship where GL meets Aaron Burr, the real Aaron Burr,  at which point the story is continued until the next issue where I assume we’ll find out what’s going on. Denny O’Neil seems cramped trying to tell shorter pieces resulting in a number of the Green Lantern tales being continued stories. He certainly seems to miss his erstwhile partner Neal Adams and even though every artist team that followed has done their best to mimic Adams, they’ve all fallen somewhat short. The current team of Dick Dillin and Tex Blaisdell falls the shortest.


Flash Fridays – The Flash # 229 Part 2

posted on June 21, 2019

Ok, so where was I? Oh, yeah… I was waxing nostalgic about the importance of comic books and their crucial role in helping you maintain your sanity during those long school’s out for summer vacations. So comic books in the summer were life savers, but there was an added bonus that the summer season brought. Summer annuals. The square bound summer annuals of  yore were bigger oversized books featuring reprint stories of the various superheroes. They usually dipped back far enough so that the majority of the stories were new to you. It was a great chance to finally see stories that you’d only read about in the letter cols. The spotty distribution back then meant that you rarely saw every issue of a book unless you had the wherewithal to canvas every drugstore and supermarket spinner rack in the tri-state area. Sometimes the annuals would even reprint a story from the Golden Age of comics which took place shortly after the dinosaurs split. The summer annuals were time machines that offered you a look back at a plethora of comic books from a bygone era. A book like that could help you fend off large chunks of summer ennui.

Which brings us back to The Flash issue # 229. Although technically not an annual, this over-sized square bound package appearing back in the summer of  ’74 like it did, it pretty much served the same purpose. The real purpose of these 100 page books, of course, was for DC Comics to be able to put out a book filled with art that they had already paid for and charge you three times the going rate for the privilege of owning it. This issue did contain one new story, and an old Flash/new Flash crossover at that. It features a Golden Age villain called Rag Doll who is giving the Earth Two Flash Jay Garrick fits to the point that he’s considering retirement. Jay’s wife Joan reaches out to Barry Allen for help. Barry helps Jay figure out that the Rag Doll’s actions are being controlled by another Golden Age villain, the Thinker who both Flashes then proceed to dispatch.

Along with that story, the book includes a Green Lantern reprint story, a Flash reprint, a Kid Flash reprint as well as aGolden Age story of the Flash and a brace of Johnny Quick tales. The latter yarns are illustrated by the inestimable Mort Meskin and make the book’s price worth it all by themselves. My only quibble with any of these reprint choices is that it would have been fun if the editor had taken the time to find a story featuring either the Rag Doll or the Thinker. I mean, come on, how hard would that have been? The art in the Golden Age Flash story is by Carmine Infantino and is a fascinating snapshot of the road he would travel on his way to his Silver Age immortality.

Flash Fridays – The Flash # 229 September/October 1974

posted on June 14, 2019

Although the date for this issue is September/ October, because of the way comics were dated back in the day, this issue probably came out smack in the middle of of the summer of ’74. I’m feeling oddly nostalgic as this latest summer slowly takes the stage, so indulge me while I take a moment to consider the summer annual and the summers I recall in general. Because of some yet to be explained anomaly in the space time continuum, summers were so much longer back when I was in school. They stretched out endlessly and (full disclosure) boringly in front of you. I could try to describe this for you, but nothing ever captured it so hauntingly and accurately as the the Gear Daddies song Sonic Boom. So I’ll let that song speak in my stead. It’s an amazing song and worth tracking down (as if that were hard anymore) if you’re not friends with it already. Here ’tis:

Summer vacation
Nothing on TV
No one’s home

Except for me
For me
Just sitting in my room
Got no money
Nothing to do
Stare at the ceiling
Sonic boomDarkened apartment
Beautiful day
Lie in bed
As the hours drift away
Drift away
Nothing changes
Nothing moves
Drift on back
Sonic boom
There were, however, bright spots. First, there were my weekly piano lessons which I enjoyed and looked forward to. Then there were the science fictions books that I would pick up when I could get someone to take me to the library. Those were nice distractions, but first and foremost there were comic books and they showed up in a couple of ways. There were the subscriptions that I had to The Flash and to Harvey’s reprints of Dick Tracy. Few things equaled the thrill of opening the mailbox and finding the latest issue of one of those magazines waiting there. Those magazines weren’t simply entertainment, they opened doors to new worlds and undreamt dreams. I can still remember almost every detail of the day that The Flash #123 showed up on my doorstep. Mind blowing. The day that issue made its appearance was the day I seriously began planning my getaway. If you want, go back and read my blogpost on that issue to get a sense of what I’m talking about… I’ll wait. In fact, just to give you enough time to thoroughly enjoy it… let’s meet back here next Friday for Flash Fridays – The Flash #229 Part Two.


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