Flash Fridays – The Flash #210 November 1971
posted on November 2, 2018
The Flash is starting to become fun again! Case in point, a really nice drawn and inked Murphy Anderson cover… with Adam Strange (probably my second favorite DC character) flying through the air in the background. How cool! Now I believe I have mentioned here previously that I was a bit distracted at this point in time by the fact that I was still in the early days of getting Funky Winkerbean off the ground, and that preoccupation tended to shortchange my comic book reading. I bought this issue off the rack and read it, but I remembered very little of it. I didn’t realize that Adam Strange was on the cover until I reread the issue in preparation for this blog. Getting busy will do that to you apparently.
The other fun news is that Cary Bates and Irv Novick are really getting comfortable with things and it’s showing in the work. The story has Barry and Iris traveling to visit her parents in the future only to find a simulacrum of Abraham Lincoln being assassinated again. It’s a nifty little SF tale that Bates manages to pull off while still staying true to the history and personalties of the characters. Meanwhile, Novick’s art seems to be finding its feet and is starting to feel right illustrating a Flash story. The whole thing is tied together by the inking of Dick Giordano on the eponymous Flash piece, and his drawing and inking on the Elongated Man story. In fact, I think I liked the Steve Skeates penned EM tale even more than the Flash story. The Elongated Man is settling nicely into a role that emphasizes his armchair detective status as much as his super heroics.
I was even pleased to see the reprinting of The Invasion of the Cloud Creatures again. It’s nice to see the Flash stories at this point coming off better than I remembered them back in the days of yore, and it makes me happy that I’ve embarked on this little project of revisiting a character whose influence on me was considerable.
Flash Fridays – The Flash #209 September 1971
posted on October 12, 2018
The cover to this issue harkens back to one of my all-time favorite Flash covers, the “Who killed the Flash?” cover from issue #130 where the prostrate Flash is shown surrounded by the floating heads of his rogues gallery. Even though there are only a couple of the rogues here, it’s still great to see after a way-too-long absence of the Flash’s criminal counterparts. These colorful captains of crime possibly owed their return to the Flashinados who had been writing in to the Flash-Grams pages demanding to see more of them. On the other hand, their presence may have been precipitated by the fact that Cary Bates, who had grown up reading the The Flash when these villains held sway, had replaced Bob Kanigher as the writer of the lead-off story, in preparation for Bates settling into his log Flash run. Or, more likely, it was simply both reasons.
In any event, the story opens with Captain Boomerang and the Trickster having tripped-up the Flash and apparently killed him. It would be revealed that Grodd the super gorilla (yet another returning oldie but baddie) had guided their hands in this perfidy, but, instead of dying, the Flash had been pulled through the life barrier (which eerily presages the speed force that has come to dominate, and not necessarily in a good way, the current Flash era) by an entity known as the Sentinel who has brought the Flash there to help battle the Devourer who is, devouring natch, the Sentinel’s universe on its way to devouring our own. The Flash succeeds in helping him and he, in turn, returns the Flash to his own universe and back to life. Whereupon the Flash defeats the Trickster, Captain Boomerang and the super gorilla all on a single page (maybe the troublesome trio was a little rusty after the long layoff).
This is followed by a clever Kid Flash tale by Steve Skeates in which the Kid gets his uniform ring mixed-up the the ring of a fellow student. Once again, Skeates delivers a very simple John Broome-like story on a very small town scale that doesn’t venture very far from Blue Valley High School, and is more notable for the way it humanizes the story’s protagonists. It should be observed that in a coloring error, the Kid’s uniform loses its red leggings and is instead solid yellow from top to bottom leaving him looking like a really super fast banana.
The reprint story presented to round out the issue is “The Elongated Man’s Underseas Trap”. While it’s a story I dearly love, it nevertheless is a reprint, which for a dyed-in-the wool Flashinado is old news.
Flash Fridays – The Flash #208 August 1971
posted on October 5, 2018
With issue #208, the cover price jumps from fifteen cents to twenty-five. Was it worth it? Let’s find out. First, the cover fairly shrieks that the lead story is a Robert Kanigher tale, and lo and behold it is. In his war stories, Kanigher trucks with mysticism quite a bit, and he’s already done this in The Flash as well, so this story comes as no big surprise. The opus involves some bad guys who are inexplicably dressed as civil war soldiers and an Indian chief who are coercing a bunch of young people to steal for them. The crooks use a church to stash the stolen loot. A nun in the church who is a real sister of one of the young men prays for him to be saved from what he’s doing. The Flash does indeed save him twice as he breaks up the gang, but he does so at super speed so he isn’t seen and the result appears to be a miracle. The best part of the tale is the Novick/Anderson art which has some really nice moments. It appears as if Novick has been making it a point to look back at the Infantino work that preceded him. Not swipes, but more of an internalizing of that sensibility. Whatever, it looks pretty good.
The Elongated Man story is by Len Wein and Dick Giordano. Julie Schwartz seems to be using these back-up stories to groom up-and-coming writers from the ranks of loyal Flash readers and often graduates of the Flash Grams letters pages. More often than not they do a pretty good job and this is one of them. Giordano makes fine work of illustrating a story about Dodgson, a town named after its founder who was a distant relative of C.L. Dodgson, better known a Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland. The town is celebrating the book’s 50th anniversary with a parade and townspeople dressed like characters from the book. Naturally, there is some pettifoggery afoot with some crooks dressed as characters and mixing with the populace. Their comeuppance arrives when EM realizes that the bad guys aren’t dressed like the drawings of Sir John Tenniel, the original illustrator of the book, as the townspeople are. Like I said, a pretty good job.
The rest of the book is padded with a reprint of a Flash/Kid Flash team-up form issue #149. While nice to see again, for dedicated readers like ourselves, I don’t see a whole lot of value added there for the extra price.
The comic field in general continues to move past The Flash and on into the future during this period with the work of Denny O’neil and Neal Adams on Green Lantern/Green Arrow as well as Roy Thomas and Neal Adams opus dealing with the Kree Skrull war. Work that would, down the road, inspire my own.