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Flash Fridays – The Flash #234 June 1975

posted on September 13, 2019

With the cover to #234, Julie Schwartz and Cary Bates not only manage to evoke the feel of the early sixties stories, but the covers as well. In this particular case it’s pretty much a direct swipe of loving homage to one of my favorite covers from the run, #130. If you want to read about how much I loved that particular cover, just go back and check out that blog post… I’ll wait for you. Tick tick tick… okay, moving on. This cover works beautifully as well with the added fillip of having Dexter Myles, the docent at The Flash Museum in the background. Bate’s use of Dexter Myles is a masterful use of a character who was probably written as a one-off in the beginning when he was created by John Broome, but who Broome swiftly turned into an important ongoing member of the supporting cast.

The Flash is on the hunt for a villain called Saber-Tooth, and the whole tableau of being attacked by the wax figures of the Flash villains is just a ruse by the Flash to draw-out Saber-Tooth. However, it turns out that Saber-Tooth isn’t above doing a little rusing himself because the Dexter Myles we see is actually Saber-Guy in disguise. The real dexter is tied to a tree in what looks like a park where he could scream his head off, but apparently hasn’t. Thinking that he’s killed the Flash, Saber-Tooth heads to the park to off Dexter as well. In one of those rushed one page endings that seems to be Bate’s metier, the Flash shows up, splinters a tree with super speed to make a cage for Saber-Tooth, unties Miles, explains that he only faked being dead, and says that he knew the fake Dexter wasn’t the real one because the fake Dexters didn’t remember flirting with and quoting Shakespeare to the Allen’s houseguest Stacy. That’s a lot to pack into one page and it leads to some details being overlooked and not properly addressed. Like the fact, as Iris comments earlier in the story, that all of the villains pictured on the cover as wax statues are actually still at large. So it would seem that the smiling Flash joking with Myles in the last panel still has some work to do.

Flash Fridays – The Flash #233 May 1975

posted on August 9, 2019

With this issue The Flash moves back to what DC called monthly publication (actually eight times a year) from its bi-monthly status. So the work that Cary Bates and Irv Novick were putting in on the book was apparently showing some sales dividends. The book features the return of Professor Zoom – the Reverse Flash. Again the appeal is to the Flash cognoscenti with a tale that hews tightly to the old Flash formula and to continuity. Professor Zoom still has the hots for Barry’s wife Iris, and, much like he did on their wedding day and he returns once again to disguise himself as Barry in order to take his place with Iris. When Iris figures out who he is, things take a sinister turn when PZ decides to kill Iris (as he appeared to have done with the Flash earlier in the story) if he can’t have her for his own. This foreshadows the darker things to come with this character down the road. A road, as I’ve previously noted, which will which will lead to Professor Zoom becoming the Flash’s most sinister arch foe. The story could have benefited with a little more room to unfold as everything is resolved at a dizzying speed on the very last page.

The reason for the limited space is of course due to the Green Lantern back-up story about two aliens who gather weapons of war from various civilizations to see who can best the other. It’s an interesting premise and writer Denny O’Neil has to work pretty hard to find a pretext to shoehorn Green Lantern into the story. O’Neil doesn’t even bother trying to wrap thing up in done-in-one and, instead, offers us another continued-next -issue tale. An interesting side note is that Terry Austin pops up along side Dick Giordano as one of the inkers on the story no doubt thanks to his association with the Neal Adams/Giordano Continuity Associates studio.

Flash Fridays – The Flash #232 March/April 1975

posted on August 2, 2019

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Writer Cary Bates continues on his quest to tighten-up the continuity in The Flash while simultaneously expanding and opening it up to new elements. The latter is accomplished by the addition of Stacy Conwell to the cast and to the home of Iris and Barry Allen. Stacy turns out to be the daughter of Charles Conwell the aspiring D.A. candidate who was fatally shot on the eve of his election back in issue #224. She’s in town to apply for admission to a junior college in Central City. It’s a move straight out of left field, and I suspect it’s being done (initially at least) to provide a romantic element for Wally, Kid Flash, West who also attends the junior college. Also, since she gets accepted at the end of the story and will be living with the Allens it reintroduces the secret identity element back into the stories. Ever since Iris found out the secret identities of Barry and Wally, the risk element keeping the alter ego hidden was gone from the work. With Stacy around now, that element of tension returns. I also suspect that writer Bates has other plans for Stacy up his sleeve, but we’ll have to wait and see.

In regard to the continuity, Bates reintroduces the Myrmitons who were last seen  in The Flash over a hundred issues ago. The Flash defeated them in issue #131 and they’ve returned to exact their revenge. What’s interesting is that issue was the second part of a crossover with Green Lantern #13, and, given that this book is one of those giant 100 pagers, the powers that be chose to reprint the GL story in this issue. It’s another head scratcher as to why they didn’t print the follow-up story from #131 as well since that’s where we first encountered the Myrmitons. Plus it would have been a chance for flashinados to read the entire crossover should they have missed one of the issues (as I did) way back when.

In my post for issue #131, I mention how the opening page for that issue with Hal (Green Lantern) and Barry sitting on a park bench really struck a chord with me and how it may have subconsciously inspired something in my own work. A few years back I came across that very page at Comic-Con and the same feelings flooded within me again. The page was dirty with some of of the trade dress missing (which helped me get a great price), but I bought it and it now hangs on the wall opposite my drawing board where it never fails to evoke those same memories and feelings. Funny how things like that work.

 

 

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