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Flash Fridays – The Flash #227 May/June 1974

posted on May 17, 2019

A sweet Nick Cardy cover kicks off yet another issue dripping with nostalgia for the early sixties. The villain Captain Boomerang  shows up with a scrapbook of memories straight out of those early issues. We see the iconic shot of the Flash tied to a giant boomerang and being catapulted into space. Even when I first encountered that scene in my junior high days, I wondered how a catapult could cause something to achieve escape velocity, but such was my love (and a first love at that) for the character that I not only suspended my disbelief, but I flew it out over the Pacific, dropped it into the ocean where it sank to the deepest part of the Mariana Trench… and imploded, whereupon, just to be safe I unloaded six slugs from a Colt Widow Maker designed for underwater use (hey, I’m suspending my disbelief here, work with me!) into it just to be sure it was out of commission. Which allowed me to buy into this current story in much the same manner, and, taken in that context, it’s a pretty good little story. Writer Cary Bates even comes up with some cool new boomerang gimmicks that, with my disbelief suspended and all, made perfect sense.

First, Captain B’Rang throws a boomerang into a jail cell where it cloaks itself and hides there in anticipation of him being thrown into jail, which happens. After he uses the boomerang to escape and the Flash catches up to him and tries to windmill him back to jail, he forms his body into a boomerang shape so that he returns, circles back, and catches the surprised Flash off guard. When he ties the Flash to another boomerang catapult to shoot the Flash into another dimension, the Flash uses the same trick to return from said dimension and capture B’Rang.

The only glitch in the story for nerdy ol’ me was when Bates introduces B’Rang’s father as the one who’s keeping a scrapbook of his battles with the Flash (and thereby justifies the cover), he’s introduced as Aussie “Green”, but the inestimable Captain’s real name is Digger “Harkness”. Now I realize that father’s and sons can have different last names for a veritable multitude of reasons, but I still found this to be a little jarring nonetheless. Other than that, the story was a very satisfying romp. Ditto for the Green Lantern story which continues his problems with getting his ring to function properly. It seems we’re going to have to wait for the next issue to find out what the problem is. Author Denny O’Neil isn’t given a very large sandbox to play in here making the continued stories almost a necessity.




Flash Fridays – The Flash #226 March/April 1974

posted on May 10, 2019

The return of the Flash villains continues with both Captain Cold and Heatwave stepping back onto the stage. Cary Bates produces a well told tale involving two of the Flash’s oldest foes. Bates has fully absorbed the rhythm of the John Broome tales of a decade earlier and is confidently producing stories that would have not been out of place alongside those prior pieces.

In this story, Len Snart (Captain Cold) is jealous because Mick Rory (Heat Wave) is being released from prison for good behavior, so he whips up some cold germs in the prison infirmary that can put someone in a trance. Since I’ve had a cold germ/virus that put me in a trance, I was totally able to buy into this. CC sends the germs in a letter to Barry Allen and this is where I had just a bit of a problem with the narrative. Exactly how would CC know who Barry Allen is? I suppose Barry could have presented evidence at a trial, but so could a lot of other people. Also, the trance was supposed to make Barry deliver CC’s old uniform to him but somehow at some point it also causes Barry to don CC’s duds and believe that he’s the good bad Captain. It doesn’t work for me, but it does work for the plot and the cover, so that will have to stand for our explanation. When Heat Wave  tries to fry Barry dressed as CC, the heat breaks the trance that Barry is in and Barry is able to use his super speed to turn the tables on HW. Heat Wave is sent back to jail for robbery and attempted murder which makes him crazy when he sees Len Snart still alive in prison, and Len Snart happy because he made Mick Rory crazy.

The Green Lantern story is a small tale about Gl ingesting some bad mushrooms while camping and is a cautionary tale about eating bad mushrooms and trying to operate heavy equipment or a power ring. A nice if predictable little turn with drop dead gorgeous art by Dick Giordano.

Flash Fridays – The Flash #225 January-February 1974

posted on May 3, 2019

Is it me, or does the Reverse Flash aka Professor Zoom look like he’s turning into the Elongated Man on this cover? I realize that the artist Nick Cardy had a problem to solve here when he decided to show Green Lantern being carted off to the hoosegow between the two running Flashes, but let’s just call the solution he arrived at a tad inelegant. I suppose we do have to remember that those were the days before Photoshop could have easily helped with something like that.

As Flash/Green Lantern crossovers go, this one is a bit on the ho-hum side. In short, Zoom lures the the Flash and GL to the future as they seek help in stopping an orange-polka dot-runaway unicorn that’s tearing things up in Central City. No, I did not make that up… writer Cary Bates did. Zoom’s plan is to have GL steal something for him in the future in return for his returning with the Flash to 1973 to help him catch the orange-polka dot-runaway unicorn. I can’t begin to tell you how silly it feels to even type that let alone comment on it. It does seem to be an awfully juvenile story even by the Silver Age standards that Bates is trying to evoke. It feels more suited to a My Little Pony book, and I might be doing My Little Pony a disservice there.

It’s not surprising that the story isn’t all that interesting. What is surprising is that the most interesting thing in the book is an ad. An ad for the DC COMICMOBLIE. If I may, I will let the ad copy speak for itself:

“Here comes the comics-man! Have you ever had trouble finding a store that carries DC Comics magazines? Have you ever had a hard time locating a particular issue that just didn’t seem to go on sale anywhere? Then it’s time you heard about DC’s latest and greatest project the COMICMOBILE!

Over the past two years, DC’s Vive-President and Production Manager, Sol Harrison, has received hundreds of letters from readers who have difficulty in locating the DC line of comics. One answer to the problem appeared to be subscriptions, and all DC mags began carrying the proper form offering fifteen issues for $3.00. Realizing that few readers could afford to subscribe to all the titles they collect at once, Mr. Harrison developed the totally unique concept of the COMICMOBILE with the blessing of Carmine Infantino, the publisher of DC, and it was all systems go!

Picture, if you well, a brightly decorated van, covered with all the heroes and heroines comprising the DC line of super stars. With a blaring ‘Here Comes the Comics-Man!’ wrapped around the Supervan, and the covers of the latest issues filling the windows, the project that in jest had been known as Solly’s Folly around the office, began taking our comic magazines right to the neighborhood streets and appears to be a stunning success.

Test sites were carefully chosen in the Long Island and New Jersey areas where comics are not distributed. Could comics be brought to the people the way ice cream is? The answer is yes! Readers from three to ninety-three kept coming back to the COMICMOBILE for their favorite DC magazines, every one from Action to Young Romance, every character from Atom to Zatanna.

Inside, the van is decorated with posters of Batman, Robin, Superman and Plop!, the number one selling comic so far in the COMICMOBILE’S journeys. Original artwork and pictures of Superman line the interior along with giant buttons proclaiming ‘Shazam is Coming’!

While stopping at day camps, parks, beaches and the New York Giants summer trying camp, the COMICMOBILE has run Superman cartoons to entertain its customers in between purchases of comics, T-shirts pennants, and souvenirs from the Amazing World of Superman in Metropolis, Illinois.

Messrs. Harrison and Infantino may well revolutionize comic magazine distribution with their possible plans of beginning a fleet of COMICMOBILES around the country. Not only can we at DC tell which of our mags the readers are buying, but we can also see just who is reading them and get direct feedback from these fans. Our ultimate goal is to make sure that every adult and child who wants comic magazines can find them. Yet, while we send our COMICMOBILES to a few cities we want to help our readers everywhere who have trouble finding our comics. If your area is not getting comic books or if you can’t locate the titles you want, send a letter describing the trouble spot to: The DC COMICMOBILE c/o Sol Harrison, National Periodical Publications , 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, New York 1oo19.

Meanwhile, keep your ears open for a ringing bell and the words ‘Faster than a speeding bullet’… echoing down your street. The DC COMICMOBILE may be coming to your neighborhood next!”

Told you the ad was interesting, didn’t I? With the benefit of hindsight, I think I can unequivocally state that this just may have been the dumbest idea in the history of comics.

Wait! Is that a ringing bell echoing down my street!?


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