Flash Fridays – The Flash #278 October 1979
posted on June 18, 2021
This issue does a much better and more integrated job of merging some familiar Flash super villain action with the ongoing hunt for the killer of Iris West. As I mentioned in my last post, the editorial/writer braintrust seems to not want to lose the familiar and admittedly colorful aspect of the Flash’s Rogues Gallery while also pursuing a longer and more intricately plotted story arc. During the battle with Boomerang, the Flash learns that several members of the Rogues gallery were at the masquerade ball where Iris died. Said information being at the forefront of the Flash’s mind, he leaves without even taking the good Captain to the police.
Back at the lab, Barry and Get. Frank Curtis determine that it was the costumed guest dressed as the Sandman who used his gun to inject Barry with angel dust. Curtis has also uncovered the fact that the experiments Clive Yorkin underwent actually enhanced his criminal tendencies rather than doing the opposite. We then flash (cute, huh?) to Yorkin entering a movie theater showing a horror film, but the real horror is caused by Yorkin who trashes the place. He also uses his touch to turn a couple in the theater catatonic (and blue). The Flash checks out the scene at the theater, but seeing that the police have things handled, heads off to another robbery, this time by Heat Wave. As they battle, Yorkin shows up and turns heat wave blue and catatonic with his touch. While the Flash attends to the shattered Heat Wave, Yorkin escapes. The Flash takes off after him only to be ambushed by Yorkin. As we end, the monster has his hands around the Flash’s neck as he slowly is doing to the Flash what he did to the others in another cliffhanger.
Had I been following the book closely back in the day, I’m sure I, like the Flash would have found myself in the grip of this story. But, at the time, I was wrapped up with the beginning of my second comic strip, John Darling and I was more occupied than ever. You can read more about this in the Match to Flame posts on this blog. And you can see what I was working on in the John Darling posts. Suffice to say, they were busy busy days.
Flash Fridays – The Flash #277 September 1979
posted on June 4, 2021
And so comes the second issue in the “Death of Iris West Saga”. This arc was definitely a sharp left for scriber Cary Bates and it’s where he begins pulling together the disparate story snippets that have been floating around in the books for a bit while at the same time taking the book in a new direction in terms of storytelling. That said, the story follows some predictable patterns. The cliffhanger event from the previous issue, the Flash taking on the Justice league in their satellite headquarters, is again dismissed in a couple of pages as Superman subdues him rather easily. Green Lantern then examines the Flash and determines that someone has dosed him with angel dust thus explaining his actions. We are left to wonder who might have done this. The JLAers take him to a hospital where he’s treated as Barry Allen. He’s released in time to attend Iris’s funeral which is given a single page. Given the momentous weight of this event, a single page seems like rather slim attention being paid. The Flash then notifies reporters that he plans a press conference with a big announcement the next day at the Flash Museum.
Once again, following another predictable pattern the Flash runs into the Mirror Master, and, as he has with previous villains, dismisses him quickly and in a rather silly way by pummeling him with candy bars. It’s as if the editorial braintrust is trying to have their candy bar and eat it too by tossing in an old foe for the old fans while they try to take the stories in a more modern direction to attract new fans. Anyway, pronouncing that the MM is going to be someone else’s problem, Barry tosses his Flash costume ring into the trash, whereupon, Melanie, the girl who has been stalking him rescues it. The next day Barry shows up at the Flash museum as himself and takes the microphone preparing to give up his identity and announce his retirement. The crowd, wanting to hear only from the Flash, hounds him off the stage. As Barry runs off, Melanie intercepts him, gives him back his ring, imbues him with confidence (mental manipulation?), and convinces him to continue on as the Flash. Whereupon he returns to the stage and tells the crowd that the Flash is here to stay.
DC apparently felt highly enough about the new Flash direction that they gave the story arc about Iris’s death a full page house ad.
I’ve even had Amazon (the knower of all things Tom) recently throw a trade collection of the “Death of Iris West” story at me indicating that they still hold the work in high regard as they strip mine their back catalog for readable material. It will be interesting to watch it unfold in Flash Friday retro real time.
Flash Fridays – The Flash #276 August 1979
posted on May 28, 2021
What better way to follow last issues really cool cover than with another really cool cover… this time from master draftsman Dick Giordano. Follow that up with some nice art on the inside from Alex Saviuk, and you have the makings of an above average issue. And this time all of this top shelf art supports a well written story by Cary Bates as well.
The tale picks up right where we left off at the masquerade ball where Iris has been attacked by the monster Yorkin as he sought revenge against Barry, and the Flash has been drugged by someone unknown. As they are examined, Iris is declared dead and an ambulance is called for the Flash. A nice feint is thrown in which we see the Flash running down Yorkin and killing him. It doesn’t make much sense until we see that it was Barry’s drugged imagination that we were observing, and he wakes up in a hospital. He’s still raving mad and has to be given a tranquilizer. Again we see Barry’s mind revisiting the previous day in anguished imaginings.
Time passes and we see Barry in a wheelchair being pushed by a nurse in a park setting, still having delusions about killing Yorkin. I’m thinking that it probably wouldn’t be the best time to be given Iris’s wedding and told that she’s dead, but that’s what happens when the narco detective Frank Curtis shows up and does exactly that. Curtis then doubles down and takes Barry to see Iris’s body in the morgue. He then drives a crying Barry home.
The scene shifts to the Justice League Satellite where the Flash shows up demanding that Superman, Wonder Woman or Green Lantern bring Iris back to life. When they try to explain that they can’t do the impossible (I know, I know), the Flash goes into a berserker rage, declares them all to be frauds, and takes each in of them on individually. The final panel shows the Flash about to fight them all at once, and vows to tear the JLA satellite apart when he’s done with them.
In a refreshing change from the previous issues, the story is told in a straight linear fashion, with none of the distracting off shoots that have tended to muddy up and confuse the last few tales. It’s basically watching Barry/Flash slowly come unhinged as his life comes completely apart. If this is what Bates has been building towards, his payoff story is well done. It remains clear and straightforward while taking the character to interesting places. Bates has now got me hooked and looking forward to watching him as he puts the Flash back together.