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Flash Fridays – The Flash #256 December 1977

posted on July 31, 2020

As continuing stories begin to become more the norm with the Flash, accordingly, this issue picks up where last issue’s fight between the Mirror Master and the Flash left off. We see the Weather Wizard and the Pied Piper out searching for the Mirror Master and coming upon his body lying unconscious in an alley. Unbeknownst to them, the Flash has taken MM’s place after capturing him, and is letting himself be carted off to the Rogues secret hideout. Surprising them, he dispatches them with relative ease saying: “I had to attack first and fast… before any of them had a chance to strike back! With four-to-one odds, I wouldn’t have had a second chance!”

Suddenly, the Top shows up and then disappears leaving the Flash to question his sanity since the Top was dead and buried in issue # 242. It turns out that the Flash is being gaslighted by Mazdan the villain from the future (he showed-up two issues ago, remember?) who had returned to seek vengeance on the Flash by causing his mind to experience delusions. The Flash battles the Top and suddenly unmasks him as Mazdan. Turns out that a bonk on the head during their battle had restored the Flash’s clarity (I wonder if a bonk on the head would have helped the writer?). Still things look grim as Mazdan is about to blast Flash with his destructo-weapon (really?) when the weapon is suddenly whisked away out of his hands allowing the Flash to capture Mazdan. In the closing panel we see that the gun (I’ll be darned if I’m going to write destructo-weapon again) was whisked away by the Golden Glider stationed on a nearby rooftop with a fishing rod (a nice looking fishing rod , but, still, a fishing rod). The editorial voice at the end informs us that while the Golden Glider just saved the life of the Flash, it’s only because she has plans for the Flash that are a thousand times worse. Maybe she plans to take him fishing.

Flash Fridays – The Flash #255 November 1977

posted on July 10, 2020

So, picking up from where we left off last issue, Mazdan, a criminal from the far future, had altered The Flash’s mind so that he’s seeing illusions. The Rogues gave the Flash a ‘Rosco’ award which was a potential Trojan Horse. Stacy Conwell was conjuring demons in her bedroom. And… I guess that’s it. Last issue left us with a lot of questions, and here are some of the answers:

Let’s start with Stacy, Barry/Flash sees her conjuring up another demon, but this particular problem is immediately written off as one of Mazdan’s mind tricks. Turns out that Stacy says that she was merely practicing some of her old cheerleader routines, and that her magic wand was merely a baton. (Please permit me a slight digression here, as something of a quasi expert on batons, especially the flaming kind … they are the exclusive province of majorettes, not cheerleaders) So that takes care of that, and Mazdan doesn’t appear in the rest of the story.

As for the ‘Rosco’ award, seeing it causes the Flash to run backwards (although, he saw it quite a bit in the last issue and that never happened). So the Flash solves that particular problem by wearing contacts that make him see the ‘Rosco’ backwards thus enabling him to run forwards.

As for Mazdan … who knows. Everything wraps with the Flash capturing the Mirror Master, taking his costume and heading off to visit the Rogues. The last page also promos the fact that the Golden Glider will be joining the fray as well. I don’t know if the thinking here was to imitate Marvel with all of its ongoing subplots, but here the result is merely confusion. A lot of things are being thrown at the story, with little thought given to whether they will even mesh. We’re not seeing thoughts here, just afterthoughts.

But.

In the midst of this mess fest, there appeared a beautifully executed panel of the Flash running backwards that has to stand as one of the finest (pre computer) impressionistic and sublime renderings of super speed that I’ve ever come across. It’s a gem and a nod to artists Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin for this jewel among the dross. Since one of my pet peeves is someone describing a piece of art that I can’t see, I’m including it here for you to enjoy. Just part of the job.

 

Flash Fridays – The Flash #254 October 1977

posted on June 26, 2020

Issue #254 kicks things off with a good looking Dick Dillin/Joe Rubinstein cover depicting the apparently now annual gathering of the Flash Rogues Gallery. The story opens with the Flash saving a young girl from a window ledge, and spotting an image of the Mirror Master in a window as he does this. The Mirror Master image then leads the Flash on a chase to a Dutch windmill on the outskirts of town. For a young writer at the time, this choice by Cary Bates of a, by then, somewhat ancient archetype seems anachronistic not to mention downright peculiar. But this is indeed where the gathering of the Flash foes is being held. These two events embody the confusing arc of the story that follows:

The Flash saving the little girl is an illusion. The Flash getting an award called the Roscoe (after deceased Roscoe Dillon aka The Top) by the Rogues who then disappear when the Flash attempts to capture them is real. The Flash as Barry Allen coming home to find their live-in college student Stacy Conwell conjuring up demons in her bedroom is … well, we’re not sure (Stacy has been absent from recent issues, and when Bates suddenly remembers her he writes her absence off as having been in Europe on a student exchange program). The Flash running off to battle the Trickster is real, but his meeting Hawkman and Aquaman there and dancing with them as they turn into a real hawk and a real fish is an illusion (well, duh). And finally the appearance of the Roscoe Award in the Allen kitchen is … wait for it … both. Confused yet?

Okay, so let’s see if we can sort this out. The illusions the Flash encounters were caused by Mazdan a gent from a non specific future time who the Flash first encountered in Showcase #4 eleven years earlier. He did this by targeting the sensory areas of the Flash’s mind in an attempt to get even with the Flash for causing him to be locked up in a future hoosegow for several centuries. As Mazdan says: “The penitentiary hasn’t been built that can hold me prisoner!” Yeah, baby… nobody keeps this guy in jail for three hundred and ONE years. Props to writer Bates, however, for digging deep to return this former one-off character to the fray. I guess I’m just an old softie for internal continuity.

The real event, the windmill gathering, is truly caused by the Rogues, and the Roscoe Award in the kitchen is invisible to Stacy and Iris, but very visible to the Flash. Okay, deep breath, we’re almost to the end … the Trickster reports to the gathered Rogues at the end about the Flash dancing by himself and all and that the scarlet speedster appears to be losing some of his buttons. We also learn that the Roscoe Award is a Trojan Horse and is about to make something bad happen to the Flash. However, that and Stacy Conwell’s conjuring demons will both have to wait until next issue before we’ll truly understand what’s happening …  if that’s even possible.