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Flash Fridays – The Flash #242 June 1976

posted on January 24, 2020

In this issue, the Flash battles the Electric Gang. The Electric Gang uses the natural charge of electricity that people have in their bodies to paralyze their victims (when the charge in their body is drained) and uses it to commit crimes and KO superheroes like the Flash. The effect on the Flash not only knocks him out of commission but gives him a case of amnesia in regard to what just happened. Hard to solve a case when you can’t even remember that there was a case to be solved. Luckily for the Flash, Iris is able to step up and solve the crime in her capacity as a reporter. Her capacity as a reporter? Yes, in this issue, Iris goes back to work. Even though they had no children, Iris apparently gave up her career to become a housewife. Things in the real world were changing however, and, in their attempt to acknowledge those changes, the old men at DC Comics had Iris return to work… and just in time because Iris is the one who discovers that the Electric Gang have been using the cover of being floor cleaners to put down chemicals that would later allow them to return and “absorb body-electricity from their victims through their footgear!”. Iris woman-splains all of this to Flash/Barry at the end and then, speaking of children, seems to drop the hint that she might be pregnant in a bit of a domestic cliffhanger.

But hold the iPhone… there’s another cliffhanger to deal with Flashinistas! All throughout the story members of Flash’s Rogues Gallery have been seen surreptitiously returning to the city. In the closing panel, we see them all gathered for a funeral of one of their own with a caption that reads: “And on this sad note we leave you till next issue… to wonder which Flash foe died… and under what circumstances!” Or until the next Flash Friday. (Speaking of wondering, I’m betting it’s the Top since he’s not pictured.) (Spoiler alert!)

Flash Fridays – The Flash #241 May 1976

posted on January 17, 2020

The issue opens with reporters covering a robbery by the Flash and his attempted capture by the Mirror Master. It appears that this is only one of the recent crimes that the Flash has committed with a series of failed tries by the Mirror Master to bring him in. Iris, naturally, can’t seem to figure out what’s gotten into Barry and she pays a visit to the Flash Museum to have a talk with the curator Dexter Miles who informs her that, because the Flash appears to be batting for the other team now, they plan to close down the Museum.

In a visit with the Mirror Master, he spills a backstory about how he lured the Flash to a trap where he used his mesmerizing mirrors to cause the Flash to think he was a criminal. Later as the Flash shows up the rob the Emerald Expo so does the Mirror Master and an unexpected guest, Heat Wave. Heat wave isn’t buying any of the Flash bad, Mirror Master good stuff and his actions and reactions help snap the Flash out of his mirror mesmerized spell and he captures the Mirror Master and turns him over to the police. Later we see the Flash taking Heat wave to the Flash Museum where it’s revealed that it was Deter Miles pretending to be Heat Wave in an attempt to help the Flash (and keep the Flash Museum open). He’d borrowed Heat Wave’s outfit and heat gun from the museum exhibits to impersonate the baddie.

All in all, Cary Bates spins a tight and logical little tale, and his use of the Flash cast is a thoughtful and reverential extension of the growing Flash canon. I found it to be one of the more enjoyable of the recent stories,  and it continues to show the growth in Cary Bate’s oeuvre. Again, I’d missed it on it’s first go around because in May of 1976 my bride and I were about a month away from moving into the house that we’d just built. A task that tends to suck up a lot of one’s attention, Flashcinado or not.

Flash Fridays – The Flash #140 March 1976

posted on January 10, 2020

With this issue, the Stacy Conwell thread that has been running through recent issues is finally tied up. To recap, Stacey, the Allen’s houseguest, has been plagued by dreams of her dead twin sister showing up in photos of accidents and disasters, and she has been recording these events in her diary. She had thrown the diary away, but Iris finds a page that fell out of the trash. Once Barry, Wally and Iris are aware of what has been troubling Stacy, they put in motion a plan to help her by finding out what’s really happening. The solution turns out to be fairly convoluted and contrived, but good enough for a comic book… barely. The Flash and Wally follow Stacy in secret and discover that the photos in her dreams showing her twin sister at disaster sites were really Stacy herself showing up as she was sleepwalking. I believe I did say the solution was convoluted. And now for the contrived part. Barry confronts Stacy with what he knows (never really explaining how he came by the information) and hypnotizes her to find out what’s going on. It turns out that while she was hiking one day, Stacy saw a UFO crash. The UFO sent out a distress signal which matched Stacy’s brain waves (contrived enough for you?) and set in motion a process that would cause Stacy to pick up any distress signal and immediately sleepwalk to the site which she would then picture in her dreams. The Flash then finds the saucer crash site and causes the saucer to blow up thus freeing Stacy from and future accident calls. There must be a bigger word than contrived to describe all of this, but at the moment I’m at a loss as to what that might be. Maybe CONTRIVED. Nope, still not enough.

The Flash-Grams contributors all heaped praise on the way the stories were trending and the fact that they were continued over several issues, so everything in the Flash universe seemed rosy, even as, in the real world, the sales numbers for The Flash continued their downward descent.