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Flash Fridays – The Flash #253 September 1977

posted on June 12, 2020

I don’t know if editor Julie Schwartz’s responsibilities with the Batman books at this time were causing him to take his eye off the ball as far as the Flash was concerned, but this book and the previous one dealing with the Molder seemed to be desperately in need of a stronger editorial hand. Writer Cary Bates had been turning in some very credible work up to this point, but it this book and the previous one he goes right off the rails with a story that’s not only silly but downright confusing. The basic gist of things boils down to this: in the previous issue when the Flash swooped in to snatch the Elongated Man away from his wife Sue, which on its face was a dumb thing to do, the EM was drinking some Gingold, the extract from the Gingo tree that gives him his stretching ability. It turns out that the Flash’s vibrations altered the Gingold causing it to morph the EM into the evil Molder. At the end, the Flash is able to find a Gingo tree with a fungus that’s killing it and he injects the fungus into the Molder to return him to the Elongated Man.

But that’s not the worst of it. Thrown into the mix we get Iris sneaking into a hospital disguised as a nurse to use the paddles of life to bring a puddle of Flash back to life, Iris and Sue Dibny sitting in a diner talking about how the Elongated man has become the Molder while a laughable caricature of a Russian spy just happens to be in the next booth overhears them and decides to use the Molder to discredit a Russian defector. This injection of the Russian spies is a total non sequitur needlessly injected into the story. Oh, and the Molder’s (I’m sorry, I wasn’t going to bring it up along with everything else, but that is one really dumb name) hideout is a junkyard. Again, a more forceful editorial hand could have gone a long way towards focusing and fixing a lot of this. And Irv Novick’s art seems to decline as well, as if the stories were breaking the artist’s will. Not the nadir of the Silver Age Flash’s run, but certainly in the running.

While all of this was going on, in 1977 Funky celebrated five years on the comics pages, or one and a half volume’s worth of The Complete Funky Winkerbean. But who’s counting?

Flash Fridays – The Flash #252 August 1977

posted on June 5, 2020

At first blush this looks like the start of an interesting story with a guest appearance by the Elongated Man wearing the new duds he picked up when he left the The Flash to become a backup feature in Detective Comics. Unfortunately the only dud here is the story itself. I’ve never been a fan of stories with multiple narrators. Call it a personal non preference. The approach just doesn’t work for me. But for some bizarre reason, out of the blue, Cary Bates becomes enamored with the conceit and decides to start using it in this issue. The first narrator is Sue Dibny the wife of Ralph Dibny the Elongated Man. She and her husband have just checked into the Central City Inn so the Elongated Man can investigate some crooks called the Chane Gang. You know, I love puns as much as anyone, but somehow that pun is simply sad rather than clever. When you have to make up a word to make your pun work … it’s just sad. But I digress. What follows is one of the most twisted scenes I’ve ever read in a comic book. Ralph enters the room in disguise and proceeds to hit on his own wife. I mean, who would do something like that? It’s only topped ironically by another Elongated Man scene many years down the road when we see Ralph sitting on a bed with a gun in his mouth because his wife has been raped and murdered by Dr. Light in some pathetic attempt to write the next really shocking thing. But I digress yet again. Ralph’s raison d’être is that he plans to infiltrate the bad pun name gang, hence the disguise. Then EM suddenly disappears and Sue narrates herself over to seek help from Barry and Iris. Then the omniscient narrator takes over for a panel or two, followed by Barry/Flash as narrator and then back to the omniscient guy again. All of this in the service of the following (I am not kidding): Barry says he’ll have the Flash look for Ralph, Sue leaves, Barry tells Iris that he made EM disappear because he had heard that Ralph/EM was in town, went to see him, saw the bad pun gang committing a robbery along the way, scooped up EM making it look like he disappeared, captures one of the bad pun gang members with EM, EM takes off after the other, Flash goes to look for EM, we see EM in his disguise meeting the other gang member, he somehow causes the bad guy’s gun to stretch, the Flash gives up his search and goes home to attempt to boogie with Iris (still not kidding), EM (still in disguise) then shows up at the airport and melts a plane, the Flash sees this on TV at home, the Flash goes to the airport where the disguised EM removes his disguise to reveal that he’s someone called the Molder, and then he melts the Flash, whereupon the editorial narrator invites us back to what happens next issue, which I’m not really sure I want to do that at this point, but I will. The things I do for you.

Oh, did I mention that the scene on the cover has nothing at all to do with the so called story? Well, it doesn’t.

 

 

Flash Fridays – The Flash #251

posted on May 15, 2020

This type of cover is known as a big fat lie cover because just two pages into the story we find the Flash was indeed able to save Iris by racing in front of her to take the brunt of the Golden Glider’s shot himself. Why wasn’t he flash frozen if you’ll excuse the pun? Well, it turns out that the gun she stole borrowed from her brother Captain Cold (all this time and he’s still just a captain) can only be programmed for one target at a time, and since it was set for Iris instead of the Flash, he wasn’t hurt. Certainly a poor design for a gun, but a good design by writer Cary Bates who plans to exploit that particular construction  flaw later in the story.

Another attempt is made to snare Iris by use of a high flying top. After the Flash saves Iris, he starts putting the top as well as two and two together. Barry receives tickets to the Futura Ice Show, realizes that the show’s star Lisa Star is probably the Golden Glider, discovers that the Top, before he died, had been spotted in the the same cities at the time the ice show was there, surmises that the Top and the Golden Glider were friends with benefits, and that the tix for he and Iris were probably meant to lure them there so that the Golden Glider could do away with Iris as revenge for the the Flash having done away with the Top. Let’s see the hands of everyone who got all that. That’s not many…

So, moving on, Barry catches up with the actress Daphne Dean who is still at the airport leaving town and enlists her to play the part of Iris when the Allens attention the ice show. Daphne won’t be hurt when the Golden Glider tires to flash freeze her again because… wait for it… the gun can only be programmed for one person at a time! Ha! So no one is hurt except for the feelings of the Golden Glider when her brother Captain Cold shows up causes a sibling row that allows the Flash to capture them both. The story ends with Daphne Dean finally getting the praise she deserves for her acting prowess. No mention is made, however, about how Iris acted when Barry got home and Iris found out he was out on the town with Daphne Dean again. Ponder that during the week and we’ll discuss next Friday if there’s time.