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Flash Fridays – The Flash #285 May 1980

posted on August 6, 2021

A nice Heck/Giordano cover kicks off the next phase in Barry Allen’s life and the book begins to explore life after Iris West Allen. Things are kept familiar by devoting the issue to a tangle with the Trickster. It’s a smart move in an attempt to mollify long time Flash readers following the existential turmoil that has embroiled the Flash’s life recently. We get to see some nice superhero super villain action and then it’s on to introducing new characters in the Flash’s/Barry’s life.

As Barry shows up at the police department lab a tad late after his Trickster tussle, we meet his new captain Darryl Frye, an efficiency expert who we find is timing Barry’s arrival time at work. Writer Cary Bates is setting the table for himself as he bakes in some potential problems for Barry in future stories. In an interesting interaction with Frank Curtis who drops by the lab to try and set Barry up with someone, Frank casually mentions that it’s been a year since Iris has been gone. So Cary Bates is looking for a hard reset with a year having elapsed between this issue and the previous one. It makes sense to do something like this if you don’t want to spend a year with Barry grieving, and if you want to get on with his new life right away. It’s interesting that no writer has ever picked up on the opportunity presented here to fill in the Flash’s missing year. Intriguing. Let’s just keep that thought to ourselves and not tell anyone else about it. Deal?

Later we see Barry moving from the house he shared with Iris into a new apartment and in the process meeting two new neighbors. The first is a beautiful but aloof woman named Fiona. The other is a black scientist with two first names Mack Nathan who is a scientist at Star Labs. Again, Bates is creating characters who come with story possibilities attached. In fact, we don’t have to wait long as the Trickster tries to rob Nathan’s safe  for some nuclear secrets with a toy robot that he had managed to get into the hands of Nathan’s son Troy. The cover scene is nicely brought into the story as the Trickster tries to retrieve his toy robot and inadvertently sends the car with Mack and Barry in it off a cliff. Another battle with the Trickster ensues. The Flash keeps the car from crashing and captures the Trickster. And so the new era of the Flash is off and running (pun not intended, it happened by itself).

Flash Fridays – The Flash # 284 April 1980

posted on July 30, 2021

Ch, ch, ch, changes, turn and face the strange! Turn and face the strange indeed as that seems to be the theme of this issue of The Flash. First, we find out that Len Wein has moved over from Marvel to take over the editorship reins from the departing Ross Andru. Wein grew up a DC Comics fan so, at the very least he’ll be bringing some institutional memory to the post. And, Wein is a writer as well, so it will be interesting watching him work with Flash scribe Cary Bates.

Second, we face the strange as the Flash, who was adrift in the time stream, falls into a vortex and into the realm of the Lord of Limbo. He finds that he’s not the only prisoner of the LOL (ha!) but that other time travelers have been stranded there as well. They work together to help the Flash escape back into the time stream. As he returns to his present, writer Bates uses the opportunity to have the Flash pass by various stages of his life such as his birth, the accident with the chemicals that turned him into the Flash, and his marriage to Iris. Once back to his present in 1980, Barry visits Iris’s grave. All of this smacks of the unfortunate speed force and its endless permutations to come in the Dark Age of comics. But for now, the slate has been wiped clean and the Flash/Barry looks forward to a new beginning.

Flash Fridays – The Flash #283 March 1980

posted on July 23, 2021

Okay, maybe it’s the fact that it’s summer and that I have always associated comic books with summer. Lying on my bed as a kid reading comics waiting for something to happen (For a fuller explanation, lister to Sonic Boom by the Gear Daddies and you’ll get it). Whatever the reason, I loved this issue of The Flash! The Don Heck art continues to shine in support of one of Cary Bates best issues so far. Maybe it’s because he uses the entire issue to tell a single story, or maybe it’s the fact that he’s tying up loose ends like a worker in a garment factory. All I know is that these is one nicely done issue.

The story opens with the Reverse Flash hiding in Barry’s house as Barry as the Flash triggers a bomb set by RF on the Cosmic treadmill. Thinking that he’s knocked off his rival, he starts making a recording that leads to several expository pages where he admits to killing the Flash, being the brains behind the police department drug cartel, drugging the Flash with angel dust the night of the masquerade ball, and, when she wouldn’t agree to marry him, killing Iris. Aside from the fact that it’s a little sicko… it certainly keeps the book moving in a new direction. And it finally elevates the Reverse Flash to number one on the arch villain list.

As it turns out, and, as you probably already figured, the Flash didn’t die in the treadmill explosion. He scattered his body’s molecules a split second before the explosion, which gave him control over them so he could pull them back together. He then confronts the Reverse Flash and they battle across the rest of the story until RF tries to return to the future in his time capsule. The Flash KO’s him, and, absent the cosmic treadmill, attempts to guide the time capsule himself, but only succeeds in sending it back to “beyond the brink of time”. The Flash bails out into the time stream leaving the Reverse Flash to his fate. As to the Flash himself…? I’ll let you know.