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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.

Flash Fridays – The Flash 5 Star Super Hero Spectacular – Summer 1977

posted on May 1, 2020

This issue is a bit of an anomaly since it appears to be a really nice annual put out by DC in the summer of 1977 which contains a deft little Flash one-off tale along with the other superhero stories. Rather than ignore that story, I thought I’d include it here as part of our unforced and enjoyable march through the Silver Age Flash.

Along with writer Cary Bates, Julie Schwartz is given a special thanks, so I think it’s safe to assume that this piece was the brainchild of the Flash editor. The story is titled “How to Prevent a Flash”, and it cleverly recaps the origin of the Flash by first scaring the pants off of you, and then turning in a nice little twist at the end. It opens with a double page splash showing the moment the Flash first gained his powers when the lightning struck the shelf of chemicals in his lab at the police station. Except that it turns out that it’s not Barry we’re seeing but a blond lab assistant named Patty. We’re led to believe that Patty has now received super speed from the chemical bath. Okay, this is the scary part … first, it stretched credulity pretty thin when Kid Flash got his powers the same way as his mentor. So to think that Julie et al would be trying to spill the same wine for a third time is enough to make you feel icy fingers begin to close around your heart. When you now have a character called Ms. Flash now running around in the familiar red costume, you’re starting to have you question the sanity of those who are entrusted with the care and feeding of this character that you hold near and dear. Which, as it turns out is exactly what they wanted you to think. After we see Ms. Flash wreaking all kinds of havoc because she can’t control her powers, we’re suddenly back at the scene of the lightning crashing through the lab window and being told that what we saw was what was running through Barry’s mind just before he whisked his lab assistant Patty to safety. So no new Flash, and instead of stretching credulity to the snapping point, the story simply turns out to be a shrewd recapping of the Flash origin for all of the newcomers picking up the book for the first time.

There is one thing, however, that still bothers me. Even thought it didn’t result in the creation of a third Flash, it’s still the third time that lightning has come crashing through that particular lab window. It seems to me that the next thing we should see Barry doing is MOVING THE SHELVES OF CHEMICALS AWAY FROM THE WINDOW!!