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Saturday, 31 December 2016

Flash 350 - the Flash ends


Bates, Infantino and McLaughlin bring the Flash to a conclusion in issue 350 (Oct. 85).


Despite the almost-revelation that the Reverse-Flash was Abra Kadabra, at the end of the previous issue, and Mirror Master so close to figuring it out, in this one none of the Rogues seem to suspect that the Reverse-Flash is anything other than what he claims, even as he uses a magic wand to try to crush them all in a cube.  Mirror Master is the one to save the day, using laser contact lenses.


The Rogues drop by Gambi to get cleaned and fed and some new costumes.  Have to look your best when you are preparing for revenge.  Again, though Captains Cold and Boomerang, Trickster, Weather Wizard and Mirror Master have all been associated with Gambi before, this is the first time Rainbow Raider is.


The Rogues then burst into the Flash Museum, tie up Dexter Myles and use the Cosmic Treadmill to travel to the time period of the Reverse-Flash. There they find proof that he is really Abra Kadabra.


Kadabra has continued to play the Flash perfectly. He attacked and destroyed the city court, where the Flash was being held, making it look like the hero was responsible, and that he kidnapped, rather than saved, the juror.  This is all being done in order to prove to the council from his era that magic ought to be credited as an art.


The Rogues show up, freeing the Flash and the juror, and turning en masse against Abra Kadabra.  With a small army at his back, the Flash takes the phony down.  Kadabra is dragged back to his era, and the other villains are left free. All will return in the pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which is already going on at this time.


The juror's consciousness turns out to be that of Iris, Barry's dead wife. Her parents knew from records when she was due to die, and so they pulled her soul out, and built her a new body in this era.  It's preposterous, but does make for a nice finale, re-uniting the couple after so much. Especially as they do not have very long to be together, with the Flash's death in Crisis already having been advertised.

The trial went on far too long, which is a real shame, as there was some great stuff in there, especially for the time period.

A new Flash series would begin in 1987, with Wally West taking up the mantle after Barry's death.  Iris and Dexter Myles would eventually pop up in that book. 

And I managed to finish this run before the end of the year.  Happy New Years!

Flash 349 - what's up with that juror


Bates, Infantino and McLaughlin explain a few things in Flash 349 (Sept. 85), as the series moves towards its conclusion.


The mystery juror is now once again free of the evil Reverse-Flash, but still possessed by the lightning bolt, and comes to explain things to the Flash, who is sitting in prison.  Ralph Dibny and Wally West get cameos, as does Dexter Myles, all reacting with shock to the news of the Flash's guilty verdict.


While this happens, the Reverse-Flash gloats over the captive Rogues. Mirror Master, Trickster, Captains Cold and Boomerang and Weather Wizard are imprisoned along with Rainbow Raider, who is probably really jazzed just to be part of the team.


The juror explains that he is really from the time period that Iris West came from, and they saw the manipulations being caused by the death of the Reverse-Flash, and someone else playing with the time stream, and sent the consciousness of one of the people from that era back into the juror, to set things right. That didn't work out.


By the end of the issue, Mirror Master has pretty much figured out that the Reverse-Flash is not who he claims to be, and we see him change his costume. There have been so many hints that it is Abra Kadabra, not in the least the use of a magic wand, but the story still stays coy on that point.

Everything resolves in the next issue.

Flash 348 - the verdict


Well, there is no surprise about the verdict, thanks to the cover of Flash 348 (Aug. 85), but the Bates, Infantino and McLaughlin story turns out to have more twists along the way.


The jury spends most of this issue sequestered, and it begins with them having some solid discussion about their views as to the Flash's guilt or innocence.  Given the cover, this seems pointless.  


Captain Boomerang and the Rainbow Raider get taken out of the picture by the Reverse-Flash, who even shows himself to the chief of police.  The chief tells the Flash's lawyer about this, but she thinks he is just trying to get the Flash off of the murder charge.


The jury's vote comes in deadlocked, at which point the mysterious juror announces that this is wrong, and some time traveller is manipulating events.  He then takes the jurors back in time to the moment of the death, and allows them to see that the Flash was acting with no malice or intention to kill.


But on their way back into their bodies the mystery juror encounters the Reverse-Flash, who waves his magic wand and takes over the juror's body.  He then mentally controls the rest of the jury, and gets them to vote guilty. So although we did know the result, the route there was not predictable. In this instance, I really like the twist, and the time dedicated to it.

The story continues in the next issue.

Flash 347 - the Reverse-Flash vs the Rogues


Bates, Infantino and McLaughlin bring the trial to its conclusion in Flash 347 (July 1985).


Most of the story deals with the prosecution and defense making their final arguments.  It's written well, but not very interesting visually.


So aside from one clip I am going to use, in which the mysterious juror demonstrates a degree of mind control when a thief breaks into their area, the rest of the clips I am going to use deal with the Rogues.


Mirror Master, Captain Cold, the Trickster and Weather Wizard all wind up encountering the Reverse-Flash, who defeats each of them, and then spirits them away somewhere.


He sure looks and seems like the Reverse-Flash, but why would he be going after the Flash's other villains?

The story continues in the next issue.

Flash 346 - is the Reverse-Flash still alive?


The Reverse-Flash is back in Central City according to the cover of Flash 346 (June 1985), but are Bates, Infantino and McLaughlin playing games with us?


The Pied Piper gets to open this story as he recovers from his breakdown, escapes from the asylum and goes back into action.  He is the first to see the mysterious visitor from the future, and the sight terrifies him. As the issue goes on, we see this man again and again, a little more each time.


As for the Flash, he explains to his lawyer that she was actually correct about him being Barry Allen, but that after his face got smashed in by Big Sir he had the surgeons in Gorilla City alter his features, to get rid of the Barry Allen identity forever.


That juror who got struck by lightning also gets some attention in this story. When the bus carrying the jurors goes off a bridge he announces with certainty that they will all survive.  How could he know this?  Yes, the Flash does rescue them all, but the other members of the jury are also puzzled about his statement.


The issue ends with the Reverse-Flash showing himself to the chief of police. Now how can the murder trial go on?

The story continues in the next issue.

Flash 345 - the Flash unmasked in court


The cover of Flash 345 (May 1985) does not lie.  Bates, Infantino and McLaughlin have the Flash get unmasked in court.


The story opens back in the unspecified future.  The criminal escapes and heads back in time to the present. This section doesn't really add anything to what had been revealed two issues earlier, but at least reminds the reader of what is going on.


Kid Flash's testimony is also far more extensive than in the previous issue, as he details the various ways in which the Flash could have stopped the Reverse-Flash without killing him.  Wally is apologetic after his harmful testimony, but the Flash has no issues with him. All Kid Flash did was tell the truth.


The mystery villain gets into the computer base of the Central City police and deletes all files on all of the Flash villains.


The big conclusion sees the Flash's lawyer present her theory that the Flash is really Barry Allen.  This allows her to put the hero in a more sympathetic light, explaining how the Reverse-Flash murdered his first wife. But when she pulls off the Flash's mask, the face under it is not Barry Allen.  It's a face we have never seen before.

The story continues in the next issue.

Flash 344 - the testimony of Kid Flash


Flash 344 (April 1985) is shameful. As if this storyline hadn't dragged on long enough, Bates, Infantino and McLaughlin shove filler at us in this one.


It starts promisingly, with Kid Flash being sworn in to testify against his mentor. At this time, Wally West had pretty much given up his Kid Flash identity, because his super-speed was killing him, as detailed in the pages of New Teen Titans. This story comes right before the wedding of Donna Troy in that book.


But no sooner does Wally get sworn in than the Flash's mind starts to wander, and we are treated to a reprint flashback of Kid Flash's origin story. The Flash comes back to pay attention as Kid Flash is credited as an expert in the use of super-speed, and then goes into another reprint flashback, of their trip back in time to face the golden giants.


When the main character's mind is wandering so much that only three pages out of the issue feature new material, that's a sign that your story is boring even the characters.  Only the very last page was worthy of being published, as Kid Flash states that, in his opinion, it was not necessary to kill the Reverse-Flash in order to stop him.

The story continues in the next issue.

Flash 343 - why the Flash's lawyer hates him


Bates, Infantino and McLaughlin devote much of Flash 343 (March 1985) to detailing why the Flash's lawyer hates him so much.


But there is one really well done segment to the story.  In a not-specified future time a criminal breaks out of their elaborate cell.  From the guards, we learn that this is an old foe of the Flash, and they believe that he is travelling back in time to face his enemy once again. The reader is meant to infer that this is the Reverse-Flash. But is it?


Nothing much at all happens with the actual trial in this issue. The Flash hired a detective to look into his lawyer's past, to find out why she is so angry with him, and the results of that get revealed now.  Cecile Horton's father was a policeman killed by Goldface, who claimed to have only killed the man because the Flash refused to give up.


Once the Flash finds this out, he explains to Cecile that Goldface had never actually delivered the ultimatum that he claimed.  He killed the policeman, and then stated that he had threatened to do so.  Cecile goes to see the villain in prison.  Goldface insists that the Flash is lying, and Cecile believes him.


But then Goldface's men launch a prison breakout, and Cecile gets taken along as a hostage.  Goldface admits that he lied, and the Flash was telling the truth. Right after that the Flash shows up, saves his lawyer's life, and tosses Goldface back into prison. Goldface returns the following year in Green Lantern.


So anyway, now Cecile is all happy and proud to be representing the Flash. On the last page, Kid Flash enters to testify for the prosecution.

You know, I am firmly of the belief that all the subplots dealing with the Flash's lawyer(s) could either have been dropped completely, or reduced to a one or two issues subplot.  They drag the story on needlessly.

The story continues in the next issue.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Flash 342 - Rip Hunter takes the stand


Bates, Infantino and McLaughlin conclude the Big Sir subplot in Flash 342 (Feb. 85).


The story picks up with the Flash waking to discover that Big Sir has pounded his face into a horrible mess.  He takes off for Gorilla City.


The Flash asks Solovar to have his surgeons repair his face, but makes a secret, special request as well, which will not be made clear for a few more issues. Because dragging things out is what this book is all about!  But the Flash also enlists the aid of Solovar and his apes in rounding up Big Sir.


The only interesting element of the trial sees Rip Hunter take the stand.  The Time Master had last been seen a couple of months earlier in the Forgotten Heroes storyline in Action Comics, and immediately after this story takes part in their adventure in DC Comics Presents.  The defense tries to argue that the Reverse-Flash cannot be considered dead because he was from the future and thus has yet to be born.  Rip Hunter refutes this twisted logic.


Big Sir has his brain "fixed" by the surgeons in Gorilla City, and he becomes super intelligent.  Big Sir and the Flash work together to take down the Captains Cold and Boomerang, Weather Wizard, Mirror Master and the Trickster. The change to Big Sir's level of intelligence is treated as permanent in this story, but in fact would prove to be temporary.

The Rogues return a few months down the road, except for Big Sir.  He is next seen in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Flash 341 - the Flash's face gets destroyed


Bates, Infantino and McLaughlin get the trial going in Flash 341 (Jan. 85).


Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, is called to the stand to testify about the day of the wedding.  The prosecutor has upped the charges to second degree murder, and though Ralph does his best to show how the Flash's actions were accidental, and to protect Fiona Webb, the prosecutor successfully argues that it all happened far too fast for any witness to have been able to see enough to make a judgement on the events.


Fiona Webb gets called to the stand to talk about the Flash's behaviour right after the death of the Reverse-Flash.  While she tries to show how his primary concern was for her, this plays to the prosecutor, showing that the Flash simply didn't care about the state of the Reverse-Flash.


Meanwhile, the Rogues have captured Big Sir and strapped him into a mind controlling machine.  Captains Cold and Boomerang, the Trickster, Weather Wizard and Mirror Master then program Big Sir to want to kill the Flash, and send him out after the hero.


Big Sir attacks the Flash as he and his lawyer leave the courthouse.  Big Sir gets the Flash right in the face with his mace.


The Flash manages to get away from Big Sir, but collapses and passes out.  A couple of kids unmask him, but his face is now so mangled as to be unrecognizable.

The story continues in the next issue.