Thursday, September 15, 2011


The craziness of the trial of the flash – a flashback issue, #328

Thanks to my favorite podcast - Wait, What? the Savage Critics Podcast with Jeff Lester & Graeme McMillan – discussing the recently published Showcase edition of “The Trial of the Flash” from the early eighties, I decided to dig into my longboxes and pull out my original issues of this storyline – Flash (vol.2 with Barry Allen) #224-250.

The storytelling is certainly different – thought balloons, exposition, crazy pseudo-science – but it’s been really enjoyable so far, and I plan on writing about the entire story at some point. But for now, I want to look at some of the insanity from issue #328, which happens to be a reprint of issue #165 from 1966, wherein the Reverse-Flash escapes from his prison in the future and trades places with Barry Allen in order to try and inhabit his identity – done on the eve of Barry’s wedding.

The next day at the ceremony, the Flash intervenes, just as the minister is asking if anyone has objections to Barry (who is the disguised Professor Zoom) marrying Iris West, and the insanity ensues. It’s a crazy issue that doesn’t hold up too well – unlike the exposition-heavy work of Cary Bates in the previous issues, with dialogue that still seems to flow smoothly, the writing of John Broome in this story just doesn’t read as well – but it shines a light on the crazy ideas these silver age creators were conceiving.

Here are just a few moments – that come out of nowhere and really make no sense but still made it into the final comic – from this mid-60s Flash story.

Here we have the Reverse-Flash imprisoned in the future, being fed automatically by radiation. But, unknown to his captors, he is able to use this radiation to increase his mental capacity – by mind control! I want some of that radiation.

More futuristic science. Now that Eobard Thawne is in the present – his past – he needs to change how he looks in order to blend in as Barry Allen. So, he just takes an electric razor, makes a few simple adjustments, and creates a matter-distributor that changes his face to look exactly like Barry’s.

In order to support his ruse of being Barry Allen, the Reverse-Flash dons Flash’s costume and goes out to stop a bank robbery he heard on Barry’s police scanner. He easily stops the thieves, but when he goes back to return the money to the vault, Reverse-Flash finds he can’t do it. He can’t do it! “I guess I’ve thought and acted like a criminal too long!” It’s hilarious.

I just like the phrase “invincible knife,” in the editor’s note at the bottom of the page. I wouldn’t mess with anyone who had hands like invincible knives.

Reverse-Flash and Flash – two of the fastest beings in this DC universe – are just standing around discussing what is going to happen, now that Flash has found out Professor Zoom’s plan. I love how Reverse-Flash is standing with his hands in his pockets in the first panel, but I really love Barry’s line: “You don’t deserve fair treatment – but go ahead!” You’re a villain who can’t do any good, but sure, I’ll give you a chance to get dressed in your suit so we can do this thing fair. Not that Reverse-Flash needs much more than a fraction of a second to get dressed. But I digress.

The ever-lovin’ end. I love how Barry (at least, the person they believed was Barry) was kidnapped by the Flash, leaving everyone at the altar wondering what was going on. And when Barry (the real Barry) returns, they just accept that “there was … a kind of mistake,” and enjoy the wedding ceremony with no response to the strange kidnapping at all. Barry’s back; it’s all good now.

This was some crazy stuff, and not exactly easy to get through. But it was fun, in a campy sort of way. I’ll return to discuss the main “Trial” storyline once I finish. But for now, let this whet your appetite.


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