Friday, July 17, 2009

Flash #191

Flash #191 (On Sale: July 17, 1969) has the last of the three brilliant covers by Joe Kubert. This is the least of the three, but it is one of those like Secret Six #1 where the cover is the first panel of the story.

"How to Invade Earth -- Without Really Trying" is by John Broome, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito and begins with a groggy figure crawling around a corner to find the Flash's suit and as the cover tells you, it is not Barry Allen. No, it is Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan and he is surprised as anyone to find the Flash's costume and not his own.

From this point the story backtracks to earlier in the day when Hal is visiting the home of the Barry Allen's, Hal being in Central City on toy business. Iris Allen informs Hal that she has a surprise for him, a beautiful woman who she met while doing interviews for an article on modern fashions for her newspaper. Hal then recounts how he had met another woman in Florida last week and how she had stole his client by employing "the most shameless use of her feminine wiles!" This of course took place in Green Lantern #71 earlier this month and a nice bit of cross-over work by John Broome and Julius Schwartz, something you rarely saw at DC in 1969.

The doorbell rings and the cross-over continues as in walks brazen toy saleswoman Olivia Reynolds. Hal is really annoyed but over a good home-cooked meal he begins to warm up to Olivia and can't believe she is the same woman who went for the "hard sell" in Florida. Hal wonders which Olivia is real when his ring attempts to read her mind to find out. It is an unconscious act which Hal can't stop, but he does manage to turn the mind-probing beam invisible at least. However, for some reason the beam is thrown back at Hal, who yelps in pain. While getting some air he explains to Barry what happened and Barry thinks it might be that the Guardians prevented the beam from reaching Olivia and sent it painfully back at Hal because he was trying to use it for personal gain.

Suddenly spaceships appear over Central City and begin sending out telepathic communications saying they are the Mogrians and the they are taking over the Earth. Barry and Hal change into the Flash and Green Lantern and attack the Mogrians only to be attacked by strange monsters, that look like something out of a science-fiction movie. Something isn't adding up here as the Mogrian's ray-guns are just toys. Just then the aliens link arms and blast the Flash and green Lantern, appearing to disintegrate them.

Inside the spaceship we see a different type of character, an old alien named Glabr, who we learn is from an ancient race know as the Lenglyns, who use the power of subconscious mental giants they call U-Minds to sustain their civilization. Glabr has found a U-Mind on Earth in Olivia Reynolds. It was Glabr who repelled Hal's energy beam from Olivia's mind and decided to distract Green Lantern by staging a fake invasion of Earth using the Mogrian robots he carries on his ship, robots that just so happen chose this time to revolt against their masters and begin constructing machines to build more of themselves.

Which takes us to the opening scene of Hal waking up on a sidewalk to find the Flash's uniform. Just then Barry comes round the corner in Hal's Green Lantern suit, Barry saying he was told where to find Hal by a voice in his head. Glabr appears and tells them what has transpired and that only the Flash and Green Lantern can defeat the Mogrians. But Hal and Barry soon learn that they have been stripped of their powers. Glabr says that the Mogrians do not have the power to do such a thing unless they have already tapped into the power of Olivia's U-Mind. By banding together Glabr, Barry and Hal are able to telepathically locate Olivia being held captive in the spaceship.

They are able to connect with her mind and convince her that she has the power to mentally restore the Flash and Green Lantern's powers, which she is able to do. All that remains is for the Flash and Green Lantern to board the spaceship, defeat the Mogrians and rescue Olivia. Green Lantern uses his ring to remove Olivia's knowledge of what has transpired, a requirement for the Lenglyns to use her U-Mind. They wake Olivia up back at the Allen's house and she is none the wiser where the four of them play some bridge.

The letters page is a real winner this issue, featuring letters by regulars Gary Skinner and Peter Sanderson Jr and a guy named Mark Evanier.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

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