Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Flash #197

Flash #197 (On Sale: March 3, 1970) has a cool cover by Gil Kane, which only makes the ungodly inks of Vince Colletta inside this book all the more unpalatable (and please Dan, don't make up yet another fake identity to tell me how wonderful Vinnie's dreadful inks were. I'm looking at them right now; they were a nightmare!). This cover does beg the one question (maybe not a great question) I have always had regarding the Flash. OK, so somehow he fits this entire costume, with hard-soled boots and all, into his ring. If this was such a great thing, why did he never share it with other DC heroes who had to find inconvenient ways of bringing their costume along with them?

This issue begins with our cover-story "Four Star Super-Hero" by Mike Friedrich, Gil Kane and Vinnie Colletta. This story is based on an interesting idea, how people who work together have silent communication, in this case Detective Charlie Conwell and Barry Allen. When Charlie solves a case he tugs at his ear and Barry touches the tip of his nose as a way of saying "nice going!" It is non-verbal and instinctive between the two of them.

After an overnight snow storm the Ice King is on skis hitting a bunch of jewelry stores when the Flash shows up and takes him out, But after he crashes to the snow he is not moving and his heart is not beating. An ambulance shows up and takes the Ice King away, but a few blocks later we see that the ambulance is a fake and the Ice King has turned off his pacemaker to simulate death (OK, so pacemakers don't work that way, but Friedrich obviously didn't know that). back at the scene of the crime Charlie shows up and asks Flash how the ambulance showed up so quickly. Flash replies that he was too stunned to think straight at which Charlie tugs at his ear and proclaims, "The ambulance was a cover for Ice's getaway!" Out of reflex Flash touches the tip of his nose as Charlie stares at him. Realizing his mistake Flash tried to cover up by faking a sneeze, but Charlie is now wondering about the Flash.

The next morning Barry finds out that wife Iris has been made the temporary drama critic for Picture News and she suggests that Barry get involved in the local drama scene., which he does getting a part in the local production of Hamlet. the morning of their opening night the entire cast, except Barry comes down with some sort of virus and as the Flash Barry suggests to director (and curator of the Flash Museum, Dexter Myles, that he can do the entire performance on his own.

Dexter reluctantly agrees and that night the Flash, moving at super-speed, plays all of the parts in Hamlet. During the curtain call he reveals that he is the Flash. Afterward however, he begins to feel ill, just as Ice and his gang, disguised as cops show up. In the middle of a violent seizure due to the virus now attacking his body the Flash is in no condition to take on Ice and his gang, who beat the crap out of him. However, once rested Flash is back in action and takes out the gang.
The next day Charlie Conwell comes to visit the ill Barry Allen at his home and sees that Barry is being visited by the Flash, which is of course Barry moving at super-speed again and looking as if he is two separate people.

The back-up story is "To the Nth Degree" by Robert Kanigher, Gil Kane and Vinnie Colletta. Professor Ira West creates a breakthrough telescope that can pierce hyper-space and allow one to see stars thousands of light-years away as they exist today.The professor is sending the telescope to the Astronomical Society and an amateur telescope to son-in-law Barry Allen, but he gets the labels mixed up and Barry gets the "hyper-scope"

Through the "hyper-scope" Barry sees an inhabited planet in the process of exploding and uses the scope to transport himself to the planet where he is able to stop the explosion and save the aliens. Once back home Professor West shows up to pick up his scope, realizing the shipping mistake he had made. But the Professor drops the scope and shatters the special lens, but says not to worry as he "wrote all the data I need to grind a duplicate lens on a wall in my lab."

Returning to his lab though he finds that the painters have just finished repainting the wall and secret of the Nth Degree lens is lost forever.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

1 comment:

vinnie said...

Inside sources tell me there was a lot of bad attitude among the heroes about this whole costume change thing. In one instance, Flash was quoted as saying "Sure, I'll give up the secret of the costume ring. Right after we hear how Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson slide down their Batpoles in civvies but somehow get fully suited up before they reach the bottom."