BHOC: FLASH #226

I owned two separate copies of this issue of FLASH, one of which was initially bought for my younger brother Ken. And it’s a good thing, too, because at some point soon after getting this issue, my father got angry with me for some infraction that I’d made and threw out all of my comic books. So everything we’ve covered already (and a few that we haven’t yet) were all gone, out in the trash. But that second copy eventually became mine as well.

Finding this issue also meant that I’d missed the previous one, the one that letters page had teased about. That was quite a blow to me, and so I began to think about how I could avoid such a fate happening to me again. In a few months, I’d get my parents to buy me a subscription to FLASH so that copies of each issue would be mailed to my home, without the fear of missing one. I maintained that subscription for many years.

This issue brought back Captain Cold, whom I viewed as the Flash’s arch-nemesis at this point based on the fact that he’d featured in two out of the three FLASH comics that I owned. Here, I was introduced to his opposite number, Mick Rory, Heat Wave, and their running feud.

Here, Captain Cold, infuriated that Heat Wave has arranged his own early release for good behavior rather than breaking out like a good super-criminal should do, devises an elaborate revenge on Rory. He sends a letter to Police Scientist Barry Allen that contains mesmerizing cold-germs (I am not making this up) which compel Barry to steal the Captain Cold costume from the evidence room and assume his identity.

Snart has no idea that Barry is secretly the Flash. He’s simply looking for a patsy that he can send into battle and to his death against Heat Wave, with the intention of getting Heat Wave convicted for murder and a life sentence.

It is only the fact that Barry is actually the Flash, and can use his super-speed to escape Heat Wave’s fiery trap once the compulsion to battle him as Captain Cold has run its course that allows him to survive. He’s able thereafter to speedily dispatch Heat Wave and return him to prison–where, not realizing that the Captain Cold he incinerated was a fake, Mick Rory is horrified to find Len Snart still alive.

Again, this was a straightforward and fun little story, the stakes of which I could readily understand even at six years old. Irv Novick’s artwork here brings some of the zip and color of classic Flash artist Carmine Infantino, inked expertly by Dick Giordano and Frank McLaughlin. This was very much the sort of story that really worked for me as a young comic book reader. The tale also closes with a plug for the then-new Super Friends cartoon which had started airing the previous September. I can remember my excitement when a preview for the following week’s episode revealed that the Flash would be a special guest star.

The back-up story was another adventure of Green Lantern, this time illustrated by classic artist Neal Adams. But for all Neal’s acclaim, I can’t say that I saw the art on this installment as being noteworthy.

That said, there are some great sequences in this short tale, including the top tier of this page, and that figure of Green Lantern falling out into space in the final panel. The story concerns Green Lantern’s Power Ring beginning to mysteriously malfunction, causing GL extra jeopardy as he attempts to rescue a trapped hiker.

The culprit turns out to be some mushrooms that GL mixed in with his chili at the start of the story. At six, I didn’t get the drug reference in this story, but somebody at DC sure did–which this tale is presented here as a self-contained 8 page story, the next two issues of FLASH would revisit it, and reveal that it was actually aliens that were behind the malfunction, not that GL had been ingesting magic mushrooms.

Elsewhere in the issue, this advertisement for the Treasury Edition reprint of ACTION COMICS #1 ran. I had never sent away for anything in the mail before, but in this case I coaxed my Mom into preparing a letter with the necessary back-and-a-half, and I cut out the coupon from my copy, marring it until the point where it got thrown out. And then I settled in to wait by the mailbox.

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