BHOC: FLASH #229

This FLASH 100-Page Spectacular gave me a dilemma when I found it at the 7-11. A month before, I had sent in money for a subscription to FLASH. The offer had said wait 6-8 weeks, though, and it had been only four. But by that same token, I got comics so infrequently, if I wound up with the same book twice, it would likely drive me out of my mind. What to do…?

As if there was really any choice. After much anguished soul-searching, I bought it anyway, cast the dice, and let the chips fall where they may. And I bet right–I never did get a copy of this issue as a part of my subscription. So there’s that. And it’s another great 100 Page extravaganza, this one devoted to my favorite super hero(es). So there’s that as well.

The first story is a twin-Flash team-up, as advertised, featuring the return of a then-obscure golden age villain, Rag Doll. Unfortunately, the splash page gives away the identity of the mystery villain pulling Rag Doll’s strings, the Thinker, and so kind of dumps on the ending of this story. Bad choice there.

The story opens with Barry journeying to Earth 2 after receiving a summons from Joan Garrick, wife of the Earth 2 Flash. She tells Barry that her husband is having a problem, the sort that only Barry might be able to help with. Catching up with Jay, Barry is told of the older speedster’s recent attempts to capture his old foe Rag Doll, each of which went awry due to some error on his part.

The two Flashes quickly track down Rag Doll, but Jay trips up avoiding a squirrel in his path(!) continuing his streak of bad luck. Barry completes the capture, though–but when they take Rag Doll in for questioning, he seemingly transforms into an actual rag doll, to the bewilderment of all.

All includes the Thinker, who investigates the transformation and is caught by Barry, who reveals that he was the one who pulled it off, to draw out the mastermind behind the robberies and Jay’s failures. He’s got the Thinker dead to rights, but makes his own gaffe which puts him square in the bullseye.

But in the nick of time, Jay sows up to fell the criminal, with a neat bit where he swaps helmets with him. And, in the end, Barry reveals to Iris that his own gaffe was a fake, so as to allow Jay to regain his confidence in his abilities. It’s a very nice, very pleasant story, with the exception of that splash page spoiler.

Then, it’s reprint time! Before he was the lord of the dead, Green Lanterns foe Black Hand was instead a pastiche of longtime comic book writer Bill Finger. Like Finger, Black Hand kept a journal of science facts and aphorisms to help him in his crimes. Here, he steals half the power in GL’s ring, literally dividing the Emerald Crusader in half.

After an extra-long letters page, a cool Infantino Flash pin-up and a Flash-themed word-search (there aren’t enough word searches in comics these days) Kid Flash, still attired in his cut-down Flash costume, encounters three disabled youngsters, each of whom is still abled enough to work out his true identity, and honorable enough to promise never to disclose it.

Next came a Flash trivia quiz, and then another kinda blah Johnny Quick saga. As a kid, I never cottoned to the work of Mort Meskin, who drew Johnny’s adventures (often beautifully, if in a very ink-heavy style.) Here, the master of speed takes over ten city jobs at once in order to thwart a wrongdoing.

More to my liking, though no less scratchy in style, was the golden age Flash story that followed, in which Jay Garrick seeks out a secret city whose inhabitants possess tremendous mental powers and who can create lifelike illusions. The Flash brokers peace between them and the outside world.

Finally, the book closes with a classic though chauvinistic story drawn by Carmine Infantino, in which the Flash encounters a woman from a neighboring dimension who has come to our world as an explorer–and who is even swifter than he is. Unfortunately, her super-swift vibrations wind up causing explosions in her vicinity, necessitating her return to her home dimension and costing the Flash a friend.

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