It was a red-letter day when my first subscription copy of THE FLASH arrived in my mailbox. But it was marred slightly by the fact that, in these primitive days, subscription copies were mailed out folded in half and wrapped in a simple outer covering of rough paper. So my copies of FLASH from this era still sport the telltale center crease that marks them as subscription copies. But ultimately, I didn’t care–I had a new issue of FLASH and I didn’t even have to go anywhere to get it!

Unfortunately, its a bit of a mediocre issue, starting with the cover. I understand why the brown banner area has been added behind the logos and top type, but it creates some odd spacial relationships where it interacts with the edge of the building and the flying form of Dr. Alchemy. Continuing the black background all the way to the top likely would have been more attractive.

The story introduced me to Al Desmond, who had been not one Flash-foe, but two: Mr. Element and Dr. Alchemy. But Al reformed, leaving his criminal career behind. But when Al and his wife Rita are about to be struck by a falling gargoyle off the cornice of a nearby building, it’s not the Flash who saves them, but rather Al’s own alchemical abilities. 

This indicates that Al’s other villainous personality may be reasserting itself, a thought that worries both Rita and the Flash, who locates Rita in time to rescue her from the flaming wreckage of her car, destroyed by Dr. Alchemy as he claims dominance over Desmond’s body. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Alchemy sets a skyscraper under construction ablaze, as an offering to Vadtara, the mythological fire-demon. Central City firefighters can’t put out the blaze, and are grateful for the Scarlet Speedster’s offer of assistance. The Flash penetrates the building, to confront Dr. Alchemy at the center of the blaze.

But the Flash is able to end Alchemy’s psychotic episode and bring Al Desmond back to prominence by transforming himself into Barry Allen and back again a thousand times a second, so that both appear before Dr. Alchemy. The presence of Desmond’s close friend allow him to overcome Alchemy’s personality, and the flames extinguish with Alchemy’s departure.

Meanwhile, Green Lantern is enjoying the Spirit of ‘76 traveling exhibit when it is stolen by robots in colonial gear. Giving chase, he discovers a space-ship manned by similar robots and one flesh-and-blood inhabitant: Aaron Burr, who famously perished in a duel with Alexander Hamilton in 1804. How is he still alive? Why is he here? the answers wold have to wait until the subsequent issue!

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