BHOC: FLASH #237

The third and final part of the saga of FLASH’s search for his missing wife showed up in my mailbox, folded right down the middle in the manner that subscription copies were sent in those days. It was a good issue, though a hair disappointing in that this concluding chapter didn’t take up the entire issue–there was once again a Green Lantern back-up story. The cover suffered from the same blotchy, heavy inking that almost all of DC’s super hero covers sported in this period–it looked like it had printed badly

For the third time in a dozen issues, the villain of the day was professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash. Which I didn’t really mind, I liked Zoom. And clearly FLASH writer Cary Bates liked him as well. This was the issue in which I learned the complicated backstory that had been grafted onto poor old Iris Allen by Bob Kanigher a few years earlier: that she’s really been born a thousand years in the future, and was sent back in time to be raised when disaster threatened her native era. Boy, talk about a strange choice to make–up to that point, Iris had simply been a reporter and a wife.

The story picks up where the previous chapter left off, with Flash using his Cosmic Treadmill to try to reach Iris’s future era 1000 years hence. Doctor Fate attempts to stop him from doing so, but he fails, and Flash learns that this is where his wife has been hiding out. But as the Scarlet Speedster approaches at mach-speed, Fate downloads a ton of backstory into his mind. Turns out that Fate had determined that if Flash got too close to Iris, the result would devastate all of time and space! To prevent this, Jay Garrick made off with Iris, and the two heroes have been hiding her ever since, until they can figure out how to fix the problem. And, of course, telling Barry any of this just would have been too straightforward.

But Fate’s warning comes too late! Barry gets too close to Iris, even though he tries to avoid it, and disasters break out! The Flash moves to stem the tide of destruction, but it’s the appearance of Professor Zoom that does the trick. Turns out that, while he was trying to kill Iris in his last appearance, Zoom secretly infected her with the energy that causes calamity in the presence of the Flash. Which makes no sense for him to do, but whatever. Zoom wants Iris for his own bride, and there’s a really creepy sequence where he dresses Iris in a future wedding gown in the blink of an eye. 

But Barry isn’t going to take this lying down, and he deduces that the strange hand gestures that Zoom made earlier were really him sending a specific vibration into Iris which neutralized the energy within her. Having figured out how to fix his wife, Flash fights it out with Zoom, eventually defeating the speedy villain.

And that’s it! There’s one final page that shows that Jay and Fate had been watching all the time (but did nothing to help, the jerks!) And Barry and iris make it home to the 20th Century and home, where iris can resume her place as wife and homemaker, serving dinner to Barry and houseguest Stacy Conwell. It’s a bit of a damp squib of an ending for a story that ran for three issues, but I didn’t mind it as a kid. If nothing else, I was always a fan of Zoom, and I loved learning about this ridiculous backstory that Iris had (which would come into play again in future stories.)

The Green Lantern back-up began a six-part serial of its own this issue, focusing on a band of aliens, the Ravagers of Olys, who were working their way through the biblical story of God creating the universe in six days in reverse. So in this first installment, the Emerald Crusader must rescue the inhabitants of the planet Zerbon, whose world has been plunged into perpetual darkness. It’s nothing that GL can’t handle, but the aliens responsible escape to move onto their next biblical scheme, with Hal Jordan in pursuit.

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