BHOC: FLASH #245

My subscription copy of FLASH arrived next. It wasn’t an especially memorable issue. The thing I can recall the most is that somewhere–maybe the previous issue’s letters page–I had read the title of the story, “Who Put The Zing In The Flash” and intuited that perhaps we’d be getting a story that delved into mysteries and secrets of the Flash’s origin–another Mopee story, for all that I didn’t know who Mopee was then. But instead, all the story presented was a gang of generic criminals with a gimmick weapon. 

The cover is one of Ernie Chua/Chan’s better efforts during this period. But I still feel like Flash’s face and expression are a bit off. His eyes look just a little bit crazy somehow. Regardless, it’s got some impact to it. The story itself is another entry from the team of writer Cary Bates and artist Irv Novick, a duo who’d be so consistently in place on FLASH during my formative years (along with editor Julie Schwartz) that they’d become inexorably linked with the character in my mind. It was a rare thing for either man to miss an issue through to the end of Schwartz’s tenure as editor (after which Novick was given his walking papers on the series in favor of newer, younger cartoonists.)

The issue opens with Flash deposting a few members of the Zinger Gang in Central City lockup. The Zingers have been on a crime wave, apparently. The next day in his guise as Police Scientist Barry Allen, Flash demonstrates some scientific principles for a visiting boy–with strange, laws-of-physics-defying results. Detecting a strange radiation trail cutting through his lab, Flash follows the beam, assuming that it’s responsible for the weird effects. He winds up getting sucked into it, and propelled into a wall.

But not just any wall–the wall of the Central City Bank where Flash apprehended the Zingers the previous night. This leads Flash to theorize that the Zinger weapon that they use combined with his own super-speed vibrations creates an after-effect 12 hours later that traces his own path through Central City. Attempting to use this knowledge to round up the rest of the gang, the Flash spends the next day criss-crossing every inch of Central City, knowing that 12 hours later that pattern will become a Zing-energy trail that he can ride–and within which he can detect the gang’s use of the Zinger gun by the change in frequency. Or some gobbledygook like that.

And sure enough, the dematerialized Flash is drawn right to the gang’s latest job, which he dismantles in a split second. But this happy ending comes with a new puzzle, however, as the next day Barry again demonstrates a scientific theory and gets an absurd result. So the Zinger Gang wasn’t responsible for these phenomenon–so what is? A question for the very next issue!

I was surprised to see a Green Lantern back-up story in this issue. Now that the Emerald Crusader had his own title back, I expected him to vacate teh back-pages of FLASH. And indeed he would in two issues’ time. But editor Schwartz had been working ahead, so there was still one final two-part story in inventory to be used up. This two-parter brought back the Atom’s old adversary Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man, and went the extra mile of transforming him into a literal plant-man, the way most modern day readers know him.

There’s not a whole lot to the story outside of that transformation. Returning from space, GL intends to show his alien pet/friend Itty the sights of Earth, but stunbles across some strange plant phenomenon where Woodrue is conducting his experiments. So there’s some jeopardy as the pair is attacked by Woodrue’s controlled plant-life, but nothing especially earth-shattering. But the Dick Dillin artwork was nice, embellished by a young Terry Austin.

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