BHOC: FLASH #246

Shortly afterwards, my mailman delivered my other subscription title, FLASH, which was also sporting a Neal Adams cover this month. It’s a pretty intense cover for this series not in keeping with the tone of the strip (or even this particular issue.) But it is extremely eye-catching and intriguing, which is the whole point. I’m pretty sure that my brother Ken also bought his own copy of this issue at some point, no doubt attracted to it by this cover.

Writer Cary Bates must have had the future on the brain this month for some reason, because just like the story in the latest JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, this issue of FLASH concerns itself with the distant future as well, specifically the 64th Century home era of long-time Flash foe Abra Kadabra. I think this was probably my first exposure to Abra, though I may have been aware of him earlier, having seen him in group shots of the various rogues or of DC super-villains in general.

The story opens in the present day, with Barry and Iris enjoying an afternoon of bowling along with their border Stacy Conwell and her boyfriend. I had forgotten completely that Stacy had remained in the series for this long–I had thought she’d been fazed out after her big storyline a few issues ago. In any event, suddenly Barry’s bowling ball grows to giant size and careens out of the bowling alley–Central City, am I right? Barry pursues the destructive ball as the Flash, destroying it with his super-speed vibrations, and lets the reader in on the fact that for the past several days strange quirks of physics like giant bowling balls have been turning up all around him.

Deciding to get to the bottom of this and hypothesizing that he’s been charged with a mysterious energy that is causing these quirks of science, Barry tosses his lab, coming upon a secreted glowing pyramid, which whisks him away to the future when he touches it. There, he sees his old foe Abra Kadabra being applauded and cheered by the crowds. This is all a part of an experimental reform therapy that’s being tried out on Abra. Since his mania is all due to his narcissism, his craving for applause, the authorities theorize that by having people cheer for him wherever he goes, he’ll be rendered harmless.

The problem is, with his compulsion trapped in a can’t/must situation, Abra is going coo-coo. So he contrived to find a way out of this perfect trap that he’s found himself in–and sending the pyramid to his old enemy in the past is the first step in that plan. Now, it reappears in front of the Flash in he 64th century, and imbues him with an unbreakable compulsion to kill Abra Kadabra, launching him at the neutralized super-villain like a missile.

And boy, Flash does it! In a quick sprint, he beats the hell out of Abra and eventually disintegrates him with a single super-speed blow. Now, pretty clearly Abra isn’t dead–but Flash has just done this in front of witnesses, and so the Police of the 64th Century arrest him and take him into custody. And that’s where this chapter ends, a bit of a slight installment in the life of the Flash. But editor Julie Schwartz still had to fit the final installment of his running Green Lantern back-up series into the issue.

Green Lantern had by this point regained his own title. But editor Schwartz was far ahead enough in commissioning these back-up stories that for a few months, the Emerald Warrior appeared in both titles. This was the last of them, and one of the more memorable ones, in that it completed the transition of Jason Woodrue, an obscure old Atom villain, into the plant-creature called the Floronic Man. Woodrue would years later become an important part of Alan Moore’s reinvention of Swamp Thing.

Picking up on the previous chapter, the Floronic Man attacks Green Lantern, incapacitating him by injecting him with a cactus needle and getting him high (although this is not spelled out directly on the page–Schwartz and writer Denny O’Neil had learned the lesson of the tainted chili earlier)  incapacitating him and taking his Power Ring. It’s Hal’s little alien pal Itty who comes to the rescue, freeing Green lantern with the discarded Power Ring so that Hal can freeze Woodrue solid. And GL is a little bit perturbed at the thought that Itty may be more intelligent than he’d given him credit for–a thread that would later be picked up in the Lantern’s solo title, though not for several months.

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