BHOC: FLASH #247

The mailman brought my latest subscription copy of FLASH that contained big news! One of the first decisions made by new incoming publisher Jeanette Kahn was to do away with the 8-times-a-year release model. It’s difficult to believe today, but for thirty years, even titles such as SUPERMAN and BATMAN didn’t come out more than 8 times a year. (The anthologies titles such as ACTION and DETECTIVE did maintain a monthly schedule.) This was due to concerns about overexposure and the need for more time to ensure quality and so forth–but by the mid-1970s, when almost all of the Marvel books were monthly, it didn’t make sense to leave some of your best sellers off the shelf four months out of the year.

Coincidentally, this was also the issue where the Flash got full title to his series back again. Green Lantern had been moved out into his own revived magazine, and now the Scarlet Speedster had a full book in which to shine. There’d still be the occasional back-up tale, especially on those occasions when the overall size of DC’s books was increased in page count. But book-length tales was now the name of the game.

So we open up where the previous chapter left off: in the 64th Century, wherein Flash has been captured and incarcerated by the authorities for his seeming execution of the villainous magician Abra Kadabra. Barry is being held in a special futuristic cell whose walls are able to match his vibrational rate, preventing him from phasing through them. His efforts to escape are all in vain. He’s convinced that Abra’s demise was all a trick, and so the criminal illusionist is on the loose doing who-knows-what–so it’s imperative that he regain his freedom.

Meanwhile, Abra has used the energy of the Flash’s seemingly-fatal punch to propel himself back to the 20th Century. But when he arrives, he’s immediately confused, as the city is in the midst of a ceremony honoring his enemy, the Flash. but this is no Flash that Abra’s ever encountered before. And that’s because, in a fluke similar to that which Wonder Woman experienced in her own comic a short while ago, Abra’s trip tot eh past has crossed dimensional barriers, so he finds himself on Earth-2, confronting that world’s Jay Garrick Flash.

Back in the future, Flash figures a way out of his cell. He throws the one object of furniture in his cell–his chair–at the wall vibrating it at one frequency, then shifts his own frequency to a different wavelength, allowing him to penetrate the wall when it adapts to the speed of the chair. Even with this, Flash is immediately pursued by robot guardsmen, and has to fight his way to freedom.

The comic pauses at this point for the inaugural edition of the Publishorial, a new regular feature written by newly-arrived publisher Jeanette Kahn in which she attempts to commune with the readership in Stan Lee style. It’s an honest and earnest attempt, but like so many others both before and since, Jeanette is no Stan Lee, and lacks his ease of patter and mix of gregariousness and bombast. Meaning that most of these pages are a bit of a snooze (or were to me when i was a kid, anyway.) I did like Neal Adams’ goofy portrait of Jeanette, though.

This issue also announced the advent of a new DC feature, the DC Hot-Line. Essentially, this was a toll-free phone number that played a pre-recorded message made by one or another of the DC editorial and creative staff plugging upcoming story events and releases. It was a number that I dialed a lot throughout the year or so it was in service–it was always impossible to get through on a Monday, which is when the new messages would be posted. I can remember that the recording technology was terrible enough that it often took three or four repeat calls before you could make out the full gist of what was being said. Still, it was a neat idea.

Back on Earth-2, Abra Kadabra has captured jay Garrick, but he’s still confused, thinking that Jay is his old foe in some new costume. By playing dumb, Jay tricks Abra into outlining the events of his escape and Barry’s predicament. Meanwhile, Flash has continued his battle with is pursuers, using one of the robots to re-enact his destruction of Abra and thereafter following Abra’s trail back through time. He arrives in time to snatch Jay out from right under Abra’s nose.

From there, after a short scuffle, the twin Flashes are able to knock Abra back through time to his native 64th Century, where his reappearance proves Barry’s innocence and the magician is once more incarcerated. A fun if inconsequential tale and a decent wrap-up to what was a pretty underwhelming set-up installment last month.

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