Just before I received this issue of FLASH in my mailbox, I would have experienced a seminal event in the decade of the 1970s:
And that is that I saw STAR WARS for the very first time. This was in the days before the Multiplex, when most movie houses had at most two screens, so there were lines literally around the block to get in to see the film once Star Wars fervor hit. It also played for what seemed like forever, a true cultural phenomenon. But personally, while I liked it just fine, I wasn’t ever swept up in the Star Wars mania that gripped so many other kids my age. (My younger brother Ken became much more of a devotee than I was, playing the soundtrack on our stereo turntable and collecting the action figures–starting with that opening year where only the empty boxes were offered.)
Back in Central City, things were picking up from where the preceding issue had left off: Flash’s pal, the Elongated Man, had lost his memory and adopted the criminal identity of the Molder. When Flash confronted him, the Molder used his powers to turn Flash into putty. Years later, rather infamously, George Perez drew the Molder into the background of a panel of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, not realizing that the character was really the Elongated Man; he’d just seen him on the cover to this issue, and was trying to include all sorts of players from across the DC spectrum in that universe-spanning tale. Oops.
Anyway, the amnesiac Elongated Man had gone undercover in the Molder’s identity in order to get the goods on the Chane Gang, but had wound up throwing in with them. But now, having displayed his new powers, the Molder determines he doesn’t need them at all, and breaks his alliance with them. Meanwhile, Iris Allen comes to see the Flash’s pulverized body in her job as a news reporter, but it looks as though there’s no life left in her scarlet-clad husband.
Sue Dibny, the wife of the Elongated Man, seeks out Iris in order to give her the rundown of recent events–she’s aware that her husband Ralph is now the Molder. As the two women discuss this in a diner, their conversation is overheard by a sinister figure, who feels like he can turn this situation to the advantage of “the mother country”. Suddenly, Iris bolts from the diner, having worked out a vital clue that Flash had left for her. Disguising herself as a nurse, she sneaks into the clinic where Flash’s remains are being kept, and subjects them to a jolt of high-voltage electricity. This jump-starts Barry’s ability to control his molecular structure, and before you know it, the Flash is back in fighting form.
After a night’s recovery, Barry has worked out that what transformed Ralph into the Molder was the effects of Barry’s super-speed on Ralph’s body while he was ingesting the Gingold that gives him his elastic powers. Speeding to the Yucatan, Flash is able to synthesize an antidote from the Gingold plant itself. meanwhile, foreign agents have captured Sue Dibny, intending to use her as a bargaining chip to force the Molder to take on a job for them. The Molder doesn’t remember Sue consciously, but feels compelled to go along with it anyway. Fortunately for Sue, when she doesn’t answer Iris’s calls, the Flash arrives to beat the hell out of the enemy agents who are holding her.
But the Molder doesn’t know this, so he’s still along for the enemy agents’ heist–stealing a mural painted by a defector, Ivor Dunwich, glorifying the free world e now resides in. The Molder melts the mural down, but the Flash arrives, and begins a battle with both his former friend and the enemy agents in attendance.
But suddenly, the Molder snaps to and resumes his identity as the Elongated Man–Flash had inoculated him with his antidote at invisible super-speed when he arrived. Ralph’s elastic powers remain for a few more minutes, allowing him and Flash to clean up on the enemy operatives. And fortunately, it was only a decoy of Dunwich’s mural that the Molder destroyed, so no harm done. Everything wraps up in a quick few panels at the end. A harmless outing, but one that wasn’t especially memorable.