The mail carrier also delivered me my subscription copy of FLASH right around this time. This was the middle chapter in a three-part story. Multiple part epics were beginning to become more frequent at DC, which was good in that, between having read the DC titles for so long and beginning to discover the Marvel books, I was hungry for fare that was a bit meatier and more complex. So these multi-parters were very much to my liking in general.
Long-time FLASH writer Cary Bates was juggling two or three different plotlines at this moment: Mazdan, an early Flash foe from the future had come back in time to strike at Barry Allen, the Flash Rogues had presented him with a strange “Roscoe” award that was invisible to others, and Barry kept having visions of his and Iris’s border Stacy Conwell as a witch. Going into this issue, the reader had no idea whether these were all separate stories or all parts of a single tale. Here’s what we found out this time out.
The issue opens with the Flash arriving home, only to witness Stacy being attacked by a smoke-like creature that she’s conjured up. Barry rescues Stacy, but she insists that all she had been doing was practicing her cheerleading with a baton–and she’s got the instant photographs to prove it. As a baffled Barry speaks with her, Mazdan appears to him, and reveals that this is his revenge on the Flash: Barry will no longer be able to differentiate between reality and Mazdan’s illusions.
Needing the counsel of his wife, Barry races over to Picture News, where Iris is reviewing footage taken the previous evening of the Mirror Master attempting to rob the attendees at a posh film premiere. The Flash was on the scene, and knocked Mirror Master around a bit–but then the Rogue flashed an image of the Award the Rogues had given their speedy foe, and the Flash found himself retracing all of his steps in reverse, giving Mirror Master the opportunity to get away.
Have to stop for a moment to point out this ad for the SUPERMAN SPECTACULAR. I never found a copy back in the day, but boy I wanted one. This seemed to be a comic book event, the longest Superman story ever produced, pitting the Man of Steel against both Luthor and Brainiac at the same time. Look at that cool Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez cover! Eventually, years later, I did get to read it, and it was all right, but nothing special–as usual, Vince Colletta’s wimpy inks sucked the life out of Curt Swan’s pencils.
And actually, the replay of that forward-backwards battle ate up most of the real estate in the issue! Barry brings Iris back home, having a hunch concerning part of what’s going on, and he once again tries to get iris to see the Award, which remains invisible to her. But now, Barry uses his powers to change its vibrational frequency–and Iris confirms its existence. Barry’s worked out that this wasn’t one of Mazdan’s illusions, but rather that he was implanting a post-hypnotic trigger in his mind, forcing him to reverse his steps whenever the Rogues flashed the image of the Roscoe at him.
Barry tells iris that now that he knows the truth, he’s developed a secret counter-weapon against the Roscoe effect. That night, the Flash seeks out the Mirror master at the hideout of an underworld fence, where Sam Scudder is fencing the loot he took from the film crowd previously. But at first, the battle follows established lines, with the Flash having to reverse himself when the Mirror Master lights up his Roscoe image.
But this is a bluff to move the fight away from the sight of the Fence, where the Flash can turn the tables on his foe. He’s wearing special contact lenses that cause him to see the world in mirror image, so the Roscoe image the Mirror Master is projecting is also flipped, and so doesn’t set off the post-hypnotic suggestion. And Flash has moved the fight to a secluded area because, having beaten the Mirror Master, he intends to disguise himself as the Reflecting Rogue and infiltrate and take down the rest of his Rogue’s Gallery. And that’s where this issue is To Be Continued!