Fifth grade had just begun when the mailman delivered my subscription copy of FLASH #256. It was in fifth grade that I met my first friend who was enthusiastic about comic books as opposed to simply occasionally reading them like most kids of that era. Don Sims was his name, and we became good friends for the next two years, drifting apart into different circles once we reached Junior High School. He had gotten some of his own comic book stash from a relative who had outgrown them, so he had some books that were older than I had as-yet encountered, and we would occasionally make trades. But that’s all still slightly in the future.
This was the final part of a three-issue epic that writer Cary Bates had spun out over the summer–and truth to tell, it’s probably the weakest chapter of the bunch. It opens with the Weather Wizard and the Pied Piper coming across the defeated, unconscious body of their fellow Rogue, Mirror Master. A pair of cops show up and attempt to prevent the criminal duo from making a getaway with their prone pal, but it’s no effort for Pied Piper to smack the police down, and the three villains are off.
The Rogues take Mirror master back to their secret silo hideout where Captain Cold and the Trickster are already waiting. But as we saw at the end of the previous issue, Mirror Master is actually the Flash in disguise, hoping to use the deception to locate the Rogues’ hole. The villains take swift defensive action, but it’s too little, too late, and the Flash is able to kayo all four of them before they can strike back at him. But as he moves to corral them permanently, he’s shocked by the sudden arrival of the Top–his old enemy who died a while back.
Flash attempts to capture the Top, but the spinning villain eludes him. And in the aftermath, something very strange is going on with the Flash. When he goes to pick iris up at Picture News, he’s wearing his old 1950s-era fedora, and he’s got his vintage crew cut again. What’s more, he seems to have no knowledge that he and Iris are married, or that she knows he’s the Flash. iris is worried about her husband, and for good reason–when Barry returns to his police lab to try to get a lead on the Top, the Rogue appears in front of him once again, announcing that he’s well aware of Barry’s true identity!
This issue also had the first ad I saw for the DC Super-Stars Society, a series of interlocking fan clubs centered on ten different DC features. I dutifully sent away for information about the Flash and Justice League chapters, but by the time it arrived, I wasn’t so enthralled as to spend the four bucks it would have cost to join these august bodies. I preferred to keep that money to spend on the actual comics.
His secret blown, Barry pops his costume ring and suits up for battle as the Flash. His skirmish with the Top carries the pair out into Central City, where they’re caught on camera by newsmen. The Top again manages to elude his speedy foe–and Flash is genuinely confused when a reporter on site tries to tell him that the Top is dead. Back at home, Iris sees this broadcast and is now out-and-out worried–but before she can take any action, a voice rings out from off camera.
It’s the voice of Mazdan, the future criminal who has been bedeviling the Flash for the past few issues. Caging Iris so that she cannot help Barry, he gloats to her that he’s used his super-science to wipe out Flash’s memory of all the years that he spent in prison–and so Flash’s skill and experience is also lessened as well, which will make him easy to defeat. Unknown to Mazdan, though, somebody else has seen the Flash’s news broadcast and is not happy about somebody impersonating the Top. This is Lisa Snart, the Golden Glider, Captain Cold’s sister and the former girlfriend of the Top.
The next day, as a confused Barry is stunned to learn that Iris is no longer living in the apartment she had before they married, the Top once again attacks him. But this time, Flash is no match for the Top’s tactics and winds up hopelessly ensnared–or so it seems. For the Flash reveals to The top that he knows that he’s secretly Mazdan, that Mazdan’s attack earlier had snapped Flash out of his amnesia, and that he’d been playing along ever since, waiting for his chance to turn the tables. Mazdan tries to pull a futuristic weapon on Flash, but it’s yanked from his hands by a line from off-screen, and empty-handed, Mazdan is swiftly captured. But in the end, we see that the Flash’s savior was the Golden Glider–and she now possesses Mazdan’s future gun and still carries a grudge for the Top’s death. To Be Continued, although this three-parter is pretty well concluded here.