During that first excursion to Ed’s Coins and Stamps, I did what I always tended to do in these situations: I bought the oldest issue of a key comic book series that I could afford. In this instance, that turned out to be THE FLASH #130, which was my oldest issue of the title for many years to come. It was a pretty thing, with its solid black cover having been dinged up a little bit, but the immaculate simplicity of artist Carmine Infantino’s cover design still carrying the day. One of the things I noticed about it upon opening the book up was that it was printed on way better paper than the comics of that era–even as a kid, I could tell the difference. This book was heftier, solider, than the comics I was buying at the 7-11, even if it wasn’t technically any longer.
It was reprinted stories of the Silver Age Flash that had made me fall in love with comic books in the first place. There was something about the clean, elegant simplicity of the Scarlet Speedster’s word, the manner in which Infantino depicted it, that really connected with me. I also adored the assortment of colorful criminals that made up the Flash’s Rogues Gallery, even if most of them were only marginally dangerous when you came right down to it. Even the Flash’s physique was appealing in these days–he didn’t have muscles piled on top of muscles, but was instead drawn with a runner’s slim, streamlined build. And that costume was perfection–I don’t really understand why modern day DC insists on lousing up its classic lines by adding all sorts of other extraneous lines to it all over the place.
Most Flash stories of this era were written by John Broome, as this one was, and they can best be described as amusing nonsense. For all that the series attempted to maintain an air of scientific plausibility, the manner in which scientific principles were employed made them inseparable from magic. But the impression was what was important, the plausibility, and I completely bought into whatever premises Broome and editor Julie Schwartz were laying down. In this story, the Flash is perplexed when a number of his old foes appear to be at liberty in public. But checking up on them, they are each still incarcerated after their last capture. So what’s going on?
Pause for a pair of Annual ads, since I can never pass these cool House Ads up. Even today, they maintain their power to sell, assuming that you could find these books for a reasonable price any longer.
Investigating the matter, the Flash discovers a link between the five villains: they were all represented at trial by the same Pubic Defender. The Speedster goes to question the lawyer, but he’s unknowingly walking into a trap. The Flash is unexpectedly gassed by the barrister, who reveals that he’s the one who’s been impersonating the incarcerated villains. But he’s not doing so of his own volition. Rather, while he was representing the Mirror Master, the villain was able to implant a subconscious hypnotic impulse within the lawyer to do as as a scheme to liberate himself and get his revenge on the Flash. The Mirror Master is able to escape incarceration disguised as his foe, and the real Flash has been trapped within a field of photo-electric lights–should he interrupt one with the slightest movement, it will set off an explosion that will finish him off for good.
Unfortunately for the Mirror Master, this story opened with a sequence in which Barry Allen gets a tooth filled, and his filling hasn’t yet settled in. So the Flash is able to dislodge it from his tooth and then spit it across the room with such velocity that it shatters a key vacuum tube of the apparatus keeping him prisoner. From there, it’s a simple matter for the Crimson Comet to race across Central City, locate the Mirror Master in the midst of his next heist, and render him back behind prison bars, his plans foiled. And the story ends with Barry getting that lost filling replaced–because good oral hygiene is paramount.
Next came the Flash-Grams letters page overseen by editor Julie Schwartz, although he was still using an anonymous editor sign-off. As you can see, by this point Julie was encouraging reader participation in the page by awarding letter writers whose correspondence got printed the original artwork to the stories from the issues in question. While this seems just a little bit crazy, it did save a lot of this art from being destroyed, as was DC’s custom at the time, so that’s good. This practice didn’t last for all that long as a I recall, just a year or 18 months or so. But it definitely did its job and god fans, especially the older fans, writing in.
The back-up story by the same creative team starred not the Fastest Man Alive, but rather his young protégé, Kid Flash. And this was another milestone story of sorts, as it represented the very first time that Wally West met and teamed up with Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man. Decades later, the pair would both serve on Justice League International together. I had actually read this story already, when it had been reprinted in FOUR STAR SPECTACULAR #2 in the mid-1970s, so its inclusion here wasn’t of any real benefit to me. But it was still a decent yarn.
The story involves Kid Flash being dispatched on an errand by his mentor, who is about to go on vacation (to make an appearance in an issue of GREEN LANTERN, it turns out.) Kid Flash’s task is to answer a request for assistance from Barry Allen’s old friend the Elongated Man, who has come across another mystery in his travels across the nation. It involves some strange weather occurrences, and so it’s no real surprise when the culprit turns out to be the Flash’s old enemy the Weather Wizard (who fortunately wasn’t among the costumed criminals shown to be behind bars in the opening story.) Wally and Ralph are able to combine their superhuman talents to defeat the Weather Wizard and take him in.
Finally, the issue closes out with another House Ad plugging an upcoming Superman Annual, as well as the standard invitation from the Man of Steel offering readers free admission to the Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey.
One thought on “BHOC: THE FLASH #130”
It says a lot that DC has a collected TPB of Batman Annuals now. And even that’s pricey — too bad, otherwise I’d be tempted to pick it up even though I have most of the stories in the Omnibuses. Nostalgia’s a hell of a drug.