Welcome to the latest entry in our breakdowns of classic Flash comics, leading up to Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash! This week, we’ll check out issue #273, a pivotal chapter on the road to the historic #275.
UP TO SPEED: Last week, we saw Flash take down The Clown. As Barry Allen, our hero also uncovered a heroin smuggling operation that was using his lab as a drop point. Meanwhile, he and Iris struggled to make time for each other as Barry’s obligations to his police work and his Flash duties took complete hold of his attention.
COVER: Editor and former Flash penciller Ross Andru handles cover duties, with Dick Giordano on inks.
PG. 1: Last issue ended with the Flash running through a brick wall while under the control of a female fan with mental powers. We’ll learn more about her in this issue. Alex Saviuk begins his Flash run here, one of my personal favorites.
PG. 3-4: I hope none of these dogs is Lightning, Flash’s pal from issue #195. Couldn’t find a real-world “Tabor Institute for Psychic Research,” but there is a controversial Tabor Institute in Ireland (founded in the 90s) that coincidentally fits with the psychological currents in this story.
The psychology theme has been on display since issue #270, with examples like the Nephron Process (radical behaviorism) and the effects of stress on Barry’s personal and professional lives.
PG. 5: The psychic female fan has a name: Melanie. I honestly could not find any other definition for “john,” as it is used here, besides “a prostitute’s client” and “toilet.” Am I missing a 70s reference? I was born in ’83.
PG. 6: Cary Bates, the legendary, longtime writer of Flash, does an amazing job gearing-down the Allen’s marriage leading up to issue #275. You can really feel the relationship falling apart.
PG. 7: I found one Gary’s Hair Stylist, in Minot, ND.
PG. 8: We get a recap of Barry’s stressors from Chief Paulson. Is it trouble with Iris? It is the workload? Is it the Nephron Process weighing on his mind? Yes to all! I still think Barry is being blamed for his assistant’s mistakes (image from issue #272).
PG. 9: Barry blows the Chief’s mind when he reveals his knowledge of the internal heroin smuggling operation. Paulson’s reaction is notably incredulous.
PG. 10 & 11: Barry ignores Iris yet again, distracted by the TV report of riots at the State Prison. However, Iris seems perfectly willing to let men die in order to have Barry’s attention. She is desensitized to the consequences, burnt-out on the reality being married to a superhero. This is heavy stuff for Flash in the 1970s.
The prison population was against Nephron from the start (image from issue #270).
PG. 17: Flash believes the riots were “in Yorkin’s behalf,” but it appears to be more of a reaction to what Yorkin has become. The only clue is a visual highlight, but Yorkin is now treating himself in Nephron’s lab.
LETTERS: Debate rages over the plausibility of Barry Allen’s comic book collection.
NEXT ISSUE: Flash faces “The Mark of the Beast!”