Annotations: Flash #276, “Freakout!”

…and we’re back with the newest installment in our Flash notes!  Hot on the heels of Cary Bates’ classic #275, the action doesn’t stop as Flash is pushed to new limits!  Links to artwork and research are included throughout this post.

UP TO SPEED: Last week, Barry and Iris found renewed passion after a female fan was able to unmask Barry as Flash.  Attending a costume party in his Flash duds, Barry was targeted by heroin smugglers and mysteriously drugged.  Iris, tending to Barry, was attacked off-panel.  Responding to her cries, Barry discovered Iris unconscious, and deranged convict Clive Yorkin hovering over her apparently lifeless body.  Barry collapsed attempting to lift his wife, prompting party-goers to call an ambulance…for the one of them who was still alive!

COVER: Dick Giordano was a covers machine.

PG. 1: A replay of the final page of the last issue, where Frank Curtis and a party guest dressed as Batman discover Barry and Iris on the floor.  Bates and penciller Alex Saviuk really got the most out of the party setting, planting visual cues for the reader with a disorienting effect.

PG. 2 & 3: Barry struggles to his feet and leaps out the window after the fleeing Yorkin.

PG. 4 & 5: Flash beats Yorkin beyond recognition, but the scene begins to deteriorate and is revealed as a hallucination. Here are the panels on page 2 where fantasy splits off from reality.

PG. 6 & 7: Barry awakens in a psych ward, strapped down in bed.  He vibrates free of his bonds, but doesn’t “Flash” his way out of being injected with a tranquilizer.

PG. 8: The administration of the sedative has consequences for Barry.  Interacting with the drugs already in his system, it amplifies his memories of the past few hours.

PG. 9: Barry spends five days at the hospital before he’s able to have visitors!  Luckily, his old friend Dr. Nephron is also a patient, rendered a vegetable by his own machines at the hands of Yorkin.

Barry believes he murdered Yorkin after the party (pg. 2-3), and shows real remorse.  However, he also believes Iris is alive.

PG. 10: This page is a tough one to read without choking up.  Bates’ dialog is so natural, and Saviuk nails the anger, confusion, disbelief and sympathy as Curtis reveals Iris’ fate to Barry.

PG. 11: The drug responsible for Barry’s collapse and hallucinations is revealed to be Angel Dust, a.k.a. PCP (Phencyclidine).  According to the Medscape site linked here, effects ranging from amnesia, disorientation and violence to seizures and coma can result from acute intoxication.  These effects can occur for up to 48 hours in the event of an extreme dose, and more prolonged effects can be seen in chronic users “either from enterohepatic recirculation or from delayed release of PCP from lipid stores.”  PCP was originally used as a general anesthetic, but its use in humans was discontinued in 1965.  It was made illegal in 1978, a year prior to the publication of this story.

PG. 12: The JLA met aboard their Satellite to discuss giving Flash a leave of absence, but they weren’t expecting him to show up, and they really weren’t expecting him to be high on PCP.  Bates has stacked the deck here with the other four biggest names in DC Comics.

PG. 13: Flash flat-out asks each member, except Batman, to bring Iris back to life.  He exhibits hallmarks of PCP intoxication, including delusions/paranoia (over his friends’ abilities) and increased agitation.  The “Amazonian Science” Flash is referring to is likely Purple Ray Technology, which has occasionally been shown to have the ability to restore life.

PG. 14: Flash’s paranoia really begins to take hold here, and Batman recognizes the continued presence of the drug in his system.

PG. 15 & 16: Flash destroys vital equipment, including the Satellite’s gyroscopic system.  Gyroscopes are used to maintain and measure direction and position in space.  Here is a cool video about it with an astronaut. Eventually, bringing down Flash is left to Hal Jordan.  All of this is prelude, however, to next week’s Satellite showdown!

LETTERS: Two fans like the new direction, another really rips Rich Buckler, and the art team changes are explained.

NEXT WEEK: “The Self-Destruct Flash!”

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