Welcome to the latest installment in our annotations of classic Flash tales by Cary Bates! We’re leading up to the August 9th release of Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash. Links to research and artwork are included throughout this post.
UP TO SPEED: After coming to terms with the death of his wife, Iris, Flash embarked on a personal manhunt for her accused killer, Clive Yorkin. Mutated into a murderous beast by the experimental rehabilitation procedures of Dr. Nephron (issues 270 – 274), Yorkin discovered he could supplant his dependency on Nephron’s machines by feeding on the emotional energy of human beings. Drawn to a battle between Flash and Heat Wave, Yorkin devastated the Rogue before ambushing Flash…
PG 1: Flash’s life is being drained through a vicious emotional cycle of fear. Essentially, Yorkin is feeding on the fear that Flash is experiencing, and that fear grows with that realization and as the struggle progresses. This is Alex Saviuk’s last issue, an exciting end to a short-but-great run.
PG 2 & 3: Flash tries to break free from Yorkin’s literal death-grip. The panels where Yorkin casually adjusts his positioning, giving Flash fleeting hope, reinforces the sense of futility in a twisted turn. When Flash’s near-death delirium manifests the image of Iris, his joy repels Yorkin. As revealed last issue, Yorkin is dyslexic and as such Dr. Nephron’s positive/negative reinforcement was reversed during his “rehabilitation”.
PG. 4: Flash retrieves Heat Wave, who is in shock, and brings him to the hospital for immediate care…and arrest! On the way to the hospital, Flash tries to suss out why his memories of Iris were the key to overcoming Yorkin.
PG. 5: Back at the HQ, Barry and Detective Curtis employ Melanie, the 16 year-old ESP-powered-Flash-fan, to try and crack the mystery of who exactly drugged Barry the night of Iris’s murder. Melanie knows Barry is Flash, and convinced/manipulated him to not retire after Iris’s funeral. Her powers allow her to “tune-in” on an object and trace it to the person it belongs/belonged to, or was touched by.
It has been speculated and reported that real-life police forces sometimes do employ “psychic detectives” like Melanie. In fact, the police in Hardin, Texas are currently investigating a woman who claimed to be psychically aware of a mass grave in the area, which lead to a hunt for dismembered bodies and stoked global interest.
PG 6 & 7: Det. Curtis is a skeptic, but it only takes two panels before Melanie zeroes in on the person belonging to the Sandman costume from the night of Iris’s murder. Through self-hypnosis, Barry was able to determine that it was this partygoer who delivered the vicious drugging. There are a lot of small details that make this book great to re-read, like the re-growth of Frank Curtis’s beard, and comic styles from horror to police to good-old superhero showcased from page to page.
More hardcore police work here, as Barry and Frank work over the suspect. A suspicious phone call comes through as the crook denies any role in Iris’s death, while admitting to drugging Barry.
PG 8: Even better than a cop story is a cop story with super-speed, as Barry saves Frank from the devastation of a phone-bomb initiated by the man on the other end of the call.
PG 9 & 10: Melanie has split the scene, leaving Barry to straighten out his priorities. As he and Frank make the link between this latest attempt on their lives and their investigation into the heroin smuggling operation discovered at police HQ, Barry silently prays for a stay of his police duties in order to track and defeat Yorkin. Across town, Melanie comments on Barry’s determined fixation on bringing Yorkin to justice. Bates uses Melanie’s peripheral psychic visions to initiate a recap page, which culminates in the discovery of a key piece of psychic evidence.
PG 11 – 13: Yorkin is running riot throughout Central City, taking out cops and, so far, avoiding the arm of the law. Bates uses minor details, such as the vagrants’ recognizing Yorkin’s police-officer victims by name and Flash’s concern for Heat Wave, to put Yorkin’s unbridled rampage of fear into sharp relief.
PG 14 & 15: Something we’ll see through the end of the title, no matter how far-out the stories get, is a reverence for the nuts-and-bolts of Flash that make the character work at the most basic level. Here, Heat Wave’s hunt for Yorkin leads to a great firefighting sequence, complete with Flash running on streams of water and falling debris. There’s a great moment here where the firefighters comment on Flash’s technique, reinforcing the history of the title and the novelty of this story at the same time.
PG 16 & 17: Turns out both Heat Wave and Melanie are hunting Yorkin, the former barely recovered from their previous encounter. The Rogue destroys everything in site in an attempt to snuff out the hulking psychic freak, until Flash calms his nerves. After Flash exits with his quarry, Yorkin emerges from the rubble…
NEXT WEEK: THE WRONG MAN!