Annotations: Flash #280, “The Wrong Man!”

We’re back with the latest in our analysis of Cary Bates’ Flash comics, leading up to Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash.  This week, we look at one of the biggest plot twists in the Death of Iris Allen arc.  Links to research and artwork art included throughout this post.  For a look as past weeks/issues, click here!

UP TO SPEED: Last week, Flash was almost killed by the psychic freak known as Clive Yorkin.  Yorkin is the man Flash holds responsible for the death of his wife Iris (issue #275).  Meanwhile, Barry Allen and Det. Frank Curtis continued to descend into the underworld in search of answers to the mysteries of Barry’s drugging (also #275) and the heroin smuggling plot discovered at police HQ (issues 270-275).  After surviving a bomb blast that destroyed his attacker, Barry took off to reign in Yorkin once and for all.  Unknown to the Scarlet Speedster, the psychic teen known as Melanie is also on the trail…

COVER: Not only is the Flash symbol reversed here, but so is this scene when it happens in the book.

PG. 1: Don Heck takes over for Alex Saviuk, the latter completing one of the finest runs on Flash at that time.  This March article from iFanboy nails my own feelings about Heck: a great artist to be sure, but not the best fit for Flash.  He had previously drawn a backup in Flash #198 (featuring Zatanna) that was much more suitably inked.

This change in art teams is especially jarring given the point we’re at in the story, as the styles really could not be more different.  This opening page is about as good as it gets, and Heck is on Flash from this issue through #295.  To put it in context, Irv Novick had drawn Flash from issue #200 – 270, and Heck is the third artist in ten issues since his departure.

The “unholy hunger” Flash mentions?  Yorkin feeds on the fear of his victims until the cycle drains the life from them.

PG 2 & 3: Yorkin’s rampage and body count have spurred locals to form their own militias.  Flash saves an innocent vagrant, mistaken for Yorkin due to his “hulking posture and tattered clothes,” from the firing squad.  Amazon has a category for you if you’d like to learn more about vigilante militias.

PG. 4: In addition to Flash, Melanie and the police are tracking Yorkin in an attempt to end the bloodshed.

PG. 5: Yorkin has an uncanny ability to disappear suddenly, then ambush his prey.  He was even successful in ambushing Flash (issue #278).  He delivers “The Yorkin Effect” to the two airborne officers, adding to the already high police casualties from the last two issues.

PG. 6 & 7: Yorkin escapes the law once again, but Melanie maintains pursuit thanks to her mental link (via a shard of glass from the scene of Iris’s murder, as seen last issue).

PG. 8: The Governor and Mayor, last seen as captives of the Clown (issues #272 and 273), consider calling out the National Guard to help deal with the Yorkin situation.  This is a reflection of the citizens’ forming of their own militias, as the National Guard is a reserve military force formed at least in part of state National Guard militia members, according to Title 32 of the U.S. Code.

PG. 9 & 10: Why is Chief Paulson buttering up Barry so much?  Back in issue #274, he seemed quite taken aback by Barry’s discovery of the heroin smuggling operation at police HQ.  For a quick dose of the police action that has been introduced to the title since issue #270, Barry pulls together a list of possible destinations for Yorkin and sets out once again in pursuit.  Meanwhile, Melanie has followed Yorkin’s “telepathic trail” to an abandoned land development…

PG. 11: Bates having Yorkin use his psychic abilities not just for murder, but to also to assault Melanie, is a clear effort to push his deranged nature even further into the red.

PG. 12: Flash arrives at the last address on his list, just in time to find Yorkin attaching Melanie.  Yorkin uses Melanie’s “mind-link” with Flash (established in issue #273) to enhance his own powers and attack the speedster from a distance.

PG. 13 – 15: At this point, following multiple defeats, Flash is desperate to take down Yorkin once and for all.  Turning to the environment, he attempts to use both a wooden beam and a hail of rocks to move the brute as far from his quarry as possible.  The plan backfires when Melanie panicks, and Flash is forced to undo his own work, sending the trio into a sinkhole at the center of the development.  Yorkin latches onto Flash and begins to drain life-force from the speedster, when the memory of Iris once again comes to his rescue (as seen last issue)…

PG. 16: Flash overcomes Yorkin, the monster who feeds on fear, through the joy and love tied to the memory of his wife.  Yorkin attempts to escape, but instead causes the sinkhole to collapse.

PG. 17: Flash escapes with Melanie while Yorkin is consumed by the Earth.  The two show little emotion over his demise, though Melanie manages to claim credit for the victory, having provided the psychic feedback of Iris’s memory that eventually overcame the beast.

Despite the apparent finality of this scene, Yorkin shows up alive in Flash #208 (2004).

And then…a two panel epilogue changes everything.

NEXT WEEK: Deadly Games!


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