Welcome to the first installment in our annotations of the collected edition of The Trial of the Flash! We’ve been breaking down related stories leading up to last week’s release of the massive tome that is Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash. In addition, we’ve interviewed author Cary Bates about the buildup and the Trial itself, plus shown you what won’t be included in the collection.
Leading up to Flash #323, the issue leading off this collection, Barry Allen’s life had taken a dark turn with the death of his wife, Iris, at the hands of his archenemy, Professor Zoom. After leaving Zoom to perish in the time stream, Barry began his life anew and attempted to move on from the events surrounding his wife’s murder.
But the past never dies when you’re The Flash! Zoom returned and swore revenge, leading to the events in this collection. Links to artwork and research are included throughout this post. Previous annotations can be found here. This time around, since the reprint is widely available, the format will be a little different. For legal analysis of the story, something I will not attempt, go here.
UP TO SPEED: Barry Allen and Fiona Webb are to be married today. However, a freak accident has freed the Reverse-Flash from his temporal prison, and he is making his way to Central City!
COVER: Flash co-creator and DC Comics legend Carmine Infantino had returned to Flash with issue #296. The covers he generated during his second run on the title are stunningly designed. This collection highlights the level at which the artist was working at this stage in his career.
PG. 1 & 2: Barry informed his parents in the previous issue that he was getting re-married, and that the ceremony was set for the coming weekend. The funeral for Fiona’s former beau, Senator Creed Phillips, her subsequent pairing up with Barry and the announcement of their wedding happened over the course of the last two issues (#s 321 and 322). The title of this issue is a play on Flash #284 (“Run, Flash — Run for Your Life!”).
PG. 3: Iris is already looming large over the proceedings.
PG. 4: Of all the changes to Barry’s past made in the last couple of years, the retcon of the “Barrence” first name is the most egregious.
Green Lantern Tomar-Re was sent to warn Barry about Reverse-Flash’s escape, but endured one accident and a brutal encounter with Reverse-Flash before being dispatched from Earth entirely. Hal Jordan was in the midst of a Guardian-imposed banishment from Earth (and some great Gil Kane covers!), hence his unavailability.
PG. 5: The Guardian’s explanation of the “energy discharge” contradicts issue #321, where Zoom is shown searching for the right vibrational frequency to escape the “obscure dimension” where he was trapped. Also, the Guardians sent a Green Lantern honor guard solely to warn Flash, but take the destruction of “a number of unfortunate stars and planets” and “random and far-flung rips in the fabric of time” in stride.
PG. 6 & 7: Here, a couple of decisions with big story-consequences. Barry insists on dealing with Zoom alone. In the immediate moment his secret identity was not in jeopardy, yet he leaves no one to defend him in the event he is a no-show at his own wedding. He clearly and decisively chooses to go on the offensive and forgo the wedding. Iris’s fate is reinforced here as the single most important moment in his story. Given the chance to avenge her again, it’s a foregone conclusion he would take it.
PG. 8: Recap of the Death of Iris Allen storyline, #s 275 – 284. Detailed annotations can be found here.
PG. 9: The female assassin is Sabertooth. She first appeared in Flash #291, and had been contracted to kill Barry Allen. It was a big reveal, in the last issue, that Sabertooth was a woman. Four years have passed both in comic book time and real time since Iris’s death.
PG. 10: Zoom’s fixation on speech-patterns was established as far back as Flash #186.
PG. 11 & 12: Elongated Man made over 20 appearances in Flash before the title was cancelled with issue #350. “Sue” is his wife, Sue Dibny. Dexter Myles made 26 appearances prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Central City Police Department is represented by Patty Spivot, Barry’s longtime lab assistant and one-time Ms. Flash. Frank Curtis was a major character during the Death of Iris Allen story, but appeared only a handful of times afterward. Barry’s neighbors Mack and Troy Nathan made their first appearances in issue #285, and were a major part of the supporting cast through issue #300.
PG. 15: Barry moved out of the house and into the Utopia Towers apartments in issue #285, but spent the issues following the funeral (#s 277 – 284) hunting Clive Yorkin and Zoom. With all the time travel involved, its possible those seven issues happened in a relative day.
PG. 17: Coloring error on Barry’s chest-symbol: not corrected.
We’ll be back next Thursday with notes for the next chapter in The Trial of the Flash!
I am strangely annoyed about the ‘Barrence’ retcon for two reasons: 1) I hate pointless retcons, and 2) Barry’s name is now identical (apart from middle names) to Bart’s and that’s confusing. If they had to retcon it, could they at least have refrained from changing it to Bartholomew?