Welcome to the latest installment in our annotations of the collected edition of The Trial of the Flash! We analyzed related stories leading up to the release of Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash. In addition, we interviewed author Cary Bates about the buildup and the Trial itself, plus showed you what wasn’t included in the collection.
IN THIS ISSUE: Monuments to continuity! Plus, an eye toward earpieces!
Links to original artwork, scans and research are included throughout this post. For definitive legal analysis of the story by Bob Ingersoll, go here. Tom vs. Flash took on this issue here. See you after the jump!
COVER by Carmine Infantino and Dick Giordano. As usual it is a marvel of cover design, including the mob destroying the “Flash” logo. Here is the original, from the collection of Stephen Donnelly (via Comic Art Fans).
PG 1: The issue opens at The Flash Museum. Even this never-before-seen trio get the signature Infantino earpieces. See also: Flash(es) (of course), Mirror Master, Heat Wave, Rainbow Raider, Mister Element, even Adam Strange. Here is the original artwork for page one.
PG 3: Dexter Myles makes his first appearance since issue #325. The statues of the Rogues, minus Weather Wizard (foreground right) and Reverse-Flash (back of left row) are in the same order and the exact same poses as they were on the cover of Flash #234 (March, 1975), by the late, great Ernie Chan. That issue also featured Dexter Myles in his only cover appearance (besides the group shot for the final issue). The story in #234 features the villain Sabretooth masquerading as Dexter, in a rare issue spotlighting the Bard-spouting Museum Curator. Here is the original art for this page, from Heritage Auctions.
PG 9: Wrecking the Museum is obviously a huge blow to Flash’s ego. When we interviewed writer Cary Bates, he said he received ample notice about Flash’s fate in Crisis on Infinite Earths and worked towards having the series end with the Trial story:
CB: Because DC had given me over a year’s advance notice of the Crisis and Flash’s inevitable demise, I was focusing all my energies on the Trial storyline, since it would now carry through until the very end of the book’s run.
Based on the rough timeline provided by Bates and the even earlier origins of the Crisis story, he was given an ample berth to make sweeping moves like the destruction of the Museum and the other gutting turns of Flash’s final days. I believe the transition in story began prior to the Grodd arc, around the fill-in issue #328. Further to that point, here is the original, unpublished cover to issue #333. This can also be seen in the fantastic Flash Companion.
PG 10 – 12: Vibrating smoke through walls is a pretty neat speed-trick. Bates and Infantino keep the super-speed action interesting throughout the Trial, so much so that we’ll be posting a list of Trial-tricks once we reach the post-game.
The Museum is the symbol of Flash’s standing in Central City and something that made the Flashes’ relationships with their cities unique: the unabashed love and overt public appreciation. Bates was great at writing The City – meaning the citizens, cops and officials – as being hip to their role, much like the Rogues and their grudging respect toward Flash and acknowledgement of “the game”. However, Flash rescuing his own museum is somewhat of a one-sided affair. We’ll see that conflict exploited over the next few issues.
PG 14: If you’re reading along in black-and-white, then those pixie boots in panel one are actually kind of a mystery.
PG 16 & 17: Last issue we learned that Fiona Webb had been tranferred from the hospital in Central City to Rigley Psychiatric Clinic, as an outpatient. Here, it is Woodside Clinic. Fiona mentions the time since the events of the aborted wedding ceremony in issue #323 as “all of the months”, continuing the title’s use of real time as comic-book time. I wonder if this contributed at all to the fatigue some readers say they experienced when the story was advancing monthly. Check out this interesting post on that subject.
PG 20: You could make a whole new character out of the belt-whipping-bullets speed-trick. Maybe an update of Gardner Fox’s The Whip? He first appeared in Flash Comics #1 and made 55 appearances in Jay Garrick’s title.
PG 22 & 23: Shady lawyer N.D. Rednik was known as N.D. Redik last issue. Readers were not given any clues as to why Cecile Horton despises Flash. There’s an object of note in the last panel but it is only noticable upon subsequent readings of the story and has no prior appearances.
See you next time!