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…
Hot on the heels of our two-part interview with comic book legend Cary Bates, we dive right back into our analysis of his Flash work! Links to research and artwork are included throughout this post.
UP TO SPEED: Barry Allen, the Flash, has buried his beloved wife, Iris. After fighting his way through a vicious drugging at the hands of an unknown assailant, Barry considered retirement. Convinced (or manipulated) to stay in the cowl by an ESP-powered fan, Barry embarked a manhunt for Clive Yorkin, Iris’s accused killer…
One of the seminal writers in DC Comics’ history, Cary Bates has crafted adventures featuring comics’ greatest characters for all or part of six decades. From his years as one of the main Superman scribes to 2010’s The Last Family of Krypton, he has left his mark on the world’s finest superheroes, experimenting with the genre and storytelling to stunning effect.
His first Flash story, 1968’s “The Flash – Fact or Fiction,” has been collected numerous times among the Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told. But that tale is, literally, just the beginning. After taking over as full-time writer in 1971 with Flash #209, Bates spent an amazing 14 years on the title until its cancellation in 1985. He also authored the memorable Flash stories featured in Adventure Comics and the DC Special Series in the late 1970s.
With Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash set for a July release, we’ve been running annotations of Bates’ Flash issues that laid the groundwork for the Trial story and the final years of The Flash. We’ll take a break over the next two weeks to hear from the man himself, and learn how he took a character ensconced in Silver Age sensibilities and created an emotionally-charged super-saga far ahead of its time.
Following the devastation of issue #275 and the immediate fallout in #276, Flash #277 had a lot to deliver. Iris was dead and Barry’s mind was ravaged by a massive dose of PCP. He found himself aboard the Justice League Satellite, begging his friends and teammates to bring her back to life by any means.
This type of subject matter was far beyond mainstream superhero norms of the era. A drug-addled Flash begging the JLA to bring Iris back from the dead is a shocking turn for a character who was, less than a year before, engaged in stories about Golden Age comic books. Even more notable is that the change occurred while the title maintained the same writer: Flash legend Cary Bates.
UP TO SPEED: Flash has turned on his fellow JLA members, threatening to take down the entire Satellite with him! Links to research and artwork are included throughout this post.
…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!
As Flash comics go, issue #275 is right up there on the impact meter. One of the definitive issues of the 1959-1985 volume, it molts characters and standards, experimenting with tone and depth not before seen in the Flash title. It cast a long shadow over Barry Allen, extending to his death in Crisis on Infinite Earths. It is also the first recognizable installment in the drama that arguably ended with the return of Allen to the DC Universe proper, and eventually the current Flash series.
This is the latest installment in our breakdowns of writer Cary Bates’ Flash saga, leading up to Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash. Links to additional artwork and research are included throughout this post.
UP TO SPEED: Last week, we witnessed the demise of Dr. Nephron and the escape of his deranged guinea pig, convict Clive Yorkin. Barry teamed up with Detective Frank Curtis, a fellow cop who was investigating the heroin smuggling operation based in Barry’s police lab. Iris’ concern over Barry’s attentions continued to grow, while an ESP-powered teenaged fan named Melanie once again established her mental hold on our hero. Meanwhile, Yorkin trailed Barry home and found Iris, alone…