Not a mountain pony for once, but my former lease horse. After careers as a dressage, vaulting, and riding school horse, I found him a beautiful place in Germany where he can live out his final years on a large pasture with the other horses of his new owner.
Subscription copy time! I can remember bringing this issue of FLASH and the previous one to school not too long after this–I recall it because, after talking them up and showing them around, some other kid wanted to subscribe, so, checking first that it wasn’t against a story page, I dutifully cut out the subscription coupon from the ad in this issue and gave it to him. I highly doubt that he ever followed through with his momentary interest–if he did, I never heard about it–but my copy of FLASH #249 is now permanently marred to mark the occasion.
This is another issue in the incredibly consistent run of writer Cary Bates and artist Irv Novick. Cary would remain with the series until the end of its run just a hair over 100 issues hence, a pretty staggering run. And Novick, an old hand at super heroes even in 1977, defined the look of the Scarlet Speedster to me. There was something pleasant and reliable in knowing that when a new issue of FLASH turned up, you could count on exactly the sort of product that you’d be getting. This was all overseen by editor Julie Schwartz, who’d overseen the revival of the Flash in 1956 and had edited the series ever since. In a few short years, Julie would be moved onto other projects, and the consistency of FLASH would suffer and struggle a bit. But that’s all in the future.
This issue picks up where the previous one left off. As you’l recall, an unbeatable felon calling himself Master Villain is at large. And also, Barry’s old sweetheart Daphne Dean, the actress, is back in town, pretending to be suffering from amnesia. But we readers overheard Daphne and a cohort plotting over the phone at the end of the previous chapter. So as this issue opens, with the Allens chastely in bed, Iris is quietly fretting about Daphne. But a phone call wakes up Barry–and it’s from master Villain, who has somehow sussed out the speedster’s true identity and will reveal it to the world if the Flash doesn’t meet him at a specified location.
Flash races to the specified phone booth within second, and master Villain appears out of nowhere, setting off a super-battle between the two. As before Master Villain is almost childish in his demeanor, and his assault on the Flash seems almost baseless. Attempting to finish his speedy foe, Master Villain unleashes an energized punch at the Flash. But, unable to escape from it, Flash instead races to Metropolis, locates Clark Kent on the street, vibrates his molecules so that he passes through the disguised Man of Steel, and lets the energized punch blip harmlessly off the Kryptonian’s cranium.
Back in Central City, Daphne’s fake amnesia isn’t improving no matter how much she fawns over Barry Allen. But Barry can’t stay, he and Iris have an engagement with their next door neighbors Fred and Ethel Sands. While they’re there, we check in with their son, Barney, who is agonizing over how he created Master Villain–and we get a handy flashback indicating how the alien cloud-creature who craves new experiences inhabited Barney’s drawing and brought Master Villain to life. Now Barney’s trying to duplicate his feat by creating a super hero with the power to bring Master Villain to heel–but the character just isn’t coming up off the paper as Master Villain did.
After dinner, the Allens return home, and Iris is shocked to not only find Daphne sleeping in their living room, but Master Villain present as well. He and the Flash engage in a quick skirmish that flies out of the Allen household and winds up in the yard next door, where Flash overhears Barney’s efforts to bring his fictitious super hero to life. Master Villain also challenges Flash to a showdown the following day.But now Barry has some idea as to what’s doing on, and in how to perhaps turn the tables on Master Villain.
At the appointed time, Master Villain is astonished to find himself confronted not by the Flash, but rather by Super-Hero, Barney’s creation. Super-Hero demonstrates his own awesome voodoo power, which allows him to clobber Master Villain no matter where he might be by striking his dummy figure. What Master Villain doesn’t realize is that Super-Hero is really the Flash in disguise, using super-speed invisibly to deliver each matching blow to Master Villain. And in short order, the alien being has taken enough abuse, severs his mental link with Barney and skedaddles. Meanwhile, Iris has secretly trailed Daphne to a secret rendezvous with another shadowy character, where she overhears Daphne reveal that her amnesia is all a ploy and that she’s about to bring down Barry Allen once and for all. To Be Continued!
And the letters page for this issue includes not only a fan drawing for a new costume for Abra Kadabra that looks as though he’d been heisting from Doctor Strange’s tailor, but also the yearly Statement of Ownership which listed the sales figures for the previous year. This one indicates that FLASH had been selling 163,000 copies on average on a print run of 361,000, for an efficiency of 45%. Which isn’t great, but it’s a slight step up from the previous year’s 42%.
Me: I started a club for writers and bookworms and you’re my first member. Our first meeting is tomorrow.
Maryrose: Do I need to socialize with other people.
Me: Yes of course. This club will help you with your goals and aspirations.
Maryrose: I think I will decline this invitation.
Me: I’m sorry but that’s not an option. I need to help you to achieve your goals so we all can move on. Tomorrow I’ll expect you to be there in time.
I have to do it this way. I’m sorry if they don’t like it, but it’s my job to ensure that they make some progression so they can move out as soon as possible. I think a club will be very helpful for Ty and Maryrose. Those who come after them will benefit of this too.