New Reviews of Old Comics
Is there a young comic book geek out there who doesn’t love the Flash? 99% of us weren’t exactly the athletic type in grade, middle or high school (or even as adults probably), so the idea of running really, really fast has a whole lot of real world appeal in it. OK, so maybe running as fast as the Flash isn’t practical when playing kickball, but you get the idea. I have to admit as much as I like the Flash I don’t have a whole lot of Flash comics since one of the first issues I remember seeing on the newsstand was among the last two or three of the original series; the whole “Trial of the Flash” storyline. Yeah, I read the post-Crisis Flash with Wally West, but it wasn’t the same (though not bad as I recall). And I was really bummed when they killed Flash in Crisis, though I’m sure he’s since come back to life.
This issue “Hell in the Fast Lane” was written by Cary Bates with art by Carmine Infantino (who else should be drawing Flash?). Although the story basically revolves around Sabretooth breaking out of prison and trying to kill Flash there are all sorts of other stories going on here. Barry Allen’s long time love, Iris, is dead; he’s dating someone else, Fiona Webb, who is also mourning the death of a loved one. Flash, of course, avoids the assassination attempt by using his speedy powers, while still keeping his identity secret from Fiona. It really must be tough to have a love life and be a super-hero. If you reveal your secret identity it’s not a secret anymore. Get a divorce and she’s blabbing to the Daily Planet all about a certain superhero who is also a freelance photographer/reporter, police scientist or a limping doctor. Beyond that, how many comic characters are named Sabretooth? There is also one of the Green Lanterns floating in a background story, the one that looks like a bird. I don’t know his name. Despite liking the Hal Jordan Green Lantern I never got into the other worldly Lanterns.
Since the Flash story is only 17 pages long we also get a Creeper six page back up story. “Playgrounds,” written by Carl Gafford with art by Chuck Patton is a bit heavy handed with the anti-drug storyline, but hey this was 1983 and the era of “Just Say No” so what do you expect. Yeah, six pages doesn’t leave much to critique, so I’ll leave it that the story was interesting enough that I’d read the next chapter if I ever find Flash #322.
That leads me to a problem with hitting the bargain boxes at comic stores, flea markets and antique stores to grab a few issues that are interesting. Very rarely do you find contiguous issues and even more rarely do you find them anywhere near each other, which makes things a little maddening when you pick up an issue and find you like the stories that are going on. What are the odds I’m going to find Flash #322 any time soon, and even if I do, I’m sure I will then want #323. Yes, I know there is an amazing invention called the internet where I can quickly and easily find just about anything. However, I think that takes out some of the fun that comes with comic collecting. The thrill is in the hunt and chase, and finding the issues you’re looking for at cheap prices. At least that’s how it’s always been for me.
Best Ad: An amazing lack of ads in this issue and they’re all pretty boring. If I have to choose one I’ll go with TSR’s Dungeons & Dragons. Yes, I used to play D&D when I was in middle school. Three or four of us would walk to the library and play for a few hours. As an 8th grader this seemed like the coolest thing going, even if I didn’t know what a “roc” was when I picked one up as a pet. The role playing games of various types (remember the Marvel version where you created your own heroes) continued into high school with larger groups of people. Looking at the horrible artwork in this ad, well, I hate to admit I was once one of those weird looking poorly drawn kids. Role playing games beat the hell out of doing crack I guess.