Tag Archives: flash

DC Reviews: Flash #281

“Deadly Games!”

Script: Cary Bates
Pencils: Don Heck
Inks: Frank Chiaramonte
Colors: Gene D’Angelo
Letters: Ben Oda
Cover price: 40¢
Cover art: Dick Giordano (pencils/inks), Tatjana Wood (colors)

Synopsis: Central City’s police chief is up to his eyeballs in the kind of corruption that could cost Barry’s police buddy his life. Fortunately, a combination of Flash’s speed and a bulletproof vest gets him to the hospital in the nick of time — which is a good thing, because this buddy has found evidence that proves Iris’s killer is still on the loose! Meanwhile, Professor Zoom returns from the future to taunt Flash and trap him in a pair of “heavy-metal boots” specially designed to increase in weight and sink the Flash into the ground “like a ten-ton anchor in a pool of quicksand!”

Prime Cut Panels: Just for the record, do not ever ask the Flash to join in a standing ovation. They’re still searching the rubble of that collapsed theater for the cast of Hamilton, it was that good a show.

Also… Flash is being kind of a dick here, no? He could easily round up their guns, tie them up, race them to the police station, race back to his injured friend, take him to the hospital, and get home in time for tea before I finish typing this sentence. But no, he bombards the bad guys with sound waves loud enough to crumple steel like holy crap that’s got to hurt the eardrums worse than a grade-school talent show.

But for reals, I’m always a sucker for imaginative uses of the Flash’s super-speed. “Guy who runs really fast” doesn’t sound like someone with a wide range of skills at his disposal, but damn if the writers don’t enjoy getting creative from time to time with how he uses his speed.

Great Moments in Advertising: “Now your favorite Super Heroes are elastic!” Was… was this a thing that people wanted? Plastic Man, Mister Fantastic, Elasti-Girl, Jimmy Olsen in his Elastic Lad get-up — these are heroes that I would expect to be given the Stretch Armstrong treatment. But these two?

Hmm, maybe I’m being too old and cynical. Ah, a YouTube video featuring a commercial for these toys… nope, it’s still weird. “You can pull ’em, you can bend ’em, even have a tug of war…” It doesn’t bode well for your toy sales when you list in your commercial all the things you can do with it and your list stops at three things.

Random Thoughts: But do you want to know the real reason I’m giving myself this month-long challenge? To revisit some old friends, sure. But mostly it’s fun to take a look back at the kinds of comics that entertained me as a young lad and see if they still hold up.

And you know what I’m thinking looking at this Flash story? I’m thinking that Flash TV show on the CW owes a lot to this era of Flash comics. There isn’t any team of attractive S.T.A.R. Labs scientists in the comic, true, but all the other elements of the show are here: overarching storylines involving Iris’s fate, soap opera plots involving citizens of Central City, occasional super-speed tricks interspersed with random super-villains popping in from the future just to mess with our speedster, the steely determination to avenge a loved one’s death…  it’s all there.

The cover image happens just as it appears in the story, with Zoom using 25th-century science to appear to split in half (because… I guess he’s a practical joker back home?) and then employing some Star Trek-level techno-babble (“It was just a matter of reversing the polarity of my invisible aura, old foe…”) to bring our hero to heel.  Really, it’s a shame Zoom comes in for only the last third of the story, since his cockiness and ability to match Flash’s speed is the only really entertaining parts of the book. I mean, I’m sad for Barry that this investigation into Iris’s murder is taking forever, but… I’m not buying a book with the title Case Files of the Central City P.D. on the front, you dig?

(Also… not for nothing, but Flash having an arch-nemesis from the future always bugged me. Zoom ends the story by teasing Flash with the identity of Iris’s killer, saying our present is all “a matter of record in our libraries” in his time era… but if that’s the case, then wouldn’t he already know that Flash is going to escape this death-trap? Time travel, ugh.)

The other weak point here is Don Heck’s pencils. I’ve nothing against Heck’s style and he’s turned in some fine work in other places, but his angular, almost rushed-looking approach to Flash and his super-speed effects lacks the immediacy or fluidity of other Flash artists. That and the fact all the faces of the characters in this story look mean and/or constipated makes this issue less than a must-have item. And that’s a…. FLASH FACT!


The challenge: Can I review a month’s worth of DC books from January 1980 in under a month?