Sunday, January 11, 2009

Single Issue Review: Flash #156

These panels set the stage:

I love that little gag in the opening panel. Of course, the representatives are unconvinced until the alien demonstrates his powers, by turning everything in the room to gold. Somehow the representatives manage to restrain themselves from grabbing up everything in sight long enough to put out a call for the Flash. But he refuses to turn himself in.

The alien reveals that Barry Allen is the Flash in an effort to assist the authorities in their effort to capture him. Well, of course we pretty much assume that somehow now everybody will forget that Barry Allen is the Flash, so it creates an interesting puzzle for the reader: How do they get him out of this one?

At this point I'm thinking that the alien must not be who he appears to be; the most obvious candidates are Professor Zoom and Abra Cadabra. Since they are from the future they would know the Flash's secret identity. The turning the room into gold looks like a magic trick, which says it must be the latter.

Well, it made sense, but in fact the story is quickly revealed to be quite different. The alien is part of a group of tyrant aristocrats who have been defeated in a battle by their former serfs. They realize where they went wrong in the crucial moment, and plan to go back in time using the Flash and rectify that mistake.

They initially tried to take over Flash's mind, and came close. But he realized that their mind control only worked on him when he was traveling at very high speeds. So he had to slow down enough to prevent the mind control from working, while still going fast enough to accomplish his goal of creating a machine to defeat the mind control mechanism.

But now the alien's time limit is running out:

Wow. That is characterization done right! Kid Flash comes through:

So that Barry can use his full super-speed to foil the plot of the tyrants. But there remains the problem of everybody on Earth knowing Flash's secret identity.

Double wow. As you can probably guess, Iris gives her consent and the Flash eliminates the memory of his identity being revealed to everybody on the planet. As I covered in the past, Barry doesn't quite live up to his promise, but in another way he does.

Comments: A terrific story, absolutely a classic. Wonderful characterization in this story for Barry, Wally, and Iris. The usual superior artwork from Infantino combines perfectly with John Broome's fascinating script.