Sunday 31 March 2019

The Flash #195. Fugitive From Blind Justice!

The Flash #195, Neal Adams cover
It's time to get out your stick of rock and don your Kiss Me Quick hat because it's the return of the feature in which I look at the comics I bought in Blackpool in 1972, when I was just starting out on the reading journey that would lead to me becoming the least-informed comic book blogger on the internet.

I've already tackled Captain America #135, X-Men #44, Action Comics #402 and Teen Titans #33 and now it's time to look at the very first Flash comic I ever owned.

I've mentioned, before, my obsession with costumes in these early reads and it was the same again for me with this one. The comic's combination of red and yellow (just like Red Raven and the Angel) and the lavish use of lightning motifs impressed me no end when I was eight.

But I cannot fail to acknowledge that, like Captain America, the Angel, Red Raven, and Kid Flash in Teen Titans, the tale features a man who's sporting wings. Is this coincidence or was I magnetically drawn to pinioned pugilists back then?

I cannot say.

This is what happens.

It's 1970 and the Flash is signing autographs outside a Jerry Lewis telethon, establishing that Jerry Lewis exists in the DC universe, even though it's clearly not our universe.

Someone else who exists in the DC universe is Jack Kirby's long-standing accomplice Mark Evanier who's among the lucky youths the Flash gives an autograph to. He also gives autographs to a bunch of other people but I don't recognise their names, even though I suspect that they too are real people.

No sooner has he done that than he's blinded by a camera flash in the local park.

It turns out it was no accident and now, with the hero temporarily sightless, a bunch of gangsters can blow his brains out.

Flash #195, dog rescues the Flash
Except they can't - because, just as they get a bead on him, a dog appears and chases them off.

Who is this mystery canine with the civic-minded streak?

Sadly, the Flash doesn't get to find out because, the moment he regains his sight, the pooch runs off and, obviously, the Flash can't chase after it because, erm, er...

Anyway, the next day, the Flash's alter-ego Barry Allen finds out the dog's called Lightning and has been sentenced to death for killing his millionaire owner Philip Bentley.

Can our hero prove Lightning's innocence and save him from the firing squad?

No, he can't.

After twenty four hours trying to do so, he settles, instead, for just kidnapping the dog and heading back to the scene of the crime with him.

Flash #195, fight
And it's a good thing he does because no sooner have the pair got there than they discover Bentley was killed by his own brother - and by the mobsters who tried to kill the Flash the day before. Holy Incredible Coincidence, Batman!

Ignoring the killers' gas attack, the Flash and Lightning soon mop up the wrongdoers, and the Flash gets a confession from the victim's brother by threatening to set the dog on him. I'm no lawyer but I'm not convinced a confession secured by threatening the accused with a good savaging is legally valid.

Not that the judge cares. He's perfectly happy to lock the men up on such dubious evidence and, not only that, he's happy to let Barry Allen legally adopt Lightning, even though he doesn't have a clue who Allen is.

This does make me wonder whether Lightning was ever mentioned again. He was certainly not in any of the Flash stories I ever read.

Leaving aside the unanswered question of Lightning's seeming super-speed in parts of this tale, there is one other oddity about the story, and that's that, after the Flash kidnaps the dog, the pair of them rescue a drowning blind man. There seems to be a fairly heavy hint in this section that the man's only pretending to be blind, which leads you to assume he'll be revealed to be the killer but nothing ever comes of it and it's not mentioned again.

Flash #195, Roller Coaster phobia, nightmare
That sensational tale of canine capers was brought to us by Robert Kanigher, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson and we're clearly in luck this month, as we get not one but two tales in this issue; the second being delivered by Mike Friedrich, Gil Kane and Vince "The Eraser" Colletta.

Thinking about it, this might be the only time I've ever read a tale in which Kane's inked by Vincent, and the combination of the two men's styles lends the adventure a far more cartoony look than I'm used to from the penciller.

In it, Barry Allen's haunted by nightmares about roller coasters and has been ever since he went on one as a teenager. This fear's led to him refusing to ever board one again, until, many years later, he's chaperoning a police station sponsored basketball team and is nagged to go on it by them.

Wouldn't you know it, barely have they got the thing started than he spots disaster ahead.

The track's buckled!

Not for long it hasn't because, moving so fast that no one can see him, Allen changes into his Flash outfit and fixes it.

Flash #195, Roller Coaster repair
Quite how he does this isn't totally clear. He seems to be hammering it back into place with his bare hands. Just what are the Flash's hands made of that he can bend steel with them?

Anyway, that's that crisis dealt with, that phobia cured and that issue finished.

Is it as pleasing to me as those recently reviewed Captain America and X-Men tales?

Not really.

To be honest, although nicely drawn and competently written, it's not a particularly memorable issue, which might explain why, up until I re-read it yesterday, I could only recall that it mentioned Jerry Lewis and featured a roller coaster. Call me an animal hater but having seen too many Lassie films means I'm really not that interested in crime-fighting dogs and I'm not sure I buy a super-hero comic to find out how its star overcame his fear of fairground rides. Overall, I'd say it's an OK issue but fairly run of the mill.

As far as I can remember, this only leaves one comic left to review that I bought in that fortnight, and that's Brave and the Bold #96. Will it impress me?

Tune in to find out...

In the meantime, the other named people the Flash stops to sign autographs for in this issue are called Irene Vartanoff, Peter Sanderson, Angela Adams and Ken Tracy. Am I right in assuming they're real people, or are they just made up?


TC said...

Irene Vartanoff frequently had letters published in the letters-to-the-editor pages of DC comics, particularly those edited by Julius Schwartz (Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Justice League) in the 1960s.

Aggy said...

Damn I hate Barry Allen. As a character he was just so boring. When he finally died, twice, in Crisis I was actually happy to see it. (Ummm... spoiler warning). Wally was always mote interesting.

Of course comics being comics, and wanting to tie into TV and films, Barry is back and so zzzzzz... Sorry literally feel asleep just thinking about it.

Aggy said...

Oops. Yes the other people are all letters page regulars. Irene Vartanoff later wrote stories for DC and Marvel, along with being a colourist. Her work has featured in comics featured on this blog.

She was good friends with Marie Severin , is a published author, and is as far as I know still alive and writing

dangermash said...

Not many up the nose shots there but that panel with all the crashing and tinkling was enough for me to spot this was Gil Kane's work. Reminiscent of a panel somewhere in ASM #96-98 with Harry Osborn adrift and surrounded by pills.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you can see it but his earlier DC work doesn't quite scream "Gil Kane" as much as the 70s Marvel stuff.
The Neal Adams cover isn't quite as striking as usual, but its still pretty good.

Its always been a mystery to me how the Flash got to be one of the major DC characters - does anyone actually like him?


Anonymous said...

Btw Steve, I notice the comics you bought in Blackpool '72 are nearly all from different years - that Flash from '70, X-Men #44 from '68.
As you bought them at random, seems likely they had a fair few old comics still on sale there...


Charlie Horse 47 said...


I didn't mind him and bought the occasional comic. I would say after Action Comics and Adventure, it was my 3rd choice for DC.

But yep, in general, it was written in true DC fashion in the 60s and early 70s and thus fairly boring.

Hey - I finally caught at least some of the Flash Gordon flick from around 1980. Ming want to take the girl and Flash and Dr. Z object. Dr. Z throws Flash something somewhat shaped like a football and he goes running threw Ming's soldiers as if playing a football game. At this point I felt sorry for folks who may have paid to see this in the theatres, lol

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Hey UK Dudes - I need some help!

I was looking at Brexit protesters yesterday and one dude has a sign that says "Clean out the Augean Stables!"

"Remember the Alamo!"

"Tippecanoe and Tyler too!"

"Loose Lips Sink Ships!"

But "Remember the Augean Stables"??? What the heck does that even mean in context of Brexit?

Anonymous said...

Holy shmolies, SDC has taken a weird turn into some obscure territory here. I'm not complaining, mind you, in fact I salute it, Steve. Strive on!
But since it's impossible for you to type the word "Flash", or pretty much any word that rhymes with flash or starts with "f" without the conversation around here drifting towards the Flash Gordon movie, I submit to the inevitable.
Yes, there are many events that stand out in a man's life. I won't mention the ones that involved me taking my trousers off, but rather those things which elevate all of us as a culture, a people.
The Moon landing. I don't remember any of that, I was in a diaper and didn't know what the hell was going on.
After that, nothing much happened until Flash Gordon came out. I knew something of cosmic import was happening, but I could not grasp the titanic significance of it till decades later, while I sat with a bottle of whiskey pondering my life and trying to figure out how it all got weird.
Yet, to this very day my eyes glaze over and blood quickens whenever i hear that Queen song, and cannot restrain myself from crying out to God and the stars,


Anonymous said...

Charlie, "clean out the Augean Stables" is a new one on me so far as Brexit goes; I can only assume it means "drain the swamp".
Despite claiming to be against the establishment, some of the leading pro-Brexit politicians like Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (seriously, thats his name) and Jacob Rees-Smugg are very wealthy, and like to show off that they went to expensive schools by quoting Latin or making classical references in their speeches.
So... maybe that explains the Hercules connection?


Charlie Horse 47 said...

M.P. You don't suppose Flash Gordon could "Clean out Brexits Augean Stables" do you?

And that Queen Song ranks right up there with The Osmond Family's "Crazy Horses." You don't believe me? Check out the link below from the Ohio State Fair! It's right there with "Flash! Aaaahhh" at 1:50 seconds in to the song. Man can they squeal like stuck pigs! Freddie Mercury would have been jealous!

I suspect the Osmond Brothers could have cleaned out Augies Stable and kicked Ming's butt.

Anonymous said...

If Flash was here right now, a whole lotta these clowns would be in big trouble, Charlie.


Anonymous said...

Why M.P., what would he do - run around them very fast?


Anonymous said...

I meant Flash Gordon, Sean. Not the guy who ran around in a red body stocking. A guy would get arrested for that around here, or at least detained for observation. No, I'm talking about Flash Gordon. He sent Ming packing, didn't he? And he brokered a peace deal between the Hawkmen and those, uh, tree guys. You know, from, uh, Arboria. The ones that dressed up like Robin Hood. That Flash was a consensus builder, and that's what's needed now, not these half-baked ass-clowns we're saddled with.
But, people voted for 'em, so...democracy. A lesser evil, I guess.


Steve W. said...

Charlie, I suspect that Sean is right in comparing cleaning out the Augean Stables to, "Draining the Swamp."

Sean, It was often amazing how long after publication American comics would show up in British seaside towns. I was never sure if they'd been on the rack for years or if it had simply taken years for them to reach the shops in Britain.

TC and Aggy, thanks for the Irene information.

Dangermash, Kane did always seem more restrained, style-wise, at DC than at Marvel.

David Simpson said...

The Golden Age Green Lantern had a canine sidekick called Streak (as in streak of lightning). Introduced in issue 30 of the first GL series, he was written (and presumably created) by Robert Kanigher, who wrote this adventure of Flash and Lightning. This looks like a conscious call-back to that earlier character.

I guess Streak was popular, since he got his own strip in Green Lantern.

Kanigher also wrote the long running (1952 to 1959) Rex The Wonder Dog comic for DC, and had a dog character called Pooch in the Gunner And Sarge strip in Our Fighting Forces.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Flash Gordon vs. The Flash... who wins???

Obviously it depends on if we are talking about a Buster Crabbe FG or whatever the hell that was in the 1980 FG movie??? I'm talking Buster Crabbe!!!

I'm sure Buster would have cleaned out Brexit's Augean Stables as well!!!

All that aside, there is this iconic cover of Flash racing Superman (at least once)? I remember seeing that in a DC House Advert and thinking "I've got to get it!!!" (I assuem you guys have seen it in the UK?)

Eventually I did get it and, like KS Avengers #2, or Hulk Annual #1, the cover was sizzling but on the inside there was no steak awaiting Charlie! Another massive let down... I don't know how I found the will to cary on, back in those days...

Anonymous said...

I too assumed "Clean out the Augean Stables" means "Drain The Swamp".

A few months ago I heard a Brexit voter claim that the government will re-open all the coal mines after we leave the EU. Good grief !!

Anonymous said...

Aren't the loonies already trying to reopen coal mines in the US, or am I just brainwashed by politically correct liberal elitist propaganda?

Sorry M.P., seems obvious what you meant now. Yes, Flash Ah-haaaa! was cool, except in the 90s. Back then I had a job for a little while drawing Flash G. for a rubbish kiddie comic - it was a tie-in to a cartoon where he was a skate boarder (the 90s, eh?).


Anonymous said...

Sorry everyone - I've no idea what happened to the spacing in that comment.


Anonymous said...

I too remember being very impressed by Flash’s costume at a young age — when I was VERY little, probably 4 or 5 years old. All that vibrant RED! I loved drawing him with my Crayola crayons because of the color.

But didn’t last long. By the time I was old enough to actually read comics, he never became one of my favorites.

As for Coletta inking Kane — yeah, I don’t think they were paired up very often. Once on a Morbius story, once on an Inhumans story (I think?) and half of a GIANT-SIZE CONAN. Ehhh, they weren’t horrible, I suppose...

- b.t.

Steve W. said...

bt, it all leaves me in no doubt that the Flash's popularity was entirely down to his costume.

David, thanks for the Robert Kanigher/Streak info.

Sean, are you allowed to tell us more about this Flash Gordon strip you used to draw?

Colin, It's when they start promising to reopen the treacle mines that I'll worry.

Anonymous said...

It was ages ago Steve and the studio I did the work fof don't even exist anymore, so feel free to ask questions if you want. But I can't promise any interesting answers...


Anonymous said...

(Aaargh - trying to use a phone to type!)


Timothy Field said...

Seaside holidays were my only source of US comics during the 70s. Add to that the fact that our holidays were very infrequent and escaping curfew at a west coast Pontins made The Great Escape look like a pleasant stroll, you can imagine I had few in my collection as a child. But they were all the more exciting for it.

Killdumpster said...


Nostrils, clutching groping hands, exaggerated musculature and all!!!!

As far as the Flash goes, I enjoyed his segments in Filmation's Aquaman show from the 60's (I'm uncertain if you UK folks ever experienced that).

From what I've recently read somewhere that the Flash is arguably the most powerful character in the DC universe right now. I never bought any of his books when I was a kid. A few were in collections I've purchased & I was mostly unimpressed.

My guess is if 40's Flash Gordon encounters either golden-age Flash or Barry Allen in one of their time-travel adventures, Dr. Zarkoff could invent a mechanism to sap their superspeed.

Buster Crabbe would kick their asses!

And just cuz he's COOLER than they are!!!


If he had Rick Jones as a sidekick, he could conquer the multi-verse! Lol!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean - just curious...

Did you aspire to give Flash Gordon a certain look when you were drawing e.g., Alex Raymond's style or an appearance like Buster Crabbe.

KD -

I knew if there was a way to go off the reservation to mention Rick Jones, you'd figure it out! LOL! Anyhow, Buster would never have let Rick wander into a cave and try on magic bracelets.

Killdumpster said...

Hmmm, Charlie,

You maybe right. Buster Crabbe/Flash Gordon would have brought them back for Zarkoff to analyze, before letting anyone put them on. He WAS smarter than Rick.

Killdumpster said...

Man, now I'm going to do a Flash Gordon serial marathon now! Hadn't watched them in years. You have to admit though, that comic-relief guy Happy in the second serial was worse than a Rick Jones-style character.

Anonymous said...

Charlie - it was a tie-in to the (then) new tv cartoon.
With something like that you get style guides which cover how it should be drawn; it had to actually look like the animation cels.
They don't leave anything to chance with that licensed stuff.


Killdumpster said...

Was that Flash Gordon series you sourced from Filmation, Sean?

Anonymous said...

PS Charlie, if you're curious the first episode of that Flash Gordon cartoon is at
No doubt Alex Raymond spent a fair bit of 1996 turning in his grave. Thankfully even the internet seems to have forgotten about the comic.


Anonymous said...

Sean, I had no idea you were a professional artist. I think that's pretty impressive, actually, no matter what kinda comic it was.
I wanted to be a comic book artist when I was a teenager, and even before that, but I didn't really have the guts (and probably talent) to follow through with it.
Still, I spent a lotta serene, pleasant hours at my drawing table with the radio playing classic rock.
Not at all a bad way to spend time!


Anonymous said...

Sorry kd, hadn't seen your comment. No, it was a French version (not only that, but Canadians were involved!)


Anonymous said...

M.P., no-one is going to give me a proper job.


Killdumpster said...

Now I can't remember who did or had the rights to what. I know there was that gawdaful Defenders of the Earth, with Flash, Phantom & Mandrake. Think Marvel tied in with King Features Syndication to promote that. I know I bought the first issue, and was highly disappointed.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

KD - I had that issue too... not exactly inspiring. But I must say the old B&W Buster Crabbe's are decent stuff! My teenage kids were digging it too, a few years ago, when I had checked out some DVDs, lol! I mean, they were actually getting into it, as was I.

Sean - "Martin" who does/did the BitBA blog with "Redartz" was also in film doing animation way back in the day. He described it as a very "challenging" line of work and a whole lot of concern where your next job would be. Well, I won't speak for him but I'll say he left the industry after a few years doing it full time and numerous summers as a student.

Oddly, I read a TBP about North Korea and apparantly they do a ton of the cartoon animation work? Who'd a thunk it? No wonder the lips don't move in synch to the words...

Redartz said...

Sidling into animation discussion today? Love it! I recall the Flash cartoon from Filmation in the late 60s, part of Superman/Batman show iirc.

Stevw- thanks for highlighting that Flash story with the dog. Perhaps Kanigher had a fondness for our four legged friends. One of my favorite Enemy Ace tales is one Kanigher wrote about a puppy befriending Von Hammer. Unfortunately I have trouble reading it, can't handle sad dog stories (still ache over "Old Yeller".

Charlie- there were a couple Superman/Flash races back then. The second one, in Flash 175, was actually pretty cool. Even had gold kryptonite...