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Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Flash #327 - Nov. 1983

Comics Weekend "Burnout!" by Cary Bates, Carmine Infantino, and Dennis Jensen.

This is one my favorite Aquaman guest appearances, because its so odd!

A little context: in preparation for the Crisis on Infinite Earths, it had been decided that The Flash was to die, which of course meant his book was to be cancelled. The book's final issue was marked as #350, which was about two years down the road from where longtime Flash writer/editor Cary Bates was with a major storyline.

That storyline concerned The Flash's inadvertent(?) murder of his arch-foe, Professor Zoom, just as Zoom was about to kill The Flash's fiancee, Fiona Webb--just as he had done years earlier to Flash's beloved wife Iris.

This caused enormous doubts about The Flash in the public, and among his fellow superheroes. To wit--not long after Zoom's death, the JLA decided to bring The Flash up to their satellite for a little meeting:
...to be continued!

Part of the problem with this storyline was that, knowing the book was going to be cancelled, writer/editor Bates didn't want to start a whole new ongoing storyline just to have it cut short by the cancellation. So he decided to extend this whole "murder and trial" which had the unfortunate effect of taking an interesting--and in some ways unprecedented--idea for a superhero comic and stretch it out way, way too long, to the point where it became deathly slow.

Case in point: this issue's cliffhanger ending. I remember buying the next issue, just to see how Superman voted. But in that issue, The Flash--waiting for Superman to bring the hammer down--starts flashing back to a previous event in his life, which was a none-too-clever cover for the book to reprint an earlier issue of The Flash!

Then you get to the last page, and Superman is done droning on. The issue ends with Superman saying, again, "This is my decision..." only to have it continued into the issue after that! As a kid, I was so mad as being jerked around, and having wasted 75 cents (to add insult to the injury, DC's books went from 60 cents to 75 between these two issues), which was a precious commodity back then--that I dropped the book from my reading list, never to return.

Seeing Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Hawkman be so tough on their pal here seems quaint nowadays, considering the body count each of them has racked up over the years. If this issue was written today, the JLA probably would be throwing The Flash a party.

One final note about this story: Tony Isabella, in his great Shadow War of Hawkman mini, actually took the time to have Hawkman reflect back on this moment, after he has had to break his own code, and conclude he was wrong to judge his friend that way. It was just a little throwaway detail, but it was one of my favorite moments from that series.


Wings1295 said...

Aquaman's judgement then is fitting, though, since he had more than enough reason to kill Manta himself and he spared the villain. Although, his was a "if I don't do this, someone will die now" crisis, he does have something very similar in his past.

Russell said...

I have this issue in my collection, too, and I always hated it because there are only six members present....how in the world does that create a quorum!? There was something like 15 members of the League at this time, so 7 (w/The Flash) isn't even a majority! Also, I've said it before and I'll say it again....Where the heck was Hawkwoman!?!? Bad, bad issue.

Tony Isabella said...

Thanks, Rob. I really liked working on that series with Richard Howell and our editor, the woefully-under-appreciated Alan Gold.