Offending women, and Flash fans! I don't know what'll happen if you're a female Flash fan, and take no responsibility.
Over at Neither Doormat nor Prostitute, angryrantgirl brought up Lady Flash. So she's to blame for this one.
Seriously, I'm not taking the rap for this one. I'm not going to mention the title yet, because I don't want to ruin the surprise, even though it's mentioned twice in the first three pages of the comic.
The story does open with a, well, a "CRAAAAK" instead of a bang; as we see a blond figure in a lab coat, hit by a lightning bolt striking a shelf of chemicals, just like Barry's origin. Only this time, Barry is the witness, not the stricken. A lightning bolt hit the chemical shelf in his lab, for at least the third time, this time dousing Barry's part-time assistant Patty. (The second time, of course, hit Wally and made him Kid Flash.
Patty leaves to change out of her contaminated clothing, and Barry thinks she may already be affected. He's proven right when a female officer that was helping Patty change clothes...what?...tells him Patty disappeared right before her eyes. Yeah, she needed an adult.
Barry can see Patty right there, though; vibrating at invisible super-speed, and talking too fast for anyone but him to hear.
Barry tells Patty to sit down, perhaps accidentally exposing himself as the Flash, since no one else could hear her; but Patty doesn't get the chance to catch that: She sneezes, blowing herself back through the wall (vibrating at super-speed) and launched for several city blocks. Because normally when women sneeze, they're launched backwards, right?
Patty is vibrating at a different frequency than Barry, so he's unable to catch her. I don't know if that fits into Flash canon: do Jay and Wally and Barry all vibrate at different rates, or are they all on the correct, man frequency? Still flying backwards, Patty's now entered the blasting area next to the police station (?) and sets off a series of radio-controlled detonators, setting off explosives. Flash does the run-in-circles bit, funneling the explosion straight up, but loses Patty.
Several hours of searching at super-speed later, Barry is back at the police station, and dead tired; apparently from running in circles all that time. C'mon, Barry could've searched every square inch of North America faster than you read this sentence, and he didn't find her? "Hmm...she's not at Dress Barn...maybe she's at the mall? No...well, maybe she's at Dress Barn now..."
Barry then takes off at super-speed, but not under his own power: Patty picks him up, for a little private talk.
It's nice to see a female super-hero uniform that's not titilating, or exploitive...or attractive. The huge mask over the eyeglasses isn't working either...
Patty has already learned to run over water, which would be more impressive if it wasn't releasing poison gas. Somehow.
Switching into the Flash, Barry stops the poison gas, then tries to stop Patty, who thinks he's there for a team-up.
Flash points out the reason her power is uncontrollable is that the chemicals were different, more powerful than the ones that made him or Kid Flash. Patty takes that as Flash doesn't want any skirts in the superspeed locker room, and that would be an understandable reaction if she wasn't starting to cause explosions now. Her "weird radiation" forms a "wedge of destruction!" that Barry's "ultra-vibrations" only make worse...this is starting to escalate pretty quickly, Central City blowing up around them.
Luckily, for Central City anyway, Barry had just imagined all of that, in the picasecond before the lightning bolt hit the chemicals. He pulls Patty out of harm's way, saving her from a deadly superspeed curse. Or awesome powers. Well, either way.
I almost wonder if this story wasn't intended as a try-out, like that imaginary Supergirl story that came before the 'real' one. Maybe if enough girls had written in demanding it, Ms. Flash would've been brought back; but to the best of my knowledge she was never seen again. Even as Patty.
Ah, that explains why I've had this comic next to the computer for months. From 5 Star Super-Hero Spectacular (1977), "How to Prevent a Flash" Story by Cary Bates, art by Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin.
The other stories in this one are a little hit-and-miss, too: a bland Green Lantern short, a really bland Atom story. Aquaman's short is set right after he lost his son, and a new super-villain from Iran (!) who decides to take him down, since he's a weak superhero and a good place to start.
But the Batman story, maybe we'll come back to that sometime. Maybe not: it's Batman vs. Kobra, and it's pretty good. At the verge of defeat, Kobra has his twin brother Jason killed. Killed by his own, dead, zombified girlfriend. Batman kicks Kobra around a little, but he escapes, leaving Bats swearing vengence on Jason Burr's grave. Sigh. I'm not sure that was ever mentioned again, either.