Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"The End" Week: Flash #350 and #230!

We doubled-down on Warlord last issues earlier this week, so let's try that again with another, even longer-running DC title: from 1985, Flash #350, "Flash Flees" Written by Cary Bates, pencils by Carmine Infantino, inks by Frank McLaughlin; and
from 2006, Flash #230, "Last Man Standing" Written by Joey Cavalieri, pencils by Val Semeiks and Joe Cooper, inks by Drew Geraci and Livesay.

Barry Allen's last issue of Flash, which had been running since 1959, opens with the Flash missing, having escaped from jail after the guilty verdict in his long-running murder trial. Moreover, Barry Allen was missing as well and presumed dead; although Barry's lawyer, Cecile Horton, checks with his parents and recaps his recent surgery, repairing his face after injuries inflicted by Big Sir. (I know Big Sir was super-strong, but I'm used to the goofball from later Justice League International comics; it's disconcerting to think of him delivering a beating!)

Elsewhere, the Reverse-Flash visits his captives, most of Flash's Rogues' Gallery: Captains Cold and Boomerang, Mirror Master, Weather Wizard, Trickster, and Rainbow Raider. (Rainbow Raider? No Heat Wave today?) Reverse-Flash had been holding them for some time, but didn't need them anymore, and leaves them to be crushed in their cell-cube. (Perhaps tellingly, he uses a wand to trigger the cell...) Although their weapons had been removed, Mirror Master had secret, laser-lenses in his mask that he uses to free them; and the Rogues plot their revenge.

Meanwhile, Flash is having a strange conversation with one Nathan Newbury--or, his body, inhabited by a visitor from the future! Newbury and his fellow jurors had been ready to acquit the Flash, on the charge of the murder of the Reverse-Flash, when R-F had brainwashed the jury into a guilty verdict. The future visitor explains the Reverse-Flash's death, 500 years before his birth, had disrupted the space-time continuum, but is interrupted by an attack by the Reverse-Flash, who uses a futuristic flying gunship to destroy City Hall! Flash and "Nathan" escape, but the onlookers think Flash destroyed the building, and that he's holding a juror hostage. They visit Barry's parents, while the Rogues visit their tailor, Paul Gambi, for new outfits and gear. Then, the Rogues hit the Flash Museum: not for their usual vandalism, but for information, specifically on the Cosmic Treadmill. Modifying it for use without super-speed, they head to the 25th century, to give the Reverse-Flash the what-for.

Flash and "Nathan" are already in the 25th century, trying to figure out how the Reverse-Flash returned, but as near as the future historians can tell, he died in 1983. But after checking one of his old hideouts, the future cops have a witness who may have seen witnessed something: an outline that doesn't match R-F's, but that Flash still recognizes, and they set out for the 64th century...!

The Rogues also put the clues together: the "Reverse Flash" had actually been future villain Abra Kadabra all along! They realize the snooty-yet-chicken Abra looked down on them, but wouldn't risk trying to kill them himself, so he hid behind a disguise. Flash and "Nathan" are ambushed by Abra in the future, who converses with a cohort named Snurff, about how all of this appears to be for a bet with a "High Commissioner" about having magic reinstated as a "noble art form!" He also acts as if he's actually doing the Flash a favor. As "Nathan" tries to explain who they really are, Flash tells "him" he already knows; but their escape is interrupted by the Rogues, who help Flash out since revenge is overriding their usual hate for the speedster. Abra is captured, relatively quickly even for the Flash, but uncharacteristically begs the Flash to stay in the 64th century for the next six hours.

Returning to the 20th century, the Rogues catch the TV news that the real Nathan Newbury helped prove the jury had been brainwashed, but worry their old foe may never return from the future; particularly since he hadn't been treated especially well the last few years. Flash is acquitted in 1985, but remains in the 30th century, with the future visitor: his wife, Iris! She had been from that era originally, and when she 'died,' her family, knowing from the historical record when it would happen, extracted her 'psychic Iris' and put her in a new body. While they're glad to see Iris and Barry reunited (even if neither looks like they used to now!) Iris's parents know the Flash's future fate is still to come, his upcoming death in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8. This issue is a happy ending that won't last.

Wait a minute: the Trial of the Flash ran approximately a million issues--OK, 28--and Abra freaking Kadabra was behind the whole thing? I'm not sure he had carried a two-parter up to that point. And his motivation is save the Flash, to change history, in order to prove magic is awesome? Was he even using magic, or fancy 64th century science? And the historical record has to be an utter crapshoot now, post-Crisis or not, since the Reverse Flash did appear later. It almost made sense at the time.

Moving on, Wally's last issue of his Flash series begins post-apocalypse: an asteroid strike had already killed millions, and the resulting dust cloud was blocking the sun, reducing humanity to scavengers. Except not really, even though we spend three pages there: this is a nightmare, caused by a shadowy acolyte. The asteroid hadn't hit yet; and Vandal Savage was trying to pull it in. He had given the acolytes powers, but may have started to believe his own fake religion: Flash rewires the summoning machine to repel the asteroid, and Vandal rides the beam, "ascending into heaven," or rather being launched into space.

Wally had been around long enough to worry that Vandal would be back, and about his threat against his kids; later he tells Jay and Bart that while he's not quitting, he can see the finish line. It's played off as him wanting to spend more time with his kids, and I was thinking this was when Barry came back, but not yet: former Impulse and Kid Flash Bart Allen would get a brief 13 issue run as Flash, then Wally would be back with issue #231, continuing his numbering! And Wally would retire again in his next last issue, #247! All that numbering rejiggering is more interesting than this issue, y'ask me. Points for using Vandal Savage though; he was the villain in the first issue of this series!


H said...

Abra was the villain behind issue 300, so it makes sense that they'd use him for the finale. Also, he's always been a big showman so trying to prevent Barry's death in order to settle a bet about whether magic still has a place in the far future works for me.

Then again, I am a big Abra Kadabra fan so it may just be that talking.

Mr. Morbid's House Of Fun said...

^Ha ha, yeah exactly. Damn, 28 WHOLE issues? If I was Barry, I'd be beating the shit out of him for as long as that damn trial lasted.

And seemingly Abra never learned his lesson because he pulled the same shit but with slight twist with Wally during Waid's run.