Monday, March 04, 2024

Barry runs up a beam of light, and that's not even the most unbelievable thing this issue.

My big hang-up was why would a master of disguise wear that outfit, but that might just be me. From 1980, Flash #291, "The Saber-Tooth is a very Deadly Beast!" Written by Cary Bates, art by Don Heck.
I feel like everything in this issue is Bates maybe trying to do things that hadn't been done before in this long-running title, so it seems like trying to reinvent the wheel over and over, while trying to roll at the same time. This opens with Fiona Webb, about to be murdered by Barry Allen: 'Fiona' wasn't her real name, and she hadn't been around long; this was probably the end of her first storyline. The fake-Barry was Ross Malverk, a mobster Fiona had worked for but testified against; she had started a new life in witness protection, but had been afraid of Barry in error. The Flash finds himself in a bind, though: with 'Barry' wanted for attempted murder, he didn't have an alibi, since he'd been Flash at the time. He's able to get some help from King Faraday, after saving his helicopter after a bazooka hit, in a really improbable vibrate-and-run-on-dust-particles trick.
There are two hitmen, seemingly subcontractors, who shoot a lot of bazooka shells over Central City: I feel like those weren't super-common. Malverk gives himself up, to get protection from Saber-Tooth, who he had previously double-crossed; Barry lets himself be seen in public to draw him out. I don't think Saber-Tooth usually wore that outfit: he says he lifted it from a tailor shop, because why wouldn't a tailor shop display...that? He then tries to kill "Malverk" with, I don't know, a superball firebomb? It seems like the generic of a Green Goblin pumpkin bomb. Flash then appears, and Saber-Tooth nearly escapes in a jetpack with optional chemical smokescreen; but unfortunately that time of night was empty, so Flash could just run around punching until he got him...look, I don't buy it either, but it was the last page, so...Fiona forgives, and is happy to see Barry: she'd be his new love interest, after the death of Iris, for most of the rest of the series.
Also this issue: A Firestorm short, with George Perez art!...that gives away the game in the title, "The Hyena Laughs Last!" Written by Gerry Conway, pencils by George Perez, inks by Bob Smith. Ronnie Raymond has got Professor Stein a job interview, and off the sauce: for quite a while, Stein didn't get to remember what happened to them when they formed Firestorm, so he had a bunch of unexplained absences and mental lapses; but was starting to recover. Ronnie gets several Ditko-era Spider-Man plot points, as his main antagonist Cliff Carmichael gives him some crap: they were a reversal of the Peter Parker/Flash Thompson dynamic, as Cliff was the brain, Ronnie the jock. Ronnie also goes with his girlfriend Doreen to pick up her sister Summer at the airport, and she seems like she's not going to be a ray of sunshine. (Way moreso than I would've guessed!)
Stein gets a new job, although I don't think it was as a professor, which seems a waste; then stops himself from hitting the bar to celebrate. But, he sees someone jumping from building to building, and realizes he recognizes them subconsciously from his time as Firestorm. It's the Hyena! In the last panel of the issue; so maybe they should've saved this title for next time?


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

I had to shake my head at that those random onlookers proudly proclaiming they'd never seen anything like Barry running on a light beam before. Like, shit people, first time in Central City much? I'm pretty sure he does stuff like that on the regular, especially at kids' birthday parties.

Lots of gimmick infringement going on, from a guy calling himself Sabertooth, despite Creed already existing for at least 3 years by that point, then he uses as you correctly pointed out, a generic-looking pumpkin bomb device. Bates is just hacking it up on this one, isn't he?

I do feel bad for Prof. Stein, because alcoholic or not, those blackouts can't be fun to experience. I mean, sharing a body with someone, added to said blackouts, yeah, I'd doubt my sanity too.

How in the hell was Hyena ever considered an actual threat considering Firestorm's power set?

H said...

This all makes a lot more sense if you know the continuity. There actually is a tailor for supervillains in Central City- his name is Paul Gambi and he’s a sorta-recurring character in Flash stories. Also, the Hyena had already shown up in previous Firestorm stories. I believe her secret identity had been revealed by that point too, so it wouldn’t be a big surprise if you knew who to look for. The secret identity was what made her such a problem for Firestorm, as I remember (in addition to Ronnie not exactly being the sharpest tool in the shed).

googum said...

Is that the same Gambi that would be on the Black Lightning show? I thought Firestorm just had trouble with Hyena because his powers wouldn't work directly on organic material, so while he would be trying to change something Hyena would be clawing him up.

Mr. Morbid said...

Summer’s the Hyena isn’t she? Don’t know why I confused Hyena with The Weasel.

H said...

Firestorm (and a lot of DC heroes, I guess) seems to have a bunch of villains that are near copies of each other. I think it has to do (at least with the older ones) with writers misremembering villains and thinking it was just an Earth-Two/Earth-One thing. Gerry may have been trying to evoke that.

H said...

That’s his brother Peter- also a tailor in the comics. I didn’t mention him because I don’t think he’s been in any other comics besides the original Black Lighting series (on account of dying when that still meant something), and I didn’t realize they used him in the show (wow, I need to watch that one now- sounds better than it looked).

I’m not exactly sure exactly why Firestorm had so much trouble with the Hyena- I thought he was too intangible for the clawing to do much. I could be wrong though. I know Gerry wanted Firestorm to be DC’s Spider-Man, and I think Hyena was a Green Goblin-esque riff on that.

Mr. Morbid said...

Possibly yeah

Anonymous said...

Kinda lame considering how ridiculously overpowered Firestorm was, even back then. I’m guessing his still relative inexperience is what kept him from being even more of a walking deus ex machina

CalvinPitt said...

There was an Annual (looks like #3, from 1985) where Firestorm got nerfed a little bit due to intense solar flares somehow permanently messing with his powers. So he couldn't transmute things from as far away, and I think he couldn't fire any energy blasts while phased, stuff like that.

But I tend to assume Firestorm struggled with some of his lamer foes because Ronnie just isn't very good at thinking on the fly. Having Stein in his head, no doubt trying to be helpful, probably doesn't make it easier to concentrate.