Best Moments in Comics

The Flash #230 Vol. 1 Nov/Dec 1974

Story title: “The Fury of the Fire Demon!”
Writer: Cary Bates
Artist: Irv Novick

Green Lantern backup feature
Story title: “The Man From Yesterday!”
Writer: Dennis O’Neil
Artist: Dick Dillin

Albert Desmond (then just known as “Al” Desmond), the daffy reformed crook alternately known as Mr. Element and Dr.Alchemy, is visiting with his wife in Central City’s neighboring town, Culver City, and is interviewed by a TV talk show crew in the area, when all of a sudden, a gargoyle falls off an office building above them, and luckily shatters before it can crash upon him (he’s apparently paralyzed, and tells his wife, “I-I’m transfixed!”). As it turns out, the gargoyle apparently triggered the latter of the two split personalities, no doubt a side effect of the Philosopher’s Stone he used when he took up the latter guise back in 1958, and while driving back to Central City later on, he turns into Dr. Alchemy, and sets the car ablaze before running back to the city to cause more mayhem. Luckily, Barry Allen, alias the Flash, has been alerted to the case already via his lovely wife Iris, who saw the whole story on TV at home, and comes to the rescue, first saving Desmond’s wife from the fire he caused when he took off, and then going to confront Desmond at a construction site in the city that he’s set on fire using sorcery. He manages to reverse Desmond’s switch to his Dr. Alchemy personality by using a verbal trick with Al Desmond’s own name, and Al comes back to normal.

Flash #230 was the first issue of the Flash I read and of DC comics when I began reading comics as early as the age of six. I think it was originally bought for me as a birthday present (as well as a 1973 issue of Fantastic Four), since it was from around the time I was born, in late 1974. And while it was a very simple story, with Flash having to fix the mind of a guy who’d once been a daffy criminal with two different guises for himself, and here almost strayed over to the bad side again, it was still very enjoyable, featuring some of the best super-speed stunts that Barry was known for in his time (and even Wally West is today), such as giving Iris a big kiss on both sides of her pretty little head before he heads out (“here’s a big kiss from Barry! – And here’s one from Flash!”). One of the most amusing things about the book was that before she fully knew that he was the Scarlet Speedster, she’d complained that he was too slow, and then, when she learned that he was, she complained that he was too fast, because then, he sometimes used to race out of the house so fast, he forgot to kiss her goodbye!

As for Albert Desmond, who’d earlier taken up a criminal career as Mr. Element when he first appeared in Showcase #13 in 1958, and then took up the role of Dr. Alchemy in Showcase #14, he was an enjoyably daffy villain who was also the first crook in the Flash’s book to reform, but whose subconscious sometimes caused him to stray over to the bad side again as a result of the effects the Philosopher’s Stone had on him when he first used it. When I first read the issue in my youth, he seemed to me then like a Jekyll & Hyde-ish character, and in a way, that was true.

And then, if there was any other super-speed stunt courtesy of the Flash that captivated me here, it was seeing Barry zipping up a column of water being sprayed by the Central City fire department onto the burning building. Man, was that awesome!

The issue also had a backup story with Hal “Green Lantern” Jordan in it, in which he found himself confronting a strange villain who appeared to be Aaron Burr, the vice president who killed Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s treasury secretary, in the early 19th century, in a duel. It was also a pretty good tale, with GL featuring one of his most nifty force-field stunts with his power ring, by creating a tube that caught a bullet in mid-air, and sent it off in another direction! Man, those power ring tricks that Hal could work were terrific!

And it’s all in one great issue that’s well worth reading if you can find it.

Copyright Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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