Best Moments in Comics

Flash #257 vol. 1 January 1978
Story title: “The Golden Glider’s Triple Play”
Writer: Cary Bates
Artist: Irv Novick

Synopsis:
Barry and Iris Allen, the former the Flash and the latter his wife, are driving to Fallville, Iowa, Barry’s hometown, to visit his parents, Dr. Henry and Nora Allen. Little do they know that one of Barry’s adversaries, the Golden Glider, sister of Captain Cold and girlfriend of the late villain, the Top, is tracking them there, and puts their car in danger of being struck by a falling tree in order to force a super-speed stunt from Barry so she can confirm her suspicions that he’s the Flash. Later that evening, after Barry, Iris, and parents have celebrated the latter’s 50th wedding anniversary and retired to the bedrooms, a floating diamond sails in through the window to the guest room and Barry changes into costume and races out to investigate. He meets the Glider, who stuns him with her now fully acquired knowledge that he’s the Scarlet Speedster, and more so with a technology based jewel ornament that causes his body weight to increase momentarily, causing him to sink into the ground while vibrating. When he comes up, he finds an opal that projects the vision of his parents developing a massive fever back at the house, and upon returning, discovers to his horror that it’s no illusion, and that Iris too has been struck with a severe fever, made all the more dangerous due to the fact that whatever device Golden Glider is using, it’s also projecting a force field around the house, that only Flash can pass through. After securing Iris and parents in one room together, he races out again in anguish to face the Glider, who cruelly mocks him and tries to use a necklace of enlarging pearls as a weapon, until he manages to knock her out of the air and drags her back to the house, unsuccessfully threatening to kill her by slamming her into the force field and throwing her down after she shows that she can see through his bluff. Reentering the house, he guesses that the Glider is using jewelry as a weapon to generate the radiation that threatens to kill his family, and empties the house of all such ornaments, realizing finally that she’d apparently rigged the initials on his wife’s suitcase, and causes it to vibrate so hard that it disintegrates through the roof and into thin air. With the threat of death by radiation induced fever now removed, the family later calls a toast to the Allen’s wedding anniversary, but not all is well, as Barry finds a note left by Golden Glider warning him that when she strikes again, he should prepare to go into mourning.

Comment:
When the late Lisa Snart/Golden Glider, the kid sister of Len Snart/Captain Cold, first appeared in 1977, she was the first and only female villainess to appear on a recurring basis whom Barry Allen had to face as the Flash. But she was one of the best and nastiest adversaries he had, coming very close to Professor Zoom as one of the nastiest foes in the book, and I also credit Cary Bates for coming up with a villainess who was far from being stereotypical. An ice skater at first, she became a Rogue after Roscoe Dillon/the Top died of a brain tumor, which she blamed the Flash for causing, but the difference she had from the mostly male dominated Rogues’ Gallery in Central City back then is that she was on the wrong side of the law mainly for revenge against the Flash for supposedly killing the Top. She built herself a pair of skates that could fly, and she even sometimes used a fishing rod as one of her weapons.

When she first debuted in issue 250 of volume one, her background presentation bore a Silver Age-like quality told through a Bronze Age lens (“it was a case of sibling rivalry taken to the level of an all-out war!”): she was out to take revenge on the Flash herself, even to the point of enabling her brother Captain Cold to be captured and put in jail to keep him out of the way, and to do this, she tried to strike at the one whom Barry cared about most, that being his wife, Iris, using what her brother called a “freeze-dryer” that she stole from him, but her plans were foiled by the weapon’s being programmed only to target specific molecular structures, in this case the Flash’s. She’d initially thought that Iris was cheating on her husband with the Flash, but, as was told, she hadn’t ruled out the possibility of Barry being the Scarlet Speedster himself, and upon confirming this for real in this issue, she had a weapon over him that the other Rogues’ in town didn’t.

That’s one of the things that made her such a menace to Barry and family then, and it was also in this issue where she really proved herself to be quite a deadly foe indeed, and one of the best of Flash’s adversaries at the time. After reading her debut appearance in 1977, I might’ve thought that she wouldn’t be more than a one-shot character. Bates proved me wrong. Not only did she strike again, with a plot that was “a thousand times worse!” as told at the end of the issue released prior to this one, she brought out the ammo that gave her the edge over Barry too. And while she’d initially used a few of the Top’s own devices (and also one of her brother’s) as her weapons for making the Flash’s life into “a living hell”, as she herself put it when she first debuted, here she came up with her own personal trade, that being diamonds and other jewelry, with technological installations inside them that made them into menacing weapons indeed.

Years later, in 1996, she was killed off. While she was an effective villainess when Barry was alive, she’d become mostly redundant when he was dead, and the writers no longer knew what else to do with her. But she’ll always be well remembered by me as an excellent villainess who knew how to hold a sword over Barry’s head, due to her knowledge of his secret identity.

Check out this issue for Barry Allen’s only, but very effective, female adversary.

Copyright Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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