Not every superhero is fortunate enough to make it to it’s 200th issue. They fall short for one reason or another not the least of which can be attributed to shake-ups in the artist and writing teams. Even though the Flash had been plagued with those issues of late, Flash editor Julie Schwartz pulled out all the stops to try to make this a truly special and memorable issue for all the loyal Flashinados, starting with a return of the artistic team nonpareil of Infantino and Anderson for this special cover. How do I know that it’s special? Because it says so right on the cover in bold red letters – and, truth be told, it is. It’s a wonderful example of this storied penciler inker combo. When Infantino’s sketchy looseness was paired with Anderson’s somewhat stiffer style, the result was magic. The Flash shown here is perhaps just a tad bulkier than his earlier incarnation, but that’s truly a quibble. This cover rocks. If Julie was hoping for a classic 200th issue cover, he certainly got one.
Julie even brought Anderson back to ink the full length story inside over Irv Novick’s pencilling debut, but with decidedly mixed results. For whatever reason, the magic is missing in the pencils and even the stalwart Anderson can’t save it. The closest it comes to recapturing the “old” days is on the last page with Iris and Barry relaxing at home. Those four panels have a wonderful whiff of the familiar. The Robert Kanigher story, not so much. The tale is confusing and derivative. Kanigher keeps mentioning in narrative asides that there are obvious “clues” to be found rather than letting reader figure them out for him or herself. He has to do this because they’re not that obvious, folks. He also annoyingly sprinkles the number 200 throughout the story in dialog, narrative and art, and then asks the readers how many they were able to spot, much as he did with his “clues”. For a story with so many “clues”, it’s pretty clueless. In a nutshell: evil world leaders engage an evil female scientist, Dr. Lu, to brainwash the Flash into killing the President, she does so by convincing the Flash that she is Iris, and then blows it right at the end as she sends the Flash off on his “errand” by kissing him while wearing a lipstick that tastes of spice instead of Iris’s honey-tasting brand. Along the way, Kanigher throws in a gratuitous single page showing the Flash battling his entire Rogues Gallery, although it’s only Dr. Lu sending the Flash through some practice paces with a bunch of costumed dummies. Maybe the Flash battling his coterie of crooks for a full issue should have been a more fitting way to celebrate this bicentenary issue.
In the end, rather than a true celebration of past glories, the issue is more of a valiant last gasp at attempting to resurrect the old Flash mojo one more time before the book forever slips into a decidedly different future.