Flash Fridays – The Flash #188 May 1969

Feb 16, 2018

This issue features a brief return of scribe John Broome to the pages of The Flash. By this time, Broome had decamped to France and was living as an expat in Paris with his wife Peggy and daughter Ricky. His forays into writing The Flash would soon be coming to an end, but not for a bit. The story he wrote had to somehow explain why everything in the world had turned green, which it managed to do after a rather odd opening interlude.

On the opening splash page, Barry and Iris are about to head out on the town to a Colorama show that Iris has to review when Barry’s police scanner announces that the Mirror Master has escaped. In a clever switch, as Barry releases his uniform from his ring, the usual expository dialog box is replaced by Iris describing the scene in her thought balloons. A nice little first time turn there to which I stand and salute. This time however the ring explodes and suddenly everything in the world looks green to Barry and Iris. Barry takes off after the Mirror Master (the ability of superheroes to shrug off things that would drive most of us insane never ceases… ) and finds him at the Mt. Vista Astronomical Observatory (interesting to discover that there’s a pretty good sized mountain near Central City). What follows is a bizarre episode where the Flash is sent to battle MM’s avatar on a planet at the “rim of the galaxy”. After defeating the avatar, the Flash “swims” back to Earth on the same beam of radiation that sent him away. He then defeats the real MM and returns him to jail after which we go back to the story of the color change. It’s as if the Mirror Master was simply a nonessential  part of the story. While it’s nice to see Broome back on board with one of the old villains, the Mirror Master is barely a B plot here.

The A plot concerns concerns a Dr. Maybrook who puts on a sensational display of colors by play a color organ. After the show, everything is turned green and a stage hand and some associates rob the homes of the wealthy people at the show. I say wealthy because someone had a Vermeer stolen. The Flash captures the crooks and as the story wraps, it’s explained that radiation from the color organ caused the temporary effect and even caused Barry’s ring to explode.

It’s interesting to note that writer Broome seemed to be much more comfortable with the shorter story format in which he wrote for so long. This issue’s story really seemed to be two shorter stories pasted together… the Mirror Master battle on the world at the rim of the galaxy, and the Dr. Maybrook color organ story. I’m sure that after so many years of just nailing the beats in those short pieces, doing it for an entire book probably took a little getting used to, even for as good a writer as John Broome.



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