Issue #254 kicks things off with a good looking Dick Dillin/Joe Rubinstein cover depicting the apparently now annual gathering of the Flash Rogues Gallery. The story opens with the Flash saving a young girl from a window ledge, and spotting an image of the Mirror Master in a window as he does this. The Mirror Master image then leads the Flash on a chase to a Dutch windmill on the outskirts of town. For a young writer at the time, this choice by Cary Bates of a, by then, somewhat ancient archetype seems anachronistic not to mention downright peculiar. But this is indeed where the gathering of the Flash foes is being held. These two events embody the confusing arc of the story that follows:
The Flash saving the little girl is an illusion. The Flash getting an award called the Roscoe (after deceased Roscoe Dillon aka The Top) by the Rogues who then disappear when the Flash attempts to capture them is real. The Flash as Barry Allen coming home to find their live-in college student Stacy Conwell conjuring up demons in her bedroom is … well, we’re not sure (Stacy has been absent from recent issues, and when Bates suddenly remembers her he writes her absence off as having been in Europe on a student exchange program). The Flash running off to battle the Trickster is real, but his meeting Hawkman and Aquaman there and dancing with them as they turn into a real hawk and a real fish is an illusion (well, duh). And finally the appearance of the Roscoe Award in the Allen kitchen is … wait for it … both. Confused yet?
Okay, so let’s see if we can sort this out. The illusions the Flash encounters were caused by Mazdan a gent from a non specific future time who the Flash first encountered in Showcase #4 eleven years earlier. He did this by targeting the sensory areas of the Flash’s mind in an attempt to get even with the Flash for causing him to be locked up in a future hoosegow for several centuries. As Mazdan says: “The penitentiary hasn’t been built that can hold me prisoner!” Yeah, baby… nobody keeps this guy in jail for three hundred and ONE years. Props to writer Bates, however, for digging deep to return this former one-off character to the fray. I guess I’m just an old softie for internal continuity.
The real event, the windmill gathering, is truly caused by the Rogues, and the Roscoe Award in the kitchen is invisible to Stacy and Iris, but very visible to the Flash. Okay, deep breath, we’re almost to the end … the Trickster reports to the gathered Rogues at the end about the Flash dancing by himself and all and that the scarlet speedster appears to be losing some of his buttons. We also learn that the Roscoe Award is a Trojan Horse and is about to make something bad happen to the Flash. However, that and Stacy Conwell’s conjuring demons will both have to wait until next issue before we’ll truly understand what’s happening … if that’s even possible.