Flash Fridays – The Flash #272 April 1979

Apr 9, 2021

So, picking up where I left off, something like the change in editorship of a comic magazine usually means that the current writer and artist will be broomed in favor of the new editor’s hand picked team. Julie Schwartz’s replacement Ross Andru shows some restraint here by only replacing the art team. Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin are out and Rich Buckler is in. Sort of. In the previous issue, Buckler was inked by the veteran Jack Able. Here, the art is attributed to John Calnan and Buckler with inking by Vince Coletta. Calnan is a name or pseudonym that I’m encountering here for the first time. My suspicion is that Buckler wasn’t keeping up with deadlines and pulled in some help to get this issue finished. It’s not a good combination and the art suffers for it. Coletta’s inking helps to pull things together to a degree, but, in truth, it’s not his best work either. I’ve never been a big Coletta fan, but I recently saw a newspaper strip sample that he worked on with Stan Lee and it was astonishingly beautiful work that would have held it’s own with any other strip in the newspapers. Apparently, when he wanted to Coletta could really knock it out of the park, but, here, he settles for a bunt.

What keeps the continuity of the book intact is that Cary Bates stays on as the writer, so at least we’re not dealing with a wholesale overhaul of the character. That being said, there’s a problem with the story. There isn’t one. Now I’ve never been a big adherent of proscribed storytelling techniques such as those presented in Robert McKee’s legendary tome on how to write stories, oddly enough called Story. But there needs to be something that resembles a beginning, middle, and end, and we have none of that here. What we have here are a string of unrelated incidents which are: the Flash saving himself and the others trapped on the high wire with him and capturing the Clown who was trying to get revenge for his family of aerialists who died in the power outage at the circus… the Flash being observed by the mysterious woman as he does this… Barry visiting the  controversial NEPHRON at the penitentiary and becoming concerned about what they’re doing there… Barry discovering the heroin that had been stashed in his lab (frankly, I’d totally forgotten that one)… the man with the goatee spying on Barry again… Iris preparing a romantic dinner for Barry that he has to rush off from to check on a break-in at his lab… and as he runs to the lab, something takes over his mind forcing him to run into a brick wall… and finally the Flash lying unconscious at the feet of the mysterious woman. Seven dangling plot threads. Lot’s of stuff happening there, but a story isn’t one of them. Cary Bates has shown he can tell a good story, but, here, he’s like the vaudeville guy who used to keep all of the plates spinning on those long sticks. At some point, he needs to stop spinning plates, and, instead spin a good yarn. Nice looking Garcia Lopez cover though.

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