After having new editor Ross Andru in the saddle for a bit, it appears that it’s his intention to darken the mood in the Flashverse more than a little. Julie Schwartz’s editorial reign always maintained a certain lightness in the storytelling, but now, and in obvious response to the changing comics industry, it appears that things in The Flash are going to continue to step up in intensity level or two.
It starts with the splash page where we see the Flash in the laboratory of Dr. Nephron where we find the inmate Clive Yorkin sitting in the Nephron machine that was designed to cure inmates of their criminal tendencies. Yorkin looks like he’s being tortured as he simultaneously presses the pain button and the rapture buttons. The Flash tries to save him but finds that he’s facing a maniacal beast of increased strength. As the Flash battles him, he discovers that Yorkin is also able to tune into his superspeed vibrations and mimic them thus allowing him to throw a vibrating Flash several floors into the basement. When the Flash makes it back to the lab he finds that Yorkin (who apparently has a finely tuned sense of the ironic) has placed Dr Nephron on his own machine and turned him into a human vegetable. The Flash then tries to follow Yorkin’s trail, but loses him in the sewer system. The Flash observes that the sewer system is a virtual maze of hundreds of underground tunnels, and decides not to go after him. Of course, as the Flash, he could check ’em all out in less than a minute, so I think he just didn’t want to go down into the sewer system.
The story then abruptly jumps to the heroin in Barry’s lab thread, and we learn that the mysterious man who has been following Barry around was a narcotics enforcement agency named Frank Curtis. He and Barry go to raid the heroine smugglers warehouse and run into a trap. A gunfight, with cars trying to run over people for good measure, breaks out and Barry is able to save them as the Flash without giving up his secret identity.
Another abrupt change and we’re with the young girl who can take over the Flash’s mind, and who proceeds to do just that as he’s running home to Iris and thinking about how much she means to him.
Another abrupt change and we’re with Iris and her new make-Barry-love-me-again hairdo. She’s looking at herself in a mirror and thinking to herself that Barry is losing interest in her. And then a manical looking Yorkin shows up just outside her window. The expression on his face shows that he’s not losing interest in Iris at all!
A final thought for this post… it seems to me that the writer Cary Bates was much more comfortable when he was aping the original writers on this book. He got that. He’s much less comfortable at writing (and pacing for God’s sake) these darker more convoluted stories that he’s trying to tell. You can see his sweat all over the pages as he tries to pull the Flash into the new Bronze Age comic book paradigm. It will be interesting to follow him as he works all of this out.