If this wrap-around Infantino cover for the 300th issue of The Flash doesn’t bring instant tears of happy nostalgia to a Silver Age comics fan, then probably nothing will. It was really something for a comic book to reach its 300th issue back then, and even more so these days when the typical superhero mag reboots to #1 after every six issues (pause for a sigh). This issue with its August date probably came out in early summer and would have been the occasion for retiring to the front porch to take in the warmth and the smell of cut grass along with a glass of chocolate milk and some chocolate chip cookies and take leave of the 616 to spend some time in a nearby universe… Earth One.
As the story opens, Barry Allen lies on a bed in a hospital, wrapped in bandages as his doctor tries to convince him that he’s lying there because of the severe burns he received as a result of a freak lightning strike in the lab at police headquarters. Barry, however, clings tenaciously to the thought that he became the Flash as a result of those events. Friends, family, and fellow superheroes in their civilian guise all show up to try to gaslight Barry into thinking that his memories of being a superhero are false memories. In his doctor’s words: “I submit that your subconscious blotted out your perception of reality long ago… as a defense mechanism for coping with the unbearable immobility and stagnation of total paralysis from head to toe!”. As he says this, the
good bad doctor tears up the first issue of the Golden Age Flash while Barry screams in agony, obviously because he knows that issue will be worth a cool million or more down the road. Barry refuses to accept the doctor’s reality and fights to recall memories of his life as the Flash.
All of this tees things up nicely for a long extended journey through the Flash’s long and colorful history. Writer Cary Bates doesn’t miss anything as he touches on every significant hi and lowlight from the Flash’s past. It’s a great double-sized issue valentine to the character, and a nostalgic ride for the reader. In the end, the hospital, the doctor and the visitors were all constructs of the 64th century magician Abra Kadabra who in his own unique was trying to get rid of the Flash by driving him crazy. All in all, it’s a very satisfying tribute to one of the seminal superheroes of the Sliver Age.