Flash Fridays – The Flash # 309 May 1982

Mar 10, 2023

The strip mining of the Flash’s backstory by Cary Bates continues unacarybated as this issue takes us back to the cover depicting electric moment when Barry Allen received his super speed powers. The story opens with the arrival from the future of a visitor named Kryad. He’s come back to the past to steal the Flash’s super speed. I believe that this was the first “alien” character that returned artist Carmine Infantino had to come up with, and, true to form, he made the character bald. Thus Kryad looks awfully familiar even though this is the first time we’ve seen him. I don’t think there was any conscious attempt to tie him in with a previous race of people who have previously appeared in The Flash because I don’t think they thought anyone was paying attention to things like that back then, let alone a cartoonist in his blog some forty years later.

Kryad has come back to the past to steal The Flash’s super speed to fight a menace that is threatening the human species of the future. Slight problem, in the course of stealing his speed powers, the process will also kill the Flash. However, Kryad stays on task and forges ahead anyway. When the Flash manages to overcome the device that’s stealing his super speed, Kryad is humbled by the fact that the Flash, rather than dispatching him on the spot, offers to help him find a way to overcome the menace to civilization in the future. The Flash comes up with a way to help him, and the “way” is pretty clever.

Instead of traveling to the future, they first use Kryad’s craft to travel back into the past to the point where the Flash gained his super speed. In a flashback (what else?), we see Barry in the lab at police headquarters when the bolt of lightning strikes the lab shelf dousing Barry with a cocktail of chemicals. And then writer Cary Bates takes things one ingenious step further. We continue to follow Barry as he takes his chemical soaked clothing out to the trash can behind the building. When the past Barry goes back inside, the Flash and Kryad take the clothing from the trash barrel so that Kryad can extract the speed formula from the chemically soaked attire. It boggles the mind to think how long this little gem of a plot device has been laying out there in plain sight for anyone to use. Numerous villains (Professor Zoom, Abra Cadabra, to name two) could have gone back for it. Or a garbage man could have found it and become the Trash Flash. The point is that it was there for the taking for a couple of decades before Cary Bates took it. I stand in line.

And then in a final twist, Kryad goes to the future and dispatches the menace, but at the sacrifice of his own life. It all happens in a single page so that it doesn’t run into the Dr. Fate tale that follows.

 

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