This issue is a beautiful valentine to the early days of The Flash and in particular to issue #115 which was my personal entry point into the Silver Age. Over lunch at Luigi’s, the pizzeria in Akron that I stole lock stock and pizza cutter to create Montoni’s in Funky, with the story’s writer, Mike Barr, he told me that indeed his stint as editor and later writer was to try and recapture the feel of those early Flash stories. This thinking was a bit of walk-back from the continuing Marvel Comics cliffhangers that had been appearing in The Flash, and a return to the type of tales that had originally won our hearts.
Issue #115, as you’ll recall (and, if you don’t, I’ll be happy to wait while you go back and read that post) was the one where Grodd, imprisoned in a cell in Gorilla City, escaped by taking a pill that killed his body, but let his mind occupy – by chance – the body of one William Dawson. His mental powers soon turned Dawson’s body into Grodd’s. The thing that I had always wondered about and, apparently Mike Barr as well, was what had happened to William Dawson’s mind? It turns out that, freed from his body, Dawson’s mind had been left to wander the universe and, only when Grodd evolved his body back to Dawson’s again to once more escape his jailers ( The Flash #294), did Dawson want to return to Earth to resume a temporal existence. So he returned and entered the body of a homeless person Howard Street, the skid row of Central City (factoid: Luigi’s restaurant in Akron is located just off of Howard Street).
He then set out to take over Grodd’s body and evolve it back the original William Dawson. Grodd plans to pull a similar switcheroo himself and take over the highly evolved mind of the just-returned-from-outer-space Dawson. The Flash manages to foil both of these plans, and, in a plan cooked up with Dawson… Dawson get his own body back, and Grodd’s mind is transferred to the mind of the homeless person. Dawson returns to a normal life, the Flash as Barry Allen returns a charged romantic interlude with Fiona… and Grodd’s mind resides in the homeless person “to remain in a fog that will never be lifted”. Or did it possibly go shooting off into space to travel the universe?