This issue is a bit of an anomaly since it appears to be a really nice annual put out by DC in the summer of 1977 which contains a deft little Flash one-off tale along with the other superhero stories. Rather than ignore that story, I thought I’d include it here as part of our unforced and enjoyable march through the Silver Age Flash.
Along with writer Cary Bates, Julie Schwartz is given a special thanks, so I think it’s safe to assume that this piece was the brainchild of the Flash editor. The story is titled “How to Prevent a Flash”, and it cleverly recaps the origin of the Flash by first scaring the pants off of you, and then turning in a nice little twist at the end. It opens with a double page splash showing the moment the Flash first gained his powers when the lightning struck the shelf of chemicals in his lab at the police station. Except that it turns out that it’s not Barry we’re seeing but a blond lab assistant named Patty. We’re led to believe that Patty has now received super speed from the chemical bath. Okay, this is the scary part … first, it stretched credulity pretty thin when Kid Flash got his powers the same way as his mentor. So to think that Julie et al would be trying to spill the same wine for a third time is enough to make you feel icy fingers begin to close around your heart. When you now have a character called Ms. Flash now running around in the familiar red costume, you’re starting to have you question the sanity of those who are entrusted with the care and feeding of this character that you hold near and dear. Which, as it turns out is exactly what they wanted you to think. After we see Ms. Flash wreaking all kinds of havoc because she can’t control her powers, we’re suddenly back at the scene of the lightning crashing through the lab window and being told that what we saw was what was running through Barry’s mind just before he whisked his lab assistant Patty to safety. So no new Flash, and instead of stretching credulity to the snapping point, the story simply turns out to be a shrewd recapping of the Flash origin for all of the newcomers picking up the book for the first time.
There is one thing, however, that still bothers me. Even thought it didn’t result in the creation of a third Flash, it’s still the third time that lightning has come crashing through that particular lab window. It seems to me that the next thing we should see Barry doing is MOVING THE SHELVES OF CHEMICALS AWAY FROM THE WINDOW!!