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The ’80s Revisited: The Flash #324

flash_vol1_0324The Slayer and the Slain!

Writer: Cary Bates
Pencils: Carmine Infantino
Inker: Dennis Jensen
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Letterer: Phil Felix
Editor: Ernie Colon
Cover: Carmine Infantino, Rodin Rodriguez
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 1983
Cover Price: 60 cents

I have the Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash volume, bought a couple years ago. That book has Flash 323-350…basically, the final couple years’ worth of issues of the Silver Age Flash series that took us up to Crisis on Infinite Earths prior to Wally’s series kicking off.

I have "experienced" 28 years of reading new comics myself, all being years after this issue. And in broad strokes I’ve long since "filled in the gaps" or otherwise have "a passing knowledge" of stuff from this "era."

But finding this issue in a 25-cent bin, I was all for it. Sure, I have the issue in that Showcase volume–but that’s black-and-white and a thick volume that’s not the greatest for a randomish, casual read. This issue is in color with all the ads and whatnot in being the actual, original, (vintage) edition.

The cover is what grabbed my attention–The Flash holding Reverse-Flash and exclaiming "Get up, Get up! You can’t be dead!" and a caption proclaiming "But he is–and Flash killed him!" This is both accurate and yet comes off very much as a number of classic covers do–a "technicality" of truth but quite misleading. Of course, I know this isn’t "just" that, but is indicative of an issue with a lasting point that influenced so much at the trailing end of the series.

Then I figured I’d missed the actual occurrence, and "assumed" that this would pick up immediately after the PREVIOUS issue ending on an "Is he or isn’t he dead?" cliffhanger.

What I got from this was a solid read from a key point in pre-Crisis Barry Allen’s life with one of his most dangerous foes, and an issue meeting expectation while drawing me into the then-contemporary story and leaving me curious about a number of things, not limited to: Iris died 40+ issues earlier? I did think that was here. Who is this Fiona, and how important was she as I’ve never consciously been aware of her? And how does an obvious rock-and-hard-place situation stopping a known killer with intent lead to a lengthy story of the Flash on trial?

While I’d half expected to open the issue TO Barry and a dead Thawne, I actually found that the two were still engaged in fisticuffs. Said fisticuffs have made Barry very late for his own wedding, where family and closest friends try to salvage the situation, assuring folks he’ll be there and has NOT left Fiona at the altar. Kid Flash performs a "super feat" rescuing a baby and showing THAT he has the power and speed to do much of what Barry does…and even he is late for the wedding. Or would be, if it was proceeding as it should have. As the wedding situation deteriorates, Wally heads out to try to find Barry, and is intercepted by a Guardian of the Universe (not to be confused with a Guardian of the Galaxy…similar names, different publishers) who does something to dampen his powers, ensuring that no one will interfere with Barry’s fight…at said hero’s request, apparently.

We then switch more fully to the Barry/Eobard fight and see a fraction of what goes on with two mortal combatants at super-speed. Ultimately, seeking to press whatever advantage he maintains, the villain takes the lead, heading to kill the woman who would be Barry’s second wife–forcing Barry to move even faster and decisively to save Fiona’s life. Standing before her as the Flash, he does not tell her that it’s him–Barry–and as she storms away, we learn that Thawne is not just "stopped" but dead.

As said earlier, this cover looks like something right out of the ’70s and classic exaggerated/far-fetched situations. The art inside the issue is solid and seems very much of its time–early 1980s–with all relevant characters being distinct and recognizable, and generally no wonkiness or weirdness throwing me out of the story. Possibly the biggest visual grab for me was that somehow I keep forgetting that Barry was blond, and I’m still used to Wally and thus a Flash without red hair throws me off.

Story-wise, this issue includes a footnote indicating that there were several issues’ worth of development leading to this one–and that by itself serves to pique my interest in finding those issues. It also reminds me that this is from those days long ago BEFORE everything had to be clearly deliniated within a rigid 4-issue or 6-issue "story arc" format…when issues could be issues, telling an ongoing story without necessarily being formulaic X Chapter of Y Story.

I like the structure of this issue, giving us some heroics, super feats, as well as developing the wedding side of things and Fiona’s thinking she realizes what’s happened, then seeing Barry and Thawne and their battle, leading to Barry’s being forced (goaded into?) to kill Thawne to save Fiona.

All in all, I definitely enjoyed this issue. It was an easier read than I expected, half thinking it was gonna drag on and feel overly wordy, as well as thinking I’d be reading simply a random chapter of something–not even a key moment–of a much larger story. Though in a way this IS just another ’80s issue, it being an issue included in that Showcase volume, I feel like it’s an ‘early chapter’ more than an ‘isolated issue’ but found this engaging and interesting, while leaving me interested both in backtracking and getting the later issues (as preferable to "just" a black and white reprint).

For only 25 cents, it was well worth the purchase, a solid read, and I would certainly recommend the issue if you find it in such a bargain bin and don’t mind NOT having the entire 25+ issue "run" necessarily at hand.

Convergence: Booster Gold #1 [Review]

convergence_boostergold001Ride the Wave

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Alvaro Martinez
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Letterer: Corey Breen
Colorist: Chris Sotomaor
Cover: Dan Jurgens, Danny Miki, Hi-Fi
Assistant Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Marie Javins
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: June 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

I was all set to just pass entirely on Convergence this past week. But after how thrilled I was to get my Blue Beetle Showcase volume recently, and seeing the familiar "classic" Booster Gold AND Blue Beetle logos on issues this week…I wound up buying ’em. And I was especially sold on this issue seeing Jurgens‘ name there.

Though set amidst Convergence itself, this issue basically sees the pre-Flashpoint Booster and co. meet up with the New 52 Booster as they try to piece together what’s going on. We learn a few things about the timeline (such as the fact that Booster is Rip’s father in one timeline does not guarantee it’d be so in another) as well as that while pre-Flashpoint Booster has thought he was bouncing through time, he was actually being bounced through the various domed cities. Though the group manages to get to the surface they find themselves caught up fighting Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes before the older Booster is pulled away, to be greeted by a familiar city…and ally.

Despite the fight with the Legion keeping this "grounded" in the realm of "just another Convergence tie-in," overall this issue felt a lot more like its own independent thing. Still very much a part of Convergence, but with the time-travel stuff and the recent (post-52 Weekly Series) status quo for Booster this stands apart. The Futures End month Booster Gold issue last year also stood alone a bit and seemed to indicate there was something more going on with multiple timelines’ Boosters…and this picks up where that left off, thematically.

It’s a bit of a tease, and likely not in a good way, being able to follow "my" Booster Gold this way. But it definitely gives the appearance of a long game and Big Stuff to throw Booster into the mix with his own issues like these despite having no solo ongoing book since Flashpoint.

The story’s good, and plays quite well with established continuities–at least for me–and far more than any of the other Convergence issues or tie-ins, I actually"feel" like I’m getting a momentary continuation or revisitation with "my" Booster rather than a glimpse of characters purported to be the ones I knew that somehow seem more like they’re "based on" than actually being those characters.

I’m not overly familiar with the art team, but the art on this issue is quite solid and looks really good overall. Some of the colors seem a bit dark and heavy, but overall this looks like what my memory says could be an issue of the last Booster Gold ongoing, and with Jurgens continuing to write the character…it feels a lot more "true" to me.

Whatever Convergence as a whole holds, I would be quite comfortable with considering the New 52 Futures End: Booster Gold issue and this mini to be a direct continuation of the 2007 Booster Gold series…and that alone makes this well worthwhile.

If you want something that isn’t just another fight book or loosely based on characters from a scant handful of previous continuities, this is one issue that seems like it’ll actually "matter." Even if I pick up no further Convergence tie-ins, I’ll definitely be back for the next issue of this.

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