Speed Force
Annotations: The Trial of the Flash, #332 – “Defend The Flash…and Die?”

Welcome to the latest installment in our annotations of the collected edition of The Trial of the Flash!  We analyzed related stories leading up to the summer 2011 release of Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash.  In addition, we interviewed author Cary Bates about the buildup and the Trial itself, plus showed you what wasn’t included in the collection.  Are you ready, Batman?

IN THIS ISSUE:  Carmine Infantino vs. Dave Gibbons - you decide!  Plus, Legal…Vultures?

Links to original artwork, scans and research are included throughout this post.  For legal analysis of the story by Bob Ingersoll, go here.  Tom vs. Flash took on this issue here.  See you after the jump!

COVER by Carmine Infantino and Dick Giordano.  Here is this month’s corresponding Green Lantern #175 cover, by Dave Gibbons.  Flash and Green Lantern co-starred in each-others books this month.

PG 1: Flash was in Florida at the end of last issue, following a visit to Gorilla City and a super-speed rescue at sea, hence the palm trees.

PG 2 & 3:  Here’s another video of an explosion where you can see the shockwave, for super-speed reference.

Here is the original art for page four from Comic Art Fans.  It appears the same collector has page two at his personal page as part of a substantial Infantino collection.

PG 6 & 7:  Rainbow Raider suits up.  The Raider was last seen in the pages of Flash in issue #299, the second part of a villain two-fer with The Shade.  After that story, in the pages of Brave and the Bold #194 (by Mike W. Barr with art by Infantino), Raider and Dr. X/Dr. Double-X “switched heroes” to face off against Batman and Flash, respectively.  That is likely why the editor’s note at the bottom of page 7 is incomplete/incorrect.  The Brave and the Bold issue is a nice bonus to Infantino’s second Flash run, along with DC Comics Presents # 73 and Tales of the Teen Titans #49.

The two-parter featuring The Shade in Flash #298 - 299 features great art by Infantino and Bob Smith, and some cool black-and-white gimmickry.

PG 9 & 10 : Flash is pretty short with the nurse in the first panel.  Bates peppers Flash’s dialog with signs of stress as the story progresses.  This page also has shady lawyer N.D. Redik circling in an aircraft, watching the news on the health of Flash’s injured lawyer and swooping in on the apparent vacancy on Flash’s defense.  Redik pulls strings with a national newspaper columnist to gain a public “endorsement”.

PG 11 & 12:  Captain Frye dropped the missing persons flyers last issue.  Flash is curt with the telegram delivery man.  “C. Horton” is Flash’s lawyer’s law partner and the owner of the house Flash has been using as a “temporary headquarters”.

PG 15:  Visit this site to read about Melvin Belli, known as the “Father of Demonstrative Evidence”.  Here is a video of F. Lee Bailey.  Besides being famous defense lawyers, Belli and Bailey were also controversial public figures and were seemingly chosen to provide Redik with an level of instant characterization by association.

PG 18 - 20 :  The Brave and the Bold issue mentioned above is correctly noted here.

Pages 18 - 21 of this issue feature the same script as pages 8 - 11 in Green Lantern #175.  Green Lantern Hal Jordan had just returned from a lengthy period in outer space.  This fact is also why Tomar-Re was sent by the Guardians in Jordan’s stead to alert Flash of Professor Zoom’s return back in issue #319.

Each issue credits only its own writer, Bates and GL's Len Wein (former Flash editor) with the full script.  Dave Gibbons and Carmine Infantino each give their own interpretation and they are fun to compare (below, numbered as Flash/Green Lantern, from original issues):

Page 18/8: Infantino / Gibbons

Page 19/9: Infantino / Gibbons

Page 20/10: Infantino (original, from Comic Art Fans) / Gibbons

Page 21/11: Infantino / Gibbons (original, from Comic Art Fans)

Which version do you like most?  Let us know in the comments, and we’ll announce the winner of this matchup of masters in the next installment.

Both artists approach it from unique perspectives and disparate styles, focused on their respective stars.  The Green Lantern issue will be reprinted for the first time in the upcoming Green Lantern: Sector 2814 collection of Gibbons’ work on that title.

PG 22 & 23:  The matter-of-fact second panel shows some of the deterioration of the Barry Allen identity.  Big reveal: C. Horton is a lady lawyer!  1984!

See you next time!

Annotations: Super-Team Family #15, Part Three - “A Hell of Giants!”

Welcome to the latest installment in our series of annotations of classic DC Comics stories starring the Flash!

We’re taking a break from The Trial of the Flash to look at Super-Team Family #15 (December 1977), written by Gerry Conway and featuring a team-up between Flash and The New Gods!  This book contains major unheralded moments in the history of both franchises, as well as foundations for future stories that would go untold.  Links to artwork and research are included throughout this post.  For previous annotations, including Part One and Two of this issue, click here!  Now, on to Chapter Three: “A Hell of Giants!”

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Friday Flashback

The *ahem* top post at Speed Force this week, by the amount of discussion, was Lia’s post on “Why I Like the Top.” But the most-read article was Devin’s write-up on the exclusive Flash figure that will ship with Best Buy’s edition of Justice League: Doom later this month. Also this week: The first part of Greg’s annotations on a hidden Flash/New Gods crossover from the 1970s, in Super-Team Family #15, and the latest sales ranking for The Flash #5 in January.  Meanwhile, the Wayback Wednesday feature looked back at a classic original Young Justice moment with Impulse, Superboy and the Ray: remember when your comic was canceled?

Annotations: Super-Team Family #15, “The Gulliver Effect!” - Part One

Welcome to the latest installment in our series of annotations of classic DC Comics stories starring the Flash!

We’re taking a break from The Trial of the Flash to look at Super-Team Family #15 (December 1977), written by Gerry Conway and featuring a team-up between Flash and The New Gods!  This book contains major unheralded moments in the history of both Flash and The New Gods, as well as foundations for future stories that would go untold.  Links to artwork and research are included throughout this post.  For previous annotations, click here!

COVER:  José Luis García-López is featured.  He was involved with four Flash covers in the Bronze Age, inking two and earning full credit for two others.  Orion is planet-sized, for perspective.

Before we get started, a little background on why we chose to spotlight this story.  First off, there were a couple other original stories in the short-lived Super-Team Family title featuring Flash:

Those were fun stories, however issue #15 is quite notable.  It features two of DC’s signature properties in a first-time team-up and at least two major moments in New Gods lore that seem to have faded into obscurity.  When Final Crisis began and Barry Allen’s return was announced, I was certain this story would be critical to explaining his resurrection.  I am a Fourth World novice so I’ve enlisted the help of a learned fan for this post, but if you have any corrections or insights please feel free send them along or post in the comments.  Off we go!

PG 1: The story begins In medias res, with Flash and Lightray in outer space.  Flash’s comment “If only the Justice League were on Earth…” does not appear to be a reference to a specific storyline.  It is interesting that there was no issue of Justice League of America published in December 1977, which was a great month when you look at what was hitting stands.  Maybe everyone was at Superman vs. Muhammad Ali?

PG 2 & 3:  Orion is suspended between the Earth and the Moon, “like some awesome, ill-shaped planetoid.”  He continues to grow, already half the size of the Earth.  Conway is joined by Arvell Jones and Romeo Tanghal on pencils and inks, respectively.  Jones is perhaps best known for his 18 issues of All-Star Squadron from 1984 to 1987.  Tanghal is credited in over 500 DC issues and was the main inker for George Pérez on The New Teen Titans.

The term “Gulliver Effect” has been used in fields as disparate as economics and psychology.  Interestingly, Fourth World architect Jack Kirby had used the same title in Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth! #31.  The term itself is a reference to Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.

PG 4:  Metron joins the party. Lightray explains that Orion is being kept alive by his Mother Box.  Metron suggests Flash should explore the device, noting that a Mother Box is also allowing Flash to communicate and move in the vacuum of space.

PG 5:  Flash vibrates inside of the Mother Box in a sequence that provides the first look at the inner workings of the fabled device.  Fourth World fan Ellen Igor was kind enough to provide some commentary and insight, and confirmed that to her knowledge no diagrams nor other such depictions had appeared prior to 1977.  This scene is similar to one in Flash # 290, where Barry Allen vibrates into the Central City Police Lab computer to “find” a piece of information.  Jezebelle was not a Jack Kirby creation and is a pretty obscure New God.

PG 6 & 7:  Mother Box almost immediately expels Flash.  Metron then produces a Boom Tube, destination…”Orion’s mind!”  He emerges, recalling only two images: “Darkseid on Apokolips…and the Promethean Galaxy!”

PG 8 & 9:  Lightray flashes-back forty-eight hours.  An editor’s note points readers to The Return of the New Gods, which is the 1977 continuation of the original Kirby New Gods series.  The first series ended in 1972, but the numbering was maintained when it resumed.  Here is a great recap of those years, though it refers to this particular issue as “unessential.”  Orion’s “dual heritage”: Darkseid is his father, yet he was raised by Highfather on New Genesis (in exchange for Scott Free, a.k.a. Mr. Miracle).  Orion’s Mother Box also conceals the physical attributes he inherited from Darkseid.  A water demon, referred to here as “elementals…evil personified…the most potent agents of the dissembler Darkseid!”, attacks Orion.  Check out this page at KirbyMuseum.org for a complete rundown (including scans) on Orion’s Astro-Force, which is on display here.

PG 10 & 11:  The New Gods were spending a lot of time on Earth those days.  Here’s why, per The Masked Bookwyrm:

The arc of the [Return of the New Gods] series is that evil Darkseid has deduced that the anti-Life formula (for which he has long sought) resides in the sub-conscious of six humans — so it falls to hero Orion and various other New Gods to protect them. The various familiar New Gods split up, each to bodyguard a different charge.

Orion crashes in the desert, unconscious, and begins to grow uncontrollably.

PG 12:  Metron arrives in Barry Allen’s lab, requesting his aid on behalf of Highfather.  Flashing back to the present, the two New Gods and Flash plan a trip to the Promethean Galaxy.  Metron is concerned.

NEXT: DARKSEID!

Annotations: The Trial of the Flash, #330 - “Beware the Land of Grodd!”

Welcome to the latest installment in our annotations of the collected edition of The Trial of the Flash!  We’ve analyzed related stories leading up to the summer 2011 release of Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash.  In addition, we’ve interviewed author Cary Bates about the buildup and the Trial itself, plus shown you what wasn’t included in the collection.

Links to artwork and research are included throughout this post.  For legal analysis of the story, something I will not attempt, go here.  For this issue’s corresponding Tom vs. The Flash podcast, go here!

COVER:  The classic duo of Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson, on what would be Anderson’s last Flash cover.  Here is a good interview with Anderson from ten years back.

PG 1:  Bates was editing Flash at this time, despite going uncredited here.  Joey Cavalieri is credited with the script for this issue and the next.  He was also the scripter on Gorilla Grodd’s last chronological appearance in Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #20, remembered here by Kelson:

…from what I recall, Grodd made his way to Earth-C (home of all the funny animal characters and now the Zoo Crew) and used his force of mind to take over a city.  Changeling followed him through & teamed up with the Zoo Crew to take him down.  Changeling inflated his importance when he introduced himself to the Zoo Crew, claiming that he wasn’t just a member of the Teen Titans, but their leader.

Sadly, it  was the final issue of the series.  I’d started reading it the month before.

PG 6 & 7:  Detective Frank Curtis, discussing the whereabouts of Angelo Torres’ with the boy’s mother.  Angelo had fallen in with a gang that has since been taken over by Grodd.  Flash chose his college roommate Peter Farley for his defense attorney.

PG 8 & 9:  I think it is worth noting how well Flash’s stilted recollection is captured here, by a scripter who would only spend two issues filling in.  Flash’s inner monologue in issues #283, 284 and 328 reveal a little more about the moments surrounding the death of Professor Zoom.

PG 13:  Panel 2 here was used in the prose piece in the Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told, Bates’ “The Final Flash Storyline”.


PG 16:
  That pilot is a member of the Vultures, the aforementioned gang that Grodd “adopted”.

PG 18 - 21:  Grodd gives the Vultures the powers of their choosing.

PG 22 & 23:  Flash’s waning speed is caused by Grodd’s use of Angelo as a conduit for his force of mind powers.  The last ten pages of this issue are a total deviation from the relatively reality-based bent of the fallout from Zoom’s death.  Infantino gets an opportunity to stretch on some of the action sequences, but some of it feels a little rushed.  Given Cavalieri’s involvement on script for only two issues, and the need for a reprint back in #328, this would appear to be around the time that plans changed for the Flash title.  In our interview with him, Bates had the following to say about the advent of Crisis on Infinite Earths:

Because DC had given me over a year’s advance notice of the Crisis and Flash’s inevitable demise, I was focusing all my energies on the Trial storyline, since it would now carry through until the very end of the book’s run. 


See you next time!

Annotations: The Trial of the Flash, #s 328 & 329 - “What is the Sinister Secret of…Simian & Son”

Welcome to the latest installment in our annotations of the collected edition of The Trial of the Flash!  We’ve broken-down related stories leading up to the recent release of Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash.  In addition, we interviewed author Cary Bates about the buildup and the Trial itself, plus showed you what wasn’t included in the collection.  For annotations to previous issues, click here.

Links to artwork and research are included throughout this post.  For legal analysis of the story, something I will not attempt, go here.  For this issue’s corresponding Tom vs. The Flash podcast, go here!

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Annotations: The Trial of the Flash, #327 - “Burnout!”

Welcome to the latest installment in our annotations of the collected edition of The Trial of the Flash! We’ve been breaking down related stories leading up to last month’s release of Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash.  In addition, we’ve interviewed author Cary Bates about the buildup and the Trial itself, plus shown you what wasn’t included in the collection.  For previous issues, click here.

Links to artwork and research are included throughout this post.  For legal analysis of the story, something I will not attempt, go here.  For this issue’s corresponding Tom vs. The Flash podcast, go here!

COVER:  Carmine Infantino and Mike DeCarlo are all thumbs.  DeCarlo inked a total of four Flash covers in the early 1980s.  Thumbs from left to right, top to bottom: Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Elongated Man, Aquaman, Firestorm and Hawkman.  The cover is consistent with their actions in the issue.

PG 2 & 3: This is, unfortunately, the last Dennis Jensen-inked issue in this collection.  Bates will wear the writer/editor hat for the rest of this volume.  For those reading along in the Showcase Presents volume, the gentleman on the stretcher has blonde hair.

PG 4:  Even though she’s hallucinating, Fiona is obviously correct on her third identification of Barry Allen.  A brutally complex sequence.

PG 5 & 6:  Iris, of course, died in issue #275.  Barry tore apart his apartment last issue.  Darryl Frye is alive and kicking in the new Flash series.

PG 9:  Flash literally “intercept(s) a woman on the rebound,” as he did with Fiona after Creed Phillips' death.

PG 10:  This Vulture is wearing a “left-facing” sauwastika.  Flash discovers he’s been indicted via reporters’ questions.

PG 13 & 14:  Grodd’s last Flash appearance was issue #313, “3-Way Fight for the Super-Simian”.  In that story, Grodd was trapped in the vagrant’s body by William Dawson (“Psykon”), the man whose own body was annexed by Grodd back in Flash #115.  Here, Grodd’s last appearance is listed as Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew #20, which came out the same month as the issue we’re reading.

PG 18:  Infantino was known for his hands, and there are interesting parallels here, especially in the sixth and ninth panels.

PG 20:  Wonder Woman would be right, if the version of the JLA Charter she is referring to is reflected in the Annotated JLA Charter.  It is the last clause listed.  The Annotated Charter is, according to the site:

"…based on the "History and Bylaws" section of the JLA SOURCEBOOK (2000) which is part of the DC Universe Role-playing Game from Westend Games, additional material is based on the “How it Works” section of the JUSTICE LEAGUE SOURCEBOOK (1990) which was part of the earlier DC Heroes Role-playing Game from Mayfair Games. Both articles were based on an essay by the late Mark Gruenwald which appeared in THE AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS #14 (March 1977).”

PG 21:  I just finished reading Death of a Prince, and I’m pretty sure Aquaman took at least a few sea-lives.  Green Arrow is referring to the classic “The Killing of an Archer" story from Flash #217, which was featured again in this years DC Retroactive: Green Lantern - the ’70s.  Wonder Woman may have been inspired by Flash’s actions…

PG 22 & 23: Superman was pretty busy around the time this issue came out.


See you next time!

Annotations: The Trial of the Flash, #326 - “Shame in Scarlet!”

Welcome to the latest installment in our annotations of the collected edition of The Trial of the Flash! We’ve been breaking down related stories leading up to last month’s release of Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash.  In addition, we’ve interviewed author Cary Bates about the buildup and the Trial itself, plus shown you what won’t be included in the collection.  For last week, and previous issues, click here.

Links to artwork and research are included throughout this post.  This time around, since the reprint is widely available, the format will be a little different than the notes for “The Death of Iris Allen”.  For legal analysis of the story, something I will not attempt, go here.  For this week’s corresponding Tom vs. The Flash commentary, go here!

COVER:  Another memorable Carmine Infantino cover, with inks by Gary Martin, this week’s embellisher.  Here’s a post from a few years back, in which the author claims his DC fandom began with this depiction of Flash-under-arrest.

PG 1 & 2:  Flash was read his Miranda rights at the end of last issue, and almost incriminated himself.  The Miranda warning was established in the United States via the case of Miranda vs. Arizona (1966).

PG 3:  Gary Martin was active at DC Comics from 1981 until 1997, working on only this issue of Flash (though I suspect he, not Dennis Jensen, inked issue #323).  He also inked the “Meet Kid Flash” story from Flash TV Special #1 (1991).

PG 4:  I should have mentioned this before, but Captain Frye sustained his arm injury during a misadventure as Captain Invincible.  Flash was forced to break his arm during a rescue attempt.

PG 5:  Experimental touches, like the full-page Flash mugshot and innovative layouts seen throughout this book, showcase the design mastery for which Infantino was perhaps best-known.  This issue went on sale on July 14, 1983, and Flash’s booking is dated July 11.


PG 6:  Flash refers to Weather Wizard by his given name.  Mardon appeared in the previous issue when the Rogues gathered to obliterate Zoom’s corpse.  His two prior appearances were in Flash #300 (though onlu as part of Abra Kadabra’s elaborate illusion) and in a Hawkman story from World’s Finest #276.  His last encounter with Flash was in Adventure Comics #466 (1979), so it had indeed been a “long while”.

Weather Wizard’s comment, “Welcome to the ranks of us major felons, old foe,” was echoed in a comment from our interview with writer Cary Bates:

In fact, before the Crisis entered into things, I do remember toying with the idea of Flash being found guilty and going “on the run” (literally).   This would’ve kicked off a new story arc which would have had Flash continuing to do his good deeds as a wanted man with an arrest warrant hanging over his head (sort of a variation on the Green Hornet concept of a hero who the authorities view as a criminal).   What I liked most about this idea was the delicious irony of a Flash who ends up joining his own Rogues Gallery.

PG 13:  This issue marks the first appearance of Angelo Torres.

PG 14:  Flash’s mugshot was dated July 11th, but this newspaper header is dated April 5th.

PG 16:  Among the personal effects Barry trashes during the destruction of his apartment: a book titled “Daws”, which appears to be Daws: The Story of Dawson Trotman, Founder of the Navigators.  There is also a book marked “Tozer”, which appears to be by or about A.W. Tozer, "a modern day prophet, was a key figure in The Christian and Missionary Alliance. His legacy reaches through time and has impacted countless millions."  Both Daws and Tozer are major figures in recent Christian history and literature.

PG 17:  Mack and Troy Nathan, Barry’s neigbors, discover the damage to his apartment.  In addition to the Christian texts, Barry also owned Edgar Allen Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

PG 19:  “Maxatrim” is a part of the L.A. Diet, which, of course, did not exist when this issue was published.

PG 21:  There are many Leonard Lewis, Attorneys at Law, according to Google.

PG 23:  The guy on the stretcher in front of Flash has blonde hair.  It’s an important detail, given the nature of the cliffhanger.

See you next week!

Annotations: The Trial of the Flash, #324 - “The Slayer and the Slain!”

Welcome to the second installment in our annotations of the collected edition of The Trial of the Flash!  We’ve been breaking down related stories leading up to this month’s release of the massive tome that is Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash.  In addition, we’ve interviewed author Cary Bates about the buildup and the Trial itself, plus shown you what won’t be included in the collection.  For last week, and previous issues, click here.

Links to artwork and research are included throughout this post.  This time around, since the reprint is widely available, the format will be a little different.  For legal analysis of the story, something I will not attempt, go here.

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Annotations: The Trial of The Flash, #323 - “Run, Flash — Run for Your Wife!”

Welcome to the first installment in our annotations of the collected edition of The Trial of the Flash!  We’ve been breaking down related stories leading up to last week’s release of the massive tome that is Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash.  In addition, we’ve interviewed author Cary Bates about the buildup and the Trial itself, plus shown you what won’t be included in the collection.

Leading up to Flash #323, the issue leading off this collection, Barry Allen’s life had taken a dark turn with the death of his wife, Iris, at the hands of his archenemy, Professor Zoom.  After leaving Zoom to perish in the time stream, Barry began his life anew and attempted to move on from the events surrounding his wife’s murder.

But the past never dies when you’re The Flash!  Zoom returned and swore revenge, leading to the events in this collection.  Links to artwork and research are included throughout this post.  Previous annotations can be found here.  This time around, since the reprint is widely available, the format will be a little different.  For legal analysis of the story, something I will not attempt, go here.

UP TO SPEED:  Barry Allen and Fiona Webb are to be married today.  However, a freak accident has freed the Reverse-Flash from his temporal prison, and he is making his way to Central City!

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