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Head! Pants! Now! – The Flash #177

July 10, 2011

Sometimes I want to hug the Silver Age. Or buy it a beer.

I had seen this cover before and was desperate to buy it, but the copies that I saw were in rough shape and my condition snobbery held me back. I have my standards, after all.  But I recently found this one. And now I shall share its joys with you, Dear Readers.

The (Gardner Fox scripted, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito art-ified) story opens with Barry Allen solving a crime in his regular police day job, using Sherlock Holmes/Miss Marple/Batman-ish deductive reasoning to out a murderer. It’s only after this that things start to go a bit awry. Barry begins getting headaches and showing a Rick “The Model” Martel level of arrogance:

While Barry is busy patting himself on the back, the Trickster (who’s forever associated in my mind with the miles over the top performance of Mark Hamill) is in his hideout/apartment hoping that his latest anti-Flash scheme hasn’t been foiled:

Trickster’s yanking out his hair over nothing, because soon, when the Flash is out doing his Flash thing, he starts getting weird stares from the normally grateful citizens of Central City, and the Scarlet Speedster quickly discovers why:

This creates some problems, and not just the size of the comb-over that he’ll have to grow to cover that up. He can’t exactly go back to being Barry Allen without exposing his identity, so he’s stuck as the Flash while he tries to remedy this disfigurement. He has to explain all this to poor Iris, and you can’t help but love his scarlet cheeks poking out of the phone booth as he crams his huge head inside — a nice artistic touch, if I do say so myself:

His high-speed labors go unrewarded and no cure is in the offing. Then one night, as he’s out getting some air and moaning and groaning, the Trickster hears his lamentations and decides to pile on:

This may be the only time that ragweed pollen has been used as a comic book villain’s weapon. Not that I’m complaining…

The Trickster overpowers the weakened Flash and drags him back to his place to gloat and finish the job. To illustrate the endgame of his diabolic plot, he grabs a Flash-themed balloon and gives a demo:

I think you see where that’s going.

The Flash, realizing the goofy peril that he’s in, tries to fight back, but the Trickster has any number of weapons at hand to exploit his distended noggin:

But something weird happens, because the headaches that have been plaguing Flash ease during the brawl. With his strength coming back to him he manages to knock out his foe and stumble onto the reason for his rapid improvement:

Next time you have a migraine, screw the Tylenol. Just get a radioactive myna(h) bird that makes bad jokes. That’s the lesson here.

The behind bars Trickster has the reaction to his defeat that I think all of us would if we were in his shoes:

Wow. Just wow. Ever come across that tagline for Neil Simon’s The Goodbye Girl? The one that goes “Thank you Neil Simon for making us laugh at falling in love…again.”? Well, in this case I’d like to offer a long-overdue “Thank you Fox/Andru/Esposito for making me laugh at a superhero’s ridiculous temporary deformity…again.”

As I was reading this I couldn’t help but harken back to a cartoon from my high school years, MTV’s The Head, a funny, fun and offbeat series whose protagonist had a friendly alien encamped in his ENORMOUS cranium. It shared an anthology program (Oddities) with Sam Kieth’s The Maxx if you’re looking for a comic book connection here. The bottom line is this: I spent my entire time reading this Flash comic not only luxuriating in its supreme silliness, but also waiting for a little purple alien named Roy to come rocketing out of Barry’s bulbous skull. And I also had the nagging feeling that I needed to get some homework done, because I was always scrambling to finish it during the late-night airings of The Head.

Anyhoo. Now I need to go out and find some Flash balloons.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Larry E permalink
    July 11, 2011 11:34 am

    It seems like back in the Silver Age, most of DC’s characters went through a giant genius brain transformation. In the Superman titles, the hairless craniums were positively phallic.

    • July 16, 2011 12:57 am

      Agreed on the phallic domes. I always liked it when they’d get mad or frustrated and they’d frown — then they were “ribbed for her pleasure.”

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