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She’s a nagging bitch. There’s one reason this couple should not be wed. – The Flash #165

January 1, 2012

There’s a rather mild Easter Egg on this Murphy Anderson cover, if you’re inclined to break out your (metaphorical) magnifying glass and find it. It’s rather obvious. Really obvious.

Since it’s a new year, it seems like as good a time as any to balance my chi and cleanse the blog palate. To that end, I turn to my comic book North Star, Carmine Infantino and the Flash. Carmine isn’t for everyone, but goddamnit, he’s for me. That’s doubly true when he’s bringing life to a certain lightning bolted hero. Give me a dopey blog and an Infantino Flash comic to steer her by.

This selection, from deep in the archives (a locale guarded by a moat filled with snapping alligators), marks a seminal moment in the history of the Barry Allen Flash, as he weds his lady love, that nagging shrew, Iris West. His blushing, nothing-you-ever-do-is-good-enough bride. Mazel mazel, good things. And I shall refrain from making all Runaway Groom jokes in this post. YOU’RE WELCOME, PLANET EARTH.

Pull up a pew.

This is a small John Broome/Infantino/Joe Giella catered affair, just a few friends and family. Barry spends the night before his nuptials not getting a lap-dance from some big-jugged hottie while Superman, Batman, GL et al. feed him shots, but fighting crime. IT’S ALL HE KNOWS. He also has a few quiet moments wondering whether or not he should tell Iris of his double life as the Flash. Decisions, decisions.

On to the ceremony itself, with the former Mr. Element and Wally West representing the not-in-costume costumed contingent:

Even as bitchy Iris walks down the aisle, the moment so many young girls dream of, she can’t resist one last mental dig at her (unbeknownst) hero betrothed — AND THEN THE IMPOSSIBLE HAPPENS:

The Flash interrupts Barry Allen’s wedding. Nuptia interruptus. But Barry Allen is the Flash. Though nobody knows that Barry Allen is the Flash. I’m sniffing the beginning of a classic “But I’m the [insert her0]!” story, one that has the potential to be extraordinarily awkward and revealing, to say the least.

Who could be behind this? Why, a certain someone with a unique propensity to mimic the guise of the Scarlet Speedster. Yes, that great negative image character, the Reverse-Flash.

Let’s flash (no pun intended) back a little ways and forward a long ways. Professor Zoom was once again possessed by the urge to meddle in the affairs of his ancient history, and, envious of Barry Allen’s charmed existence, decided to assume his foe’s identity. To that end he sucked Barry to the 25th century (in a most gratifyingly Infantinoish manner) and did the old switcheroo:

Who knew that your Norelco could work such wonders? Yet it gives you a crappy shave. Huh.

Zoom had gone full-bore in his new I.D., including some mild crime-fighting and going through with the wedding (though he didn’t look happy about the latter — perhaps he had an inkling of Iris’ acid tongue). At the same time in the future (only in the realm of comics can such a phrase exist), the real Flash used some bewilderingly questionable science to theorize about how to break out of his prison and return to his own time:

But escape he does, which brings us back to the “present.” Barry kidnaps “Barry” and once away from the assembled guests they agree to duel for the right to marry Iris. You might wonder why Barry doesn’t inquire just what Zoom’s claim to Iris is exactly, but whatever, this challenge means it’s time for high-speed ass-kicking. SPEED LINES AND SPLATS GALORE:

After chasing the Reverse-Flash through neighborhoods, up the sides of buildings and all over the damn place, our Flash triumphs. Zoom is zapped back to his own time by future authorities (thanks, guys), and the wedding is back on. Iris is shockingly complaint-free despite her great day being interrupted, and remarkably accepting of Barry’s “It was all a misunderstanding, I’ll tell you later” explanation for “his” kidnapping — I guess there was another wedding booked right after them or something. LET’S LIGHT THIS CANDLE.

Barry, you may kiss the bride:

All that’s left is the honeymoon, where Barry is still all tied up in knots on whether to tell Iris about his second job:

When I was in college and law school, I hated with a fiery, nuclear fusiony passion when the professors would make the class break up into discussion groups. Instead of hearing the person paid to educate me drone on, I got to listen to the assorted drips that formed my peer group drone on, people who often reeked of cigarettes and threatened to drag me down into their moron hell. Not to claim that I was ever some boy genius, but WHAT EXACTLY AM I PAYING FOR HERE? was bouncing through my head at such junctures. This comic’s final panels seem to invite us to break up into discussion groups, an association that vexes me to no end. DC, if you want my opinion, you pay ME, okay? I’ll expect a check for my 12 cents, with accrued interest, in the mail soon. Consider it a fine for breaking the fourth wall in that last panel, and breaking it for something tacked on and stupid.

Lest that faint sour taste linger, let it be said that I could look at an Infantino-drawn Flash vs. Reverse-Flash high-speed battle every day for the rest of my life and never once fail to see the colorful exuberance in it. It’s perhaps the purest Silver Age joy that exists. It’s delicious.

And one can’t read this issue without thinking of later, darker events between Barry, Iris and Zoom. The Reverse-Flash killed Iris. The Flash killed the Reverse-Flash. The Flash was put on trial for his life. It turned out that Iris was still alive in the future. Barry joined her there. And then Barry died in the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Most of these latter events occurred when I was reading the title as a kid, and make up a part of the bedrock of my fandom. This comic is like the bedrock of the bedrock.

Chi balanced. Palate cleansed. I am ready for the new year, and whatever it may bring.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2012 8:06 pm

    Yes, this story marked a significant change in the Reverse Flash. Up till then, he had been motivated mostly by being the Yin to the Flash’s Yang; just an evil doppelganger. After this there were hints that he was obsessed with Iris. There’s a mid-70s cover where a plan of rape is at least implied.

    • January 7, 2012 8:50 pm

      There’s definitely some “I want what you have” groundwork laid in this issue, especially with Flash and RF each getting some of each other’s memories during the original time-switch. Sure is a turning point.

  2. January 15, 2012 10:01 am

    So the Easter Egg is obvious? Really? Any hints???

    • January 15, 2012 8:54 pm

      It’s perhaps the most disappointing Easter Egg ever. Calling it an Easter Egg is too much. Maybe just plain “Egg” would be better. Sorry to get anyone worked up over something so underwhelming and lame.

      Any hint would almost give it away, but…Cover artist Murphy ANDERSON might have found inspiration in the Good Book.

  3. NES Boy permalink
    January 15, 2012 10:55 pm

    What makes the ending hilarious is that Barry didn’t need the opinion of those behind the fourth wall whether to tell the truth after all — Iris found out that night when Barry was mulling about his dilemia in his sleep, but kept it to herself until the first anniversary of their marriage.

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