Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Classics - The Flash #133

This week's "Classic" review comes to us by way of Fred Hembeck, who was the first to make a gag out of this cover.

It features The Flash transformed and thinking, "I've got the strangest feeling I'm being turned into a puppet!" As Hembeck wondered, just what does that feel like and how did the Flash know?

Published in 1962, it was one of many transformations The Flash would be forced to endure. Did any Silver Age hero other than Superman go through as many strange transformations as The Flash? (OK, maybe Batman.) Actually, Jimmy Olsen probably wins the goofy transformation contest, but I don't think of him as a super-hero.

Over the course of that time period, The Flash became incredibly fat, grew a huge head, was ejected from his own uniform, and (if I recall correctly) he was somehow transformed into a slab of concrete and placed into a sidewalk so people could walk all over him.

But being changed into a puppet was probably the most humiliating, since he was at the mercy of his foe, Abra Kadabra, and made to perform in a show that made fun of the hero.

But while the cover is funny and the situation bizarre, it's really not a great comic book. Abra Kadabra was one of the least interesting in Flash's Rogue's Gallery. Born in the 64th Century, Abra uses science to create what seems like magic in our world.

As a result, he could do almost anything. The Flash's adventures were always more entertaining (at least for me) when it had some basis, however slim, in the world of science (or science fiction). Those stories best fit the character - and this story had none of it.

What is stellar, of course, is the artwork by Carmine Infantino. His Flash is sleek, his layouts arresting and the architecture he created was always a delight. Lots of artists have taken a run at the character (or some version of him, anyway), but I still think of Infantino as "the" Flash artist.

There's also a back-up story featuring Kid Flash, who gets an important lesson from three boys who are handicapped - but like the opening story, it's thin stuff.

There would be much better issues of The Flash before and after this one - but none had a funnier cover.

Grade: B-


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