4 For a Dollar – Trial of the Flash

4 for a Dollar is a recurring topic on the We Talk Comics podcast. We look at lesser known story arcs that you can dig up at your next comic show for good reading at a low cost.

Trial of the Flash

The Trial Of The FlashWhen Mo and I interviewed Scott Kowalchuk at the Calgary Red & White Comic & Toy Expo we got to talking about Barry Allan. I’m not a fan of the return of Barry as the Flash and I think the character worked better as an inspirational figure for the legacy characters of the DC Universe. But Scott and Mo both had fond memories of the later years of Barry’s regular book in the early 80s.

A couple of months later I was in a comic store in San Francisco looking for something to read on the flight home and I came across Showcase Presents The Trial of the Flash. Showcase collections, if you don’t know them, are black and white reprint books similar to Marvel’s Essential line. For $20 I got the last 2 years of The Flash, written by Cary Bates and penciled by Carmine Infantino.

What a great Silver Age read. It starts with Flash about to marry his second love after the death years before of Iris West. Enter Professor Zoom, murdered of Iris, who is set on repeating tragedy for Barry. Barry catches him just in time, but in doing so breaks Zoom’s neck.

This sets up a long story arc that lead into the final fate (ahem… should have stayed the final fate of) Barry in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Barry is arrested for manslaughter and his next adventures revolve around him dealing with the legal problems while released on his own recognizance awaiting trial. To make matter worse, Flash’s Rogue’s Gallery takes every opportunity to wreak havoc on Central City because they know every moment Flash will have no choice but to be in court.

What is most interesting is that the reader isn’t given a black and white version of whether Barry is truly innocent. Certainly he stopped Zoom from committing another murder, but was it absolutely the only way? These were early days for such ambiguity in costumed hero comics. While Barry is sure of his actions, even the Justice League calls him to account and considers expelling him from the JLA.

I was not a fan of Infantino when I was young which is probably why I never read these before. I remember the rather striking covers from my older brother’s comic collection. Though I am still not going to add him as a favourite, he was definitely playing with page layout more than most in those days. The echos of his style on the new Barry Allan series will be easy to spot.

My only complaint about this great collection, and the reason to dig through your bargain bin for the issues, is that there are 3 issues left out of the collection for I can only guess are space considerations. I borrowed the missing comics and there are a couple of important subplots resolved there, including the fate of the Flash Museum.

Keith co-hosts We Talk Comics and is on Twitter as @CubReporterK

 

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