Review by Frank Plowright
This volume opens with a slice of high-60s camp. 64Th century magician Abra Kadabra makes a rapid return after his introduction in volume 3, and is seen on a poster pasted to the wall as Flash runs by. “I’ve the strangest feeling I’m being turned into a puppet”, Flash remarks as the cover displays that is indeed occurring. As ever with the bizarre threat covers so beloved by editor Julie Schwartz, the story can’t possibly live up to the billing, and as if knowing how preposterous the concept was, writer John Broome closes the resulting story with a two page puppet show.
Another of Schwartz’s editorial idiosyncrasies was an unshakeable faith that Flash readers, in the 1960s pre-pubescent boys of course, wanted to see Kid Flash solo stories. Interestingly the passing of time may have vindicated him. The Kid Flash stories focus on troubles experienced by members of the rural community in which he lives. Yes, there may be an astonishing percentage of bank-robbing beatniks or Soviet spies, but for the most part the Kid Flash stories were about human problems, and a burst of super speed wasn’t always the answer. The result is that these stories haven’t dated as badly as some of those featuring the headliner. In this volume Kid Flash switches from a scaled down version of Flash’s costume to a more distinctive yellow and red number, and the transformation occurs in one of the better alien stories Broome wrote.
This volume also introduces the final two members of Flash’s beloved cast of villains. Heatwave was always an oddity. The opposite of Captain Cold was a logical thought, but his design of a white industrial protection suit with goggles was always plain bizarre. Professor Zoom is more frequently referred to as The Reverse Flash these days, with good reason. He’d later prove to be the most sadistic and unhinged of the villains (although Grodd runs him close), but in his introductory appearance he’s just a costumed criminal with a scientific mind.
For long-term comic readers in 1963 the thrill of this package was ‘Vengeance of the Immortal Villain’, again teaming Flash with his 1940s alternate Earth counterpart. The bonus was the re-introduction of the long unseen Justice Society of America, albeit encased in perspex by Vandal Savage for all but the final page. Gardner Fox returned to write the characters whose destiny he guided in the 1940s, and would revive them fully in a story found in Justice League Archives 3.
For those unconcerned about colour and happy with pulp paper, these stories can also be found in Showcase Presents The Flash volume 2.