“The Fastest Man…Dead!”
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artists: Ed McGuiness & Dexter Vines
Writer: Dennis O’Neil
Artists: Doug Mahnke & Mark Farmer
The Flash’s very life depends on this cover! First, the Flash must find evidence proving Deadshot tried to murder his alter ego, Barry Allen. Then Flash takes an alien ray beam meant for Julie Schwartz. He has 15 minutes to tell 168 people about his crisis, or else his molecules will stop moving!
Julius Schwartz will be associated with The Flash more than any other character, if only because Flash was the first DC hero he reinvented. His creation sparked the Silver Age of comics. The Flash is also the prototype for Schwartz’ heroes. The Flash’s double identity is Barry Allen, a police scientist. Most of Schwartz’s heroes are either law officers, scientists, or both. Adam Strange is an archaeologist. So is Carter Hall, when he’s not Hawkman, lawman from Thanagar. Hal Jordan is part of an interplanetary peace-keeping force and a test pilot for an aeronautics research firm. Ray Palmer used his scientific knowledge to become The Atom. And Batman returned to his roots as a detective and problem-solver while under Schwartz’s editorship. Schwartz’s love of science-fiction must have influenced his creative process.
Jeph Loeb writes a story of Barry Allen, forensics expert, a part of The Flash’s life that’s often forgotten. Allen must find the physical evidence to connect a suspect to a crime. It’s not enough to just catch a crook; you need the proof to put him away. This cover helps Allen solve the case in a way we’d never expect. Loeb changes the cover’s meaning by changing its intended audience.
I’ve never been keen on Ed McGuiness’ artwork. But his loose, open, breezy style is perfect for The Flash. I think his work is best suited for this fast, bright hero.
Dennis O’Neil’s story is, frankly, incredibly contrived. The only way to save The Flash’s life is by giving 168 people a comic book with The Flash on the cover begging them to read it. But what the hell. It has Schwartz and Flash working through the problem and solving it together. There’s no sense of danger, because these two are so good at what they do. I do feel sorry for whomever that poor artists is supposed to be. Carmine Infantino? Joe Giella?
This is a great book for Flash fans, Silver Age fans, and just about anyone who can read comics.
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