Comic Book Review: Showcase Presents the Trial of the Flash by Cary Bates & Carmine Infantino
Barry Allen, the Flash, is finally moving on from his wife Iris’ death, and is about to marry his new love, Fiona Webb. But on the day of the wedding, Flash learns that Iris’ murderer, Professor Zoom has escaped imprisonment. In the desperate struggle that follows, Zoom announces his intention to kill Fiona just as he did Iris. Barry stops Zoom–permanently. But was it an justifiable act of defense, or a deliberate killing? That’s up to a jury to decide!
This mid-80s epic is not one of the best Flash stories. The creative team was tired and it really shows. One issue in particular is half reprints from older stories apparently to give the writer and artist a break. But it does treat the issue of a masked vigilante killing a criminal with all the seriousness it deserves, before this became the standard operating procedure for superheroes in the Nineties.
The lack of color in this reprint hurts the story several times, not only because Zoom’s costume is identical to Flash’s with a palette swap, but in that recurring villain Rainbow Raider’s entire gimmick is color (and by this time the writer had stopped having people redundantly mention the colors of things.)
Which is not to say that this story is entirely without merit. There are some interesting subplots, such as the mystery of Nathan Newbury, and the ambitions of a pompous defense attorney who sees Flash’s trial as a meal ticket beyond compare. A couple of Flash’s villains put in notable appearances (and the final issue’s villain notes that he’s ,kind of sort of doing Flash a favor, which was foreshadowing for Crisis on Infinite Earths.)
Barry makes a couple of mistakes early on that compound his trouble. First, he still hasn’t told his bride to be his secret identity, which leaves Fiona with no reasonable explanation when Barry Allen disappears permanently. This causes a mental breakdown that renders her useless or worse than useless for the remaining two years of the story. (And then shuffled offstage before the actual ending.)
The other is his decision that he must fight Professor Zoom alone, even actively telling the Guardians of the Universe to keep any other heroes from helping him. This leads directly to killing Zoom being the only way to stop him, precipitating the entire trial plotline.
Again, not the best Flash story, and a bad place to start reading about the Barry Allen Flash. (And a worse place to start reading about the Wally West Flash, who’s barely in these issues and whose spotlight is the aforementioned reprint issue.) But for fans of the Barry Allen Flash on a budget, this is most of the end of the run in one low-price package.
For a volume with the beginning stories of the Barry Allen Flash, see this review: http://www.skjam.com/2013/02/27/comic-book-review-showcase-presents-showcase-volume-1/