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"How to Prevent a Flash"


CREDITS ======================================
Story: Cary Bates
Art: Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin
Colors: Anthony Tollin

With special thanks to Julius Schwartz ======================================

Our story begins with a nice double page spread with a few Flash Facts comparing the relative times it takes events such as breaking the sound barrier, throwing a baseball, or carrying messages through a person's nervous system to occur when a familiar scene is upon us once again:

A scientist at the Central City Police headquarters lab is being doused by different chemicals after a lightning bolt strikes a lab setup, just as it had done years ago. Is it a fallacy to assume a bolt of lightning cannot strike the same spot more than once?

Barry Allen hears the beakers and test tubes tumble over but by the time he gets to the scene he discovers his pretty part time lab assistant, Patty, is drenched from the chemicals. Will Patty follow in the footsteps of both Barry and Wally West to become yet another Flash?

Patty goes to change her clothes but a police officer comes back to tell Barry that Patty has disappeared. Now Barry is worried because he can see her plain as day. She must be vibrating at an ultra-frequency that makes her invisible to everyone else. That seals it!

But Patty doesn't realize what happened to her when she suddenly sneezes and she's flung past the (how convenient) nearest blasting area of a construction site. Afraid that Patty's vibrations will activate the site's ultra-high frequency detonators, Flash whips up a wall of speed to shield the workers from the force of the blast, and continues after Patty who was last seen doing the old "Action / Reaction" from her sneeze and can't be found.

Barry goes back to the lab and changes into his civvies while he tries to figure out where she is. All of a sudden Barry is taking off at super-speed and it "isn't my idea!" The mystery is solved when Patty, IN HER OWN UNIFORM WITH DOMINO MASK, stops carrying Barry to give the story some exposition. Not aware she's speaking to the actual Flash, she tells Mr. Allen that he's the only person she trusts with her new secret identity. She says the electrified chemicals somehow bestowed her with super speed, she's learned how to control it, and now that she's built up her confidence (I guess one page isn't too short of a time if you're a speedster) she's looking forward to meet up with the Flash as HIS NEW FEMALE PARTNER!

Barry tells her to be sensible because it took Flash and Kid Flash YEARS to master their kind of speed but when Patty starts to try to impress Barry even he's thinking she's not bad for a novice.

With an Infantino-like hand pointing out that like a pebble skimmed over the surface of a lake (they certainly have a lot of lakes near Central City) Patty runs across the pond a few thousand times when all of a sudden POISON GAS FUMES start pouring from her body and she collapses. This is the ultimate case of B.O.

Patty's super-speed must be different from Flash's, it's cursed with deadly, unpredictable side-effects. Barry changes into the Flash when he realizes the poison gas fumes have to be stopped before they're spread all about the countryside.

Flash gets rid of the poison gas, Patty recovers, and joins up with Flash for the first time. Introducing herself as MS.FLASH, telling him they'll make a fine team. Catching himself before he calls her Patty as they head back to the city, he says she needs more practice and she tells him to "GET OFF MY CASE" because she thinks he doesn't want competition FROM A WOMAN!

As they get into town all of a sudden a weird radiation shoots out from her body and the rays destroy everything in their path. Patty doesn't know what's happening and Flash tries to build walls of ultra-vibrations to hold the energy in check but he's not being successful - Central City is being destroyed!

Onward to the final page!

We're shown a flashback of the chemicals crashing down from earlier in the day but this time Barry reacts in time to spare Patty from being drenched with the chemicals.

She never became Ms. Flash!

The fastest man on Earth had imagined a whole sequence of events in a mere hundredth of a second!



I remember liking this story when it was first published. I know this type of plot was around well before this, I wonder if it came out around the time Bobby Ewing went into the shower of Dallas.

An enjoyable story with your daily recommended value of coincidences present to keep the plot moving along.