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Flash (2nd series) 73
"One Perfect Gift"

Mark Waid - Story
Greg La Roque - Pencils
Roy Richardson - Inks
Tim Harkins - Letterer
Matt Hollingsworth - Colorist
Brian Augustyn - Editor
Ruben Diaz - Assistant Editor
Dedicated To Denny O'Neil --
Who Wrote Them Best

Trimming the Christmas tree... Wally West is unable to refrain from using his super-speed and give it the once-over... several times! The battle of the bulbs continues until Linda Park breaks his concentration, and assures him that there's nothing wrong with the lighting. When she asks him to sit down, Wally finds that he's bored, and Linda suggests that he help Joan Garrick...

Wally asks Joan if they can open presents, but she tells him not until after dinner. Joan tells Jay that she's glad that Wally and Linda are there, as it makes it seem like a real family Christmas. Jay thinks Wally is like the son they never had. The younger speedster asks Joan if he can help with the cooking, and she assures him there's not. She loves the lad dearly and Jay finds the boy very energetic. When Wally again asks and says that it would go faster if he helped, Joan turns to her husband, and tells him to gethim out of the house before she kills him!

Grabbing his winged helmet and changing to his uniform, The Golden Age Flash takes the former Kid Flash out for a run through town!

It had been a while since they last celebrated the holiday together, and Jay sees that Wally has grown up since then. He asks the younger speedster if there's something special under the tree for Linda, for his wife thought it might be a ring... Wally laughs and says that even he can only move so fast! Jay then asks what Wally wants for Christmas... and Wally doesn't know...

Jay had thought that he would be more enthusiastic, and Wally finds that as he gets older, Christmas is no longer about Santa, but is more about friends and family. Jay smiles and asks him if it shouldn't be like that? Wally agrees, but he misses the little things of Christmas, like getting a baseball mitt when he was a kid.

The older he becomes, Wally figures that whatever Santa has for him will be beyond his reach, and he yearns for that perfect gift... In mid-sentence, the younger speedster races off and pulls a woman from the the snowy path of an oncoming car! Jay congratulates Wally on the save, and they bring the delirious woman to a church. Inside, she tells them abou her husband, Joey, who works part-time in a department store... but tonight will be his last night... and he can't find other work. Joey met some men who have talked him into robbing the night deposit after closing. He doesn't want to do it, but he has no choice since he has to support his family! She told Joey that he can't provide for his family if he's in prison... but he wouldn't listen... Wally and Jay see that the woman is in labor. When Wally suggests that they get her to a hospital, The Golden Age Flash figures that moving her at super-speed wouldn't be a great idea, and he has a better idea...

The next moment, Jay comes back with the doctors, who tend to the pregnant wife, and Wally tells him that he'll be the one to help Joe. Jay sees that the weather is getting rough and wonders if Wally will find his way, but the younger speedster tells him that he will! With the store closing in ten minutes... Wally will have to stop Joey from ruining three lives.

He's confident that it is more than enough time for The Fastest Man Alive. (Holy Barry Me Not, Batman! Isn't Barry dea... ohhhh.) Wally heads for Boone's and knows that one Christmas miracle is coming up... or not, as the store is packed with last minute customers!

It's Christmas Eve and the sales floor is a zoo, as Wally has to find a different route, and after a few minutes... no sign of Joey!

The stockroom is his last stop, and on the sales floor, Santa apologizes to a child, as he must return to the North Pole. As the store Santa carries his sack, Wally races through the jewelry department, then paint and hardware, and is still unable to locate Joey! (Holy Where's Waldo, Batman!)

Wally next counts the employees, and comes up with three hundred and sixty-one clerks. He has checked them all... or has he? One employee remains... the one who was under his nose the whole time, and whose true face he hasn't seen! Santa's elf is locking up, and she tells Wally that Joey has gone for the day, then asks if he's a little too old for seeing Santa?

As he races off, the store manager asks the store elf if she can get on the P.A. system because there's a lost five-year old boy. Joey removes his beard and hat, then walks to the office, where he ask for forgiveness, before using a crowbar to force open the door, and sees the money on the desk!

Joey places the money into the sack, then leaves the office, and whispers to himself that it's for Maria... that it's all for the best.

As he walks out, a small hand reaches out for the sack, and Joey sees the little boy who wants to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas! Joey tries to tell the boy that he has to go, but he's there for his mommy, who is sad... and he wants Santa to bring her something nice! When Joey tells him that his dad should be able to take care of his mommy, the boy tells him that in his letter to Santa, his father is no longer with them... he's in jail!

After holding the sack for several moments, Joey decides to take the boy back inside and find his mommy... but first, Santa has to put back something he took. Before they can enter the door, a car pulls up, and Joey's "friends" call out to him. They want the goodies in his sack, and Joey finds that he can't give it to them because it's wrong! From their crooked point of view, it's the right thing to do, and they have too much to lose without the money. As they tell Joey to reconsider, their hands move surreptitiously for their guns, and Joey yells for the kid to run for the door... The hoods open fire...

Joey clutches the boy to his chest, and a crimson blur whizzes past them, leaving them unharmed by the gunfire. When the hoods wonder why Joey isn't dead, they hear a voice behind them, and each of the three crooks are giving a super-speed punch for their stockings from The Flash!

Wally ties up the crooks, and asks Joey where he's going. The would-be thief tells Wally that he has to return something, then make some apologies, but Wally tells him that he'll clear things, while Joey goes to see his wife and child. The last word hits Joey, and a smile spreads across his worried face for the first time this evening. Joey heads for the church, while Wally returns the boy to his mother...

The church is illuminated in the light of a single star, and inside, two parents welcome their new bundle of joy into the world.

At The Garricks' home, Wally tells them that the store manager will keep Joey on until he can find another job, and when Linda comments that the manager is very understanding, Jay figures that it must be the season. Wally then tells Joan and Linda how Jay was amazing at bringing in the doctors and equipment for Maria, while the older man confesses that it was the baby who was the true miracle in his eyes. Since it's getting late, Jay suggests to the others that they open the presents tomorrow, and they agree... all expect Wally, who is choking... Linda smiles and assures her boyfriend that they're just joking with him. She then gives Wally his present...

Linda's gift to him is a baseball mitt, and Wally kisses her. When she mentions that the mistletoe is on the other side of the room, he doesn't care. The kiss leaves Wally's ears ringing, but Linda tells him that it's the doorbell. Jay and Joan wonder who it could be at this time of the night, and Wally heads for the door... figuring that there's nothing which could be better than what he's just gotten...

He's wrong. They all see the man standing in the doorway, and although it is a man in red, it's not Santa... but the late, great Barry Allen wishing them a Merry Christmas!

On the cover, it's The Golden Age and Modern Age Flashes who are dashing through the snow, in place of Santa's reindeer.

Since we've been discussing the writing of Mark Waid, as well as reviewing Christmas stories, I thought I'd submit this one for your approval.

Amazingly enough, this story doesn't begin with "My name is Wally West... I'm the fastest man alive..." but it does have "Bing! Bing Bing Bing!" which must mean that Flash's Speed Force Sense must be tingling.

I've enjoyed Greg La Rocque's art on the title, as well as Legion, and Web of Spider-Man. I'd been reading Wally's title since the Baron and Guice days, then Messner-Loebs and Mike Collins, which led to La Rocque, and my personal favorite of his work is "The Return of Barry Allen."

Roy Richardson is a name I remember from an Iron Man Annual, where Rhodey is wearing the armor and meets The Eternals.

During their run, Wally and Jay help a woman with her dropped packages, helping to feed the hungery at a shelter at super-speed, and shovelling a walk.

The Jay Garrick Flash has been a favorite of mine ever since my mom got me The Famous First Edition reprint of Flash #1 back in the '70s. His mercury hat and unique costume made quite an impression at the time.

Even with super-speed, it's not easy for Wally to find a needle in a haystack, or a Joey in a department store.

No super-villain in this one, but Wally does take care of a few hoods, and helps to save three lives in the bargain.

The "Joey" and "Maria" names are clearly a homage. If their child is a girl, they can name her "Jessie" and if it's a boy... well...

The last page with the arrival of a certain Silver Age Speedster would seem to be the perfect gift, but as the arc went on, there would be more of an imperfect nature in store for Wally and friends.

In February, 1993:

Game Genie was being advertised and Super Nintendo games were also in ads.

The world was without a Superman.

Impact Comics was caught in a Crucible.

Green Arrow was having his 1972 Wonder Years by Mike Grell and Gray Morrow.

The Batman Adventures was on the air and in the comic.

Travis Charest illustrated an ad where Wally West was telling school kids to learn the facts about Aids.

A subscription to DC Comics would cost $15.00 to $21.00.

Titles included Black Condor, Eclipso, Guy Gardner, The Heckler, Peter Cannon - Thunderbolt, Valor, Black Canary, The Darkstars, Deathstroke, The Terminator (Holy Aquaman, Batman! He sounds like a bad swimmer!), The Demon, Scarlet, and Team Titans.

Steve Chung
"One Perfect Review!"