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The Flash #114
"The Big Freeze!"


Story: John Broome
Art: Carmine Infantino & Murphy Anderson

Central City has become a place under absolute zero -- caused by the rogue known as Captain Cold! It is up to the scarlet speedster to use his super-speed to its utmost against this frozen felon! On the splash page, Captain Cold gloats as the fastest man alive heads for him! The Flash believes that the great glacier before him is an illusion-trick, but he'll be in for a rude awakening when he tries to run through it! (Holy Big Chill, Batman!)

Barry Allen is driving his girlfriend, Iris West, to State Prison -- where a reporter from a rival newspaper has been running a series of articles about one of the prisoners... Len Snart! This is the real name of Captain Cold -- who the Flash put in prison! Not having had time to read the newspapers, Barry asks Iris about the articles... and learns that it's all just a stunt to build circulation! Monte Throop claims that Snart was wrongfully imprisoned and should be given parole! The parole board is meeting at the prison today... and Snart's case is among those being considered! The Picture News reporter is to testify against the prisoner, and recommend that he be in prison for life! Her one regret is that she wasn't able to reach the Flash to appear, too! With the scarlet speedster's testimony, it could mean keeping Len Snart from being released on parole! The police scientist smiles and tells his girlfriend that he has a feeling that the scarlet speedster will be there!

After Iris has shown her press pass and entered the prison... Barry heads for a corner of the prison courtyard, and presses a hidden spring on his ring -- and out comes a crimson costume which quickly grows upon contact with the air... The costume fits over the police scientist's regular clothes... which remains invisible -- and a moment later, the fastest man alive passes through the prison walls! Inside, he meets with Iris and the parole board! The Flash testifies that in his opinion, Len Snart has not yet reformed, and would prove a danger if he were to be released!

His testimony has persuaded the board members to keep Captain Cold in prison. When Iris leaves, Flash tells her that he has to check on some other inmates -- so that the reporter wouldn't expect him to exit with her! Finding an empty room, the scarlet speedster changes back to Barry Allen, and heads for the car before his girlfriend gets there! The hidden spring is pressed on his ring... and the costume is drawn back into it... thanks to an invisible gas, and a tiny suction motor! At the car... Iris finds her boyfriend waiting for her -- and tells him about the Flash's appearance...

A week has passed since the parole board meeting... Leonard Snart decides to get out of prison -- with the aid of -- a minature refrigerator unit he built during the year from scrap metal! It helped him to stay cool during the summer months... while the other prisoners were sweating from the heat, Snart kept his cool from the small unit in his pocket...! Now he must use his cold-unit for a more practical purpose! By amplifying the power-pack --- he can achieve intense cold for a few seconds at a time... long enough to deal with the iron bars of his prison cell!

Under the intense cold, the iron bars have become as brittle as glass! As Snart races through the prison yard... two guards draw their guns on him! Before they can fire off a shot, he uses his freezer-unit to stop them in their tracks! By the time they thaw out -- he'll be miles from the prison! A month passes, and at Iris West's apartment... the newshen overhears the radio report about Captain Cold being spotted in the southwest! The scarlet speedster is on the trail of his frigid foe, and Iris hopes that Snart is caught soon! As she wonders what his next move will be, the Captain pays her a visit!

He hasn't come to harm her... Snart planted the rumor himself -- to keep the fastest man alive from finding him in Central City! From the first time he saw her, Captain Cold hasn't been able to keep Iris West out of his mind! The rogue loves her -- and wants the girl reporter to marry him! She tells him that she wouldn't marry him if he were the last man on Earth! (Holy Kamandi, Batman!) Having expected such an answer, the Captain turns a device on his belt...

As the two head outside... Iris sees that the frigid felon has sent out an impulse of absolute cold throughout the city -- sending everyone into suspended animation! (Holy Avengers #4, Batman! Where's Namor when ya need him?) Only she and Snart have been spared since he protected them with negative radiation! (Holy Trainor-Wheels, Batman!) She sees that although there are signs of life -- there is not a sound or sign of motion in the entire city! Central City is now surrounded by a super-cold ice barrier, and Captain Cold will remove it only if Iris will marry him! (Holy Bachelor #1, Batman!) News of the city's predicament soon spreads throughout the country, and as many attempts to shatter the ice fail, the scarlet speedster arrives... and heads directly at the ice barrier!

Not even his super-speed is enough to bring him through the ice barrier... and since the unique ice is as hard as a diamond, the Flash thinks that only another diamond could cut through it... Now generating intense vibrations, the fastest man alive grinds through the ice like a human drill! He enters the now frozen city... and the opening he made has frozen up behind him -- so no one else can enter or leave! (Holy city limits, Batman!) The scarlet speedster makes his way past the frozen citizens and criss-crosses through Central City... He finds Captain Cold -- and Iris!? Not knowing how his arch-enemy made his way through the great barrier, the rogue knows that the Flash will soon regret it!

The cold-gun is fired and the scarlet speedster finds his feet running on a sheet of slippery ice beneath him! This gives Captain Cold the time needed to lower the temperature of his cold-gun to absolute zero... just as the Flash manages to free himself from the sheet of ice! Instead of his arch-foe and his girlfriend, the fastest man alive sees an unearthly vision... A giant insect is about to attack him! He suddenly remembers that the intense cold from Captain Cold's gun at absolute zero can create illusions!

The scarlet speedster heads for the flying fiend... and passes through it! From the direction he has come out of, the Flash searches for the rogue, while Captain Cold decides to switch tactics -- When the fastest man alive turns his head... he sees a huge glacier about to descend upon him -- and decides that this, too, is a mere mirage-trick!

As he enters the glacier... the Flash finds himself being absorbed by the cascading ice! The Captain tells Iris how it only took a moment to create the glacier by freezing the moisture in the air... and making the scarlet speedster a frozen prisoner! As the two prepare to leave... they do not see how the fastest man alive uses super-speed vibrations to melt the surrounding ice! He breaks loose, but Captain Cold still has one more trick to use with his cold-gun... Before he can fire off a shot, the frigid felon is felled by a faceful of super-speed-packed air-punch which strikes him with terrific force... The Picture News reporter sees that the scarlet speedster has knocked Captain Cold -- out cold!

With the criminal defeated, the city must be returned to normal! Iris tells how she saw Cold press a switch on his belt! The Flash reverses the switch on the minature thermostat... and Central City comes to life again -- the ice shell is gone! When Barry arrives to walk with Iris through the city... she tells him that he might not have her as a girlfriend if Captain Cold had had his way! The police scientist smiles -- and promises to give his thanks to the Flash when he sees him! Luckily for them, Leonard Snart is now in a prison cell he won't break out of again!

A very cool story by Broome, Infantino, and Anderson!

The art of Infantino and Anderson shows everything in the panel in motion... which even Captain Cold's cold-gun couldn't capture, as well!

It's a wonder that Barry Allen didn't patent his ring with the invisible gas and minature suction motor! Having street clothes which can cling to the other side of the costume is a definite plus, too!

Len Snart had an easy time of keeping his cool in prison... until he saw Iris West!

Another Rogues Gallery villain who sought the hand of Iris West was Professor Zoom, a.k.a. The Reverse-Flash!

The sight of the fastest man alive battling the frigid felon in the heart of a frozen Central City is a prime example of writing from the late, great John Broome!

Steve Chung
"The Big Review!