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Flash 146
"Fatal Fingers of The Flash!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND August, 1964

Story: Unknown Art: Carmine Infantino

(Originally Reviewed On 09/04/01)

In ancient times, King Midas could turn anything he touched into gold, but in 1964, The Scarlet Speedster finds to his horror that whatever he touches will age everything his hands and fingers come in contact with, and The Flash must fend against these most unusual foes... The Fatal Fingers of The Flash! (Holy Digitalis, Batman!)

On a barren landscape on a deserted planet, The Fastest Man Alive races across the terrain... the only one left on this sphere of 150 billion years from his own time! As he sees something unusual, The Flash pauses and sees liquid metal on the ground, which appears to be cool to the touch, and his police scientist's mind studies the odd substance, knowing that he dare not return with it to his own time, but nonetheless, he removes his gloves and tests the feel of it against his fingers! (Holy Kids Do Not Try This At Home, Batman!) Then, having dropped the liquid metal and re-donning his gloves, The Scarlet Speedster watches as Sol begins to pulse, and knows that the sun is about to go nova * (Editor's note: A nova is a flare-up of a star-sun in which its brilliance is increased thousands of times. The heat released by a nova-ing sun would turn the oceans to steam in a matter of minutes, then vaporize the entire planet, leaving only gases floating in space!) (Holy Orange Julius, Batman! You suppose Julie has a cosmic treadmill, too?!)

The sun begins to form into a brilliant ball of fury, while The Flash calmly films the phenomenon with scientfic detachment, knowing that he has four minutes to record it, courtesy of special contact lenses to protect him from its glow, and in eight minutes, the light from the sun to reach the Earth, where four minutes later, the planet will vaporize and become super-hot gases, with him long gone by then! (Holy Final Exit, Batman!) In the moments prior to Earth's destruction, The Fastest Man Alive attunes his internal vibrations to send himself back to 1964, and remembers a dinner date with Iris West, who had just finished an article about the end of the world after interviewing Astronomer Coblentz Stanton. She tells Barry that the sun will go nova, an occurance which would occur in 150,157,956 years, 5 days, 16 hours, and 21 minutes! (Holy Timex, Batman!)

Barry is amazed that the astronomer had figured it out to the exact minute, while Iris tells him how an artist will be preparing illustrations, but wishes that she had live-pictures of the phenonmenon. Barry casually mentions that The Flash has found a way to travel through time and that he can be reached at police headquarters! Iris rushes off to phone The Scarlet Speedster, while Barry heads off to a dark corner and activates his ring, which ejects the familiar costume of The Fastest Man Alive! The next moment finds him racing for the police station,w here the switchboard operator has just received the phonecall, and hands it to him!

At the restaurant, Iris tells Barry how The Flash agreed to do it, and at his home, The Scarlet Speedster sets up his cosmic-ray treadmill for an hour prior to Stanton's prediction that the sun will go nova! (Holy Run For Your Life, Batman! Let's hope that the astronomer knows his figures!) The Flash synchronizes his pace with the treadmill, then finds himself on Earth, where a barren and dead world greets him. Seeing no sign of life, The Scarlet Speedster takes it for granted that mankind has gone off into the stars and has no doubt settled on a new world, while he is the only one left to see the finish of this one! Having returned to 1964, The Flash places his movie camera on a nearby table, just as his gloves begin to dissolve, then fall apart!

Reaching for the remains of his gloves, his fingers brush against the table's surface, then pass through the wood, which seems to have rotted! Noting the tingling sensation in his fingers and palms, The Flash tests this sensation by grasping a piece of bread, which crumbles as soon as he makes contact, then a glass shatters, and a book turns to tatters in his touch! (Holy Bookworm, Batman! Keep him away from our collections!) By handling the liquid metal, he has absorbed an aging factor, which his hands transmit upon contact with an object, and dares not touch anyone or anything! (Holy Clapper, Batman!) Now a modern-day Midas, The Flash seeks out aid for this dilemma, and races through the streets of Central City!

Outside of Central City, on a country road, a police car with siren flashing tells him about a gang of jewel thieves who are racing away in a souped-up car, which has succeeded in breaching their roadblocks! Increasing his speed slightly, The Fastest Man Alive overtakes the vehicle, where he races all around the speeding car, touching each of its tires, so that they will wear out, causing the car to screech suddenly to a stop! (Holy Firestone, Batman!)

The first of the jewel thieves draws his gun on The Flash, who moves his arms at terrific speed, causing the crook to be knocked unconscious against the car, while the second hood upon exiting meets with a super-heated cloud of air, which causes his feet to sink into the suddenly bubbling blacktop of the road, then another blast of cool air freezes him into place! (Holy Long Arm of The Law, Batman!) As the third member exits and has drawn his gun, the other warns him about The Flash...

Who is a half-mile away and racing around a pear tree, where by setting up a current of air, sends the pears off the branches, then leads them with suction in his speed, then Flash ducks, as the pears travelling at high-speed pass over him and strike down the last crook! (And to think I saw it on Mulberry Bush...) When the police car arrives to pick up the crooks, a police officer wishes to shake hands with The Flash, but The Scarlet Speedster passes, and hopes that he'll find a cure...

Crossing a river bridge, The Fastest Man Alive sees two boys clinging onto an overturned speedboat, and who are threatened by the violent rapids! Diving into the water, The Flash intends to make this a "hands-off" rescue, and figures that since water is ageless, his touch will not affect it! He instructs the boys to grab his feet, and they laugh at the prospect of being sent to shore at super-speed by Flash's super-swim!

On dry land, he urges the boys to wear life-preservers whenever on a boat, which they heartily agree to. At the research institute, Flash consults with scientists about his bizarre affliction, and submits to a series of tests! When they have finished, The Flash still feels the tingle in his hands, and one scientist tells him that this is not as if a person has had a normal illness or been poisoned! The keen police scientist's mind of The Flash has him realize the solution, and since poison, or a toxin is sometimes given to a patient in order to manufacture anti-toxins to neutralize the poison itself, if he can swallow such a poison, it should counteract the effects of the aging factor in his fingers! As he wonders what food he can safely eat without contracting fatal food poisoning, another scientist mentions the discovery of grains and cereals by archeologists in centuries-old tombs, which can grow when replanted! (Holy Wheaties, Batman!) After sending out from a livery stable, the scientists place oat onto the cupped hands of The Scarlet Speedster, knowing that the oats will age, and when he eats them, they will create an age anti-toxin in his bloodstream... he hopes!

Making a face, The Flash begins to dine on his unusual repast, thinking that the cure may be worse than the disease, but it has worked, and the tingling is gone from his fingers, as he can now pick up a book, with no ill aging effects! Upon delivering the film to Iris, she offers to show her appreciation by treating him to a fine dinner in town, knowing that the trip must have left him starved! The Scarlet Speedster admits that he could eat like a horse, and thinks to himself that he just did!

Instead of Shang-Chi, it is The Fastest Man Alive who must cope with the deadly hands.

150 billion years from now, The Flash would come into contact with liquid metal. Is it the last Terminator or the remains of Wolverine? The world may never know.

I appreciate the editor's note, showing that much thought has indeed gone into the making of the story, and that clarification is a duty, not a chore for the editor. Much appreciated.

The world ends... no doubt weathering many threats between 1964 and the time of its ending.

It's rare to see a super-hero welcome in a police station. How times have changed.

The story refers to Flash's cosmic-ray powered treadmill. Gee, did Barry meet The Fantastic Four in their Central City in an untold Silver Age story, and did Dr. Doom's time machine hold a candle to The Cosmic Treadmill? Nah, Doomsie has knobby-knees for such a device.

It's interesting that upon emerging an hour prior to Earth's destruction, The Flash believes that mankind has gone to the stars and not destroyed themselves along the way. Such is the hope and optimism which binds us all.

The deadly effects of his touch are cleverly illustrated by Carmine Infantino,as more than one example is skillfully illustrated.

With The Fastest Man Alive, there's no doubt a million different ways to stop a getaway car.

The Flash is never too busy to deliver an important safety message, and it looks like it did the kids some good.

Mares eat oats and does eat oats, as does The Flash!

Seeing how much The Scarlet Speedster relishes his repast, makes me not wonder why he's not seen on the cereal boxes of Wheaties in Central City.

Finally, The Flash is now able to pick up a book and read in comfort. Something which we have in common with our hero.

It would be interesting to see how The Scarlet Speedster's experience in a restaurant went...particularly the :"No T-Shirt", "No Tie", "No Service" part. One thing for sure, you'll never beat him to the check!

This review is dedicated to Jef Peckham

Steve Chung
"Fatal Fingers of The Review!"