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Flash 148
"The Doorway To The Unknown!"


Story: John Broome Art: Carmine Infantino

The mysterious force which is referred to as the spirit of man plays a large part in this story. It manifests itself in events which are deemed mysterious and unexplained. The reader is asked to bear witness to one such example and to believe... The Scarlet Speedster is face-to-face with a man known as Fred Dallman, who implores him for aid, but The Flash knows that this meeting is taking place in Barry Allen's apartment! How this man entered when the windows and door are closed, as well as his knowing that the Silver Age Hero would be here, he can only guess, as the title hints to the answer... "The Doorway To The Unknown!"

It's midnight as The Flash vibrates through the wall and enters the apartment of Barry Allen, police scientist. The Scarlet Speedster has spent this day collaring a gang of ship-cargo thieves, but now he must sleep since his alter-ego must work early in the morning. Sensing a sudden draft, he sees that the door and windows are closed, but when he turns, The Flash sees that he has a visitor! (Holy Rod Serling, Batman!) The man tells him that he doesn't have much time to explain, but he needs his aid. The Scarlet Speedster asks how, just as Fred Dallman introduces himself and tells how he was a vice-president of The National Bank in Arizona. The vice-president has a confession to make... Fred Dallman was successful in embezzling $300,000 of the depositors' money, concealing his crime by juggling the books, and living modestly while hiding the money away, but the day came when the state auditors were on the verge of discovering his misdeeds...

Thinking far in advance, Dallman pinned the crime on a bank teller named David Dean. Watching the hapless man being taken by the authorities, a sight which didn't disturb Dallman in the least, but with Dean tried and convicted on the frame he made, Fred Dallman let one week pass before heading for Central City, where he intended to deposit the money under an assumed name. Fred Dallman's co-workers believed him to be on a week-end vacation. This same night, he heard on the TV about a jail break in Arizona City, with a quartet of convicts who escaped, along with a fifth convict... an embezzler named David Dean! Dallman heard the theory of how the other crooks intended to grill Dean for the hidden money, and he bows his head before The Scarlet Speedster , telling him how he was a thief, but can't have Dean's life jeopardized for not knowing where the stolen money was!

The fact that this death would be on his conscience was something Dallman hadn't foreseen, and now, with precious moments ticking away, Fred Dallman urges The Flash to head for Arizona City, find Dean, and save him, but Barry Allen's eyes watch as the figure of Fred Dallman begins to blur and shimmer, and fade away from sight! Only for a moment does The Flash wonder if he has seen and heard what he has, but knows that Fred Dallman was before him... and a life is in danger! From Central City to Arizona City, The Scarlet Speedster heads towards the state penitentiary, where he sees a police roadblock, and wonders if they've uncovered any clues to the convicts' whereabouts...

The patrolmen have not seen the jailbreakers, but they are grateful for The Flash's aid, for there is not enough time for The Fastest Man On Earth to tell them everything, as as the patrolman thanks him, a message comes on the police waveband about suspects being sighted near The Dandy Dude Ranch along Route 86. (Holy Milner and Mahris, Batman!) The patrolman believes that this is the break they've been waiting for, and as he turns to speak to The Flash, the only sight which remains is a crimson after-image of The Fastest Man Alive! (Holy Go West, Batman! Sorry Wally, but my heart's firm on this one.)

In a shack beside the dude ranch, David Dean is being grilled by the four convicts, just as The Flash appears in the doorway, and their guns are drawn (Handily by Infantino and Giella) with each man believing that they've succeeded in shooting down The Scarlet Speedster, and each not knowing that they've only succeeded in nailing The Flash's after-images! David Dean can't believe his eyes, as the three men are swiftly dispatched by The Flash, who tells him how he believes that Dean was falsely imprisoned , which pleases the former teller, and leaves him wondering how he'd know... (Hey Julie! Whatever happened to the fourth crook?)

Before The Flash takes his leave, David Dean asks him an important favor regarding his brother, Jack, who grew up with him without parents. Young and headstrong, David had always looked out for his brother. In prison, Dean has heard through the grapevine how his brother became disillusioned by the law and joined a gang in Arizona City, on a sure course for trouble. This very afternoon, he overheard how Jack was to do his first job at an Arizona City drug store, leaving the convict stymied, but with the advent of The Flash, his brother may stand a chance to avoid becoming a criminal. The Scarlet Speedster readily agrees, and as the police escort David Dean, he is more concerned for his brother's welfare...

The Flash speeds for Arizona City, with a feeling of impending destiny upon him, for he is a player in the drama to save a young man's life, and the importance of keeping Jack Dean from going wrong if he can help it. He searches throughout the desert metropolis until he finds the drugstore. The Scarlet Speedster slows when he sees the bright lights, and by a dark tree, two big figures stand over a slightly smaller one. The two men are urging Jack to commit his part in the upcoming theft, as The Flash closes in...

Grabbing Jack Dean for his own safety, The Flash makes a dramatic entrance. As the two men watch The Scarlet Speedster put the young man to one side, he races once more in their direction! Four gunshots are heard in the desert town, but due to The Flash's great super-speed , they are nothing more than four pellets trapped in mid-air! (An Editor's Note assures us that The Fastest Man On Earth is moving his palm so swiftly, that he is compressing the very air in front of the bullets to knock them down! Holy Flash Facts, Batman!)

The next moment finds The Flash punching out one thug, while the other intends to shoot him in the back, but The Scarlet Speedster spins at super-speed to pull the gun away from the crook, who winds up with a crimson punch to the jaw! The two crooks are in custody, and as The Flash brings Jack Dean home for a talk, the young man knows how close he came to losing the rest of his life, and vows that it will never happen again. This brings a smile to Barry Allen, who knows he means it!

Visiting the warden in Arizona City, The Flash agrees to bring Fred Dallman in for a confession which will release David Dean from prison, but upon returning to Central City Police Headquarters, The Scarlet Speedster is in for a surprise when he learns about Dallman's whereabouts! The police sergeant tells about how Fred Dallman was found dead as a result of a car accident on the way from Central City to Arizona City. The wreck was not found until this morning, but the coroner placed the time of death at midnight... the very moment Fred Dallman appeared at Barry Allen's apartment! Now it is the police sergeant who is in disbelief, as The Flash is off and running, knowing that the stolen money would be found in Dallman's wrecked car...

Using deductive reasoning, Barry figures that Dallman must have been on his way back to Arizona City, intending to save David Dean's life by returning the money, but losing his life in a crash at midnight, and appearing at Barry's apartment shortly after. This leaves the police scientist wondering how he could have seen Fred Dallman and spoken to him... a phenomenon he cannot explain. The one thing Barry is certain about is that Fred Dallman found a way to save David Dean, as well as Jack Dean, and although he was a thief, he made it up in the end... IN THE END!! That which is referred to as the spirit of man is of an unknown nature. It is only seen in experiences which defy explanation, and which are forgotten over time. If this phenomenon is to be believed, then you will believe in the proceeding story!

A manifestation which cannot be explained by The Flash, who is compelled to grant this man's request, just as the reader is compelled to read the story.

Barry Allen finds himself in a unique situation where The Prime Mover is Fred Dallman, an agent of a higher power.

It's fitting that we don't know if this is a matter of time-travel, postponement, an alien intelligence, or futuristic technology. It's there to be seen, not to be explained, to have its message heard, and understood.

This is a tale of desperation, regret, guilt, heroism, brotherly love, and atonement.

It's been said that one man can make a difference. In this instance, Barry Allen , and moreso, Fred Dallman, proves it in this Silver Age story by showing what a conscience and determination can do when it comes to doing what is right.

The other characters are impressed by The Flash's feats, while the crooks no doubt loathe them.

I enjoyed the fact that Barry Allen knew he was in something which was different and bigger than what he was used to. It's fitting that this most human of heroes answered the call, especially when law and order figures into his career as a police scientist.

This Review Is Dedicated To The Memory Of
Rich Morrissey

Favorite Flash-Story and Fellow Flash-Fan
Fellow SAR Lister and Fellow Human Being

He Made A Difference