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The Flash 179
"The Flash -- Fact or Fiction?"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND May, 1968

Story By: Cary Bates
Art By: Ross Andru and Mike Esposito

On the splash page, the reader is encouraged to take a true or false test to test their Flash I.Q.! The Flash is able to run at super-speed! The scarlet speedster is able to control the molecules of his body in order to pass through solid objects! His other identity is that of Barry Allen, a police scientist! Barry's wife Iris knows that he is the Flash! The Flash is a work of fiction who appears in the comic book bearing his name! After answering, the reader can now peruse the story -- but one of the answers will present quite a surprise!

As his work day comes to an end, Barry Allen is in the police lab when... WHRRRRR A terrible sound begins to shake the entire building! (Holy Van DeKamps, Batman!) He sees a whirling mass of psychedelic colors appear in the middle of the next room -- where its blasts of air begin to tear things asunder! (Holy Peter Maxx, Batman!) Knowing that a police scientist can only do so much, Barry activates the button on his ring, and the next moment finds the Flash standing in his place! WHRRRRR The scarlet speedster finds that the gusts of wind are being directed towards him -- but thanks to his super-speed, he is able to get closer...

As he punches the colorful creature, the fastest man alive knows that he's going to need more that one punch to deal with this bag of wind! (Holy Guy Gardner, Batman!) Numerous blows at super-speed begin to have some effect on the creature, as it begins to change color, and pulses --! (Holy Jen Contino, Batman!) The Flash begins to feel the heat... just as an energy bolt sends him flying through the lobby -- and through a wall of the police station! (Holy Pink Floyd, Batman!) After the rough trip, the scarlet speedster finds himself many yards away... and clear on the other side of the block! Back at the police station, he learns that the colorful creature had vanished as suddenly as it appeared!

At home, Iris is about to serve dinner... when an unearthly aroma begins to emerge from the dinner dish! WHRRRRRRRR The colorful creature appearance brings an abrupt end to the Allens' dinner plans! (Holy Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, Batman!)

WHRRRRRRRR The gusts of wind fills the entire dining room... Barry takes Iris out of the house, and leads her to safety in a fallout shelter... WHRRRR After a few tense moments of waiting, they learn that the creature has gone... with the wind! After its second appearance, the police scientist wonders if the colorful creature is after Barry Allen or the Flash?

The following morning finds the scarlet speedster heading for the Flash Museum... where he had promised Dexter Myles that he'd check out the new exhibits for accuracy! Inside the building, he finds several ski-masked hoods looting the museum! As the looters begin to draw their guns -- they are swiftly and suddenly knocked down to the ground by a mighty wind! WHRRRRRR They see the colorful creature beginning to form, and the fastest man alive knows that he has to help them!

He hurls them bodily at super-speed -- vibrating their molecules so that they can pass through the wall! No sooner are they on the other side... KWHAM! The force of the creature's wind-gusts cause the walls of the museum to blow apart! (Holy Doors, Batman!) The scarlet speedster now knows that the colorful creature is after him -- in either identity -- and he must try to stop it! One punch later -- the Flash finds that his mysterious antagonist has vanished out of existence!

A strange glow fills the air... and an alien being steps forward! He tells the startled speedster that the creature he has been facing is called a Nok! (Holy Nok-Nok... Who's There, Batman!) The alien hunter had been transporting the Nok, along with other alien game, to his home world, when his ship began to malfunction... The cosmic-photokon unit had burnt out, and would have to regenerate on the closest planet! (Holy AAA, Batman! Better call Dr. Who!) While making repairs... the Nok woke up -- broke out of its cage -- and escaped! Using a mota-scanner, the alien hunter was able to recapture the Nok every time it had escaped! (Holy Nok Three Times On The Ceiling If You Want Me, Batman!) The Flash understands the reason for the colorful creature's mysterious disappearances, but not why the Nok has come after him! The alien hunter does not know the reason, but tells the scarlet speedster that the Nok is becoming stronger -- and his scanner will no longer contain it! If the creature should escape again and attack -- The ship will be fully repaired in six hours! If the Nok is not defeated by then, the alien hunter will be forced to leave the planet without it!

After dropping off the looters at the police station -- the scarlet speedster starts to head for the Flash Museum to fix the damage -- but he finds that he is running faster than he should be... as if something were pulling at him with terrific force! The Flash begins to feel the heat -- and sees the Nok after him once again! The wind-gusts have increased his super-speed... just as the colorful creature crashes into him!

Enveloped in the explosive burst of light, the fastest man alive is about to undergo the most unexpected journey of his career!

Time passes... The Flash begins to regain his senses from the aftermath of the super-speed collision with the Nok! He finds himself inside a warehouse, and knows that the force of impact must have sent him from Earth-1 -- and into another dimension! (Holy Twilight Zone, Batman!) Using his power to vibrate his own molecules, the scarlet speedster is surprised to find that he can't leave this dimension! Outside the warehouse, he sees a sign that tells him that he's in Willowdale! The Willowdale on Earth-1 is a great metropolis, but here... it is a small country town!

On the street, he is recognized by a young boy, while the boy's parents laugh out loud at the sight of this newcomer! When he tries to tell a police officer who he is, the Flash is told to go off to his costume party! The boy asks if he will use his ring to change back to Barry Allen -- as he does in the pages of the comic book! The mother smiles and reminds her son that this is only fantasy! The scarlet speedster can only wonder how the youth would know about his ring and other identity! The boy turns and runs towards a magazine stand! He returns with a Flash comic book for the startled hero to sign! The story re-tells a past adventure he had -- right down to the exact detail! His own thoughts -- his other identity -- are on the printed page!

As the parents tells their son to get away from the costumed stranger, the Flash takes his leave! The adults can only gape at the empty air, while only the young boy knows that the scarlet speedster has traveled across the country by now! In another part of the country, the Flash is trying to figure out what happened... On Earth-1, Gardner Fox wrote about the adventures of the Flash -- which turned out to be Jay Garrick... and the writer claimed that the stories came to him in the form of dreams... Fox was unaware that his unconscious mind was able to tune into Earth-2 where the Golden Age Flash actually existed! He knows that he is now on a parallel world where another writer is able to "tune into" Earth-1 -- and write stories about his experiences! On this Earth, the Flash is just a character of fiction -- who appears in comic books! He knows that super-speed alone won't help him to return to his own Earth! He must find and use a cosmic treadmill!

Unfortunately, the fastest man on Earth-1 only has two dollars and change... not enough for the materials necessary to build the cosmic treadmill! He knows that in New York City there's only one person on this parallel world -- who would believe his situation -- and give him the funds he needs --! The editor of the Flash comic book! The name and address were printed on the splash page... In an empty men's room, the scarlet speedster uses his ring to change back to Barry Allen! At 575 Lexington Avenue, the police scientist heads for the man he wishes to see!

On the eighth floor... the secretary tells Mr. Julius Schwartz that he has a visitor by the name of Barry Allen! The editor sighs and figures that it must be some sort of Flash-fan's joke! Upon seeing the visitor, Julie Schwartz sees that the man has also gone to the trouble of making himself look like "Barry Allen!" Once the police scientist has told the startled editor about his situation...and his need for money to buy the materials necessary for a cosmic treadmill -- Julie sees that the young man obviously needs a hand-out! While Barry insists that he can prove his story, the editor begins to turn away --

It is only when Julie sees the young man using the ring -- the uniform expanding upon contact with the air -- the change to the scarlet speedster happening before his very eyes... does he admit that "Barry" was speaking the truth! After being told what's necessary to build a cosmic treadmill, the editor offers the Flash a chance at looking at their bound copies of -- The Flash comic book! Since it may take Julie some time to get the items -- the scarlet speedster makes himself comfortable while he's away! Inside the locked room, the fastest man alive pulls up a chair and begins to read the back issues which chronicle his many adventures... which may help him in dealing with the Nok -- if he is ever to return to Earth-1!

Hours later... Julie returns with the items, and the Flash tells him to step back so that he can work on the cosmic treadmill at super-speed! Even the Flash-Editor can't believe the sight of the many after-images of the scarlet speedster at work! Seconds later, the treadmill is ready... The fastest man alive gives thanks to Julie for all he's done for him, while the editor knows that he is privy to a fantastic Flash story he'll get out of the deal!

Running at vibratory speed on the treadmill, the Flash should be able to bridge the inter-dimensional gap! Faster...faster... and before the editor's eyes... the scarlet speedster disappears...!

After vibration faster than he ever had before, the Flash finds himself in the same sort of countryside he had been in... and the welcome sight of the Central City city limits are before him! No sooner does he begin to approach the city -- that he senses the presence of the Nok! The colorful creature pins him to the ground! The scarlet speedster knows that he must break free -- especially since he now knows why the Nok has been after him!

Using his super-speed to vibrate internally... the Flash is able to pass through the ground below! Now out of the Nok's reach, the scarlet speedster heads for his laboratory in Central City! After reading the back issues of the Flash comic book, he saw a common link in many of the stories... his invisible body aura-- which protects him from the terrific heat of air-friction... It was his body's aura-radiation which attracted the Nok... who feeds on it! At the lab, the Flash works swiftly... having had analyzed the chemical nature of his aura over the years -- but now he must simulate the same aura-radiation in the lab -- the fate of his career as the Flash is at stake!

If the Nok were to reach him, it could cause his aura to disappear -- making him vulnerable to heat-friction! His time as the Flash would end -- forever! He has finished building a special "spray-gun" -- which he'll load with an artificial aura-radiation he's synthesized! It's his only hope to drive away the Nok! WHRRRRRRRRRR He hears the colorful creature's approach -- closer...closer...

BREEE As the Nok leaps towards him, the Flash fires off the spray-gun! The colorful creature stops dead in its tracks! It begins to absorb the aura-radiation... just as the alien hunter reappears in the lab! He smiles as he sees how the scarlet speedster has restrained the Nok! (Holy Nok-Out, Batman!)

Once the operation of the aura-gun has been explained... the alien hunter teleports himself and the Nok off the Earth! At the Allen house... Iris has dinner ready, while Barry still can't believe that he's only a fictional comic book character on a parallel Earth! Elsewhere in all of time and space, in a busy editorial office... Julie Schwartz can't hardly wait for the next Flash adventure to appear in an upcoming issue! He'll know it really happened -- even if the readership won't!

On the cover by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, the blurb asks, "The Flash -- Fact or Fiction?" From the looks of the Nok's grip on the scarlet speedster, it's more along the lines of "The Flash -- Flat or Friction?"

The splash page provides some welcome Flash-Facts for review and the sight of fingers pointing at the reader for comprehension!

This issue saw Barry Allen up to his crew-cut in trouble against the alien Nok, who was certainly "Nok...Nok...Nokking on Earth-1's Door!"

Even with a mota-scanner, the alien hunter was only able to find the colorful creature a trio of times! If there were to be a fourth time, it would be a real miracle...man!

Leave it to the kid to spot the Flash, while the adults can only laugh at the sight of the "costumed kook!"

Barry Allen meets his maker in this issue, while Julie Schwartz wants "Barry Allen" to be original in his need for a hand-out!

Nothing like a lightning swift-change of clothes to make an editor change his mind!

One wonders what the comic books were like on Earth-1, and what would happen if we found out that we were fictional characters in comic books, too!

The panel of Julie Schwartz saying goodbye to the scarlet speedster was used for a '70s ad presenting the Amazing World of D.C. Comics!

It was this ad which had me at a young age wondering what an editor does!

After some thought, my pre-school mind came to the conclusion that Julie Schwartz was none other than... the leader of the Justice League of America! The many editor's notes telling the reader how Green Lantern's ring is vulnerable to yellow, as well as Superman being vulnerable to Kryptonite would seem to reinforce this conclusion!

At one of my first Wondercon's, I had the pleasure of meeting Julie and Murphy Anderson. Upon telling Mr. Schwartz about my discovery of what an editor was, Murphy burst into laughter, while Julie was slightly bemused by the whole thing. A truly priceless moment in my personal history.

In the Flash-Grams letters page, Tom Peyer of Syracuse, N.Y. writes:

"I think Flash won. At least, I hope Flash won. Y'see, Superman has all of these other things, like strength, flight, and no cavities. Speed is all that Flash has (except for maybe...Iris)."

In the Flash-Grams Extra letters page, Steven Grant of Madison, Wis. writes:

"Oh, no! Andru and Esposito doing The Flash artwork? This will ruin The Flash! I give my regrets that the master, Infantino, has left The Flash. I also ask for forgiveness of Andru and Esposito; they put new life into the Flash magazine. I find that though they don't rival Infantino's work, they are two of the best artists in comicdom."

Having grown up on Andru and Esposito's work on The Amazing Spider-Man in the '70s, I would tend to agree!

This Review Is Respectfully Dedicated To Julie Schwartz

Steve Chung
"The Flash -- Fact or Review?"