Broome, Fox, and Infantino continued to helm the Flash during the period 1964 – 1967 – the New Look. Some new elements were tried out in the series, such as a new origin, but were dropped. Other elements, such as the Flash Museum, would become major features of the series. But by far the most important change that occurred during this period was the marriage of the Flash and Iris West, and Barry’s uncertainty about revealing his secret identity to her.
A new origin story is presented for the Flash in issue 167, which introduces Mopee. Mopee is a sort of guardian angel, who was ordered to endow a human with super-speed, and was the one who sent the lightning bolt to hit Barry Allen. It was not an accident, Mopee intentionally created the Flash. But he broke some guardian angel rules in doing so, and now has come back to fix his mistake. For Mopee, that means removing the Flash's powers. The Flash argues that he has done so much good with them, and we get a couple brief flashback panels, and mentions of some of his villains. Not much of a career recap, which would have fit quite well into the story's structure. Eventually the Flash convinces Mopee to let him earn his powers, which will cost $94. Having to earn the cash amount of the chemicals is just another awful idea wedged into this tale. But the Flash succeeds, and Mopee heads off. Only then does the Flash wonder about Kid Flash, whose origin was identical. Was that just an accident, a coincidence...or something more? This was so detested that no later Flash story makes reference to it.
Another poor idea, quickly forgotten, was introduced in Flash 154, giving the hero a weakness. Green Lantern has yellow, the Martian Manhunter has fire, but the Flash has had none until now. Suddenly, his speed goes haywire, sometimes he moves far too quickly, and sometimes far too slowly. Eventually he determines that this is a build up of haywire speed, which needs to be periodically released. He allows himself to go out of control fast in a closed space to take down the bad guys, even though he cannot direct himself. Later, he drains the excess haywire speed from himself. He notes that he will need to do this periodically, to prevent the weakness from coming back. Had this idea resonated with readers, I'm sure we would have seen it happen again. But it didn't. Thank goodness.
Far more long lasting than either of those concepts was the Flash Museum, which made its debut in issue 154 as well. The tale brings back aging actor Dexter Myles, who is now in Central City, after his run of performances in Blue Valley ended. We don't actually get to see very much of the Flash Museum in this story, but Barry Allen comes across Myles sleeping on a bench there. From Dexter, he hears about some actors who had been talking in the park earlier, men who had gone missing. With the actor's help, the Flash rescues the men and captures the escaped convicts who had been using them. At the end of the story, Dexter Myles becomes the guide at the Flash Museum, a position he would continue to hold for the duration of the book, and beyond.
Kid Flash teams up with his mentor in a few stories during this period. Jay Garrick does as well, but those I will be discussing further down. Issue 149 contains a tale in which Kid Flash gets hit with a mind ray that leaves him with no idea who he is. The story leads to Barry unmasking live on television, but at super speed, so Wally is the only one capable of seeing it. It works, jogging Kid Flash’s memory, so Wally is able to tell Flash about the extra-dimensional raiders, and together they take them down.
Flash 159 opens with the Flash quitting, putting up the sign seen on the cover, all to the dismay of Wally West. Barry Allen doesn't even seem to care about revealing that he was the hero, and Kid Flash has to speed around covering Barry's attempts to publicly quit. Desperate to figure out a solution, Wally gets Barry to bring him to Earth 2, where they consult with Dr. Charles McNider. I always like it when Dr. Mid-Nite is used as an actual doctor in a story. He eventually determines that Barry was hypnotized by a police officer from the future not to use his powers, which could trigger a bomb in Central City. I guess Wally's powers weren't potent enough to set off the bomb? Flash and Kid Flash head to the future to defeat the criminal behind the bomb, then race the signal back to Central City to get rid of it before it explodes.
The cover inspired another story as well, an odd one, which appeared in issue 161. Perhaps it is meant to take place in an alternate reality? I think it has to. For one thing, Barry Allen starts hearing his costume talk to him, and in a really creepy way, insisting that it will never leave him. Then abruptly it is Barry's wedding day to Iris West. Her father and Wally West are there, but no other guests of note. Barry walks to the church, but gets into a race with a turtle, which winds up pulling him into a dimension of super-fast people. He thinks he comes back on time, but actually arrives five hours late. The wedding gets called off, and Iris wants nothing more to do with him. So Barry gives up being the Flash, and leaves the costume behind. He tries to behave heroically as himself, to impress Iris, but really needs to use his super speed to be able to fight crime. Barry heads to the Flash Museum, where Dexter Myles put his costume on display. He puts it on, but Iris sees him do so. Barry defeats the bad guys, but somehow Iris convinces herself that she only imagined seeing Barry using super speed, and that he only put the costume on to protect her. No mention is ever made again of this cancelled wedding. None of this really sits well with what has come before, or is about to come.
The dimension I mentioned in that story, the one where everyone moves super-fast, is reminiscent of another world that had been introduced in the series. Flash 145 sees the debut of Dorralla Kon. Dorralla travels to Earth, and from her perspective, the Flash is the only person on the planet who isn't a statue. Flash shows Dorralla how to slow down to match humans, and then shows her around Central City. Iris actually starts to get jealous of the amount of time Barry spends with this mystery woman. Everywhere they go, mysterious explosions take place. The Flash finally determines this is a side effect of Dorralla's presence in this dimension, and she heads off to another realm.
Dorralla Kon makes a return in Flash 157, as the Flash's speed suddenly vanishes. At the same time, Iris West gets an interview with someone claiming to be the Flash, but it's not Barry Allen. Dorralla shows up, no longer setting off explosions, and explains to the Flash that she stole his speed. The Flash impersonator is a man from her dimension, and there is a complicated backstory, in which he was trying to conquer his home dimension, but absorbed too much speed power from the people, and needs to drain power from the Flash to balance it out. That's why she stole his powers. Dorralla brings the Flash to her dimension and they destroy the machine the bad guy built. Upon returning, Iris is all mad at the Flash, as the impostor has been racing around doing destructive things. With his speed back, he forces the bad guy to run and exhaust the energy he stole, until Dorralla is able to remove the rest of it.
There was another team-up with Green Lantern in the pages of the Flash during this era, in issue 168. Green Lantern has gone missing, and not even the Guardians of the Universe can find him. So one of them comes to Earth and enlists the aid of Barry Allen in tracking Hal Jordan down. This is the first time the Flash met the Guardians, though he knew of them already from Hal. Although Flash gets the mission to find Green Lantern, he doesn't pursue that plot thread right away. Instead, we start following a reclusive inventor who comes to attention of some thieves, who steal his futuristic creations and use them for crime. The bad guys do wear some really creepy masks with their costumes. That might be the best thing in the story. The stolen weapons they have enable the thieves to get the better of the hero. And it's not even Barry who winds up finding Hal. He and Iris are watching television when they spot him working as a fisherman. Barry races off to him, and though Hal has no memory of being Green Lantern, the Flash manages to locate his power battery. As Hal recharges his ring his mind clears. The advanced weapons the villains are using are blamed for Hal's amnesia, though the connection is really vague and ultimately theoretical. Something else might have caused it, and the heroes never knew. There is an amusing bit in which the last foe standing knocks himself out rather than face the heroes, but overall there is not much to recommend this tale.
During this period the Flash appeared in four team-ups in the pages of The Brave and the Bold, appearing with the Martian Manhunter (56), the Doom Patrol (65), Batman (67), and the Spectre (72). Since there is already a lot to say about the Flash during this era, I will save three of those stories for the write ups on the other heroes, and just look at the Batman tale. Batman’s entry is even long than this one!
It’s highly appropriate that Carmine Infantino does the art on Brave and the Bold 67. Infantino had been the driving artist on the New Look Batman, as well as being the main artist on the Flash, so he was perfect for this story. Sadly, I don't find the tale itself particularly grabbing. Batman starts off the story failing completely to catch the Speed Boys, who wear running shoes with their suits, and move incredibly fast after committing their crimes.
The Speed Boys wear bags over their heads even when no one else can see them. They are extremely shy, I guess, but must have a hard time breathing. Batman calls in the Flash for help with the Speed Boys, but it just so happens that the Flash is suddenly having a hard time with his speed, as it is basically killing him. Luckily, the same radiation that powers the Speed Boys shoes has the property of healing the Flash. Meh.
The Flash’s large gallery of villains made appearances during this period, and made their first group appearance, though they were not yet called the Rogues. Looking at the individual attacks against the Flash first, Abra Kadabra made the most outings against the hero during this period.
The villain’s first outing in these years, in issue 149, contradicts the established notion that, despite his name and appearance, the villain has no magical powers, he is simply using advanced science. Nevertheless, the plot of the story has Kadabra transfer his "magic" to the Flash. This screws things up for the hero, as Kadabra has ensured that the magic cannot be used against him. So when the Flash tries to use super speed against the villain, the magic messes with that as well. Kadabra offers a deal, to remove the magic in exchange for gaining the Flash's speed. But the Flash just moves randomly at super speed, and winds up hitting Abra Kadabra eventually anyway.
In Flash 163 Abra Kadabra uses his magic to lure a policeman from his own time back to the present, and then trade bodies with him, enabling him to escape from prison. Since Abra Kadabra wants fame and applause, it's not hard at all for the Flash to find him. And Kadabra is counting on this, telling his audience that he will expose Flash's identity. He causes the hero's costume to fly off, but the Flash grabs a different costume and puts it on. He dons a variety of outfits, eventually confusing Kadabra, who aims at an after image, allowing the Flash to take him down. The policeman takes Kadabra back to his own time at the end, but Kadabra is back in issue 170.
In that story Barry Allen goes to the theatre, and meets an actor/magician. As they shake hands, Barry hears the man announcing his secret identity. But this turns out to be a hallucination of sorts. Or at least that's what Barry writes it off as. Later, Barry is approached by another man who shows him an unusual disc. It turns out that both of the men he encountered were Abra Kadabra in disguise. We catch up with the villain in his future prison, monitored by a robot guard. Kabadra had made seemingly harmless requests of the robot, but gathered what he needed for his escape. In his two interactions with the Flash Kadabra has cast a spell that leaves the Flash completely unable to see any crimes being committed. The Flash gets visited by three members of the Justice Society, Jay Garrick, Dr. Mid-Nite and Dr. Fate. McNider makes reference to the case a few months back in which he met Barry. Dr. Fate's magic has alerted him to Kadabra's actions. Since Barry cannot see the villain, but the other heroes can, they use their abilities to make it look like Barry is able to see and fight Abra Kadabra, expecting that the villain will lift the spell, as it seems no longer to be working. Surprisingly, that is what Kadabra does, and then the Flash is able to finally take him down.
Mirror Master takes on the Flash twice on his own during these years. The first time, in Flash 146, the story develops the notion that Iris West has forced Barry Allen to take classes on being more assertive and outgoing, to be more of a success in life. That conversation took place ten issues earlier, but hadn't been mentioned until this story, as the classes are coming to an end. It turns out that Sam Scudder, the Mirror Master, is also taking the class, in disguise. He periodically hypnotizes the rest of the class and brags about his encounters with the Flash. He tells them about his special new mirror, which allows him to trade legs with the Flash and race away from him. Barry is as hypnotized as everyone else, but he is the only one to notice a missing period of time, and that Scudder's ashtray had filled up and moved across the room, apparently on its own in an instant. He gets the jump on Mirror Master and takes him down before the rest of the class emerges from their trance. So it is Barry Allen who gets the credit for the deduction and capture, not the Flash, to Iris' delight.
In issue 161 the villain has discovered a way to make a mirror show him a split second into the future, and uses this repeatedly to avoid being captured by the Flash. Mirror Master gets really excited when he sees himself killing the Flash. But then the Flash just isn't dead, and Mirror Master doesn't know what went wrong. The explanation is the thing I don't care for, as it involves the Flash travelling three days ahead in time to fight Mirror Master, so that when the villain attacks, the Flash allows himself to be pulled back to his original time, which is why he disappeared, and it looked like he died. But he was really also there at the same time to capture the Mirror Master after his three day early self left. It creates a really complicated time travel paradox.
The Weather Wizard shows up in issue 145. Iris is covering a school science fair, and one of the kids, Tommy Davis, has a weather predicting equipment that forecasts snow in one location, even though it's the middle of summer. It turns out that the Weather Wizard robs that place, and uses a snowstorm. As the story progresses, the Flash becomes aware of the connection between Tommy's forecasts, and the Weather Wizard's attacks. The Weather Wizard had been testing out the climactic effects with his rod before committing the crimes, which was how Tommy's machines picked up on it. Tommy helps the Flash intercept Weather Wizard, but the hero keeps the boy's involvement a secret, so that the villain would not change his method of practicing, if he ever got out again.
In Flash 148 Murphy Anderson gives Captain Boomerang some great facial expressions, as the villain finds himself taunted and tormented by unknown foes who always know what he is going to do, and steal his targets before he can get there. It's lucky for Captain Boomerang that he happens to have a new flying boomerang that carries him around quickly. With that, and the boomerang bridge bomb from the cover, he holds off the Flash for longer than usual. The great kicker is that it is Boomerang's former cellmate who was behind everything. He grew to hate the bragging Australian, and used records played during his sleep to suggest the crimes to him, which is how they knew where he would go before Boomerang did. We ought to have expected to see this guy again, but I suspect that Boomerang found out how the guy had played him, and took a prison revenge.
The Trickster makes his play in Flash 152. We meet Inez in this story, a niece of Iris West, so probably a cousin of Wally, although we never learn the precise relationship, and never see her again. For that matter, we never learn if Iris is the sister of Wally's mother or father, either. But that has no bearing on the story, which begins as the Trickster steals a rocking horse from Inez, and uses it to rob a blimp. The Trickster also has rigged up a toy surfboard, and a tricycle, and is using them in his crimes. This time he really is stealing, but in going about it such a weird and complicated way, it's clear his primary goal is still to annoy the Flash. He does create a lot of hassle for the Flash, but still winds up getting taken in by him.
The Top takes a spin in Flash 157, stealing a serum that causes people to age rapidly. In what I found an interesting touch, the Top also makes use of one of the Mirror Master's weapons. That is far from a common occurrence, in a story where the other villain does not even appear. As the Flash expects the Top to use the aging serum against, he prepares for it, meeting with Dexter Myles to prepare the make-up. The Flash also has more mind games prepared, altering the shape of his body to pretend that the serum has evolved him, and pretending to have telekinetic powers, which he duplicates with a hoax and super speed. The Flash needs to find out where the Top has hidden the serum, and this prompts the villain to run to it, to take it himself. But the Flash just takes it away.
In issue 164 the Flash finds that he keeps causing unwitting destruction every time he uses his powers. The effect comes and goes, and though the Flash does what he can to apologize and repair the damage, eventually he gets thrown into prison. It's only at this point that the reader discovers that the Pied Piper is behind the Flash's troubles, sending out sonic vibrations that send the Flash out of control. Once the hero has been tossed in jail, the Piper takes control of the town, sending all the people out onto the streets and leaving everything open for his men to rob. When the gang members try to cheat the Piper, he frees the Flash, sending him after them. Of course, the Flash rounds up the Piper as well.
Grodd appears in Flash 172. The tale begins as Barry Allen sees Iris moving at super speed. She is not alone, everyone in Central City is moving at an extremely accelerated pace, except for the Flash. His aura turns out to be the thing protecting him from the effect. And it's not a harmless effect. Unless it ends, everyone subjected to it will die of exhaustion. Grodd, who is still in prison in Gorilla City, telepatically alerts the Flash that he is behind the situation, and that he was also the one to seal off the city. He promises to return things to normal, but only if the Flash frees him and brings him to Central City. The Flash does so, and Grodd mentally slows everyone back down to normal. Only later, after he has let Grodd go free, does the Flash learn that the speed effect was a bizarre but natural occurrence, which would have stopped on its own. Grodd simply sealed off the city and then took credit for it, although he also did make it end sooner than it would have. Grodd is trying to blackmail the world into making him the sole leader, claiming to be able to subject anyone to the speed effect. But once the Flash knows he is lying, he goes after the gorilla. The squeezing scene works well, even though it's not hard to figure out that the Flash simply slipped out of his costume, and then returns to punch out Grodd.
Even the Ornitho-Men, the bird men from the distant past, make a return, showing up in Flash 162. The story largely takes place in a Disneyland type theme park, being built by Walter Dempsey. As Dempsey tests out a new ride, the Tunnel of Terror, he winds up getting transformed into an ornitho-man, and going on a rampage. The Flash recognizes the creature, but has no idea it is really Dempsey until he knocks it out, and it changes back. The Flash finds himself paralyzed with fear, unable to enter the tunnel until Iris takes a photograph. The flash of light cures him, and he realizes there was a flash from the electric sign for the park that happened right before Dempsey changed back into human. Using the flashing light, the Flash is able to communicate with the creature causing the problems, an alien life form that landed millions of years ago, misunderstood why the Orintho-Men died out, and blamed humans. When the ride was constructed right on top of the alien, he was able to affect those who entered it.
Captain Cold gets a solo outing in Flash 150. Len Snart falls for a visiting dignitary, Ayesha, the Maharanee of Jodapur. Barry Allen is made her official escort, although that means he has to call off a lunch date with Iris West. Aside from kidnapping her, Captain Cold is actually fairly decent in this one. As in, he does not threaten Ayesha at all. He is more concerned with entertaining her. And she actually seems to enjoy his company, despite the kidnapping. Nevertheless, she is relieved when the Flash shows up and defeats him. Maybe Cold should have just gone about trying to impress her without the kidnapping. Looks like it might have worked.
In Flash 166 Captain Cold returns, but teamed with Heat Wave. It's a fun little tale that begins as the Flash deals with a burning building, injuring his ankle as he catches a woman. A doctor on the scene notes that it is sprained, wraps it in a ludicrously large bandage, and a photographer gets a shot of it. By the evening papers, everyone knows the Flash has a bad foot. So Captain Cold and Heat Wave figure this is a good time to go out robbing. They then decide to "date" a model at the gem display. Whenever they talk about dating or marrying it's clearly just a really polite euphemism, which makes these two way more creepy. They are going to have a contest of their powers to see who gets the date. But then the Flash shows up, and they have to attack him instead. The hot and cold effects wind up speed healing his ankle, and he is able to take the pair down. So although there is a photo in the paper of the Flash in a cast, Barry returns to his new wife without one. This is also one of the stories in which Barry spends as much time fretting about whether or not to tell Iris his secret as he does fighting crime.
The Reverse-Flash made a couple of appearances alongside Mr Element, the first of which was in Flash 147. Curiously, this is the first time that Mr. Element (also sometimes Dr. Alchemy) had appeared in the Flash's book, although he had made two appearances in Showcase, and also a couple in Justice League. We learn that his real name is Al Desmond, and that he has managed to get a grip on his multiple identities and reform, even getting engaged to Rita. He has become friends with Barry Allen and Iris West, and you can tell Barry takes some pleasure in knowing that one of his foes has seen the light. This makes it all very sad when Al Desmond starts hearing voices, and they drive him to create a formula that somehow reaches through time, allowing the Reverse-Flash to arrive in our era. The Reverse-Flash had been developing a new serum to replace his lost speed powers, but needs Mr. Element's knowledge to complete it. Al has no desire to return to crime, but the Reverse-Flash has a mind controlling blast, and forces him to. The Flash is dismayed that Mr. Element has returned to his thieving ways, but then notices that he never actually takes anything. The Reverse-Flash keeps pushing and pushing Desmond, until he finally snaps and does begin to steal again. Desmond makes the formula for the Reverse-Flash, but you can tell he is completely tormented by his situation. The two Flashes have a big climactic battle. Once again they are evenly matched. The Reverse-Flash slows down to use his mind burst, and that enables the Flash to triumph. Because of the Reverse-Flash's actions, Desmond is not held responsible for the crimes he committed.
The story is followed up in Flash 153. We learn more about the future world that the Reverse-Flash is from, and also that his real name is Eobard Thawne. He is released from prison after a mental scanner determines that he no longer has any criminal impulses, but this only happens because Thawne rigged the machine. Thawne is now working on developing ultra-speed, and has found a side effect of the process makes animals turn evil. He decides he wants to see if it would have the same effect on humans, and so he sends the beam through time to affect Al Desmond. Al's life has been going quite well, and he is up for a promotion. He contacts Barry Allen, asking him to call in the Flash, when he starts getting criminal urges, thanks to the ultra-speed beam. The beam works, and Mr. Element returns to crime. In fact, it works so well that it spreads out and starts affecting other people as well.
As the chaos spreads, the Reverse-Flash comes back in time to confront the Flash. There is a whole plot about getting the city council to ban super speed, so that the Flash is not able to use his powers to stop his foe. But the most interesting parts of the story deal with Mr. Element. The Reverse-Flash expects the now-evil man will help him against the Flash, but Al Desmond took the precaution of hypnotizing himself to aid the hero the moment he saw him. This allows Flash to defeat the Reverse-Flash, and then take down Mr. Element before he can strike. Again, once the beam is turned off, Al is worried that he is really a criminal. They test him on the repaired mental scanner, and he comes up clean.
The Flash also has to deal with a couple of villains from the pages of Justice League of America. Flash 158 is a delightful puzzler for the Flash, who never really finds out what is going on. At the start of the story Barry Allen intends to go into action, but a Green Lantern outfit emerges from his ring. He puts it on, and finds it even comes with a functioning power ring. But as he pursues criminals he keeps changing powers and uniforms, becoming Hawkman and the Aquaman. The reader gets to find out the solution to these bizarre events. Professor Ivo, last seen in his debut tale in Brave and the Bold, in which he created Amazo to pit against the Justice League, has found a way to transfer the powers of the various Justice League members to himself. Ivo actually began this scheme back when he had the Justice League members captive in that first story. What Ivo is not aware of is the side effect of the Flash's super speed aura, which has resulted in the Flash taking on the same powers that Professor Ivo is gaining. Not only does the Flash not realize what is taking place, he never even gets close to defeating Ivo. It's the villain who ultimately defeats himself, when he tries to take on Superman's powers and winds up shorting out his machine. Things return to normal for the Flash, and he goes on his merry way. Professor Ivo is seriously wounded in the explosion. So much so that we do not see the character again for over ten years, until his return in Action Comics when Superman battles Amazo. Green Lantern, Hawkman, Aquaman and the Atom only make cameos in this story. None were using their powers during the times that Ivo was stealing them, so none of them realized anything unusual was taking place either. Such a curious little tale, but all the more fun because of that.
Flash 171 begins as the hero pursues a villain calling himself the Green Ghost. In actuality, this is Dr. Light, the Justice League villain who has been going after individual members, after failing to take out the team as a whole. This story comes after his attack on Green Lantern three years earlier. Dr. Light does have a neat device in this one, which can make people appear as others, or as ordinary objects. Dr. Light reveals his presence only when he is ready to take down the Flash, after luring the hero to the Flash Museum, and then disguising himself as Dexter Myles. Dr. Light makes the Flash look like a block of pavement, which is why, on the cover, everyone just walks by him. Dr. Light fares best in this story when he is concealing his identity. He really ought to have killed the Flash when he had the chance, rather than making him look like concrete. When the villain does get around to trying to kill the hero, the Flash has had time to recover, and disposes of Dr. Light. And geez, this was still in the years when Dr. Light was being shown as a competent villain!
The first grouping of what would come to be known as the Rogues takes place in Flash 155, "The Gauntlet of Super-Villains.“ There is a tailor in this story, who designs the costumes of the Flash villains, but he is not identified as Gambi, nor does he look like him. Nevertheless, I believe this is an error, rather than a second tailor. Mirror Master, Captains Boomerang and Cold, Pied Piper, Heat Wave and the Top are all shown to be using this tailor, and they will all later be shown as patrons of Gambi. Anyway, each one gets teleported out of prison, although none know who did this, or why. They decide to team up and attack the Flash all together. This actually turns out to mean attacking him in sequence, but one right after the other. Much like a gauntlet. But the villains can never get along with each other for long enough, and Heat Wave and Captain Boomerang begin to fight with each other. Still, the Flash has noticed that each villain's weapon has been drawing away some of his speed, even though the villains themselves don't seem to be aware of this. Flash follows the radiation trail, which leads him to a circus ape, with a very stressed out mate. Flash suspects this has something to do with Grodd, and sure enough, he had changed minds with the circus ape. Flash brings the female ape along with him as he goes after Grodd. Flash also takes out the other group of villains, running between them so they all wind up taking each other down. Preposterous, but priceless. It's the female ape who enables the Flash to succeed at beating Grodd, once she learns that he is only interested in Boka, Grodd's flame from an earlier story. Not understanding that this is not really her ape boyfriend, the female attacks and distracts Grodd, allowing the Flash to beat him, even though not as fast as he ought to be. I probably should have mentioned that it was Grodd who freed the Rogues, mentally inspired their plan, and rigged the weapons to drain Flash's power.
In his their very first appearance, Barry Allen and Iris West were introduced as being engaged. Perhaps that is why the official “engagement” story, in Flash 151, lacks any sort of scene in which Barry proposes. Instead, Barry and Iris are shown shopping for an engagement ring. Seems kind of late to being doing that, as they have been engaged for seven years already, but Iris comments on how she wanted to wait until she found the perfect ring. Well, she finds it, but almost immediately a black entity appears and steals it. These odd black figures pull off a lot of thefts, and the Flash finds himself incapable of having any effect at all on them. Analyzing their residue, he determines that they are made of the same substance the Shade was creating when he battled that villain on Earth 2. So the Flash heads off to Earth 2. The Shade is, indeed, behind the thefts, sending his shadowy images to rob items from Earth 1 that he can openly display on Earth 2. Barry seeks out Jay Garrick, who was already suspecting that the Shade was up to something. The Shade traps Jay, and gives a nice tidy explanation of how he learned about the alternate world, and discovered a way there through the shadow realm. Barry pursues the Shade into this realm. In these stories, the Shade's power is not innate, as it would come to be in later tales. It emerges from his cane, and requires his gloves in order to control it. The Flash tries to use the cane, but realizes he needs the gloves before he can actually defeat the villain, and get Iris her ring back.
Now that the wedding is approaching, Barry spends a number of issues debating whether he ought to tell Iris that he is really the Flash. In some stories, Iris appears to have her own suspicions about Barry. There is a tale in Flash 159, mostly dealing with Iris’ forgetful scientist father, Ira West, that concludes with a panel that broadly hints at this. It gives me the feeling that she is waiting for Barry to open up of his own accord, although also that she is prepared to wait until they are married.
Barry Allen and Iris West finally get married in Flash 165, which is everything it possibly could be. Barry is still stressing over whether or not to tell Iris that he is the Flash. His parents are both at the wedding, as are Professor West and his wife. Wally West is there, with both his parents. Dexter Myles, Daphne Dean, Al Desmond and his wife Rita round out the wedding party.
All seems normal until the Flash runs in during the ceremony, as seen on the cover. The story then jumps backwards and ahead in time at once, as we follow the Reverse-Flash, who manages to mentally connect with the Flash from his prison in the future. He raids Barry's mind, learning all his secrets, before changing places with him. Eobard Thawne then surgically alters his own face to make him look like Barry, and even goes so far as to fight crime as the Flash, all so that he can marry Iris. He doesn't seem particularly enamoured of her, and one gets the sense that this is more a revenge thing. The Flash figures his way out of the Reverse-Flash's cell, decreasing the radiation in it by using the shrinking suit gas stuff in his ring. So that's why the Flash shows up during the wedding, and runs away with Barry Allen.
The two Flashes have a big fight, and the Reverse-Flash loses, simply because he hasn't yet learned how to run across water. Ha ha. The wedding then goes off with no further problems, and the newlyweds drive off. Iris is happy, but Barry is still worried about whether he should keep lying to his new wife.
Barry keeps waffling on the issue all the way up to Flash 173. That tale opens on Earth 2, as Jay and Joan Garrick discuss Barry Allen's worries about telling his identity to Iris. Joan, who knew Jay was the Flash right from the start, thinks Barry is being silly, and convinces Jay to bring her to Earth 1 to talk to Barry.
Jay and Barry, as well as Kid Flash, all get caught up in a scheme by the Golden Man, a hyper evolved alien. He brings all three heroes to his world, and makes them race against each other, so that he can drain their energy. He is plotting to evolve the rest of the people of his world to his state. At first he just brings Barry and Kid Flash, but then Barry appears to die, so he brings Jay. Of course Barry isn't dead, and the three team up at the end. Ironically, the villain defeats himself. The machine he constructed fails, and instead of evolving everyone else, it turns him into a caveman.
Considering the great cover, and the fact that this is the first team up of the three Flashes, it comes off as a disappointment. But it does have one redeeming feature. Barry finally decides that he is going to tell Iris the truth on their anniversary, which will take place in the following issue. But you’ll have to wait until I reach the next period for that story!
The Flash continues in the next period, 1967 – 1970: It’s a Happening!
Flash: The Flash 144 – 173 (May 64 – Sept 67)
Brave and the Bold 56, 65, 67, 72 (Oct-Nov 64, April/May 66, Aug/Sept 66, June/July 67)