Today, we look at the bizarre way that the Flash’s place in the Justice League was handled during the Trial of the Flash storyline.
In Remember to Forget, we spotlight comic book stories that I wish I could forget, but I can’t, so I instead share them with you all!
Last week, I wrote about how Hal Jordan reacted to the news that his good friend, Barry Allen, was on trial for the killing of the villainous Reverse-Flash. The interesting aspect of that situation was that Hal’s absence (he was stuck in outer space as part of a deal with the Guardians of the Universe who felt that he was TOO tied to the Earth as opposed to the rest of his Sector, so as his punishment, he had to leave the Earth for a year) meant that he was not around when the Justice League decided to weigh in on the Flash’s actions in a rather embarrassing vote on whether to kick the Flash out of the Justice League (made even more embarrassing by a production delay in the middle of the story).
THE FLASH WAS ON TRIAL FOR KILLING ONE OF HIS GREATEST FOES
In Flash #324 (by Cary Bates, Carmine Infantino and Dennis Jensen), the Reverse Flash, who had previously murdered the Flash’s wife, Iris West Allen, also tried to murder the Flash’s new bride, Fiona Webb, on her wedding day to Barry Allen and in the ensuing fight, the Flash killed the Reverse Flash by snapping his neck and over the course of the next few issues, was indicted by a grand jury and was now set to stand trial for manslaughter.
HOW DID THE JUSTICE LEAGUE REACT TO THE FLASH’S MANSLAUGHTER TRIAL?
In Flash #327 (by Bates, Infantino and Jensen), the Flash is forcibly teleported to the Justice League’s satellite headquarters to reveal that six members of the team (Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Firestorm, Elongated Man, Green Arrow and Hawkman) are going to vote on whether he will be expelled from the Justice League for killing the Reverse Flash or whether he will be placed on Justice League probation while they wait to see whether Flash is convicted or not.
Obviously it is easy to sympathize with Bates’ position here. He needs thee to be a tie for the story to work, but damn, it just doesn’t work to see Wonder Woman, Hawkman and Aquaman be SUCH hard asses about killing that they vote to expel Flash whether he is convicted by a jury or not…
Superman then shows up and he is now going to have to break the tie. Superman gets ready to announce him decision when the Flash was hit by the dreaded deadline doom…
WHAT WAS THE DREADED DEADLINE DOOM?
One of the biggest changes that Jim Shooter put into place at Marvel when he took over as the Editor-in-Chief in the late 1970s was to greatly expand Marvel’s editorial staff. During the early 1970s, Marvel had a relatively small editorial staff, with a lot of their editors also being the people who were writing the comic books that were being edited. So they often had problems with delays. Marvel Editor-in-Chief Marv Wolfman came up with the idea of doing “inventory stories” that could fill in when a book was going to be too late to come out.
However, since there was still a shortage of staff, the “Dreaded Deadline Doom” was still a problem. So you would have stuff like Ghost Rider #10, which reprinted the first appearance of the Ghost Rider, but still had the cover for what the issue was GOING to be about before a deadline was missed (the cover of a comic book is set before the interior pages are, so the cover had to be solidified back when they thought the issue was going to be a fight between Ghost Rider and the Hulk and not a reprint of Ghost Rider’s origin).
That would be the most extreme type of example, where a cover did not even fit the book that was inside. However, last minute reprints were not only non surprises, they were practically expected in the 1970s. Generally speaking, DC’s editorial staff tended not to run into problems like this, as the company had a bunch of editors who were on their respective titles for decades and so they had things down pat. However, by the end of the 1970s, most of those veteran editors were retired, and after an editorial shakeup on a few books (including Green Lantern and Flash), Cary Bates found himself being his own editor on Flash. Former Flash editor Julius Schwartz stepped in to help Bates out, but the end result was that Flash #328 had to become a reprint issue, as well. However, rather than just make it an outright reprint, Bates instead added a framing sequence showing the Flash thinking back to the time that the Reverse Flash tried to ruin his wedding to Iris West while Superman was giving his answer!
So yes, the entire issue takes place in the time it takes Superman to reveal what his answer was, and as a result, it officially took Superman TWO MONTHS to say what his vote was!
DID SUPERMAN VOTE TO EVICT FLASH FROM THE JUSTICE LEAGUE?
Luckily, in Flash #329 (Frank McLaughlin joins Bates and Infantino) Superman acknowledged that the Flash had to decide in an instant whether to let his soon-to-be-wife be killed or kill Reverse Flash and Superman won’t judge him too harshly for the Flash choosing the latter…
I love how the Flash is so dismissive of them at the end, “Great, thanks, can’t say I was all that worried about my place on the Justice League while I’m on trial for my freedom.”
If you have a suggestion for another comic book plot that is probably best forgotten, drop me a line at [email protected]
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