August is Flash Month in our Retro Review Corner!  As the hero who jump-started the Silver Age of Comics, Barry Allen had a lot of powers: Super-speed, friction aura, complete molecular control…  But he also had an ability seldom seen in comics these days: A complete ignorance of the fourth wall.  Your Major Spoilers (retro) review of Flash #163 awaits!

Flash163CoverTHE FLASH #163
Writer: John Broome
Penciler: Carmine Infantino
Inker: Joe Giella
Colorist: Uncredited
Letterer: Ira Schnapp
Editor: Julius Schwartz
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 12 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $120.00

Previously in The Flash:  It was a one-in-a-million accident: As police scientist Barry Allen stood in his lab, surrounded by “every chemical compound known to man”, a freak lightning bolt smashed through the chemicals, blah blah blah fishcakes.  Last time around, The Flash faced the power of magic, and found out what Charley McCarthy must have felt like.  This time out, he’s bound and determined to get all of our attention, with his own life in the balance.  What the heck is going on here?  Fade in: The Central City docks…


Awwww…  that’s super-cute, except maybe for the terrifying alien face that little girl has in the last panel.  (I’m not sure if it’s my copy, my scanner or Carmine Infantino who’s to blame, but in any case, I’m a little terrified.)  But, other than showing that The Flash is a stand-up guy and Central City’s safety measure are virtually nil, what possible relevance could this moment have to the life of The Flash?  Stand by, Faithful Spoilerite, as we shift our focus to a laboratory somewhere in the city, where a scientist has aimed his mysterious new device at his pet kitty…


Whoa…  Kitty-Existence-Eraser-Ray!  How can that be any threat to the faster man alive?  Upon his arrival at police headquarters, he is mistaken for a lunatic headed for a costume party, criminals who should be threatened by his presence completely ignore him.  And when he goes to visit his beloved lady-friend Iris West?Flash1633

The “science” of Mister Haddon’s ray leaves The Flash in a nearly gaseous state, and while he is able to use his speed to race out in response to the reports of the robbery, he finds himself helpless to do anything about it.  Worse still, the whole thing has been orchestrated by Haddon himself, who quickly takes advantage of the Scarlet Speedster’s weakened state…


Haddon’s plan has succeeded where the magics of Abra Kadabra, the massive mind-force of Gorilla Grodd and the future-speed of Professor Zoom all failed, leaving The Flash to finally fade away into nothing once he uses the ray on himself (as the last person who actually believes in Barry Allen’s alter-ego’s existence.)

But as he continues to fade, Flash finds that there’s still a tiny bit of his essence still swirling about…


With the tiniest thread of hope, Flash carefully makes his way across the city to find young Alice, discovering that she is still hanging around the river, playing with her dolly, in complete defiance of good sense and OSHA regulations.  Upon seeing him, the young girl’s belief allows his body to coalesce back into human form again, but Flash needs a more long-term solution to his problems…


I don’t know about you, but I met a guy on a street-corner the other day who claimed he was Batman, and now I’m really worried that I somehow helped to doom the real Caped Crusader to nothingness…  His vitality restored, Flash returns to Haddon’s lair, and tracks the villain down to his new island home…


It’s always interesting that people talk about Flash’s use of science and his brain, but most of these stories end up with swift-and-blinding violence at Mach-5.  Haddon is done in, and young Alice (whom we discover is actually a poor ragamuffin of the kind you only see in Silver Age comic books) receives enough rewards that she can get an education and never hang out playing on the wharf again.  The back-up story in this issue is a return bout with Abra Kadabra, wherein he tries to get The Flash to unmask publicly.  Fortunately, his stage act provides Barry Allen with all he needs to save the day…


Also, this story also ends with super-fast punching and kicking and such…  Having never read this issue before today’s review, I was a bit disappointed to find that the iconic cover isn’t matched with an equally memorable story (recall that, in the 60s, the covers were created first and the stories written to resolve the mysteries raised.)  The Flash #163 is nonetheless an okay read, with interesting artwork (including a terrifying little girl) and some fun bits of ephemera, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall and reminding us once again that even the wondrous Silver Age wasn’t all gems…

THE FLASH #163 (August 1966)



An iconic cover with (ironically) a sort-of forgettable story, but some unique art from Infantino and Giella.

User Rating: Be the first one !

About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

1 Comment

  1. Thats really nice about silver age comics, you dont always need cataclysmic events to show that heroes are heroic. Sometimes saving little girls doll is enough. (she does look creepy in that one panel though..)
    Oh, curly mustache villain second week a row!

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.