THE FLASH #149 December 1964
Carmine Infantino/Murphy Anderson original artists
There was a time, folks, when a comics' cover was all but finished before the story that was meant to accompany it was even written! This bizarro-like approach was a particular favorite of legendary Silver Age DC Comics editor Julie Schwartz. He well knew that, the more compelling a situation on the outside of one of his books, the better a chance he had of separating a kid from his excess lunch money. All well and good, because sometimes it meant for a compelling story as well. Unfortunately, sometimes it also meant shoehorning a scene into an adventure simply because you were obligated to give the paying customer what he put his pennies down for. Which brings us to the cover of THE FLASH #149, provocatively portrayed by THE classic Flash artist, Carmine Infantino (lushly embellished by the wonderful Murphy Anderson).
It's a nifty idea. Secret identities and keeping them secret was a major preoccupation of the DC Comics of that bygone era, and what could be more intriguing than seeing the Scarlet Speedster rip off his cowl on national TV, revealing to one and all that he is, in reality, police scientist Barry Allen? Here's MY 12 cents--what's the deal?? Well, the deal, sadly, is that this scene had very, very little to do with the story that readers were treated to when they actually opened the book. Didja notice those people on the cover? The young fella is Wally West, known to us comics fans as Kid Flash, pre-pubescent partner to Man Flash, while the couple cozied up around the tube are his clueless parents, blissfully unaware of their son's double life. Well, in the course of this episode, the junior member of the team loses his memory, and in hopes of jogging it back, our hero takes his not so sensational risk. Why not so sensational? Simple. The Flash ripped off his mask at super speed, and quickly replaced it in a similar manner. The only way to see his peek-a-boo act was to possess super speed vision, something only his intended audience of one had. In other words, NOBODY else--except maybe some innocently suckered in readers-- saw what Wally saw!?! The ploy worked on Kid Flash, much to no one's great surprise. And the fact they weren't seeing what their son was seeing goes a long way toward explaining the blasť look on the elder Wests' faces--and the ultimate explanation to this cover's seemingly shocking situation goes a long way toward explaining my blasť reaction to the Flash's rather safe risk. Sigh. But it IS still one cool looking cover, the big goofy grin on Barry's face alone insuring it an honored place in the memory bank's of all those hornswoggled into buying that issue off the racks under somewhat false pretenses! ...