Spinner Rack: The Flash in “Gangster Masquerade,” Part Two

Posted by Joanna Sandsmark on 7/3/2012

Will Dexter get a job in whatever gangsteriffic show is planned at the Summer Playhouse? Or will Iris’s hunch that all is not quite as it seems prove her to be more on-the-trail hound than sit-around-laying-eggs hen?

Last month, we revisited our old friend the Flash in a story called “Gangster Masquerade!” (Found in the back of The Flash #154 from August of 1965). As a quick review, Barry cheesed off Iris (Is the expression “cheesed off” used everywhere or just in Wisconsin? In case it’s only here, it means to anger someone.) when he didn’t pay serious attention to her hunch about a bunch of actors dressed as gangsters. Deciding to hang out at the Flash Museum, Barry discovers a vagrant who is a down-on-his-luck actor named Dexter Myles. Dexter mentions overhearing the actors talking about being in a new show at the Summer Playhouse, so Flash decides to give the older gentleman a superspeed trip to the theater in hopes of getting him there in time for auditions. We join them now as they zoom toward the theater.

One of the things I always like is when comics explain some of those internal questions that pop up about superpowers. When Dexter gasps at the speed of their travel, Flash says, “Relax, Mr. Myles! We’ll be there even before you have to draw in a breath — which requires practice at super-speed!” I am one of those people who always wondered how a person could breathe while traveling at super speed. It isn't that Flash explained how to breathe, but at least he acknowledged that it’s a problem and told us it requires practice. When I was a child, that tidbit would have made me very happy. My geekiness began at an early age. Of course, I would have wondered how speech was possible if he was running faster than the speed of sound? And why didn’t Dexter burn up because of the friction? And why doesn’t the blasting air dry out one’s mouth and eyeballs? OK, I’m still way too geeky for my own good.

“Sure enough, Myles barely has time to blink or breathe when…” They arrive at the Playhouse with eyeballs intact because they can see that everything looks dark and unoccupied. As Dexter reiterates his assurance that the actors would be there, both men hear a groan coming from inside the theater. After a quick look around (and I do realize that when reviewing a Flash story, the word “quick” is easy to overuse), they find the three actors sitting on the ground in a state of undress and rubbing new lumps on their heads. Apparently, they had been knocked out by three men in prison outfits. The prisoners, whose faces couldn't be seen in the dark, stole their clothing and their car.

Flash uses his incredible detective skills to point out, “Men in prison outfits? Sounds like a jailbreak — the state penitentiary is only a few miles from here!” Asking which way they went, Flash learns that one of the actors overheard mention of going to the airport. How very convenient. It's always helpful when the bad guys let everyone know their plans.

Flash races to the airport, thinking, “Iris may have hit upon something earlier — when she said there's more to this case than meets the eye!” At least he finally gives some credit where credit is due. Had he paid more attention to Iris and listened to what she said instead of mocking her, he may have had quite a bit more insight into this case. And we would have had a two-page story.

Cops at the airport see the three criminals around the plane and, as the crooks had hoped, mistook them for the actors. Just as the plane starts to take off the cops hear an announcement about the escaped prisoners. One of my favorite panels shows the two cops running toward the airborne aircraft shouting, “Stop that plane —!” First, who are they yelling to? What person at an airport has the capability of stopping a plane that has already taken off? It is possible that they recognize the red blur to be Flash. I find that rather doubtful because Flash is running at super speed. Wouldn't he be all but invisible? And even if you did see a red blur and assumed it was a superhero, would you really have time to yell out an entire word balloon three sentences long and have the Flash hear the whole thing? Isn't he running at a speed where those words would be long behind him? Gak! As I said before, superspeed is a power that leaves me with a lot of questions. The speed of sound, the speed of light, friction, vibration, the toll it would take on the muscles and bones and sinews of a human being — I have a lot more but I'll stop here.

The Flash can't stop a plane in flight, but he can track it on the ground. After an hour of running after the airplane, it finally lands. As it does, the gangsters spot Flash. The pilot decides to run down the fastest man alive. [Good luck with that, boys.] Unwilling to simply run away from the airplane (like I would), Flash creates a vacuum under one wing and crashes the aircraft. The gangsters start shooting and the Scarlet Speedster makes a propeller out of his arms and knocks them all out. Case closed and the bad guys are in custody.

The next day, Barry begins to explain the case when Iris pops in with her own theory, which was, of course, correct. Barry doesn't bother giving her a “nice job” or any other praise besides agreeing that she had figured things out. “… And now you have your story — all wrapped up!” I guess that's good enough for Iris, though it feels pretty stingy on Barry's part, since one discussion with his girlfriend would've made this a far easier case to crack.

That afternoon Barry takes Iris to the Flash Museum. Once inside, they see Dexter Myles as a tour guide giving the stories of the hero with great dramatic import. “He has his audience enthralled —” says Iris, “the way he realistically acts out the whole case!” To which Barry replies, “Dexter Myles has made the Flash Museum the city's number-one attraction!” That should make Barry happy, since he wants as many people as possible to worship his alter ego.

Be sure to come back next month for another offering from the good old days of Silver Age DC Comics.

If you'd like to learn more, including a detailed bio and more information about Joanna's books, please visit her website.

This is a guest article. The thoughts and opinions in this piece are those of their author and are not necessarily the thoughts of the Certified Collectibles Group.

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