DCAU #224: Heading for Trouble

IN THIS ONE... The Flash gets a big head, and Black Canary races after a crook with a photographic memory.

CREDITS: Written by Steve Vance; art by John Delaney and Ron Boyd.

REVIEW: Cipher's biggest episode yet, and I'm counting the first issue of Adventures, in which his plan to kill the Flash is rejected by Grodd, and the two of them compete to get the Fastest Man Alive, a competition that, through some quirk of impossible physics, counters each of their plans with the other... I'm not saying it makes sense, it's just par for the course in a "mutating Flash" story. It's mostly the solution that seems glib and facile. Like Linda, I'm not sure I get how that works even within the issue's logic.

I can't help but bristle at Cipher's very presence, especially if he's going to steal gimmicks from other villains. In any other series, this would have been a Trickster/Grodd contest; Cipher can't muster any original ideas. But his shtick with destroying action figures is pretty amusing, and the story is largely saved by its comedy henchmen, some working for Grodd, some for Cipher, the kind of plain-spoken jobbers I love to read about more than their masters. But is it enough?
In "Random Access Memories", Black Canary promises a dying programmer she'll prevent a crook with a photographic memory from taking credit for his code, and it ends with a harsh death in front of a train, because how else can such a story end? Aside from the tonal problems, and Canary's weak motivation, the story encapsulates the problem I have with John Delaney's art. I like his cartooning quite a lot, and here his villains have particularly extreme physiques - shades of Marc Hempel - that work for his style. It's when he gets characters into action beats that he gets into trouble, turning backgrounds into a mess of ugly speed lines. He goes overboard in this story, Black Canary apparently fighting inside a tornado for have the page count.

IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: The story in which the Flash's head was swelled by the Trickster took place in Flash (vol.1) #177 (1968). Wally West would suffer a similar fate in Green Lantern (vol.3) #31 (1991) at the hands of Hector Hammond and Gorilla Grodd. Black Canary is wearing her initial Birds of Prey costume, originated by artist Gary Frank.

A few good jokes, but ultimately, the art is poorer than usual, and the stories aren't satisfying.



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