The Flash #328: "Reverse-Flashback!"

The Flash #328
December, 1983

A Silver Age Reprint Classic, By
John Broome: Writer
Carmine Infantino: Penciller
Joe Giella: Inker
Milt Snappin & Gaspar Saladino: Letterers
Carl Gafford: Colorist
Julius Schwartz: Editor

Aboard the Justice League satellite, in orbit above the Earth... the Scarlet Speedster knows that the vote is three for and three against his remaining in the JLA -- and it is up to the Man of Steel to cast the deciding vote! The Flash will soon be facing a trial for manslaughter on the world below. Up here, half of his fellow teammates believe him to be a disgrace to the group! None of this would be happening if it weren't for Eobard Thawne! It was the Reverse-Flash who caused his second bride to suffer a nervous breakdown on their wedding day! It was his fault that Iris is dead! Barry Allen should have expected what would happen when Thawne entered his life! Barry can still remember how he almost destroyed Barry and Iris' wedding day... in a "Reverse Flashback!"

Night in Central City finds three thugs digging their way into a bank. The next moment finds a super-swift wind knocking the hoods off their feet. Seeing the fastest man on Earth coming towards them, one of the crooks fires his gun... BAM! The Flash is able to vibrate his molecules at super-speed, and the bullet passes harmlessly through him. The gunman falls to the ground from a quick right-handed punch. The second thug is taken for a spin... while the Scarlet Speedster wonders if he should reveal his secret to his fiancee.

WHAM! So wrapped up in his thoughts, the Flash doesn't see the punch from the dazed crook. VOOMP!! The Scarlet Speedster's full concentration is on the crooks once more. BAM! BAM! Now it is the Fastest Man Alive who begins to spin at super-speed and knocks out the would-be bank robbers. With the criminals in custody, the Speedster remembers how he and Iris arranged their wedding day, which is tomorrow. There have been no problems, with one exception.

He hasn't yet decided to tell Iris that he is the Flash. If she learns of his dual identity, his fiancee may decide against marrying him. This is something that Barry wouldn't want to happen at all. If he doesn't tell her, Iris could learn about it later -- and then blame him for keeping secrets from her. This, too, is something he could do without. VOOSH! As the scarlet costume returns to its compartment on Barry's ring, the police scientist remembers his new assignment. He is to do more on-site forensic investigations, instead of remaining at the police lab. This will Barry a reason to be out of the house, and an explanation to give his wife when he becomes the Scarlet Speedster.

The matter is something that he has to think over. This is the last night of bachelorhood. By tomorrow, it will be Mr. and Mrs. Barry Allen. Barry knows that he will have a happy life with Iris. Now for some sleep, for tomorrow will be the big event.

Morning in Central City finds the church waiting room filled with the guests for Barry and Iris' wedding ceremony. Barry's parents are proud of their son. Dexter Myles, the former Shakespearean actor, and current curator of the Flash Museum quotes the bard. Mr. and Mrs. Al Desmond (the former Mr. Element) tell Daphne Dean (film actress and boyhood friend of Barry) that the Flash said that he wouldn't be able to attend. The absentminded Professor West has made it to his daughter's wedding. Wally West and his parents are also present,
with the teenager wondering if his mentor has told Aunt Iris his secret.

Iris is escorted down the aisle by her father, and is glad to see that for once, her fiancee wasn't late. Before Barry and Iris are joined together in holy matrimony, the priest asks if anyone knows a reason why they should not be joined. If so, they should speak now or forever hold their peace. There is a cry from the back to put a halt to the ceremony. The Scarlet Speedster has arrived and tells those present that Iris West is getting married to the wrong man!!

How is it possible Barry and Iris's wedding is interrupted by the Flash? In the distant future, Eobard Thawne, aka The Reverse-Flash is the prisoner of a specially-irradiated jail cell. The radiation feeds Thawne, so that no jailer will have to enter. Unbeknownst to the authorities, the sinister speedster has used the same radiation to increase his mental abilities.

The futuristic criminal has decided to invade the life of the 20th century hero. Since Barry Allen is a respected member of society in both identities, the Reverse-Flash decides this is the life for him. He will exchange places with the Flash. Thawne will become the scarlet speedster -- and leave Barry Allen in his prison. He now has the mental energies required for the deed. As Thawne begins to concentrate, the time-switch begins. At the police scientist's apartment, Barry is getting ready to go to bed.

ZZZZZ! Hero and villain exchange places in time, with the Reverse-Flash acquiring some of Barry's most recent memories from a telepathic exchange. Thawne now finds himself in Barry's apartment, where he's ready to begin a new life. ZZZ An electric shaver is altered into a matter-distributor to change Eobard Thawne's facial features into a mirror image of Barry Allen. He grins and knows that tomorrow, Iris West will marry "Barry Allen." The futuristic felon inspects the device that tunes into police emergency calls.

He listens to the emergency call concerning a robbery at the Industrial Diamond Company. Since he has taken over both of Barry's identities, Thawne must act swiftly as the Scarlet Speedster. Find a spare Flash ring, the disguised speedster makes his way along Harlan Drive, guided by his foe's memories of Central City. Outside the Industrial Diamond Company, the two thieves see that the Fastest Man Alive is coming for them. BAM! BAM! As they begin to fire at the swiftly-moving figure, the Reverse-Flash finds it strange to be acting against his brethren.

Unseen by the two hoods, "the Flash" uses his matter-distributor, causing the gun barrels to elongate, and trapping the thieves. Hearing the police sirens, the disguised speedster heads for the safe to return the bag of diamonds. As he's about to place the bag inside, Thawne discovers that he can't do it. He has been the Reverse-Flash for far too long.

The problem with his criminal tendencies will have to wait. As the unsuspecting citizens of Central City greet their hero, Eobard Thawne revels in their worship, then realizes that today is Barry and Iris' wedding day. At the apartment, "Barry" gets dressed, and considers marriage to be just another part of the impersonation game. In the car with "his" parents, the Allens' find nothing strange about their son's silence.

In the far future, Barry Allen had acquired some knowledge from his mental contact with the Reverse-Flash. Finding himself in Thawne's cell, the police scientist begins to examine the impenetrable energy. Changing to the Flash, he begins to vibrate his body's molecules, and attempts to pass through the energy wall.

Even at this speed, the Scarlet Speedster bounces off the wall. Another way for him to escape back to his own time would be to travel faster than the speed of light. Inside the cell, he hasn't got enough space. Knowing that his ring uses a chemical to shrink his costume, the same chemical might be able to shrink the irradiated wall. Placing the ring against the wall, he sees it begin to change color. Now weakened by the ring's suction, the Flash vibrates his body's molecules once more.

He passes slowly through the wall, then begins to vibrate at an even faster rate. After fighting his way through the Flash is in the clear. CLANG! CLANG! An alarm sounds, and three armed guards run into the corridor. At super-speed, the guards mistake the Scarlet Speedster for his foe. As the first guard prepares to use his gun, the Fastest Man on Earth uses his palm to cut the weapon in two.

Moving at super-speed, the Flash reaches the speed of light, and then closes in at 180,000 miles a second. The Fastest Man Alive soon finds himself back in his own time. Outside the church, the startled speedster hears the priest asking if any present are opposed to the union between Barry and Iris.

Inside the church, the Flash heads to the altar, and takes the bridegroom, before dashing out with him.

At a deserted area of Central City Park, the false Barry Allen admits to being the Reverse-Flash. The futuristic-felon plans to get rid of his foe, and continue with the wedding ceremony, becoming Iris' husband. If Thawne wins, he'll marry Iris. If Flash wins, he'll marry her and she'll never know about the false bridegroom. Before the fight, Thawne asks to wear his Reverse-Flash uniform so that their fight will be an even one. He activates a second ring and dons his distinctive costume. As they begin to circle one another, the Scarlet Speedster sees something in Zoom's hand.

The matter-distributor causes several trees to close in on the Flash. The Reverse-Flash boasts that with his super-speed and superior science, his foe doesn't stand a chance. Whirling his arms at super-speed, the Scarlet Speedster is able to slice through the trees. Zoom uses the matter-distributor to trap the Flash in a ball and chain, but the hero vibrates himself free.

As the fastest man alive uses every ounce of speed, he delivers a right hook to Zoom's jaw. The Reverse-Flash makes an abrupt exit, with the scarlet speedster in pursuit. Their super-fast chase continues across Central City, with Zoom trying in vain to lose his pursuer. As they race up the side of a building, the Scarlet Speedster closes in on his foe.

The Flash's maneuvers have forced the Reverse-Flash towards the park lake. Professor Zoom hasn't yet mastered running across water at super-speed. Pulling the soggy speedster from the water, The Flash ends the chase with another right cross to Zoom's jaw. He knows that no twentieth century jail will hold the likes of the Reverse-Flash for long.

Thawne's jailers had followed Flash from the future. Initially mistaking him for the Reverse-Flash, they now understand the situation. The escapee will return with them to the future -- and this time, he'll stay put. With all that's happened, the Scarlet Speedster had almost forgotten about his own wedding ceremony. Before his return, he changed into Barry's wedding suit. He explains to all present that the Flash made a mistake, and that they should carry on with the ceremony.

Barry Allen and Iris West are declared man and wife... with the parents of both taking in the moment. Dexter Myles steps forward and asks to kiss the bride. At the banquet, the newlyweds take in the celebration, and drive off for their honeymoon.

Barry Allen was naive enough to believe he and Iris would live happily ever after, but their years of marriage were far too brief. Eventually, Eobard Thawne's sick obsession with Iris caused him to return, and when she rejected him...the Reverse-Flash killed her! The Scarlet Speedster couldn't let history repeat itself. He couldn't let Thawne take Fiona's life! The Reverse-Flash had to be stopped, even if it meant a choice between Thawne's life -- or Fiona's! Barry wishes he could be certain he did not mean for Eobard Thawne to die, but he cannot honestly say so - The Man of Steel is ready to cast his vote and the Fastest Man on Earth prepares to listen to Superman's decision!
On the cover of The Flash #328 by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson, Iris realizes the man she has just kissed is not her husband, and the Reverse-Flash wants her to marry him -- or die!
Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella are reunited in the framing sequence for this issue which reprints a classic Flash story from The Flash #165 (November, 1966.)
At the time of this story, Iris West was unaware that her husband-to-be was the Flash until that night when he spoke in his sleep.

Steve Chung
"Reverse Flashback Review!"