WARNING! LOTS OF SPOILERS AHEAD!

Release Date: July 1988
Title: Wipe Out
Writer: Mike Baron
Penciller: Mike Collins
Inker: Larry Mahlstedt
Guest Stars: Tina McGee, the Kapitalist Kouriers
Bad Guys: Vandal Savage, mob boss Nick Bassaglia

The Cover: Mike Collins

"Vandalized!" The leering face of Vandal Savage fills the cover, partly obscured by the tattered face mask of the Flash, which he grips triumphantly in his right hand.

The Comic

The story so far

Vandal Savage has developed a heavily addictive drug, Velocity 9, which gives its users super speed at the cost of leaving them wasted and emaciated. He plans to use yuppies addicted to the drug to take over the city. Nick Bassaglia is a mafia boss and Flash's neighbour, and wanted Flash's help getting rid of the guy behind the new drug. Vandal Savage has abducted Bassaglia, and now Bassaglia's mistress (who has been posing as his niece while attempting to seduce Flash) has begged Flash to rescue her "uncle".

Now on with the story!

Flash races to Vandal's hideout, where Nick Bassaglia is being held. Intending to check the place out at high speed he charges into the room, but is immediately attacked by several Velocity 9 junkies, also moving at super-speed. As he struggles with them, he notices Bassaglia watching on, sitting nice and relaxed in an arm chair.

Flash is overpowered, and as the junkies restrain him Vandal Savage is struck by inspiration - rather than just removing his legs and leaving him a cripple, Savage decides to inject him with Velocity 9, just to see what happens.

When he's injected, Flash feels the drug burning in his veins, and the only way to bear it is to run. He breaks away from Savage and runs, breaking the sound barrier and leaving broken windows in his wake as he races through the city and back to Long Island, so fast that he feels out of control, and considers himself lucky he didn't run into anything. Rather than going to his house, where his girlfriend and mother are waiting anxiously, he rushes to Bassaglia's house and collapses into the arms of Trudy, Bassaglia's mistress.

Wally wakes up six hours later, and chats with Trudy. Wally then lets slip that there is another woman he's seeing, but that they are "all through", demonstrating once again what a cad he is. Wally decides to head over to the Titans to get some help with Savage, and gets a kiss and an "I love you" from Trudy before he goes. He makes to run off but instead falls flat on his face - looks like the after-effects of the Velocity 9 have left him powerless. While his mind is still reeling from this revelation in strolls the supposedly abducted Nick Bassaglia with his new partner in the drugs business, Vandal Savage, whose minions quickly overpower Flash and take him to Bassaglia's basement.

Later, Wally is sitting in the basement and musing that it might be for the best if he has to take things slow for a while. He is interrupted when another prisoner is thrown in to join him - it's Dr Bortz, the biochemist from issue six. He explains that he was hired (through a front company) by the mob to replicate Velocity 9, but he is no longer needed now Bassaglia and Savage have joined forces. Soon, Savage and his yuppie junkie goons come to fetch them. They are taken to a lab Savage has had set up in the house, where he wants Bortz to try and synthesise Velocity 9 and test it on Flash. Bortz refuses at first, but Savage threatens to inject him with the drug if he doesn't comply. Bortz pretends to obey, but at the last minute shoves the needle into Savage's arm instead. Savage screams in agony, flattens Bortz and crashes through the window and races off at super speed.

Flash pulls himself together, while Bassaglia and Savage's goons escape. As Flash is seeing to Dr Bortz, Tina arrives with Bebeck and Cassiopeia. Flash tells the others to take Bortz to hospital while he goes home with Tina - now that he's realised Trudy was really just a gangster's moll he's back in the arms of the girl he was "all through" with earlier in the comic. On returning home he discovers his mansion strangely silent - the workmen who have been doing renovations are gone. He finds his mother sobbing in the mansion, and she tells him the bad news: all his lottery winnings have been wiped out in stock market crash on Black Monday, and they're broke. The final line of the issue, normally reserved for "we're all going to die" or "it's the end of the world" type sentiments: "They took you Lamborghini this morning..." How will Flash get out of this one?

Farewell, Mike Baron

This is the last issue in Mike Baron's run on the Flash. Although given a lot of freedom to develop Wally's character in the revamp of the Flash, Baron, according to an interview in Comics Scene, found the writing unsatisfying, and ultimately he didn't like what he was writing. He was worried that if he kept going he would damage the character, so he quit writing for the Flash after just over a year. This dissatisfaction really show in his last few issues - there are gaping plot holes, and characterisation is pretty inconsistent. In the first couple of issues, Vandal Savage is a brooding, menacing villain with unfathomable motives, and is genuinely unsettling. In the last couple, Savage becomes a stereotypical villain, apparently dealing in drugs just for the fun of it.

Mike Baron's run on Flash is my least favourite. His dialogue was pretty wooden throughout the run, and he made Wally West a complete ass. However, he had some pretty wild ideas; a man swallowing a singularity and gaining the powers of a black hole, and a mechanical creature from another dimension with an unpronounceable name who inhabits and takes over the world's electronics are ideas worthy of Grant Morrison. It's a testament to Baron's imagination that he came up with more original ideas in 14 issues than William Messner-Loebs did in his fifty.

Flashometer

Under the influence of Velocity 9 Flash breaks the sound barrier, but is left powerless once the drug wears off, no faster than any other fairly fit guy.

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