The Flash! A review of the CW TV show (part two)

A DC-TV Primer: the CW Network’s superhero lineup

Tuesday: the Flash

Part Two (here is part one)

It does not take Sherlock Holmes to deduce this is my favorite of the DC/CW shows The Flash is light-hearted without being silly.

“Light-hearted?” you might say, “Worlds are imperiled; timelines are wiped and sometimes good people die!”

True, but by light-hearted I mean the show still keeps its sense of fun even at the darkest of times. You cheer on the good guys and boo the bad guys. You know things will turn out all right in the end, however tense it might be.

Watch Supergirl episode “World’s Finest” in which Flash appears. The scenes in which they appear together emits so much joy and sweetness it hits you from every angle. There is genuine chemistry between the actors. You don’t see this on TV very often. Good acting, good writing, good show!

Flash sticks to its comic book roots in the Silver Age and Bronze Age. There are lots of Easter eggs that make this old fan smile.

  • There are so many references to the Silver Age Green Lantern – Ferris Air and Coast City are mentioned frequently and we even see a flight jacket with a “Jordan” name patch – that I think an appearance by the ring slinger is inevitable in the years to come.
  • Even their casting harkens back to loyalty and tradition: Barry Allen’s father (John Wesley Shipp) played the scarlet speedster in the 1990 TV show. Great casting – when I first read that he was playing Barry’s father I was excited! When I heard that Jay Garrick would appear in season 2, I thought, “Too bad, Wesley Shipp would have made the perfect Jay Garrick!”
  • Even the villains give homage to the past: the Trickster is played by Mark Hamill (do I REALLY need to tell you about that OTHER role he played), who played the Trickster in the 1990 TV series. Watching him chew the scenery is a delight.

Jesse L. Martin, who plays Iris and Wally’s father (and Barry’s adoptive father) is always a highlight. His role as a policeman harkens back to his Law & Order days. But characterization was not L&O’s forte. What a treat to see him laugh heartily, mist up as he gives fatherly advice, etc. He is superb…

Grant Gustin is no slouch either. As Barry Allen and the Flash you can feel his joy in playing the character. “I love being a hero,” Flash often says. Through Grant’s acting, it shows.

I would be remiss not mentioning Carlos Valdes as Cisco. He plays the viewer’s role in the show: giving names to the heroes and villains, encouraging Flash to fight the good fight, creating the mcguffins that beat the bad guys. He is us.

Rounding out the crew of Flash’s allies are Danielle Panabaker as the beautiful uber-nerd Caitlin Snow. She started off as a cold fish but warmed up to the Flash (and us) pretty quickly. Her “date” with Barry in the karaoke scene is a must-watch. I hope her role in Season 3 is better than the love-sick hostage of Season 2, though. The character and the actress deserves better.

Candace Patton as Iris West is stunningly beautiful (just think if she were real: her dad’s a policeman, yeek!) and plays her up-and-down relationship with Barry well. Both Iris and Barry learn what we comic book fans have known for almost 50 years – they are destined to wed. But with all the time tinkering; will they?

The villains (super or otherwise) are also fun. One of the best part of the Silver/Bronze Age Flash comics was his Rogue’s Gallery. The fiends are second only to Batman’s slate of bad guys. The only one NOT to appear so far is Abra Kadabra; and with all the time-traveling taking place in the show this is surprising. I think even the Top showed up (I might be wrong, though). Mordant blue, even the TURTLE shows up!

The show has its flaws: most obvious is the character’s past. When Wally West shows up, we old comic fans have a fair idea where his character will eventually lead. Characters with familiar last names (Thawne) spoil any surprise to old readers of the comic. There is no Black-Canary-bait-and-switch ala Arrow, although with Edward Thawne, they try.

Binge watching reveals another flaw in the show: sometimes it tends to wallow in formula. Villain is introduced, Flash confronts villain and gets his ass handed to him, Flash’s back-up team propose a solution using Star Trek Next Generation-esque technobabble, they create a mcguffin to help Flash/use an everyday devise to help Flash, Flash confronts villain again and defeats him. Insert subplots at any point (Barry loves Iris, Iris loves someone else or visa versa/team member might be bad guy/bad guy might be good guy).

Maybe it is a problem inherent in the premise, but they use it too often. Supergirl and Arrow use that formula, too.

A final issue that gnaws at me (and not just Flash, but with all DC/CW and other programs as well), is the season-length storyline that concludes with the big season finale. A super-supervillain is hinted at from episode one and introduced about four or five shows in. Other plots and villains come and go, but the super-supervillain plot keeps seeping to the surface – usually given the main plot-point every few episodes. The last three or four shows of the season deal exclusively with defeating the BIG baddie.

This is tedious for the casual watcher and eyerolling for the loyal fan. It became something of a joke at one point in Arrow: “Some supervillain is threatening to destroy the entire city? Must be May!”

For Season One of Flash this was acceptable, as everything about the show is new. By the end of Season Two, a new viewer will be lost, or should I say Lost. If the “previously on…” segment takes more than twenty minutes, you’ve lost your audience. Flash is in danger of that.

I can’t even tell you the events of Season Three without giving spoilers for Season Two (although the ads are giving it all away – it HAS to, to be effective)! All I can say is Barry regrets what he did and is trying to change the people and things he has affected!

The show is also in danger of becoming one long storyline (ala Agents of Shield). Which is fine if you are fan of that, but the real danger comes as lack of story progression: no plot advancement with the good guys facing failed plans and disappointed goals for 20 episodes (ala Agents of Shield) leaving the viewers frustrated and looking elsewhere (ala Agents of Shield).

In other words, every show will become “Villain is introduced, Flash confronts villain and gets his ass handed to him, Flash’s back-up team propose a solution using Star Trek Next Generation-esque technobabble, they create a mcguffin to help Flash/use an everyday devise to help Flash, Flash is defeated anyway, repeat twenty times, Flash wins in episode 22, but it is revealed the enemy lives and will square off again next season. Repeat until cancelled.” (ala Agents of Shield).

See what I mean?

But let’s hope Flash doesn’t descend to that. There is too much love in the show, I think. And there is too much love OF the show to make me think otherwise!


Arrow is next…


Original Material Copyright 2016 Michael Curry


Characters mentioned and their images are copyright their respective holders.  Thanks to DC Comics, the CW Network and Berlanti Productions and the actors portrayed for the use of their images.

I also thank the original creators of all characters mentioned, whether or not they have been properly compensated (gratmens during the credits aside).




The CW’s Flash! A review (part one)

A DC-TV Primer: the CW Network’s superhero lineup

Tuesday: the Flash

Part One


From Wikipedia (as I said before, if they are going to do the work FOR me …):



Season One: After witnessing his mother’s (Michelle Harrison) supernatural murder and his father’s (John Wesley Shipp) wrongful conviction for the crime, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) is taken in by Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and his family. Allen becomes a brilliant but socially awkward crime scene investigator for the Central City Police Department. His obsession with his tragic past causes him to become an outcast among his peers; he investigates cold cases, paranormal occurrences, and cutting-edge scientific advancements that may shed light on his mother’s murder. No one believes his description of the crime—that a ball of lightning with the face of a man invaded their home that night—and Allen is fiercely driven to vindicate himself and to clear his father’s name. Fourteen years after his mother’s death, an advanced particle accelerator malfunctions during its public unveiling, bathing the city center with a previously unknown form of radiation during a severe thunderstorm. Allen is struck by lightning from the storm and doused with chemicals in his lab. Awakening after a nine-month coma, he discovers he has the ability to move at superhuman speeds. Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), the disgraced designer of the failed particle accelerator, describes Barry’s special nature as “metahuman”; Allen soon discovers that he is not the only one who was changed by the radiation. Allen vows to use his gifts to protect Central City from the escalating violence of metahuman criminals. He is aided by a few close friends and associates who guard his secrets.

Season Two: Six months after the events of the first season, after a singularity event, the Flash is recognized as Central City’s hero. However, the event brings an evil from a parallel universe to Central City in the form of the speedster Zoom (Teddy Sears; voiced by Tony Todd; Ryan Handley in costume) who seeks to eliminate everyone connected to the Speed Force throughout the multiverse. Harrison Wells’ parallel universe counterpart, and his daughter Jesse (Violett Beane), work to help Barry and his friends stop Zoom. Joe and his daughter, Iris (Candice Patton), struggle with their shared painful past related to their family, especially after the arrival of Iris’s brother Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale), whom Francine West (Vanessa A. Williams) gave birth to shortly after abandoning her family. After Zoom kills Barry’s father, the season concludes with Barry travelling back in time to save his mother’s life from the Reverse-Flash.




If I were ever asked to create a television show based on the Flash, I would refuse. This show has already done it. I. Love. This. Show.

Every character. Every Villain, Every plotline. Its tone. Its mood.



When I decided to finally watch the DC-CW programs, this was my first pick. That caused some problems: Arrow had already been on for two seasons and its cast’s appearances in Flash spoiled some Arrow plotlines (“So-and-so just took over Queen Industries.” “I’m sorry to hear about the death of – fill in the blank”), but it didn’t ruin Arrow for me. Knowing what was going to happen to this character or that plot line didn’t bother me.


The Flash was the first superhero I discovered. Every six year old knows who Batman and Superman are, but the Flash was only on a few Filmation cartoons from the 1960s rerun in the mornings. When I was old enough to discover comic books, the characters Flash and Green Lantern quickly became my favorites (they were at one time both featured in the Flash comic book.

The comic book was simple without being simplistic. His abilities were easy to explain and easy to illustrate to this grade schooler. So were his rouges gallery: Captain Cold shoots ice from his cold gun; Heat Wave shoots fire from his gun. Got it.

Try explaining the Penguin or Brainiac to the same group of kids …

The comic and its characters were always fun and light – not childish, just light-hearted. The villains robbed banks and jewelry stores. Stories were (usually) done in one issue – rarely causing the reader to try to find the conclusion over the next month. (They did a particular continued story back in 1976 where Flash’s wife disappeared. It was a three-parter and it took me until 2001 before I found it on Ebay. After 25 years I finally found out how the story ended; as well as the continued Green Lantern back-up feature, too).


The show captures that joy and light-heartedness, even when facing serious subjects.


The producers changed some of the background of the characters.  But the changes are not overwhelming nor are they insulting to we old-timers! It sticks pretty close to the Flash’s Silver Age origin.

With some exceptions: Barry’s parents were alive and well during “my” time and showed up frequently in the comic. Barry’s father being accused of killing his mother was a modern take on the character in the comics of the 2000s.

The TV show went with Barry’s father supposedly murdering his wife. Barry being “adopted” by the Wests was an invention of the TV show. So was the explosion of the particle accelerator that led to his powers (the lightning strike and the resulting chemical explosion WERE part of the original story of the Silver Age Flash).

The coma, being healed and then trained and helped in the use of his powers by Caitlin Snow, Cisco Ramon and Dr. Harrison Wells were all invented by the TV producers for the show.

But that is fine! If they want to make it canon I would not object! Considering now they are changing superhero origins on nearly a monthly basis; this would be one of the better changes!


A review and critique of the characters, the actors who portray them and the plots will come next time…




Original Material Copyright 2016 Michael Curry


Characters mentioned and their images are copyright their respective holders.  Thanks to DC Comics, the CW Network and Berlanti Productions and the actors portrayed for the use of their images.

I also thank the original creators of all characters mentioned, whether or not they have been properly compensated (gratmens during the credits aside).


The CW Network’s Superhero line-up!

A DC-TV Primer: the CW Network’s superhero lineup,


Note: I have never been sure of the proper way to stylize the names of books, movies and television shows. Some say to italicize the titles of books and put the titles of TV shows and movies in quotes. Some say it is the other way around. I do not care, frankly, I never have. As long as it is consistent throughout the piece I am reading. If the next blog or article or book then does something different – it doesn’t bother me as long as it is consistent within that same text. I italicize both comic book titles and movie and TV program names in this exercise. It may be wrong, but at least it is consistent.


When I think of the CW Network’s lineup of DC Comics superheroes my mind goes back to the fall of 1976.

At that time DC created what we would now call an imprint line of four comic books. An “imprint” is a series of comic books that are not necessarily part of the line’s mainstream comic. The imprint books share a similar theme. There have been imprints aimed solely at children, for example. The Image imprint featured comics with mature themes and art – not for the kids – with creator-owned characters. The Milestone imprint from DC comics was set in a comic book universe outside that of Superman and Batman and featured African American characters and creators.

In 1976 four comics were published by DC with a television theme. DC-TV they called it, and the company even changed its logo for these comic books. The four comics featured television shows that aired at the time (or were about to debut): Superfriends, Welcome Back Kotter and Isis (no, not that Isis) debuted. The fourth was Shazam (the adventures of the original Captain Marvel – but DC dare not use his name on any comic book covers lest Marvel Comics finally get their sweet litigious revenge on National Comics … but that is a whole other story), a comic that had been around for a few years but was on hiatus until the Saturday morning live-action show aired. Kotter and Isis lasted ten and eight issues respectively, Shazam started their TV run with #25 and lasted through #33; after that it changed its style for the next two issues before cancellation (although the character and title continue to be revived these forty years later). Superfriends lasted for several more years – until 1981 over 47 issues – boosted not only by the successful cartoon but also by the familiarity of the characters – Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin.

Reviews and commentary of those four comics would make a fun blog series … maybe given time I will do it!

Forward to 2016. Forty years on I am tickled to see history repeat itself with another DC-TV connection.

This fall season the CW network will air a superhero program based on DC characters each weeknight Monday through Thursday (the rumor of Constantine being added on Fridays are unfortunately untrue).

DC has published comic books based on the shows – or has added some of the television regulars to their existing continuity (in the Flash comic book for example).

This blog series will be a primer for those who (like me) are finally jumping into the new DC-TV pool of programs. I hope to discuss and review all four (maybe five) shows that are soon to begin their new seasons on the CW.

Starting your viewing at this point (particularly Arrow, which begins its fifth season) will only make you … Lost, if you get my meaning.

I promise that I will use spoiler alerts. But you will generally learn nothing that you won’t be able to find out on IMDB and on the “Previously on …” front tags of each show.


My only child turns seven in October, right around the time the CW will begin its new season. She loves to read and play games – whether board games or on the computer.

This means that my days of staring at a parade of purple dinosaurs, child explorers and a prime-colored Australian singing quartet are done. Oh, I still have to sit through Frozen every few days, or some other Disneyanic Princess derivation, but shows aimed at children … no more.

So of course I fill my time watching TV shows about super-heroes!!

Hey, you can’t watch the Sopranos all the time …


I heard good things about the CW line-up from Facebook and “real” (haha) friends and I was finally able to see what all their posts and comments were about.

Netflix has the first three seasons of Arrow and the first season of Flash available for binge-watching. The entire run of Constantine is available on the CW’s website, and the network is rerunning Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow until their new seasons start. CW is only running a few episodes from seasons four and two of Arrow and Flash respectively. I hope the entire season will soon be on Netflix or elsewhere before or during the new seasons. I don’t mind keeping the shows on Tivo for a few weeks while I catch up.

The only trouble is these shows are linked.

Don’t stop reading! By that I mean that the shows cross over, but they are not one long continued story. You won’t have to jump from one program to another! So don’t panic. In comic book terms, they share the same universe.

(They WILL do have a continued storyline during November sweeps – Supergirl will be chasing a villain through all four shows during one week.)

It’s been done. Remember when Murder She Wrote and Magnum PI had a continued story? There were two (I think) great Law & Order/Homicide shared storylines too. NBC was notorious for this in the 1980s and 1990s: one example is a hurricane hitting Florida affecting the plots of the Golden Girls, Nurses and Empty Nest all in one evening’s programming.

And who can forget the universal nexus of Sam’s General Store in the Beverly Hillbillies/Petticoat Junction/Green Acres?  (Try as I might … )

Here’s what I mean:

The explosion that opened the Flash series is mentioned in Arrow. When the character Arrow (note that the TV show is italicized, the character is not) changes his costume slightly, Flash mentions it. Flash and Arrow regular Felicity Smoak had a brief romance. Heroes, side-characters and villains would pop up in each other’s programs.

I watched Flash first. By the time of Flash season one, Arrow was in season three. It did not make for confused viewing, but it gave away some of the plot points when I later watched early Arrow episodes (we meet Felicity and Diggle in Season One of Arrow – will they be allies or enemies? It was fun to watch the development, but I already knew the outcome). And there WERE some spoilers, “I’m sorry to hear about so-and-so’s death.” Arrgh!


I will do my reviews in the order in which the episodes will air: Supergirl first, then Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow and finally Constantine (as of the writing of this blog series, Constantine has not yet been officially added to the line-up. I’ll discuss it anyway; I am a big fan of the show having finally seen it and would LOVE to have it added).






Original Material Copyright 2016 Michael Curry


Characters mentioned and their images are copyright their respective holders.  Thanks to DC Comics, the CW Network and Berlanti Productions and the actors portrayed for the use of their images.

I also thank the original creators of all characters mentioned, whether or not they have been properly compensated (gratmens during the credits aside).

The last Bicentennial banner comic … DC Super-Stars #5, a Flash in the pan?



DC Super-Stars #5

DC_Super-Stars_Vol_1_5 - Copy

Published monthly, fifty cents, August

Cover artist: Dick Giordano

Editor: E. Nelson Bridwell

            DC Super-Stars was an anthology series published from March 1976 until February 1978 lasting 18 issues.

            It began as a reprint series (such as this Bicentennial issue) but as of issue #12 began printing original stories.  Teen Titans, Aquaman, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Zatanna, Adam Strange (these were titled DC Super-Stars of Space and also featured the Atomic Knights, Captain Comet, Space Ranger, etc.) were some of the headliners. New stories included Strange Sports Stories (heroes and villains play a baseball game. Uncle Sam umpired), Superboy (that issue was a best seller and revived an interst in a solo Superboy series), a Sgt Rock/Unknown Solder team-up, a Phantom Stranger/Deadman Halloween team-up, the debut of the Star Hunters (an excellent forgotten comic book series) and origin issues featuring various heroes and villains (including the debut of the Huntress in #17).

            This Bicentennial issue features the Flash.


“The Day Flash Aged 100 Years”, Gardner Fox ( w ), Carmine Infantino (a), Joe Giella (i), Julius Schwartz (original editor).

            Scientists at Centralia University have created an aging formula. The Top steals the vial containing the liquid, intent on using it on Flash, It will age the Scarlet Speedster and force him to retire as old athletes do.

            The Top raids the Flash museum and is stopped by the Sultan of Speed. Top hurls a grenade at his adversary. When it goes off, Flash ages 100 years! He has a long beard and his costume droops on him. Top easily beats Flash with a punch.

            But it is all a ruse. Flash vibrated through the toxins and disguised himself at superspeed to trick the Top! But no matter how many times he encounters (and is beaten by) the Top, Flash still cannot find the vial of the remaining aging formula.

            The Top’s vibrational weaponry combined with the aging formula now causes Flash to evolve as well as age (how can this be when it was a ruse? Quiet…). His head grows as his mind evolves! He attacks Top with his mental prowess. Top escapes – and realizes that with the formula and his tops he can evolve himself into Super-Top! He takes the formula from a hollow leg of a table. Flash snatches it away before Top can use it. Flash’s evolving into a higher being was a ruse (but … I said quiet!)! Magnets and superspeed helped create the illusion of the Future Flash! Flash thanks museum guide Dexter Miles for his acting and make-up expertise in capturing the Top!

            This story is reprinted from Flash 157 (December 1965)

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and also reprinted in Showcase Presents: The Flash #3 (tpb) (2009)

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“The Midnight Peril”, John Broome ( w ), Carmine Infantino (a), Joe Giella (i), Julius Schwartz (original editor).

            To join a high school fraternity, Wally West and Peter Willard must stay in a haunted house until midnight.

            Discussing Kid Flash to pass the time (Peter: “Do you really think he can do all that super speed stuff?”) they see two figures in ghostly garb who demand they leave! The boys bolt from the house. Thile Peter keeps running, Wally dons his Kid Flash garb to investigate. Sure enough, the ghosts are merely two crooks scaring the kids away from their hideout! Kid Flash puts on the ghostly disguise (a sheet with holes in it) and with his superspeed haunts the crooks with dozens of “real” ghosts! The crooks flee with the “ghosts” chasing them. Kid Flash herds the crooks into police headquarters where they happily surrender.

            And they’d have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids…

            Meanwhile, a panicked Peter catches his foot between rocks at the bottom of a tall rocky hill. Lightning from a summer storm strikes the hill and causes an avalanche. Kid Flash deflects the stones and rescues Peter. Peter goes back to the “haunted” house where Wally tells him Kid Flash appeared and sent the “ghosts” to police HQ.

            The boys are welcomed into the fraternity, having passed their test (although technically they DID leave the house before the deadline …).

            This story is reprinted from Flash 118 (February 1961)

Flash_vol_1_118 - Copy

and also reprinted in The Flash Archives #3 (tpb) (2002) 

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and Showcase Presents: The Flash #1 (tpb) (2007)

showcase-flash1 - Copy


“The Speed of Light”, writer unknown, Mort Drucker (a), Whitney Ellsworth & Julius Schwartz (original editors)

            A one-page feature describes the history of measuring the speed of light. Even I understood it!

            This is reprinted from Strange Adventures #15 (December 1951)

Strange_Adventures_15 - Copy

and also reprinted in Strange Adventures #82 (July 1957).



“Deal Me from the Bottom”, John Broome ( w ), Rico Rival (new art), Sheldon Meyer (original editor), Ted Udall & Julius Schwartz (assistant editors)

            Nearly a half-century (actually 44 years) before the X-Men’s Gambit, Ace Wolfe could also throw playing cards with deadly accuracy. After his crimes in the west coast made things too hot for him, he returned to Keystone City and met up with his childhood friend, professional gambler Deuces Wild. Deuces was an “honest” gambler and didn’t want any part of Ace’s crimes, but Ace left him no choice. Deuces sent a secret message to Joan Williams about Ace’s upcoming crime.  Joan, you see, is rumored to have an “in” with the Flash (she is unknowingly the girlfriend of Jay “Flash” Garrick).


            Flash stops Ace from his robbery, but Ace and gang manage to get away. Ace suspects Deuce of finkery and keeps him captive for their next crime.

            Fortunately Jay discovers Ace’s next move while buying a costume for a masked ball. Seems the saleslady said there was a big demand for mailman uniforms for the big postal workers ball. Why would postal workers need mailman uniforms? Sure enough, Flash stops Ace from robbing the party-goers and sends Ace to prison after rescuing Deuces.

            This story is reprinted – kind of – from All-Flash #22 (May 1946).

AllFlash22 - Copy

DC apparently decided that our eyes would not be able to withstand the “poor” original art from the golden age, so the story was redrawn in the “modern” style. This was done with a golden age Flash story in Four Star Spectacular #1 from three months before and the letters taking them to task for doing so (in Four Star Spectacular #3) would make you think they wouldn’t do it again. Nope…

4StarSpectacular - Copy

            In comics from years previous it was explained that reprinting golden age stories were hard to do because of the poor reproduction technology at the time. That makes more sense and we the people would likely accept that as a more logical explanation (although still BS).

            Let’s not put the onus on Rico Rival – who did a great art job on a thankless task. It wasn’t his fault, folks, give him some credit here… But still, it kind of smacks of “Star Wars Special Edition” – the original was probably just fine.

    Here are the splash pages of the original and the redo: 

Flash deal 3


            Keep in mind the publisher of National comics once drew the Golden Age Flash strip.

“Mr. Infantino, let’s redraw this Flash story, the art is abysmal compared to our modern artists!”

“I drew that originally.”

“… … … I’m fired, aren’t I?”



            A text piece “A Zip of Super-Speedsters” (writer unknown) discusses all the speedsters, good guys and bad, in the DC Universe – both Flashes, Kid-Flash, Johnnie Quick, Joanie Quick, the Reverse-Flash.  But not Rival (one of the last villains of the Golden Age Flash’s run). This leads me to believe Bridwell did not write it – surely his encyclopedic knowledge of all things comic books would know about the Jay Garrick villain…


            John Broome, Gardner Fox, Whitney Ellsworth, Carmine Infantino, Julius Schwartz, Joe Giella, Mort Drucker, Sheldon Meyers, Ted Udall … it’s great seeing these names in a comic book, isn’t it? Rico Rival, too!


Next: “at last … the Buckle!”

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.