"History Lessons": In the mid-19th Century, a pair of prospectors in the Midwest Territory had been separated for some time. Ulysses Sutter was surprised when Marshall Fletcher returned to their claim, and upon seeing the gems he had gathered in his absence, accused him of holding out. Befor
Synopsis for "History Lessons"
In the mid-19th Century, a pair of prospectors in the Midwest Territory had been separated for some time. Ulysses Sutter was surprised when Marshall Fletcher returned to their claim, and upon seeing the gems he had gathered in his absence, accused him of holding out. Before Sutter could make any explanations, Fletcher murdered him.
Now, The Flash has his hands full, as someone's obsession has prompted them to break into every jewellery store in Keystone City, and alerted the whole city by setting off alarms. Fortunately, Barry already knows who is responsible - Chroma and Tar Pit, whom he discovers fighting over their take in the stairwell of the Fletcher subway station. Unfortunately, while he takes down Chroma, Tar Pit makes a getaway by burning through the ground, and tunnelling away. Unfortunately for him, Flash catches up with Chroma in one hand and a fire-extinguisher in the other, which he uses to render Tar Pit into a sizzling, solid mass. However, in the tunnel, he is surprised to discover a pile of corpses.
Soon, the Central City Police Department Scientific Detection Bureau is on the scene, and Barry determines that the bodies were dumped there years ago. The question then becomes who dumped them, and why they stopped. Captain Frye explains that the reason they stopped was because the culprit was caught. It was the Broome Hill Butcher, Hollis Holden, who is currently serving thirty-two life sentences at Iron Heights for his crimes that ended twenty years back. This cache of bodies suggests that his number of victims was much greater than he feared.
The name sounds familiar to Barry, and Frye explains that Barry was too young to remember it all. He orders Director Singh to have the victims identified, and for a statement to be retrieved from Holden. Forrest is overbooked with cases, and so Barry volunteers to take on the case, having been forced to spend his time doing desk work since he returned after being legally designated as dead. Frye, however, vetoes the move, and forces Forrest to take it on, depriving Barry of his case.
Later, Barry and Patty Spivot return to the CCPD's cold case room, where Barry explains that he has to respect Captain Frye's wishes, even if he disagrees with them. However, even if he can't take the lead, he can give James a hand, super-speedily building a timeline of the Broome Hill Butcher's timeline.
According to the identifications Forrest made, though, at least six of the murders occurred in the last ten years, which calls into question Hollis Holden's culpability for those murders, at least. There could have been another murderer - and the only other murderer from that time that Barry can think of is whomever killed his mother, Nora.
Barry decides to visit his father in prison, where he asks why he'd never heard of the Broome Hill Butcher, when Henry had. While the Butcher had been put away when Barry was a boy, the 17 bodies they discovered earlier suggest that someone else murdered them after Hollis Holden was convicted, in their neighbourhood. Suddenly crestfallen, Henry realizes why Barry has come: yet another attempt to clear his name of Nora's murder. Barry tries to explain that Holden had confessed to having an accomplice who compelled him to kill. That accomplice could easily have killed Nora - the modus operandi was even the same. Henry would hear no more, though, and he called for the guard to take him away.
Saddened, but not deterred, Barry returned to Iron Heights as the Flash to visit Hollis Holden in his cell to ask about his accomplices. The man seems surprised and worried to learn of the bodies they found that couldn't have been attributable to him, which leads Barry to believe there is an accomplice. Fearfully, Holden stammers that the accomplice is already dead. At that moment, the door to his cell opens for dinner time, and he attempts to rush out and leap to his death from the third floor. Naturally, Barry catches him, but he falls too far, and ends up dangling precariously at the foot of Girder, another inmate.
Barry slows Hollis' fall with an air current, but he is soon attacked by Girder. Hoping to expedite the process, Barry borrows a guard's gun and pistol-whips Girder in the face with it, causing him to fall unconscious. Grimly, Barry returns to Hollis Holden, demanding a name, and the man stutters that his accomplice was Archibald Dean.
Later, Barry returns to Darryl Frye with the information, but Darryl warns him away from the case again. Barry explains that he needs to do this. All it would take is to authorize the exhumation of Dean's body for a comparison DNA sample. Frye maintains that it won't help. Angry, Barry reminds that Nora was his mother. Darryl responds that while she may not have been his mother, he loved Nora more than Barry could understand. In fact, they had a romantic history. When Barry realizes that Darryl had kept that from him for years he becomes angry, and storms out. Darryl calls out that regardless, the truth is that Dean didn't kill Nora.
That night, Barry enters the Central City Cemetery to dig up Dean's remains without the authorization. When he finishes digging, and opens the coffin, though, there's nothing inside. Worse than that, though, is that horrifying ghostly figure attacks him, screaming that Fletcher must die.
Appearing in "History Lessons"
- Central City Police Department Scientific Detection Bureau
- Henry Allen
- Ulysses Sutter (Dies in flashback)
- Marshall Fletcher (Flashback only)
- Nora Allen (In a photograph only)
- Archibald Dylan (Mentioned only)
- Rogues (Mentioned only)
- Keystone City (Flashback and main story)
- Fletcher Square Station
- Iron Heights
- Keystone Diamond Exchange
- Central City
- Broome Hill (Mentioned only)
- Central City Cemetery
- CCPD Headquarters
- This issue is reprinted in The Flash: History Lessons.
- This story takes place before Forever Evil, in which Chroma is murdered.
- The character named Archibald Dylan is changed to Archibald Dean in The Flash Vol 4 28.
- The Flash Recommended Reading