All-Flash!

This morning’s post was another Bronze Age purchase in Strathaven, from November 1973- the same month as the Radio Times Doctor Who Tenth Anniversary Special! US Marvels were scarce and I was into Kirby. Although I was still nearly two years away from High School, this issue didn’t really impress me much – the ad for Chaykin’s Ironwolf was already more my thing.

Secret of the Three Super-Weapons: This is the story in which Wally West gets the Kid Flash costume, one of the best designs for a super-suit of all time. This rather slow sci-fi tale by Broome and Infantino recalls the fantastic weapons and Modernist alien cities of Adam Strange. The image of  a hole in space in chapter three is stunning. The idea that glamorous Ryla is Wally’s pen pal in another dimension is adorable.

The Slowpoke Crimes: this was, chronologically, my second outing with Johnny and his frozen grin. It’s a well- drawn short by Mort Meskin. Slow-moving crime boss Sleepy has the same M.O. as Barry Allen’s first villain, The Turtle (as seen in SO #1)

Campaign Against the Flash: Overlong and unfunny, this 4-part Golden Age “novel” concerns a gang leader using magazine articles to undermine the Flash- inventing JJJ’s anti-Spider-Man campaign about twenty years early. The Three Dimwits, Jay Garrick’s “comedy” sidekicks for five years, are obviously The Three Stooges. Blatant though that is, they didn’t deserve to be killed off by the overrated James Robinson in Cry A River For The Justice League.  The story is complicated by a robot called the Djinn and  another comedy relief character, Muscleman. It doesn’t help this fun-free saga that ninety per cent of the panels are swathed in thick black inky shadow.

Riddle of the Sleepytime Taxi: I’d already read this in a Double Double comic along with the debut of Babs Gordon.  I don’t like Ralph’s purple stretchy suit here- fame-seeking Ralph should have realised he’d be too easily mistaken for Elastic Lad. I prefer the red costume or even the vivid yellow version:

This charming mystery by Fox and Anderson  only serves to remind me, however, of the horrible, horrible Identity Crisis story that destroyed the Dibnys.

The Man Who Mastered Absolute Zero: The perennially love- struck Captain Cold has fallen in love with a dancer called Miss Twist and commits crimes to impress her. This was one of the earliest Ralph Dibny stories I’d ever seen and in it, he’s wearing a comical domino mask. In the Nineties, he’d go back to concealing his identity.

Well might you hide, PG!  Look what happened to Supergirl when SHE dressed up as ONJ in “Physical”!

Unfortunately, by this time, Ralph had lost the “Jet Set Nick Charles” vibe of his 60s adventures. The carefree amateur detective with the absurdist power-set was, like Plastic Man, too sophisticated an idea for the Modern Comics Era. (The Brass Age?)

Compare the elegant and whimsical adventures of Barry-Flash in the early months of 1963 with Marvel: Spidey trying to join the FF for cash,The Hulk vs. Ditko’s Metal Master and Greenskin’s first tussle with the Thing. The melodrama and pathos of Marvel’s monster books (because that’s what they really are, at present) is just sexier than the airy futurism of Silver Age DC.

A Look Through The Super-Spectacles: ENB lists all the Super-Specs printed so far. I’ve never read  Weird Mystery Tales, Love Stories or the two Sgt. Rock issues. A minister named Duane Sweat (I hope that was pronounced “sweet” ) requests Dr. Occult, flyer Hop Harrigan and comedy character, Genius Jones.

The back page cover gallery: despite the garish “target” background, all three are gorgeous but as I said last time, the Sixties covers are dense with text.

Next: The Discarnate Detective

All images are presumed copyright of their respective owners. Demand the Dibnys in the New 52!

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