The Need For Speed

For a change of pace, before we embark on a trio of entries on Batman 100-page Super-Spectaculars,  this post returns to The Flash.  My original copy of this comic was bought in East Kilbride village in the autumn of 1974, from the newsagent on Stuart Street.

Bronze Age East Kilbride

Given that the last 100-page Flash was dominated by a dreary Golden Age novel, will this issue be a lap of honour or an egg and spoon race?

The Rag Doll Runs Wild:  Irv Novick, penciller of Batman, draws an airy, bright story of  Flash-friendship. Jay Garrick is depressed that he’s  too old to be a super-hero. He keeps failing to capture contortionist crook, Rag Doll. (This is about two decades before James Robinson reworks RD as a murderous cult leader).

Barry helps Jay-Flash regain his confidence while uncovering the real brains behind RD’s crime spree: The Thinker. This was the first time I’d ever seen the Silver Age interpretation of this villain . I was only familiar with Gil Kane’s version ( who only turned up one more time to my knowledge, in The Huntress strip in Wonder Woman):

Half a Green Lantern is Better than None:  Here, Gil Kane breaks the fourth wall to address the reader as does the villain of this 1964 story, the cliché -spouting crook Black Hand.  Despite his fantastic power-light weapon, BH’s real motivation is to outstrip the achievements of his famous brothers. This is a beautifully-drawn strip but the grandiloquent villain has no pizazz.

Flash-Grams: plenty of praise for O’Neil/Adam/Giordano Green Lantern strip. Modern-day readers might be surprised that the Emerald Gladiator was a back-up Flash-feature in those days.  One LoCer a Greg Potter, asks for “fiendish omnipotent menaces” for GL and having read about Black Hand, you can see why.   Potter, by the way, would go on to create Jemm, Son of Saturn for DC.  Another requests Sargon,who had been portrayed something of an anti-hero in the early 70s.

Secret of the Handicapped Boys: A  sweet if  unsubtle parable about equality from 1962  in which Kid Flash’s identity is rumbled by a trio of  deaf, dumb and blind kids. Not very action-packed but well-meaning.

The Man Who Wore Ten Hats: Two stories from 1947. Johnny Quick has to juggle ten jobs while battling corruption in a torpid New England town. I haven’t enjoyed many adventures of the Monarch of Motion but this one is gently amusing.

The Secret City: Jay- Flash visits an advanced civilization hidden in the Amazon. Unfortunately, they plan to use their image -projection abilities to conquer the Earth! A fast-pace pulp adventure; I particularly like the flirtation between Flash and the glamorous Dr. Flura.

The Girl From the Super-Fast Dimension: Also from June ’64. Extra-dimensional tourist Doralla ( with Princess Leia’s hairstyle) arrives on Earth but her natural super-speed causes explosions. A pleasant sci-fi short from Fox and Infantino.

This is an inoffensive and charming read. As a kid, I enjoyed the Flash Trivia Quiz and the Puzzle Page most, apart from the Rag Doll tale. They gave me glimpses of villains like Professor Zoom, Mr. Element and Heat Wave. I had begun reading DC in the middle of the Relevancy period so the gimmick-villains of the Golden and Silver Age were relatively unknown to me. Bear in mind also, of course, that very, very few US Marvels were available in South Lanarkshire.

The success of the Marvel UK weeklies encouraged expansion in the autumn of ’74 however and these two titles were launched at the end of October:

Our household budget allegedly wouldn’t stretch to the UK Dracula Lives. (Sure, mum! Even though we were ten months away from summer horror double bills on BBC2, I don’t think the holder of the purse-strings would sanction the undead, Walls or no.)

 Still available in Spain. Allegedly!

The POTA tv series from CBS wasn’t even shown in the STV area for some unknown reason ( were the Apes too idolatrous?) but this title became my favourite once the back-up strips appeared. More about that another time.

Coming soon: More 70s Darknight Detective action.

All images are presumed copyright of their respective owners.



3 comments on “The Need For Speed

  1. Richard says:

    As you’ve mentioned Black Hand, I can’t resist adding that the villain was based on none other than Batman and Green Lantern co-creator Bill Finger:

    It’s seems especially apt to note this, since the first biography of Finger has just been published, launching a push to get Finger the credit he’s been denied all these years.

  2. Dougie says:

    Hi Richard. Thanks for signposting the Bill Finger story. Unfortunately,the link reminded me of the horrible necrophiliac angle dreamed up by Geoff Johns. Comics, eh?

  3. Kid Robson says:

    Ah, the Mushroom. I remember it well. The restaurant and the cafe. I want my youth back – and things the way they used to be. Don’t worry, Dougie – I’ve not forgotten the other CDs I keep meaning to send you.

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