Fast Friends

Today’s post returns again to  Silver Age reprints of The Flash. The moody cover of issue 178 from May 1968 is by Andru and Esposito: I have written before about the similarities between Flash and Spider-Man and there’s another. Flash is literally a giant, looming over his super-hero pals: a fitting image for this collection of “terrific team-ups”.

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Land of Golden Giants: a May 1961 story and, I believe, the first full-length Flash story of the Silver Age. In this John Broome “Lost World” adventure, Flash and Kid Flash join a scientific expedition searching for evidence of Continental Drift. A volcanic eruption sens the party back in time, where they encounter cavemen, prehistoric monsters and  the eponymous giants.  There is perhaps a charming Infantino self-portrait in the form of the caveman artist depicting the beasts of the prehistoric world before the continents separated.

There is also a charming subplot with the budding romance between Wally West and Gail Manners, the scientist’s daughter. Aside from the story’s scientifically educational topic, there’s also a brief reference to the Nephilim aka the giants mentioned in the Book of Genesis.

Double Danger on Earth: the June 62 sequel to “Flash of Two Worlds”.  Author Fox’s nostalgia for the Golden Age is prevalent here, as the story features Jay and Joan Garrick and the E-2 Flash reminiscing about the JSA’s final case in All-Star Comics, “Mystery of the Vanishing Detectives” from 1951.

Earth-2’s existence is revealed by reporter Iris Allen as Jay visits E-1 to excavate a meteor. This space rock will nullify deadly radiation resulting from a comet crashing into E-2’s sun. The plot is complicated by a team-up of Capt. Cold and the Trickster. Infantino’s art is airy and stylish and as usual, the villains are colourful and playful. The story is a bit more workaday than the metatextual “Flash of Two Worlds” and less inventive; nor does it have the guest-star power of “Vengeance of the Immortal Villain” from 1963.

Captives of the Cosmic Ray: from September 1962, this is the second team-up of Hal Jordan and Barry Allen, the first having taken place in Green Lantern’s thirteen issue in June of that year.

Hal’s glamorous Californian lifestyle is explored in the early scenes of male bonding and atheletic competition. The two super-heroes are then lured to a mystery planet and the remainder of the story features their revolt against the alien Myrmitons: “masters of cosmic radiation” who have invaded Earth in their absence.

I find GL Hal stories a bit dull and despite Infantino’s skill, this is no exception. In a few short months, cosmic radiation would herald the dawn of the Fantastic Four and the aspirational, polite world of DC’s Silver Age would be rendered stuffy and outmoded.

However, the theme of this issue and its charm lies in Barry Allen’s gift for friendship ( as we saw in the debut of the Top). It’s an interesting counterpoint to Wally West: the third Flash  spent much of the 80s obsessed with empath Raven  and plagued by low self-esteem,  ill health and  fading powers. Then, after the Crisis, Wally was re-imagined  as a self-indulgent, sexist boor. There’s no sign of that character in the loyal and admiring boy from the Silver Age

Amusingly, this issue features a letter from a Peter Sanderson, whom I take to be the comic historian who worked on DC’s Who’s Who, Marvel Saga and the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.  Ironically, teenage Sanderson complains about Golden Age reprints , grudgingly accepting they please some fans but  expressing a preference for the modern Flash.  He isn’t the only letter column contributor to feel that way, which seems strange given how popular Golden Age reprints became about four years later.

In the next few posts, we’ll have a Hallowe’en theme, while still revisiting the Flash and we’ll also explore the Batcave with more Fifties adventures of Bruce and Dick, discovering the roots of the 1966 tv show.

All images presumed copyright of their respective owners

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