Speed of Light

Today’s post examines another giant collection of exploits of the Silver-Age Flash:  a revival of the 100-page Super Spectacular format but this time from the summer of 2011.

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The Man Who Broke The Time Barrier: this is the second Flash story ever, from Showcase 4 in 1956- the wellspring of the Silver Age. Flash has to return a “time exile” to his own era. The criminal Mazan, who was diverted from his banishment to a desolate 50th-century Earth, recalls Knodar, the 1947 Green Lantern foe. (Knodar made his debut alongside Alan Scott’s enemies the Fool and the Sportsmaster.) The art is gritty and realistic.

Giants of the Time-World: a rather silly story by Robert Kanigher from Showcase 14, in 1958. Flash prevents the invasion of 4th-dimensional aliens, who grow to giant-size. The story has the same dream-logic as many of Kanigher’s Wonder Woman plots and, like a 50s Diana Prince, Iris West snaps a flying saucer from her plane. Charmingly, she appears in black-and-white on Barry’s wrist-tv.

The Conquerors of Time: a hugely fanciful adventure from Dlash’s revived comic in December 1961. As a result of his trip to the “Land of Golden Giants”, Flash builds his Cosmic Treadmill. The alien Dokris want to destroy Earth’s atomic energy technology in order to invade. Flash routs the aliens in the 23rd Century while Kid Flash (still in his mini-Flash outfit) meets a race of bizarre “Ornitho-Men” on primeval Earth.

Who Doomed The Flash?: this adventure from August 1962 is highly stylised artistically and was reprinted previously in DC Special 8, 1970- the first collection of Wanted, the World’s Most Dangerous Villains.  Flash escapes an explosive death-trap with the aid of a temporary dental filling. A darkly humorous Mirror Master masquerades for a panel or two as Capt. Cold, Trickster, Capt. Boomerang and the Top.

Menace of the Reverse-Flash: this Sept 63 adventure introduces Professor Zoom.  With his receding red hair and comb-over, the “Professor” is an ambitious career criminal who retrieves Flash’s uniform from a time capsule. The Sultan of Speed meanwhile visits the 25th Century to defuse an atomic device within the capsule. Zoom goes on to loot alien sculptures in a cityscape that recalls Adam Strange’s Rann.

Zoom is an update of the Rival, a Golden Age Flash foe from 1949.  He’s also the last classic Rogue to appear in these reviews- I don’t yet have any Flash Giants starring Pied Piper, the Weather Wizard or the later addition, Heat Wave. 

Previously, I’ve alluded to similarities between Spider-Man and the Flash: the references to science and invention; the themed super-crooks; the supporting cast and the distinctive artistic input. Another resemblance is the darkening of the  villains- just as the Green Goblin will forever be associated with the death of Gwen Stacy, so Professor Zoom was the murderer of Iris Allen and ultimately revealed as Barry’s descendent and evil twin. Comics, eh?  The death of the original Zoom, due to a broken neck, precipitated the epic Trial of the Flash in the 80s.  

This collection was tied into the Flashpoint event that engendered the New 52. I found some of the stories a little thin but they were a reminder of the Flash’s sci-fi origins. Next time, we’ll look at some supernatural shenanigans for the Scarlet Speedster.

All images presumed copyright of their original owners

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