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(Tangent Comics Logo) Flash

Tangent Comics was a chance to re-invent a whole super-hero world using only the names of DC characters. It ran as a one-week event with nine books, with a follow-up event the next year.

“The world of Tangent Comics is a world very different from our own. It’s a world where the 1960s debut of a nuclear-powered hero called The Atom ushered in a new age of hi-tech invention, where the Cuban Missile Crisis accelerated into an atomic conflagration that destroyed both Cuba and Florida; and where a covert organization known to a select few as Nightwing has its eyes and ears in every home, even in the Oval Office.”

From the DC Comics Website

[Picture from DC Comics website]

The Flash

Real Name: Lia Nelson
Known Relatives: Celeste Nelson (mother), Terrance Kelly (father)
Occupation: Student, adventurer, movie star
Group Membership: Secret Six
Base of Operations: Beverly Hills, California
First Appearance: The Flash (Tangent Comics) #1, December 1997

Celeste Nelson and Terrance Kelly were, respectively, the chief engineer and commander of the first manned mission to Jupiter. The expedition remained in space for years, and these two crew members “fell in love one night” and had a child. Due to some unknown combination of factors, including radioactive samples collected by the crew, Lia was born a being made of light.

What neither Celeste nor any of the other crewmembers knew was that Captain Kelly was actually a covert operative for the secret agency known as Nightwing, who had used the mission to deploy mines that would end the Soviet competition. Upon returning to Earth, Kelly immediately turned over his daughter over to Nightwing. However, the child disappeared from captivity, reappearing with her mother, who immediately placed her in the public eye

As the first child born in space and a super-hero, Lia has grown up a celebrity.

Powers

Lia has the ability to fly, teleport, and change her appearance. She can create solid holograms (“sol-hols”) out of light, including the light that makes up her own body. She can either appear in multiple places at once or project images of herself. And despite her valley-girl persona, she is “bright” in the figurative sense as well: Still in her teens, she designed the technology for the world’s first holographic movie (which she also produced and starred in).

Family

Lia’s mother, Celeste, has become the ultimate stage mom. Everything about her is larger than life, and everything is about advancing her daughter’s career. Her father is a rather bumbling agent, still employed only because Nightwing prefers to keep an eye on him. He plays the doting father, but his overriding ambition is to capture Lia, turn her over to Nightwing, and restore his own credibility. His plots are generally overcomplicated and thwarted by his own incompetence (rather like a Roadrunner-Coyote cartoon). Lia sees through his facade, though. It turns out that she’s been masquerading as one of his assistants!

Allies

While appearing at a charity signing with other super-heroes, the Atom and the Flash both responded to an emergency off the Baja California coast. Also converging on the area were the Joker, Manhunter, and two reluctant agents of Nightwing: Plastic Man and the Spectre. After the six halted a plot to destroy the moon, the Atom suggested they work together in the future. They had to keep the team hidden so they called themselves the Secret Six.

Lia has become friends with two of her teammates in the Secret Six, Plastic Man and the Spectre. They helped her escape from one of Nightwing’s more serious plots, and she helped Plastic Man escape from their clutches.

Foes

The Flash has encountered a number of villains, but her main foe is Nightwing. Her father continues to make his laughable attempts to capture her. Assistant Director Francis “Black Lightning” Powell has a particular vendetta against her, and has sent more capable agents after her...with no success. Dark Star had the ability to absorb all light (and ultimately all matter), but was triggered early, and ended up absorbing himself. Nightwing also created a solid hologram duplicate of Lia, sort of a “Reverse-Flash.” The Flash easily overpowered her.

[Dark Star] [The Reverse Flash]

Multiversal Travels

The Tangent Universe existed within the realm of Hypertime until Alexander Luthor re-created the original multiverse (Infinite Crisis, 2006). He identified the Tangent Universe as Earth-97. As the Crisis hit their world, the Tangent Flash and Green Lantern were among those attempting to save lives as the Crisis. When that multiverse collapsed, the lantern itself washed up on a beach on “New Earth,” the lynchpin of the new 52-world Multiverse that was created in the wake of the new Crisis.

The lantern acted as a gateway to the Tangent Universe (now designated Earth-9). It briefly brought that world’s Flash, Atom and Green Lantern to New Earth, where they clashed with Green Lantern Kyle Rayner (Ion #9–10, 2007). Not long after, Lia was abducted by Monarch to represent Earth-9 and the Flashes in his Arena, where he forced her to battle the Earth-2 Flash and Earth-3 Johnny Quick (Countdown: Arena #3, 2007). She was then stranded in the mainstream DC Universe (Justice League of America #16, 2007).

Superman’s Reign

The last of the original Tangent books published showed the world being subjugated by the Ultra-Humanite, a being of immense power. At the time, it was not revealed whether the world’s surviving heroes were able to stop it, nor even whether the Flash herself had survived the onslaught (Tangent: JLA, 1998).

Earth-Tangent survived, as their world’s Superman defeated the Ultra-Humanite and took over the world himself. The Superman eliminated war, crime and poverty — at the cost of free will. Ten years later, the Tangent Flash found herself stranded in the mainstream DC Universe (Justice League of America #16, 2007). She approached the heroes of that world for access to the lantern so that she could return home. They followed, and became caught up in the struggle to liberate her world. The Tangent Superman, learning of alternate realities, immediately set out to conquer New Earth (Tangent: Superman’s Reign, 2008–2009).

Text by Kelson Vibber. Do not copy without permission.

Top of Page Primary Sources

  • “Premiere” - Tangent Comics: The Flash #1 (December 1997), Todd Dezago

Art

  • Flash: DC Comics Website - Gary Frank and Cam Smith
  • Dark Star: Tangent Comics: The Flash #1 (December 1997) - Gary Frank and Cam Smith
  • Reverse Flash: Tangent Comics: The Flash #1 (December 1997) - Gary Frank and Cam Smith

Origin Tales

Tangent Comics: The Flash #1
Tangent Comics: The Flash #1 Cover
  • The Flash (Tangent) #1 (December 1997): “Premiere,” Todd Dezago

Appearances in Tangent Comics

  • The Flash (Tangent) #1 (December 1997): “Premiere,” Todd Dezago
  • Green Lantern (Tangent) #1 (December 1997): “Comet’s Tale,” James Robinson
  • Secret Six (Tangent) #1 (December 1997): “Bad Moon,” Chuck Dixon
  • Trials of the Flash (Tangent) #1 (September 1998): “Making Light of the Situation,” Todd Dezago
  • JLA (Tangent) #1 (September 1998): “And Justice For All,” Dan Jurgens (cameo)
  • Tangent: Superman’s Reign (12 issue series, 2008–2009)

TPB/Reprints:

Appearances in DC Comics

  • The Kingdom #2 (February 1999): “Mighty Rivers,” Mark Waid (cameo)
  • Infinite Crisis #6 (May 2006): “Touchdown,” Geoff Johns (cameo)
  • Ion #9–10 (February–March 2007): “Off on a Tangent” and “Tales of the Green Lantern,” Ron Marz
  • Countdown: Arena (4-issue miniseries, 2007), Keith Champagne
  • Justice League of America #16 (February 2008) “A Brief Tangent,” Dwayne McDuffie

Notes

The Tangent Universe has made two cameo appearances in DC-labeled comics, both of which included the Tangent Flash. In The Kingdom #2 (1999), the Tangent Universe appeared as an alternate timeline within the structure of Hypertime. In Infinite Crisis #6 (2006), the DC Multiverse was temporarily recreated, with the Tangent heroes appearing on Earth-97. The number was probably chosen for the year in which Tangent Comics were initially published.

Post-Infinite Crisis, the Tangent Universe (or one similar to it) has been incorporated into the new 52-world Multiverse (Countdown #40, 2007), leading to further appearances in Ion #9–10, Justice League of America #16, and Tangent: Superman’s Reign. Earth-Tangent has since been designated Earth-9.

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