Known Relatives: Rita (ex-wife), Mr. and Mrs. Peter Desmond (parents)
Former Occupation: Financial Consultant, Scientist
Base of Operations: Central City, Missouri
First Appearance: (as Mr. Element) Showcase #13 (April 1958); (as Dr. Alchemy) Showcase #14 (June 1958); (Alvin) Flash (first series) #287 (July 1980)
Created By: John Broome and Carmine Infantino
See Also: The Alchemist, Mr. Element II
Albert Desmond suffered from a split personality, his dominant side being a decent citizen, and his alternate personality darker and criminal. Inspired by his interest in chemistry, he became Mr. Element, using his knowledge of chemistry to commit his crimes and escapes (Showcase #13, 1958). After being apprehended by the Flash, he learned that his cellmate’s “lucky stone” was actually the famed Philosopher’s Stone*, which granted its bearer the power to transmute elements. He escaped prison, found the stone, and began a second criminal career as Dr. Alchemy (Showcase #14, 1958).
Eventually, Desmond’s good side became dominant again. He abandoned his life of crime, married, became a friend of Barry Allen’s, and yet every once in a while he would face the lure of his evil side. Soon, however, a new Dr. Alchemy surfaced, revealing himself to be Alvin Desmond, who claimed he had a psychic link with Albert Desmond such that he became evil when Albert became good (Flash v.1 #287–289, 1980). This “psychic twin” impersonated the original Dr. Alchemy several times, and Albert would sometimes battle him as Mr. Element.
Now divorced, Albert moved to a house on the outskirts of Central City to pursue scientific experiments. The last time Alvin tried to impersonate him, it was revealed that Alvin was not a “psychic twin” at all, but a construct generated, complete with false memories, by the Stone itself in response to the submerged evil in Albert’s psyche. Once he was able to recognize and accept that part of himself, the threat of “Alvin” was eliminated (Flash v.2 #41).
The Stone was obtained by S.T.A.R. Labs, then stolen by Dr. Curtis Engstrom. Engstrom donned a similar costume, calling himself the Alchemist, and embarked on a brief career of attempted murder and general mayhem.
Desmond has recovered the stone and again become Dr. Alchemy, although he has lately seemed more concerned with study than with crime. Unfortunately, his line of study is likely to turn deadly—for other people—and he is not above crime as a means to his end.Text by Kelson Vibber. Do not copy without permission.
- Primary Sources
- Art Credits
- Profiles in Print
- Silver-Age Appearances
- Legacy-Era Appearances
- Further Notes
- “Master of the Elements” - Showcase #13 (April 1958), John Broome**
- “The Man Who Changed the Earth!” - Showcase #14 (June 1958), John Broome**
- “The Day It Rained Flash” - Flash (first series) #288 (August 1980), Cary Bates
- “Elemental Conflict” - Flash (second series) #41 (August 1990), William Messner-Loebs
- Dr. Alchemy: Flash (second series) #152 (September 1999) - Paul Pelletier & Vince Russell
- Mr. Element: Who’s Who (loose-leaf edition) #14 (November 1991) - Greg Guler & Scott Hanna
- Who’s Who in the DC Universe #6 (August 1985)
- Who’s Who (loose-leaf edition) #14 (November 1991)
- The DC Comics Encyclopedia (2004)
- The Flash Companion (2008)
- Flash Secret Files and Origins 2010 (May 2010)
- (E): Showcase #13 (April 1958): “Master of the Elements,” John Broome
- (DA1): Showcase #14 (June 1958): “The Man Who Changed the Earth!” John Broome
- (E): Flash #147 (September 1964): “Our Enemy, the Flash!” John Broome
- (E): Flash #153 (June 1965): “The Mightiest Punch of All Time!” John Broome
- (Al): Flash #165 (November 1966): “One Bridegroom Too Many!” John Broome
- (E): Flash #216 (June 1972): “The Curse of the Dragon’s Eye!” Cary Bates
- (Al): Flash #221 (May 1973): “Time-Schedule For Disaster!” J. David Warner & Cary Bates
- (DA1): Flash #230 (December 1974): “The Fury of the Fire-Demon!” Cary Bates
- (DA2, Al): Flash #287 (July 1980): “Dr. Alchemy and Mr. Desmond,” Cary Bates
- (DA2, Al): Flash #288 (August 1980): “The Day It Rained Flash!” Cary Bates
- (DA2, E): Flash #289 (September 1980): “The Good...the Bad...and the Unexpected!” Cary Bates
Key: E=Mr. Element (Albert Desmond) · DA1=Dr. Alchemy I (Albert Desmond) · DA2=Dr. Alchemy II (Alvin Desmond) · Al=Albert Desmond (non-villain)
- (DA2): Flash #19 (December 1988): “A Meeting of Rogues,” William Messner-Loebs
- (DA2, E): Flash #40–41 (July–August 1990): “Philosopher’s Stone” and “Elemental Conflict,” William Messner-Loebs
- (DA): Flash Annual 8 (1995): “Growing Up Fast,” Mark Waid
- (E): Flash Annual 8 (1995): “Kid Flash: Day Two,” Tennessee Peyer
- (DA2): Flash #152 (September 1999): “New Kid In Town,” Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn
- (DA2): Flash Secret Files #2 (November 1999): “Twenty-First Century Rogue,” Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn
- (DA): Flash: Iron Heights (2001), Geoff Johns (cameo)
- (DA): Flash #192–193 (January–February 2003): “Run Riot” Parts 1–2, Geoff Johns
- (DA): Flash #207 (April 2004): “Rush Hour,” Geoff Johns
- (DA): Flash #217 (February 2005): “Post-Crisis,” Geoff Johns
- (DA): Gotham Central #29–31 (May–July 2005): “Keystone Kops, Parts 2–4,” Greg Rucka
- (DA): Flash #223 (August 2005): “Rogue War, Chapter 4,” Geoff Johns
- (DA): Flash #227 (December 2005): “Finish Line, Part 1: The Last Days,” Joey Cavalieri (dream sequence)
* It is possible that Dr. Alchemy’s Stone is not actually the Philosopher’s Stone, but a limited copy of it. In JLA: Rock of Ages, LexCorp acquired the Stone from a Colombian drug baron (not S.T.A.R. Labs) and used it against the Justice League. Metron of the New Gods revealed its true nature: also known as the Worlogog, it is a map of the entire universe and can change reality itself in response to thought. Oddly, the Flash didn’t make any comments on this matter.
Also of interest is a Golden-Age Flash story in which an expedition discovered the Philosopher’s Stone (“The Golden Flash,” Flash Comics #95, 1948). The Stone was only named in the splash page, and while it briefly turned the Flash to gold, its fate was never revealed.
**The Showcase stories are available in The Flash Archives Volume 1 and in Showcase Presents: The Flash Volume 1.