Known Relatives: the Maestro Bowin (first name unknown), Iowa Bowin (possible future great-grandson)
Occupation: Criminal (retired)
Past Group Membership: Injustice Society of the World, Crime Champions
Former Base of Operations: Keystone City, Kansas
First Appearance: All-Flash #32 (December–January 1948)*
Death: Executed by Deadshot (Villains United #1, 2005)
Isaac Bowin and his twin brother both had an affinity for the violin, but only one of them honed his skill to gain international fame as a violinist. Isaac took a less lofty road, drifting around the world as a petty thief until he was thrown in an Indian prison in the early 1940s. One day he watched as his cellmate, a Hindu fakir (whose crime was never mentioned), charmed a cobra with music. Fascinated, Bowin asked the fakir to teach him his secrets. He agreed.
Bowin spent five years studying the fakir’s lore and fashioning a fiddle from what materials he could scrounge. He learned not only how to hypnotize people, but to destroy objects with sound and create literal walls of noise. His craft mastered, Bowin commanded the guards to open their cell and the pair fled into the jungle. There, he killed his benefactor, paralyzing him and letting him fall into crocodile-infested waters.
Calling himself the Fiddler, he traveled to the next stop on the Maestro Bowin’s concert tour: Keystone City. Driving a car shaped like a giant fiddle, he publicly bested both the police and the Flash with a gimmicked fiddle and his mastery of sound. To further rile the speedster, he spread photos of the disoriented hero all over town. Simmering over his humiliation, the Flash spotted the Maestro and immediately arrested him. The police, however, recognized the violinist, who disgustedly handed the Flash two tickets to that night’s performance to cool him off. Before the performance, the Fiddler captured and replaced his brother, first robbing an entranced audience, then capturing the Flash. The Flash broke himself and the Maestro out of a trap meant to kill them both, and the Fiddler’s own weapon sent him to his seeming death.
Typically, the Fiddler survived to plague Keystone City many times again, each time battling its champion speedster.
The Fiddler’s greatest success was to shift Keystone City out of phase with the rest of the world for thirty years while the population slept. No one inside could put up any resistance, and no one outside could remember the city even existed. Bowin, the Thinker and the Shade were able to plunder the city at their leisure. About ten years ago the second Flash discovered and crossed into the hidden city, then tracked down the original Flash, waking him up and joining him to stop the trio and restore the city.†
Bowin has not been seen in action for a number of years. One story had it that he died while attempting to kill his longtime nemesis‡ (Hawkworld Annual 1, 1990), but he turned up alive in Iron Heights. The Fiddler finally met his end when he came out of retirement to join the Secret Six. Disappointed in his performance during their first battle, the team’s leader, Mockingbird, ordered him killed. Deadshot carried out the execution immediately. (Villains United #1, July 2005)
It is unknown whether the Fiddler left any family other than his brother, but at least one possible future includes a great-grandson, Iowa Bowin, with plans to turn his legacy to heroic pursuits.Text by Kelson Vibber. Do not copy without permission.
- Primary Sources
- Art Credits
- Profiles in Print
- Golden-Age Appearances
- Silver-Age Appearances
- Legacy-Era Appearances
- Further Notes
- “Duet of Danger” - All-Flash #32 (December–January 1948)
- “A Hawkman of Two Worlds?” - Hawkworld Annual 1 (1990), John Ostrander
- “Flash of Two Worlds” - Secret Origins #50 (August 1990), Grant Morrison (retelling of the original story by Gardner Fox)
- Speed Force #1 (November 1997) - John Byrne
- Who’s Who in the DC Universe #8 (October 1985)
- All-Flash #32 (December–January 1948): “Duet of Danger,” Robert Kanigher (reprint info)
- Flash Comics #93 (March 1948): “Violin of Villainy”
- All Star Comics #41 (June–July 1948): “The Case of the Patriot Crimes,” John Broome
- Comic Cavalcade #28 (August–September 1948): “The Flash Concerto,” Robert Kanigher
(Does not include reprinted Golden-Age stories)
- Flash #123 (September 1961): “Flash of Two Worlds!” Gardner Fox
- Flash #201 (November 1970): “Finale for a Fiddler!” Robert Kanigher
- Adventure Comics #460 (December 1978): “A Nightmare To Remember!” Cary Bates (illusion)
- Secret Origins #50 (August 1990): “Flash of Two Worlds” (revised), Grant Morrison
- Hawkworld Annual 1 (1990): “A Hawkman of Two Worlds?” John Ostrander
- Speed Force #1 (November 1997): “A Stranger With My Face,” John Byrne
- The Life Story of the Flash (1997): “Stolen Thunder,” Mark Waid
- (Iowa Bowin) Flash 80-Page Giant #2 (April 1999): “Successionary Modern,” Joe Casey
- Flash #161 (June 2000): “Honeymoon in Vegas,” Pat McGreal
- Flash #208 (May 2004): “The Red Carpet,” Geoff Johns (cameo)
*The Fiddler’s first appearance was reprinted in The Flash #160 (April 1966)
†“Flash of Two Worlds,” originally presented in The Flash #123 (1961) and now available in The World’s Greatest Team-Up Stories and The Flash Archives Volume 3, was the first meeting of the pre-Crisis Earth-1 and Earth-2. In it, Barry Allen crossed over to Earth-2 and convinced Jay Garrick to come out of retirement to help solve a string of robberies carried out by the Thinker, Fiddler, and Shade. The aftermath of the Crisis placed Keystone and Central Cities on the same Earth, across the river from each other. Grant Morrison, in Secret Origins #50 (1990) updated the tale to fit with post-Crisis continuity. As far as how long it was out of phase, that’s less clear. Morrison’s story implies that it was under 10 years (“There were a couple of orphans there that day who suddenly weren’t orphans anymore”), but Brian Augustyn’s “Riddle of the Retro Robberies” (Flash 80-page Giant #2, 1999) states that it was thirty.
‡Hawkworld Annual 1: According to this story, the fakir from whom the Fiddler learned his craft had been the Devil in disguise, offering power in exchange for Bowin’s soul. Bowin also commanded the hypnotized guard to kill the fakir as a way to get out of the deal. Decades later, the “fakir” again appeared to the Fiddler, offering him one last chance for glory and giving him the clues he needed. Because the JSA was in limbo at the time, he kidnapped Joan Garrick as a hostage and forced the new Flash to combine their powers and open a portal to the past. The Thanagarian Hawkman and Hawkwoman were in Keystone at the time and followed the Fiddler through the portal. They stopped him from killing the Flash, Joan got to see her husband in action again, and the Fiddler’s own hate burned him to ashes.