Extinguishing a Speedster’s Smokes

Comic Coverage recently posted a humorous look at the role smoking had in the Golden-Age Flash’s origin. Jay Garrick was working late, took a cigarette break, and knocked over a beaker of “hard water.” Interestingly, later retellings of his origin downplayed and finally deleted the cigarette.

First, here are the original 1940 panels from Flash Comics #1 (copied from Comic Coverage), showing grad student Jay Garrick taking time out for a smoke:

Jay Garrick pauses for a smoke

Four decades later, in 1986, Secret Origins #9 would retell his origin. Mindful of the details, but also concerned about modern sensibilities about health, writer Roy Thomas kept the cigarette break, but added Jay thinking, “I know I should give up these things…”

Jay really wants to quit

A decade later, the cigarette had disappeared completely. Flash Secret Files #1 (1997) featured a condensed retelling of all three (at the time) Flashes’ origins, and this time, Jay simply succumbed to the hour and nodded off, dropping the beaker.

Jay falls asleep on the job

(Via Crimson Lightning)

7 thoughts on “Extinguishing a Speedster’s Smokes

  1. West

    The hard-water fumes thing has always been among the worst of the speedster origins, imo – cig or no cig.

    I’d love it if they’d update it some kind of water. Speed Force by way of water-in-beaker just doesn’t have the same oomph.

    Reply
  2. Kelson Post author

    Worse than getting a blood transfusion from a mongoose? 😀

    But yeah, of DC’s speedsters, this one makes the least sense, especially since they named the substance involved. If hard water gave people super-speed, everyone in my city would be running around at Mach 2!

    I’ve heard it suggested that maybe they meant to write “heavy water,” which at least would fit (if a bit early) the “radiation can do anything” concept so popular in the 1950s. And actually, the Flash Secret Files version tacked on an explanation that he was trying to add radiation or high-speed vibrations to the water in the panels immediately before the ones I scanned.

    Reply
  3. West

    A mongoose?! Ugh.

    Okay. You got me, there.

    Radiation or high-speed vibrations? *shrugs* I’ll take it! Anything Just about anything is better than mongoose-blood.

    Wait! Maybe it was radioactive, high-SPEED mongoose blood!

    Reply
  4. Kelson Post author

    And now I’m picturing that mongoose as Kiki. OK, she’s a ferret, but still…

    Funny thing on that water labeling thing… Grant Morrison actually used the concept in an issue of Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein. A government project tried to use the technique to turn water into a weapon. The water didn’t like it, and fought back.

    No, really!

    Reply
  5. *** Dave

    Yeah, that sounds like Grant Morrison …

    For my money, as interesting as the differences in the smoking habits are, the differences in the flasks are even spiffier.

    Reply
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