Having picked up the Comic Cavalcade archives, I decided to go through all the Golden-Age Flash stories I had and catalog character appearances. I did the same thing with the Silver-Age stories a couple of years ago, when I completed my collection. Since $100+/book is a bit steep, I’m sticking with reprints, so it only took me a few hours to get through my collection instead of several months.

Golden Age Flash Archives Vol 1Now, there are lists and databases online already, but I like to be able to verify things directly when possible. I know how easy it is to make a mistake on a website and not catch it for months or even years. Also, most indexes aren’t really interested in the supporting cast. If I want to find a villain like the Fiddler, chances are I can find a complete list. But if I want to know which issues featured Jay’s old college buddies, I’m on my own.

And speaking of Jay’s old college buddies, he runs into five of them during the issues featured in The Golden Age Flash Archives, Vol. 1. And four of them are named Jim. There’s Jimmie Dolan, Jim Evans, Jim Carter, and Jim Dane. (Interestingly, the fifth friend is named Wally.) Jim Carter and Jim Dane are both in silver mining. Jimmie Dolan and Jim Evans both know that Jay is the Flash, but Jim Carter and Jim Dane don’t. I suspect that Carter and Dane are the same guy, but the writer didn’t remember the name he used before and didn’t feel like looking it up. (Comics were episodic back then, and you didn’t have continuity police among the readers ready to pounce on every coloring error.)

Also interesting: In the 17 issues collected in that book, no super-villains appear. The villains are all gangsters, kidnappers, corrupt politicians, crime bosses, etc. Even the story with the giant lizards has gangsters creating them. Skimming one list, the first recognizable villain to show up is the Shade—in issue #33! For the first three years (or at least the first year and a half), most of the Flash’s enemies wore ordinary business suits!

Comic Cavalcade was an anthology series that ran from 1942 until 1954, publishing super-heroes and other adventures for the first six years. Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Green Lantern were the headliners. Earlier this year, DC reprinted the first three issues as The Comic Cavalcade Archives, Vol. 1. (At 100 pages per issue, it’s still a pretty big collection!) I bought a copy a few weeks ago, mainly for the Flash stories, and it finally arrived yesterday.

I read a few of the stories this afternoon, and these panels from the Green Lantern story in issue 1, “The Adventures of Luckless Lenore,” made me laugh out loud.

Two panels from Comic Cavalcade #1

Green Lantern’s sidekick, Doiby, has been trying to romance Lenore, whose “bad luck” seems to be engineered. At this point he’s been captured. I didn’t even notice the name of the bar the first time through, it was the menu that caught me off-guard. Continue reading

I’ve never really considered Noble Causes’ Race Noble to be a reference to the Flash beyond sharing the speedster archetype—especially since the Nobles owe a lot to the hero family concept pioneered by the Fantastic Four—but a scene from Noble Causes #6 has me ready to change my mind.

The Nobles are both heroes and celebrities. Race, the middle child, shocked his parents—and the world—by marrying an ordinary bookshop owner instead of another super-hero. At this point, Liz has become completely overwhelmed by the life she has chosen, and needed to take some time off. Continue reading

With Identity Crisis just finished, and news breaking about DC Countdown, Crises are in the news in comics right now. That makes this exchange from The Flash 80-Page Giant #1 (1998) all the more interesting.

The setup: The DCU version of comic book writer Mark Millar is interviewing the Flash to get ideas for his next script. Apparently DC Comics exists in the DCU, but they publish stories about “real world” heroes. As you can see, they don’t know all the details—like their secret identities—and have to fill in the gaps themselves.

Mark Millar and the Flash discuss secret identities and how DC had to rewrite continuity when heroes started revealing their real names... with "The Identity Crisis."

Cover: Flash #165Over the past few weeks I’ve been going through the Silver Age Flash series, cataloging character appearances. I’m almost done – only 25 issues left – but it reminded me of something:

Why is it that super-hero weddings are almost always interrupted by super-villains – even when the hero’s identity is secret?

Is it just that readers expect a story with some sort of fight in it, and if it’s just a wedding they’ll be disappointed?

Consider these examples:

  • Flash II (Barry Allen) and Iris West: the wedding is interrupted when Professor Zoom disguises himself as the groom, and the Flash has to get rid of him and then make it to the wedding himself.
  • Flash II (Barry Allen) and Fiona Webb (after Iris’ death): Zoom returns, Flash spends the whole day chasing him around the globe, and eventually Fiona gives up and runs out of the chapel, just in time for Zoom to try to kill her. (Flash stops him with a last-second choke-hold which breaks his neck, leading to a manslaughter trial, the disappearance of Barry Allen, and finally the cancellation of the series.)
  • Flash III (Wally West) and Linda Park: at the moment the rings are exchanged, Abra Kadabra kidnaps Linda, sends everyone home, and casts a massive forget spell, erasing all memory and records of her back to the point she met Wally. Eventually she escapes, Kadabra is tricked into reversing the spell, and they hold a new wedding – 18 issues later.

And it’s not just the main characters who get this treatment: Continue reading