Tag Archives: Silver Age

The Vastness that is Central City

Central City is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to Central City. (With apologies to Douglas Adams.)

It’s an old post, but I just found the Absorbascon’s take on Central City, looking at the wide expanses depicted in Carmine Infantino’s Silver-Age drawings of the Flash’s hometown.

What is this vast complex? The National Science Center? NIH? STARLabs HQ? No. It’s Barry Allen’s back room. In his APARTMENT. In your house, this sort of room is barely big enough to hold the Cybex machine you don’t use. In a Central City apartment, it’s about the size of a bowling alley.

On a related, but more serious note, letterer Todd Klein has posted a 4-part study of the Flash Logo from 1940 through the present day: Part 1 · Part 2 · Part 3 · Part 4. With his insider knowledge, it’s far more thorough than the study I did a few years ago. (via Wallyoeste)

Did the Flash Save Comics?

[Picture of the Flash (Barry Allen) from Showcase #4]Yesterday’s article about the Flash (warning: major spoilers for this week’s DC Universe: Zero) in the New York Daily News brings up the hero’s key role in launching the Silver Age of Comics. Superheroes had fallen out of favor in the early 1950s, and comics were exploring genres like westerns, horror, romance, etc. When DC successfully relaunched the Flash in 1956, there was an explosion of new super-hero titles.

The Daily News quotes former Flash scribe Geoff Johns as saying, “Without Barry Allen, we’d still be reading comic books about cowboys.”

I don’t think that’s precisely true. Not to discount Barry’s contribution—it’s entirely possible, even likely, that super-heroes would have remained a background genre. But for one thing, we’re looking at half a century of ephemeral pop culture. For another thing, let’s consider: why were comics going after the western, crime and horror genres when super-heroes failed? Because that’s what was popular in movies and television at the time.

I’d guess that, without the Flash revitalizing super-heroes, we would have seen more science-fiction comics in the 1960s, more police comics in the 1970s, sitcom comics in the 1980s, and so on. Comics genres would probably have followed along with trends in pop culture instead of becoming heavily focused on a single genre.

We wouldn’t be reading cowboy comics today; we’d be reading reality comics.

Perhaps the presence of multiple genres would have eventually gotten rid of the “but, you know, comics are just for kids” mentality. (Not that it’s worked for cartoons or video games yet, but video games are still relatively new, and cartoons have similarly been dominated by the musical fairy tale and slapstick comedy short.)

Eh, who knows? Maybe they’d be all about pirates.

Edit: The comment thread at The Beat also has some interesting speculation on comics without the Silver Age Flash.

Flash vs. the Pirate Torpedo

Arr! Barry Allen may not know how to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day, but he do celebrate Jog Like a Pirate Day!

Showcase #13: The Flash runs across the water from a torpedo with a pirate flag on front. 'No matter how fast I go---this pirate torpedo keeps following me!'

From Showcase #13, it’s “Around the World in 80 Minutes,” a tale of the Flash. (Mostly he runs around the world, helps people out, and gets kissed by women. Aye, it be good to be a superhero.)

(Cover via GCD. This story appears in Showcase Presents: The Flash vol.1 and The Flash Archives vol.1.)

Is there demand for more Flash Archives?

Golden Age Flash Archives Vol 2Newsarama reports that during the Q&A part of the DC Nation panel at this weekend’s Baltimore Comic-Con, a fan asked:

Are there more Legion, Flash or Justice League Archives coming? [VP of Sales Bob] Wayne said that when you get up to the issues that can be affordably bought by collectors the demand for the Archive Editions goes down.

Okay, this might apply to the Silver-Age material. The four Flash Archives books so far are up to Flash #132 (1962). When I was tracking down back-issues in the #133–140 range (the likely contents of a hypothetical book 5) about 6 or 7 years ago, I seem to remember finding reasonably good copies in the $5-15 range. (Better copies, of course, run into triple digits.)

But there’s still 8 years of Golden-Age material to cover, from 1942–1949: more than 75% of Jay Garrick’s solo run. And those books are much harder to find, with battered readers’ copies often selling for $40–150.

Moreover, those 8 years include the first appearances of every major Golden-Age Flash villain. Continue reading

Flash Greatest Stories Redux

Cover: Flash: The Greatest Stories Ever ToldToday DC Comics released The Flash: The Greatest Stories Ever Told, a collection of classic Flash stories ranging from 1947–1994. Back in February, when they announced the contents, I did a point-by-point comparison of the stories to be included and the stories that appeared in the 1991 book, The Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told.

When I picked it up, I noticed that the paper was lower quality. The 1991 book was printed on thicker, almost glossy paper. It wasn’t archive level, as it’s noticeably yellowed over 16 years. The new book is certainly above newsprint, but the paper is thinner and matte. Of course, it’s still better paper—and better printing—than the stories originally got!

It looks like Johanna Draper-Carlson (Comics Worth Reading) was right when she suggested that the new Greatest Stories books are aimed at another audience: not the fan who wants a collection of classic stories, but a casual reader who might be interested in a sampler.

Alas, no Bart Allen cameo. The final 2 pages of Flash v2 #91, which were really a teaser for “Reckless Youth” and not part of “Out of Time,” were left out. But speaking of that story, Mark Waid’s introduction to the book contains a statement that, given recent events, takes on an unintended poignancy:

That they chose “Out of Time”—one written by me—is, I insist, simply a lucky byproduct of their real intent: to showcase the artwork of Mike Wieringo, a most deserving comics superstar whose interpretation of Wally as the Flash set a standard unsurpassed to this day.