Monday, July 18, 2011

Crisis Part 13 - Final Flashes Of Earth-Two!

The Flash in 1967 was busy with Earth-2 matters as seen by two comics in the year featuring Earth-2 co-stars.

"The See-Nothing Spells of Abra Kadabra!" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Sid Greene is fairly typical Flash story, and by that I mean not very straight-forward at all. The action begins when Barry and Iris want to congratulate some performers back stage of a production of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. When Barry shakes the hand of the man who played Merlin he suddenly hears a voice revealing his secret identity. No one else hears the voice but Barry follows the actor, one John Cardine to a ceramics factory where he engages some robbers. Thanking him for stopping the robbery the owner gives Flash a ceramic medallion. Suddenly it seems the Flash is oblivious to all crime in his vicinity. He releases the robbers and walks by countless crimes on the streets of Central City. All the while he is followed by some mysterious figures.

In Part 2 the Flash remains blind to crime as Abra Kadabra appears (he had been both Cardine and the shop owner) and reveals how he escaped his century and how his futuristic science has rendered the Flash useless as a crimefighter. The three mysterious figures reveal themselves to be Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-2 along with his fellow Justice Society members Dr.Fate and Dr.Mid-Nite. Fate had become aware of a threat and the three came to Earth-1 to help. Fate cannot remove Kadabra's "spell" on Flash, so the four heroes head off together to solve the crime problems of Central City.

In Part 3 the Flash is guided by his cohorts to battle thugs he cannot himself detect while they remain invisible and behind the scenes. Abra Kadabra is puzzled by this and reveals himself and attacks directly. The Flash fends him off, still unable to see him but Kadabra thinks he must and so changes his attack and attempts to choke the Flash in his costume by causing it the shrink. The Flash does escape his uniform, defeat Kadabra and thanks his Earth-2 buddies for their help.

"Doomward Flight of the Flashes" was written by John Broome and features again the art team of Carmine Infantino and Sid Greene. This story begins on Earth-2 when Jay Garrick and his wife Joan decide to come to Earth-1 and talk to Barry Allen about revealing his secret identity to his wife Iris. But when they arrive at the Allen's home they find Barry gone and soon enough Wally (Kid Flash) shows up to say that Barry had disappeared while the two of them battled the Domino Gang. Jay and Wally investigate but soon Wally too vanishes. It seems a Golden Man, a lone mutant in a world of primitives has kidnapped both Flashes to presumably use them as "the most dangerous game" he can find. But as the Flashes try to escape their hunter's many futuristic attacks it is revealed to the reader that the Golden Man is gathering the Flashes' speed energy to power a device which will catapult his fellow men to his highly-evolved state. While being chased, Barry Allen seemingly sacrifices himself to save Wally who is recaptured by the Golden Man. Now down a Flash, the Golden Man then kidnaps Jay Garrick and brings him to his world. Jay and Wally are then subjected to intense cold which they fend off by using their power to its fullest supplying the Golden Man with the power he craves. But Barry returns and the three Flashes united force the Golden Man to turn on his evolutionary machine too early resulting in the Golden Man devolving to become like his primitive cohorts. The three Flashes return home and Barry decides to tell Iris his secret in the next month.

Both of these tales give more evidence that the Earth-2 concept in and of itself has become a commonplace in the DC universe. It's not the transportation between Earths that is central to either of these stories. The central concern of both of these Flash tales is found somewhere else. In the Only the second story features a cover which even mentions the Flash of Earth-2. Now to be fair, the secret was important in the Abra Kadabra tale, but I have to say I am somewhat confused why three JSofA members were present for that story. Dr.Mid-Nite is present but hardly essential to the plot.

On a more sophisticated note, it becomes clear in the Golden Man story that Jay Garrick is an ongoing role model for Barry Allen. He and Joan take it upon themselves to offer advice to the newlyweds of Earth-1. That's a great role for all of the old and presumably wiser Justice Society members. It's some of what made them attractive to me as a reader. In a comics universe overcome with callow youth, having older and wiser heads around was comforting. I think that dread of older characters is what makes DC shelve the Justice Society from time to time as they seem to be doing right now. It's regrettable.

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