One-Man Team

[Cover: Flash Comics #90: Nine Empty Uniforms]Something I’ve noticed as I read through various Golden-Age Flash Comics is a repeated subgenre in which the Flash plays an entire team. “Nine Empty Uniforms” (Flash Comics #90, 1947) is the first one I read, since it was reprinted in an 80-page Giant. The bad guys cause problems for a baseball team, so the Flash takes the place of every single player in the upcoming game.

As I’ve picked up comics from the 1940s, and the new Archive book, I’ve found more. In an untitled story from All-Flash Quarterly #1 (1941, reprinted in The Golden Age Flash Archive Volume 2), racketeers hassle a hockey team.The owner needs the money from the “Manley Cup” for an operation for his daughter, so when the racketeers force the players to sit the game out, the Flash steps in.

[Splash Page: All-Flash Hockey Game]

[Splash Page for Play of the Year]“Play of the Year” (Flash Comics #39, 1943) breaks with tradition a bit and instead of a sports team, the Flash replaces a troupe of actors. A rival producer tries to financially ruin one of Jay’s friends by preventing his play from opening, in this case faking a measles outbreak among the cast and putting them in quarantine. Once again, the Flash steps in and plays every single role, changing costumes and switching places faster than the eye can see.

The weird thing about these stories is that nowhere does anyone suggest that having a super-powered player—who isn’t even on your roster—just might be cheating. It goes all the way back to his first appearance in Flash Comics #1: Back in college, Jay Garrick was a football scrub. After the accident gave him super-speed, he convinced the coach to put him on the field so he could show off in front of his girlfriend, Joan.

Interestingly, later retellings of the Flash’s origin make it a point that he quit the team immediately afterward because staying would have given him an unfair advantage.

Originally posted at K-Squared Ramblings.


7 thoughts on “One-Man Team

  1. Perplexio

    I won’t speak to baseball, but with hockey in the 40s and 50s there were coaches who would read the rulebook thoroughly and if a rule didn’t exist preventing them from doing something they would try to get away with doing just that… using 2 goaltenders and only 4 players up front instead of 5, goaltenders using 2 sticks instead of 1, etc. A lot of the rules that exist today were the results of coaches trying to get away with things because the rules didn’t yet exist to prevent them from doing those things.

    1. Kelson Post author

      That’s fascinating. It’s like rules lawyering in role-playing games, but in sports!

      I can just imagine some coach explaining, “Look, there’s no rule against cutting a hole in the ice with a chainsaw!” while a fight breaks out between the two teams.

  2. Craig MD

    Its not uncommon for the Flashes (any of them) to be playing against someone else (or themselves) in sports. I remember a Secret Origins issue (#8?) with Jay Garrick where he was playing tennis with himself because no one else could keep up with him. And in Flash #67 Wally plays as a one-man basketball team for a charity event.

    1. Ben

      Playing for Charity and against oneself vs playing against a regular team while having superpowers. Two are fair and one is possibly cheating depending on the powers.

    1. Kelson Post author

      In theory, I suppose Superman could do the same thing, but it’s not an application of super-speed I can recall him using. At least not much.


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