As Speed Force marks its fourth birthday, we decided to take a look back at where each of the Fastest Men Alive were in the fourth year of their titles. Happy Speed Fourth!
Flash fans know a lot can change in four years, but Speed Force is still the place for Flash news, commentary and analysis. But what of the heroes throughout the history of Flash comics? Where were Jay Garrick, Barry Allen and Wally West exactly four years after their first solo titles launched? After the jump, we’ll take a look at comics out on and around their fourth anniversaries, and the stories and creators involved.
Flash Comics #1 went on sale November 10, 1939, introducing super-speedster Jay Garrick to the world. Four years later:
- Flash Comics #49 went on sale on November 10, 1943, featuring the story “The Flashlight that Never Failed” by Gardner Fox and Lou Ferstadt.
- All-Flash #13, the Winter 1943 issue, went on sale December 1st and featured the 40-page Flash story “Campaign Against the Flash” as well as stories starring The King (in his second-to-last ever appearance) and Hop Harrigan. The Flash story is by Gardner Fox and Everett E. Hibbard.
- Flash had been given leave from the Justice Society prior to issue #4 of All-Star Comics, so he does not appear in that team’s November 1943 installment.
A synopsis of the story from Flash Comics #49, courtesy of this DC Wiki:
A young man’s father discovers “carbon light”, which can pick up and move any object, no matter how heavy. When criminals accidentally learn of this invention from the Flash himself, the Scarlet Speedster, Joan and the young man fall victim to its strange powers.
All-Flash #13, from Mike’s Amazing World of DC Comics:
Criminals print a magazine article which paints the Flash as a menace and makes the hero believe that he is unwanted. Flash decides to retire, and a new hero Muscleman takes up the mantle as Keystone’s hero.
Not counting the Showcase issues, Barry Allen’s own series began with Flash #105 on December 23, 1958. Four years later:
- Flash #134 went on sale on December 6, 1962, with two new stories by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella.
- Flash also appeared in Justice League of America #17 (Dec. 13) in “The Triumph of the Tornado Tyrant” by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky.
In the first story from Flash #134, Flash and Elongated Man take on Captain Cold in “The Man Who Mastered Absolute Zero”. Both this story and “The Campaign Against the Flash” from All-Flash #13 appear, re-printed, in 100-Page Super Spectacular DC-22 from 1973. The second story, “The Threat of the Absent-Minded Professor,” shows Barry meeting Professor Ira West for the first time. The Justice League story is essentially a crossover with an Adam Strange story from Mystery in Space. The Tornado Champion from story that would later assume control of T.O. Morrow’s Red Tornado android, as seen in Justice League of America #193.
Flash #1, kicking off the third volume of the series, was released on March 5, 1987 with Wally West in the wingtips. Four years later:
- The ultimate anniversary! Wally West broke through, regained his speed and overcame both Vandal Savage and the specter of death in Flash #50, by William Messner-Loebs and Greg LaRocque.
- Flash also appears in the pages of Justice League Europe #25.
Flash #50 is one of the all-time great anniversary issues, moving the character forward in a storm of action rather than looking back or revealing some secret origin. The cover exclaimed “Welcome to a New Era!” and the book delivered, turning in 38 pages that saw Wally graduate after four years at the Super-Speed School of Hard Knocks with a definitive new costume designed by LaRocque.
Stay tuned for more!
Speaking of the Flash memories and the “death” of Wally West, my LEAST favorite Flash memory is reading Flash #49 (where Wally is shot by Vandal Savage and dies) at the hospital where my grandmother was staying. She was dying from cancer at the time (brain tumor) and I felt uncomfortable being in the room with her so I stuck my nose in a comic instead. She passed away a day later.
Poor Jay, that looks like one of those Unfortunate Camera Shots relatives love to take of unsuspecting family members during a get-together.
0.0 Captain Cold really was bald back then? I thought that was just for New Frontier. So….what’s his secret? Hair club for men?
Wally’s 50th issue of death and rebirth! (Best remembered by me for that dream more than the new suit. Man, they were pushing the envelope a bit with that one. But then he was sleeping around already with quite a few women before that. Uh… Yeah.
(Okay, my favorite character was -alas- an unashamed flirt and sex maniac. Don’t tell my parents.) ;P
Cold wasn’t bald, the art was just drawn awkwardly. He did randomly show up as bald during the 1990s in a Millar/Morrison story, but that was a one-time thing. Maybe he’d lost a bet :>
Cold getting scalped at a bet. I’d hate to see what happened to the winner on some dark night after that. Wouldn’t have been pretty. 😛
Thanks for the info. When I first saw that Las Vegas scene in Frontier, I was like “B-b-but…bald? Since when?!”
Apparently New Frontier Cold was based on Grant Morrison, hence the baldness (wonder if that’s why he was bald in the Morrison story?)
“The Campaign Against the Flash” was in the second batch of Jay Garrick stories I read: after the ones collected in The Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told, but before I had the budget to start looking for actual Golden Age books, I tracked down all the reprints I could find. Sadly I don’t remember much of it, except that there was a twist involving Muscleman’s secret identity.