Tag Archives: Golden Age

Magic Speed Formula: Mort Meskin’s Johnny Quick

Created by Mort Weisinger and debuting in More Fun Comics #71 (1941, less than two years after Flash Comics #1), Johnny Quick and his “3X2(9YZ)4A” speed formula enjoyed a 13-year run between More Fun and Adventure Comics. He even outlasted the Jay Garrick Flash, staying in publication in solo stories through 1954. A speedster who occasionally took to the skies, his secret ID of Johnny Chambers was a newsreel photographer.

More Fun 094-11

Between 1941 and 1948, the artist behind the majority of Johnny Quick’s adventures was Mort Meskin. Sometimes listed as Mort Morton, Jr., Meskin is credited on 57 Johnny Quick stories, according to DCIndexes.com. DC reprinted six of those stories between three issues of the 1956-1985 Flash series, a separate Flash 100-Page Giant, an issue of Most Dangerous Villains, and a 2001 “Millennium Edition” reprint of More Fun #101.

Continue reading

A Brief History of Jay Garrick, the Original Flash

Jay Garrick, the Flash of an alternate reality, debuts in the second season of the Flash TV show. He may be coming to the CW second, but he’s actually the first scarlet speedster to wear the lightning in DC’s earliest comic books.

Golden Age

Flash Comics #1Way back in 1940, Jay Garrick [character bio] made his debut in the iconic Mercury-style winged helmet. Back then “Flash Comics” was an anthology book, and he traded off the cover spot with Hawkman each month. But the Flash was popular enough he soon got his own series, appropriately called “All-Flash.”

Jay Garrick was a scientist working in the private sector, not rich but well enough off as time went on that he could move within society circles. He told his college girlfriend Joan Williams about his secret right away, and she quickly became his lifelong confidante. She was less likely to get into trouble and need saving than she was to find people who needed help and point them toward the Flash.

In the 1940s he mostly fought gangsters and corrupt businessmen in Keystone City. It was several years before the Thinker appeared, and back then he was simply a criminal mastermind. Super-villains didn’t really start to show up in their modern form until the end of the decade, and even then they still had henchmen as often as powers. The stories ranged from serious crime tales to out-and-out slapstick comedy, especially when a trio of Three Stooges lookalikes joined the supporting cast. It wouldn’t be remotely out of place for the Flash to pelt a criminal with rotten tomatoes or tie him to a lamppost in his underwear.

Superheroes fell out of favor toward the end of the decade, and the Flash faded from view. DC went for an experimental reboot in 1956, introducing police scientist Barry Allen. Jay Garrick might have been forgotten, except…

Silver Age Multiverse

Flash #123: Flash of Two WorldsIn 1961’s Flash #123’s “Flash of Two Worlds” introduced DC’s version of the multiverse. DC’s current stories were said to take place on Earth-One, and the older stories were said to take place on Earth-Two. Barry Allen crossed over, met Jay Garrick, and teamed up for what became a regular tradition.

Over the next few decades, Jay Garrick was a regular guest star in The Flash. Sometimes he’d visit Barry on Earth-One. Sometimes Barry and Wally would visit Earth-Two.

And something unusual happened: Because Earth-Two wasn’t DC Comics’ main setting, they allowed time to pass. Jay Garrick and Joan Williams married. Other heroes from the Justice Society had children, and those children grew up to become super-heroes themselves.

Elder Generation

JSA #78In 1985, DC Comics rebooted again, combining characters from various timelines into a single history. Because Jay Garrick, Barry Allen and Wally West were distinct characters, they all got to be part of the new history instead of being collapsed into a single younger character. Other heroes’ pasts were rewritten and combined. The Flashes were simply placed on opposite sides of a river instead of in alternate realities.

DC quickly shuffled the Justice Society offstage after Crisis on Infinite Earths, but after a few years they brought them back… and the original heroes of the DCU became mentors to a new generation. Jay Garrick, once a brash youngster who wisecracked at costumed crooks while throwing pies at them, grew into an elder statesman, training younger superheroes.

New 52 / Society

Earth 2 #2 - Final CoverEverything changed in 2011 when DC rebooted once again in the wake of Flashpoint. Jay Garrick and Barry Allen no longer share a planet. Jay once again lives on Earth-2, and we’re reading the adventures of a much younger hero on a world recovering from a devastating interstellar war.

Smallville: Clark looks at the Flash's helmet


Teddy Sears is the first actor to portray Jay Garrick in live action, but this isn’t the first time the character has appeared on TV. He’s shown up on the cartoon Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and he was name-checked (along with a cameo of his helmet) when Smallville revealed a secret history of super-heroes. When Smallville continued as a comic book, they tracked Jay down to help Impulse (Bart Allen), and he came out of retirement to teach a new generation of heroes in Smallville: Titans.

It seems he just can’t get away from the mentoring gig!


Flash vs. the Measles: The Show Must Go On!

As someone who grew up after the measles vaccine, I tended to think of it as not a big deal, just one of those childhood diseases that previous generations had to deal with. So back in the mid-2000s when I was tracking down every Golden Age Flash story I could find, I was surprised to see that Flash Comics #39 treated it as serious business (which, of course, it is).

In “Play of the Year” (March 1943), a theater producer sabotages a rival’s production by faking a measles outbreak among the cast. The boarding house where they’re all staying is immediately quarantined.

Flash Comics #39 Page 10

Of course, this is a Jay Garrick Flash story, so there’s a madcap solution: the Flash will perform every part in the play at once! (This was a recurring motif in the series, including stories where he played every position on a baseball team and replaced an entire hockey team.) Continue reading

Farewell, Joe Kubert

Flash #190 cover by Joe Kubert

Legendary artist Joe Kubert passed away this morning at the age of 85. His long association with DC Comics goes back to the early 1940s, where he had an extended run as the artist on the Golden-Age Hawkman, including the Hawkman-themed Flash Comics covers. (Flash and Hawkman shared the spotlight for the series, and alternated covers.) During this time, he also drew several Flash stories and Flash-themed covers, notably featuring the Thorn.

Flash #190 cover by Joe Kubert

In 1969, he returned briefly to The Flash to draw a series of covers, shocking both in their themes and in their rugged contrast from the sleeker lines usually associated with the character.

Flash 50th Anniversary Special

In 1990, Kubert drew the cover to the Flash 50th Anniversary Special, and in 2006, he inked his son Andy Kubert’s cover for Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1. I believe this makes him the only artist to professionally draw all four Flashes during the time they were active as the main Flash.

Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1 Variant Cover by Andy Kubert and Joe Kubert

While most associated with Sgt. Rock and war comics, Kubert’s career spanned many characters and genres. He was active to the end, through the Kubert School and his own art. His most recent work was just published last week in Before Watchmen: Nite Owl, and DC recently announced a Joe Kubert Presents anthology miniseries.

Mark Evanier remembers Joe Kubert on his blog, News From Me. First Comics News has a retrospective on his career and is collecting remembrances from others in the industry. CSBG has a gallery of great Joe Kubert covers. Update: The Washington Post has a retrospective with remembrances from other comics professionals, and The Beat looks back on his “unparalleled life”. Update: More reactions at Progressive Ruin, Being Carter Hall, Fire and Water Podcast.

(Covers via comics.org.)

Jay Garrick Cameo Pulled from The Shade

Bleeding Cool posts a page of original art from The Shade #4 found on Albert Moy. The page didn’t appear in the book, though, because it featured the Golden Age Flash and Starman.

As I understand it, James Robinson and the various artists have been working on this series since before the relaunch, and have had to make a few changes along the way in order to fit into the New 52.

Golden Age Artist Sheldon Moldoff Passes

Classic comic book artist Sheldon Moldoff passed away last Wednesday at 91. He was the last surviving artist to have worked on Action Comics #1, and drew the covers of Flash Comics #1 and All-American Comics #16, the first cover appearances of the Flash and Green Lantern. Moldoff drew the Golden-Age Hawkman for several years, and was Bob Kane’s main ghost artist on many of the Batman features credited to Kane.

Mark Evanier writes about Moldoff’s life and career.