Tag Archives: Weird

Extinguishing a Speedster’s Smokes

Comic Coverage posted a humorous look at the role smoking had in the Golden-Age Flash’s origin. Jay Garrick was working late, took a cigarette break, and knocked over a beaker of “hard water.” Interestingly, later retellings of his origin downplayed and finally deleted the cigarette.

First, here are the original 1940 panels from Flash Comics #1 (copied from Comic Coverage), showing grad student Jay Garrick taking time out for a smoke:

Jay Garrick pauses for a smoke

Four decades later, in 1986, Secret Origins #9 would retell his origin. Mindful of the details, but also concerned about modern sensibilities about health, writer Roy Thomas kept the cigarette break, but added Jay thinking, “I know I should give up these things…”

Jay really wants to quit

A decade later, the cigarette had disappeared completely. Flash Secret Files #1 (1997) featured a condensed retelling of all three (at the time) Flashes’ origins, and this time, Jay simply succumbed to the hour and nodded off, dropping the beaker.

Jay falls asleep on the job

(Via Crimson Lightning)

Originally posted at K-Squared Ramblings.

The Dimwits and the Thinker

The Thinker (Golden Age)After almost 1½ years, my Golden-Age back-issue hunt finally netted a relatively cheap copy of All-Flash #12, the first appearance of the Flash villain, the Thinker. It’s an odd read, because the origin of the Thinker (a mob boss who plans his heists very meticulously) is interwoven with a slapstick story of the Three Dimwits.

All-Flash #12 (Fall 1943)The Thinker story is played more or less as a straight super-hero vs. organized crime story. I’d summarize it, but the Comics Archive has already written it up in their article on the Thinker [archive.org]. Now, imagine the first five paragraphs over there interwoven with a Three Stooges film and you’ll get the idea. The Dimwits end up buying a restaurant heavily in debt to the mob, and accidentally make salads out of an alien plant that make people turn invisible.

It’s incredibly silly, but it ties into the other half of the story: The original mob boss’ henchmen are caught robbing the Dimwits’ restaurant, so he calls in the Thinker to solve his problem before they can rat on him. And of course, once the Thinker takes over, he’s mighty interested in these salads that turn people invisible.

And yet, the feel is so completely different that it seems like two different stories.

The Three Dimwits: Winky, Blinky and Noddy

An unexpected discovery was a reference to the planet Karma, where the alien plant comes from. I’d seen two other references in other Golden-Age Flash stories, so it’s clearly part of the background mythos. This is one reason I’ve been looking for the source material. It’s relatively easy to find info on the leads, or the major villains, but the minor supporting characters who appear in three or four issues—Deuces Wilde, Evart Keenan, Dr. Flura, Ebenezer Jones—are mostly forgotten.

On a related note, while looking up the Thinker’s other appearances, I discovered that one of the non-Flash titles I’d been looking for, All-Star Comics #37, was reprinted in The Greatest Golden-Age Stories Ever Told—a book I already had. I felt bad that I hadn’t actually read the entire book, but that meant I could cross off two items from my wantlist instead of just one.

Originally posted at K-Squared Ramblings

Flash and the Happy Pills

The Worry Wart. One of the characters I encountered early in my exploration of Golden Age Flash stories was Ebenezer Jones, the Worry Wart. In fact, All-Flash #24 (1946) was one of those first two GA Flash books I bid on just to see if I could win. The story in that book referred to previous meetings. If it had been the Silver Age, it would have included a helpful editor’s note telling me “See issue #X,” instead of just a recap.

As I kept watching auctions and looking on sites like the Grand Comics Database, I identified at least two more appearances. I finally tracked down the last of the three in March, and was able to write up a bio of the character.

Who is the Worry Wart? In short, he was an ordinary man who had a case of anxiety so bad it was contagious.

Jones worries about dying in his sleep, and about not getting enough sleep. He gets fired from two jobs because his bosses and coworkers start worrying about every little thing when he’s around.

The Flash gives the Worry Wart his happiness pillsThere’s an odd subtext to the character’s stories, though. The reason he returns to Keystone City is that the Flash had previously set him up with a supply of “happiness pills,” which had run out. In Flash Comics #76 (1946), Ebenezer Jones deliberately overdoses on the happiness pills, causing a euphoric delirium just as contagious as his anxiety.

Looking back on this from 2007, it’s hard not to think of it in terms of the vast numbers of people today taking medications for depression or anxiety. Not to mention people who abuse prescription medications. Or just people who abuse drugs. There’s a disturbing drug-dealer vibe in that panel.

It gets better, though. In the Worry Wart’s first appearance, in All-Flash #15 (1944), the Flash makes him a serum to counteract his anxiety:

The Flash gives Jones a tonic to counteract his anxiety... and it really works.

Yes, that’s right. The Flash gives him a bottle, and he drinks his cares away. No subtext here!

Originally posted at K-Squared Ramblings.

Wait…What? The Flash and the Baby Raffle (Golden Age Hijinks)

I’ve got a saved search set up at eBay that lets me know when Golden-Age Flash comics show up in my price range. It’s been a while since I actually bought one, though. Most of them are either too expensive or contain stories I’ve already read, either through reprints or through my own small Golden-Age collection.

Flash Comics #45Anyway, several books showed up in this morning’s email, and I checked them against my want-list and already-read list. Then I looked up the one that I didn’t recognize, Flash Comics #45. Comics.org has a synopsis of the Flash story, “Blessed Event:”

Jay wins a baby in a raffle and it immediately becomes a headache for himself [trying to explain it to Joan], and to the Flash, when the baby turns out to be a midget crook!

Leaving aside the silliness of an adult dwarf being able to pass as an infant (a premise that doesn’t seem to have gone away, being the basis of the 2006 Wayans Brothers film, Little Man), consider the fact that Jay Garrick wins a baby in a raffle.

Seriously. Even in 1943, who thought that raffling off children to the hero was a good idea for a setup?

Midget Joe in his second appearance.It’s probably an oversimplication.

But then, this is the same series where the Flash’s dimwitted sidekicks buy a restaurant and accidentally turn people invisible when they use an alien plant in their salads. (To top things off, it ties into the otherwise-serious origin of the Thinker.) The Silver Age had its share of goofy stories, but it’s got nothing on the Golden Age for sheer silliness.

Believe it or not, “Midget Joe” (as his name is given) actually comes back in Flash Comics #61, one of the issues I’ve read. The criminal escapes from prison, then hides out in a children’s hospital ward. Unfortunately for him, the Flash is performing magic tricks to cheer up the patients, but the hero doesn’t recognize him at first…

The Voyages of the Exploration Ship Znutar

I found this bizarre ad in a copy of Flash #291 (November 1980)

If this isn’t crack, I don’t know what is.

Of course, with the Internet, nothing really disappears, and in a search for Znutar, I found the web page of the actual author of… The Awful Green Things From Outer Space.

Originally posted at scans_daily with a private post here to host the scan. Opened up after the S*D meltdown.

70s Flashback: Super-Speed Twinkies

If you read DC or Marvel comics during the late 1970s or early 1980s, or if you’ve read back issues from that era, chances are that you’ve seen the super-hero ads for Hostess cupcakes, Twinkies, etc. These were done as 1-page stories in which a low-rent villain would appear as a menace. Then a super-hero would arrive, and somehow use snack cakes to defeat the villain.

Yep.

There were at least four ads featuring the Flash:

These are all scanned and hosted by Seanbaby, who has a full set of these Hostess ads. (Watch out for NSFW language in the commentary.)

You know, now that I think about it, the subtext of the Flash helping The Destroyer fight off his depression by eating junk food is disturbingly reminiscent of the Golden Age Flash providing “happiness pills” to the Worry Wart.

Sadly, the Destroyer didn’t share the Flash’s hyper-accelerated metabolism.

Speaking of NSFW commentary and disturbing implications, there’s also Super Stupor’s take on the campaign.

(Inspired by a recent post at Mike’s Progressive Ruin.)