Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fast Company

Showcase Presents The Flash Volume 3: written by John Broome, Gardner Fox, and Robert Kanigher; illustrated by Carmine Infantino, Joe Giella, and Murphy Anderson (1963-66; collected 2011): The Flash was always the jauntiest of DC's Silver-Age reimaginings of Golden-Age characters, sleekly drawn by Carmine Infantino and written with a flair for the oddball, mostly by John Broome. As with other DC titles of the 1950's and 1960's, psychology is mostly absent and rapid-fire superheroics are the norm. Also, there are a lot of aliens.

There is some Marvel-Age influence here as the volume moves to the mid-1960's. A cover with the Flash abandoning his uniform and his superheroing seems pretty clearly inspired by a classic Spider-man cover of the same time period. Some personal angst slips into a couple of the stories -- being the Flash does occasionally play havoc with the Flash's relationship with reporter Iris West -- but the overall tone is usually light. One story has the Flash participating in bizarre, tearful conversations with his costume. The mental stability of superheroes often seems pretty precarious.

And then there's the Flash's host of supervillains. Captain Cold, the Trickster, Captain Boomerang, Heatwave, the Top, Abracadabra, the Reverse-Flash, and numerous others may be occasionally homicidal, but for the most part they're either trying to steal things or seemingly obsessed with playing tag with the Flash. And there are a lot of aliens from both space and other dimensions trying to destroy the Earth, or conquer it, or whatever.

The Flash's superspeed, so advanced as to give him complete control over every atom in his body, comes in handy. Occasional 'Flash Facts' explain why our hero can do certain things (like run straight through a brick wall) that one might think would kill him. Thankfully for Earth, relativity doesn't seem to apply to the Flash, as his jogs at the speed of light don't make him so massive as to destroy the Earth. Seminal Flash artist Carmine Infantino draws everything with an angular, lunging quality that highlights the speed of the Flash and the occasional slowness of everything around him. Phew! Recommended.

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