A Tribute to the of

I know I've remarked before that the Flash and his rogue's gallery might be second only to Batman in sheer numbers and lethality. We explored what was considered the first gathering of Barry Allen's foes in Flash #130 (or as we like to call it, Sage #129) when he was vexed by The Top, Captain Boomerang, Captain Cold, the Trickster and the Mirror Master. Jumping ahead a mere 25 issues in #155 (September 1965), they're at it again, only the lineup has expanded and this time there's no sign of the Trickster. "The Gauntlet of Super-Villains!" written by the great John Broome with art by the incomparable Carmine Infantino and inking by the equally terrific Joe Giella included The Top, Captain Boomerang, Captain Cold, Mirror Master, Heat Wave and the Pied Piper, plus…another famous foe who shows up a bit later in this Julius Schwartz edited tale. Wanna hear more? C'mon…

The story takes off on a bit of a supernatural twist when a citizen is discovered locked up in the home away from home usually occupied by Sam Scudder aka the Mirror Master. Scudder himself has abruptly found that he is free in a Central City park. Wasting little time he finds a particular tailor who can get him a new uniform. Coincidentally a familiar handful of other patrons are in attendance, including Captain Cold, Captain Boomerang, the Pied Piper, Heat Wave and the Top. As the group compares notes it seems each and every one has had a similar experience.

Now that each is in sparkling new togs, Scudder proposes that they ally themselves to become an irresistible force. A quick agreement is reached and they separate long enough to retrieve weapons.

Barry Allen has, in the interim, received word about the extraordinary circumstances afoot and soon the Flash is in action, investigating a report of an iced up department store building in Midtown. Vibrating through the wall of ice, he soon finds Captain Cold helping himself to some inventory. A brief battle ensues and the Flash is victorious, but just one floor above, the Top and the Mirror Master are also busy looting the joint. The Scarlet Speedster is next facing a custom made top emitting blinding light. Our hero defeats the threat with his super speed, using his arm as a rapidly moving "screen" before his eyes, but Scudder stands by with a mirror generated illusion that only slows the Flash down for a moment when he realizes the giant bowling ball is not corporeal.

Next up is the Pied Piper, using his enchanted instrument to force Flash to dance to the tune. Our resourceful hero manages to execute a Rockette- style kick to relieve the villain of his weapon and then it's a two-fer, with Heat Wave and Captain Boomerang converging on the Fastest Man Alive, but as they briefly bicker about who will do what to whom, Allen takes advantage of the window of opportunity to sideline them as well.

Just then, a lousy break when the Crimson Comet stumbles against a counter and ends up literally floored. The Sextet circle the helpless hero and simultaneously hit him with all they've got and in the next incredible moment seem to have completely vaporized the Flash, closing Part I.

Part II gives we readers the rest of the story when we see that Barry had enough time and talent to dodge his fate by vibrating through the floor to the level below. Pausing to take a breath, he also ponders that something is messing with his super speed.

Returning to the above space he recalls noting some barely discernible radiation coming from his foes during the battles and soon sets himself to a vibratory pattern that allows him to trace the residue back to a gorilla cage at the zoo. He briefly wonders if Grodd, the Super-Gorilla is also involved, but the two apes in the cage are a nondescript male and female and the zoo keeper explains that the two specimens are suddenly not as friendly toward one another as they had been recently. Specifically, Freddy seems to be ignoring his mate, Pola, much to her consternation.

After the conversation, Flash decides to visit Grodd's cell in Gorilla City, concealed in the African Continent. He finds that every gorilla, including the imprisoned Grodd, are in a strange form of stasis. Everyone is a living statue. At that dramatic moment, Flash received a message telepathically from Solovar, leader of Gorilla City, explaining that Grodd is behind all this and that he has switched his mind with that of Freddy at the zoo. Speeding back to the Central City zoo, he finds Pola alone, ending Part II.

Part III begins with Flash using Pola as a guide to find Freddy/Grodd. She unerringly leads our hero to the railroad yards where the disguised ape is lurking. As Barry speeds toward the simian, six familiar figures form out of thin air to again engage him. The Flash is literally too fast for them, though, as he dashes between the two columns so quickly that they incapacitate each other with their weapons. Unfortunately the speedster then loses his super speed powers. Grodd then triumphantly explains what has happened. It seems Flash's super speed and vibration powers are the only thing standing between the Super-Gorilla and world conquest, but he devised a plot to paralyze those powers with a specially devised radiation, fed at small doses through the other super-foes. Now Grodd can finish off Flash and continue his conquest. What he didn't count on, however, was that the nearby Pola has heard Grodd mention his future queen, Boka and it has caused a swift and physical jealous reaction. She pummels Grodd long enough for his mental forces to be distracted from containing the Flash's residual speed and he seizes the opportunity to pummel him, rapid- fire, his fists keeping the gorilla from being able to concentrate.

Successful, Flash heads back to Gorilla City to find Solovar and the rest of the inhabitants restored. Flash explains that by knocking Grodd out, he was able to release them from the villain's spell. Solovar has managed to returns Grodd's consciousness to his incarcerated body and had added additional measures to keep him from a future escape. Back at the Central City zoo, there is again love at the gorilla cage and the entire adventure ends on a happy note.

I should also mention in passing that the lettercol contains another thoughtful missive from the prolific Guy H. Lillian III, one of our friendly interviewees here at the Silver Lantern.

While I enjoyed the story I had a little trouble swallowing that Pola could understand what Grodd was saying, so the conflict resolution fell a little flat with me. Still, you can hardly go wrong with a good Silver Age Flash book and I'll give it a 7 on the 10-point rating scale.

Thanks for joining us and be sure to return for the first new edition of this feature on New Year's Day. Write me any time at: professor_the@hotmail.com.

Long live the Silver Age!

© 2000-2012 by B.D.S.

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