A Tribute to the of
I realized recently that the heroes of DC are, by and large, a fairly highbrow bunch and have been from the beginning. As we look at the Golden Age we see that Alan (Green Lantern) Scott is an engineer. Kent (Doctor Fate) Nelson is an archaeologist. Doctor Mid-Nite is Dr. Charles McNider in his civilian identity. Al (Atom) Pratt is a professor of history. While Bruce (Batman) Wayne carries no credentials, his expertise in the crime lab is the stuff of legend. Many of the Silver Age heroes are no slouches either, with Ray (Atom) Palmer serving as a Professor in Ivy Town, Barry (Flash) Allen being a police scientist and while it's often forgotten, J'onn J'onnz was a scientist on his home world of Mars. Even Captain Action spends his off time as Professor Clive Arno, another archaeologist.
With all the gray matter evident, I guess it shouldn't have come as a particular surprise to me that Jay Garrick, the original Flash from the Golden Age also seems to be of a scientific bent. I hadn't really known much about his origin, but here is the Cliff's Notes version: "College student Jay Garrick was investigating an experimental form of heavy water, when an accident released hazardous fumes that rendered him unconscious. After inhaling the fumes all night, he awoke in the hospital to discover he could move and react at superhuman speed!"
In the credit where credit is due category, the above information was gleaned from this very good reference page: http://www.hyperborea.org/flash/jay.html
As you've doubtless figured out by now, Jay Garrick will play a part in this latest review. I have selected for your approval this time around another classic team-up story. It's the second Silver Age crossover story with both the Flash of Earth One and the Flash of Earth Two. It's the The Flash #129, dated June 1962 and it's titled "Double Danger on Earth!" It's yet another tale from the imaginations of editor Julius Schwartz & writer Gardner Fox and as you can see from the cover by Carmine Infantino & Murphy Anderson (interior art is by Infantino & Joe Giella) the two Scarlet Speedsters have their hands full taking on Captain Cold and The Trickster.
The story begins on Earth Two, home of the heroes we know from the Golden Age. On Sunday, April 1st, 1962 a comet strikes the sun, causing a flare of radioactivity that is endangering life on Earth! We then join Jay and Joan Garrick, where Jay, with furrowed brow, is reading about the phenomena in the newspaper and explaining things to his wife. He relates that the collision of the comet with the sun is like an atomic bomb explosion and that the fallout, measured in roentgens, is beginning to bombard the Earth. Unchecked it will destroy all life in a matter of days, but his branch laboratory in Flagstaff, Arizona has discovered that radiation levels there are lesser and in the vicinity of a particular meteor crater, non-existent. Garrick decides he needs to find out pronto what the unique properties may be, but ponders whether to investigate in his present persona or that of The Flash. He finally decides to don his uniform beneath his street clothes and to head for the lab. He discovers that the sample of the meteorite, metallic in composition, is indeed neutralizing the radiation. Next stop, Arizona. Unfortunately, upon his arrival from Keystone City, his consultation with the local scientists and military officials reveal that the meteorite has vanished! Jay then tells them that he knows of the existence of an identical Earth that just may have an identical meteorite. After getting safely out of sight, he appears in the familiar red and blue uniform and speeds back to the outskirts of Keystone City and begins to imitate his namesake Flash by vibrating in a particular way to open the corridor between the Earths. Chapter One closes on that note.
Chapter Two brings us to that other Earth, Earth One, where Barry Allen is in the process of releasing his own uniform from his secret ring compartment and fretting about being late, as usual, to pick up his date, Iris West. Moments later he's at her apartment and she greets him with a certain amount of disgust while he apologizes, thinking to himself that he must remember to use his Barry Allen voice. The editor then informs us that the reason Iris doesn't so much as blink is that they're off to a headline makers ball and Barry has chosen to go as…The Flash. Whew! Barry's secret is still a secret. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
At the ball, Barry notes that the fundraiser, with a goal of $100,000.00, is in full swing and that the tellers who are accepting donations are off-duty members of the Central City Police Department. Allen notes that there are plenty of familiar characters in attendance, including most of his rogues gallery, such as the Mirror Master, Trickster, Captain Cold and The Top. He thinks to himself that he'd be suspicious if not for the knowledge that they're all currently in the pokey. Sorry, Barry, but as you'll soon learn, your relief isn't justified. The man wearing the polar expedition gear makes his way to the lobby and levels his cold-gun at the teller's cages, quick-freezing them to such a degree that the metal becomes brittle and easily shatters at his touch. Before he can lay his gloved hands on the booty, however, a pole with a hook on the end snatches the satchel away and Captain Cold discovers he has a rival in the form of The Trickster. It's lucky for The Trickster that he's at a costume ball as his get up is a far cry from subtle. He reminds me a little of a court jester sans cap with his blue elfin shoes, black eye mask and alternating stripe motif on the torso, trunks and legs of his costume. Add in a black cape with an orange lining and you can't help but wonder if The Joker has a distant cousin.
Captain Cold isn't about to roll over and he raises his cold-gun only to have The Trickster retaliate with a blowgun-fired magnetic pellet, blocking the barrel of Cold's weapon. The Trickster is just turning tail to make his escape with the aid of his jet shoes when Jay Garrick bursts upon the scene. Barry's landlady had told Jay where to find him and recognizing the robbery, he begins to engage the villains. His first move is a super speed circular downdraft beneath the suspended Trickster, gradually bringing him down to terra firma. As Garrick moves to retrieve the satchel, Captain Cold has managed to remove the magnetic pellet and fires a burst of cold from his gun, leaving Jay to slip and slide, ultimately crashing into a wall. A regrouped Trickster then grabs the cash again and renews his run with Captain Cold in hot pursuit.
Barry, meanwhile, notices that they have yet to announce whether or not the $100K goal had been met and decides to go have a look around. It is then that he discovers the frozen tellers and soon discovers Jay Garrick, just recovering from his spill. The two Flashes then seek out the diabolical duo who are still squabbling over the receipts. Captain Cold brings his weapon into play yet again and creates a column of ice in the pathway of the airborne Trickster, sending him sliding back to earth. Taking custody of the money, the frosty felon turns and is shocked to see a pair of speeding heroes. The Flashes divide to conquer and while Cold encases Barry in ice, Jay races toward him, only to be hooked by the Trickster from above. While Jay is momentarily suspended and unable to get any traction, the cold gun flashes forth again, making a second frozen Flash. The Trickster then offers to split the loot with Captain Cold and the pair joins forces, closing out Chapter Two.
Chapter three brings us back to our two crimson comets, still held hostage in the ice. Each Flash is thinking furiously, but about slightly different challenges. Barry is concerned about capturing The Trickster and Captain Cold while Jay is thinking about the ticking clock and his mission to try and save his Earth. Fortunately, each of them had the foresight before facing down the cold gun to inhale deeply, giving them enough wiggle room between their bodies and the ice to enable them to vibrate at super speed, shattering their icy prisons. A quick search reveals that the criminals have temporarily given them the slip, so Jay takes a moment to fill Barry in on his predicament and mission on Earth One. Barry says he has to stay in Central City to keep on the lookout for the escaped thieves, but will alert the authorities about Jay's mission while the Earth Two Flash speeds toward meteor crater.
Upon Garrick's arrival at the crater museum, he's met with some skepticism. The staff explain that the massive meteor, estimated at 120 feet in diameter with a weight between 1.7 to 7.8 million tons, is buried deeply in the ground. The crater is 570 feet deep, 4000 feet across and has displaced 400 million tons of dirt. Undaunted, Jay states simply that he must try in order to save his world and he begins his super speed excavation. Garrick first circles the crater, digging up the earth and using his incredible speed to create a vacuum effect in a vortex, sending the loosened earth and debris skyward and away from the crater. He soon uncovers the meteorite and then begins the next phase of the project. Again calling on his terrific speed, he cuts the meteorite into sections with his hands: "Just as a straw can penetrate a tree when blown by hurricane winds—just as I can vibrate through solid walls—so my hands, by moving at super-speed—can slice the metal of the meteorite!" Now that the meteorite is in "bite-sized" pieces, Earth Two's Flash rapidly brings up the pieces, which are loaded aboard cargo planes to be shipped to Central City.
Later, Jay has constructed a vibrator-transporter as a way to move the ingots of meteorite back to his Earth. Barry arrives to lend a hand and comes up with an idea to help lure Captain Cold and the Trickster out of the woodwork as well. Planting a phony headline with Iris, the reporter, they lay the groundwork to bring the two foes to the transporter. Expecting to find a fortune in diamonds, the duo arrives, only to have the Flashes spring their trap. Despite Captain Cold's blanketing the area with his absolute cold, Barry and Jay had protected themselves with negative radiation and soon the battle is on. Barry and Jay break and scoop up the icicles Captain Cold places in their path and hurl them up into the sky to put a stop to the fleeing Trickster and close out Chapter three in the process.
The final chapter begins with the Trickster being battered by the air currents surrounding the flying icicles and then plummeting to earth where he's caught by Jay (Flash) Garrick. To Garrick's amazement, however, the form of the Trickster vanishes before his eyes.
Barry, meanwhile, is scooping up one of the metal ingots and starting a search, now that his suspicion of a Captain Cold generated mirage has taken place. He gives chase to Captain Cold, while slicing off pieces of the ingot to leave as a trail for his fellow Flash.
Barry soon comes upon a cave where Captain Cold and the Trickster are divvying up the "diamonds." When the Flash reveals that they're fakes, the villains point weapons at the Scarlet Speedster who responds that he'll stop them both with a snap of his fingers. Allen then snaps his fingers and to the surprise of both villains their weapons are turned on each other. In the next moment, Jay Garrick reveals himself as the cause of their movements, coming into the cave at a speed only Barry could see.
After turning the crooks over to the authorities the Flashes are off to the transport where they do some vibrating of their own to go to Garrick's earth. Once there, they observe the effort to free Earth Two of its radiation. The ingots had been ground into powder and fired into the stratosphere on rocket satellites, which were equipped to spray the radiation absorbing material into the atmosphere. Barry then comments that he still doesn't understand what happened to the Earth Two meteorite. Jay then theorizes that the meteorite had absorbed more of the radiation than they'd realized and it was actually consumed by it. Allen suddenly realizes that what happened on Earth Two could easily happen on Earth One as well, but Garrick was already on top of that. In the final panel, as Barry and Iris watch that very situation unfold on the television, he explains: "Iris, thanks to the foresightedness of the other Earth Flash who had a chemical analysis of the meteorite metal made—we have enough synthetic meteoric metal on hand to spray our atmosphere at once!"
So, a very different crisis on two Earths is averted, thanks to the teamwork of two Flashes.
This tale was reprinted in Flash #178, an 80 page GIANT (G-46) dated April, 1968. Cover by Ross Andru & Mike Esposito.
While this second pairing of the Flash of Earth One and the Flash of Earth Two was pretty enjoyable, I'm afraid it didn't quite measure up to their first team up in Flash #123. Even the addition of two of Barry Allen's rogue's gallery helped only minimally. Probably the thing that I found difficult was following all the ins and outs of the meteor and radiation and so forth. It got a little tough to follow, which detracted from the story for me, so this one gets a 7 on my rating scale. It wasn't a bad story, but it didn't particularly inspire me.
Remember to swing by The Silver Lantern in approximately two weeks for the next review. You won't want to miss it. Communication to me should be addressed to the following: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time…
Long live the Silver Age!
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