A Tribute to the of

Well, there's a new legal battle going on out there in comic book land.  Much like Stan Lee's lawsuit against Marvel awhile back (Check out my review of Showcase #9, featuring Lois Lane for the link), this one came sort of out of left field: http://www.newsday.com/business/local/newyork/ny-bztime043832680jun04,0,2066227.story  While I've admired Carmine Infantino's work for many years now, I feel like this is off-base.  Just because you draw a seminal character, both the Golden and Silver Age versions, I might add, does not necessarily mean it's "your" character.  For example, Curt Swan, historically the finest artist for Superman would have a claim on Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's creation in that case.  If the editor given the task of revamping The Flash, Julius Schwartz or the writer of that first appearance in Showcase #4, Robert Kanigher were still around, I'm sure they'd have a few things to say about Infantino's claims; as would the co-creators of the original concept of "The Fastest Man Alive!" writer Gardner Fox & artist Harry Lampert.  And frankly, at 79 years of age, what does Carmine have to prove at this point?  I just don't get it.  Furthermore, it occurs to me that in a sense, he's seeking acknowledgement and control of a character that is, unfortunately, technically no longer in existence; the Barry Allen persona of The Flash.  He was destroyed in the Crisis on Infinite Earths series, issue number 8 to be exact, and now the mantle of the Scarlet Speedster belongs to Wally West, the erstwhile Kid Flash.  Then again, I am neither a lawyer nor a psychologist.  I'm just a guy who loves the Silver Age of DC and once again I've come to share more of it with you.  Since we're on the topic of The Flash, I thought I'd review a cross-over tale where the Crimson Comet guest stars with his Justice League partner Green Lantern in his magazine for the very first time.  Its Green Lantern #13 dated June of 1962. the story is entitled "The Duel of the Super-Heroes!"  Writing credits go to long-time GL story teller John Broome with art courtesy of Gil Kane and Joe Giella. Editing details handled by Julius Schwartz. Hmmm.  No sign of Infantino or his attorney anywhere…  ;-)

Things start off with Iris West, girlfriend of Barry (The Flash) Allen taking a sort of working vacation with the police scientist to the west coast where she intends to do an interview of the famous test pilot, Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan.  It's useful to bear in mind that at this point in continuity; none of the members of the Justice League of America are privy to their fellow members' secret identities.  We also learn that Barry is hoping to run into Green Lantern during their sojourn west as well.

We now go into the depths of space where Green Lantern is returning from a mission.  His mind entertains thoughts of the many tasks on his plate, providing plenty of distractions and he's going at a pretty good clip when he breaches the atmosphere of Earth.  To his surprise, he's headed straight for a wall and notices it too late to keep from colliding with it.  Oddly, the architecture and the inhabitants don't look much like Earth and when Hal revives he is being observed by some bald, blue-skinned humanoids who communicate with him via direct thought projection.  Jordan soon learns that he is on the world of Spectar, located in the universe beyond the speed of light.  Chi-vam, one of the aliens theorizes that GL arrived there due to the high rate of speed he's been traveling, presumably beyond the speed of light and that the two worlds, Earth and Spectar, were in the precise same location, but in their respective dimensions.  (Sounds remarkably like the vibrational but similar locations of the multiples Earths, doesn't it?)

Green Lantern is grateful for their willingness to assist him through their explanations and reminder of his need to charge his ring (they explain that they have been able to get glimpses of life on earth during the regular coinciding orbits of their worlds), but has a feeling of something being amiss.  They then instruct him that the time is upon him to take advantage of the proximity of the worlds to return to Earth.  Hal reaches the proper velocity and does so.  The final two panels of Part I show the men of Spectar discussing their visitor and that soon they will have the Flash in their control and can proceed with the conquest of Earth.     

Part 2 brings the Emerald Warrior back to the main hangar of his employer, Ferris Aircraft Company and his friend Thomas (Pieface) Kalmuku, the only person on Earth who knows that Hal Jordan is Green Lantern. 

The ring-wielder is strangely wooden and when, at Kalmuku's suggestion, he touches his power ring to the battery of power, he utters a strange oath:  "In brightest day, in blackest night, all evil shall escape my sight, let those who worship evil's might, fear not my power—Green Lantern's light!"  Thomas is baffled, but thinks perhaps he just didn't hear correctly.  Soon he and Hal are driving toward the seashore to meet their dates along with Iris West and Barry Allen. 

Later, when introductions are made and the three couples are set for poolside fun, Barry and Hal make some small talk and when Allen mentions his home town of Central City, Jordan reacts quickly and intensely, asking if that isn't also the home base of The Flash.  Barry acknowledges that it is and Hal then turns away, wondering to himself why he asked the question.  A little later, Hal takes a walk along the beach alone and Thomas takes the opportunity to ask Barry if he'll help keep an eye on his friend Hal, who has been acting strangely.  Allen agrees and soon Jordan returns from his walk. 

The next day, Barry consults again with Kalmuku and mentions his observation that Hal seems to slip away every 4 hours.  Momentarily, he again excuses himself from the others and walks down the beach.  Barry follows and finds Jordan entering a cave along the shoreline.  When he peeks in on him, he is shocked to see him changing into the uniform of Green Lantern.  Allen continues to observe and sees his fellow Justice League member staring into his ring, transfixed.  We, the readers, are privy to what is going on in the Emerald Warrior's mind, however:  "It's the exact moment of orbit coinciding—the only moment each four hours when I can communicate with my masters…the Spectarns!"  He then reports mentally that he hasn't yet captured the Flash, but he shall.  That same Flash, meanwhile, has decided to activate the compartment ring on his finger, releasing a familiar red uniform, rapidly expanding on contact with the air.  He then enters the cave and greets Green Lantern.  To the Scarlet Speedster's surprise, his friend's face is twisted with hate and fury.  Barry soon finds himself on the defensive as a green net emerges from the power ring. Quickly departing from the cave, the Flash is involved in some super speed evasive maneuvers, but Green Lantern is close behind, firing bursts from the remarkable ring.  Even a hastily conceived dust storm doesn't shake GL, so Allen pours it on until he can conceal himself long enough to change back into street clothes, effectively disappearing into the populace.  A frustrated Green Lantern then departs to recharge his ring.

Later, more determined than ever, Green Lantern hatches a plan to draw the Flash out by creating an illusion of a tidal wave to threaten Coast City.  As expected, when word gets out of the imminent disaster, The Flash arrives to help by building a sand barrier at super speed.  Moments later, the ring-wielder arrives, divulging that the tidal wave is an illusion and the chase is on yet again.  The Crimson Comet, ever resourceful, scoops up a yellow beach umbrella to shield himself and again escapes.  He soon realizes, however, that in order to get to the bottom of the mysterious behavior of his comrade, he must allow himself to be captured.  Shortly that is what happens when he exposes himself and is transformed by Green Lantern's ring into the top-heavy incarnation from the cover.  Hal is spiriting him away when Part 2 ends.

Part 3 opens in a familiar place, the examining table of the Spectarns.  This time, however, it is the Flash on the table rather than Green Lantern, who has just delivered him and is now being dismissed by his former masters after his mind was purged of any memory of them.  The Flash comes to know, through the mental communication of the Spectarns that they manipulated Jordan to get to him.  Chi-vam then reveals their intentions, which are to scientifically discover the secret of Flash's speed so that they can duplicate it and invade and conquer the Earth. 

We now segue to our other hero, who is under the impression, due to his memory being manipulated, that it's the previous day and he still needs to rendezvous with his friends at the Sea Palace resort on the beach.  Once he arrives as Hal Jordan and meets up with Pieface, he learns that he had been with them that morning.  He quickly departs to unravel this strange turn of events and once he's again in uniform, he queries his amazing ring about the last 24 hours.  After his briefing he wastes no time in flying back to Spectar, where the Flash still lies immobilized on the table.  A quick beam from Jordan's power ring destroys the machine that is emitting the paralyzing radiation.  As the Flash is freed, however, the Spectarns seize the opportunity to blast Green Lantern with numbing rays from portable weapons.  The Fastest Man Alive then leaps into action, disarming the aliens while his partner recovers.  Afterward, with the tyrannical faction of Spectar incarcerated, the two heroes instruct the drones that they will now be able to govern themselves.  One final bit of business before departing for Earth is to destroy the computo-analyzer and it's report about the secret of Flash's speed. 

Once Green Lantern and the Flash have returned to Coast City, Flash explains that he knows Green Lantern's secret identity and how it came to pass.  He states that it seems only fair that he reveal his own civilian identity and they then come up with an alibi for their absence to their respective lady friends. 

The final panel shows our favorite Emerald Gladiator recharging his ring in the presence of Thomas Kalmuku at the hangar of the Ferris Aircraft Company.  This time, it's the time-honored oath being uttered and all is right again.      

I don't typically do back to back reviews of the same comic series here, but I felt like I needed to make an exception in this case, partly because this is the sole copy of this story I own and soon it won't be mine any longer.  Further, even though this was a crossover team-up in Green Lantern's magazine, it felt more like a Flash story to me.  Also, as a reminder, this was the first pairing of Green Lantern and the Flash outside the Justice League of America, so this was a fairly significant issue.  The story was well-done, pitting our two heroes against one another and ultimately against an alien force.  I enjoyed the tradition of a world being in a different vibratory dimension but very near the Earth as well.  This Silver Age classic earns a rating of 10.

As mentioned last time, this story in reprint form is actually part of Flash #232 with some other classic stories in it's 100 pages (one of the most coveted formats in the webmaster and my childhood collections) and the winner of our random drawing for this issue commemorating 100 installments of the Silver Age Sage is... Robert McKinney.

As always, we appreciate your patronage and invite you to join us in about two weeks for the next edition of this feature.  My inbox at professor_the@hotmail.com is always available for your comments, questions and assorted feedback, so feel free to express yourself.  See you next time.

Long live the Silver Age!

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