The Scarlet Speedster

Only in the Silver Age does this panel make total sense:

A Super Gorilla with deadly thought waves. Yep. Almost as good is the pirate torpedo. I’m not kidding.

And that one was a cover (oh man, I wonder if that issue can be found for a reasonable price. I might need it).

Flash is cheeky from the get-go. I had no idea the character was rewritten – these days we’d say rebooted – and that Barry Allen’s Flash nabbed his name from the original comics. How very meta of you, DC. You could almost call him Flash, the Second. Allen is doused in chemicals that were struck by lightning and makes quite the leap from realizing he’s gained the powers of superspeed to suddenly having a costume that springs from a ring (why don’t we ever see the costume go back into the ring?) and fighting bad guys. And by leap, I mean there’s a gaping hole in his story. Anyways.

Soon, he’s being called the Scarlet Speedster and taking on enemies like Mr. Element, Super Gorilla, common thugs and thieves, and Captain Cold. They have to come up with creative ways to block Flash’s superspeed, and likewise, our hero has to be quick enough to outsmart them. He might get stuck running in place on a patch of ice or oil or a super-treadmill but he figures a way out eventually. Like other stories of the time, nothing is too serious. Okay, it’s the polar opposite of serious. But I adore it. In my favorite story so far, Flash travels around the world in 80 minutes answering various calls for help while trying to get back to Central City in time for a date with Iris. At each stop, ladies fall at his feet after he saves the day:

 Flash of my heart. That’s my new favorite term of endearment.

Let me say that the aspect I dig about Flash comics the most isn’t the hero. It’s Iris West. She might be the only lady in the Silver Age who isn’t talking about marriage. She gives Barry Allen way too hard of a time about being the slowest man alive (ha, see what they’re doing there), and she has a crush on his alter ego. However, she doesn’t want to get hitched to Flash and so far doesn’t seem to want to ditch Barry entirely to pursue the guy in the mask. She very much seems to be the pants of the relationship, and given the time period and wishy-washy ladies like Silver Age Lois Lane, I was pleasantly surprised.

If there’s one thing I’m learning from going through piles of Silver Age tales, it’s not to judge a character solely based on this decade. I mean, it should be common sense to make a decision about whether you like a given character only after you’ve read more than a couple of stories about him or her. And ideally, those issues should be by different writers and artists. If I only read Silver Age Flash or Green Lantern, I’d never know them as heroes facing slightly goofy rivals. The Silver Age seems to be to be all about surface, flash (no pun intended), and fun instead of character development. But you’ll get there and I bet having the silly times in your memory makes the more serious stories and character twists all the better.


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Welcoming the Future, Treasuring the Past.