Thursday, December 17, 2009
Who The #$@% is Captain Flash?
Wow! When I posted the poll last week, I never expected to have 100% of the response be "Who the #$@% is Captain Flash".
Honestly, I discovered his existence by pure chance. I was looking at the custom action figure galleries on the Mego Museum site when I saw a fantastic custom is Captain Flash by Troy "Aquatroy" Younger and noticed his figure of Captain Flash. " "Who the #$@% is Captain Flash", I thought. So I looked him up and discovered the following:
Captain Flash was a short-lived superhero published by the equally short-lived Sterling Comics in 1954. His comics series only lasted for 4 issues before Sterling closed its doors. Captain FLash is considered by some (Including Uncle Scrooge writer/artist and comcis historian Don Rosa) to be the first Superhero of the Silver Age. A title usually claimed by The Flash.
Captain Flash was professor Keith Spencer. Spencer accidentally exposes himself to a deadly dose of cobalt during a routine experiment. His doctor tells him to go home and make himself comfortable, as he is definitely going to die. Spencer retires to his home and tends his rose garden. Strangely enough, he notices that his heavily irradiated body has no ill effects on his plants. In fact, Spencer begins to feel stronger.
Spencer discovers that by clapping his hands together, he can trigger a "miniature atomic explosion" within his body that gives him super powers. He decides to become "America's Ace Defender" as Captain Flash and he teams up with his young friend Ricky Davis who becomes his eponymously named sidekick, Ricky.
So what's all the fuss? Well, for one thing, Captain Flash is one of very few new heroes of the 1950's. He predates DC's revamp of the flash by nearly two years. In the second place, he's the earliest of the Atomic super heroes, predating Solar, Captain Atom and Nukla by years. His origin story would feel right at home as a Silver-Age Marvel story, as would his quirky stable of supervillains.
Another element that makes Captain Flash seem so at home in the Silver Age is the look of the comic. Drawn by future JLA artist Mike Sekowsky, the look and feel of Captain Flash is well ahead of it's time. Personally, I prefer Sekowsky's art on Captain Flash to his legendary run on JLA. I always thought his JLA work, while clean and pretty, was a little stiff. Without 7+ heroes mucking up his panels, Sekowsky really shows you some dynamic action!
There's a site where you can download scans of public domain Golden Age comics for free, and they have all four issues of Captain Flash, so I was able to read some (Sorry, I can't find the url or the name right now ) and I have to say, I was VERY entertained.
So, back to the original question of the poll, is Captain flash the first Silver Age hero, or one of the last Golden Agers?? You decide.