Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Not-So-Secret Origins of the JLA Week- The Flash
For many comics historians, Showcase #4, October, 1956 is the "Day the universe changed". Or at least one of them. The publication of this little number ushers in The Silver Age. The Flash is widely regarded as the first new superhero of the Silver Age. Especially by DC. I'm not sure why they withhold their love from poor little Johnny Jones, Manhunter from Mars. After all, he did debut almost a full year earlier than The Flash. Perhaps, as a back-up feature to Batman he just didn't bring in the sales figures of a coverboy like Flash.
At any rate, in Showcase #4, DC takes it's first steps towards creating a new age of heroes. And they did it by looking towards the past. The Flash was a remake of a previous DC hero from the 1940's whose book had been cancelled (in fact, Barry Allen is reading one of his comics in the story). This process is old hat these days, but in 1956, comics had only been around for 2 decades. As you'll see tomorrow, it was successful, because DC went back to the same well time and time again.
Enjoy the beautiful dynamic art of Carmine Infantino, inked by Joe Kubert (more commentary after the feature) :
I have to say, Barry Allen is a likeable guy. While The Flash is a very physical sort of hero, his alter-ego is a genuinely nerdy police scientist and comics geek.
There are many ways to show a man running fast but Infantino seems to have mastered the technique of depicting The Flash's speed through blurred motion lines, suggesting that he's moving faster than the eye can keep up with.
My favorite panel in this issue? Top of page 5, with the food floating in mid-air. Comics don't actually move, like film or TV, so it's remarkable how well Infantino captures the moment here. I think the coffee really sells it. It would have been very easy to draw this scene and simply rely on captions to tell you what was happening, but this picture actually tells you that everything is standing still except Barry.
Tomorrow: Green Lantern.