Sunday, September 2, 2018

Retro Review: Flash Comics #1 (1940) - "Origin of the Flash"

Crazy Sexy Fast

Writer: Gardner Fox
Art by: Harry Lampert
Cover Price: 10¢
Release Date: January 1940

I talk a lot about Nightwing being my favorite comic book character, but I don't think I mention it enough that The Flash is my second.  Let me specify that even more...Barry Allen Flash is my second favorite comic book character of all-time.  He's just a good person and that's what I love in my superheroes.  That being said, I don't have much experience with Jay Garrick, the first Flash.  My biggest exposure with him was in the New 52 Earth 2 book and so that is why I am starting my Flash retro reviews from the very start.  I want to learn, dammit!  

The issue opens up with a cool explanation of The Flash, but then we head a little back in the past to see how he became the "fastest man alive."  Like a lot of stories, it involves a gal and a guy who just wants her attention.  Yep, Jay Garrick wanted to go to the dance with Joan Williams.  Unfortunately, she already is going with star football player, Bull Tyron.  I really thought we were going to get more of a Jay vs Bull rivalry here, but alas, Bull is just a minor character and Jay is, as Joan points out, just a scrub...and no scrubs ain't gonna get no love from Joan.

Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls...
We then head off to the school's research lab where Jay has been studying the gases emanating from "Hard Water" and after a long day of research, and an ill-timed smoke break, Jay knocks over some beakers a voila...The Flash is born!

Smoking like a Badass..a clumsy Badass!
I have to admit, the origin kind of just happened and a lot of people seemed to know about Jay's new powers.  He didn't try to hide it one bit either as he zips around, plays tennis against himself and really, does anything that Joan wants.  The boy is really smitten with that gal, I'll tell you!  That leads to Jay starring on the football team (no scrub no more) and being carried off the field a hero.  

Jay loves that Joan something fierce!
Okay, I really thought there was going to be more to this issue than checking out library books at super speed and scoring touchdowns and thankfully there is...though it sort of pops up out of nowhere.

While hanging out with Joan, there is a drive-by shooting straight out of Boyz in the Hood (don't die Ricky!), but Jay is fast enough to stop the bullet.  We are then introduced to the bad guys and find out their evil name, The Faultless Four, and what they are after, the Atomic Bombarder that Joan's father is working on.  To that end, they have already kidnapped Mr. Williams and threaten him with the death of his daughter, then with seeing her dead body, then...they really are all over the place with their plans!

Did you know that the guy who killed Ricky in Boyz in the Hood later died in prison?  For realz!
Of course, it's The Flash to the rescue and after he saves Major Williams, then everyone on the beach (another part of the crazy Faultless Four's plan), he tricks one of the bad guys into killing the other three before watching him die in a car crash himself.  If that seems dark, Jay actually talks shit on the dying man and says he is "on hand...just to see your finish".  Yep, Jay Garrick watches as the man breathes his last breath!

All is better a couple panels later as Jay has cocktails with Joan and her father and even gets a sexy little wink from his favorite gal to end the issue!

To human misery!
This issue was a bit all over the place.  Gardner Fox establishes the origin quickly but then takes his time getting to the good parts.  It did make me laugh that everything Jay did was for Joan, but by the end, I really didn't have a grip on the character at all.  I know a lot of this has to do with when this came out, but this is still subpar from what was coming from Superman and Batman at the same time.  It's a testament to how cool the power of super speed is that The Flash became an instant hit.

Bits and Pieces:

While a classic, this story is very rough around the edges.  It takes a bit to "get up to speed", but even then, things happen one after the other, just because.  Things have to start somewhere and we all can be glad that better times for the Flash are just around the corner.


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