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CSBG Archive

Five Goofiest Moments in Flash (Vol. 1) #132-136

Every day this month will have the five goofiest moment from a five-issue stretch of a particular comic book run. Once a week it will be the ten goofiest moments of a ten-issue stretch. Here is a list of the moments featured so far.

Today we look at five issues from the classic John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella creative team on Flash!

As always, this is all in good fun. I don’t mean any of this as a serious criticism of the comics in question. Not only were these writers certainly never imagining people still reading these comics decades after they were written, great comics often have goofy moments (Kirby/Lee’s Fantastic Four is one of the best comic book runs of all-time and there were TONS of goofy stuff in those 100 plus issues!).

HONORABLE MENTIONS

I like that #132 at least lets us know that alien reality show producers are as corrupt as Earth reality show producers…

Did “sleepyhead” have a different meaning in the 60s? Otherwise, why would a kid who gets up really early be called a sleepyhead?

I love the notion that Elongated Man’s stretchable molecules absorb radiation more than normal molecules…

Iris certainly was the Queen of the ballbusters, wasn’t she?

So Barry is mad that Abra-Kadabra mocks him in his puppet show, so he decides to fight crime better?

Really, Barry? THAT’s the reason you need to fight more crime?

Later on, he busts Abra Kadabra for turning him into a puppet. I love his confidence in why Abra Kadabra will go to jail…

Why would he admit to using a hypno-ray to get out of jail NOW?

5. Master of Low Self-Esteem, perhaps…

In #136, Mirror Master has an unusual motive for escaping from prison and going on a crime spree…

4. Shoot those molecules!

Control of his molecules? What an odd power…

3. Damn, my whole scam is ruined!

One little boy appears to have been pretending to be mute for years…

2. Why not just give him a new costume, Broome?

John Broome couldn’t resist coming up with some crazy explanation for Kid Flash’s new costume…

1. So THAT’s what that feeling is!

One of the goofiest moments of DC’s Silver Age…

29 Comments

True, the new Kid Flash costume is goofy, but William Messer-Loebs used that story to good effect at the start of his run on Flash (starting with revisting Wally’s origin in Secret Origins)

All right, the mute kid who can speak is pretty goofy, but I didn’t think the rest of these were all that goofy. But maybe that’s because I love the DC Silver Age so much.

True, the new Kid Flash costume is goofy, but William Messer-Loebs used that story to good effect at the start of his run on Flash (starting with revisting Wally’s origin in Secret Origins)

Yeah, I remember that. He really did.

I think the sleepyhead comment is meant to mean that his mom thinks he’s usually a sleepyhead and so is surprised that he’s up early this morning instead of sleeping in. But the joke’s on her because in fact he’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed all the time because of all the crack… um, I mean crimefighting he does. But yeah, it’s kind of awkwardly expressed.

But they had been doing the “Why is Wally getting up so early on a non-school day?” routine for a number of issues before that panel.

“I have the strangest feeling that I’m being turned into a puppet” is one of the greatest lines in comic book history. (Up there with “Where’s my money, honey?”)

I thought it was silly when John Byrne had the Fantastic Four uniforms change during the passage from the Negative Zone, instead of just having them redesign the uniforms the normal way, but that’s nothing compared to the Kid Flash story.

And that mute kid is hilarious.

Captain Boomerang considered more successful a criminal than The Top? Talk about goofy…

I think the molecule reference relating to Elongated Man, is that longer molecular chains are more susceptible to radiation damage (actual science), from having more area to hit, and more potential weak spots for the radiation to alter (one of the reasons why DNA is more susceptible to radiation damage than, say, water or oil). Still, the notion is pretty silly, unless what’s being affected are the brain cells’ ability to process the data.

The Flash’s comments about his molecular control in the puppet thing, and what happens to Wally’s uniform, actually could be different aspects of the same ability – as wacky as that ability would seem to be.

The thing with Mirror Master reminds me of an old 1960s Green Lantern story where Sinestro is trying to become the greatest villain in Qward but keeps getting out-rated by some guy named Gypo-Bax. Gypo-Bax never even appeared on-panel, but I’m half-surprised Geoff Johns didn’t have him show up as part of the Sinestro Corps.

@Brian: Flash’;s control over his own molecules was a pretty established part of his Silver Age powers, of course, mostly as a plot device that let them do lots of goofy transformation stories. Also, is the idea that a pliable guy is extra-vulnerable to radiation the goofy thing, or is the true goofiness the plot device of a form of radiation that makes people *and* computers alike give wrong answers to questions? Man, Broome loved the idea of special, very specific behavior-inducing “radiation.” It was basically the SA Flash’s version of Red Kryptonite, and showed up almost as often in the stories I’ve read. Another goofy moment runner-up for me: why is a prison newspaper letting the inmates vote on “most successful criminal?” Surely that’s the opposite of rehabilitation and/or deterrence, right?

@buttler: Gypo-Bax is seen in a single panel; he wears a derby hat.

@Jeff R.: Prior to the stories that killed him off and brought back his “ghost,” the Top was a pretty minor, laughable villain even by Silver Age standards. Broome seemes to really like Boomerang, and used him fairly often, too.

Just because you love stuff like this (as I do) doesn’t mean it’s not goofy as all-hell.

If that’s directed at me…I called most of it goofy myself, and even added some *extra* goofy stuff Brian didn’t single out. I mean, I even use the word goofy to describe half of it!

OTL wrote:
“I have the strangest feeling that I’m being turned into a puppet” is one of the
greatest lines in comic book history. (Up there with “Where’s my money, honey?”)

The puppet line is classic, but I think “money, honey” is beat by Captain America’s line that “Only one of us is gonna walk out of here — under his own steam — and it won’t be me!”

Mike Blake – gotta disagree. The Captain America line is a typo or mistake that, if written correctly, would have been an awesome line. The Flash puppet line, on the other hand, was 100% deliberate and appeared as intended. That makes it way goofier in my book.

The Broome-Infantino Flash is one of my favorite runs of comics ever. Possibly the favorite. The goofiness is a large part of its charm. I miss the days of perfect molecular control and strange transformations, and odd radiations.

If that’s directed at me

It was not. It was directed at Craig.

@Michael P.: Whoops! Apologies for jumping the gun there!

The second I saw the title “Goofiest moment in Flash” I knew it had to be the cover to 133! Flash has always been prone to goofiness but that strange feeling of the puppet is the goofiest of all.

Hey, in his first appearance the Top built a giant spinning nuke to blow up half the planet. How many Rogues can say they’ve done that?

@Lia: See, to me that’s what makes the guy so goofy; if he blows up half the world with a nuclear explosion, what the heck happens to *him*? Best case scenario, he’s dying of cancer with whoever else survives. Considering that the whole “atomic grenade top” was meant to eliminate the Flash so the Top could rob banks unopposed, it doesn’t seem like a terribly well-thought-out plan. (The story had him laughing to himself that “[i]t won’t hurt ME when it goes off, because I’ll be on the other side of the globe by then — and safe from harm.” Real duck-and-cover stuff there, eh?) And when he got caught, he took consolation in the fact that he’d have the world’s “top” jail sentence for it. (Quite how an American court alone would have sole jurisdiction to sentence you for trying to blow up half the world is unclear.)

In any case, DC’s Silver Age was full of stuff like that. The Weather Wizard’s and Dr. Alchemy’s abilities vs. their ambitions are usually exhibits A and B, but everyone’s like that. Captain Boomerang casually invented a boomerang that could travel through time in an early appearance out of stuff he found in prison; all he did with it was rob people and escape arrest because the loot couldn’t be found on him for a few days. Captain Cold once froze every living thing in Central City solid with a special form of radiation so he could hit on Iris West without anyone interrupting him.

Special mention should probably go to the Mirror Master, who discovered parallel worlds, shrink rays, a painless and instant method for switching body parts with others (in the famous story where he swaps legs with the Flash) ,and could create or summon “mirror-beings” with bizarre physical properties — and all he did with any of it was rob banks. Four issues after the Top’s debut, Mirror Master became king of a dimension of gorgeous women who gave him whatever he wanted…and he got bored not being able to commit crimes, so he turned the whole thing into another bank robbery scheme. Oh, and he also develops a way to turn people into flat glass images, but that’s just a method to try and kill the Flash.

@Omar: I don’t see that behaviour as ‘goofy’ so much as ‘mentally ill’ :> He was clearly on-and-off crazy from the very beginning, which is fitting with his on-and-off crazy in modern times. I’m sure that behind the scenes after that story, his lawyer would have argued he was not criminally responsible and probably would have succeeded — he just does not act rationally at all in it (and you’ll notice that when he declares on TV that he wants control of the world ceded to him or he’ll blow it up, the man watching asks rhetorically if he’s mad).

He’s never quite been normal even by Rogues standards, which is probably in part why he doesn’t get along with them anymore. Repeated deaths and trips to Hell likely haven’t done his mental state or behaviour any favours either.

But I agree, Silver and Bronze Age Flash comics are almost pure crack, and that’s why I love them. They’re just so FUNNY. But I don’t think the Top was particularly silly compared to the other Rogues, who all had dumb and wacky schemes and wasted their potential.

” Mirror Master became king of a dimension of gorgeous women who gave him whatever he wanted…and he got bored not being able to commit crimes, so he turned the whole thing into another bank robbery scheme.”

That’s one of my favorites. The way Mirror Master talks about it is priceless. He’s really bothered by the fact that he can’t practice his “profession” as if he went to college or trade school to be a crook or something.

I find it odd that of all of the criminals in the whole nation, the top 6 are all Flash villains.

always thought abra kadabra turning fllash into a puppet was goofy that and doing it as his image on a poster. plus mirror master. upset over his ranking list never knew how vain he is. though his gimmick is also goofy.

The line in #1 is goofy as hell, but I always thought the transformation into a living puppet was more creepy and scary than goofy. It may seem like goofiness at first, but when you actually consider it, it’s the stuff of horror stories.

I am also old enough to remember that yes, the Top used to be sort of a joke villain. I mean, his power is that he can spin really fast. The other Rogues all have cool motiffs, this guy spins. He was sort of the Paste Pot Pete of Flash villains, before Johns remodeled him.

It’s like being stoned without having taken any drugs.

I guess I’m gonna be that weirdo who obsessively defends fictional characters online. The other Rogues all had their weapon motifs, and so did the Top. He didn’t just spin, he also had a huge arsenal of top-based weapons that he built himself. And you can laugh at that all you want (admittedly it is a bit silly), but some of those tops were pretty impressive.

And then he developed telekinesis just before he died, came back from the dead a couple of times by possessing bodies, and nearly became president of the United States, all before Johns started writing him.

Really? A penitentiary newspaper?! Why not just have the Daily Planet rank the “most heinous” Flash villains and let Mirror Master get riled by that? Or is this just a subtle way of reminding readers that correctional facilities in the DCU are operated with all the care and foresight of Dick Dastardly piloting a 747? Besides, MM knows no one takes Grapevine polls seriously because they never publish a margin of error. Then again, get a look at the shape of his skull in that last panel. Maybe hoping for insights into the complexities of statistical analysis is expecting a little much.

“Lightning is also yellow”, huh? I smell a Green Lantern team-up heading down the pike….

And listen, if any man in the DCU has a keen sense of what it’s like to be turned into a puppet, it’s sure as hell gonna be the guy dating Iris West.

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