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CSBG Archive

Silver Age September – The Flash and “The Doorway to the Unknown”

After a month of spotlighting the strange (if endearingly strange) history of comic books (and especially the Silver Age), I think it is worthwhile to show the comic books of the Silver Age that are simply great stories period. Here is an archive of all the Silver Age comics features so far!

Today we take a look at the second story in Flash #148, “The Doorway to the Unknown,” by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella.

Enjoy!

First off, I really don’t need to tell you that the artwork for this story, by Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, is really good, do I? I mean, it is Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella in 1964 – that’s a pretty good sign that you’re going to appreciate the artwork, but fine, just for a moment, let me note that Infantino and Giella do excellent character work and dynamic action sequences in this otherworldly story with a great name – “The Doorway to the Unknown.”

It opens with the Flash returning from a night fighting crime…

Is that not a great set-up, or what?

Will the Flash keep Dean’s kid brother from turning to a life of crime?

Will Dean be cleared?

How did Dallman get into Flash’s room?

All the answers will be revealed to you if you get The Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told, which reprints this excellent and quite offbeat tale.

15 Comments

“Monarch of Motion”… holy crap, can we bring THAT back? That’s awesome!

going to have to track down that flash trade and refresh my memory of how dallman got into flashes room. and also deans fate.

I actually own this trade, Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told was my first introduction to John Broome’s writing. I wasn’t crazy about any of Broome’s stories or his writing style at all, but this was definitely the best story he had in the trade, and while I wasn’t crazy about it, it was the only Broome story I didn’t outright hate. It was quite readable with a decent twist.

So, is the bank VP dead? Is that it?

I never liked this story much, although I know it won an award the year it was published, so obviously somebody did. But I tended to favor more wacky science adventure stories, like “The Mirror Master’s Master Stroke” (#146), “Vengeance of the Immortal Villain” (#137), and “Captives of the Cosmic Ray” (#131). Those were some of my favorite Silver Age Flash stories, and I like the whole run very much.

The Crazed Spruce

September 12, 2011 at 3:55 pm

I’m definitely gonna have to look up that “Greatest Flash Stories” trade. (Is it all Barry Allen stories, or are there Jay Garrick and Wally West ones too? Probably not too many with Wally, because it probably came out just after he took up the mantle, but you never know.)

I agree, Chris, I just love the random narration box nicknames for the heroes in the Silver Age. Someone should compile all of those.

@Ethan: Not just heroes. In the Flash series at least, there were a ton of alliterative nicknames for the Rogues too.

I dunno. Infantino’s art never did it for me. While it’s certainly not hack, and he did some innovative stuff with the speed effects, as a whole it’s overrated. At it’s strongest, the clean lines evoke the slick, stylized advertising art of the time. But ususally, the line simply isn’t clean enough. Somebody like Toth or Kreigstein could pull off a similar style in a tighter, neater, more stylized manner.

At his worst, and found in the given panels, is Infantino’s tendency to favor the figure above all else. Check out how many panels have no background to speak of. It’s the same kind of shortcut encouraged by Buscema in the “how-to-be-a-hack” Draw Comics the Marvel Way. Sorry, Carmine, but background detail is key– it helps put the reader into the story.

Realitätsprüfung

September 12, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Gotta disagree, mrclam. Infantino is, if anything, an underappreciated talent. He was one of the finest illustrators in the biz for 2 whole decades, and was a huge influence on everybody who came on the scene from the 60s-onward.

Also, just looking at the first two pages, only two out of 11 panels lack backgrounds – and both of those panels are closeups. Which brings me to the most important thing – layouts. Pencillers in the 50s-70s had to leave a fair amount of dead space for extensive dialogue and narration. If you look at page 5, the last 2 panels have zero backgrounds. And yet due to the number of figures and thought balloons, those panels veer more towards overcrowded, if anything.

Years ago I didn’t appreciate Infantino (especially since I was mostly subjected to his later, lesser output). But like with Curt Swan. as time has gone on I have come to realize why he’s regarded as such a legend. Basically, if it’s a DC book from pre-1970 and was drawn by Swan(derson), Kubert, Kane or Infantino, it’s probably worth reading just for the art alone.

The bank VP is Luke’s father.

I’m definitely gonna have to look up that “Greatest Flash Stories” trade. (Is it all Barry Allen stories, or are there Jay Garrick and Wally West ones too?

It’s got two or so Jay stories and reprints issue #2 of the 1980s series starring Wally.

“Also, just looking at the first two pages, only two out of 11 panels lack backgrounds”

I count three that indisputably lack backgrounds (the close-up and the two two-shots of the guy and the Flash) and another three where I can see what mrclam is complaining about. A few others, the coloring completely deemphasizes the backgrounds, but that’s kind of cool and certainly not Infantino’s fault. Plus, if you go to the third page, the first four panels have — let’s be generous and say 1/2 of a background between them all. (I don’t actually agree with clam, though.)

Notice how Infantino uses two rows of three panels in the talking scene and then switches to six “widescreen” panels in the action scenes. It is a great way to convey the speed effect of the Flash.

[...] Should Be Good did a piece on this story last year. They don’t reveal the ending, but you can probably guess from the fact that [...]

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