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Five Goofiest Moments in Flash #127-131

Every week, I’ll examine the five goofiest moments from a five-issue stretch of a particular comic book series. Here is a list of the moments featured so far.

This week, we look at Flash #127-131, written by John Broome (#127-128, 130-131) and Gardner Fox (#129) and (lead story in #139-141, back-up story in #138, 140) and drawn by Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella (both lead stories and back-up stories).

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 loved how in the early days of the Flash (like here in #127), he could just do pretty much anything he felt like. “Change his body to make it emit solar radiation? Sure, why not!”

Similarly, I like the early days of Green Lantern, like his guest spot in #131, where they followed the “yellow” weakness way too closely….

It was not just Flash who could do pretty much anything he wanted to, as we see in #130, the Mirror Master hypnotizes his lawyer with mirrors because, you know, it worked, didn’t it? So shut up!…

I have no idea what Infantino had in mind when he designed this “American Freedom” statue…

You have to admire the confidence of Abra Kadabra in #128…

“It’s a time machine, how hard can it be? I’m a magician, right?” I want to see David Copperfield try to fly a jumbo jet now.

As we saw in the last installment of Goofiest Moments, magnetism can do anything, so this should not be a surprise, but I still enjoy the concept of “neo-magnetism” to mind-control people (from #127)…

5. Julie Schwartz thinks you’re a moron

So later in that issue, Grodd uses his neo-magnetism power to enrapture Central City. He then expands his influence over the TV. Schwartz decided that you wouldn’t be able to figure out what was going on, so he explains it to you, you moron you…

4. The Little Flash Prince

Remember what I say about how something being goofy doesn’t mean that it can’t be awesome? This bit from #128 when Abra Kababra shoots Barry Allen into outer space is a great example of that. It is way awesome, but also very goofy…

3. Whenever Cyborg got mad, Flash figured he was flashing back to his African tribal ancestry…

This back-up story from Flash #127 has two notable goofy elements. You see, one of Wally’s friends at school is an adopted Native American lad. The kid’s father is worried about him, as he has been acting secretive. So Wally tracks him to the woods where the kid undresses and begins to dress up as a Cherokee brave….

So, first off, Wally worried about his friend “flashing back” to his tribal ancestry? Gah?!

But as weird as that it is by Wally, it IS kind of odd that Tommy changes into that outfit just to investigate some bad guys (not THAT odd, but still pretty odd).

2. My one weakness – forward momentum!!

In #130, Trickster (well, someone dressed as Trickster) attacks Flash by shooting a boxing glove with a Trickster banner on it at him. And this somehow HITS the Flash?

That worked but bullets don’t?

1. The easiest way to stop neo-magnetism

John Broome seemed like he was just tired of the Grodd story by the end of the tale, and just has Flash drop him to the ground, which somehow cancels out Grodd’s “neo-magnetism”…

Oooookay.

17 Comments

When I’m investigating suspicious activity, I revert to drinking a lot and dressing all in green. It’s what we Irish do.

“it IS kind of odd that Tommy changes into that outfit just to investigate some bad guys”

Not so weird in a town where white guys dress up in in red body suits and yellow boots when they want to investigate bad guys.

I like how Grodd gives himself an aura that makes everyone who sees him love him, then gradually works his way up to world domination. He’s in no hurry at all.

hard to believe that dc really played fast and lose with the flash grod having neo magnetism and almost being a political canidate. plus flash able to jump off metorites plus flash not being able to have forward momentum and being able to take a punch from a boxing glove. and i thought the mirror masters gimmick is goofy

Maybe Tommy’s a member of the Tea Party?

I wish you covered more modern runs. It’d be funnier than these innocent comics and it’s goofiest moments.

What I love about these books is how Julie Schwartz throws in captions with real scientific factoids in the midst of some of the most absurd misapplications of science (even by comic book standards) to make the sequences sound more plausible than they actually are. I guess it worked, because even to this day fans still believe Silver Age DC books were “smarter” than Marvel books for incorporating real world science.

I always imagined that Julie Schwartz, when seeing how Broome’s crazy science, scratching his head and trying to do damage control by distracting readers with those factoids. Especially silly is that Broome is discussing escape velocity and is showing the Flash using it to launch himself off that small planet. Because once you acknowledge the existence of escape velocity in Flash’s universe, then you have to wonder why he never simply runs off the planet Earth when he uses super speed, since he routinely runs past Earth’s escape velocity, approaching even light speed.

This is why I think DC’s constant mentioning of real science often hurt the books’ plausibility rather than helped it. Because it often raised questions about why the real science principles didn’t apply in other areas. I preferred Marvel’s approach of just ignoring real science across the board. In a strange way it led to more consistent, practical applications of super-powers.

Now I see T’s point but I loved that issue of Flash when I was a kid because it seemed like serious, scientific literature. I made the mistake of bringing it to school and my seventh grade teacher took it and never gave it back.

Not just a gorilla. An ugly gorilla! Wow, when the charm wears off it really wears off!

You laugh at the whole bit about the Native American lad experiencing some type of racial flashback of his wild ancestors, but at least it’s a Silver Age DC story so it’s not supposed to make sense. Stranger to me was a JLA fill-in story Mark Waid did during Morrison’s run, where the JLA as enslaved by Adam Strange. As the Justice League was shackled, Steel, a black man, lamented that he was experienced some type of racial flashback to his slave ancestors as a result of being shackled. I found the idea of slavery being engrained in his genetic memory highly offensive. To me it was as tacky as if a white villain was shown committing genocide and saying he was getting racial flashbacks to his ancestors as he did it. Really ruined that story for me.

AverageJoeEveryman

January 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I kind of read #5 as more of a “Hey I know this is pretty crazy so here is a sarcastic editors note”

Actually, isn’t there something with real magnetism that if you’ve got a magnet and bang it down (as Flash bangs down Grodd), it does something to align the atoms, which does “shut off” the magnetism?

I would look it up on the wikipedia, but they’re shut down over this SOPA stuff, apparently….

But from what I remember in science, a magnet works either because the atoms are aligned (or not), and doing something like banging the magnet either aligns the atoms or sends them into disarray, so that the magnetic property is no more. So perhaps that’s the real basis for this bit?

At least Wally’s just a kid, so if he’s thinking the “racial flashback” thing, it’s certainly goofy, but it seems like something a kid might come up with.

Perhaps I’m wrong about that JLA story T is referencing, as it has been ages since I’ve read it, but perhaps it wasn’t meant as a literal “racial flashback”, but a “hey, this must be what my ancestors went through!”

Hmm, actually, that’s not really any better, is it? I’ll shut up now.

And to think Wally West had trouble surviving a fall from an airplane. This is why Barry Allen will always be THE Flash. He hurtles through space in his aura bubble, plunges to earth at “escape velocity,” and lands light as a feather.

My favorite thing about these old comics is not just the silly CYA editor’s notes ( “Editor’s Note: We know this panel seems completely ridiculous, but here’s some pseudo-science gibberish that makes it seem less insane, kind of.”), but how frequently they are used. In the “Flash shot into space” entry, there are FOUR in less than three pages.

Abra invented a ray to make scientists’ trousers disappear?

I actually always enjoy the editorial notes in the old comics with the scientific explanations, even though they are so far fetched that it’s ridiculous (I chalk a lot of it up to the idea that there were so many new discoveries at the time and it all seemed so miraculous, they almost believed the applications they described would work. Like radioactivity was so fascinating, it could actually give you powers, instead of you know cancer). However in the Grodd tv. editorial she doesn’t even give a pseudo-science explanation of how it works. She just says “apparently it works”. Yeah we can see that! Don’t even bother putting the editorial note there. Leave it as is with just the picture of it working to tell us that it’s working…..

Ah, the good ole FlashCabin, Flash’s combination Wayne Manor/Batcave/Wafflehouse. What an improvement over his earlier hideout, the FlashHaystack. I had forgotten all about it once he’d upgraded to his more substantial Flashbunker, after that issue with the Large Malevolent Lupine. “Yanks Beat Reds”, LOL @ Cold War humor!

I’ll venture a guess that the freedom statue is supposed to be Lincoln, who reputedly did his homework on the back of a coal shovel to save paper. What? Oh, that’s absurd, is it? In a comic about a man who runs up the sides of buildings?

Of course Kababra’s most prominent trait is his amazing confidence. I mean, a spit-curl, a pencil-thin mustache, and a goatee? He’s got balls of adamantium just to look at himself in the mirror as he twirls around the house in his cape and pixie boots. He’s like what the future will be like if EVERYTHING we have EVER heard about the future is completely wrong.

That neo-magnetism story should have ended quickly with Grodd being the startled recipient of 600 handfuls of the fluid that “uncontrollable” admiration from a city of primates typically produces. But I’ll settle for that image of Grodd’s ass getting some Mach 2 road rash. Flash ought to make more use of friction in his brand of vigilante justice.

T., re your question about Flash not achieving escape velocity on Earth. Two simple words: crepe soles.

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