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The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – The Flash Got His Powers From an Imp From Another Dimension?!

mopeedisplay

In this feature we examine comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today, for the 100th edition of Abandoned an Forsaked, we take a look at one of the most bizarre retcons in comic book history, the introduction of…Mopee!! The imp from another dimension who REALLY gave the Flash his speed powers!

The origin of the Flash is a familiar one to most fans. Here it is from Showcase #4 by Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino and Joe Kubert…

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Over a decade later, though, in 1967′s Flash #167 by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Sid Greene, that origin was abandoned an’ forsaked by the REAL origin of the Flash! Are you ready for the shock-surprise of the year?

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I love the term “shock-surprise.”

Anyhow, Flash is taking care of some crooks when suddenly…

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After extinguishing the flames…

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What the heck?! Explain yourself, Mopee!!

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That is one asinine rule!

So after brainstorming for awhile, they figure out a solution (a solution that doesn’t really make all that much sense, but a solution)…

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Of course, Mopee can’t help but “help” some more…

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In the end, the Flash gets the money to buy the chemicals and Mopee recreates the accident and everything is fine and dandy (although Barry thinks as Mopee leaves, “But Mopee DIDN’T create the same exact accident happening to Wally West, so I guess that was actually a coincidence.”

So anyhow, this story was then not referenced in the Flash comic again, and it was pretty much just ignored. So it was definitely abandoned itself.

However, it would not be until the mid-80s Who’s Who that the story was officially forsaked…

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Here is a detail on the forsaked aspect…

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Amusingly enough, when Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn later did the Life Story of Barry Allen, they included a bit that Barry was investigating a drug called “Mopee” when the accident occurred (art by Gil Kane)…

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I am sure a few of you are thinking of ANOTHER alternate Flash origin story that appeared in an issue of Secret Origins. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that one in the future (either here or over in Abandoned Love)!

Okay, that’s it for the 100th Abandoned an’ Forsaked! If YOU have a suggestion for a future installment, e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com.

47 Comments

In 1967 DC was trying to copy Marvels irreverent style and was under the influence of Batman TV camp, right? It reminds me of bad Denny O’Neil stories.

I liked the Mopee story better when Gruenwald did it in Quasar with Origin.

At least we got (the sadly missed) Comic Buyer’s Guide’s Mopee Awards from this story.

Ethan Shuster

May 26, 2013 at 7:33 am

Heh, I just love these weird arbitrary rules they’d sometimes make up for these stories without little reason. The rules somehow say he has to earn the money himself and AS the Flash?

Still, it makes me wonder if some current “let’s reset everything to the silver age” writer would somehow tie Mopee and his group in with the Speed Force or something. Come to think of it, is the Speed Force still a thing at this point?

I remember when Ambush Bug had an issue which made fun of this. In the issue, Ambush Bug made fun of the silliest characters that DC comics had, like Ace the Bathound. He had an entry for Mopee, where Mopee went on to take credit for about 5 other popular superheroes. I cannot remember any of the others, though, since it has been a long time since I read this issue.

Maybe Gardner Fox thought that Superman has Mxyzptlk and Batman has Bat-mite, Flash need Mopee.

Used to think that Mopee was an in-joke at DC’s “continuity cop’ E. Nelson Bridwell.

The strange this is JMS made the same kind of mistake later when he tried to explain the origin of the FF’s cosmic rays- he explained that some entity was responsible but he didn’t bother to think how the Red Ghost, the U-Foes,etc. got their powers.

Mopee appeared a few years ago in the final issue of the “DC Super Friends” comic. There, he crashes a comic convention alongside other imps (Mxy, Bat-Mite, Qwisp, and even Shaggy the Leprechaun from Golden Age Wonder Woman comics) and tries unsuccessfully to convince a fan dressed (badly) as the Flash that he’s the one who gave the Flash (and a bunch of other heroes) their powers.

Yay! Mopee is one my all-time favorite bits of weird continuity. Thanks for featuring it!

I had no idea there were such things as bad Denny O’Neil stories. Goofy, yes. Bad, no.

Sometimes a story that hinges on “According to Rule of Magic #256, before you can do *this* you have to do *that*” can get away with it. When it’s very blatantly obvious that the rules have been made up entirely for the story to work as planned, it doesn’t.

The Life Story of Barry Allen goes on to have him wonder if his speed is a hallucination because the lightning blasted some of the drug on him. So in a *way*, “Mopee” *did* give him his powers.

When you think about it, Barry really got lucky on this one. Think about how hard the rule that says you have to earn your money as the Flash would be for most other people.

In my heart of hearts this story will always be cannon.

I love the fact that even Gardner Fox realized that Flash’s origin was (statistically speaking) far fetched, even by superhero origin standards (though not nearly as improbable as Kid Flash’s) .

I just reread the article. I totally missed the part where Barry mentioned Kid Flash’s origin.

@Lyle- here’s a link to a scan of the page you mentioned:
http://prettyfakes.com/2006/06/there-will-always-be-an-ambush-bug/

I love the fact that even Gardner Fox realized that Flash’s origin was (statistically speaking) far fetched, even by superhero origin standards (though not nearly as improbable as Kid Flash’s) .

Yeah, it really lacks the plausibility and statistical credibility of stuff like “radioactive spider bite grants beneficial mutation” or “planet countless light-years away exploded, sole survivor happens to look identical to Earth human beings” or “policemen from another planet where the dominant species looks just like us can talk to birds and have a magical flying metal they shape into wings.”

always wondered if who ever was doing the flash besides garder back then was smoking something to decide oh flash now got his powers by a imp called mopee . thankfly gardner changed that as not really true. though think some at dc was going for an imp army for all the big guns. supes with mzyplixnic. batman with batmite. flash got mopee

@Omar- yes, it’s annoying when writers use that argument. I particularly liked Englehart’s “the story of how Cap met the Falcon is too implausible. It’s much more plausible that Sam is a brainwashed criminal and none of his friends or family ever mentioned anything.”

Oh, for crying out loud. I grew up largely ignorant of the Silver Age’s silliness. I mean, I knew about Mxyzptlk, and when I got older, I eventually learned about Bat-Mite. The Grant Morrison brought back Qwisp, and I did some research and learned that Aquaman seriously had his own imp as well. And I thought, “OK, surely that’s it for 5th dimensional imps.”

And then I learned about Zook. And the JSA’s Thunderbolt was retconned into being a 5th-dimensioner as well. And I thought, “OK, that’s GOT to be it now.”

I never knew about Mopee until today, and I’m horrified. Please, please, PLEASE tell me that’s it for DC heroes having their own imps. Because I’ll lose any concept of why Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns keep wanting to take us back to the Silver Age.

Nah, this was just one big mother of a stupid idea that everybody involved realised was inane to its boots and through the floor, round about the time the ink started drying, and which they all pretended hadn’t happened for the rest of their lives.

This should have been in I Love You – But You’re Strange, Brian.

@Adam: you missed where I said Wonder Woman had her own imp, Shaggy the Leprechaun, a character that appeared in a few Golden Age stories. Technically pre-dates the explosion of imps, but he appeared in “DC Super Friends” with the others… ;-)

Gardner Fox should have just noted on the first page that he was out of ideas.

That issue of Ambush Bug is great, had me laughing pretty much from start to finish. Interestingly enough, it showcases characters and concepts had already been swept under the rug BEFORE the cosmic cleanup that was Crisis On Infinite Earths… I guess COIE just made it official that “they never existed” rather than simply being forgotten about.

I hadn’t, however, realised that the forsaking of Mopee actually saw print in Who’s Who, despite owning that issue (I came to DC relatively late in the day, so bought back issues of Who’s Who and COIE to start off). Guess I just ignored it, as the whole Mopee business would’ve meant nothing to me before I read Ambush Bug.

On a semi-related topic, I seem to recall a few years ago that DC promised us a brand-new Who’s Who… What happened to that? Did the New 52 continuity strike by surprise and cause the plans to be re-shelved?

“On a semi-related topic, I seem to recall a few years ago that DC promised us a brand-new Who’s Who… What happened to that? Did the New 52 continuity strike by surprise and cause the plans to be re-shelved?”

Yes. Robert Greenberger said in an interview that issue 1 was ready but then it was decided it made sense to wait until after Flashpoint.

And of course now that sales aren’t strong enough to warrant Marvel’s Handbooks, I can’t imagine DC wanting to rush out and do another Who’s Who until the market goes back to being better able to handle more fringe projects. I hope I’m wrong though.

Of course Superman also had a Mopee figure, i.e. Black Zero.

With the existence of the DC Comics Wiki, is there even a need for a Who’s Who? At best, publishing one gives DC an “official” continuity that has a limited shelf life.

Wow. Having read the Mopee word balloons in the Ambush Bug story from the links, I am shocked by the vitriol against Jim Shooter. Stuff for a future Urban Legend, perhaps?

@louis dantas
Well all the Marvel staff burned his effigy when he left there.

Anyway, what issue of Ambush Bug is that?

Travis Pelkie

May 26, 2013 at 10:29 pm

It’s like Clarence got co-opted by some weird capitalist Guardians of the Universe and gave George Bailey super-speed. Just because.

I bet if nuDC ever figures out “Who’s Who” themselves, they’ll get back to printing that.

All of them? I don’t think so. Byrne, certainly. Claremont, quite possibly. A few others, I seem to recall. But not so many, and in any case this Giffen piece makes even Byrne look subtle.

The only one of the specific origins that I can remembering Ambush Bug claimed Mopee caused was pushing the bat through Bruce Wayne’s window.

I love the implication that being randomly struck by lightning is considered far fetched.

Yet being granted super powers by an imp from another dimension is fine.

Now I think about out, if the Mopee origin story was true, it would have some staggering implications for Kid Flash’s origin. Would it mean that another imp decided to grant another human superspeed powers, and made the same mistake of using police department chemicals? Or was it a random bolt of lightning, something Mopee said was too impossibly unlikely to actually happen?

I read this story not long ago, and meant to get around to recommending it be used in I Love You But Your Strange. Glad to see it show up somewhere. Now I want to dig up my Ambush Bug comics…

In 6th grade (1974) at PS 163 in NYC, I remember seeing an amateur film in which the origins of the Flash and Superman were conflated into that of a humanoid alien boy crash landing on Earth and immediately having super-speed powers. I haven’t been able to find a reference to this, so it makes me wonder if I dreamed it.

Brian, you should do a series of A&Fs that were done in Handbook/Who’s Who entries. I remember both the psionic nature of Gladiator’s powers and Professor X’s weird extra powers from early X-Men issues were abandoned and forsaken in their OHOTMU entries.

I’d second the call for more looks at OHOTMU/Who’s Who abandoning and forsaking – and also for incidents that happened in letter columns, like the hefty retcons inflicted on Swamp Thing and Blackhawk off-panel in the early 1980s.

A shame both of the big two have (for now) Abandoned an’ Forsaked their printed encyclopaedias, thanks for the info guys. It was the Deluxe edition of OHOTMU that encouraged me to explore the wider Marvel Universe after being limited to the UK reprints.

Personally I always thought Marvel’s efforts at character catalogues were leaps and bounds ahead of DC’s. The original Who’s Who was effectively hamstrung by Crisis on Infinite Earths invalidating lots of its facts mid-run (and therefore later issues included the Byrne Superman and the Perez Wonder Woman, but not their Earth-1 forerunners – and the Ultraa entry concludes with a rather grim coda that wasn’t, as far as I know, portrayed anywhere on-panel) and personally I much prefer the level of precision in Marvel’s quantification of strength levels etc.

And lest I stray too far off-topic… Mudassir, that was Ambush Bug #3. There’s probably a few months’ worth of A&F columns in that issue alone!

Never mind the arbitrary rule that Barry must make the money as the Flash…

What about Mopee claiming that the rules say that he picks which telegram Barry will read? “I will select the telegram! The rules so state!” So there was a rule that said that if you put an ad in the paper asking for work to buy the materials needed to recreate your gift-giving incident, then the initiate responsible will pick which job you are actually going to accept?

Yeah… The whole story reads like you weren’t necessarily supposed to accept Mopee’s account from the start… The rules are just too conveniently arbitrary even for a classic story, and Barry brings up the issue of Wally’s origin at the end as well?

@Eric Henry: there is another possibility for Wally’s origin, and it will be addressed when Brian elaborates on that another alternate origin.

I agree–both stuff the handbook forsook, and stuff that was promptly forsaken (as I’ve mentioned before, Black Cat’s psionic powers were mentioned in the Handbook, then rejected soon after).
I did like the idea that Wally’s powers were partly the speed force reacting to Barry’s boy wouldn’t it be swell to have a teen sidekick like Wally? unconscious wish when they met.

Gareth: while Marvel’s put aside their Handbooks for now, it’s not truly an Abandoning & Forsaking because the info’s still valid. And they’re still coming out with material after a fashion: Wolverine: Official Index to the Marvel Universe just came out recently, revising and expanding the info from the floppies just in time for the movie. And as for new Handbook entries, they’re still appearing, it’s just that they’re appearing in the backs of trades and the like instead of part of a full Handbook. Not ideal for people who just want the entries and not the stories, but at least it means that when the Handbooks become viable again, chances are some of the people involved in the last batch will still be available. And maybe Marvel will be talked into collecting these into a separate book at some point as most will just need a bit of tweaking.

I will say that “No, that’s just not true” is a much more sensible way to get rid of a bad idea than any of the elaborate “The Truth Behind Mopee” stories they could have done.

Now I think about out, if the Mopee origin story was true, it would have some staggering implications for Kid Flash’s origin. Would it mean that another imp decided to grant another human superspeed powers, and made the same mistake of using police department chemicals? Or was it a random bolt of lightning, something Mopee said was too impossibly unlikely to actually happen?

We don’t like to talk about Kid Mopee. That guy was just embarrassing. Basically Mopee with a skateboard and backward baseball cap.

yup what a terrible thing to write, something this pitiful should have never made it out of draft.

modern era > all others, no contest

With all the insane rules he claims, his ludicrous story, and the Handbook officially stating that none of what he said is true, I think there’s only one conclusion to be drawn here: Mopee is an alien with the ability to temporarily take away super-powers, and he really just likes to mess with superheroes.

Also, take a look at the fantastic body-language the Flash has up there in the “My that’s a flashy costume…” panel (the one right after he gets out of the water). Not only is the Flash looking directly at us like he’s aware that we, the reader, can read his thought balloons, but he has this great look of “Are you guys seeing this shit?”

“We don’t like to talk about Kid Mopee. That guy was just embarrassing. Basically Mopee with a skateboard and backward baseball cap.”

But he was so proactive! It was a radical new paradigm!

That Mopee story was rather… lame. And here I thought that retcons were a relatively recent phenomenon.

And nobody has mentioned Craig Shutt in all this? I can’t believe it. Craig Shutt (aka “Mr Silver Age” from his column at the late, lamented “Comics Buyer’s Guide”) had a regular feature he called “The Mopee Awards.” Thisexplanation of the awards is from his last column:

“As Mr. Silver Age’s fans (both of you) remember, these annual awards celebrate some of the goofier concepts and laugh-out-loud moments from Marvel and DC’s Silver Age super-hero comics. They help us remember a time when comics were read by excited kids eager to devour this month’s delectable banquet of four-color treats, even the ones that were a bit frothy or half-baked.

The awards are named for the magical elf who claimed he gave Barry Allen his super-powers in Flash #167 (Feb 67). Fans instantly disavowed the existence of that story, and we’d no doubt do the same for some of these classics, if it wasn’t so much fun to revisit their sheer, unadulterated dopiness. What were they thinking? And what were we thinking, enjoying them so much? Not even Mr. Silver Age can answer every question.

The Mopee Awards honor a type of comic book and a time in comics history that won’t be seen again. Fortunately, we can revisit those times whenever we want and enjoy those stories for entirely new reasons.”

And yes…..each year’s “winners” were easily deserving of their “achievements.” It should be noted that most of the winners came from DC but there were plenty of winners from Marvel, and even a few from the other publishers.

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