Friday, June 27, 2014

Number 1597: When Flash got the "F" out

This is the final posting from our “Aces Up My Sleeve” theme week, featuring early stories from the Ace Comics line.

This is the issue where Flash Lightning became Lash Lightning. No just was.

It is also a story with inconsistencies which seem jarring. Lash drives a car to the Army base. But he can fly and uses that power when he is blocked from entering in his car. Why drive? To show that the road to the base is blocked appears to be the only reason. And the evil Mastermind, who can “project himself anywhere” can project himself on the base, but then climbs into the commanding officer’s window the old-fashioned way.

Despite those weaknesses in the writing, the art is by comics journeyman Jim Mooney, and it is excellent.

From Lightning Comics Vol 2 No.1 (1941):


The origin story of Flash Lightning from Sure-Fire Comics #1 is here. Just click on the thumbnail:


Brian Barnes said...

I want to point out in my last comment I by mistake typed "thing" instead of "thong." Way to ruin a joke, I'll try to be better on Pappy's blog in the future :)

One thing about these older super hero comics is that the writers, probably culled from pulps or more "literate" sources didn't exactly know how to handle super heroes and fantastic powers. They still kept them grounded in cars and punching people, only using their powers when the writer had something clever to get around.

Also, the writers probably didn't have a long history of rules to the powers, so you had a lot of ill defined powers.

Still, the art is great (and some interesting angles), and the bright primary colors make good heroes and villains. The bad guy is an especially striking image.

That said, on page 9, bottom panels, the artist spend a lot of time on the breasts. The old 'cloth fold' over the nipple trick, and an outright nipple on the lower left. Mooney was obviously entertaining himself!

Somebody needs to fire an email off to Wertham!

Pappy said...

Brian, those "ill-defined" powers were still being used in comics when Mort Weisinger and crew were often introducing new powers and weaknesses for Superman; a constant source of irritation for me.

Brian Barnes said...

Oh yeah, silver age Superman was the king of ill-defined powers, but at the same time, almost all of that was in service of whatever bizarre "as it turns out" story they needed to tell. Why is Superman a purple gorilla today? There was an obvious reason to do it. Not a good reason, but an obvious one.

In the loopy golden age, though, it seemed more a problem of the writers not knowing how to deal with a action comic based on super powers.

Pappy said...

Brian, I believe the most successful (and most consistent) super heroes would have a "book," a bible of that hero's powers for everyone who works on the character to follow.

I'm dreaming, I know.

BillyWitchDoctor said...

Looks like the Flash-to-Lash change was a last-second one; the blurb on the splash panel has a huge glob of extra space where the "f" in "Flash" would have been. (Maybe DC got on their case because of Jay Garrick?)

Using cars when you can fly: I'm reminded of that bit at the end of the animated film "Crisis on Two Earths" when Flash questions what Wonder Woman wants with a jet. I can climb twenty flights of stairs, but if there's an elevator, by God I'm takin' it.

Powers 'Til Ya Puke: I think it's a combo platter. With Superman, they had to keep upping the ante lest he be outshone by competitors' flying Herculean spacemen. Likewise but more recently, as more and more yokels in the Marvel Universe began sporting a "healing factor," Wolverine's own HF advanced to such ridiculous extremes that he completely regenerated in a matter of seconds from a roasted skeleton, and mystic mumbo-jumbo had to be called in to explain it.

What's the dumbest over-power I've ever seen, no one asked? Golden Age Black Canary once--and only once--had an oath that she recited (like Green Lantern) to call forth a flock canaries. To form a "blanket" by "interlocking their wings." And catch her and her boyfriend in mid-plummet.

Far more recently I've also seen Plastic Man prop up a collapsing office building--so yeah, if DC has bibles for its characters nobody's reading them.

BillyWitchDoctor said...

Whoops, you covered the possibility of DC's Flash being the cause of the name-change in your earlier article on Lash/Flash Lightning. My bad.

Pappy said...

Billy, excellent essay on super powers. Thanks for your insight, since I do not keep up on super heroes, and am ignorant of the current trends.

Your note brings up one of my pet peeves about super heroes, whether they be in comic books, movies, or where ever...if a character has godlike powers of invulnerability, can fly, yadda yadda yadda...then there can be no contest between good and evil unless the ante is raised. Our hero has the powers of all the gods of mythology combined, so we have to invent a super villain with equivalent powers, and maybe more to make create some sort of suspense.

Keir said...

Not sure if you've come across this- a good summary of pre-code atrocities: