Speed Force
RIP Carmine Infantino

Comics legend Carmine Infantino, co-creator of the Silver Age Flash, Kid Flash, and most of the early Flash villains, passed away at the age of 87, as reported by IGN, CBR and other sources.

Infantino was one of the few remaining artists from the Golden Age of comics. He was even the artist on a few of the late Jay Garrick stories, and when DC decided to reinvent the Flash in 1956, he did the character design. The new Flash, Barry Allen, was a hit, and Carmine Infantino remained on as artist and cover artist for the feature as it graduated from Showcase to a regular series. Many of the Flash’s most memorable Rogues’ Gallery and other villains were created in this early burst of Silver Age creativity, including Captain Cold, Pied Piper, Mr. Element/Dr. Alchemy, Trickster, Gorilla Grodd and Captain Boomerang.

He later made the move from talent to management, becoming DC’s editorial director and publisher during the 1970s. In the 1980s, he returned to drawing comics including a second extended run on The Flash that lasted until the series ended with Crisis on Infinite Earths. In recent years he was retired, but would occasionally make appearances at conventions.

I never met him, but I count myself lucky that I saw him in person at the 2006 Comic-Con International, where he appeared on the 50 Years of the Flash panel and a career retrospective. One of the stories he told at both panels was about the “war” between him and Julius Schwartz: he’d try to draw ever-more-nasty cliffhangers on his covers, and every time, Julie would come up with a story to go with it. So finally he drew one with the Flash and the Golden Age Flash both racing to save some guy, and said, “There! Top that!” The rest, of course, is history.

Other remembrances: News From Me, The Beat, DC Comics blog,

Showcase #4

RIP Carmine Infantino is a post from Speed Force. .

What lies beyond the Doorway to the Unknown?
High Speed Hauntings

Flash Annual #11: Ghosts - Cover

Ghost stories seem a natural fit with some superheroes. Not so with the Flash. An origin based in science, scientifically trained alter-egos, villains who use technology. Even the “magician” villain, Abra Kadabra, is more of a techno-mage, using highly advanced future technology to carry out transformations that seem like magic to our experience. The closest the Flash mythos gets to the supernatural is the metaphysical nature of the speed force, and even that is described in terms of energy and the nature of space-time.

So it makes sense that for 1998′s “Ghosts” annuals, the Flash story would feature not a traditional ghost, but one tied to the speed force: Johnny Quick, who had vanished into the speed force two years earlier during Dead Heat.

It all starts with Wally West sleepwalking — or, rather, sleeprunning — and being pursued by the spectral form of his former ally. Wally calls in Max Mercury for advice, but tries to hide what’s going on from Jesse Quick. The mystery is put aside, though, when Wally’s old flame Tina McGee shows up with a horrible problem: the long-dormant treatments that turned he husband Jerry into Speed Demon have activated, turning him super-fast, super-strong, and psychotic. The three speedsters have to stop him from causing too much damage and figure out a way to restore him to normal, all while Wally’s afraid to run at top speed for fear of his personal ghost.

The story acts like it wants to take itself seriously, but bounces around in sitcom territory most of the time: Everyone shows up at Wally’s door within a few minutes for no apparent reason, including Tina, who would have been better off calling him to save time. Linda and Tina have forgotten their earliest meeting just so Wally can worry about Linda finding out that he and Tina used to date. And while Wally’s tendency to keep secrets from people who really ought to be told is certainly in character (it’s a big part of Terminal Velocity), his refusal to tell Jesse that he’s being haunted by her father reads more like an episode of “I Love Lucy” than like a character learning a valuable lesson. Speed Demon’s relapse is never really explained or tied to the main plot — it just happened.

In the end, Wally does learn an important lesson: “It’s not always about you.” Johnny Quick was trying to come back to say goodbye to his daughter, but Wally was the only person he could contact.

Flash Annual #11: A Quick Family Reunion

Two other notable stories featuring ghosts come to mind when thinking about the Flash: “The Doorway to the Unknown” and the return of the Top.

Through the Doorway

Doorway to the Unknown: Splash Page (Flash #148)

1964′s “Doorway to the Unknown” (Flash vol.1 #148) begins with the Flash returning to his apartment only to find a man waiting for him, seeking his help to put right a wrong he committed. Fred Dallman had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars, then framed an innocent man for it when his crime was discovered. But as he left town with his stolen money, he learned that the fall guy had been kidnapped during a jailbreak by other convicts who wanted him to lead them to the money. Sending an innocent to prison hadn’t bothered Dallman, but endangering his life did.

Dallman asked the Flash to rescue Dean…then vanished before the Flash’s eyes!

Doorway to the Unknown: Vanished!

Comics 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 I’ve included it here that Dallman was, in fact dead at the time he spoke to the Flash. He’d just been killed in a car accident on the way out of Central City, as he tried to return the stolen money, clear Dean’s name, and save his life.

Doorway to the Unknown: The Twist

Climbing to the Top

Resurrections are a dime a dozen in comics these days, but the Top is notable not only for being the first major Flash villain to die, but also for returning from the dead at least three times purely under his own willpower.

Up until Flash: Rebirth rewrote history, Barry Allen’s parents were both alive through his entire career as the Flash. In Flash #297, (1981), they were in a car accident while driving to Central City to visit Barry. Henry Allen’s heart stopped for thirty seconds until the other driver performed CPR on him, but in that time, the ghost of the Top possessed his body. It wasn’t clear for several issues just what was going on, but he started acting strange and secretly meeting a younger woman while Nora Allen was in the hospital.

Hey, babycakes!

The woman turned out to be Golden Glider, and she and the Top began planning a realcomeback. Why settle for living in the body of a middle-aged man when he could take over the Flash instead?

Whisper something sexy to me

The Top and Golden Glider put their plan into motion in Flash vol.1 #302-303, trying to kill the Flash just enough for the Top to move in and take over. Barry faked his death, and the Top released his hold on Henry Allen, drifting back to the afterlife.

You’d think that would be the end, but he kept coming back. in 1990, Hawk & Dove Annual #1 featured a team of dead villains in hell, and over the next year of the series, the Top’s ghost communicated with Hawk, tricking him into setting up the circumstances for him to take over a new body. Years later, the Identity Crisis tie-in “The Secret of Barry Allen” revealed yet another return to life just a week after Henry Allen’s recovery.

Infinite Halloween

In the last few years, DC has been releasing annual Halloween and Christmas specials. The Flash has made a few appearances here and there. Mirror Master vs. Bloody Mary with Kid Flash caught in the middle, for instance.

The Speed of Life

“The Speed of Life,” from 2007′s “Infinite Halloween Special” is a more traditional ghost story. Physicist Ira West, father of Iris Allen and grandfather of Wally West, had made only a handful of appearances over the last two decades. In this tale set after the West family’s return from another dimension, Wally comes home to find his grandfather in the living room, telling stories to his children. That wouldn’t be out of the ordinary except for one problem: Ira had died since the last time we saw him.

Wally and Ira discuss the last time they saw each other.

Remember what I said earlier about the Flash being more science-based than supernatural? In the end, it turns out that Ira might not technically be dead, so much as he was transformed by a tachyon experiment gone wrong. His “ghost” is just him bouncing around in time, exploring new frontiers of knowledge.

Speed of Life: Goodbye, Ira West

Unlike most of the stories in this particular collection, this one ends up being not creepy or horrific, but touching. Wally gets to meet his grandfather one last time. Ira gets to meet his great-grandchildren, and they get to meet him. Much like Jesse Quick’s last chance to say goodbye to her father, this ghost story is a family reunion.

More Halloween Heroes

Speed Force isn’t the only comics fan blog looking back at these annuals and other ghost stories for this year’s Halloween. Thanks to Chad of Corps Conjecture and The Lanterncast for organizing this multi-blog crossover event. Thanks also to Lia for providing the scans for the Top. Don’t miss today’s Halloween Horror series at The Rogues Kick Ass.

Check out the other sites below:

Halloween Heroes

High Speed Hauntings is a post from Speed Force. .

Gallery of Joe Kubert Flash covers.

This Week: Flash Chronicles Vol.3, Digital Flash(back) #48, Impulse #7-8

Following on the heels of last week’s Flash Archives vol.6 for the hardcover collector, DC has the next volume of the softcover series reprinting the Silver Age Flash starring Barry Allen: Flash Chronicles vol.3

In this third collection of 1960s adventures in chronological order, the Fastest Man Alive battles Rogues including The Trickster, Captain Cold, Captain Boomerang, Gorilla Grodd and more. • Collecting THE FLASH #113-118.

Written by John Broome and Gardner Fox, art by Carmine Infantino, Joe Giella, and Murphy Anderson.

The Flash Chronicles Vol. 3 at Amazon

The surprise comes with this week’s back issues from ComiXology. For the last few months, DC has been releasing three issues a week of the Wally West Flash series. Last week, they only released two, and this week, they’re only releasing one…but we’ve also got two issues of Impulse featuring Bart Allen!

Flash #48 by William Messner-Loebs and Greg LaRocque. The Elongated Man guest stars in part one of this three-parter leading up to the big Flash #50. A flood of cheap drugs is causing a devastating crime wave, and the clues point to the return of Vandal Savage…as well as his arch-nemesis, the Immortal Man. Flash v.2 on ComiXology.

Impulse #7–8. The first is a one-shot by Martin Pasko, Nick Gnazzo, Mark Stegbauer, in which Impulse battles the one-shot villain Gridlock. The second features the return of regular writing & art team Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos for an Underworld Unleashed crossover in which Bart faces off against the new improved Blockbuster, who bartered his soul for intelligence…but is even less happy now than he was before.

Impulse on ComiXology.

Remember when..?
Vote for your favorite Flash memory!
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Vote for your favorite Flash memory!
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Vote for your favorite Flash memory!
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Vote for your favorite Flash memory!

DC has posted a list of collections for Spring 2013, including this surprise:
Impulse Vol. 1: Runs in the Family TP
Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Humberto Ramos, Wayne Faucher and Brad Vancata
Collects: IMPULSE #1-6, 8-9 and 12-13
$19.99 US, 240 pg
March 2013
It’s been 15 years since DC first tried collecting Impulse in Reckless Youth. That book collected Bart Allen’s three-part debut from Flash #92-94, plus the first six issues of his solo series. A few years back, during Flash: Rebirth, they capitalized on Ethan Van Sciver’s name by releasing the oddly titled The Flash (Featuring Impulse): Mercury Falling, which collected Impulse #62–67.
These issues feature the first appearance of White Lightning, guest appearances by XS of the DnA Legion of Super-Heroes, and several stories focusing on Bart’s circle of friends at school.
So, what’s missing?
Impulse #7 is a fill-in by Martin Pasko, Nick Gnazzo and Mark Stegbauer in which Impulse battles a villain called Gridlock.
Impulse #10-11 are part of the “Dead Heat” crossover with The Flash, and were previously collected (again, over a decade ago) in Flash: Dead Heat. Dead Heat is also out of print, but I’m encouraged by the fact that DC has been re-releasing the Wally West series digitally, and the fact that they’re actually reprinting something by Mark Waid here.
Update! (July): The book is now available for pre-order.
Also coming next year:
The Flash Chronicles Vol. 4 TP
Writers: John Broome
Artists: Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella
Collects: THE FLASH #119-124
$14.99 US, 160 pg
April 2013
This brings the Chronicles series of Silver Age reprints up to 1961, and the Flash Chronicles v.1-4 line up with Flash Archives v.1-3. This collection features the Mirror Master, the Trickster, the Top (with the now-infamous Atomic Grenade!) and Captain Boomerang (launching the Flash into space), as well as well-known stories “Land of the Golden Giants” and the classic “Flash of Two Worlds!”
Original Article

DC has posted a list of collections for Spring 2013, including this surprise:

Impulse Vol. 1: Runs in the Family TP
Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Humberto Ramos, Wayne Faucher and Brad Vancata
Collects: IMPULSE #1-6, 8-9 and 12-13
$19.99 US, 240 pg
March 2013

It’s been 15 years since DC first tried collecting Impulse in Reckless Youth. That book collected Bart Allen’s three-part debut from Flash #92-94, plus the first six issues of his solo series. A few years back, during Flash: Rebirth, they capitalized on Ethan Van Sciver’s name by releasing the oddly titled The Flash (Featuring Impulse): Mercury Falling, which collected Impulse #62–67.

These issues feature the first appearance of White Lightning, guest appearances by XS of the DnA Legion of Super-Heroes, and several stories focusing on Bart’s circle of friends at school.

So, what’s missing?

  • Impulse #7 is a fill-in by Martin Pasko, Nick Gnazzo and Mark Stegbauer in which Impulse battles a villain called Gridlock.
  • Impulse #10-11 are part of the “Dead Heat” crossover with The Flash, and were previously collected (again, over a decade ago) in Flash: Dead Heat. Dead Heat is also out of print, but I’m encouraged by the fact that DC has been re-releasing the Wally West series digitally, and the fact that they’re actually reprinting something by Mark Waid here.

Update! (July): The book is now available for pre-order.

Also coming next year:

The Flash Chronicles Vol. 4 TP
Writers: John Broome
Artists: Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella
Collects: THE FLASH #119-124
$14.99 US, 160 pg
April 2013

This brings the Chronicles series of Silver Age reprints up to 1961, and the Flash Chronicles v.1-4 line up with Flash Archives v.1-3. This collection features the Mirror Master, the Trickster, the Top (with the now-infamous Atomic Grenade!) and Captain Boomerang (launching the Flash into space), as well as well-known stories “Land of the Golden Giants” and the classic “Flash of Two Worlds!”