Two of my fan interests sort of intersected* with a pair of articles I wrote last night, as I found myself looking at the Flash and Les Misérables in the late 1930s/early 1940s.

I review Orson Welles’ Les Misérables radio play over at Re-Reading Les Mis. Last weekend I stumbled on a cassette recording of the 1937 series, but since I don’t have anything portable to play cassettes on anymore, I went looking online, found it at the Internet Archive’s Old Time Radio collection, and listened to it on the way to and from work for several days. (I wish I hadn’t already used the Cassette…now I remember pun.)

A 1943 Flash comic book features Jay Garrick playing every role at once in a stage play, quick-change style, when the entire cast is quarantined for a measles outbreak. I’d recently updated the scans on an old post on the one-man team trope. The Disneyland outbreak made me think of the story, and I’ve posted a few scans at Speed Force.

*They’ve been intersecting all week, actually, since the actor playing Pied Piper on the Flash TV show is playing Marius on Broadway right now, and has been posting Les Mis-related stuff.

In the 1940s, comic book publishers would often re-purpose an old series to avoid postal fees for launching a new one. For example, the super-hero book All-Star Comics became All Star Western.

EC’s Moon Girl was infamous. It launched as a superhero title, became Moon Girl Fights Crime! by issue #7, and A Moon…A Girl…Romance with issue #9 as they tried to figure out just what genre audiences wanted.

Eventually it became Weird Fantasy, then Weird Science-Fantasy, then finished its run as Incredible Science-Fiction. It ended with the story, “Judgment Day,” an allegory against racism which the Comics Code Authority tried to censor.

I just read that someone’s reviving it. The original super-hero character has fallen into the public domain, and the new series, described as “‘The Dark Knight’ meets ‘Mad Men,” is being published through comiXology’s iPhone comics…60 years later.

Golden Age Flash Archives Vol 2The Comics Archives has launched its 2008 DC Archives Survey [edit: it’s since been taken offline]. Readers are asked which DC Archive books they own, and which series they would be likely to buy if new volumes were released next year. Results will be collated and sent to DC Editorial.

DC’s Archive line is their line of hardcover reprints on nice, glossy paper, usually following a character or team starting at the beginning of the series. DC has two sets of Flash archives right now:

  • The Flash Archives: 4 volumes following Barry Allen from his first few appearances in Showcase through the start of his solo title, covering 1956–1962.
  • The Golden Age Flash Archives: 2 volumes following Jay Garrick through the first 2 years of Flash Comics and All-Flash, covering 1940–1941.

The survey also asks about other reprint formats, including the paperback Chronicles series, the Omnibus series (hardcover, but lower-quality paper), and more thematic reprint sets (one suggestion is Flash: The Death of Iris Allen

So if, like me, you’re still hoping for that next volume of Golden Age Flash Archives—or any other classic DC book that hasn’t been reprinted in decades, if ever—stop on over and fill out the survey.

(via Comic Bloc Forums)

Golden Age Flash Archives Vol 2Newsarama reports that during the Q&A part of the DC Nation panel at this weekend’s Baltimore Comic-Con, a fan asked:

Are there more Legion, Flash or Justice League Archives coming? [VP of Sales Bob] Wayne said that when you get up to the issues that can be affordably bought by collectors the demand for the Archive Editions goes down.

Okay, this might apply to the Silver-Age material. The four Flash Archives books so far are up to Flash #132 (1962). When I was tracking down back-issues in the #133–140 range (the likely contents of a hypothetical book 5) about 6 or 7 years ago, I seem to remember finding reasonably good copies in the $5-15 range. (Better copies, of course, run into triple digits.)

But there’s still 8 years of Golden-Age material to cover, from 1942–1949: more than 75% of Jay Garrick’s solo run. And those books are much harder to find, with battered readers’ copies often selling for $40–150.

Moreover, those 8 years include the first appearances of every major Golden-Age Flash villain. Continue reading

Comic Coverage recently posted a humorous look at the role smoking had in the Golden-Age Flash’s origin. Jay Garrick was working late, took a cigarette break, and knocked over a beaker of “hard water.” Interestingly, later retellings of his origin downplayed and finally deleted the cigarette.

First, here are the original 1940 panels from Flash Comics #1 (copied from Comic Coverage), showing grad student Jay Garrick taking time out for a smoke:

Jay Garrick pauses for a smoke

Four decades later, in 1986, Secret Origins #9 would retell his origin. Mindful of the details, but also concerned about modern sensibilities about health, writer Roy Thomas kept the cigarette break, but added Jay thinking, “I know I should give up these things…”

Jay really wants to quit

A decade later, the cigarette had disappeared completely. Flash Secret Files #1 (1997) featured a condensed retelling of all three (at the time) Flashes’ origins, and this time, Jay simply succumbed to the hour and nodded off, dropping the beaker.

Jay falls asleep on the job

(Via Crimson Lightning)