Thursday, May 27, 2010
Radioactive M-Metal: We couldn't wrap-up our month-long tribute to the supervillain Abra Kadabra without resurrecting the old Fast Talk feature, for though the character is built from a concept that cleverly allows for the conflation of science and magic, even Kadabra's Silver Age origin is utterly dependent upon senseless scientific technobabble. Desperate to escape the year 6363 A.D. and its society's obsession with scientific achievement, the mad magician Abra Kadabra decides to seize control of a groundbreaking experiment in time travel. The means to traverse centuries is granted by a jury-rigged two-part apparatus: a "time-vehicle" driven through a corresponding portal by the "propulsive force" granted by "radioactive M-metal," a mysterious element harvested from a fallen meteorite. (What happens when you create an alloy of M-metal and Nth metal? Presumably, it would allow you to fly through time whilst knocking out any ghosts or monsters encountered along the way!) If this explanation sounds a little too convenient, it's because it is. Given the questionable terminology spouted by these so-called scientists--who, we are told in a wonderfully over-descriptive narrative, spend their days working in "a building dedicated to science"--it's a miracle that Kadabra survived his trip through time! This, of course, is just one of countless science fiction stories that utilize the broad, widely-misunderstood label "radiation" as a storytelling shortcut. (Kadabra should dose-up on some neo-magnetic radiation while he's at it!) Is it at all conceivable that any form of radiation could provide what is being described here as a propulsive force, let alone propel one through time? Can you imagine what the Periodic Table must look like in the DC Universe?
Issue: The Flash #128 (May 1962)