Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fast Talk: High-Frequency Vision

High-Frequency Vision: Superman can do some amazing things with his eyes. I have to say, as enviable superpowers go, Heat Vision ranks right up there for me. And the Martian Manhunter seems to make-up new capabilities for his Martian Vision as he goes along. It would seem that way to mere mortals like us, of course, since J'onn J'onzz possesses no less than nine senses! I wouldn't presume to begin interrogating the scientific fast talk of the DC Universe's extraterrestrial superheroes. Lately, however, when I sit down to enjoy a Silver Age story featuring the scarlet speedster, I find it increasingly hard to believe some of the sensory enhancements Barry Allen's super-speed has seemingly endowed. Take this episode, for instance, from the thrillingly titled "10 Years to Live--One Second to Die" by John Broome and Ross Andru. After being taunted by his criminal captors with the fact that there are ten bombs rigged to explode at a moment's notice at high population centers around Central City, the fastest man alive reassuringly informs us that he will be able to track these devices by following the "spurt of high-frequency energy" that triggers them, an invisible bolt "caused by an electric detonator." Broome, or the illustrious Julius Schwartz, adds a slight editorial note explaining that this high-frequency energy is "visible to the Flash because of his built-in super-speed capability!" In other tales, Barry accomplishes similar feats with his inhumanly tuned ears! I have to ask: Just how significantly would the superpower of super-speed extend the range of one's senses?

Issue: The Flash #190 (August 1969)

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