Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fast Talk: Sound-Activated Waves

Sound-Activated Waves: Lately, I've been thinking about the wonders that were to be found behind the cover of any given Silver Age comic book and I've decided that I want to take a moment simply to clarify something concerning the weekly Fast Talk feature. I kid because I love. The scientific fast talk of the great Silver Age is easy to spot and, admittedly, it is often hilarious. Comic books aren't simply fun or funny, however; comics can be downright exciting. That's the reason that we're drawn to them to begin with. In this dramatic incident from "The Pied Piper of Peril!" by John Broome and Carmine Infantino--representing the first appearance of the title Rogue--Hartley Rathaway is using his near-magical flute to disable his fleet-footed foe. "Playing his incredible instrument at the waters of Central City Lake, the Piper sends a huge sound-activated wave hurtling at the scarlet speedster!" Sure, we could take this opportunity to debate the feasibility of the Pied Piper's acoustic accomplishments, or to playfully interrogate the capabilities of his perplexing technology. Ultimately, that's not what matters in a scene like this, however. Think of the suspense inherent to this plot! Just look at Infantino's stunning imagery! In context, is there any question that the Pied Piper represents a powerful threat? Is there any doubt that our beloved hero is in peril? There is desperation and drama in these panels, emergency as well as great urgency! No matter how hilarious or absurd the pseudoscientific feats or explanations on display may be, never allow me to negate the power of the narrative. Fortunately, I think adventures such as this can generally stand up to a gentle ribbing. These stories are just that good.

Issue: The Flash #106 (April-May 1959)

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