Saturday, January 30, 2010

Crisis on Earth-Blog: DC Comics Presents #38

DC Comics Presents #38

Title: "Stop The World--I Want To Get Off! Go Home!"
Cover Blurb: "Bonus Feature: 'Whatever Happened To... The Crimson Avenger?'"
"Cover Price: $0.60
Date: October 1981

Story: Martin Pasko
Art: Don Heck
Lettering: John Costanza
Coloring: Gene D'Angelo
Editing: Julius Schwartz
Cover: George PĂ©rez

Guest Review: Frank Lee Delano

Synopsis: Superman was just flying by when he happened to see a truck accidentally run Jimmy Olsen's car off a cliffside road. "He probably couldn't slow down in time--He must've been doing at least 65! As soon as I get him to safety, I'll have a word with him about his reckless driv--HUH?!" Mysteriously, Olsen's car hung motionless in the air, and even the Man of Steel wasn't strong enough to move it.

Meanwhile, Barry Allen patrolled Central City as the Flash, staring down the bullets of a bank robber. Flash was shocked to see the slugs slow to a dead stop in midair, as he found himself surrounded by living statues.

The Last Son of Krypton heard a vaguely familiar sound, "the ultra-sonic tone of Jimmy's Superman Signal-Watch... but slowed down to a frequency that would be audible to 'non-super' ears!" Time hadn't so much stopped as decelerated to the point of being nearly undetectable. The Man of Tomorrow was filled with questions about the matter, as it ran contrary to all physical laws... and should he correct the situation, would he still have time to save Jimmy?

The Flash too could not determine why he alone in all the city seemed exempted from the phenomenon, and how he could address the matter without the unattended bullets passing through the beautiful form of his neighbor, Fiona Webb. At first Allen thought this may be the work of one of his rogues, but a quick inspection showed the whole nation effected, at least.

102 miles from Central City and 322 from Metropolis, an otherworldly craft hovered over Wonderland amusement park. The spaceship projected a beam carrying an alien visitor, which assumed the form of the Fastest Man Alive. This faux Flash called out to Superman as the hero flew overhead. Questions weighed on the Man of Steel's brow almost as heavily as the anachronistic pompadour hairstyle he was still sporting--like why his fellow Justice Leaguer was taking credit for the slowdown in time. "I can't believe that! It doesn't make any sense! What would his motive be--? I'd better catch up with him and demand an explanation!"

The facsimile Flash hid, transforming into a pseudo Superman, then running the same game on the true Scarlet Speedster. An important variation was that this time, "Superman" flattened Flash with a haymaker before disappearing altogether. In predictable Marvel Comics fashion, Kal-Elvis and the Flash had been led into a misunderstanding that was complicated by an accusatory shouting match. "If you think I'm going to stand here and let you sucker me with another 'super-surprise'... you've got Kryptonite rocks in your head! Instead, I'll 'fan' my arms at super-speed-- and create an obstacle... Specifically, that wall of super-compressed air you just hit! I hope it knocked some sense into you!"

When Superman got up off his Posterior of Steel, it was on like Donkey Kong, as Kal-El kicked the Flash across the park. Crimson Lightning landed and streaked across roller coaster tracks, leading Superman into a loop-de-loop turnabout allowing for twin Flash fists to crash against the Strange Visitor's face. The Flash then held onto the Man of Steel's back with a choke hold, as the heroes began comparing notes and calming down. "Wait a minute--! Maybe we're both wrong!" Superman agreed. "I'm getting the same feeling, Flash! It's beginning to look like we've been tricked into fighting each other... by an impostor who first posed as you... then as me!"

Three green-skinned, white-haired aliens looked on from an open platform on the spaceship. Syryna dressed in a purple gown and crown with white cape and gold highlights. Klaanu was stocky, balding and bare-chested in his orange and blue uniform. Minaar was virtually identical, but bore a goatee, and said "The energy-siphoning process has been interrupted, Your Glory! The costumed ones have ceased fighting!" Syryna assumed the jig was up, and ordered Klaanu to capture the heroes. From his sword was emitted an energy net that was too strong for Superman, but couldn't stand up to Flash as a human tornado. Super-breath knocked Klaanu unconscious to the ground, but Big Blue and Scarlet Speedster were distracted by illusory monsters created by Syryna until Minaar's stun-blade caught them both unawares.

"When our heroes regain consciousness, they find themselves under restraint aboard the alien vessel-- and lashed to a bizarre machine that keeps them vibrating at super-speed..." Syryna explained that the heroes would come to know and fear her name as long as they lived. Syryna had the foresight to bind Superman in Kryptonian restraints before launching into her back story.

"I rule the people of Elykaar-- a land in another dimension. A rebel faction which seeks to overthrow me has been making attempts on my life... such as the bomb they hid beneath this vessel! But the rebels miscalculated! Their explosive was not powerful enough to destroy the Flying Fortress... but it did propel the vessel so fast that it ripped open a passageway into another dimension-- yours! My presence here in your universe caused a disruption in its space-time continuum! Its nature remains unknown, but its effect was, I trust, obvious!" Syryna further hypothesized that Flash and Superman were unaffected because they were moving at super-speed during her arrival. Unable to achieve the speed necessary to pierce the dimensional barrier and return home, Syryna meant to siphon off the super-speed energy of our heroes with a device "beyond your comprehension." Once the heroes saw through Syryna's ruse to keep them generating speed by fighting one another, her other option was to enslave them as living super-speed engines for her ship.

Tough cookies for Syryna, as Superman had figured out that the gem on her forehead glowed whenever she used her illusion powers--like when she made them see bonds that weren't actually there! If his chains were really kryptonite, after all, he'd be powerless. Instead, freed, the speedsters were faced with an army of Minaar duplicates. Flash's fleet feet separated the real Minaar from the phonies, while Superman's heat vision made Minaar drop his energy-blade. Afterward, the Man of Tomorrow caught up with Syryna, and shattered her gem in the palm of his hand.

Returning the "flying fortress" to Syryna's home planet, Superman and the Flash turned the evil ruler over to the victorious rebels. In return, Superman needed to know Syryna's original point of departure, so that they could return to Earth exactly where they left it through adjusting their vibratory speed. Unfortunately, Earth was literally the same, still frozen in time. Kal-El realized Klaanu was still on Earth, and responsible for the continued slowdown. Catching the creep and returning him to his world, the twin speedsters had only seconds to get back in time to save Jimmy and Fiona.

Kal-El was glad to finally have a chance to relax, and wanted to pal around with Flash some more at JLA headquarters, but the Scarlet Speedster had appointments to keep, "--and time is flying!" Superman was glad to hear it!

High-Speed Highlight: The centerfold pin-up "From The First 36 Issues... DC Comics Presents Superman And His Co-Stars!"

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Onomatopoeia: KRAM!

KRAM!: That curt, clipped, tremendously bold-faced four letter word, accented with a mere exclamation point, used throughout the issue to announce the arrival of the villainous Dreadnought, demonstrates that even the simplest of onomatopoeia can be potent when backed up with appropriately evocative narration. I'll leave the description in the capable hands of Mr. Len Wein: "Thunder in the afternoon--the deafening roar of an awesome machine as it churns its way through the cluttered streets of Central City. This is the Dreadnought--pile-driving juggernaut of crime--which appears from nowhere and vanishes with equal agility--leaving crumbling devastating in its wake--yet no trace of a trail to follow!" There is, without a doubt, a profound poetry inherent to these comic books.

Issue: The Flash #217 (August-September 1972)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Upcoming: The Flash #1

And you thought The Flash: Rebirth would never end! The fastest man alive begins his race anew with an all-new The Flash #1 this April. The series launches with the tantalizingly titled "The Dastardly Death of the Rogues!" Plus, it's been announced that the latest ongoing series will bear the Brightest Day banner, tying Barry Allen's ongoing adventures to the latest year-long DC Comics event. Honestly? I'm far more excited about seeing artist Francis Manapul show us how he sees the scarlet speedster! For more details, visit DC Comics or Newsarama.

Written by Geoff Johns; Art, cover and variant cover by Francis Manapul; Variant cover by Tony Harris. A Brightest Day tie-in! Get in on the ground floor of DC’s next epic in the making! The Flash races out of Blackest Night and into his own monthly title as the all-new adventures of The Fastest Man Alive start with “Case One: The Dastardly Death of the Rogues! ” Barry Allen runs back to his life in Central City, but when one of the Rogues turns up murdered under mysterious circumstances, it’s up to The Flash to not only solve this bizarre crime, but protect those that are still targeted by the elusive killer. Plus, don’t miss a peek into the future of the Flash universe in this special, extra-sized starting point issue! DC Universe. 40pg. Color. $3.99 US. On Sale April 14, 2010.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Flash Facts: Trade Winds

"Trade winds--regular winds which blow toward the equator all around the world--blow from northeast to southwest in the northern hemisphere and from southeast to northwest in the southern hemisphere."

Issue: The Flash #133 (December 1962)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Onomatopoeia: BZZ-ZZZ-ZZZ

BZZ-ZZZ-ZZZ: During the Golden Age of comics Jay Garrick, in spite of his astonishing super-speed powers, regularly found himself in some classic pulp scenarios, including this unfortunate incident involving the Three Dimwits and a buzz saw. Just imagine the humiliation of being killed by a cliffhanger cliche. Add this blaring bombilation to the list of distinctive noises that you don't want to hear just before you open your eyes in the morning!

Issue: All-Flash #5 (Summer 1942)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Hi & Lois (2009)

This installment of Hi & Lois by Brian Walker, Greg Walker, and Robert "Chance" Brown is both fun and educational! Mixing both Marvel and DC Comics characters with classical mythology, it also poses a question that students have been asking for ages. Here's an old trick, kids: be sure to tuck your comic books just behind the pages of your history book such that it appears, to all outward appearances, that you're studying! Thanks, as always, go out to Papa Zero for keeping an eye on the funny pages for us.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Flash Facts: The Stroboscope

"Scientists use a stroboscope to study the rapid motion of an object. The object is rendered visible at frequent intervals with an electric spark or by viewing it through openings in a revolving disk."

Illustration: "Stroboscopic view of a tennis player in motion."

Issue: The Flash #209 (September 1971)

Friday, January 01, 2010