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SECRET ORIGINS OF THE SUPER-SPEEDSTERS
PART ONE: THE GOLDEN AGE FLASH


The Golden Age Flash -- the ORIGINAL Flash -- was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert way back in 1940. Artist E.E. Hibbard later took over the art on the series! Here's the scoop on both men, as told on a feature page from All-Flash #1:
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The powers and look of the original Golden Age Flash were inspired by MERCURY, the super-fast messenger of the ancient gods. You may notice that Mercury and Golden Age Flash both shop at the same haberdashery.
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The Golden Age Flash was seen for the first time EVER in a
tiny little circle, in the 1940 DC house ad below:
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Below: Cover of the Ashcan edition of Flash Comics #1.
Ashcan editions were mock-ups used to secure a copyright.
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Here's the final, printed version of FLASH COMICS #1, January 1940.

World, meet Jay Garrick aka THE FLASH!

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Shelly's Moldoff's FLASH #1 cover recreation...
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...and Harry Lampert's splash page recreation!
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Here's how Jay Garrick acquired his super-speed...
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That's basically it! All Jay had to do was inhale some fumes. Imagine if they had bottled and sold this stuff! And with that, the Golden Age Flash was off and running. Pictured below, a DC house ad for Flash Comics #2...
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In no time, Flash was one of the "Big Six," putting him on a level with the likes of Superman and Batman! And also Ultra-Man, who actually was not very big at all, considering that he faded into obscurity long ago.
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But truth be told, the Golden Age Flash wasn't half as interesting as the Silver Age Flash. He actually didn't do much "flashing" at all! No vibrating through stuff, no time travel, no Infantino after-images, no Julie Schwartz "Flash Facts" type stories... Jay Garrick was more like a really fast detective-comedian than a sci-fi super speedster. And his adventures often quite humorous! Here's a brief selection of his adventures...

GOLDEN AGE FLASH GALLERY
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XABOVE: Flash #28, April 1940

Long before Barry Allen became a household name on his own weekly television series, Jay Garrick was hanging out with the biggest stars in Hollywood.

Kids today won't recognize them, but in the Flash's day there were no bigger movie stars than Mickey Rooney, Bob Hope, and Clark Gable, pictured above among many others. Can you name them all? Is that Lana Turner?

RIGHT: Flash #85, July 1947

Flash in Hollywood? On TV? Big deal! Carter Hall aka Hawkman has been to Tinsel Town before too! And dig this -- he took the Hawk-chick with him! Groovy, baby!

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ABOVE and BELOW: Cover and splash page from FLASH #38,
story title "The College for Criminal Knowledge."
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As we covered in our recent "Stolen JLA Covers" series, many layouts for Golden Age covers were duplicated in the Silver Age. For example, Hibbard's cover of FLASH #40 (April 1943), "The Man Who Could Read Men's Souls," was obviously a major influence on the cover of BATMAN #167 (November 1964), "Zero Hour for Earth," by Carmine Infantino, pictured below, LEFT.
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The cover of Detective #38, pictured above on the right, was obviously a model for the cover of FLASH #92. This landmark issue featured a superstar supporting cast, including Hawkman and Hawkgirl, the Golden Age Atom, and Black Canary, who made her big debut in FLASH #92 (pictured below)!
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Some of the villains in Flash's book were prototypes
of Silver Age villains to come, such as Pied Piper and Grood.
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Golden Age Flash was generous with his covers -- he often let HAWKMAN hog all the cover glory. Below: Flash #9, #15, and #104 (the last issue of the title!).
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The Golden Age Flash became so popular he was given a second title, ALL-FLASH, which was devoted exclusively to HIS super-speed adventures, wIth no supporting character back-up stories. The comic really WAS "All Flash"!
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Below: House ads for Flash Comics (bursting with back-up characters),
and All-Flash (Just Jay!).
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The Golden Age Flash was a founding member of the Justice Society of America, the original all-star super-team group, whose adventures first appeared in All-Star Comics.
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But Flash only stayed with the JSA until the debut of "All Flash" comics, because the JSA was built to showcase NEW heroes. Every hero who got their own exclusive book automatically became an "honorary member" in the JSA, and left the book.
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Here's how the team said goodbye to Jay...
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Wow. In the house ad below, Flash, now only an honorary JSA member (like Batman and Superman), is back to appearing in a tiny circle, reminiscent of his very first appearance!
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Poster shot of our hero, by E.E. Hibbard.
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BELOW: Among the final issues of FLASH COMICS run was THIS story, from Flash #101, ironically titled "A Switch in Time," where Flash travels into the future. It's ironic because his time in the PRESENT was almost over!
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BELOW: Robby's mash-up tribute comic featuring Jay Garrick.
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After the Golden Age ended, Jay Garrick lay dormant for years, then reappeared in the Silver Age Flash's book in the history-making story "Flash of Two Worlds." This story introduced the concept of "Earth Two," populated by Golden Age versions of DC's Silver Age heroes.
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As "Flash of Two Worlds" explained, there are two earths occupying the same space, but "vibrating differently." When Barry Allen Flash broke through to what was called "Earth 2," he encountered his Golden Age predecessor, Jay Garrick! What a day that was!
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The Flash/Flash crossovers continued for years. Below, Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson's original art for Flash # 137, showing the two speedsters duking it out while under the evil influence of immortal villain Vandal Savage.
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In the Silver Age and beyond, Jay Garrick occasionally got his OWN stories, including the one below by Robert Kanigher and Murphy Anderson, "Finale for a Fiddler."
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Here's to Jay Garrick! He isn't the Fastest Man Alive anymore, but he IS something even better. He's the one and only, very first, true ORIGINAL FLASH! A Flash among Flashes!
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MEET... THE WHIZZER!?!?!
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SOURCE MATERIAL PICTURED BELOW:
Original Creeper ad, side by side with Robby's mash-up.
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