Flash Comics #1: "The Flash"

Flash Comics #1
"The Flash"
January, 1940

Story: Gardner Fox
Art: Harry Lampert

Faster than a streak of lightning... faster than even the speed of
light... swifter than the speed of thought... is the Flash, the modern
day Mercury...  His super-speed baffles scientists and brings joy to
those who behold it.  Before becoming the fastest man on Earth, Jay
Garrick was a student at Midwestern University... and was working up the
nerve to ask Joan Williams to the victory dance.  Unfortunately for Jay,
Joan has been asked by Bull Tryon, the captain of the football team.  It
isn't because he's a football scrub that she won't go out with him, but
because Joan knows that he could be a star if he put his mind to it.

Determined to prove himself, Jay goes on the playing field, only to be
knocked aside, time and time again.  In the research lab, he displays
great interest in science.  Professor Hughes asks Jay to separate the
elements from hard water, and as the hours pass, the student feels the
urge for a smoke.  Although it means breaking training, he enjoys the
break, but his relaxation causes the glass beaker to fall off the table.

Jay Garrick is overcome by the gas fumes and throughout the night, he
inhales the gas elements from the hard water.  Professor Hughes finds him
on the floor and calls for an ambulance.  Since it is a new gas, the
doctors are unable to tell what the effects will be.  The patient fights
for his life and soon regains his appetite.

In another part of the hospital, Professor Hughes is told by the doctor
that the gas has sped up the student's reflexes.  Since hard water can
make a person react faster, the inhalation of the gases will enable Jay
Garrick to outrun a bullet.  As the patient is getting ready to leave, he
looks out the window, and sees Joan about to board a bus.  Eager to see
her, Jay races for the bus stop at super-speed, catching up with her
before she can take a single step.  Glad to see Jay, Joan tells him that
she was going to get a library book.  At the library, the librarian is
startled when a young man appears out of thin air, and asks to check out
a book.

Once the book has been stamped, he disappears, leaving the librarian
feeling faint.  Now back with Joan, Jay confides in her, and asks if
she'll go with him to the dance.  She agrees, only if he plays in the
state game.  He'll do it, just for her.  The day of the state game finds
Jay Garrick warming the bench, watching as the rest of the squad are
getting knocked out.  With Bull Tryon injured, and no one else to send
in, it's up to "Leadfoot" Garrick to strut his stuff.  The crowd knows
that with "Leadfoot," the score will soon be 90 to 0 instead of 30 to 0.
Donning his helmet, Jay gets ready to give them a surprise.

Seconds later, "Leadfoot" scores a touchdown.  Now touchdown after
touchdown occur, with the opposing players not wanting to play against a
ghost they can't see.  In between plays, Jay visits Joan in the
bleachers, then returns to the field.  The score is now sixty-five to
zero, and Jay Garrick is the hero of the day.  As the school year ends,
the student is now a graduate, and will become an assistant professor at
Coleman University.  Joan will aid her father with his atomic bombarder
scientific research.  One night in New York, Jay reads about criminals
preying on stores and eluding the District Attorney.  Since the D.A.'s
men weren't fast enough to catch them, it is up to the Flash to catch up
with them.

After a visit from the Human Thunderbolt, the hoods decide to take up
honest work.  Jay now feels a sense of fulfillment by using his
super-speed to help others.  At Coleman University, the assistant
professor is playing tennis with himself, when he receives a visit from
Joan Williams.  He learns that her father has been kidnapped, just as a
car pulls up, and one of the occupants opens fire on them.

BANG!  Before the bullet can do any damage, Jay catches it before it can
reach Joan.  In another part of the city, Smythe reports to the Faultless
Four.  With Joan's death, Sieur Satan is confident that the Major will
give them the secret of his atomic bombarder.  Serge Orloff, surgeon
extraordinary, will save the girl's life, if Williams tells them what
they wish to know.  Duriel goes off to see the Major in his room of
mirrors, but the military man will not surrender.

With the secret of the atomic bombarder, the Faultless Four could sell it
to foreign powers for millions.  With such a war weapon, it will be
theirs for the taking, but for Williams.  Smythe decides to visit the
home of Joan Williams... disguised as an undertaker.  He will bring back
the body and the shock will soon loosen the Major's tongue.  At night, he
tells the driver to wait, then asks the young man outside about the dead
girl.  The man grows suspicious by Smythe's questions, especially when
the dead girl answers the door, and greets them.  When the "undertaker"
rushes to the waiting car, Joan tells her boyfriend that he must be one
of the Faultless Four.

It was three months ago when Major Williams received a letter from the
Faultless Four.  They had wanted the secret of the atomic bombarder, but
when Williams refused, they took him prisoner.  All of the Four are
scientists, but they would soon be visited by the Flash.  The Human
Thunderbolt races after the undertaker, and sees the car turning into an
apartment courtyard.  When Smythe opens his car door, he is momentarily
taken aback by the sudden wind.  Jay knows that the 'undertaker" will
soon be gone with the wind.

As the others learn about the Smythe's failure, they are greeted by the
Flash.  BANG!  A shot is fired, but the speedster catches the bullet
easily in the palm of his hand.  The Flash vanishes before their eyes,
and goes off in search of Major Williams.  He soon comes across a

Major Williams is lifted to safety, then given a super-fast ride to
safety on Jay's back.  Father and daughter are reunited, with the Major
about to thank his savior, but the Flash has gone back to check on the
Faultless Four.

The group plans to cause a panic on Coney Island, so that they will be
able to get their hands on Joan and her father.  The Flash knows that if
the Faultless Four go through with their plan, they can be caught in the
act.  The following day finds Jay on the beach, with an airplane diving
down, and opening fire.  As the beachgoers begin to panic, the young man
removes his outer clothing.

The Flash is on the run, catching the bullets from the air before they
can strike anyone.  The plane flies away, with the Human Thunderbolt
giving chase through the afternoon traffic.  He pauses only to be seen by
the Faultless Four outside of Joan Williams's apartment.  The getaway car
roars away, while Jay checks in on Joan and her father.  The Flash races
once more to the headquarters of the Faultless Four, where he confronts
three of them.  Sly Sieur Satan sneaks out of the room...

He pulls the switch, causing all in the adjacent room to be electrocuted.
Sieur's smile fades when he sees the Flash standing beside him, and
learns that the speedster isn't that easy to kill.  The villain drives
off in his new car, but it is unable to outrace the Flash.  The would-be
mastermind cracks under the pressure and loses control of his automobile.
The car crashes through the railing, where it hurtles down to the bottom
of the ravine.  The Human Thunderbolt is already there to check on what's
left of the Faultless Four.  Later, Jay Garrick pays a social call on
Joan, and listens as the Major asks his daughter about the Flash.  As she
and Jay share glasses, Joan winks, and tells her father that the
mysteryman is a real mystery.

I first read this story when it was reprinted in Famous First Edition F-8
(Aug - Sept, 1975).

A very cool cover by Sheldon Moldoff, where the Golden Age Flash catches
a bullet before it can strike Joan Williams.

I loved the Famous First Edition since it gave me a chance to see what
comics were like before I was born.  The tabloid size of the story and
art certainly caught my imagination as a beginning reader.

If they had made a Golden Age Flash movie, I would have liked to have
seen Jimmy Stewart play Jay Garrick.

In the Forties, there was nothing wrong about taking a cigarette break.

Is there such a thing as hard water?

Professor Hughes has blue hair, but sports a white mustache.

Jay Garrick looks like he's having fun with his newfound super-speed, and
uses it to impress his girl at the big game.

"Leadfoot" Garrick gets the lead out and puts his team in the lead.

The Faultless Four are cartoony in appearance and resemble characters you
would see in a Speed Racer cartoon.

Come to think of it, I'd love to see a Golden Age Flash cartoon done in
the Speed Racer-style.  Hey, Jay did it first!

At my first San Diego Comic-Con, I had the pleasure of meeting Harry
Lampert, who was kind enough to autograph a print showing the many
characters he had worked on.

This Review Is Dedicated To The Memory of Harry Lampert

Steve Chung
"The Flash Review"