Showcase #13: "The Master Of The Elements!"

Showcase #13
 "The Master Of The Elements!"
 March-April, 1958

 Story: John Broome
 Art: Carmine Infantino
 Inks: Frank Giacoia

 It was the most incredible fight on the planet! A duel between a criminal armed with natural element as his weapons -- and the Flash, whose super-speed was no match for the elemental weaponry of the "Master Of The Elements!"

 At the Palladium Jewelry Store in Central City, staff and customers alike turn towards Mr. Element, who has chosen this particular place named for one of his favorite elements -- palladium! Argon and Radon keep them covered while Mr. Element moves to gather their loot! A clerk in the back room of the jewelry store picks up the phone to report the robbery! Meanwhile, police scientist Barry Allen is meeting Picture News reporter Iris West for their date. As she notes that he is the slowest man on two feet, Barry knows he can't move faster or else she would suspect he was the Scarlet Speedster!

 The police radio of a passing patrol car alerts the police scientist to the jewelry store robbery, with Iris heading over there to cover the story for Picture News, and Barry lagging behind in order to change into his Flash uniform! The police scientist whirls at super-speed, activating the ring on his finger, and causing the crimson costume to spring forth at his touch, expanding upon contact with the air...

 When she looks back, Iris notices that Barry is no longer behind her. The Flash arrives at the Palladium, where Mr. Element has been expecting him! The Scarlet Speedster is surprised to find himself being held back by gold wires -- stretched along the corridor -- When the Monarch of Motion finally gets past the golden barrier, Mr. Element has disappeared from sight!

 In his underground hideout, Mr. Element prepares to divide the loot evenly, with half going to him -- and the other half to his gang! These six henchmen have been named after the six inert elements because they cannot make a single move without him! He then explains his being aware about his criminal career being possibly obstructed by -- the Flash! As a boy, he had been interested in the chemical elements, such as carbon, gold, silver, and platinum... When he became an adult, the future Mr. Element decided to use the elements against the Scarlet Speedster! After acquiring a hide-out and designing his own uniform, Mr. Element decided his emblem would be a carbon atom! Since his hide-out is among underground rocks, he wears an atmosphere-filter to breathe only pure oxygen!

 He has already planned their next caper and addresses Krypton, Xenon, Argon, and the others --! As the Sultan of Speed makes his way through Central City, he soon sees a light in the Harrow Mining Company! The Flash uses his super-speed to race up the side of the building... aware that the Harrow Mining Company had received a large supply of platinum yesterday! A fraction of a second later, the Scarlet Speedster hears something going on behind a wall, and decides to pass through it at super-speed -- As the Monarch of Motion begins the maneuver, he is startled to learn he is unable to pass through the wall! Unbeknownst to the Scarlet Speedster, Mr. Element had already sprayed the wall with vanadium, the hardest of all metallic elements!

 The Flash realizes intense heat can melt through any metal and rubs his heat-proof glove against the vanadium, and the heat resulting from the friction melts the metal! The melting point of 1710 centigrade is quickly realized and the Flash passes through the opening in the wall... As the Scarlet Speedster begins carrying Mr. Element to police headquarters, the cunning criminal drops a special sodium pellet as they cross Central River Bridge... and the element explodes upon contact with water! POW!

 When the Flash regains his senses, Mr. Element has already left the scene! Now in his underground workshop, the cunning criminal works on new ways to use the elements to his advantage! He creates a special liquid to make iron rust quickly, a special magnesium flare to prevent anyone from seeing what he is doing, and silicon super-glass to be used on his getaway car! One night in a restaurant, Iris asks Barry what's on his mind, and he notices the fireworks overhead forming letters -- just like a neon sign -- which is an element --

 The incredible message appears in the sky above Central City... "Flash, when we meet again tonight, it will be the last time for you! Mr. Element!" As the police scientist tells his date he has got a headache, she offers to give him an iron tonic... and the name of an element is enough to make Barry wince! As the Flash searches Central City for the elusive Mr. Element... he soon finds his quarry... who has stacked every element in his favor!

 As the Fastest Man On Earth moves towards his foe... Mr. Element uses his newest discovery of elemento, a magnetic form of light to propel the startled Speedster faster and faster... Once Mr. Element has aimed his elemento beam skyward, the helpless hero is sent into outer space! He knows if he attains escape velocity, he will never be able to return to Earth! The Flash is now heading in the direction of the moon! If he hits it, it will be his end! If he misses it, he will continue traveling through outer space forever! As Mr. Element and his criminal cronies laugh in triumph...

 Their triumph proves short-lived when the Flash drops from out of space... having been slowed down by Earth's atmosphere, the Sultan of Speed tackles Mr. Element and his gang! As the Master Of The Elements and his men are rendered helpless and unarmed, he asks how the Flash was able to avoid his fate in outer space. As the Scarlet Speedster hurtled off the planet, he realizes three possibilities... one -- he would collide with the moon... two -- he would by-pass the moon and continue to travel through outer space forever... and three -- he might make a curve around the moon -- the same way a comet circles the sun!

 Using his own vibrations, the Flash was caught in the moon's gravitation, and swung completely around the satellite... heading back to Earth! He was traveling at the speed of light which lasts less than a minute -- and held his own breath in airless space, enabling his survival! As the Monarch of Motion is about to haul his captives to jail, Mr. Element announces his final trick of using a special radium bomb... operated via the hands of his wristwatch -- which has already had been removed at super-speed when the Flash noticed the dial's peculiar glow mere moments ago! The following night finds Barry visiting Iris, who shows him her article about the Flash's capture of Mr. Element, and comment about wishing to know how the Scarlet Speedster managed that particular feat... unlike a certain police scientist she knows! Barry smiles and tells her there is a certain element of truth in what she just said!

 This story was reprinted in Flash Annual #1 (1963).

 The Master Of The Elements later returned as Dr. Alchemy.

 Rex Mason is the Element Man known as Metamorpho.

 The Beatles once appeared at the London Palladium.

 Gold was plentiful on planet Krypton.

 Gold, Platinum, Iron, Mercury, and Tin are members of the Metal Men.

 Mr. Element's vanadium trap rubbed the Scarlet Speedster the wrong way, so the Flash returned the favor, and foiled his trap.

 Mr. Element's atmosphere-filter makes me wonder if younger readers seeing the character referred to him as "Mr. Elephant!"

 Escape velocity is seven miles a second -- the necessary speed for an object to break free of the Earth's gravitational pull!

 Mr. Element had to learn to watch the time because the Monarch of Motion foiled his special radium bomb by taking his time, and ensuring he would soon be doing time in prison.

 Steve Chung
 "The Master Of The Reviews!"