Friday, March 27, 2009

No one – I repeat – No One is faster than The Flash…

March 27, 2009
Posted by Noah

… and very few are more valuable, at least if you’re talking about Showcase #4, The Flash, 1956, from DC Comics. It’s the book that started the Silver Age, and is easily the most valuable Silver Age comic that exists. Did I mention that Heritage is auctioning off a copy of Showcase #4 in our May comics auction? Did I further mention that it’s from the Motor City Run, and that it’s the single highest graded copy of the book in existence? Forgive me for not saying so sooner.

I know that this was a comic printed in 1956, and that I was but a mote of cosmic dust at that point, but this was the comic book of my dreams as a kid. I also know that the Silver Age ended in 1970, the year I was born, but I bought ratty old Silver Age Flash comics with my meager allowance all through the 1970s, the more beat up the better, as I actually enjoyed reading them. I read many of them until they literally disintegrated in my fingers. The few that survived my slavish reading and re-reading of them, as I was very politely informed by Barry Sandoval when I started working here and brought them in on a whim, are worth maybe a couple bucks each. I think he was being charitable at that, as nice a guy as he is…

Showcase #4 introduces Barry Allen as The Flash, and tells his famous origin story. Many a kid, I imagine, was tempted to douse themselves in a stew of chemicals in the hopes of gaining the same speed. At least I know I was – thanks to my brother Matt for stopping me on that hazy July afternoon.

Barry Allen was The Flash of my childhood, and is still The Fastest Man Alive, in my opinion. Wally West is Kid Flash. Period. I know that very fact has become a big part of Wally West’s character, or was until 1996’s The Return of Barry Allen, but I still didn’t buy it, even as much as I enjoyed watching Dr. Zoom take yet one more thrashing some 3,000 years before he was born.

My passion for The Flash has never really died; it’s just changed over the years. Ii now mainly consists of a plastic Flash figurine on my desk. It’s of a later vintage, so I know it must be Wally West. That doesn’t matter to me, though. One of my oldest and dearest friends in the world gave it to me years ago. It has sat on every desk I have worked at for more than a decade, which is not so interesting. The real story of this Flash, though – and I think this proves that The Flash really does have superhuman powers, in all of his forms, even plastic – is that this one survived a rather nasty flood in 2005.

I had just moved to Amherst, MA to edit a couple antique magazines when I got the call one morning that the basement office where I worked in Palmer, MA, flooded to the ceiling overnight when the Quaboag River overran its banks, travelled across a football field, and a parking lot, to flood the whole street and all the buildings on it. Everything was completely destroyed. When we made our way in two days later, knee-deep in mud, paper slush and office equipment, I went to the area of my desk. There, miraculously, sitting right where my desk once was, was The Flash, stand and all.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t a miracle, but it was pretty cool, considering it was really the only thing I was hoping to find.

Here’s a link to all The Motor City run comics in the May Comics Auction. You can look, but you can’t touch…