Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cast in Bronze

It occurred to me that some younger/newer readers might not recognize some of the Flash's current supporting cast.

Patty Spivot, his new love interest? Not so new.
Patty was introduced as Barry's lab assistant in September 1977, actually.

As Enrichetta Negrini was to Ray "The Atom" Palmer, so was Patty Spivot to Barry "The Flash" Allen (specifically, the Sexy Female Colleague Who is the Hero's Intellectual Equal But Not His Girlfriend and is Around Largely to Make the Girlfriend Jealous and Make Readers Think There's an Actual Change to the Status Quo Possible, But Really There's Not).

Captain Darryl Frye? Well, he's also from Flash's Bronze Age (appearing first in May 1980). He was comedy relief who hero-worshipped the Flash. He was also, well--how do I put this in a loving and supportive way....? He was...

a total lunatic, who dealt with his mid-life crisis by trying to become a costumed vigilante "Captain Incredible".

People talk about the Silver Age as "that time of wackiness" in comic books. To which I say, "Balderdash".

The Bronze Age's deep, all-pervasive, underlying absurdity was far more insane than the showy splashes of zaniness in the Silver Age. In the Silver Age, your boss/authority figure would only become a costumed vigilante temporary because he was being affected by mind-controlling alien fruit (1961) or to defy the mayor's orders and jerk Vicki Vale's chain (1957), because that's always fun. You know... normal reasons.

But in the freakin' Bronze Age, people smoked super-cigars (1974) and got hit on the head and reversed their own alter ego (1978). These things, unlike mind-controlling alien fruit and adopting a costumed identity as an F.U. to the mayor, are just insane. And Captain Frye was very much part of that.

Oh, and Captain Cold's sister, Lisa? In her modern incarcation, her job, like many a relative written by Geoff Johns, is to die tragically and inspire her family to greatness (in either Good or Evil). But in the Insane Bronze Age, she was -- wait for it --an ice skating themed villain, the Golden Glider.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Tonya Harding of Bronze Age Earth-1. Wait, did the narrator actually just call her skates "uncanny"...?!

Which is, of course, insane.


Bryan L said...

Wait -- Golden Glider's skates made the ice, rather than Captain Cold's cold gun? That is indeed uncanny, if I'm reading it correctly. And insane.

Scipio said...

In the Bronze Age, ANYTHING could be accomplished merely by the adroit application of a caption box.

It was uncanny.

ronald said...

Of course her skates created the ice. Her brother invented them, and if you can invent a gun that creates ice, how much harder would it be to create two such guns and shape them like skates? Where else was she gonna get the ice when she was working solo? For heaven's sake, USE YOUR HEADS, people...

I think I read somewhere -- that's where I come across a lot of material, "somewhere" -- the Captain Invincible thing was based on a similar subplot in Hill Street Blues or some other cop show. I suppose it qualified as a parody of "crazed cop who takes the law into his own hands" concept that was pretty popular in the 1970s.

Bryan L said...

Well, yeah, Ronald, when you put it like that, sure it makes sense. Certainly more sense that assuming teamwork on the part of a brother/sister pair of crooks with complementary schticks. I gotta get into that Silver Age frame of mind.

Scipio said...


In the Silver Age, the skates would have simply floated on compressed air or something.

Scipio said...

Ah, of course, Cary "I Single-Handedly Made the Bronze Age Suck" Bates simply stole the Captain Freedom storyline from Hill Street Blues right after they killed off the character.

That's pathetic. Particularly since he was a PRIVATE CITIZEN WHO WAS MENTALLY DISTURBED, not a police captain.

Bryan L said...

Bronze Age, Bronze Age, sorry. Stupid ice-producing skates, making me look bad.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that Captain Incredible had a pacemaker and learned to channel its awesome energies into power blasts.

I just looked it up: a typical pacemaker runs on a lithium battery of somewhere between 5 and 8 volts. Just imagine what Captain Frye could have done with a 9 volt battery. Give the man a car battery and he'd be completely unstoppable.

Nathan Hall said...

@Anonymous - With 9 volts, he could power a smoke alarm. With a car battery, it could be a car alarm. Then he could shout his catch phrases:

"Alarmed and Dangerous!"

"This is an Alarming development!"

"I'm alert - are you?"

Truly a force for good.

TotalToyz said...

Didn't Barry once have a daydream in which Patty became Ms. Flash?? Now there's a custom HeroClix crying out to be made!!