Thursday, October 29, 2015

Four Squares 2: Golden Years

I'm back watching The Flash, and still really enjoying it. This year the particle accelerator which made our hero's metahuman enemies is gone, replaced by a wormhole singularity which is now feeding him bad guys from a parallel Earth - Earth 2. And, of course, it has also brought in this guy:

 Yeah! Jay Garrick, baby!

The version of the Flash from Earth 2 or, as we might otherwise know him, 'old 1940s Flash' or thereabouts. It's one of the many cool things about the show that it has actually been this series which has ushered in the established comics model of multiple worlds. It was a concept that originated in the Flash comics, and it's given the show a boost that it didn't yet need, but which in an expanded DC TV universe, needs no futher explanation.

I also love the look of Jay Garrick, with his slight Dieselpunk look and the Mercury kettle helmet. Hell, I like mostly all of the old school hero costumes with only a few exceptions, and their heroes' grouping, the Justice Society of America is a territory that I also think is rich for mining.

One of the other things I did leading up to season 2 was re-connect with the Golden Age of [DC] super heroes. The sole comic I own representing that era is a revisionist story The Untold Origin of the Justice Society collected into a tidy A5-ish pocket comic book, which I picked up from a local dairy years ago on the way to an intermediate school camp. Though I never reconnected with the story or the characters, I do still really like them. In their best stories there's a simple honesty to them that genuinely evokes a Wartime, pre-Marvel era, where many of the Justice Society's members nod more to their detective comics origins - millionaires and scientists sworn to thwart crime with gadgets, physical superiority and very limited superpowers.

I also picked up a few JSA collections from the local library, the best example being The Justice Society Returns!, which owes more than a debt to the aforementioned origin story, but builds other characters into the mix and heightens the profile of some more enduring, second-tier heroes; so out go Superman and Batman, but the likes of Hourman and Johnny Thunder get a much-deserved promotion. It's a pretty good, serialised story all told, with all the major players essentially getting a chapter of their own, and if there's a deluxe reprint - well, I'd be tempted to get it.

But as I say above, I think this is an era still ripe for use in today's comic book entertainment world. There are examples already of period-era heroes - Marvel's Captain America and its spin-off Agent Carter are obvious examples, and of course DC's Earth 2, the home of its Golden Age heroes, is now a Flash/Arrow-verse reality - and of course before he was making Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, director Zack Snyder cut his superhero teetch with the Minute Men of the Watchmen cinematic adaptation. 2017 will see a Wonder Woman movie which will tell a story spread over several decades, including the Second World War - perhaps it's not unreasonable to expect a few cameos there?

For me, though, the appeal of the Golden Age superhero is one of relatability. I will never have super powers or wield fantastic gas guns, magic rings or rods of power, but the vulnerability and human frailty of many of these early year super heroes is something I find more and more interesting as time goes by.

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