We all know about DC’s Flash, debuting in November of 1940. But what about MARVEL’s Flash, who came out that same month? Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Daring Mystery Comics #1 awaits!
Writer: Joe Simon/Larry Atonette/Ray Gill/Bob Wood/Harry Francis Campbell
Penciler: Alex Schomburg/Joe Simon/Larry Antonette/Ben Thompson/Al Anders/Bob Wood/Maurice Gutwirth/Harry Francis Campbell/Chas. Pearson
Inker: Alex Schomburg/Joe Simon/Larry Antonette/Ben Thompson/Al Anders/Bob Wood/Maurice Gutwirth/Harry Francis Campbell/Chas. Pearson
Editor: Martin Goodman (?)
Publisher: Timely Publications/Marvel Comics
Cover Price: 10 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $40,000.00
Previously in Daring Mystery Comics: Sometimes it’s hard to talk about the “Previously”, as not only is this the first issue of Daring Mystery, it’s only the second title published by the nascent Marvel Comics, then known as Timely Publications, among others. While the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch were hits, and Captain America was about to become one, the characters of Daring Mystery weren’t quite so lucky. This anthology issue opens with the premiere adventure of The Fiery Mask (four Golden Age appearances, revived in the pages of The Twelve), followed by the debut of John Steele (appeared only this once, later revived in the pages of The Marvel Project, then turned into a Captain America villain), The Texas Kid (his sole appearance), Monako, Prince of Magic (four Golden Age appearances, revived and killed in the pages of Doctor Strange), The Phantom of the Underworld and two-fisted sailor Barney Mullen, (both making their only appearance to date.) But today, we’re here to look at THE FLASH!
Flash Foster, that is.
We open on the football field, as Midwestern University hero Robert Foster completes another amazing performance on the gridiron. Sharp-eyed Spoilerites may remember that, in Jay Garrick’s first appearance, he also uses his super-speed on the football field, vexing his opponent, even wearing a similar football uniform with an M-symbol. You may be thinking that Martin Goodman once again copied a popular idea, but this book was on the stand almost three weeks BEFORE Jay Garrick’s debut in the fall of 1939. After seeing the hero in action, local racketeers decide to ruin his game by targeting his lady-love Connie, the cads.
With Connie locked up in their hideout, the baddies pay a visit to Flash’s dorm, threatening the young lady if he doesn’t throw the next day’s game and ruin MIdwestern’s shot at the Rose Bowl. They immediately run afoul of his mean right hook, barely escaping by pistol-whipping the young athlete and leaving him for dead. The next day, Flash is distracted in the first half, playing without his usual gusto, but when his pal Shorty arrives with news about the fair Connie, he drops his helmet and sets off to find her!
I really enjoy the work of Bob Wood, though I associate him more with Harry “A” Chesler and Archie/MLJ Comics than Marvel, and for co-creating the first crime comic book at Lev Gleason Comics. Bob’s story ends badly, with a manslaughter conviction, but his work here combines big-foot cartooning with Milt Caniff Steve Canyon sort of aesthetic. Flash makes short work of the kidnappers, leaving Shorty to explain to the police and returning to the second half of the game. It then turns into a sports strip, detailing every play of the football game for the remainder of the story.
As someone with a passing knowledge of football, it’s interesting, mostly thanks to Wood’s art and choreography, but the final page is as exciting a football game as I’ve ever seen in comics.
The final panel promises to follow Flash and his team to the Rose Bowl, but that story never came, as this is the only Golden Age appearance of Flash Foster. Perhaps his debut coming at the same time as DC’s high-profile hero doomed him, or perhaps Bob Wood just didn’t want to continue with Timely, but either way, Flash disappeared until 2011, where he was part of the cast of ‘All Winners Squad: Band of Heroes’, a book which declared this story to be fiction on the part of the war department. (It’s complicated. Maybe I’ll review it some day soon.) Regardless, Flash’s debut is an interesting part of Daring Mystery Comics #1, an issue that costs 1/10th of what Marvel Comics #1 would run you, but still cost more than my car, with several interesting stories accompanying this football yarn earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. At least we know, thanks to an issue of Ant-Man, that Flash survived the war and lived to a ripe old age.