Monday, April 13, 2015
THE 100 GREATEST CROSSOVERS OF ALL TIME #48
PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD...
While a lot of the crossovers I've covered here have elements of hand-to-hand conflict, here's one based in "foot vs. foot."
FLASH #175 was published as a follow-up to a similar set-up in SUPERMAN #199, which had only seen publication about three months earlier. The Superman story is a good read, but it has a somewhat "kiddie-level" feel to it. Superman and the Flash race one another for charity, but have to deal with illegal gamblers trying to sabotage the race for their own benefit.
As the cover above shows, the FLASH version of this conflict hinges more on the hero's pathos in contention with DC's premiere hero. The script by E. Nelson Bridwell shows a little more concern with overall continuity than was typical of DC comics in 1967.
In short, Superman and the Flash are forced to run across the galaxy in a competition managed by two alien gamblers, Rokk and Sorban, who had appeared in an earlier Superman story. The aliens also hold the whole Justice League hostage and threaten to destroy the home city of whichever hero loses the race. Refreshingly, Bridwell does manage to find ways for three of the Justice Leaguers to provide aid to the racing heroes, so that they're not simply confined to sitting around playing cheerleaders.
The story doesn't stand up to close scrutiny. Since Flash can't breathe in space, the alien betting on him promises to supply him with a force-field of breathable air throughout the race. However, you learn by story's end that the aliens are actually two of Flash's old foes, Professor Zoom and Abra Kadabra, who have only instigated the race in order to lure the Flash into various death-traps. When one of the villains says that he cancelled the force-field so that Flash should have died in space, Superman advances the absurd explanation that he provided the Flash with enough air to breathe via his "super-breath." Hmm, so Superman can expel pure oxygen from his lungs, rather than carbon dioxide? Still, I didn't really worry about such niceties as a kid reading this comic.
Ross Andru's art puts a lot of verve into the galaxy-spanning race, and the two heroes are seen to be somewhat distrustful of one another, possibly in response to the pervasive influence of Marvel Comics during the period.