Tag Archives: The Flash

Feelin’ Blue: The Tragic Story of Cobalt Blue

Captain Cold. Mirror Master. Gorilla Grodd. The Reverse Flash. Yeah. Them you know. But do you know the most underappreciated Flash villain of all? I’ll give you a hint. His name’s in the title. That’s right! Cobalt Blue! What? Who’s that?! Well let me educate you…..

(By the way, I was tempted to list “The Turtle” above just for laughs, but I held back for you Unspokenites. See. I can be serious sometimes.)

The scene unfolds in a cemetery. Wally West, the third man to carry the heroic name of the Flash, lies in utter anguish. Every part of his body feels as if it’s been broken simultaneously. He had meant to use his super-speed to vibrate his very molecules, allowing him to pass harmlessly through the nearest headstone. Instead, his powers were torn from him while he was halfway through by the maniac that currently looms over his shattered body! This action also caused the tombstone to explode! The Flash looks to the name still present on the grave marker. This was his predecessor’s grave, Barry Allen! The man who now appears to be standing, quite alive, before him! (Damn! Talk about being in utter pain! I mean, that’s gotta be worse than hemorrhoids!)

Barely able to even crawl, Wally remarks that this can’t be the man that he admired. To this the villain replies, with a menacing sneer, that he isn’t Barry Allen at all. With a strange, blue energy flowing all over his body, he seems suddenly lost in thought as he thinks back. (Great! It’s monologue-style origin story time. Ugh! The most horrific power in a villain’s arsenal! That monster!) Flashback to many years earlier. He is a little boy named Malcolm Thawne and his father has just stopped near a house where an elderly woman works on her garden out front of her home. He tells his father that he doesn’t want to do what’s expected of him. The man mutters through gritted teeth to leave the car and go earn his keep. Malcolm approaches the lady and stops. He looks to her shakey hands and remarks that his dad could cure the arthritis she’s suffering from. His father then walks up. He scolds the child to leave this nice woman in peace. She replies that the boy was simply remarking about the pain in her hands. Malcolm begs his father to help her. With a sigh, he takes her hands in his and applies a strange salve that he carries upon his person. It glows with an eerie blue flame for a moment and, before you know it, the pain is nonexistent!

The father remarks that this was a power that he was granted from birth to help people who suffer. She will be without pain for a few days. Amazed, she asks in wonder if this power could possibly heal her pain permanently. The boy pauses and his dad shoots him a warning look. Malcolm then says that it can with a full jar of salve. He then pleads that his father give her a sample. He does so and she insists to pay for this miracle cure. At first he replies that he couldn’t possibly take payment for his gift. He finally relents when she persists. Soon, all of her elderly friends are purchasing jars. Later that night, in a motel room, Malcolm’s mother asks how the boy did. His father then says with obvious rage that the kid about missed his mark. Not to worry though, this won’t happen again. He pulls off his belt and approaches the terrified child! (Guys…..I’m sympathizing with the villain here! His plan is working! Help! Must…..resist……sad story!)

The Flash tries to taunt his attacker, buying himself time. Thawne simply kneels and pushes hard on the hero’s ribs, causing mind-blowing pain. He then continues. The secret of the healing was in the blue flame. The salve was a fake. The family all seemed to be able to conjure it at will. All except for Malcolm. (I’m guessing more Taco Bell is needed in his regular diet.) He would beg his father and siblings to teach him the power, but he was denied at every turn. Finally, his mother blurted out that the reason he couldn’t do it was because he was adopted! His dad struck her and scolded her that he was needed for the con as Malcolm ran away in tears.

Now obsessed to find his true family, his search would lead him at last to a Dr. Gilmore of a small town called Fallville. Gilmore turned as the young man entered his office door. He would exclaim, “Barry?” Malcolm immediately demands to know who this Barry is. Does this man know who he truly is? Gilmore would finally tell the truth. That night was the night of a dangerous storm. Two pregnant ladies would hastily come in his door that night, ready to give birth immediately. One had the last name Thawne, the other was Allen. The doctor had been drinking heavily that night. Using poor judgement, he would accept both patients. (Excellent idea, doc. Who could ever see this situation going wrong? It’s not like this can be done while drunk. It’s not like a prostate exam!)

First he attempted to birth the Thawne child. The birth was a tricky one, however, and with Gilmore intoxicated and the sudden power outage due to the storm, he couldn’t save the baby. He quickly ran in near-darkness to the Allens’ room. He birthed what ended being twin boys into the world. But before anyone noticed, he would cover one child’s mouth and carry him to the Thawne couple. The Allens were later told that one of their twins had been stillborn. As the loving couple clutched their newborn and sobbed quietly, the others would take their “child” and leave town that night. With the story now ended, an outraged, Thawne would raise his fists and beat the elderly doctor until the breath left his body for the final time! (That’s what I’d like to do when my doctor keeps me waiting for over an hour in the waiting room. What? So I’m a tad impatient.)

Wally continues to goad the villain, forcing him to speak onward while he flexes his muscles secretly, trying to heal and regain his super speed. It works famously. With blood-soaked hands, Malcolm Thawne made his way to the Allen home. He left streaks of crimson on the windows as he peered inward. Inside he saw his twin brother and his parents at dinner. They were laughing and smiling. They were happy. It was too much to bear. He ran back into the cold night. Years passed until Malcolm felt comfortable enough to approach his brother, Barry, again. He would confess the murder and all of the bad things he had done since. That’s when he saw that Barry had become a police officer. (Well, scratch that idea. Cops are notorious blabber-mouths. They could never keep a secret of murder to save their souls. Sad really.)

While Barry worked diligently as an officer of the law, Malcolm grew to secretly despise him. Why should his twin have so much in life when he had been given nothing but misery? He kept an eye on him nonetheless, even working maintenance within the police station. But on that fateful night, when lightning had struck the chemicals his brother was working with, Malcolm witnessed the incredible! Barry had been granted super speed! He had been reborn as the new Flash! That was enough! Thawne left the station and searched out his “father’s” mother. It was rumored within the family that she knew the secrets of the blue flame. (It’s on now! I sense that Cobalt Blue is about to be born! No need to thank me for pointing that out for you. I don’t mind helping out my numerous fans.)

The old woman had little love for her offspring it seemed, so she was happy to teach Malcolm. As it turned out, the flame did more than just heal. It gave you the power that you craved just as long as you had the passion within to wield it. Malcolm had plenty of passion. Unfortunately, that passion was in his hatred for his twin sibling. Under the old woman’s tutelage, his mastering of the blue flame became so strong, that he was given an amulet to contain it. It was a cobalt blue gem. (See! His name makes total sense now, huh? You already figured that out for yourselves? Well, you know what? I curse you all to be forced to watch the later seasons of “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” on repeat forever! That’s right. I know you’re sorry.)

With the gem came a prophecy. The old woman said that the fire would burn for one thousand years and consume two Flashes before claiming the life of his enemy, Barry Allen! Thawne left the old woman behind as her house burned down around her that night, ready to make his dream of vengeance a reality! He fashioned a costume for himself and wasted no time in confronting the Flash and his young partner, Kid Flash. But when he knew he was about to face defeat, he made his enemies believe he had become the victim of the very fire he manipulated! In truth, he healed and waited.(I…..hehehe…..um…..love…..hahaha…..cough…..his first costume. Seriously! I do! HAHAHAHA! I apologize. Moving on…..snicker.)

Cobalt Blue looks off as he finishes his tale. He states that he’s already dealt with the first Flash, and now that he has Wally within his grasp….He’s interrupted as the Flash tells him that this was all for nothing, Barry Allen is already dead! As he looks down to his foe in disbelief, he notices that the Flash is no longer beneath his feet! That’s when an uppercut at blinding speed catches him under the chin, propelling him through the air! Almost before he lands, the super speedster pulls the blue gem from Cobalt Blue’s chest! The villain falls, defeated. He murmurs how this can’t be, the prophecy can’t be false. Wally replies that he never put much stock in prophecies. That’s when he looks down at the gem within his hand……and sees the dark future to come. A future engulfed in a blue inferno!

End.

Overcoming Programming-Tomorrow Woman (ROBOT MONTH)

 

Hello, Legions of the Unspoken!

Dean Compton back with you, and I am ending a delightful June as we here at The Unspoken Decade celebrate ROBOT MONTH!  Robots pretty much permeate every single aspect of genre culture that we love, and it only seemed right that at some point we celebrated our bolted-up buddies with a tribute!  You saw the Death’s Head entry, and we had planned for a Transformers Generation 2 podcast, but scheduling issues prevented it, so we’ll end the month right here with Tomorrow Woman from JLA #5!

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That’s not Avengelyne there on the cover; it’s Artemis.  She was Wonder Woman for a little while.  The 90’s were complicated.

There isn’t much else that can be said in regard to the amazing Grant Morrison/Howard Porter/John Dell run on JLA.  The books revitalized interest in the team, which had waned for a lot of reasons.  Some of it was due to the big guns not being in the lineup.  Some of it was due to spinoff books that folks were watering down the concept or betraying the concept of the Justice League in its entirety. (Extreme Justice is notoriously hated for that reason.)  Some folks had been turned off by the humor from the Giffen/Maguire/DeMatteis days and never returned to the book(s). Whatever the reasons were, the Justice League’s presence among superhero fans had reached its nadir.

Enter Grant Morrison.

Morrison had spun a lot of great tales by this point, from his acclaimed Animal Man to The Invisibles to Skrull Kill Krew.  His Doom Patrol featured characters such as Danny The Street and Flex Mentallo.  His imagination was seemingly on another level than many of his peers in the comic book industry, let alone folks who didn’t create larger than life tales for a living.  So when it was discovered that not only would he be at the helm of the JLA relaunch, but that he would also be using the so-called “Big 7” (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Flash, & Green Lantern), it meant that one of the complaints that surfaced repeatedly in regard to much of the early 90’s Justice League stuff (the aforementioned lack of big guns) would be dealt with, and with Morrison’s known reverence for the history of these icons, the series would become known for all out action with a respect for all the magnificent history that makes up the DC Universe.

The standalone issue really shines as an example of all that this run would come to be known for.  If you want someone to get the JLA, you could just hand them this issue and they’d understand the greatness instantly.  Speaking of getting the JLA, that’s precisely why old super-genius JLA enemies Professor Ivo and Dr. T.O. Morrow have decided to join forces, and even as the comic opens, they seem to believe that they have already won.

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I’ve always been a sucker for those “roll call” things in DC Comics.

Villains busting out champagne before a scheme even starts is always a sure sign that they have cooked up a doozy.  You just know this one’s gonna work for these two, whom I have always enjoyed.

Now, to get back to the fact that some of the previous 90’s incarnations of the Justice League were just not up to par in the eyes of some, we see the funeral of one of them.  Metamorpho, who actually dies in JLA #1, is a member of the previous league.  While a few may not have enjoyed his presence in the Legaue in the early 90’s, I always thought he was a really cool character who played a good everyman.  Alas, here he is dead, and only Superman seems to care.

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But I mean, if only one guy is gonna come to your funeral, we all hope that guy is Superman, right?

Superman can’t tarry for too ling at Metamorpho’s funeral, though, because a mysterious electromagnetic creature known as “IF” is dealing out some mega punishment and the JLA is going to have a meeting about it.  Superman uses Batman’s JLA teleporter, and we see some gruff Batman.  You know the stuff by heart if you have watched the Justice League cartoon or read, I dunno, six Batman comics since 1986.

Superman teleports up to the JLA satelite just in time to create an awkward moment for Flash (Wally West) and Kyle Rayner (Green Lantern).

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Martian Manhunter is a telepath; he already knows you’re goofing off, Flash.

For all the talk of Grant Morrison’s JLA about how he got the concept by placing DC’s high-powered pantheon into high-stakes cosmic superhero action adventure, I think where he really nailed the JLA was with his characterization of the League was in little moments like this, where the characters personalities come to the forefront.  It can be hard to balance the Gods of the JLA, but Morrison deftly does so here and all throughout his run.

Howard Porter (pencils), John Dell (inks), and Pat Garrahy (colors) all deserve a lot of credit for making this work as well.  The art is epic and powerful, and most importantly, it’s just the type of visuals a story like this needs.  I have raved about Morrison’s work on the title, but this title doesn’t grow its legend without them too.

This incarnation of the JLA has decided to possibly expand from seven to twelve, despite these guys having only just gotten together.  The nominees run the breadth of the DC Universe…

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You’d think a guy as old as Max Mercury would know how to act like a veteran.

Of course, if you’re like anyone else, one member of that cadre of recruits stands out as not really belonging there, and I am not talking about Guy Gardner.  Hitman’s book was brutal and decidedly anti-superhero at times.  (Check out our own Darry Weight breaking it down for you at that link!) He belonged nowhere near one of the flagship superhero books DC put out, but Morrison not only makes it work, but he arguably makes it into one of the most memorable moments of the run.

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Yeah, it was the money thing.

After that bit of humorous irreverence, we finally get a candidate that the JLA takes seriously and wants pretty badly.  Her name is…Tomorrow Woman!

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If the JLA doesn’t want her, Tomorrow Woman certainly has a future as one of those lady bodybuilders on ESPN2.

Tomorrow Woman quickly aces the initiation procedures for the JLA, and that’s a good thing because the League has been having severe issues with a thing called “IF.”  This “IF” shows up randomly and seems to be a computer that is only programmed to destroy.  The JLA has its hands full as it attempts to deal with the consequences.

Of course, this Tomorrow Woman is “just” an android that Professor Ivo and T.O. Morrow have constructed in another one of their seemingly never-ending attempts to destroy the JLA.  They have been JLA foes since the 1960’s, and this is easily their best scheme yet.  This android is so real that it isn’t just fooling the JLA; it’s fooling itself.

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These guys certainly have problems, but what concerns me the most is how much they drink.  Is there a special AA for super-villains?  If so, can these two join?

Tomorrow Woman is about as cool with that as a mutant in the Marvel Universe is with Genosha, but these two are too busy arguing about which of them did the best work on this super-powered automaton.  As far as where I come down on their argument, I like Red Tornado more than I like Amazo.  Please argue vehemently about that in the comments the way Berner Sanders and Hillary Clinton supporters have been arguing on my Facebook page.  On second though, don’t.  Please fucking don’t.

Batman figures out the deal behind “IF” (which I read in Jerry Seinfeld’s voice) and relays the information to Flash, who takes it to the JLA.  “IF” is wreaking havoc on our favorite pantheon of superheroes, and Flash gets there just in time to save Martian Manhunter from certain doom.

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Batman is just bragging right there.  What are you compensating for, Bruce?

The JLA finds themselves on the precipice of the moment that Ivo and Morrow have been preparing for.  The only thing that will shut down “IF” is an EMP blast that Tomorrow Woman has been programmed to use to take out the JLA.  But then…something happens.

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The only other people this satisfied over a failure were the Hostess executives that got a six figure bonus for shutting the company down.

I can’t put into words just how inspiring this moment of JLA #5 is.  Morrison manages to make you care more for an android that you only see in one issue of the series than some characters that you see for years and years.  Tomorrow Woman was the robot who was programmed so well that she fooled herself into becoming human.  That makes me hopeful for all of us.  If a robot can overcome its programming then maybe, just maybe, we humans can overcome ours.

Next month we’ll have Chase, Martian Manhunter, and more!  Stick around for the summer, Legions of the Unspoken!