Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Flash Facts: The Early Days of Captain Cold

Leonard Snart was a small time thief, thinking himself a big scientist.

He figured that the only way to take out Flash was to take him out, with absolute zero.

Thus, began the career of one of the oldest of the Flash's villains, Captain Cold.

Here's a look back at his earliest appearances.

Coldest Man On Earth

Leonard Snart came out as a villain in Showcase #8 (May-June, 1957), with a story by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Frank Giacoia.

This story had Captain Cold first using his cold gun (a weapon he roughly designed but after using a cyclotron to irradiate the gun, found it able to shoot ice blasts instead) on the banks of Central City, which brought him into conflict with the Flash.

After a few experiments, Captain Cold found he could also create illusions with the gun, when adding liquid helium.  Facing Flash on a nearby lake, Captain Cold attempted to use this new cold gun ability on the Flash, but Barry Allen proved too fast for him!

This tale has been reprinted many times, in the first issues of various Flash Archives, Showcase Presents Flash and Flash Omnibus' featuring the Flash, as well as with other villain origins, in places like the Limited Collector's Edition C-39 (1975), the Greatest 1950s Stories Ever Told hardcover of 1990 and tradepaperback of 1992, and in the Flash Vs. The Rogues tradepaperback of 2010.

The Big Freeze

Captain Cold appears next in Flash #114 (August, 1960) by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson, waiting for a parole hearing, with Iris West there to testify that he should remain in prison.  Flash also testifies, and this is enough for the parole board to decide to keep Snart incarcerated.

So, Captain Cold escapes using a small freeze unit to allow him to break out of his cell.

Once out, he goes after Iris West, but not to harm her, but to try to convince her to marry him.  Iris, already Barry's fiancee, says no, but Captain Cold then threatens to freeze the entire city.  Flash, adventuring outside the city, breaks the cold barrier, eventually capturing Captain Cold and restoring the frozen Central City to normal.

This tale has been reprinted a few times, like in Wanted, the World's Most Dangerous Villains #8 (June-July, 1973), the second Flash Archive, and in the first Flash Omnibus as well as in the Flash: The Silver Age Volume 1 tradepaperback, which also has all of Barry's Showcase appearances. 

When Gravity Went Wild

Tired of being defeated on his own, Captain Cold joined with Doctor Destiny and a bunch of individual JLA villains (like Green Lantern's Puppet Master, Martian Manhunter's Getaway Mastermind, Aquaman's Electric Man and Green Arrow's Clock King) in Justice League of America #5 (June-July, 1961) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs in the first major villain team up of Earth-1.

While the villains do keep the heroes busy for a while, they are defeated by the heroes, who then have to deal with Dr. Destiny.

This tale was reprinted in the first Justice League of America Archive and Omnibus, as well as in Justice League of America #39 (November, 1965).

Double Danger On Earth

Snart wasn't done teaming up with villains, as Flash #129 (June, 1962 by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella) showed, but this time it was with James Jesse (a.k.a. the Trickster), but they weren't just facing one Flash, but two!

Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-2, comes to Earth-1 looking for an Arizona meteorite that was absorbing a deadly radiation killing his Earth, and goes to look for Barry Allen (Flash), who is attending a charity party that is a target for both Captain Cold and the Trickster, who, start at odds, but then decide to team-up to take off with the money.

The two Flashes go to find the meteorite, then, work together to stop the two villains before Jay goes back to his own world with the meteorite cure.

This story was reprinted in Flash #178 (April-May, 1968), the first Crisis On Multiple Earths The Team Ups tradepaperback of 2006, in the Flash of Two Worlds hardcover of 2009, as well as in the overstuffed Flash Omnibus #1, all with plenty of other Flash reprints as well....

The Man Who Mastered Absolute Zero

This time around, Captain Cold goes it alone in Flash #134 (February, 1963 by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella), but Flash gets some help from his friend, the Elongated Man.

Flash and Elongated Man were helping Dr. Hutson with a problem with his computer, but couldn't find any problems.  Captain Cold broke out of jail, and Flash and Elongated Man go to capture him, but Ralph Dibny stretches out to stop Flash, allowing Snart to escape.  Captain Cold tries again, with Flash and Elongated Man there to stop him, or at least Flash was.  Elongated Man again tries to help the captain, but Flash stops both Ralph and Snart.  Elongated Man is beside himself with guilt, but Barry figures out that the computer was generating a radiation that was preventing it from functioning, and that radiation had infected Ralph, so, ridding them both of it fixed the problem.

This tale was reprinted a few times, including in the 100-Page Super Spectacular DC-22 (November, 1973), as well as in the fifth Flash Archive and second Flash: The Silver Age Omnibus.

If you don't mind black and white tales, it was also done colorlessly in both Showcase Presents the Elongated Man and Showcase Presents the Flash.

The Heat Is On For Captain Cold

Now, Captain Cold gets a new foe, and friend, with Flash #140 (November, 1963 by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella) as readers are introduced to Heat Wave!

Flash is searching for a missing girl for Henry Willens, an attorney who represented her father, who passed recently, so she can receive her inheritance.  Captain Cold has recently escaped again, so Flash quickly catches up to him, but so does a new player, Heat Wave.  The two villains team-up to escape the Flash, but quickly go to war while chasing a "Dream Girl", a TV model, still stopping when Flash shows up...and stops both of them.  Flash then meets this "Dream Girl", who is Priscilla Varner, who happens to be the missing girl.

This tale was reprinted many times, including in DC Special #14 (September-October, 1971), the fifth Flash Archive, the Flash vs. the Rogues tradepaperback of 2009 and the second Flash: The Silver Age Omnibus.

Captain Cold's Polar Perils

Captain Cold goes it alone for the first time in a long time in Flash #150 (February, 1965 by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson).

Police scientist Barry Allen is called into service to escort Ayesha, the Maharanee of Jodapur, during her stay in Central City.  While picking up her jewels, Captain Cold appears to attempt to steal from the jeweler.  Barry secretly changes to the Flash, but is unable to stop Captain Cold.  But, Snart had become infatuated with Ayesha, so he returns her jewels, then escorts her away from a party, where Flash tracks him down, capturing him, then returning the lady to her party.

This tale was reprinted in the sixth Flash Archive, the second Flash: The Silver Age Omnibus, and in the very recently released Flash Rogues: Captain Cold (which also has his first tale, along with many other later tales collected....).

Cold Thoughts On Team-Ups

After his last defeat, Captain Cold teamed up with other Flash foes (like Mirror Master, Captain Boomerang, Heat Wave, the Top and Pied Piper) to form the Rogue's Gallery in Flash #155 (September, 1965) facing a secret villain, and would continue to work with other villains, usually Heat Wave, also helping to found the Secret Society of Super-Villains (with Copperhead and Sinestro).  Feeling a little cold about covering more, someday soon there will be another look at more Captain Cold stories.

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