Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Pied Piper's Double Doom!

Title: "The Pied Piper's Double Doom!"
Issue: The Flash No. 138
Date: August 1963
Format: 14-page main feature.
Editor: Julius Schwartz
Writer: Gardner Fox
Penciller:Carmine Infantino
Inker: Joe Giella (Murphy Anderson did the cover).
Main characters: The Flash, the Elongated Man (7th appearance, last seen in The Flash #134).
Supporting Characters: Sue Dibny (3rd appearance, last seen in The Flash #124), Iris West, Miss Twist.
Villains: The Pied Piper (3rd appearance, last seen in Justice League of America #14).
Setting: Tower City, Central City.
Stolen Item: The Star of India.
Mystery: What is making Lical, the super computer of the Central City University, give the wrong answers? and later, what is making the Elongated Man act against his will?
Method: Coincidence and association of ideas.
This is the first time:
  • We see the Elongated Man's detective method.
  • Ralph uses a magnifying glass.
  • The Dibnys have a double date with the Allens.
Other notes: The Pied Piper has the ability of making people forget events; just like Zatanna in identity crisis. Barry drinks gingold, this makes him one of the rare people who is not allergic to it.

It's the first time we see Ralph method as a detective and the first time we see him with a magnifying glass and his first mystery story - a howdunnit or howcatchem which would become the trademark of  the Columbo plots. The reason for this might be that it's also the first Flash/Elongated Man story Gardner Fox, who might have taken the idea from Ralph's curiosity in most of the previous stories by John Broome.
This story is also the first to present the friendship between the Dibny and the Allen couples is established (they all know who Ralph is, but nobody knows that Barry is the Flash).
This is the second time that Ralph declares that his hobby is solving mysteries and the last time Ralph teams up with Flash and appears in his title before his Detective Comics run. It's also the last of the four consecutive stories featuring Ralph against a Flash rogue.
Plot: Without any witness, the Pied Piper uses the Elongated Man as his plundering puppet to steal the Royal Jewels of an European Kingdom, located at the colonial tower fortress of Tower City during its tricentennial.
When Flash goes to the crime scene to investigate, the Pied Piper subdues his mind to steal from the Tower City Bank. Then, each hero deduces that each other was the author of the crimes, so they resolve to put invisible ink in their shoe soles and Flash drinks gingold.
Right away they deduce that they just committed another crime, and they follow their footprints to the Pied Piper's hideout, who uses a double flute to make each other fight.
Flash defeats him by using the gingold effect to stretch his arm to reach and break the flute.

Review: This story is a lot of fun. They don't make a mystery out of the villain, which makes sense since it's hard to make mysteries with supervillain culprits, but out of the way Ralph and the Flash deduced that they were used by him. And then, the way they set him a trap was quite clever.

Here's a fun fact: this story, published in August 1963, starts with the theft of the Star of India, the "World largest emerald", and The Pink Panther the movie about the theft of the eponymous diamond, also meant to be the World's largest, was released in early 1964. I think it's very unlikely that this story inspired the movie; however, I think both might have been inspired by a common source. By the way, there is an actual real-life "Star of India", only it is a sapphire not an emerald.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

New Dibnys pics by Busterella and Perpetual Insomniac

My favorite Dibny fan artist just made another picture.

Ralph and Sue by Busterella
Well, actually, I don't know if it's recent (I can't believe I wasn't notified, I'm beginning to suspect that the World doesn't revolve around me... naaaah). Those are definitively Busterella's curves (no pun intended); however she changed a bit her character design, specially the faces, I'm assuming that has to do with the image name being titles "Tiny Dibnys".

I always go nuts trying to design a uniform for Ralph. The white and purple one from JLU is my favorite, but it still doesn't cnvince me. This option is definitivaly interesting. Stripes would look really cool on a stretcher.

Perpetual Insomniac has also produced more Dibny art since I made the post about fan art of this blog. Check it out:

Sue's fashion sense is spot on!

See more Busterella and Perpetual Insmniac art in:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Speculating about the Elongated Man's life in the DCnU

So far, we know only a few things about this DC new Universe that is being created, some can help to make suppositions about Ralph Dibny. Superman debuted 7 years ago, the Justice League was formed about 5 years ago and the Identity Crisis happened, the later assures us that the Dibnys existed, Ralph was part of the Justice League and that Sue died. We have not seen the Elongated Man in the new solicitations, and I think it's a safe bet that he died in a similar way to 52. That makes Ralph tenure as a hero was roughly 5 years as well.
The Justice League characters of the DCnU.

They chose to set Superman's debut, 7 years ago. So Superman debuted at some point during 2004. If we make that  July 2004, that would be a month for each of his 73 years of existence. Considering the was really created four years before DC acquired him, the date could be changed to March 2004. Condensing the entire DC continuity to 7 years or so makes little to not sense (too little time to train 5 Robins or make reasonably long JLA incarnations); it'd be easier to just start the continuity from the first year after a DC: The New Frontier sort of thing and to reintroduce all the younger characters eventually. However, if, for some crazy reason, they want to keep continuity luggage (probably a trick too keep selling trades of the old DCU), and still have younger golden and silver agers for a while, turning years into months is the best pretext (check this article to see what would the DC timeline would look like).
The new version of Superman in his early years.

Going with this "years = months" theory of mine, this is the World-famous Elongated Man time line:
  • May 2007 (1960): The Elongated Man debuts in Central City, sharing the "Man of the Year" award with the Flash (who debuted in January). If the continuity is rigid, he makes his fortune the rest of that month and retires to explore Yucatan, but I guess in the DCnU, he visited Central already being rich and famous, which would mean that he discovered the Gingold elixir in mid 2003.
  •  June 2007 (1961): After giving his secret identity away, he meets and marries Sue Dearbon (man, he works fast!!).
  • September 2007 (1964): The Dibnys start traveling USA. The Elongated Man meets Batman.
  • November 2007 (1966): Ralph meets Green Lantern and Zatanna.
  • December 2007 (1967): Ralph teams with the JLA to help Zatanna find her father. Later, he rescues the Atom from Chronos.
  • June 2008 (1973): The Elongated Man becomes a JLA member.
  • June 2008 - January 2009: At some point Sue is attacked by Dr. Light.
  • March 2008 (1981): The Dibnys solve the mystery of Edgar Allan Poe's death.
  • May 2009 (1985): Aquaman dismisses the part time JLA members (Ralph, Zatanna, and the returning Martian Manhunter) and moves the remaining team to Detroit. Sue moves to their headquarters with Ralph.
  • June 2009 (1986): Ronald Reag... I guess that's Barack Obama now, disassembles the JLA. Another group of heroes forms a new Justice League after the President changes his mind, they change their name to Justice League International (JLI).
  • August 2009 (1987): Ralph teams up with Sherlock Holmes, Slam Bradley, Batman and Robin to stop Edgar Moriarty.
  • October 2009 (1989): Ralph joins the European branch of the JLI. Sue also joins as the team's monitor.
  • January 2010 (1992): Sue becomes Bureau Chief of the Justice League Europe.
  • May 2010 (1996): after 11 months of a wildly rotating roster, the JLI is disassembled.
  • Some point between May 2010 and January 2011 Maxwell Lord, along with other long staying members of the JLI, recruits Ralph and Sue Dibny again. The Dibnys settle in Opal City. This time for a superhero team called "Super Buddies". Meanwhile, Sue becomes a popular mystery fiction writer.
  • January 2011 (2004): Sue Dies.
  • March 2011 (2005): Ralph starts a quest to reunite with Sue.
  • April 2011 (2006): Ralph sacrifices himself to foil Felix Faust and Neron. Sue and he become ghost detectives.
  • August 2011 (2011): Some kid tries to become "the Elongated Kid" but dies. They start
  • September 2011: NOW.
In theory, turning each year of DC publication history into months seems logical, but then, there are weird messes. A month is way too short for the JLA Detroit, and half a year is way to little for JLI. There's also Ralph's marriage. While I think he and Sue might be impulsive enough to marry soon, a month is way too short, specially considering her age (she was 18 tops). Some changes that wouldn't surprise me if this whole theory is right would be:
  • June 2007 (1961): Ralph meets Sue, only this doesn't happen at her Debutante Ball (she shouldn't be 17). It was some other high society event. They click and start living together almost right away.
  • June 2008 (1973): They marry, and he was invited to join the JLA soon.
Apparently, even Ralph had a skyrocketing life in 4 years of fame and fortune. And this is just the life of the Elongated Man, a character that, during his entire existence, only had a backup feature every three months in average. Imagine the kind of nightmare that will be sorting out the timeline of Batman or Superman (characters appearing in 3 to 9 books monthly).

Everything seems to indicate that the Dibnys are still dead, which means that the best hope for their fans (besides going back to waiting for plan "resurrection") is to see them just the same way we saw them the last time...

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