Showcase (1956) - #4
"Presenting THE FLASH!"
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Cover Date: Sep/Oct 1956
Cover Price: US $0.10
Issue Tagline: Whirlwind Adventures Of The Fastest Man Alive!
Format: Color; Standard Comic Issue; 32 pages
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Credits given for the whole issue apply to all stories within the issue.
This is often called the beginning of the Silver Age. And it is. But what does that mean? To what extent does "the Silver Age of Comics" (a rough guideline applied to publication date) correspond with the internal, storytelling continuity of a character? This issue muddies the waters for the rest of the DCU by having, ironically, so clear an answer.
Because the Flash was the first "old" character re-invented in the Silver Age of Comics, and because this issue is the very dividing line most scholars use to open the Silver Age, it makes sense to call Barry Allen the "Silver Age Flash".
The implication of saying this, though, is that there's a "Silver Age Superman" and a "Silver Age Batman" and a "Silver Age Martian Manhunter" and the like.
But there aren't. Or at least not nearly so clearly as there is a "Silver Age Flash". Barry Allen had no appearances before the Silver Age, but Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne and J'onn J'onzz all had stories before this issue--some of them very clearly at the height of the Golden Age. Superboy, the young Clark Kent, is especially problematic when speaking of a supposed "Silver Age Superman".
And that's the problem with applying the term "Silver Age" to characters and continuity. Publication "ages" correspond to the dates "big" stories are published, but they're confusing when looking at the histories of individual characters.
So, call this the "agreed upon start of the DC Silver Age" if you must speak of publication dates.
Showcase #4, from the perspective of internal continuity, really is the "dawn of the multiverse". By showing that the Flash (I) existed in the same universe as the Flash (II)--but only as a fictional character--DC was positing the notion that its catalog of books could be divided into mostly separate, but not totally indivisible, continuities.No, Earth 1 and Earth 2 are never referred to in this issue. The multiverse concept hadn't been explicitly created yet. But from the comfort of the 21st century, we know this issue for the way it's best described: the first appearance of the Earth 1 Flash.
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