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The Flash (1959) - #123
"Flash of Two Worlds!"
DC Comics

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Julius Schwartz

Cover Artist(s):
Murphy Anderson
Carmine Infantino

Rating (out of 10):
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Cover Date: September 1961
Cover Price: US $ 0.10

Issue Tagline: None.

Format: Color; Standard Comic Issue; 36 pages

There are other versions of this issue in the database:
The Flash (1959) #123 Legion of Collectors Variant

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None entered.

Reprinted/Collected in:
80 Page Giant (1964) #9
Crisis on Multiple Earths: The Team-Ups (2005) TPB vol. 01
DC Comics Anthologie (2012) HC
DC Comics Classics Library (2009) HC vol. 05
DC Comics Colección Novelas Gráficas (2016) #17
DC Museum Edition (2001) #10
Flash (1979) #15/16
The Flash Archives (1996) HC vol. 03
The Flash Chronicles (2009) TPB vol. 04
The Flash Omnibus (2014) HC vol. 01
The Flash: A Celebration of 75 Years (2015) HC
The Flash: The Greatest Stories Ever Told (2007) TPB vol. 01
The Flash: The Silver Age (2016) TPB vol. 02
The Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told (1990) HC
The Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told (1990) TPB
Millennium Edition:... (2000) The Flash 123
Showcase Presents: The Flash (2007) TPB vol. 02

This issue might well be considered the second part of Showcase #4. It shows that Barry Allen's love of comic books is not just a gimmick, but an actual plot point in the development of his character. In a sense, it has to be The Flash that cracks open the multiverse, not just because of his particular power set, but more importantly because of the nature of the relationship between the two primary Earths. If the adventures of Earth 2 happened in the comic books of Earth 1, then only a known comic book reader, like Barry Allen, could make sense of that world when he encounters it.

Though the story itself is fairly typical Silver Age fare, the implications of this issue are still being felt in the DCU to this day. This issue is really why Barry Allen was chosen to die so heroically in Crisis on Infinite Earths. He ushers in the era of the multiverse with this story; it is only poetically fitting that he should give his life to close it. His sacrifice inspired Superman (I) to finish the battle of the original Crisis to save a world that would've honored that sacrifice--and when the unified Earth appeared to be going down a path that failed to honor what Barry died for, it became a reason for Superman (I) to return in the 2005 Crisis to try to "right" things.

Consequently it is no exaggeration to say that this issue (along with #129 and #137) are absolutely foundational to a solid understanding of the nature of the whole DC universe. Judging by the story lines of 2005, their importance has only increased over time.

In the interests of anal retentiveness, it should be pointed out that, technically, there were other, minor explorations of "alternate earths" prior to this one. Green Arrow and Speedy, for instance, travel to the "Earth of Dimension Zero" in Adventure #232-3 exactly three years before this issue. There, they meet "Xeen Arrow" and eventually find a way to get back to the familiar DCU Earth. What makes the Flash's adventure here so special, however, is that a) it's the subject of an entire comic (as opposed to a minor back-up story), and b) it's clearly a part of a larger narrative thread that would be continued across several titles until eventually creating a "cornerstone" of storytelling in the DCU. Still, it's interesting to note that there were other abortive attempts at telling tales set on alternate Earths prior to this issue.

[The second Earth does not get its name, "Earth 2", here, but will have to wait until its fourth appearance, in JLA, v. 1, #21 for its "official" designation.]

For an indepth discussion on this issue:
Tom vs. the Flash - Tom vs. The Flash #123 - Flash of Two Worlds!

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Gardner F. Fox

Carmine Infantino

Joe Giella

(Unknown Creator)

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An image for Fiddler (DC)(01 - Isaac Bowin) exists Fiddler (DC)(01 - Isaac Bowin)
An image for Flash (DC)(01 - Jay Garrick) exists Flash (DC)(01 - Jay Garrick)
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Gardner Fox
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Barry Allen is nothing if not philanthropic. Helping with a local charity fundraiser, he, as The Flash, vibrates himself at amazing speeds so that he appears to perform "magic" and disappear. When he stops his "trick", though, he finds himself in a different place...altogether.

As he investigates the city he's now in, he finds it's called "Keystone City"--the very same city that was the home of the fictional Jay Garrick he used to read about in comic books.

Taking a chance that his years spent reading All-Star Comics might not have been a total waste of time, he looks up "Garrick, Jay" in the phone book...and discovers he's a real person in this city. When he goes to visit, he notices immediately that it really is the Jay Garrick of the comic books, so he immediately reveals his identity and what he knows of Garrick's origin. Together, they work out that they are from two different Earths, which have very similar, yet distinct, evolutions.

Impressed, the now-retired Garrick decides to enlist Allen's help in solve several crimes plaguing Keystone City. The two Flashes strike out in the direction of The Fiddler, The Shade and The Thinker. They divide the workload and tackle different the different criminals individually.

First tackling The Shade and The Thinker, neither Flash is successful. After their individual defeats, they join forces against The Fiddler. He, though, appears to defeat both of them with one of his musical spells, forcing them to rob jewels for him. When the other two villains arrive on scene to warn The Fiddler that there are now two Flashes, Garrick and Allen suddenly turn on all three villains and overwhelm them. It turns out they've put the jewels they "robbed" in their ears, thus blocking The Fiddler's spell.

Having helped Jay successfully come out of retirement, Barry attempts to go back home by reversing what he did to get to Keystone City. When he's successful, both he and the reader can only imagine what might happen in Jay Garrick's future, and what the rest of this mysterious "alternate" Earth might look like.

Interestingly, Allen works out that Gardner Fox, author of this story and many issues of All-Star and Flash Comics is a kind of bridge between the two Earths. His dreams on Earth 1 are actually channelling real events on Earth 2. Thus, Gardner Fox himself becomes a part of the DCU through this story.

The final issue of Flash Comics is revealed to be the last adventure the Flash (I) had, prior to this one. Now, sure, some 12 years have passed in Garrick's life since then, so there's some kinda story to be told, but his life as the Flash has been effectively "on hold" the whole time. One of the interesting such tidbits that has happened in the intervening years is that he has married Joan Williams, which is revealed for the first time in this issue.

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