"He is undoubtedly one of the best supporting characters the Flash has ever had."

§ January 18th, 2009 § Filed under Uncategorized § 1 Comment

So I’m sure most of you are somewhat familiar with one of DC Comics’ most famous Silver Age oddities, Mopee:

Appearing in Flash #167 (Feb. 1967), courtesy Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Sid Greene, Mopee was a magical imp (or “Initiate Tenth Class of the Heavenly Helpmates”) who claimed to have been responsible for the lightning ‘n’ chemical accident that gave Barry Allen his abilities as the Flash. And it wasn’t just a claim…by the end of the story, the claim still stands, and we’re left with the knowledge that, yes, Mopee did in fact do what he said he did.

This is one of those ideas that, like Clark using super-hypnosis to disguise his identity, was roundly, and perhaps wisely, ignored. And I only bring it up here because as it turns out, Mopee makes his return to the printed pages of a DC comic this week, his first (I believe) since being mocked in an issue of Ambush Bug. Pal Dorian pointed it out to me when he dropped by the store on Saturday…we were explaining the character to his husband Pete and to Employee Aaron, which prompted me to extract the actual Flash issue in question for their perusal.

As they looked at the comic, the thought crossed my mind. What did the letter writers at the time think of the story? So, jumping ahead a few issues to #171, here’s what folks had to say:

From a gentleman in Simi Valley:

“The story cannot be compared to any Mr. Fox has ever written. […] I especially liked the use of Mopee. He is undoubtedly one of the best supporting characters the Flash has ever had.”

The next fellow wasn’t so enamored of the revelation:

“Gardner Fox must have been mad when he introduced that inept initiate Mopee as the prime mover behind Flash’s career, for in doing that he has robbed this magazine of its uniqueness and its drama. Mopee, the ‘heavenly helpmate’ (what a name!) has made a face of Flash’s origin. Was the Human Comet born of a freakish burst of raw energy (elegant irony – sheer accident creating a man with a purpose); or did Flash arise from the bidding of an unscrutable [sic] Fate? No! he is the protege of an Otherworld Wally Cox, whose superiors are too similar to Green Lantern’s Guardians to be original.

“Please forget that ‘heavenly helpmate.’ Otherwise your readers will finally understand why Flash is still called a ‘comic.'”

Here’s another note of criticism from a fellow in our store’s town of Ventura, CA, with some extra commentary on the Batman TV show “camp” influence on comics:

“This is the silliest thing I’ve seen in my Flash reading history, and if it isn’t stopped now, I’m afraid of what such fantasies will start running rampant through what was formerly, to all intents and purposes, a serious magazine. If you think it will be easy to get back on this trail of the straightforward tale, just look around, and you’ll see several magazines glutting up the stands which started as superhero fiction, but are now marked by stories which now reek of comedy and satire.”

I think, my favorite letter, however, is this one:

I’m reasonably sure that would be the very same Cary Bates who would later become a comic book writer…and not of just any ol’ comic book, but of the Flash book itself! Okay, maybe it’s another fan with the same name, but that would be a heck of a coincidence. At any rate, Mopee never turned up during Bates’ run, as far as I know. That would have certainly perked up that long ol’ “Trial of the Flash” storyline.

In other news:

One Response to “"He is undoubtedly one of the best supporting characters the Flash has ever had."”