The Usual Suspects #35
Welcome back for another edition of The Usual Suspects. Changing gears this week away from modern books, let’s take a stroll down the Silver Age path and look at the first appearances of The Rogues. I’m talking about the members of the original Rogues gallery of the Barry Allen Flash.
Granted, there have been many iterations of the roster of the Rogues over the years. Growing and changing with the times, there have been a few constants in the lineup over the decades. This group has stood strong over time despite swapping out Flashes. From Barry to Wally to Bart, this group has stood together in one form or another to test each Scarlet Speedster.
While it would be easy to argue that Batman or Spider-Man have the better overall “rogue’s gallery”, the Flash’s are a bit different. Sure Batman’s villains have done team ups. Rallying together for short storylines, big crossovers, or TV Movie specials. Spidey also had the Sinister Six, where his villains teamed up a few times to take him down. That group had various iterations over the years as well. But the Flash Rogues have stuck together over the long-term. This group isn’t just a few issue team up. They are almost like a union with their own set of rules.
The Rogues are a different type of group. They socialize and seem to be friends or maybe even closer to family. This group maintains its own code of conduct and have some high standards for acceptance. As an example of rules for membership, no Rogue may inherit another Rogue's identity while the original still lives. Just looking the part and using the name and/or power set isn’t enough to warrant acceptance into this exclusive club. A Rogue has to earn their place and commit to their code.
They typically work together and do not kill anyone unless it is absolutely necessary. One might think they were more like anti-heroes rather than villains, but that wouldn’t be accurate. They are still criminals. But again, the Rogues have been shown to have certain codes of honor about their behavior. Sure they will rob you but they refuse to kill innocents, like women or children.
They’ve even gone so far as to state that they will not kill speedsters. Captain Cold even notes that it is rule numero uno.
But then there was that time Inertia brought together Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Abra Kadabra, Mirror Master, Weather Wizard, Pied Piper, and the Trickster, and manipulated them into taking on the new Flash and the Rogues killed him. And considering Bart had become the new Flash as part of The Brightest Day storyline when his body had aged up to be an adult, he was still technically a kid; so they sort’ve broke 2 of their rules.
But despite that one little snafu, these are a somewhat decent group of criminals. Like I said, they don’t kill unless they have to. Folks have gotten behind much, much worse villains especially ones that they changed into anti-heroes due to their popularity. I mean look at Venom. Everyone loves Venom. Who cares if he’s killed cops in the middle of a church?
And he’s picked a fight with people just to eat their brains.
And then there are the full-on anti-heroes. How many fans of The Punisher are out there? He’s a hero right? Murdering criminals. Cleaning up society by eliminating the bad element. But where do you draw the line? Littering? Running a Red Light? Scum like that are beyond rehabilitation apparently.
And those are “Good” guys? Makes the Rogues look like choirboys by comparison. That’s all I’m saying. These guys aren’t half-bad, all things considered. Perhaps the Flash needs to leave the Rogues alone and travel over to the Marvel Universe to clean up these anti-heroes. Maybe then Quicksilver will understand why Flash deserves a Museum, while he’s just an arrogant d-bag with an inappropriate relationship with his sister.
So with that said…We’re off!
1st appearance of Captain Cold
Like I said, we are going way back for these books. I’m talking the beginning of the Silver Age “way back.” As you all may be aware the appearance of the 2nd Flash, Barry Allen, is regarding by most as the official start of the Silver Age in Showcase #4 at the tail end of 1956. This book appeared only a few months following that milestone and was The Flash’s second go around as headliner of this title. This little diddy is 62 years old.
My dad would have been my son’s age when this came out. These books may all just seem like interchangeable back issues at times, whether you are looking at the 1st Captain Cold or the 1st Cosmic Ghost Rider. But sometimes it’s quite sobering when they are put into context with relation to when they were 1st released.
Anyway, Showcase #8 finally comes along to introduce a real villain that would go on to become one of the Flash’s most iconic villains, Captain Cold.
Before him, we just had a couple mostly forgettable villains for the Flash to face off against in Showcase #4. Sure Turtle Man is fun, but he couldn’t even elbow his way into the Rogue despite being Barry’s first villain. He looks more like Giraffe Man with that sweater. And he looks like he just stole someone’s porchlight by ripping it right off the wall. Master criminal. And I don’t know what to say about the Super Powers Lex Luthor lookalike Mazdan.
Despite those 2 jokers, Captain Cold has also been the butt of a few jokes over the years. I remember as a kid, that he didn’t get much respect from my peers when he was on Super Friends. But I always kinda liked him. I dug the parka Max Headroom look.
I mean it’s better than the sleeveless New 52 version. Don’t try and sex up Captain Cold. His name is Leonard Snart. That’s the name of a gruff, working class villain that I can see running a super villain union. Just throw the Goggles on Neeson in The Grey and we’re ready to roll. The New 52 version seems more suited to start dropping some ecstasy at a rave.
Market Analysis: In the spirit of the whole brevity thing, this week I am going to skip the Active Listings since I have 10 books listed here. So this week you can go check eBay out for yourself. So on that note, we only have one recent sale to note and that was a CGC 4.5 that sold for $2,150. You can see it on the chart below as the only 2019 sale.
1st Mirror Master
Another book that is well outside of my budget, is this issue of The Flash. So apparently Flash followed up his Showcase appearances to star in his own self-titled series. This series picked up the numbering at 105 following the original Flash Comics run that ended in 1949 that had originally featured Jay Garrick as well as Hawkman, Black Canary, and The Atom.
Not only is this the 1st solo title for the new Barry Allen Flash picking up a decade after the original titles last issue, this is also the 1st appearance of Mirror Master. This was back in the comic book heyday where a simple mix up in chemicals could create a supervillain with the powers of whatever was around him. In today’s world that wouldn’t create a super villain. Just a lawsuit and a chemical burn.
Like most of the Rogues, his somewhat goofy beginnings were redefined by Geoff Johns iconic run on the Flash when Wally West had the mantle. Sure Johns had a new Mirror Master to work with since the original was killed off during the 1st Crisis. But the second Mirror master was a bit more intimidating having been a former hitman. Though Evan McCulloch is still probably only the second coolest Scottish hitman behind Il Duce.
Yeah I know his character is Irish in the movie, but Billy Connolly is Scottish. So I standby what I said.
Market Analysis: Biggest sale was actually a raw copy that looked pretty clean. Listed as a VF+, after 38 bids that bad by ended at $1,450. If you look at the chart below you can see a lot of those high grade big sale occurred in 2014. One might draw the conclusion that those occurred due in part to the release of The Flash on the CW that year. Or it could be that those are expensive books and no one wanted to give up their copy since then.
1st Gorilla Grodd and Pied Piper
The very next issue gives us 2 more classic Rogues in Gorilla Grodd and Pied Piper. Again at face value, these two can be seen as quite silly. I mean if you were to tell some millennial who knows nothing of comics that this issue of the Flash featured these two villains, they’d probably think you were messing with them mashing up Silicon Valley with Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes.
But as we comic lovers all know, Grodd is one of The Flash’s greatest villains. A truly menacing character when in the right creator’s hands. Again, when you try telling a normie that there’s a Genius gorilla with psychic abilities, they’ll probably wonder if you were talking more about something that looked like this…
As opposed to this.
And can you blame them? The same goes for Pied Piper. Silly set up, but that doesn’t touch the surface of how he had developed as a character over the years. He had reformed completely from his criminal ways, had become one of the few openly homosexual characters in comics, and he was a key supporting character and friend to Wally West’s Flash.
Being that this was 1991, this could’ve been handled much, much worse. Sure they use an old sitcom trope, “Oops, look at the time…”
But outside of that, it was nice that they didn’t play up any of the old clichés and misunderstandings. And no over explaining and justification. It came out, and then these two just continued on as friends as if nothing had changed between them.
Market Analysis: No mega sale movers on this book recently. The highest sales were a couple CGC midgrade 4.5-5.0’s that sold for around $900. That is nothing to scoff at, but we are also talking about a 60+ year old book with two 1st appearances. One would think it may be undervalued a little bit. That said, without a definitive big screen film on the way at the moment, and with all the changes at the top, we may see some of these books come down a little bit more.
1st Weather Wizard and Kid Flash
Alright so the names aren’t getting much cooler as we work our way down the list. Continuing on with the alliteration, Weather Wizard sounds like a geeky nickname for your local weatherman. While a fun name, that still isn’t as cool as my area’s actual weatherman.
Go ahead, let me know if your weatherman has a cooler name than mine. It’s gonna be tough to beat. And remember Stormy Daniels doesn’t count, as she is not a weatherperson.
Ok, getting back to the comic. Here, we get a villain that is not powered by some chemical mix up or accident, but rather a piece of scientific technology. After finding the Weather Wand, two-bit criminal Mark Mardon decides to become the Weather Wizard.
But seriously, this guy has a device that will literally control the weather and he uses it to try to rob a bank? All of these villains with these great scientific breakthroughs all think that robbing is the best use of their tech. Did any of them think to start a business based on that technology, or perhaps even sell it to make their millions? Sure it wouldn’t make for any fun comics but sometimes practicality needs to be addressed.
Market Analysis: This surprises me that it isn’t selling for more. Now I realize that Weather Wizard is not a bigger villain than Gorilla Grodd and I am not suggesting that his 1st should be more; however given that hero 1st appearances always seem to outpace villain firsts, I am shocked that the 1st Kid Flash doesn’t get more love in the form of more $$$’s.
1st appearance of Trickster
No alliterative name here. Nope, we get straight and to the point with The Trickster. A clown type character with anti-gravity boots, there have been a couple of different criminals who have held the title of The Trickster. First there was James Jesse and then Geoff Johns created his successor, Axel Walker. My favorite would easily be the James Jesse version that Mark Hamill portrayed on the original Flash TV show from the 90’s.
Granted he played him a bit like a lighter version of the Joker even back then. But then he upped the creep factor when he revisited the character on the current CW show, reprising his role as the original Trickster.
There was an epic scene in that episode where Luke Skywalker basically quotes Darth Vader in his Joker voice.
Market Analysis: Apparently, no one wants to part with the graded 1st Tricksters. The highest sales are a few raws, just over $200. Only one slab snuck in there and that was a CGC 3.5 for $99 just last week. I would’ve bought that. That’s right in my wheelhouse, cheap low grade keys.
1st appearance of Captain Boomerang
Alright I think we can all agree that Digger Harkness has a silly costume as Captain Boomerang. I mean what’s with the soda jerk hat, overly long scarf, and it looks like he’s wearing one of Mod Wonder Woman’s outfits from her late 60’s makeover in both style and cut.
She just had the common sense not to wear a Tom Baker scarf. Wouldn’t a scarf like that get in the way of throwing boomerangs? And what does a scarf have to do with Australia? That said even though he’s got a scarf as long than the 4th Doctor’s, he also has just as impressive of a ‘fro.
I must say that even though Suicide Squad was a completely average to below average jumbled mess, I did actually enjoy Jai Courtney’s Boomerang. And I am not a fan of his. Both his Jack McLane in that god-awful Die Hard movie (which I still won’t admit exists) and his Kyle Reese in that nonsensical Terminator Genisys, were both so flat and uninteresting. But his Boomerang had a bit of a roguish charm by way of a dirtbag.
Market Analysis: So the biggest sale recently was a CBCS 8.0 that sold for only $550. That’s about a 20% discount from what a CGC 8.0 sold for over the summer. So is that the current exchange rate now? Looks like the current exchange rate between USD and CAD. Sorry Canada.
1st appearance of The Top
So far we are still within that first 2 year range of Barry Allen’s solo title and we have yet another villainous creation that has lasted through the decades. Ok, so The Top is really not that interesting to me so now would be a good time to note what a job John Broome and Carmine Infantino had done on this run.
These two had created characters that have withstood the test of time, and Infantino has a place among the greats. Albeit not a first appearance of a Rogue, I would feel I am doing you all a disservice in not sharing the next issue classic cover as yet another example of the a classic Infantino cover.
That cover has been the subject a few homages as well as having a direct adaptation into live action in the CW show when they introduced their version of Jay Garrick.
But I had done some reading up on The Top and it goes on about how he was fascinated by a top as a kid, created some spinning technology, beat the Flash after his first 2 heists, but then was foiled after trying to be named the “ruler” of earth by threatening to destroy half the planet, or some other crazy Dr. Evil plot.
Market Analysis: If I had extra cash, I might think about investing in these old Flash Villains. I get it The Top is pretty silly. But $105 for a CGC 5.5? A lot of people though Mysterio was pretty silly too. Now he’s in a Spider-Man film and his 1st is a $1500 CGC 5.5. That’s Gold baby!
1st appearance of Abra Kadabra
To quote Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” I have to believe that was the basis for Broome and Infantino’s next villainous creation. Citizen Abra was a stage magician in the 64th Century, who travelled back to our time and whose advanced technology appears to be magic. He goes by the name Abra Kadabra.
No, not the killing curse in Harry Potter.
You know the famous magic words used by stage magicians through the ages, from the days of Harry Houdini to the Amazing Reed Rothchild. Or did he go by Chest Rockwell at this point? The montage was unclear. But not today’s current magicians. They don’t even do magic. They just sit in glass boxes for 44 days without taking a dump and no Abracadabra.
Market Analysis: I’m telling you, it may not be bad spec to start picking these up. The most expensive copy sold is a raw that looks like a F/VF for $70. Considering the 1st Hydro Man sells for about the same and he has a questionable upcoming cameo in Far From Home, if a Flash movie ever takes off, you can be sure we will get some form of The Rogues sooner or later. And rampant spec will drive all of these Silver Age firsts up.
1st appearance of Heat Wave
I’m kinda surprised that it took Broome and Infantino to go to the obvious polar opposite of Captain Cold for another villain idea. Maybe that’s why they held off a couple years before introducing Heat Wave. Finally we get to my favorite member of Legends of Tomorrow, Mick Rory.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I like Legends of Tomorrow. Is it cheesy? Yes. Is it hokey? Sure. Is it just a fun show that doesn’t take things too seriously? Absolutely.
Too many shows try to be so edgy or go too far into the grim and gritty. Can’t we just have at least one comic book show that is just fun? I mean who doesn’t want to see DC superheroes mix it up with Vikings who worship Cuddle Me Beebo The God of War?
But seriously, I simply enjoyed the natural pairing of Captain Cold and Heat Wave. Both on the show and in the comics. Again the rogues are just an interesting bunch. Most of them have gone straight at one time or another over the years. And when it comes down to it, there are just a bunch of nearly decent folk making the best of their situation while living by their own set of morals and code of honor. All while trying to take out the Flash.
They are like the comic book equivalent to the Washington Generals.
Market Analysis: Ok, I’m gonna have to start shopping for these books now as they keep getting cheaper as I go. A decent raw sells for $31? That’s it?
Ok that’s it for this week, now it’s time for Last Call.
1st Golden Glider
Golden Glider was the only female member of that original group of Rogues. Granted she didn’t show up until a decade later, but Captain Cold’s sister Lisa Snart, earned her spot on the rogues
There really isn’t much to say here. If I recap her history as an ice skater with the ability to spin at incredible speeds, a skill she learned from her coach and lover, Roscoe Dillon, better known as The Top… you’d think I was recapping an episode of Port Charles.
Typical Sales Data:
CGC Census 9.8 = 8