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All-Flash 32
"Duet of Danger"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND December - January, 1948

Writer: Robert Kanigher Artist: Lee Elias

Music has power! It can aid the sick, ease the grief, call to arms, and helps to promote dancing. Music is a gift... or it was until a new figure used music to stun its listeners! The Flash, the fastest man on Earth, meets an enemy who can stop him cold! Get out the sheet music when the Flash and the Fiddler play a "Duet of Danger!" On the splash page, the sounds of the Fiddler's musical instrument causes stone pillars to crumble, and the Flash must save the bound figure of Joan Garrick before the stone curtain falls!

A police car is in pursuit of a getaway car, with the police gaining on the crooks, that is until an odd-looking vehicle cuts in front of the police car, causing it to stop! A policeman heads for the Stradivarian automobile, as the driver pulls the bow on his fiddle's strings, and the officer is struck on the chest by the projectile. Jay and Joan Garrick are among those who witness the bizarre weapon! The next second finds Jay changing into costume in a vestibule of a nearby home and --- the Flash is once again on the scene!

The scarlet speedster makes his way towards the Fiddler, while the crowd cheers! He is keeping an eye for any more stunts from the trick fiddle, while the stunned officer recovers from the attack. The Fiddler arms his fiddle once more, and fires... completely missing the Flash! He watches as the Fiddler begins to play a strange tune on his instrument.

A wall of sound engulfs the Flash, rendering him immobile for a moment, then the crowd watches as he flees from the villain. In a sudden reversal of direction, the scarlet speedster heads towards his foe at eye-blurring speed! It's no good for the Flash, who feels like he just ran into a stone wall! Joan rushes to help him get away from the Fiddler before he starts to play once more.

The Fiddler starts to drive away, aiming his fiddle like a camera, and taking a picture of the dazed speedster in the girl's arms. The Flash wants to pursue him, but Joan knows that he's not in any condition to do so, then sees the criminal drop a card. "When I Play, You And The World Will Dance To My Tune! This Is Only The Overture To My Symphony Of Crime!" Three bystanders express their pity for the poor speedster who didn't stand a chance. Later in the day, leaflets fall from the sky... and many stop to laugh at the photograph...

They see the Fiddler's portrait of the dazed hero in the girl's arms. The underworld know that this new criminal has the Flash dancing to his tune. At a meeting, the Fiddler is voted in as the new boss. He thanks them for their confidence, and listen as he announces his intention of becoming the Maestro Master of Keystone City! At the Garrick Research Lab, Jay has recovered and intends on finding a way to combat the Fiddler's use of vibrations as a weapon. Both Joan and Jay watch as the Fiddler enters the lab, and wonder if the criminal knows the secret of Flash's dual identity? Joan distracts the visitor, while Jay ducks out of sight, and changes into the Flash!

The startled visitor is grabbed by the speedster, while Joan grabs onto his fiddle! The next moment finds the Flash carrying both Joan and the visitor to the police. At the station, the scarlet speedster presents the Fiddler and fiddle to the police, while the musician strongly objects to his Stradivarius being referred to as a "fiddle!" The Inspector asks if the Flash has taken leave of his senses, for this is the famous European violinist -- Maestro Bowin! The Maestro tells the Inspector that he was heading to the lab to ask about protecting his Strad from weather changes... When asked if he wishes to press charges, the Maestro decides to give the scarlet speedster two tickets for his concert tonight. Once he has left, the Flash tells the Inspector that the man looked like the Fiddler to be his twin -- and unfortunately for him, the Inspector has already seen the pictures of his first bout with the Fiddler. A dejected speedster leaves the Inspector's office soon after.

That night, both Joan and the Flash head for the concert, with him promising not to do anything rash! They listen as Maestro Bowin plays his divine music, with the audience so silent you could hear a pin drop! The scarlet speedster thinks that they are too quiet... and decides to play it safe by vibrating his body... just in case! Even with his own vibrations, the music is giving him a strange sensation -- while Joan has been hypnotized! The Fiddler has just hypnotized the entire audience, while the gang goes through the audience and steals their valuables! The Flash leaps into action, and kicks two hoods in the jaw!

He is grabbed from behind by two more crooks, but they are punched in the face by two swift fists. The Flash tells the Fiddler that the music is having no effect on him, but then the musical notes head for the hanging chandelier... which comes crashing down on the unsuspecting speedster! The criminal sees the irony in the Flash being stopped by the very object which started him on his villainous career!

As he looks at the chandelier, the Fiddler sees not the hero, but himself many years ago --- He was a thief was stopped when the person cleaning the chandelier dropped it on him! The waterfront rat soon finds himself in prison, and watches as an Indian Fakir plays his flute to make the cobra dance. He offers to show the newcomer the lore of the East -- if he would be patient. Five years pass - and the two men escape into the night, with the Fakir declaring his pupil to be far greater than he! With his fiddle, none can stand in their way, but in the jungle, the teacher is betrayed by his student, who causes him to dance into the jaws of the nearby crocodiles. He pays a visit to the man who started him on his new path, and the vibrations enabled the chandelier to crash down onto his "benefactor." Now, he heads for America -- and his greatest surprise!

Back in the present -- the crooks remove their ear plugs, and the Flash is taken to their hideout for the grand finale. When he revives, the scarlet speedster is startled to find himself bound next to Maestro Bowin, who learns that the Fiddler is his twin, separated as infants -- and their existence has been kept secret from one another. Shortly, there will be only one left! The Fiddler vows to play such music as the Maestro could never have dreamed of, and which will conquer the world! Maestro Bowin turns to Flash and pleads with him to save his life, but the speedster tells him not to move! The slightest tug on their bonds will cause the machine gun to fire at the giant accordion, whose vibrations causes a musical instrument to be torn asunder! The departing villain tells them that one of the keys -- when hit will cause the very building they are in to blow up! He leaves them to the solo of destruction. (Holy Napoleon, Batman! Somebody better give them a han'!"

Maestro Bowin grows nervous and begs Flash to do something before they are killed! He tells the Maestro to relax and not pull on the ropes! Outside... The Fiddler tells his gang that only one bullet is needed to hit the key that will set off the explosion -- WHH-RR-OOMMM! They see the remains of their hideout, and joke if anyone has seen the Flash lately. One person has -- the scarlet speedster, himself! His speed vibrations causes their getaway car to be overturned!

The Fiddler can't understand how the Flash was able to escape the ropes -- and the explosion! He tells the villain that he was able to burn through the ropes with vibrating friction -- then sped out of the building with Maestro Bowin before the explosion could harm them! Two crooks tackle the speedster's legs, but they are send flying, instead! The Fiddler plays his instrument, but a string breaks -- and the vibrations meant for the fastest man alive crash downward on the dock, causing it to collapse! All that remains to be seen in the water is a floating fiddle. Joan tells Jay that they all woke up once the Fiddler left, and he tells her that the criminal won't be coming back. It was his very music which caused his destruction, and the swan-song meant for the Flash -- was really for him!

The introduction of a Golden Age villain, who best represents the saying, "If Music Be The Food of Death..."

Robert Kanigher would write the introduction of the Barry Allen Flash in Showcase #4.

A two-part episode of the Justice League cartoon featured a villain who was based on the Fiddler.

Lee Elias' art is superb in this story. We see the sinister visage of the Fiddler, the look of surprise on Joan, as she must save the Flash, and the bewildered speedster, himself, when he is photographed by the villain, forced to endure a most humiliating defeat.

The chandelier is a clever transition from the present-day adventure to the origin of the Fiddler. It is a moment of defeat for the one-time waterfront rat and also for the scarlet speedster.

A Hawkworld Annual by John Ostrander and Tim Truman had a re-telling of the Fiddler's origin, when the villain sought to return to the '40s, and have his revenge on the Jay Garrick Flash.

As in many Batman stories, there are giant props in the villain's lair.

Jay Garrick is the Golden Age Flash of Earth-Two, while Barry Allen is the Silver Age Flash of Earth-One.

This story was reprinted in Flash #160 (80 Page Giant #21).

Steve Chung
"Duet of Review!"