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Flash 113
"Danger In The Air!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND June - July, 1960

Story: John Broome Art: Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella

Never has the scarlet speedster come across a villain as clever as the Trickster! Clad in a harlequin costume -- teasing the world -- the cunning Trickster has shown the Flash a clean getaway each time -- until the showdown at the circus when the fastest man alive demonstrated a new trick of his own! On the splash page, the Flash has run onto a highwire tightrope to corner the Trickster, but the Rogue has run away from him... on thin air!

The pilot of an overseas jetliner heading for Central City sees a startling sight... a hold-up in the sky! He listens on his earphones as the pilot of the other plane orders him to place his speed at 300 miles an hour -- and have the door of the cabin open immediately! Otherwise -- he'll shoot... The colorfully-clad figure emerges from his plane, and to the passengers aboard the overseas jetliner, it seems that he is running on air! They are about to be robbed by the Trickster!

He tells them that it's quite a trick to pull a robbery in mid-air, and that they have to pay for it! Once he has collected all their money and valuables... the Trickster heads back for his plane, and tells them not to follow him. As his plane disappears in the clouds, the pilot notifies the police! In a restaurant, Iris West is waiting for Barry to show up for their date... and he's late again! She doesn't know why she puts up with the slow and lazy police scientist, then wonders why he can't be more like the Flash! Iris reads the scarlet speedster's challenge to the Trickster in the newspaper, where the fastest man alive wants to see which of the two can out-trick the other!

She knows that even if the Trickster doesn't accept the challenge -- the point is the Flash is always doing something... unlike -- Iris sees "Swifty" Allen coming towards her at a snail's pace! He overhears the radio report about the mid-air robbery, and Iris wonders what happened to Barry! She could swear that she saw him coming, but there's no sign of him! Outside... in a dark doorway, Barry activates the secret spring on his ring, causing his uniform to expand with the air, and soon... the Flash heads off in search of the Trickster!

In the middle of town, he hasn't seen any sign of the Trickster, and figures that the criminal doesn't want to meet... Several feet above the scarlet speedster... the Trickster has been following the Flash on his search for him! Now, he descends... and accepts the challenge! The fastest man on Earth's first move is to go fast at super-speed... so that he won't be able to tell which of the images he sees is the real Flash! If the criminal tries to flee, he won't know which way to go! Knowing that the Flash would try a trick like this, the Trickster uses a manuever of his own -- Sneezing powder causes the real Flash to sneeze, and the Rogue is able to tell which is the real one, and which is an optical illusion.

The Trickster runs away, and Flash pursues him towards a cliff! Figuring that he has him boxed in, the scarlet speedster moves in, but then the Trickster gets away... by running on thin air! This is one feat that even the fastest man alive can't match. The criminal bids the Flash farewell, while the scarlet speedster wonders how he came up with that trick!

Years ago, the Flying Jesses -- a family of high-wire walkers were at the circus, and the father is disturbed that his son, James, doesn't want to practice --! James Jesse spends his time reading about the desperado Jesse James, and he wonders if somehow he's related to him? His father tells him not to read the book again, or anything to do with criminals and guns! He is to practice harder -- now! The boy obeys his father... wanting to become a famous aerialist, but being afraid of the high wire.

Time passes, and James Jesse has perfected a special pair of shoes -- so that he won't be afraid on the high wire! It has taken him years to devise the pair with openings in the soles where compressed air shoots out unseen -- but can keep him in the air by jet propulsion! It has taken him as long to be able to keep his balance on them -- and not fall! He has learned the trick, and uses them in the act! The spotlights are on the Flying Jesses... and Papa Jesse watches as his son performs a daring leap which isn't in the act!

His father is proud of him, and James is grateful for his secret shoes! Now a renowned aerialist, James finds that this is not enough! He must find new ways to use his jet-shoes invention -- more exciting ways! Taking a cue from his namesake -- Jesse James, he decides to become a criminal, and find his true destiny and fame! Instead of robbing railroad trains -- he'll be a modern desperado who holds up airplanes! With his jet-shoes, it is a trick he can pull off -- and this gives him his name -- The Trickster! Meanwhile, the Flash realizes that his only clue is the costume of the Trickster -- which resembles a harlequin! (Holy Rozakis, Batman!) He remembers that a harlequin was a comedian or clown... and suddenly, the Scarlet speedster recalls that the big circus has been in town -- ever since the Trickster's first airplane holdup two weeks ago! This is the lead he's been seeking -- and it was right in front of him all the time!

He heads for the nearest big top... thinking that there was much of the grandstanding showman in the Trickster's "performance." It would be appropriate to find him there... There are several performers in the show, and he's never seen the Trickster unmasked! Above him, the Flash sees the high-wire walker catching sight of him, and beginning to stumble... The aerialist regains his balance easily enough -- just as the Trickster would -- with the ability to walk on air! The scarlet speedster wants a close look -- and sees a clown bouncing on a pogo stick! He has an idea! The Flash borrows the pogo stick from the circus clown --

Using the vibrations of his super-speed, the fastest man alive hops on the pogo stick, and directs it towards his foe... The crowd watches as the scarlet speedster zooms upwards... and the Flash vibrates faster -- faster... He launches himself upwards on the now-soaring pogo stick! The aerialist begins to flee, and Flash realizes that it must be the Trickster! With each bounce, the scarlet speedster's trajectory enables him to go up... up... up... until he catches up with James Jesse.

On the ground, the Flash keeps the aerialist helpless by vibrating his grip... He is unable to try any further tricks... and the scarlet speedster makes certain that James Jesse is the Trickster by finding evidence in his dressing room. The Trickster's costume is found in its hiding place -- and the case is wrapped up. In his prison cell, James Jesse is determined to come up with a new trick to get out of prison sooner or later. The following day at Picture News, Iris receives a call from Barry, who tells her that he left suddenly to help the Flash catch the Trickster! She tells him to come by in the evening... and the police scientist smiles as he hangs up the phone -- he must think up a good story to tell Iris! She has no suspicion that her idol Flash is also Barry Allen!

The Trickster was one of the foes featured on the Flash TV series on CBS. He was played by Mark Hamill.

In Aquaman: Time and Tide by Peter David, the Trickster makes an appearance, and makes a getaway from both Aquaman and the Flash with his "Luke Skywalker" shoes.

An interesting contrast between a D.C. hero and a Marvel hero: The Flash is able to have all the newspapers in Central City feature his challenge to the Trickster, while Spider-Man would be declared a "Threat or Menace" on the front page of the Daily Bugle.

The Herald of Galactus known as Gabriel the Air-Walker is another character who is able to walk on air.

James Jesse's father resembles Alfred Pennyworth.

Imagine what would have happened if aerialist James Jesse had lost his parents instead of Dick Grayson! Thing would be different, indeed.

Duela Dent, aka The Harlequin was created by Bob Rozakis.

Harley Quinn was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm.

The Golden Age Harlequin was Molly Mayne, a foe of Green Lantern, who later became an agent of the F.B.I.

The daughter of Dan Hunter, aka Manhunter, stole Molly's trick eye-glasses, and became the new Harlequin.

The Flash goes "Pogo" to get his man. He has met the enemy and he is James Jesse.

Other aerialists in the D.C Universe include Dick Grayson, Jason Todd (Pre-Crisis), and Boston Brand.

This Review Is Dedicated To Bob Rozakis

Steve Chung
"Review In The Air!"