Flash 114
"King of the Beatniks!"


Story: John Broome Art: Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella

As Kid Flash, Wally West had a reason for heading to the "pad" of the crooked Beatnik Gang! He had to help a friend of his trapped there -- and put a stop to the robberies being pulled off by the leader otherwise known as the... "King of the Beatniks!" On the splash page, Kid Flash pulls a super-speed reconoitor of the gang of Beatniks, who are so cool, they are relaxing by listening to music before going out on their next job!

At a school in Blue Valley, a teacher speaks with the principal... with Linda Grant telling Mr. Mason about James King, a student accused of cheating! The answer sheet for the State Math Exam was not in her desk drawer -- where she had placed it only minutes ago... She made all the students open up their schoolbags and Miss Grant went around the room! She found the answer sheet in James' possession! The principal congratulates Miss Grant on her swift action, but she has more to say... It seemed strange to her that an honor student like James King would do such a deed! He had denied the act, but the evidence was against him... She then realized what must have happened! Miss Grant had placed her answer sheet in her desk...

When she returned to her desk, she took out Jimmy's book report from the desk-drawer, and she believes that when she gave him the report, the answer sheet must have been included, too! Miss Grant was going to explain this to the student today -- but he didn't come to school today -- Both Mr. Mason and Miss Grant figure that James must have run away after being publicly accused of cheating! She had called his home... James' father is a sea captain who is away for many months of the year, and his mother died when he was very young... James hasn't been home since yesterday! At the home of Wally West... Mr. Mason and Miss Grant pay a call on the young lad. Even though he is a friend of James King, Wally has no idea where he is.

He wasn't aware that James was missing until the adults told him. Once the teacher and principal have left... Wally knows that his friend has left home -- and with the school track meet coming up! Without him, their school doesn't have a chance to win tomorrow's meet. If he could find James before tomorrow, he has to do it as Kid Flash! Wally gained his power of super-speed when the Flash showed him how the accident which gave him his powers occurred, with the same events causing him to become Kid Flash! In his room, a familiar scarlet costume emerges from a secret compartment of Wally's ring... Half a second passes, and the scarlet speedster heads out of his home... He knows about James' cousin, Paul King, who lives in York City... he may have gone there!

In a phone booth, Kid Flash sees that there are 24 Paul Kings listed in the directory! He could call each one and ask for Jimmy, but he has a better idea... He visits each one at super-speed! During his search, he sees a window-washer falling from a high window! If he tries to catch him, both may be crushed! Inspired, Kid Flash heads for a moving van, and retrieves several heavy blankets used to wrap furniture! He places many of them on the sidewalk beneath the window-washer at super-speed!

The falling window-washer is saved when the blankets take the shock of the fall! As the dazed workman rises to his feet... Kid Flash resumes his search for James King! After visits to twenty of the addresses, he sees Jimmy at a window! In his eagerness, the scarlet speedster enters through a wall at super-speed... and an editor's note reminds us that Wally can vibrate his body at a fantastic rate, passing through solid objects because at his great speed, the molecules of his body can filter through the molecules of the wall! (Holy May the Schwartz Be With You, Batman!) He tells Jimmy that Wally West told him where to find him. When Kid Flash tells him that he's to do the big track meet tomorrow, Jimmy tells him that it's too late --

As Kid Flash notices the iron grating on the window, Jimmy tells him that he should run away! He and whoever he's with is in danger! The boy tells him about the "Beatnik" Gang, and even the scarlet speedster has heard about the criminals who have been robbing York City! When Jimmy decided to leave Blue Valley, he decided to look up his cousin, Paul, but when he arrived... He was surprised to see the gang dressed up like Beats... and Paul King greets his country cousin...

When asked if he can help find a job, Jimmy is startled when his cousin tells him that there's a place for him in the "Beatnik" Gang! Paul King is the leader of the gang -- "King" of the Beatniks -- who have the cops confused. The gang pretend to be Beatniks -- and they work at night! The police pay no heed to the Beats, but now they're getting wise, but the gang still manages to keep them guessing. Jimmy can't believe that his cousin is a crook, and Paul can't believe that his cousin is such a straight arrow. When he tried to leave, Paul tells him that he's seen too much to be able to go... He's been locked up in the room ever since. Jimmy watches as Kid Flash vibrates through the door at super-speed...

He listens as Paul King tells the gang members about how Jimmy thinks he's too good to be one of them. They figure that a couple of weeks in the room will make him wake up. Kid Flash knows that this is just part of the gang, and that they're going to pull a big job! The best way to help Jimmy and make certain that the "Beats" don't bother them is by capturing the whole gang! The "Beatnik" Gang drive off in a car, with the scarlet speedster following at 50 miles an hour, and staying invisible by vibrating at super-speed!

They drive to the suburbs where a truck is waiting for them. Kid Flash sees that the "Beatnik" Gang intends to rob the fur warehouse! In order to figure out how to round them up, he must delay them -- or get the authorities! As the Beats carry out the furs, an invisible Kid Flash returns them to the warehouse! The King is beat, while one of his subjects wonders how the truck can stay empty. Unfortunately for the scarlet speedster, he doesn't see the warehouse door being swung open by a gang member in time to vibrate through it...

He is stunned and the gang see Kid Flash on the warehouse floor. When a gang member suggests that the speedster is a friend of Jimmy, the King of the Beats decides to shoot! As the gun goes off, Kid Flash recovers... his reflexes so swift, that he can see the bullet coming for him! There's plenty of time for him to pass it by! In reaction to the attack, the scarlet speedster whirls around the Beats with a tremendous blast of velocity... He remembers hearing about a man who played the fiddle -- and how he made the people dance! The wind he's set up around them will have them dancing... all the way to jail! (Holy Jackson Mach 5, Batman! Kid Flash has gotten the gang to Beat It!)

Once the Beatnik Gang have been dropped off at the police station, Kid Flash takes Jimmy back to Blue Valley, and both are relieved when Miss Grant tells them that the accusation was due to an error. As Jimmy prepares to run in the school track meet, an editor's note tells us that Wally West would never participate in a track meet for fear of revealing his identity as Kid Flash! The afternoon finds Jimmy King winning the meet for Blue Valley! Wally watches from the stands... glad to be able to aid in this school victory -- even if no one knows that he had anything to do with it! A final editor's note tells us that the Kid Flash uniform worn in the story is his first one ... and his current one first appeared in the March, 1963 issue of the Flash.

Some criminals wear business suits and animal masks, while others dress up and pretend to be Beatniks. This shows that while crooks are a superstitious, cowardly lot... they also aren't exactly Mr. Blackwell when it comes to their choice of attire.

From the story, we see that Beatniks: recite poetry, paint pictures, and listen to music while playing on their bongos. They wear casual clothes consisting of shades, berets, scarves, sandals, turtleneck sweaters and torn pants. They also smoke cigarettes and consume lots and lots of java, too.

A falling window-washer also played a part in the origin story of Johnny Thunder in Flash Comics #1.

Like the Fiddler, Kid Flash soon has the Beatnik Gang dancing to his tune.

I like to think that Wally West doesn't take part in any track meets because it would give him an unfair advantage over his fellow classmates with his super-speed.

Nice to see that after accusing James King of cheating, the school teacher and the principal cared enough to search for the student on their own time.

We see that even a "Straight A" student can feel the pressure of his peers, and go seeking easy answers in the wrong places with Cousin Paul.

This Review Is Dedicated to Professor Jack Selegue and Teacher Jen Contino

Steve Chung
"King of the Reviews!"