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Showcase 8
"The Coldest Man on Earth"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND ,Published June 1957

Writer: John Broome
Artists: Carmine Infantino and Frank Giacoia

"The first encounter between The Flash and the amazing criminal called Captain Cold resulted in a defeat for the world's fastest human! Under what fantastic circumstances would they meet again? And what new, ingenious trick would the Scarlet Speedster have to overcome in order to capture... The Coldest Man on Earth!"

On a warm summer day in Central City, people are shocked by the sight of a man walking down the street in a parka. Joking about his odd attire, the strange man ignores them as he heads for a skyscraper, stopping to pull out a mysterious gun. He thinks to himself that though he is now unknown, soon the entire country will hear of "Captain Cold."

With a mysterious blast from his weapon, which he calls a Cold-Gun, the skyscraper is soon instantly covered in ice! The frigid freak enters to find that everything inside the building is frozen as well; even a secretary was flash-frozen while typing! The cryonic Captain comments that by the time it's thawed out, he'll be long gone with the loot.

Captain Cold approaches the safe, four inches thick, which would normally deter any thief. But the intense cold has made it so brittle, the parka-clad purloiner can shatter it with a simple hammer. He gleefully helps himself to "cold hard cash".

At the Scientific Detection Bureau, Barry Allen hears a shrill siren from the remote control hookup to the alarm system at police headquarters. He learns that there's an emergency at the Paragon Building, and determines that only the Flash can fix the problem. Allen flips open the cover of the ring on his finger, releasing his costume which rapidly expands upon contact with the air. Soon, Barry Allen is on the job as the Flash, running across the roofs of the city so rapidly he can leap distances of up to a hundred feet with ease.

Flash rushes down the side of a building, spotting the refrigerated robber he'd heard about in the police alert. He rushes for the criminal, but Captain Cold remarks that he's prepared. He fires a round from his Cold-Gun, but to his shock, it doesn't stop the Scarlet Speedster. Flash realizes that his rapid vibrations allowed him to overcome the cold blast. Thinking quickly, Cold turns the barrel of his gun to the ground, creating a sheet of ice so slippery it prevents Flash from keeping his footing. Stuck running in place, he's unable to stop Captain Cold from escaping.

As Flash wonders if he'll be able to stop the criminal the next time he emerges, we learn the history of this polar plunderer. Weeks ago, aspiring criminal Len Snart hopes for a way to defeat the Flash, the only thing standing between him and a successful criminal career. Reading the paper, he finds that a scientific magazine has an article on the Flash, and thinks it may have some tips on how to beat the Crimson Lightning. Snart breaks into the magazine office and absconds with the manuscript. The article hypothesizes that a cyclotron could be able to interfere with the Flash's speed. Snart realizes that if he can develop a weapon with the power of a cyclotron, it will give him the edge he needs.

A few nights later, Snart breaks into a radiation laboratory where a cyclotron is located. He hopes it will give the special gun he's developed the radioactive punch necessary to whallop the Flash. But he doesn't know how the device works and pulls the levers the wrong way. The cyclotron strikes his gun with a strange form of energy, and Snart decides to high-tail it out of there before he's hurt. Leaving the building, he's spotted by the night watchman, who pulls his gun on the thief. Hoping to scare off the guard, Snart pulls out his gun in an attempt to scare him off. However, he accidentally pulls the trigger, and an energy beam shoots out that freezes the watchman in place in a solid block of ice. With his new weapon, Snart establishes his own ice-themed base and parka costume before deciding on the name "Captain Cold". Now he's ready to take Central City, and has nothing to fear from the Flash.

Returning to the present, Snart is deep in thought in his Cold Chamber. He realizes that the trick he used to escape Flash earlier won't work again, so he needs a new strategy... one that will permanently rid him of the fleet-footed hero. He decides to make improvements to his Cold-Gun so it can fire even colder blasts. Snart carries out a number of experiments with no success before working with liquid helium, one of the coldest substances known to man. Firing a shot, he's stunned to see a polar bear materialize from out of nowhere in his lair! The bear lunges at Captain Cold... and passes right through him. Snart realizes it's a mirage caused by his gun. He shot out absolute zero cold (-460 degrees F), and the intense cold, much like intense heat, caused an incredibly realistic mirage. As the illusionary bear fades, Snart believes he has the perfect weapon to beat the Flash.

Back at Barry Allen's police lab, his remote detector picks up an alarm from headquarters about a sudden cold snap in Civic Park. It can only mean one thing - Captain Cold is in action again! He suits up and rushes to the park, shocked to find the lake in the middle of the park frozen solid. Hiding behind a tree, Captain Cold spots the Flash and is delighted that the trick to lure his foe into his trap has worked. He fires a shot from his gun, ready to unleash his icy illusions.

Flash is stunned by the sight of dozens of escalators converging on him. Puzzled by their appearance but concerned that they could harm him, he begins to whirl around rapidly, hoping to create a centrifugal force that will drive them back. Anart looks on through specially-designed glasses that allow him to see through the mirages, laughing as he watches Flash wear himself down trying to escape from nothing. When the mirage fades, Flash is confused by their inexplicable disappearance. But his troubles are just beginning. Captain Cold fires another shot, and soon the Scarlet Speedster is surrounded by a merry-go-round of mythical creatures, quickly contracting towards him. He tries to slip through, but the beasts are moving so quickly he can't find an opening. Again, the illusion soon fades, and Snart believes that one more shot will exhaust the Flash so much he'll be unable to stand up to him.

After another round of absolute cold, a large buzz-saw blade begins circling Flash at intense speeds. He can't try to escape or he might be sliced by the blades. As the saw moves closer, Flash detects traces of cold coming from the saw. He realizes that Captain Cold is behind the strange visions, and now that he knows they're just hallucinations, he's ready to fight back.

Flash bursts through the illusionary blade and spots Cold's hiding place, ready to pay back the frosty foe with a taste of his own medicine. Moving at superspeed, Snart sees dozens of Flashes circling him - he can't tell which one is real! In desperation, he fires his gun at all of them, but isn't fast enough as he's quickly incapacitated in a cylinder of whirling air. Beaten, Captain Cold is rushed off to police headquarters by his foe.

After putting Snart behind bars, Barry returns to his laboratory where his friend Stan can't wait to tell him about Flash's tangle with Captain Cold. Barry feigns interest in the story while subtly warming his hands over a candle; the battle with Captain Cold left his hands very numb!

- This issue marked the first appearance of Len Snart, alias Captain Cold. In the seventies, his sister Lisa would embark on her own criminal career as the supervillainess "Golden Glider."

- Some of the names Snart thinks about using before deciding on Captain Cold include Mr. Arctic, The Cold Wave, Sub-Zero, and Human Icicle. (Persomally, I think Sub-Zero would have been much cooler. Then he could have sued the creators of Mortal Kombat for royalties.)

- Personal scientific confusion: how a cyclotron can infuse a gun with the power to freeze objects is beyond my understanding.

- More scientific confusion: If Cold's gun was firing at absolute zero, wouldn't he have been unable to fire it? All molecular movement stops at absolute zero.

- Captain Cold has appeared in television adaptations of DC comics. In the seventies cartoon "Challenge of the Superfriends", he was a member of the Legion of Doom, first voiced by Dick Ryal and later by Michael Bell. In the live-action Flash series of the early 1990s, Cold was portrayed by Michael Champion as a hit-man for hire who uses cryogenic weaponry to kill his targets (in this version, the character's real name was Leonard Wynters instead of Leonard Snart.) More recently, Captain Cold appeared in the Cartoon Network series "Justice League Unlimited", voiced by Lex Lang.

- Side note: In "Justice League Adventures #12", Captain Cold teamed up with a series of other ice-themed villains (Mr. Freeze, Killer Frost, Cryonic Man, Snowman, Minister Blizzard, and Icicle) as a criminal group called "The Cold Warriors." Great read, if you want my recommendation.