Weaponizing the Weather in 1959's Flash #110 from DC Comics

The Flash #110 from DC Comics is best known for its debut of Wally West and Kid Flash. But this issue, which has an on-sale date of October 20, 1959 appears to be a stand-out example of something I love seeking out in comics of any era:  it is a direct reflection of its moment in history.   Because The Flash #110 is also the first appearance of the Weather Wizard, and the months leading up to the October release of this issue were full of detailed accounts of how Weather Wizards could both weaponize the weather and manipulate it for economic benefit.  There's an affordable G/VG condition copy of The Flash #110 up for auction in the current 2021 January 3-4 Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation, Video Games & Art Weekly Online Auction at Heritage Auctions.

Weaponizing the Weather in 1959's Flash #110 from DC Comics
Flash Comics #110 cover detail superimposed on Dec 4, 1958 Pittsburgh Press Weather Wizards article via Newspapers.com

Beginning in December 1958 and continuing up through March 1959 — a short time before The Flash #110 hit the newsstands — newspapers around America ran a 5-part series of articles under the overall title What are the Weather Wizards Up To? The high-profile series appears to have been triggered by the final report of President Eisenhower's Advisory Committee on Weather Control the year prior.  One introductory blurb described the series like this: "The energy released in an atomic bomb is small compared to the power of the weather. This informative series tells the newest fascinating developments in man's efforts toward mastery of the weather."  One part of the series focused upon the weaponization of weather, and stated among other things:

Conversely, what would have happened if on D-Day, 1942 [author's note: this appears to be a typo in the newspaper source, as of course D-Day was in 1944], if the Germans had been able to unleash a devastating storm just as the Allies invasion fleet was half-way across the English Channel? Would much of the Allied fleet have been destroyed along with all the plans for a second front and would Adolf Hitler still be running the German Reich?

Such inspiration from real life and (theoretically) real science was the norm for The Flash stories from this era.  As editor Julius Schwartz would explain in an issue a short time later: "Many of our readers have complimented us for our realistic approach to The Flash. When we present an amazing, almost unbelievable idea or gimmick, we like to explain it scientifically." The series usually had single page, science-based features to help explain the science involved, like "Flash Facts" and similar shorts.  The "Flash Facts" of The Flash #110 was indeed weather-based, and there was even an explanation of weather forecasting in a text feature in this same issue.

All of which is to say that Schwartz and writer John Broome kept current with the popular science of the day, and it doesn't seem unlikely that they would have been influenced to create the Weather Wizard — who uses weather for economic gain — by a recent and high-profile series of articles entitled "What are the Weather Wizards Up To?" which explained the military and economic benefits of not just talking about the weather, but doing something about it too.  There's an affordable G/VG condition copy of The Flash #110 up for auction in the current 2021 January 3-4 Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation, Video Games & Art Weekly Online Auction at Heritage Auctions.

Weaponizing the Weather in 1959's Flash #110 from DC Comics
Flash Comics #110 cover by Carmine Infantino, 1959, DC Comics.

 

About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.