Lash strikes out at a foe, from his first adventure.


Medium: Comic Books
Published by: Ace Magazines
First Appeared: 1940
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Tibet is where The Flame, Amazing-Man, Dr. Droom and any number of other superheroes got powered up, but it's not the only place where mystic means of getting supeheroized were available in old comic books. Egypt, too, was replete with "The Black Arts and weird wisdom," to quote the first caption in the origin story of Flash Lightning, who, like Hawkman, Ibis the Invincible, Fantomah and many others, traced his super-ness to that "land of eerie mystery" — another quote from that caption. As the story opened, Flash (no relation) was just being congratulated and being sent out into the world by The Old Man of the Pyramids, the "ageless" (but white-bearded) tutor who schooled him in all the ancient …

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… and modern sciences. His name wasn't Flash Lightning as that scene opened — the old man gave him that name in the course of the conversation,. Originally, he was Robert Morgan, but all we knew about his earlier life was that he was American, and his parents were dead.

The Old Man also bestowed The Amulet of Annihilation on him, explaining that this was a weapon of The Forces of Right, whoever they were. If the Amulet lived up to its name, those Forces must have been very sure of their Rightness, because it sounds like something The Forces of Wrong might find more occasion to use. Anyway, besides all his arcane knowledge, he got more than his share of super powers out of the deal. He was super strong, able to project lightning bolts, and could bounce bullets off his chest. (He could also fly, but that almost goes without saying.)

Whatever his life might have been like before, it was completely taken over by the Flash Lightning persona. He was called "Lightning" by some people, particularly those whom one would expect to call a guy by his last name — "Lightning was his name and superheroing was his game." He went around helping people in distress, and that's about it. He wasn't related to Flash Gordon, Black Lightning or Bat Lash.

He began in Sure Fire Comics #1 (June, 1940), published by Ace Magazines (Captain Courageous). Others starting with him include Marvo the Magician, The Phantom Fed (no relation) and a couple of others. Exactly who wrote or drew any of those guys, including Flash, isn't known. But later stories about Flash (or Lash) Lightning were written and drawn by such luminaries as Jim Mooney (Supergirl) and Harvey Kurtzman (Mad magazine).

It was a little over a year later that the first letter of the hero's name was dropped, making him "Lash" Lightning. (Not, contrary to some reports, in his second appearance.) There's no record of DC Comics having lodged an official complaint about violation of their trademark. But considering how touchy DC has been about some characters being a bit too close an imitation of a property of theirs, it's not impossible that DC let it be known through industry channels that it thought a violation existed. In any case, as of vol. 2 #2 (August, 1941), the hero's first name was Lash.

But by vol. 2 #2, the title was no longer Sure Fire Comics. As of vol. 1 #4 (December, 1940) it was changed to Lightning Comics. The contents were the same, What's-his-name Lightning in the lead, backed up by The Raven (no relation, nor to Spider Widow's boyfriend), Marvo, Whiz Wilson and the rest, but now it was more like the cover-featured character had his own title.

In Lightning vol. 3 #1 (June, 1942), Lash got a sidekick. While unconscious, he accidentally sent thousands of volts through the body of Isobel Blake, a friend of his. It often happens that when superheroes are on the scene, accidents like this leave people super-powered instead of dead, and that's what happened to Isobel. Aside from powers a lot like his, she could communicate with Lash, using "lightning impulses".

But that was the last issue of Lightning Comics. A few months earlier, Lash had gotten a regular gig in Four Favorites Comics, one of those titles where the publisher puts its extra-popular characters all together, hoping to rope in more readers. In Ace's case, these included Magno & Davey, The Unknown Soldier and a few other stars. Lash and Lightning Girl continued until Four Favorites #22 (March, 1946).

After that, it was oblivion until they met the fate of virtually all superheroes in the public domain. They've had a couple of minor revivals in recent years.


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