"Get Me Outta Here!"
|Writers/Co-Creators:||Gary Cohn & Dan Mishkin|
Our protagonist Dan Cassidy, taking some time off in Metropolis while he adjusts to, or rather mopes about his dilemma, begins his life as a superhero when a criminal named Shockwave tries to steal a batch of super-kryptonite from S.T.A.R Labs. During Shockwave's getaway he destroys Dan's brownstone apartment building. After a knock-down-drag-out fight, Dan manages to relieve the villain of the canister containing the super-k only as Shockwave is raised by tractor beam into a flying saucer/getaway vehicle. In exchange for his help, Dr. Klyburn, director of S.T.A.R. labs, agrees to look into Dan's condition.
Blue Devil: (after scaring away some would-be muggers) You nice folks look lost. Can I help?
Female Tourist: Then this isn't "the Village"?
Blue Devil: No, ma'am. I'll show you how to get there.
Female Tourist: Are you...Superman??
Blue Devil: Yes, ma'am. That's who I am.
Blue Devil: Aww, man...did you have to go and wreck my building...? Couldn't you have picked another neighborhood to play cops and robbers in?
Shockwave: I play where I wanna play, pally!
Police Officer: (watching Shockwave soar up through the air after a haymaker from the Devil) Wow! That was some punch!
Blue Devil: Wasn't it, though!
Sharon: How'd Danny get involved in that mess?
Gopher: Easy--when you look like a super-hero, you get treated like one...and then you start acting like one!
Sharon: But he's not a super-hero...!
Gopher: Oh no?
Shockwave: Ya think yer such a smart guy, don'tcha. Prob'ly a straight "A" student. Well, smart yer way outta this!
Blue Devil: Actually, Shockwave, I was always the class clown. Practical joker. Here's something that should crack you up!
Blue Devil: (thinking, as he electrocutes Shockwave) If that doesn't short out his circuits, this is gonna be one long night!
Shockwave: Look at my face, joker! I ain't laughin'!
Blue Devil: Oh, man...a very long night.
Here's a question: What do the Blue Devil and Bugs Bunny have in common? Answer: They both hate bullies. But neither of them is particularly inclined to do anything about them unless (a) he is entreated by somebody else or (b) the bullies make the mistake of picking a fight with him. I came to the realization that these are incredibly similar characters after receiving the DVD set Looney Tunes: Golden Collection for Christmas. Think about it. The majority of Bugs Bunny cartoons--and I love them--are for the most part structurally similar. Bugs is minding his own business, enjoying his freedom to live and let live unmolested, when some bully comes along and tries to take away that freedom, whether it's the Gas House Gorillas, that opera singer, Yosemite Sam, Wile E. Coyote, or whoever. Bugs wants no part of them until they start something, and then, of course you realize this means war.
Look at Dan's behavior in this issue. Shockwave literally tears down Dan's brownstone, and Dan still doesn't seem particularly keen on fighting him until the brutish Shockwave socks him one. Then it's on. Similar to Bugs Bunny, Dan tends to use his wit in addition to his bag of tricks to defeat the villains, who are little more than thugs. These are a few of the elements that make the Blue Devil such an interesting, if reluctant, hero. For the most part, he isn't proactive. He is reactive. He never looks for trouble, it just tends to find him. I think this is part of the reason that the idea of the Blue Devil joining the Justice League never really made sense to me. He's just not that guy. He actually has no interest in being a hero. Generally speaking his only aspiration is to be left alone. That he does heroic things almost speaks more to his desire to humiliate whoever is hassling him more than anything else. There's a certain definite element of payback to it, and maybe that's not how conventional heros operate, but it's how Blue Devil operates. Just my take on things.
Actually, this analogy produces a rather funny coincidence, come to think of it, when you remember that Bolt, one of Blue Devil's archenemies, puts on a phoney Southern accent that he learned from Yosemite Sam cartoons.
Somebody sent me a link to a piece of fan fiction written in between Dan's death and his resurrection. In the story, upon Dan's escape from the underworld, the Phantom Stranger offers to work his magics to get Dan out of the costume. Long story short, Dan takes the deal but eventually begs to become one with the costume again when he realizes that he needs to be a superhero in order to protect the ones he loves, and that he actually isn't happy anymore being just a regular guy. In my opinion that writer completely missed the point. There's no doubt that Dan gets his kicks out of the occasional donnybrook, but I feel it has more to do with the character trait (some might call it a flaw) that he never backs down when challenged. He ain't looking for glory.
On a different topic, I really like Paris Cullins's artwork here. Cullins never seemed to be big on doing backgrounds, but his action sequences are a lot of fun. His signature seemed to be multiple images of the same character in a single panel as the character performs some feat of acrobatics. The panel in which the Blue Devil leaps backwards and flips around a lamp post while pulling it to the ground to electrocute Shockwave contains no less than eleven images of the Blue Devil. It works well when he does it. If he were still around, I'd love to see him on something like NIGHTWING.
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