Long-time ISB readers might recall that while I like to consider myself more of a comics reader than anything else, there are a couple of things that I go after just for the joy of having them, and chief among those is my collection of comics with covers featuring America’s greatest leader, President Abraham Lincoln.
Imagine my good fortune, then, when I stumbled across this little gem purely by accident yesterday:
That, my friends, is a cover that asks us to accept a lot of things. Namely:
1. That the robot in question is accurate in both its reporting and its statement that this news is happening now
2. That it is indeed the year 2971, as evidenced by the yellow skies and the fact that Adam Strange is swinging by to fight with the Flash’s word balloon
3. That the Elongated Man was once a selling point
And perhaps most importantly…
4. That the MILFs of the future will have some dynamite legs.
Of course, there’s also the part where we’re to assume that it’s actually Lincoln and not just a sophisticated Robot Lincoln designed to preserve the Union during a futuristic Civil War, but–Spoiler Warning!–it’s really just a sophisticated Robot Lincoln designed to preserve the Union during a futuristic Civil War.
As for the why of all this madness, that can be summed up pretty well in about two words: Cary Bates.
In retrospect, those might not be the words you were expecting, but still. Bates is, after all, the guy who brought us stories like the one where a 10 year-old Batman kicks the crap out of a grizzly bear. Sadly, that’s not a theme that he revisits here, but we do get an opening sequence featuring this:
Yes, as revealed by the “probing” of the Flash’s “time vibrator,” in the grim future of 2971, there is only war! Civil War in fact, as Earth-East and Earth-West struggle against each other for reasons that are never actually made clear. What we do know, however, is that the War has left Earth-West with “inadequate news coverage,” to the point where they’re recruiting from the twentieth century.
Specifically, they’re going for Iris West, who was born in the future and then sent to the past, but came back after Professor Zoom–you know what? Let’s just skip it. All you really need to know is that she’s the Flash’s girlfriend, and in order to fulfill a community service requirement left over from transporting electrified chemicals over the border, she’s volunteered to help set up a “picture news service.”
One quick hop on the Cosmic Treadmill later, she and the Flash arrive in the future to hear the grim news: President Lincoln has been assassinated. And even more amazing, nobody saw that one coming.
You’d think Barry Allen might be used to things like this, what with the fact that he himself is following in the footsteps of another guy who ran really fast and called himself “The Flash,” but the whole thing just blows his mind. It’s the kind of thing that makes me wonder how he deals with other repetitive aspects of his life.
“Incredible! The McRib was only available for a limited time! How can it be available again–a whole year later?!“
Needless to say, he doesn’t bother to stick around for the thirty or so seconds that it’d take to explain what was going on, instead choosing to tear off across the country to investigate the murder and track down the responsible party: The 30th-Century Doppelganger of John Wilkes Booth!
Or, as he would become known to his contemporaries…
JOHN WILKES JETPACK!
Only the addition of Sarah Vowell could make that more awesome.
Unfortunately, the Flash’s zealous pursuit of justice in the name of the Union is not without the hazards that come from hasty crimefighting:
Just for future reference, things are usually referred to as things like “The Wild Region” because there’s something there that you really don’t want to run into. In Metropolis circa 1971, the problem was an overabundance of high-tech street-racing super-hippies.
In Earth-East, however, it’s more a problem of Stranger Danger:
Of course, the real issue here is the prevalent amount of powerful hallucinogens in the atmosphere–which coincidentally was a condition shared by the offices of DC Comics throughout the decade–and before long, Barry figures out a way to block out the evil of the spectral hands.
And I think it’s a solution from which we could all benefit:
And he does, finally revealing the trick that the readers probably assumed six pages ago in a sequence involving the search-result skewing image that can only be described as “Naked Robot Lincoln.
For those of you requiring further explanation, allow me: With the threat of a Civil War involving atomic weapons–very atomic weapons–looming over their heads, the hot-shot scientists of the 30th Century decided that the best course of action would be to look to the past for inspiration. Thus, in a move that pretty much confirms that it’s all downhill from here as far as world leaders go, they do what Walt Disney did a thousand years before: they make themselves a Cyborg Lincoln.
But sadly, thanks to a two-and-a-half-star laser-blast from Cyborg John Wilkes Booth, his term as President of the Future was cut short. OR WAS IT?!
For you see, while the Flash is caught up in The Worst Deathtrap Ever–a ball and chain that it takes him like three pages to figure out he can get out of by rotating the other way–Future Booth meets up with his sinister paymaster Bekor, the Ruthless Commander of Earth-East, who is not Ming the Merciless, but an incredible simulation.
By this point, though, Booth has outlived his usefulness, and after delivering the murder weapon to his boss–a plot point that’s about to be pretty relevant despite never being explained–he’s immediately shot, at which point things start to get way more awesome.
Because this is where Lincoln comes out of the laser gun and reassembles his atoms thanks to an anti-disintegration pocketwatch he’d been holding for just such an occasion.
Thus: Presidential Beatdowns, presented here in all their wondrous, democratic glory.
Man! Not since Benito Cereno’s Tales From the Bully Pulpit has there been an Abe-Related Beatdown that Union-preservingly thorough!