Once in a while, I get hit with a reminder of just how wide the gulf can be between comic aficionados and the public-at-large. You know what I'm talking about; it's when you say something that seems completely understandable and mundane in terms of your own experience, but generates nothing but blank, slightly quizzical expressions in those around you.
(It's not just comics, either; I get the same reaction when I talk about having copies of two dozen of the concerts from the just-finished Bruce Springsteen tour.)
I picked up a copy of the gigantic 'Crisis On Infinite Earths' poster a few months ago, and finally decided that it wasn't doing me any good all rolled up. A couple of high school friends own an art framing shop (free plug: Frameworks, owned by brothers Edward Barr and Tom Barr, in Orleans, Ontario), and I took the poster in to have it mounted. We had the poster spread on one of the framing tables, so that Tom could measure the poster, when he asked a very obvious question: "So just what the heck is going on here, anyhow?"
He followed that one with: "Why are there two Supermen? And why is that one so old? Hey, is that the stretching guy from the team with the orange lumpy rock guy?" And so on.
It's an interesting challenge, isn't it? How do you describe the 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' mini-series to someone who has never heard of Earths 1, 2, 3, X, Q, S, Prime, C-Minus, etc., to someone who has no concept of the so-called DC Multiverse and who hasn't so much as picked up a comic book for close to twenty years?
Like I said, there can be a pretty big gulf between us comics people and the rest of the world.
The 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' series marked the death of the original Mirror Master, as seen in the above strip. (How's that for a segue?) Lots of other heroes and villains passed on to that great dust-up in the sky as well, but the Mirror Master was a notable kill, in view of his long history over the years.
The Mirror Master was introduced shortly after DC re-introduced the Flash in the mid-1950s. He was just another convict, working in the prison machine shop when he made an accidental discovery. He stumbled onto a method of mirror-making that would let mirrors capture and retain images for limited periods of time. After his release from prison, he innovated and improved upon his mirror-based discoveries, all to further a career as a masked super-villain.
If you ask me, he probably would have been better off filing for a few dozen patents, and securing some venture capital. Mind you, the same thing could be said about most of The Flash's Rogues Gallery, to tell you the truth. All that super-scientific potential squandered on petty bank robberies and jewelry store heists.
The Mirror Master was one of the earliest members of the Rogues Gallery, the collective name given to several costumed Flash villains who rely on specific gimmicks as their modus operandi. Captain Cold was the first of the Rogues, using a powerful 'cold-gun' to generate a freezing ray with a temperature of absolute zero. The Pied Piper could cause all sorts of phenomena by playing specific notes and tunes on a 'super-sonic flute'. Heat Wave, wearing an asbestos suit, used fire and heat to commit his crimes. The Top's shtick was that spun himself like a top, generating a huge amount of centrifugal force. Abra Kadabra used advanced science from a future era to create effects that would appear to be magic to twentieth century audiences. There are others, too - Weather Wizard, Trickster, etc. Oh, yes, and Captain Boomerang, too - his name says it all.
On a historical note, the Mirror Master made his entrance in the first issue of the revived Flash series, following the success of the stories in Showcase. The numbering of the revived series began at #105, picking up from where the numbering had stopped in 1949. The rationale was that kids would be more likely to buy a comic with a track record measuring over one hundred issues than some new and untried first issue. My, my, how times have changed.
As I mentioned, Marv Wolfman and George Perez killed off the original Mirror Master in their 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' series during the mid-1980s. In an interview, one (or both) asserted that they wanted to kill off one of the Rogues during the series, presumably as a counterpart to the death of The Flash, and Mirror Master drew the short straw. It was kind of an ignoble death, as it turned out. Dispatched back through time to prevent a catastrophe, he was killed from behind while arguing with fellow villains The Icicle and Maaldor (don't ask) over which of them would get the honour of destroying the bad guy's equipment.
Consider the irony; after years of villainy, after all those fights with The Flash and other heroes, The Mirror Master died on a mission to do something heroic.
Redemption's just gotta suck sometimes.