The ability of the writers and the producers of CW’s The Flash to bring classic comic book villains to life has been truly magical since the series began. And with Abra Kadabra coming to DC TV, “magical” isn’t just a clever turn of phrase. Who is this magical malcontent, you ask? Sit back and let’s go for a mystical ride back to the Silver Age of comics…
When writer John Broome and artist Carmine Infantino first introduced Abra Kadabra in The Flash #128 (1962), he stood apart from the villainous pack. After all, up until that point, most Flash villains were either strange aliens or career criminals enhanced by improbably hi-tech weaponry. But Abra Kadabra, with his jaunty cape and mustachioed visage, was anachronistic when compared to the eye popping Silver Age designs of villains like Captain Boomerang or Captain Cold. Abra Kadabra looked like he belonged fighting Doctor Fate or Sargon the Sorcerer back in the Golden Age of comics, but there he was, wand, mustache, and all, battling the Scarlet Speedster.
Most of Flash’s villains were technology enhanced or science based (well, except for the ones that were giant evil psychic gorilla dictators), and surprisingly, under the surface, Abra Kadabra wasn’t much different. He wasn’t a classic evil sorcerer, not really, he was a citizen of the 64th century. Citizen Abra was a stage magician who longed for accolades and applause but people living in an advanced civilization where time travel was possible weren’t really impressed with magic hats or some mustachioed nutjob pulling handkerchiefs out of his mouth. So Abra did what any insane, narcissistic futuristic stage magician would do, he stole a time machine and traveled back to the 20th century where people would be awestruck by his tricks.
Now, let’s stop here and let this sink in. Abra Kadabra abandoned a time period where there was no disease, war, or famine to come to the 20th century so people would clap for him. That’s pretty messed up.
And when Abra got to the past, he didn’t even really use magic, he just used technology from his era to make people think he was using magic. That’s like me going back to 1654 with a flip phone and saying I was a wizard. People didn’t know what to make of the gaudily dressed egoist and kind of just watched his shenanigans with mouths agape. But Abra Kadabra would have his applause, oh yes. He used his super tech to force people to applaud. Try as he might, Abra Kadabra couldn’t get people interested in his showmanship, but he was in Central City where the greatest celebrities were the Flash and his motley assortment of villains, so like any sensible magician, he turned to crime.
In their first encounter, Abra defeated Flash by using his futuristic clap inducing technology (ahem). There was Barry Allen, clapping his hands and stomping his feet with such verve that he couldn’t stop Abra Kadabra. Later, Abra Kadabra attempted his greatest trick by making the Flash disappear. All that was left of Flash was his uniform as he was shot off into space. Flash used his speed to race back to Earth and easily defeated Abra Kadabra, but a very different type of rogue was born, one who committed crimes not for material gain, but to feed his own ego.
With that out of the way, let’s look at some of the more magical moments of Abra Kadabra’s career…
The Greatest Moment in the History of Western Fiction
In The Flash #133 (1962) by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, something happens that is so awesomely improbable, it remains one of the wackiest, most awesome bits of comic book weirdness ever rendered on a comic book page. After Abra Kadabra escapes from prison, he sets up a puppet show (as one does). He uses his new found puppet glory to ruin Flash’s reputation. He builds a Flash puppet and humiliates it.
That’s kind of silly, but things soon take a glorious turn. Abra Kadabra uses his 64th century tech to set up a trap that turns Flash into a freakin’ puppet! Yes, Abra Kadabra transforms Barry Allen into a marionette, and Barry doesn’t even seem that phased by it. On the cover of this infamous issue, Flash is proclaiming, “I’ve got the strangest feeling I’m being turned into a puppet.”
Now what does that feel like? Does it feel like you’re limbs get really stiff, or is it one of those weird feelings when you have to poop but not really? Does it feel like Jim Henson is whispering in your ear, or does it feel like you need a moment alone with Shari Lewis and Lambchop? Does you Kukla feel all Fran and Ollied? We want to know!
Whatever the case, Flash was a puppet but somehow uses super speed to not be a puppet (I guess he vibrates at the opposite frequency of a puppet?) and defeats Abra Kadabra. But this moment of glory will forever define the endless insanity of Flash’s Silver Age adventures.
Psst, Greg Berlanti, psst, Geoff Johns, pssst, Andrew Kreisberg. Gather ‘round, I need to talk to you. Yeah, let’s huddle. Please have Abra Kadabra turn Barry into a puppet on TV. Please, the universe needs this to happen. Thanks, you guys.
Abra Kadabra fights Barry Allen many times in the Silver and Bronze Ages, yet unlike other famed Flash foes, Abra always fought alone. The magician’s immense ego doesn’t allow him to play well with others.
Abra Kadabra returned again and again in order to achieve the glory of defeating the Flash, but in all that time, no creator really delved into Abra Kadabra’s world of the 64th century…until the great Mark Waid that is. In The Flash #67-68 (1992), Waid and artist Greg Larocque present “Future Tense,” a tale in which Abra returns to his own timeline. The wrinkle they add to the Abra Kadabra legend is that in the future, certain malcontents and rebels worship the magician. They honor his non-conformist view of the world and form a sort of Cult of Kadabra. The rest of society wants Abra Kadabra dead and Wally West (who took over from Barry Allen after Crisis on Infinite Earths) must race to the future to save Barry’s magical mortal enemy. Wally saves Abra Kadabra and destroys the method by which the evil techo-wizard travels through time. So now, Abra Kadabra is stuck in the 20th century, far from the 64th rebellion that so honors him.
Ironically, Abra Kadabra finds himself in a world where that applause he so desired is waiting for him…44 centuries in the future. Abra Kadabra dedicates himself to destroy Wally West as the magician now no longer wants plaudits for defeating Flash, he wants revenge. Abra Kadabra became a much more bitter enemy of Wally West than he ever was of Barry Allen and became one of Wally’s most obsessed and terrifying rogues. One wonders if CW’s Flash will follow suit and cast Abra Kadabra as more of a rival to Wally than Barry.
His Greatest Trick
In order to achieve his bloody goal of destroying Wally West, Abra Kadabra turns to the devil himself. In the 1995 Underworld Unleashed storyline by Mark Waid and Howard Porter, Abra Kadabra makes a deal with the demonic entity known as Neron. Neron had the penchant for upping the power levels of DC villains who sold their souls to the demonic entity. But Abra Kadabra’s ego was too huge to sell his own soul, so Abra Kadabra did the unthinkable and sold the souls of five of Flash’s rogues (Captain Boomerang, Mirror Master, Heat Wave, Weather Wizard, and Captain Cold) to the devil.
After this act that proved there is no honor among thieves, Abra Kadabra became Neron’s chief lieutenant. Not bad, from a puppet obsessed egocentric stage magician to the right hand man of the devil hisownself. Wally West and the heroes of the DCU would defeat Neron and save the rogues but now, Abra Kadabra had legit magical powers thanks to his Faustian deal. Abra Kadabra was finally a true wizard and ready to take his hatred of Wally West to the next level.
And Now I’ll Make This Woman, Disappear
With his new found devil enhanced magic, Abra Kadabra would soon commit his greatest atrocity. In 2000, in a storyline written by Waid and Brian Augustyn and drawn by Paul Pelletier, Abra Kadabra would go after reporter Linda Park, Wally West’s greatest love. Linda was Flash’s anchor to reality and whenever Wally got lost in time or space, Linda would be his beacon home.
Yeah, on TV, Park was a sports reporter that had a brief fling with Barry Allen and then disguised herself as Doctor Light, but in the 90s, in the pages of DC Comics, Linda Park was a pretty damn big deal. That’s why it was so shocking when Abra Kadabra made Linda Park disappear from all of reality. Not only was Linda gone, no one remembered her. Abra Kadabra committed the ultimate act of revenge by magically robbing Wally West of his greatest love and his true purpose. With this one spell, all of a sudden, puppets, applause, and the wonderful silliness of the Silver Age was forgotten as Abra Kadabra took the stage as Wally’s greatest foe.
Thankfully, Park was actually only shunted off into another dimension and the power of Wally and Linda’s love eventually reunited the couple. There was a whole thing with Wally’s twin from another dimension and more time and space shenanigans than you can shake a magic wand at, but the takeaway here is this, Abra Kadabra almost pulled off his greatest trick, making the love of his arch enemy’s life disappear.
As many Flash fans know, after the comic book version of Flashpoint, Wally West himself disappeared. When Wally West returned in the pages of 2016’s DC Universe: Rebirth, a great mystery followed. Where was the former Flash, why was he gone so long and how did he return after so many years? Well, in the world of The Flash, when someone disappears, you can bet that Abra Kadabra had something to do with it.
In the pages of Titans by writer Dan Abnett and Brett Booth, it was revealed that Abra Kadabra kidnapped Linda Park and the members of the Titans. He forced Wally West to travel so fast in the Speed Force to save his friends that Wally disappeared from reality. But in Rebirth, Wally returned and with him, a sense of hope and wonder returned to the DC Universe. The reemerged West and the reunited classic Titans defeated Abra Kadabra and restored Wally and the Titans to DCU prominence.
But hey, Abra Kadabra was so damn powerful, he not only robbed the DC Universe of Wally West, he robed all of reality- including ours!- of the beloved hero. Think about that next time your laughing at the puppet stuff.
And there you go, Abra Kadabra 101. If Abra Kadabra follows the same pattern of coolness and creative quality that so many other classic Flash Rogues have achieved on the CW, we’re sure Abra Kadabra will finally receive that standing ovation he’s always desired.