Friends, it has been far too long since I last tackled an entry in the ongoing look back at Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe, time just managed to slip away from me it would seem. Which is most assuredly something that the third entry in the first issue of the Who’s Who series would know all about, as Abra Kadabra hails from the 64th Century. Before we dive into the history of the character though, here is a brief recap on the Who’s Who series.
Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe originally saw publication back in 1985 and the initial 26 issue run was a rather amazing deep dive into the then current history of the characters of DC Comics. The series was headed up by Len Wein (Swamp Thing), Marv Wolfman (The New Teen Titans), and Robert Greenberger (Starlog). And for those of us of a certain age the Who’s Who series was a beloved guide into the rich lore of the Golden and Silver Age characters of DC Comics – many who can still be found appearing in recent animated and live action series. Such as Abra Kadabra who showed up in the 18th episode of Season 3 of The Flash and was played by David Dastmalchian.
Abra Kadabra first appeared in The Flash #128 in May of 1962 and was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, the duo also co-created the characters of Detective Chimp, Elongated Man, and The Phantom Stranger among others. Broome would be hired by DC Comics in 1946, his first story is assumed to be “The City of Shifting Sand” in All-Flash #22. Infantino would join with DC about a year later and the first story he illustrated from a script by Robert Kanigher (Co-Creator of Sgt. Rock) was entitled “The Black Canary”, it was a Johnny Thunder feature and was the first appearance of Black Canary, who began as a villain but would show up as a member of the Justice Society of America just a few issues later!
The entry for Abra Kadabra in the first volume of the Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe lists this personal data:
Alter Ego: Unknown
Occupation: Former Stage Magician, now Professional Criminal
Marital Status: Unknown
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operations: 20th and 64th Century Earth
First Appearance: The Flash #128
Weight: 195 lbs.
As we learn in his first appearance, Abra Kadabra is a devoted practitioner of stage magic in the year 6363, while it is commendable that the magician is devoted to his craft, the technology of the era has rendered it all but obsolete. This is something that is obviously distressing to Abra, although upon hearing that scientists have managed to develop a working time machine, the scoundrel decides that it is time to travel back to the 20th Century with his advanced technology, where a stage magician might properly find both an audience and admiration. Upon entering the lab Abra uses the “Hypno-Ray” installed within the gem-flower he wears on the lapel of his suit, stunning the scientists just long enough to get into the time machine and whisk himself away to the Central City of the 20th Century. The trip back in time will only work once, especially since the machine is destroyed when the stage magician arrives at his destination.
Abra Kadabra wastes little time in trying to impress an audience, performing sleight of hand on a busy street corner, while they are indeed impressed they fail to applaud. The offended stage magician then turns his Hypno-Ray on those gathered before him to force their cheers and clapping. And although it is not specifically stated, it is highly suggested that he uses that piece of technology dishonestly to obtain enough enough money to pay for a theater – unfortunately his big debut is overlooked thanks to the final game of the World Series.
Realizing that he needs to come up with an exceptional way to capture the attention of the public, Abra decides to steal the Statue of Freedom during its dedication at the Central City park. Barry Allen is in attendance at the event but as he is about to change into his Flash costume, the magician once again uses that Hypno-Ray to paralyze the stunned audience before teleporting away. This daring daylight heist gets the attention of newspapers as well as the Flash, but Abra Kadabra has no plans of slowing down just yet, showing up at the Central City library to steal (teleport) the oldest book ever printed. The Flash almost reaches the villain before he is blasted by the magician’s Hypno-Ray once again, forced to stomp his feet and clap his hands while Abra gets away.
Embolden by getting away with his crimes as well as showing up the Flash, the magician realizes that the hero could be a true threat to his crime sprees. Abra Kadabra decides to lay a trap for the speedster by publicly announcing that he will host a free exhibition – in addition to performing the greatest magic trick ever seen. When the Flash shows up at the theater to arrest the magician, Abra uses his ‘magic’ to rocket Barry Allen sans costume into space, thankfully the hero’s speed aura protects him while hurtling through the solar system. Landing upon an asteroid, the speedster runs so fast that he is able to launch himself back to Earth.
In an attempt to track Abra Kadabra down, the speedster vibrates until he matches the radiation left behind by the magicians ‘magic’. Upon finding where Abra is holed up, the Flash moves faster than light, physically placing the villain smack dab in front of his own paralyzing Hypno-Ray. The Flash not only returns all of the items that Abra Kadabra stole but deposits the paralyzed trickster in jail, wondering where the magician came from and how he came by his dangerous abilities.
In closing out this article, it should come as no surprise that Abra Kadabra eventually shrugs off that paralyzation beam and has managed to become a recurring thorn in the Flash’s side since his debut 59 years ago in the pages of The Flash #128. Over the years the villain has managed to obtain actual magical abilities instead of just relying on his superior technology – courtesy of making a deal with the demon Neron in exchange for his soul during the Underworld Unleashed mini-series event.