Dr. Alchemy(pop culture)
He's two … two … two supervillains in one! In Showcase #13 (1958), the third tryout issue of the Silver Age (1956–1969) Flash, writer John Broome and artist Carmine Infantino introduced one of the Scarlet Speedster's earliest costumed foes, Mr. Element. Behind the villain's green jumpsuit and gasmask is Albert Desmond, a chemistry buff turned criminal. Deriding the Flash as he uses elementbased gimmicks (such as an undetectable net of gold wire and “elemento,” a magnetic light) to thwart the hero's advances, the haughty Mr. Element— accompanied by subservient costumed henchmen named after inert properties like Argon and Xenon— is soon outwitted by the science-savvy Flash. Desmond returns in the very next Showcase, issue #14, now calling himself Dr. Alchemy. Cloaked in a green hood with an “A” emblem and wielding the Philosopher's Stone, the legendary tool of transmutation, Dr. Alchemy slows down the racing Flash by turning coins into oily quicksilver and walls into blinding crystal, but the lightning-fast hero whisks the talisman from Desmond's grasp and saves the day. Vacillating between identities in later clashes with the Flash and the Justice League, this “two-inone criminal's” motivations evolved beyond the dualidentity gimmick. Desmond was a schizophrenic, the good and evil sides of his personality struggling for dominance. During a period of reformation he buried the Philosopher's Stone, but his “psychic twin” Alvin Desmond obtained the talisman in The Flash vol. 1 #287 (1980) and became Dr. Alchemy, with the docile Albert Desmond becoming a supporting-cast member in the Flash series. The villain's history has since become as addled as Desmond's mind: Flash vol. 2 #41 (1990), starring Wally West, the Silver Age Flash's successor, established that Alvin was the Philosopher's Stone's artificially constructed personification of Albert's dark psyche. The Stone briefly fell into the hands of biochemist Dr. Curtis Engstrom, who used it for supervillainy as the Alchemist. A demented forensic scientist named Alexander Petrov became the new Mr. Element, but his attempt to frame Captain Cold led to his murder at Cold's hands. Albert Desmond has returned to his Dr. Alchemy guise in the 2000s, springing from his cell in Keystone City's supervillain prison Iron Heights into a 2005 stint with the reunited Secret Society of Super-Villains. So long as the schizoid Desmond is within a stone's throw of his elemental weapon, no one in the DC Universe is safe from his transmutations or his evil.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.