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If you go through Flash’s long list of enemies, you’ll come across some real strange ones. I mean, the greatest Flash baddie is a guy from the future who gave himself superspeed and dedicated his life to beating Flash because he idolized the Scarlet Speedster so much. Reverse Flash was so obsessed with Flash that he had his face rebuilt to look just like Barry Allen. That dude would make Joker uncomfortable.
And he isn’t even the weirdest Flash enemy around. No, I think that privilege goes to Abhararakadhararbarakh. Most people just call him Abra Kadabra.
When he first hit the scene in 1962, Abra Kadabra was a super sad. Like, Rupert Pupkin sad. Living in the year 6363, Kadabra spends his days at the Magician’s Hall, a building dedicated to magicians who serve no purpose because science is so advanced that people aren’t impressed by magic tricks anymore. At night our man goes home to a single room apartment and does magic tricks alone, using a recording of people clapping to make him feel like his tricks are enjoyed by others. Oh, and he uses a record player, so I guess even in the 64th Century people think the only way to really hear the music is with wax plates.
While at the Magician’s Hall, Kadabra learns that science has made another great leap with the invention of a time machine. How the scientists know that their time machine will work is up for debate, since they openly admit that the fuel for the machine, M-Metal, came from a meteorite and there’s only enough for a single one-way trip. I suppose if the time machine explodes with Greg in it, the other scientists can just say that was what it looks like when you go back in time and collect some more grant money. Who can prove them wrong?
Having listened to his LP of Hamilton a million times, Kadabra knows that he can not throw away his shot, so he heads off to, as writer John Broome called it, a building dedicated to science, and steals the time machine. Setting the dial for the 20th Century in hopes that he can meet his idol, Houdini, dumb dumb Kadabra doesn’t quite get it right and he ends up crashing the time machine in the later half of the 20th Century.
Kadabra finds himself on the streets of Central City, so he does a few tricks for the people, and it all goes well, what with him having technology from four thousand years in the future and all. So happy with himself, Kadabra rents out a hall to put on a big show where hundreds of people will applaud him. Turns out Kadabra’s big show is the same night as game seven of the World Series so no one shows up. Instead of doing a show on another night, Kadabra decides “screw it, I’ll use my future tech to become evil” and his journey to becoming one of Flash’s greatest villains was underway.
Over the years, Kadabra has pestered Flash in seemingly endless ways. He shot Flash into space. He turned Flash into a literal puppet. After a while, Flash got tired of dealing with Kadabra so he sent the maniacal magician back to the 64th Century so his own people could deal with him. The 64th Century court decided that the best thing to do was make it a law that wherever Kadabra went, people had to applaud him, that way he wouldn’t feel the need to be evil anymore. I’m going to travel to the 64th Century and steal a pizza, that way I’ll get free pizza for life.
Obviously, this “give baby what he wants” court decision didn’t work out, and Kadabra returned to bother Flash some more. In one of his most devious plans, Kadabra trapped Barry and made him believe he had never been Flash. Even more, Kadabra made Barry think he was paralyzed by the lightning bolt and his memories of being Flash were fantasies he had from his hospital bed brought on by reading comics about Jay Garrick. That is straight up wicked (and something I’d love to see the show do!).
If that wasn’t evil enough, Kadabra even messed with the trial of the Flash. First, Kadabra pretended to be Reverse Flash and went around beating up the Rogues. Then he captured one of the jurors on Flash’s trial and took their place to assure that Flash was found guilty of manslaughter. Then in his Reverse Flash getup, Kadabra made Flash chase him to the 64th Century. Oddly, Kadabra’s plan was to make sure Flash didn’t die as the history books said he would. If you’re thinking Kadabra was doing this out of some sort of kindness, you’re wrong - he had made a deal with the Mayor of 64th Century Central City that if he could save Flash’s life, magic would be declared a noble artform.
Flash died in Crisis on Infinite Earths, so that didn’t work out for Kadabra.
The next time we saw Abra Kadabra, he had lost some more of his sanity. His failure to save Barry Allen and the rewriting of the timeline during Crisis left Kadabra with a mix of memories and wants. His once relatively normal city was now Clockwork City, run by a machine called Chronarch who was super strict and didn’t like people who upset the order of things. Kadabra found himself even more of an outsider than he was before the Crisis.
He faced off against Wally West who at the time was powerless thanks to the gene bomb from Invasion!. As he tried to kill Wally’s best friend Chunk (who I pray I’ll get to write about on here one day), Wally and his roommate Mason drove a burning truck into Kadabra. The truck exploded and Kadabra vanished.
When he showed up again, Kadabra looked like Freddy Krueger’s twin and he had the temper to match. Learning that there was a magician in Keystone City calling himself Abra Kadabra, the real Kadabra showed up and killed him. As the time traveling magician and Flash duked it out, a woman from the 64th Century shows up to bring Kadabra back to his own time period. Flash helps the woman and ends up getting sucked into the future where it turns out everything has gone to hell.
Since the last time Kadabra was in his own time period, his story has spread through the younger generation. Kadabra’s life had turned into a myth not unlike Robin Hood - a man who stood against the evil power of a Chronarch and his Central Clockworks. The woman with no name had traveled to the past to retrieve Kadabra so that Chronarch could execute the villain turned rebel in front of his adoring fans. After Wally sees Chronarch’s police kill a group of protesters, he decided to help Kadabra and the rebels take down the evil machine. Knowing that the people of Clock City won’t be any better under the leadership of the insane Kadabra, Wally tricks the murdering mage into returning to the present with him, locking Kadabra up.
Wally and Kadabra would come to blows a few more times, and at some point, Kadabra got his Freddy Krueger problem taken care of. On Wally and Linda Park’s wedding day, Kadabra kidnapped the bride to be and erased all traces of her from the world. The only person who remembered her was Bart Allen, the time traveling grandson of Barry Allen. Linda, not being the kind of damsel to sit around in distress, escaped from Kadabra and found her way back into the timeline. Linda’s awesome.
Kadabra made it back to his own time where he chilled out for a bit before the back to life Barry Allen changed all of history with Flashpoint. It seemed like Barry’s alteration erased the version of the 64th Century that Kadabra existed in, but as any magician will tell you, looks can be deceiving.
In Rebirth we saw the return of the original Wally West, who had also apparently been erased from history during Flashpoint. What really happened was that Kadabra did the same trick to Wally that he had done to Linda all those years before, only better. Kadabra worked his mojo so hard that not only did everyone forget Wally West had ever existed, Kadabra forgot who he was. Stuck in the present and having no clue what his name was, Kadabra made a living as a party magician until Wally West returned, opening the door to a whole lot of change.
Wally’s return didn’t just return Kadabra’s memories, it brought back something that had been missing from the DC Universe for ten years… hope. While Kadabra didn’t steal the hope of the universe, he knew who did, or at least he knew something - a single word. Manhattan.
Abra Kadabra is one of my favorite Flash baddies in part because he doesn’t show up often and when he does, the writers usually use him to really mix things up. The concept of this guy using 64th Century tech to mess with people of today is very astronaut vs caveman and I really dig it. I also love how Kadabra looks in the comics, and I’m pretty bummed that the show has gone for more of a Criss Angel style. That isn’t nearly as fun or iconic.
Something for us all to consider during the hiatus; For a while now I’ve had a theory that Earth-19 Harrison Wells is Abra Kadabra in disguise. His whole thing is showmanship, he’s constantly looking for people to praise him, and he almost always has a drumstick in his hand, often holding it like a magic wand. I thought with Kadabra finally showing up, my theory was going to be proven wrong, what with Tom Cavanagh not playing the villain and all, but the strange absence of HR from this episode, only showing up after Kadabra has been dealt with, makes me think that my theory has some leverage. I mean, we don’t know for sure that Gypsy succeeded in having Kadabra executed, and we don’t know when Kadabra first showed up on Earth-1. Chew on that, fast friends, and I’ll see you at the end of April.