Dr. Alchemy and the Philosophers Stone
Created by: John Broome & Carmine Infantino
First Appearance: Showcase #13
This week on The Heroes, Villains and Sidekicks Show we’ll be having some fun learning about a villain that’s actually had a lot of air time the past few months on the awesome CW show, The Flash. Today we’ll be learning about Flash’s latest baddie, Dr. Alchemy.
And that’s what we’ll be doing on The heroes, Villains and Sidekicks Show, we’ll be learning and talking about the origins and backstories of heroes and villains throughout the comic book universe and pop culture. We’ll look at both popular and obscure characters you may have never heard….but I think you’ll dig.
Before we start the show I’d like to welcome and thank everyone on the iHeartRadio network. Our show was just accepted to their community and I was pretty excited when I got the email. So I want to welcome and thank you all for listening.
Now there’s been several different men who have picked up the mantle of Dr. Alchemy and we’ll look at all of them and we’ll also take a look at the version of Dr. Alchemy that is on the the CW show, The Flash because he seems to be a blend of a couple of the Alchemy’s.
Since we are going to be talking about Dr. Alchemy’s origins and his role on the CW show, The Flash there will be spoilers in the show that go with the The Flash comics and the TV show.
The first Dr. Alchemy was Albert Desmond and was created by John Broome and drawn by Carmine Infantino and first appeared Showcase #13 but was know as Mr. Element way back in 1958. He does rather quickly change his name to Dr. Alchemy, the name he is more commonly known by. The mantle is then taken up by Dr. Curtis Engstrom and then Alexander Petrov. And the most recent integration of the character is that of Julian Albert on the CW Flash program.
Albert Desmond is a chemist who suffers from dissociative identity disorder, which means he has to distinct personalities. One of Desmond’s personalities is that of a law-abiding citizen and the other personality, well, isn’t. The evil side of Desmond’s personality used his knowledge of chemistry to create elemental weapons to commit his crimes and names himself Mister Element. He commits crimes using his elemental gun and other weapons he makes such as bullet proof silicon shields and other elemental weapons. But these are just weapons that Desmond has created with his knowledge of chemistry. It isn’t until Desmond is captured by police for his crimes and sent to prison that he learns of the Philosophers Stone. This will be the weapon that Dr. Alchemy will be know for, the tool he will be using for most of the rest of his carrier.
Like I’ve said in other shows I’ve loved the Flash for sometime and have been collecting the comic for as long as I can remember. There of course been hundreds of bad guys in Flash comics and he has one of the coolest Rogues gallery out there. But I’ve always dug Dr. Alchemy. His suit, which of course there will be pictures of in the show post, and his weapon, The Philosopher’s Stone.
So The Philosopher’s Stone has the ability to the change or alter the chemical nature of a substance by rearranging its atomic structure, kind of like what Firestorm can do. With the stone Desmond can do any number of things that include:
Turn into a solid, liquid or gaseous form, Cause solid objects to disintegrate, Can speed up chemical reactions, Cause explosions, Turn the fresh air into a poison gas, Turn metal into gold, Turn minerals into metal, Crystallize objects, Increase the heat of an object, burning it, Decrease an object’s’ heat freezing it, Can generate lightning by manipulating the charges of atoms, Can kill a human by poisoning the human’s body, Limited Poison Manipulation, Limited Regeneration.
So this thing is powerful. I also liked that this stone was not something that was made up by DC Comics, but was something from history itself. The Philosopher’s Stone or Stone of the Philosophers has been mentioned in literature as far back as 300 AD and has been greatly sought after by magicians and scientists alike.According to legend, the philosopher’s stone was a substance that could turn base metals such as iron, tin, lead, zinc, nickel or copper into precious metals like gold and silver. It was also an elixir of life, with the power to cure illness, renew the properties of youth and even grant immortality to those who possessed it.
With the Philosopher’s Stone Desmond restarted his criminal career fighting with The Flash, winning some, loosing most, but eventually the good part of Desmond’s personality wins out and and he quits his life of crime and hides the Philosophers Stone and goes on the straight and narrow with his wife in suburbia.
That’s when the history of the character take a real soap opera turn. A new Dr. Alchemy appears and begins committing crimes using the Philosophers stone. Of course the Flash and police believe this is Albert up to his tricks. The Flash goes to Albert’s house and asks his wife if Albert has been acting strange and that Alchemy is back. She’s quite disturbed and when Albert comes home from work she and Barry confront him. He vehemently denies he is committing crimes again, but no one believes him and the police come to the house and take him to prison.But before he is in prison long the new Dr. Alchemy breaks him out so he can pretty much continue his life of crime. But it’s then that we learn who this new Alchemy is. He explains he is Alvin Desmond an astral projection of Albert Desmond. They were born at the same day and time, loved the some thing, chemistry, and were drawn to the darkside. And while Albert was being a criminal Alvin seemed to be OK, not a lot of criminal thoughts. But since Albert went on the straight and narrow, Alvin’s urges to commit crimes kicked into high gear and he needed to act.
Before Avlin can kill Albert the Flash intervenes and the latest Dr. Alchemy uses the stone to turn flash into vapor. And I have to say this is a really fun page in the comic. Because Flash actually reconstitutes himself by exciting his molecules using high and low pressure air and pretty much rains himself out of a cloud. Not I know what you’re saying. That did not happen. Well it did and you can head over to the site, Heroes, Villains and Sidekicks.com to see the page. I actually posted a lot of images from Flash 287-290 because they were some fun. In the end Flash defeats Alvin and Albert goes back on the straight and narrow. And to make matters even weirder it is later revealed to be an new version, a construct of Albert made by him when he was in evil personality mode. See, real soap opera stuff, but here the bad guy actually constructs his evil twin with a magical science stone.
Now we get into some more of the people that took up the mantle of Dr. Alchemy. The first person to try out the hood and pick up the stone was Dr. Curtis Engstrom. S.T.A.R. Labs acquired the Philosopher’s Stone in hopes of using it for good only to have it stolen by someone working for them, a man by the name of Curtis Engstrom who decided to become a criminal and cause problems for The Flash and all of Keystone City. He did change things up a bit and called himself Alchemist which I don’t like as much as Dr. Alchemy. I dig the doctor part I guess. Engstrom is defeated and the Philosopher’s Stone is now up for grabs again, and you guessed it…it was stolen by another guy. This is a stone that can pretty much make a person a God and they don’t keep it secure. Crazy.
So Alexander Petrov works as a lowly lab assistant at the Keystone City Police crime lab and decides he wants and deserves a promotion. Instead of applying himself he steals the stone and starts picking off cops so he can solve the crimes. And he’s tricky, the stone can do just about anything, but he only freezes his victims to make it look like Captain Cold did it. Solving all these crimes gets Petrov promoted and he becomes the head of lab. Unfortunately he didn’t think it through all the way. See, when you set up your murders to make it look like another guy did it, you should make sure the other guy isn’t a homicidal maniac. That’s right, Captain Cold catches up with Mr. Petrov who’s been calling himself Mr. Element and pretty much kills him, buy, you guessed it, freezing him.
That brings us to the latest Dr. Alchemy, Julian Albert, who is played by Tom Felton on the awesome CW Flash Show. Felton is just perfect for the role and it’s nice to see him in something other than Harry Potter where he play Malfoy. So this new Dr. Alchemy shares some similarities to the comic. We learn Felton is Dr. Alchemy when he hears voices telling him to pick up the mantle of Dr. Alchemy once more. And by the shock on his face, Felton seems to be pretty surprised as well. So this could be signs of a split personality like the first Dr. Alchemy had. He also has the Philosopher’s stone, it’s not a gun, but the stone itself and he works in the crime lab.Now my family and I watch The Flash and we have not had the time to finish the season, so I can’t wait to find out. Either way it’s nice to see one of my favorite Flash villains on TV.