The Flash is a superhero legacy with a long and complicated history. He has appeared both in comics and various forms of other media, including several television series' both animated and live-action.
The original character known as "The Flash" was Jay Garrick, introduced during the "Golden Age" of comics in 1940. He was created by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert, headlining the anthology series Flash Comics published by All-American Publications. Later that year he would begin appearing in a second book, All-Star Comics, where he was a member of the Justice Society of America superhero team. The Flash was given a third series in 1941, a solo book titled All-Flash. He was added to the regular cast of a fourth volume, an anthology series titled Comic Cavalcade, in 1943. All-Flash ran for 32 issues until it was canceled in 1947. The Flash's run in Comic Cavalcade ended after 29 issues in 1948. Flash Comics was canceled in 1949 after 104 issues. All-Star Comics was canceled in 1951 after 57 issues. Jay Garrick would not appear again for another ten years. All-American Publications would turn into the company DC Comics during this time.
DC Comics decided to reinvent "The Flash" in 1956, developing a new character named Barry Allen. Barry Allen was created by writer Robert Kanigher and artist Carmine Infantino, making his debut in the Showcase comic series. This is considered by many to be the start of the "Silver Age" of comics. Despite sharing the name and powers, Allen was a totally new character with a new costume and no connection to Jay Garrick. Barry Allen grew in popularity after four appearances in Showcase, and he was given his own series The Flash in 1959. This new series written by John Broome continued the numbering from where Flash Comics was canceled. The Flash's young sidekick Kid Flash was introduced shortly after. His real identity was Wally West, the nephew of Barry's love interest Iris West.
The following year in 1960, Jay Garrick's creator Gardner Fox would use Barry Allen in the cast of his new superhero team the Justice League of America alongside DC's other top characters at the time. The connection between Barry Allen and Jay Garrick would finally be explored by Gardner Fox in 1961, in the landmark story "The Flash of Two Worlds" that introduced the concept of DC's Multiverse. It was explained that Barry Allen lived in one universe, while Jay Garrick occupied a neighboring reality. These realities were named in the 1963 story "Crisis on Earth-One!" as Earth-One, containing Barry Allen and the Justice League, and Earth-Two, containing Jay Garrick and the Justice Society. Kid Flash would become a mainstay of the popular Teen Titans comics beginning in 1964.
The Flash, then written by Cary Bates, concluded in 1985 after reaching 350 issues. Barry Allen died heroically the same year in the Crisis on Infinite Earths event written by Marv Wolfman, where he sacrificed himself to save the universe from the Anti-Monitor. The end of the event featured Wally West taking over for Barry and becoming the new Flash. This event also collapsed the DC Multiverse into one "New Earth," with a shared timeline where Barry Allen was directly inspired by Jay Garrick.
The next year in 1987, Wally West began starring in a new ongoing volume of The Flash written by Mike Baron with a new #1 issue. William Messner-Loebs took over the series in 1988 for a four-year run. The series passed to Mark Waid in 1992, who began his run with a Year One arc exploring Wally West's origins. Waid's run was hugely popular and introduced several important concepts, such as the Speed Force that Flash draws his powers from. During the Zero Hour event he also introduced the character Impulse as a new sidekick for Wally, born Bart Allen, a grandson of Barry Allen raised in the 30th Century. Mark Waid would begin writing a concurrent Impulse series in 1995, where Bart Allen was mentored by the Golden Age speedster Max Mercury. Todd DeZago would also use Impulse when he created the team Young Justice in 1998, a new group of young heroes similar to the Teen Titans. Waid would eventually begin working with Brian Augustyn as a co-writer, and their continuous run (aside from several short hiatuses) ended in 2000.
Geoff Johns took over for Mark Waid, beginning a fan-favorite run that would last several years. Johns would also graduate Impulse to become the new "Kid Flash" in his 2003 Teen Titans series. His run concluded in 2005 with the massive storyline Rogue War. The book went on for another several issues with Stuart Immonen and Joey Cavalieri as fill-in writers, but it was canceled in 2006.
The 2006 Infinite Crisis crossover event also saw Wally West disappear into an alternate reality while fighting Superboy-Prime, alongside his wife Linda Park and their children Irey West and Jai West. Bart Allen would take his mantle to become the new Flash, mirroring the original Crisis event. The "One Year Later" crossover following Infinite Crisis introduced a new Flash series with a new #1 issue, The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive. This new series was written by Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo, who had previously created the live-action The Flash television series in 1990. The series was short-lived, and concluded after 13 issues with Marc Guggenheim's Full Throttle arc in 2007. The arc saw Bart Allen die heroically at the hands of the Rogues and his arch-nemesis Inertia.
Wally West and his family returned from their exile the same month in the Lightning Saga crossover, written by Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns. Mark Waid would return to The Flash starring Wally West and his family later that year, continuing the numbering from where the second volume was canceled. Waid left after one arc and the series was written by Keith Champagne, Tom Peyer, and Alan Burnett, until it was canceled again in 2009.
Grant Morrison's 2008 crossover event Final Crisis brought Barry Allen back to life as part of the regular DC Universe. This event also saw Bart Allen resurrected and de-aged back to Kid Flash in the Legion of 3 Worlds tie-in written by Geoff Johns. The resurrection of Barry Allen was fully explained in Johns' 2009 mini-series The Flash: Rebirth, which also dealt with the return of Barry's arch-nemesis Professor Zoom. Barry was given a new origin story, with the explanation that Professor Zoom had altered history by going back in time and murdering Barry's mother when Barry was a child. The end of the series saw Barry officially confirmed as the Flash, with Wally West also operating as the Flash in a new distinctly different costume. Geoff Johns began a third volume of The Flash starring Barry Allen with a new #1 issue in 2010, working alongside artist Francis Manapul. The series concluded after 12 issues in 2011, leading into Johns' crossover event Flashpoint. The event introduced an alternate timeline where nobody remembered that Barry Allen was the Flash. In the end it was explained that Barry had caused this event by going back in time to try and save his mother from Professor Zoom. The conclusion saw the timeline completely reset, resulting in the completely new "Prime Earth" version of the DCU.
This reboot was called The New 52, and every book published by DC was canceled with new books relaunching as #1 issues. Barry's history was rewritten as part of the Justice League's new origin, and the Age of Heroes was set back so Barry had only been active as the Flash for 5 years. The fourth volume of The Flash was written and illustrated by Francis Manapul with Brian Buccellato as a co-writer. It starred a younger Barry as the protagonist, erasing his marriage to Iris West and romantically pairing him with coworker Patty Spivot. Kid Flash / Bart Allen was reintroduced as a new character from the future named Bar Torr, with no relation to the Allen family. His appearances were written in the Teen Titans comic by Scott Lobdell. The elderly Jay Garrick was removed from the Flash's history, and a new younger version of Jay Garrick was introduced in the 2012 Earth 2 series written by James Robinson. Wally West was controversially removed from DC continuity, until he reappeared in 2014 rewritten by Robert Venditti and Van Jensen as a delinquent black teenager.
The fourth volume of The Flash concluded in 2016 after 52 issues. The DC Rebirth event saw the return of the original Wally West from prior to the New 52 reboot, who had been lost in the Speed Force with all his memories of the original timeline. The Flash was relaunched in a fifth volume with a new #1 issue written by Joshua Williamson.
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Links and References
- Flash (comics) at Wikipedia.org
- Flash Official Website
- Flash: Those Who Ride the Lightning
- Flash Index at Crimson Lightning
- Flash at TV Tropes
- ↑ Flash Comics #1
- ↑ All-Star Comics #3
- ↑ All-Flash #1
- ↑ Comic Cavalcade #1
- ↑ All-Flash #1
- ↑ Comic Cavalcade #29
- ↑ Flash Comics #104
- ↑ All-Star Comics #57
- ↑ Showcase #4
- ↑ The Flash #105
- ↑ The Flash #110
- ↑ The Brave and the Bold #28
- ↑ The Flash #123
- ↑ Justice League of America #21
- ↑ The Brave and the Bold #54
- ↑ The Flash #350
- ↑ Crisis on Infinite Earths #8
- ↑ Crisis on Infinite Earths #12
- ↑ The Flash (Volume 2) #1
- ↑ The Flash (Volume 2) #15
- ↑ The Flash (Volume 2) #62
- ↑ The Flash (Volume 2) #92
- ↑ Impulse #1
- ↑ Young Justice: The Secret #1
- ↑ The Flash (Volume 2) #162
- ↑ The Flash (Volume 2) #164
- ↑ Teen Titans (Volume 3) #4
- ↑ The Flash (Volume 2) #225
- ↑ The Flash (Volume 2) #230
- ↑ Infinite Crisis #4
- ↑ Infinite Crisis #7
- ↑ The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1
- ↑ The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13
- ↑ Justice League of America (Volume 2) #10
- ↑ The Flash (Volume 2) #231
- ↑ The Flash (Volume 2) #247
- ↑ Final Crisis #2
- ↑ The Flash: Rebirth #1-6
- ↑ The Flash (Volume 3) #1
- ↑ The Flash (Volume 3) #12
- ↑ Flashpoint (Volume 2) #1-5
- ↑ Justice League (Volume 2) #1-6
- ↑ The Flash (Volume 4) #1
- ↑ Teen Titans (Volume 4) #1
- ↑ Earth 2 #1
- ↑ The Flash Annual (Volume 4) #3
- ↑ The Flash (Volume 4) #52
- ↑ DCU: Rebirth #1
- ↑ The Flash (Volume 5) #1