The Flash (or simply Flash) is the name of several popular comic book characters from the DC Comics universe. Nicknamed the "Scarlet Speedster", all versions of the Flash who have the ability to travel at a very high speed, use superhuman reflexes and defy the laws of physics. The original Flash first appeared in Flash Comics #1 (cover date January 1940 / release month November 1939). This fictional character was created by writer Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert.
Thus far, at least four different characters—each of whom somehow gained the power of the "Speed Force"—have assumed the role of the Flash in DC's history: College athlete Jay Garrick (1940–1951, 1961–2011, 2017–present) was the first character to take on the alter-ego "The Flash", other characters who have been the Flash are forensic scientist Barry Allen (1956–1985, 2008–present), Barry's brother-in-law Wally West (1986–2011, 2016–present) who is currently the youngest Flash, he calls himself "Kid Flash"; and Barry's grandson Bart Allen (2006–2007) who becomes "Impulse", the second hero known as Kid Flash. Each version of the Flash has been a key member of at least one of DC's premier teams: the Justice Society of America, the Justice League, and the Teen Titans. Most of the Flash stories take place in the fictional city of Central City.
The Flash is one of DC Comics' most popular characters and has been integral to the publisher's many reality-changing "crisis" storylines over the years. The original meeting of the Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick and Silver Age Flash Barry Allen in "Flash of Two Worlds" (1961) introduced the Multiverse storytelling concept to DC readers, which would become the basis for many DC stories in the years to come.
Fictional characters biographies[change | change source]
Jay Garrick[change | change source]
The original Flash Jay Garrick from the Golden Age got his powers by inhaling heavy water vapors after falling asleep in his science lab. He first used his powers to become a star football player. Then later he began to use his powers to fight crime. The character was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert, and he first appeared in Flash Comics #1 (1940)
Barry Allen[change | change source]
Barry Allen is a police scientist. He got his powers when a lightning bolt hit his lab and splashed a number of chemicals on him. Becoming Flash was ironic as Barry was slow, methodical, and often late prior to gaining his powers. He is the Flash from the Silver Age, he was created by writer Robert Kanigher and penciler Carmine Infantino and he first appeared in Showcase #4 (October 1956).
Wally West[change | change source]
Wally West got his powers at the young age of ten when he visited his uncle's laboratory (Uncle Barry Allen who was already Flash). He got some chemicals on him and gained the power of super-speed. Since he was so young he became "Kid Flash". Later on he would take over the role of his uncle as Flash. He is somehow the Flash from the Modern Age. He made his first appearance as the Kid Flash in the Flash#110 in 1959 and he was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino.
Bart Allen[change | change source]
Bart Allen is Barry Allen's grandson. He was born with Super-speed, but also fast aging causing him to appear twelve when he was only two years old. Once he got his aging under control he became "Impulse". He would later become Kid Flash and finally Flash once he had grown up. The character was created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo and he first made a cameo appearance in The Flash #91 in 1994, while his first full appearance in issue #92, and appeared as the lead character in Impulse (1995–2002) and The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive (2006–2007).
Jesse Chambers[change | change source]
Daughter of the speedster Johnny Quick, Jesse Chambers becomes a speeding superhero like her father. She later meets Wally West, the Flash, who asks her to be his replacement if something were to happen to him (as part of an elaborate plan on his part, trying to force Bart Allen to take his role in the legacy of the Flash more seriously). She briefly assumes the mantle of the Flash, after Wally enters the Speed Force.
John Fox[change | change source]
John Fox was a historian for the National Academy of Science in Central City in the 27th Century. He was sent back in time to get the help of one or more of the three Flashes (Garrick, Allen, West), in order to defeat the radioactive villain Mota back in Fox's own time period. (Each Flash had individually fought Mota over the course of several years in the 20th century.) Fox's mission was a failure, but during his return trip, the tachyon radiation that sent him through the time stream gave him superspeed. He defeated Mota as a new iteration of the Flash and operated as his century's Flash for a time. Shortly after, he moved to the 853rd century and joined "Justice Legion A" (also known as Justice Legion Alpha) as seen in the DC One Million series of books. The name "John Fox" is combined from the names of seminal comic book writers John Broome, who co-created the Barry Allen and Wally West Flashes, and Gardner Fox, who co-created the Jay Garrick Flash.
Unnamed Allen of the 23rd century[change | change source]
The father of Sela Allen, his wife and daughter were captured by Cobalt Blue. He is forced to watch his wife die and his daughter become crippled. As he and Max Mercury kill Cobalt Blue, a child takes Cobalt Blue's power gem and kills Allen. This Flash is one of the two destined Flashes to be killed by Cobalt Blue.
Sela Allen[change | change source]
Sela Allen is an ordinary human in the 23rd century until Cobalt Blue steals electrical impulses away from her, causing her to become as slow to the world as the world is to the Flash. Hoping to restore her, her father takes her into the Speed Force. When her father is killed, she appears as a living manifestation of the Speed Force, able to lend speed to various people and objects, but unable to physically interact with the world.
Blaine Allen[change | change source]
Blaine Allen and his son live on the colony world of Petrus in the 28th century. In an attempt to end the Allen blood line, Cobalt Blue injects Allen's son Jace with a virus. Lacking super speed, Jace was unable to shake off the virus. In despair, Blaine takes his son to the Speed Force in the hopes that it would accept him. It takes Blaine instead and grants super speed to Jace so that he can shake off the sickness.
Jace Allen[change | change source]
Jace Allen gains super speed when his father brings him into the Speed Force to attempt to cure him of a virus injected into his body by Cobalt Blue in an attempt to end the Allen bloodline. In memory of his father, Jace assumes the mantle of the Flash and continues the feud against Cobalt Blue.
Kryiad[change | change source]
After an alien creature invades Earth, a history buff named Kriyad travels back in time from the 98th century to acquire a Green Lantern power ring. He fails, so he tries to capture the Flash's speed instead. After being beaten by Barry Allen (The Flash (vol. 1) #309, May 1982), he travels back further in time and uses the chemicals from the clothes Barry Allen was wearing when he gained his powers to give himself super speed. Kryiad later sacrifices his life to defeat the alien creature.
Bizarro Flash[change | change source]
Bizarro-Flash was created when Bizarro cloned Flash. He had a costume the reverse colors of Flash's, however he had a mallet symbol because Flash was holding one when he was cloned. The modern version of Bizarro Flash has the symbol of a thunderbolt-shaped mustard stain. He has the powers of the Flash but he is completely intangible.
Supporting characters[change | change source]
Like his Justice League colleagues Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman, the Flash has a distinctive cast of adversaries, including the various Rogues (unique among DC supervillains for their code of honor) and the various psychopathic "speedsters" who go by the names Reverse-Flash or Zoom. Other supporting characters in Flash stories include Barry's wife Iris West, Wally's wife Linda Park, Bart's girlfriend Valerie Perez, friendly fellow speedster Max Mercury, and Central City police department members David Singh and Patty Spivot.
Adaptations[change | change source]
The Flash has been adapted to numerous DC films, video games, animated series, and live-action television shows. In live action, Barry Allen has been portrayed by Rod Haase for the 1979 television special Legends of the Superheroes, John Wesley Shipp portrayed the title character in the 1990's television series The Flash and Grant Gustin portrays Barry Allen in the 2014 television series titled The Flash. Shipp also portrays a version of Jay Garrick in the 2014 The Flash series. Ezra Miller played the Flash in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League (2017) and its director's cut (2021) and in the 2023 The Flash (2023). The various incarnations of the Flash also feature in animated series such as Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Young Justice, as well as the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series.