The Flash is the name of several characters in the DC Universe.
The Flash is the Fastest Man Alive. The protector of Central City and Keystone City, fighting against evil using his super-speed and a dedicated sense of heroism.
While several other individuals have used the name Flash, these have lived either on other parallel worlds, or in the future. Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, and Wally West are the best-known exemplars of the identity.
Nicknamed the "Scarlet Speedster", the "Crimson Comet", "The Blur", and "The Streak", all incarnations of the Flash possess "super speed", which includes the ability to run and move extremely fast, use superhuman reflexes, and seemingly violate certain laws of physics. Thus far, four different characters—each of whom somehow gained the power of "super-speed"—have assumed the identity of the Flash: Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West, and Bart Allen. Before Wally and Bart's ascension to the mantle of the Flash, they were both Flash protégés under the same name Kid Flash (Bart was also known as Impulse).
The Flash (Golden Age)
- Main Article: Jay Garrick
Jay Garrick was a college student in 1938 who accidentally inhaled heavy water vapors after taking a smoke break inside his laboratory where he had been working. As a result, he found that he could run at superhuman speed and had similarly fast reflexes. After a brief career as a college football star, he donned a red shirt with a lightning bolt and a stylized metal helmet with wings (based on images of the Greek deity Hermes), and began to fight crime as the Flash. His first case involved battling the "Faultless Four", a group of blackmailers. Garrick kept his identity secret for years without a mask by continually vibrating his body while in public so that any photograph of his face would be blurred. Although originally from Earth-Two, he was incorporated into the history of New Earth following the Crisis on Infinite Earths and is still active as the Flash operating out of Keystone City. He is a member of the Justice Society.
The Flash (Barry Allen)
- Main Article: Barry Allen
Barry Allen is an assistant scientist from the Criminal and Forensic Science Division of Central City Police Department. Barry has a reputation for being very slow, deliberate, and frequently late, which frustrated his fiancée, Iris West. One night, as he was preparing to leave work, a freak lightning bolt struck a nearby shelf in his lab and doused him with a cocktail of unnamed chemicals. As a result, Barry found that he could run extremely fast and had matching reflexes. He donned a set of red tights sporting a lightning bolt , dubbed himself the Flash , and became a crimefighter active in Central City. In his civilian identity, he stores the costume compressed in a special ring via the use of a special gas that could compress cloth fibers to a very small fraction of their normal size. He is also named by some as the most important character of the DC Universe.
Barry sacrificed his life for the universe in the 1985 maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths, and remained dead for over twenty years after that story's publication. With the 2008 series Final Crisis, Barry returned to the DC Universe and returned to full prominence as the Flash in the 2009 series The Flash: Rebirth, which was soon after followed by a new volume of The Flash ongoing series, where Barry's adventures as the Scarlet Speedster are currently published.
The Flash (Wally West)
- Main Article: Wally West
Wallace Rudolph "Wally" West is the nephew of Iris West and of Barry Allen by marriage, and was introduced in The Flash (vol. 1) #110 (1959). When West was about ten years old, he was visiting his uncle's police laboratory, and the freak accident that gave Allen his powers repeated itself, bathing West in electrically charged chemicals. Now possessing the same powers as his uncle, West donned a copy of his uncle's outfit and became the young crime fighter Kid Flash. After the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths where Barry Allen was killed, Wally took over as the fastest man alive. Following the events of Infinite Crisis, Wally, his wife Linda, and their twins left Earth for an unknown dimension.
Wally, his wife and twins were pulled back from the Speed Force by the Legion of Super-Heroes at the conclusion of The Lightning Saga. This set the stage for Wally West's return as the Flash after the events of The Flash: Fastest Man Alive #13 (see Bart Allen), in All Flash #1, and with The Flash (vol. 2) series, which resumed with issue #231 in August 2007. It subsequently ends with issue #247, and West, along with all the other Flash characters, play a large role in 2009's The Flash: Rebirth.
The Flash (Bart Allen)
- Main Article: Bart Allen
Bartholomew Henry "Bart" Allen II is the grandson of Barry Allen and his wife Iris. Bart suffered from accelerated aging and, as a result, was raised in a virtual reality machine until Iris took him back in time to get help from the then-current Flash, Wally West. With Wally's help, Bart's aging slowed, and he took the name Impulse. After he was shot in the knee by Deathstroke, Bart changed both his attitude and his costume, taking the mantle of Kid Flash. During the events of Infinite Crisis, the Speed Force vanished, taking with it all the speedsters save Jay Garrick. Bart returned, four years older, and for a year claimed that he was depowered from the event. However, the Speed Force had not disappeared completely, but had been absorbed into Bart's body; essentially, he now contained all of the Speed Force.
Bart's costume as the Flash was a clone of his grandfather's, similarly stylized to Wally West's. Not long after taking the mantle of the Flash, Bart was killed by the Rogues in the 13th (and final) issue of The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive. However, he was later resurrected in the 31st century in Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #3 by Brainiac 5 to combat Superboy-Prime and the Legion of Super-Villains. Writer Geoff Johns confirmed that Bart will return to the past and play a large role in The Flash: Rebirth
All incarnations of the Flash can move, think, and react at light speeds as well as having superhuman endurance that allows them to run incredible distances. Some, notably later versions, can vibrate so fast that they can pass through walls in a process called quantum tunneling, travel through time and can also lend and borrow speed. Furthermore, all members have an invisible aura around their bodies that prevents themselves and their clothes from being affected by air friction as they move at high speed.Speedsters can heal more rapidly than the average human.
On several occasions, the Flash has raced against Superman, either to determine who is faster or as part of a mutual effort to thwart some type of threat; these races, however, often resulted in ties because of outside circumstances. Writer Jim Shooter and artist Curt Swan crafted the story "Superman's Race With the Flash!" in Superman #199 (Aug. 1967) which featured the first race between the Flash and Superman. Writer E. Nelson Bridwell and artist Ross Andru produced "The Race to the End of the Universe", a follow-up story four months later in The Flash #175 (Dec. 1967). However, after the DC Universe revision after Crisis on Infinite Earths, The Flash does successfully beat Superman in a race in Adventures of Superman #463 with the explanation that Superman is not accustomed to running at high speed for extended periods of time since flying is more versatile and less strenuous, which means the far more practiced Flash has the advantage. After Final Crisis in Flash: Rebirth #3 the Flash is shown as being much faster than Superman, able to out run him as Superman struggles to keep up with him. He reveals that all the close races between them had been "for charity". In the Smallville episode "Run", Flash is not only able to run faster than a pre-Superman Clark Kent but can match Clark's top speed while running backwards.
Speedsters may at times use the ability to speed-read at incredible rates and in doing so, process vast amounts of information. Whatever knowledge they acquire in this manner is usually temporary (Bart Allen seems to be the exception, though in earlier years, Max Mercury believed that Bart's speed learning would not stick).[volume & issue needed] Their ability to think fast also allows them some immunity to telepathy, as their thoughts operate at a rate too rapid for telepaths such as Martian Manhunter or Gorilla Grodd to read or influence their minds.
Flashes and other super-speedsters also have the ability to speak to one another at a highly accelerated rate. This is often done to have private conversations in front of non-fast people (as when Flash speaks to Superman about his ability to serve both the Titans and the JLA in The Titans #2). Speed-talking is also sometimes used for comedic effect where Flash becomes so excited that he begins talking faster and faster until his words become a jumble of noise. He also has the ability to change the vibration of his vocal chords making it so he can change how his voice sounds to others.
The Flash has also claimed that he can process thoughts in less than an attosecond.
- The concept of the Flash was created by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert where it made its first appearance in Flash Comics v1 #1 (January, 1940).
- In Countdown to Adventure v1 #3 (2007), an alternate world in the Multiverse was shown in Earth-33 that was ruled by magic where resided the League of Shamans. Lady Flash was a member who could cast Speed Storm magic to drain kinetic energy from her targets.
- In Batman Beyond Unlimited v1 #13 (2013), an alternate version of the Flash was shown on a world designated as Earth-13 set in the Batman Beyond setting. In this future, the Flash was the young African-American teenager named Danica Williams in the 2040's where she gained a connection to the Speed Force giving her super-speed abilities. This connection to the Speed Force also allowed her to commune with her predecessors Wally West, Jay Garrick and Bart Allen who resided there who provided her guidance whilst also making her mind difficult to control for a telepath. She came to work at the Flash Museum in Central City whilst secretly operating as a superhero speedster.
- In Gotham City Garage v1 (2017), the Flash was shown to exist in the alternate world setting where he was a superpowered agent of Lex Luthor and served the Garden.
In other media
- In the DC Animated Universe, the Flash made multiple appearances in the shared continuity setting.
- Flash Comics:
- The Flash:
- The Flash: