The Flash is an American comic superhero created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert for DC Comics.
Origin of Flash
In The Flash’s origin story, a student named Jay Garrick is experimenting in the lab at Midwestern University. He is exposed to “hard water fumes” and passes out. After reawakening weeks later, he finds he can move incredibly fast. Inspired by the Roman god Mercury, Jay Garrick dons a winged helmet and boots. He completed his crime-fighting costume with a red shirt and blue slacks ensemble. Topped off with a lightning-bolt symbol on his chest. The strip was somewhat lighthearted for its first few years. The Three Stooges-inspired Winky, Blinky, and Noddy—a trio of reformed small-time criminals—acted as comic foils for the Flash.
However, after World War II, the Flash’s more comedic elements were downplayed by editor Julius Schwartz. Writers John Broome and Robert Kanigher introduced a colorful lineup of supervillains into the strip. These included the Rag Doll, the Thinker, the Fiddler, and the flirtatious Thorn. The work of dynamic young artists such as Carmine Infantino and Joe Kubert ensured that the strip was one of DC’s top sellers in the so-called Golden Age of comics. The Flash went on to headline several solo titles, including Flash Comics. He also appeared as a Justice Society of America member in All-Star Comics.
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In 1956 a new Flash appeared in what was to be one of the pivotal moments in comics history. In the early 1950s, horror, true crime, and funny animal comics had almost completely supplanted the superhero genre. That changed dramatically with Showcase No. 4 (October 1956). Which introduced a new flash, Barry Allen, who is a CSI (Crime Scene Investigator) Agent.
The New Flash: Barry Allen
While working in the lab late at night, forensic scientist Barry Allen was doused with chemicals and struck by lightning. This freak accident imbued him with incredible super-speed. Inspired by the legacy of Jay Garrick, he donned his famous red spandex and became the Scarlet Speedster—the Sultan of Speed—the Flash. Barry had a years-long flirtation with Iris West that culminated in their marriage. He also became a mentor to Iris’ nephew, Wally West, and his sidekick Kid Flash. Barry was a founding Justice League of America member and one of the world’s greatest superheroes.
Barry was an active time traveler who lived in the 30th century for a few years. He and Iris had two children who became the Tornado Twins. They, in turn, each had a super-speedster child of their own—Barry’s grandchildren, Impulse and XS. Barry was one of the first people to cross dimensions, allowing him to meet his inspiration, Jay Garrick, and reveal the nature of the multiverse to the two worlds.
Barry’s life ended in Crisis on Infinite Earths when he used his super-speed to destabilize and destroy the Anti-Monitor’s anti-matter cannon, saving The Multiverse from destruction. He was remembered as almost a patron saint of superheroes and one of the first to give their life. Wally took up the mantle of the Flash in Barry’s honor.
Barry and Speed Force
However, Barry’s friends later learned that his spirit had been absorbed into the Speed Force, the quasi-mystic source of all speedsters’ powers. During the Final Crisis, when Darkseid conquered the Earth, through sheer force of will, Barry re-incorporated his body to help stop the evil god and rejoined the living.
Upon Barry’s return, his history had been altered. Barry’s mother was killed when he was just a boy, and his father was imprisoned for it. Barry became a forensic scientist to solve her murder and prove his father’s innocence, the one case that was impossible to solve. Barry only learned the culprit well into his career as the Flash — that it resulted from his nemesis Eobard Thawne going back in time to alter Barry’s past. When he went back in time to stop Thawne, Barry caused a ripple effect that created the Flashpoint timeline. When Barry undid his mistake, he left the universe exposed to the machinations of higher powers that altered history, resulting in a new universe.
After learning about the changes to the timeline, reuniting with his protege Wally West and finally coming to terms with his mother’s death, and seemingly defeating Thawne once and for all, and with the newly restored “omniverse” ready for exploration and protection, Barry was offered member in Justice League Incarnate. Again, Barry ensured his native universe was protected, passing his mantle to Wally West and journeying into the unknown once more.
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