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Franchise: The Flash
aka: Impulse

"So you see, I became the super-fast Flash on my Earth much as you became The Flash on yours!"

"I'm Wally West. Good thing. I'm the fastest man alive."

The Flash. The Scarlet Speedster. The Sultan of Speed. The Fastest Man Alive. The Speedster.

Not to be confused with Adobe Flash animation, or with The Saviour of the Universe, this is the Super Speed hero of The DCU, whose legacy stretches from The Golden Age of Comic Books to today.

The Jay Garrick Era

The Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, was, if not the first, then the most well-known early single-power Super Hero. Earlier heroes were either Superman-style characters with many different abilities, or Batman-style human vigilantes. Jay did one thing, and he did it well: run fast.

Jay was otherwise a fairly standard Golden Age hero. His Super Hero Origin involved a Freak Lab Accident involving "hard water fumes".note  (Later issues retconned this to "heavy water vapor", and later to being the result of activating a meta-gene for which the vapor was a catalyst.) He fought a mix of racketeers, saboteurs, normal criminals with a gimmick, aliens, and super-powered villains. Jay wasn't always careful to keep a Secret Identity, which sometimes caused problems in his relationship with his girlfriend, Joan Williams. (In a pleasant variation from the norm, Joan was in on his secret from the beginning.)

Jay Garrick was a popular enough character to headline two series of his own, Flash Comics and All-Flash Quarterly. He also appeared in All-Star Comics as part of the Justice Society of America, and occasionally in other anthologies such as Comics Calvacade. However, as the Golden Age came to an end, Jay left with it. Flash Comics was cancelled with issue 104 in February 1949. Jay's final Golden Age appearance was in All-Star Comics #57 in 1951.

The Barry Allen Era

The Silver Age of Comic Books could be said to begin when its Flash, Barry Allen, arrived on the scene. In the fourth issue of Showcase, a try-out series for new concepts, DC Comics brought back the idea of the Flash, but gave him a new costume, origin, and secret identity, creating the first Super Hero Legacy Character. Sales took off, and not long thereafter, he gained his own series, picking up the numbering with #105 where the original Flash series had left off.

Barry was a police scientist, one of the precursors to CSI: Crime Scene Investigation-style forensics. On a dark and stormy night, he was working late in the lab. Just as he was standing against a rack of multicolored chemicals, a lightning bolt flew through the window, striking the chemicals and causing them to spill all over Barry, leaving him soaked but unharmed. As he left the lab, he found himself running at super-speed to catch up with a cab, and the Flash was born.

The Flash created many of the features of the Silver Age DCU. In 1961, the story "Flash Of Two Worlds" was published. It featured Barry accidentally crossing the "vibration barrier" between dimensions, and ending up in a world he dubbed "Earth-2", where Jay Garrick still lived, having retired from superheroing after marrying Joan. Thus, the first seeds of the Infinite Earths were planted. He was also a founding member of the Justice League of America.

Along the way, he developed an impressive Rogues Gallery of enemies who commanded incredible technology that always works through a particular theme. For example, Captain Cold had advanced freezing weapons, Heat Wave's fired extreme heat, Mirror Master's mirror based technology could do a myriad of things and Weather Wizard could control weather itself. Yet, for all this powerful tech, it's a running joke that the vast majority of the gallery were really unambitious with it, considering they were content to merely commit simple robberies with them. Gorilla Grodd with his bigger fish, er... bananas, to fry, was an exception, as were Professor Zoom, Cobalt Blue, and Abra Kadabra.

A few years into his tenure, Barry picked up Kid Sidekick Wally West. Wally, the nephew of Barry's fiancée and eventual wife Iris, was visiting Barry at the lab when, suddenly, the Freak Lab Accident repeated itself, showering Wally in electrified chemicals and giving him the same powers. Barry dubbed him "Kid Flash" and let him in on the secret, taking him along on his adventures.

Barry's career lasted into The Bronze Age of Comic Books, and took on the flavor of the era. Professor Zoom, Barry's Evil Counterpart, killed Iris. Barry grieved, but fell in love again with Fiona Webb; however, on their wedding day, Zoom attacked again, and after a pitched battle, Barry snapped his neck just before he was about to kill Fiona. This led into the The Trial Of The Flash arc; at the end, Barry was acquitted, it was revealed that Iris was from the future and had been saved by Applied Phlebotinum, and they moved there together, giving the series a Happily Ever After ending. (Well, unless you're Fiona.)

Unfortunately, happy endings don't last long in comics, and soon, Barry returned, warning the heroes of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. He was kidnapped by the Anti-Monitor, the Crisis Big Bad, but sacrificed himself in order to save the universe from the Anti-Monitor's anti-matter cannon, running so fast that he disappeared from reality itself.

Now, not long before, Wally West had developed a disease that would kill him if he used his powers. During Crisis, he was cured by an energy blast, and after angsting about it for a while, decided to carry on Barry's legacy by becoming the new Flash, which led into the rebooted Flash series.

The Wally West Era

The early issues showed Wally as someone who was young, irresponsible, and not quite ready for the role of an A-list Super Hero. He was egotistical and womanizing, though it was obvious that he used this to cover up emotional problems. This was the version that the DCAU Flash was based on.

As the series went on, Wally matured. His speed, which had been limited to about the speed of sound after Crisis, started increasing. He became good friends with the woman who would later be his steady love interest, reporter Linda Park. Subverting There Are No Therapists, he actually got therapy. His Secret Identity went public.

Then Mark Waid came on the series, and things really took off.

Wally was increasingly linked to the Flash legacy, and it to him. He started fighting Barry's old villains. Jay popped up more often. Iris returned from the future, with a new speedster in tow; Bart Allen, a.k.a. Impulse, Barry's grandson, who had inherited his speed, but had no sense of personal danger or responsibility after being raised in virtual reality. (He originally could not slow down and could only interact with a world that worked at computer speeds; he was later taught to shift gears.) Barry seemed to return, but it was really a complex delusion of a time-travelling Professor Zoom.

Finally, the thing that would forever after define the Flash legacy showed up: the Speed Force. After a trip through time, Wally began to transform into energy. Max Mercury, a Golden Age speedster, showed up, explaining that Wally had touched a quasi-mystical dimension, "beyond the speed of light", that was the source of all speedsters' powers. Max became The Obi-Wan to Wally and later, to Bart. Wally was eventually sucked in, but managed to come out the other side due to the power of his love for Linda.

About this time, other speedsters became regular guest stars, often en masse, forming Wally's "Cyclone Rangers" or "The Academy of Speed", including Wally, Jay, Bart, Max Mercury, and Jesse Quick.

Bart spun off into his own, light-hearted series, Impulse. Meanwhile, Wally and Linda got ready to tie the knot. As had become de rigeur for a Flash wedding, something horrible happened, with Linda kidnapped by Abra Kadabra and apparently erased from existence. Without The Power of Love to anchor him, Wally apparently disappeared into the Speed Force.

He was replaced by a Darker and Edgier Flash; a mysterious figure who was trusted by the few people who knew his identity (initially he never took his mask off on panel). "Dark Flash" was eventually revealed as an Alternate Universe Wally from a world in which Linda had been killed. Eventually, the "real" Wally and Linda returned, Linda having been trapped in Dark Flash's universe and The Power of Love having brought Wally there.

After Waid left the book, Geoff Johns took it in a new direction; Linda's unborn twins were killed by Wally's Evil Counterpart, the new Zoom, and Wally subsequently got the Spectre to wipe everyone's memory of the Flash's secret identity, including his own. Gradually, first Wally then other heroes, then Linda learned the truth. Eventually Wally was able to Set Right What Once Went Wrong and use Zoom's own Time Travel powers to restore the twins. Bart, meanwhile, moved from Impulse to the new Kid Flash in the pages of Teen Titans

In the Crisis Crossover Infinite Crisis, Wally attempted to trap Superboy-Prime in the Speed Force, and took Linda and the twins to a peaceful planet the Flashes had been visiting since Jay's time.

The Bart Allen Era

In the wake of Infinite Crisis, the Speed Force was apparently inaccessible. One Year Later, Bart Allen managed to connect to it again, and became the Flash. He had a brief career before being killed by a team-up of all the Flash's rogues, under the orders of his Evil Twin, Inertia.

The Wally West Era again

Wally West and Mark Waid both returned to the book. The twins had a Plot-Relevant Age-Up, and Wally and Linda were teaching them how to use their (erratic and only vaguely speed-related) powers. Meanwhile, Jay remained a mentor and was one of the leaders of the Justice Society of America.

Barry and Bart Return

Barry Allen returned from the Speed Force during Final Crisis. The cause of his return and his place in the DCU are being explored in the miniseries The Flash: Rebirth, written by Geoff Johns. Bart came back from the dead and got plot-relevant de-aged in Legion of 3 Worlds.

As of the end of Blackest Night, the DC Universe was left with the unprecedented scenario of all four Flashes alive and well. Whilst the fandom hoped the writers would take full advantage, the opportunity was never capitalised on, with the Flash series focusing on Barry & barely featuring Wally, Bart or Jay during the 12 issues of the series. And then Flashpoint happened.

Post-Flashpoint/The New 52

Flashpoint saw Barry waking up in a radically different world, and without his powers due to the Speed Force never being created. As the story went on, Barry managed to recreate the Speed Force & teamed up with this world's Batman to restore the damage to the timeline. In the final issue of the story, Zoom reveals that it was Barry, not him, who caused the alterations to the timeline by trying to stop the murder of Barry's mother at his hand.

However, thanks to three timelines merging, not everything is the same — Whilst Barry is still the Flash, he's no longer married to Iris & is now in a relationship with Patty Spivot; and whilst Kid Flash is still around & Bart is still in the suit, he's no longer related to Barry and is in fact a war criminal from 1,000 years in the future sent to the past in a Witness Protection program. However, Wally's time as Kid Flash & the Flash has been erased from history, with it eventually being revealed after 2 years that Wally was never even born into the West family - he does, however, still exist as seen by the announcement of his return in the third post-reboot Annual. As for Jay Garrick, the event also re-established Earth 2, making Jay once again Barry's Alternate Universe counterpart.

In Other Media

In TV, Barry Allen got his own series in The Flash. He also appeared in Superfriends. Barry appears as Flash in Justice League: The New Frontier and Justice League: Doom, though in the latter, he is, confusingly, played by Wally's DCAU voice actor, and alongside the rest of that canon's actors. He's also believed to be The Flash in The Batman. Barry was also a major character in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and its follow-up, Justice League: War. In 2013, Barry Allen was featured in a very well-received guest arc on Arrow, portrayed by Glee alum Grant Gustin. Gustin will be reprising his role in a reboot of the Flash live-action show, set in the same universe as Arrow. Barry Allen has been a playable character in DC fighting games like Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe and Injustice: Gods Among Us.

Wally showed up as the Flash in Justice League (after an unnamed Flash made a guest appearance on Superman: The Animated Series), and as Kid Flash in Filmation's Teen Titans shorts, Teen Titans and Young Justice. Wally is Flash in the DC Super Friends short. Wally is also a playable character in the Young Justice: Legacy video game.

Bart appeared in Smallville, as the Flash in his first appearance and as Impulse in his later ones. He also joined the cast of Young Justice in season two as Impulse, before becoming Kid Flash in the second season (And ultimately, series) finale following Wally's death.

Jay Garrick appeared for the first time in animation in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and for the first time in live-action in a cameo in the ninth season of Smallville. He makes a few appearances in Young Justice, as a retired friend and mentor.

The Flash that appears in JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time, voiced by Jason Spisak (Wally in Young Justice), is by Word of God left ambiguous — it's up to the viewer to decide if he's Barry or Wally.

The only times all four Flashes have been on-screen together are two episodes of Young Justice. Episode six of season two, "Bloodlines," features Bart coming to the show's present from forty years in the future, and one by one, he, Wally, and Jay step in to help Barry fight off a villain targeting The Flash. The other episode is the series finale, "Endgame," where Barry, Bart, Wally, and Jay are among the 40 heroes teaming up to thwart the Reach's attempt to destroy the Earth out of spite. While Jay only appears in a crowd shot, Barry, Bart, and Wally are forced to use their speed to create enough kinetic energy to counteract a "secret" bomb the heroes discovered too late to disarm. While it it plays out like Barry is going to pull his famous Heroic Sacrifice, it's actually Wally, as the slowest of the three, who sacrifices himself, as his slower speed means he becomes a lightning rod for the energy trying to escape the funnel.

Like many of DC's characters, he is going to be integrated into the DC Cinematic Universe. He is rumored to have a Cameo appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and will likely appear in the Justice League movie. It has been confirmed that he will star in a team-up movie with Green Lantern, scheduled for release in 2017.

For one of the best Flash sites on the Internet, see Flash: Those Who Ride The Lightning.

Other versions

Tangent Comics Flash was a young girl called Lia Nelson who was composed of light.

A re-imagining of the Flash exists in the Just Imagine series. This version of the Flash is a college girl called Mary Maxwell who gains super speed after her father attempts to save her from a life-threatening disease that slowly drained her energy, by injecting her with hummingbird DNA.

DC even has two Funny Animal versions of the Flash:
  • The first was the Terrific Whatzit, a Golden Age comics character who's a turtle. TW had a power set similar to Johnny Quick's (super-speed, some flying ability) plus super-strength; he wore a costume similar to Jay Garrick's. Later stories showed he lived on the parallel world of Earth-C, and was the uncle of the Zoo Crew's speedster Fastback.
  • The second was the Crash, a member of the JLA (Just'a Lotta Animals) of Earth-C-Minus. The Crash was his world's version of the Flash (the Silver Age version), and thus had the same costume and powers as the Flash. In a variation on Barry Allen's backstory as well as the story "The Flash of Two Worlds," it's revealed that the Crash as a child had read his world's "fictional" comics about (Earth-C's) Terrific Whatzit.

The Flash provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Aborted Arc: It definitely looked like something major was going to go down with Wally's kids, but then the New 52 happened and the entire family went MIA.
  • Affirmative Action Legacy
    • Iris West, the half-Asian daughter of Wally and Linda Park-West, took over as the new Impulse before Flashpoint. In the alternate-reality series Kingdom Come, she'd also become the new Kid Flash (though was not at that time identified as Asian).
    • In the Batman Beyond spin-off Justice League Beyond, the new Flash is a young black woman named Danica Williams.
  • And I Must Scream: In a move that seems very unlike the easy-going Wally West we've come to know, he subjects Inertia (clone of Bart, a reverse-Impulse, if you will) to an eternal punishment. Rather than simply outright killing him, he uses the Speed Force to slow Inertia down physically to such a degree, that the simple act of blinking would take him hundreds of years. To make the punishment worse, Inertia could still think and see in real time, frozen in the middle of a sprint, and forced to stare endlessly at images of Bart Allen, whom he had previously killed. Wally describes it as being "forced to stare, with eyes that take a hundred years to blink... at the ghost of the man he could never be."
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing
    • Common reoccuring villains, Kobra and Gorilla Grodd.
    • There was also a Silver-Age villain called The Turtle.
  • Anime Hair: The character marker for Bart. Such voluminous hair simply cannot go unmentioned or unnoticed, and yet very few of his non-superhero friends drew the connection! (If they did, they didn't say anything.) It's so large that you can actually pull or pick up the poor kid by his hair alone, if you're strong enough. He's quite protective of it, too.
  • Artistic License - Geography: If the Mississippi River divides Central and Keystone City, Keystone should be in Illinois, not Kansas. It's supposed to be the Missouri River, but a lot of writers get it wrong.
  • Battle Tops: The weapon of choice for The Top, a villain.
  • Berserk Button: Do NOT harm innocents around the Rogues. Especially not if you're part of the team, as Captain Cold will not hesitate to kill you regardless of how loyal you've been to the Rogues.
  • Big Eater: Bart will eat anything and everything that won't hurt him, and maybe some things that would. Unless it's raw seafood. Before the introduction of the Speed Force, speedsters had to consume huge amounts of food to keep their metabolisms in check. Nowadays, they don't, but many writers tend to forget this. Lampshaded when Wally orders a gigantic burger and Linda points out that he doesn't have to eat like that anymore: "I don't have to; I want to".
  • Blessed with Suck: Many of the more modern Rogues have this, in all varieties.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Jay would occasionally shill his own book to readers, both in his own comics and in All-Star. He also had the occasional speed records page in which he related then-current speed records and other facts to the reader. In a way, these were the original "Flash facts".
  • Brought Down to Normal: In his final Golden Age adventure, Jay Garrick was Brought Down to Normal by Dr. Clariss, a man who had discovered how the Flash got his speed, and had not only worked out how to gain speed himself, but also to reverse the process for Jay, who became very slow as a result. Thankfully Jay was able to restore his speed by story's end and defeat the villain.
    • Wally West did this to himself in the early issues of his post-Crisis series. His eventual lack of any super-speed at all for several issues was due to his feeling guilty about how he used his speed and not living up to his idealized image of Barry Allen.
  • Bumbling Sidekick: Winky, Blinky, and Noddy ("The Three Dimwits"), for Jay Garrick.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Great Gazoo Mopee, a "tenth-class Heavenly helpmate" who was introduced in the 1960s as being responsible for the lightning bolt that gave Barry his powers. Mopee was swiftly sent to Canon Discontinuity.
  • Captain Superhero: Some of the Rogues Gallery.
  • Catch Phrase
    • Barry, and sometimes Wally, have "Flash fact", said before or after explaining some Techno Babble (or genuine scientific) reason why they can use superspeed to defeat an enemy.
    • "My name is Barry Allen/Wally West/Bart Allen. I'm the fastest man alive. I'm the Flash."
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action
    • Simply because he's so damn fast. At one point after he's brought back to life, Green Arrow goes around collecting valuable possessions of his from their hiding spots and notes that the Flash gave all the Justice Leaguers special rings that could hold their costumes for swift changing, but also that he was the only one who could use it.
    • Wally would later make his outfit out of the speed force itself. All he had to do was access his powers and it would come on.
  • Character Shilling: The authors admitted as much for Barry Allen upon his return. Since the current fans didn't know him anymore, they had the other characters all talk about how great he was during his reintroduction.
  • Chemistry Can Do Anything
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: In the August 1966 issue of, Barry Allen starts to fade away from existence once a villain unleashes a ray that causes everyone to not believe he exists. Everyone except a little orphan girl he had helped before forgets that he really exists until he and the orphan girl start a massive letter writing campaign to force people to remember The Flash.
    • This issue is somewhat prescient considering that the DCU contains an actual comic book limbo where characters (often those who haven't appeared in books for quite some time in the real world) go to when people start to forget their stories.
  • Comic Book Time: Averted with Jay Garrick, who has generally aged in real time. His final Golden Age solo story has his girlfriend Joan musing about 8 years having passed since she found out that Jay was the Flash, which is about the amount of real world time that had passed since the publication of Jay's first issue. When Jay reappeared in Flash of Two Worlds, he has grey hair and muses about getting older. He's shown to be older as time passes, though he usually appears middle-aged rather than old, with the exception of Zero Hour where he is aged by Extant to his true age. He goes back to looking middle-aged after that though. In Flash: Rebirth, the reverse Flash mentions that he must be close to hitting the century mark.
  • Coming-Out Story: There's something WAFF about how Pied Piper came out to Wally. Especially when Wally tried to play it cool and act like he knew the whole time.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: A hero-on-villain example. Jay would often resort to methods other than punching out the criminal. Once when a group of thugs from a protection racket were harassing a restaurant owner, Jay forced them to eat so much food at super-speed that they all sat around feeling stuffed and terrible and were no further trouble. In another instance he spun a criminal around and around and super-speed, threatening to let him go until the gangster agreed to surrender. Jay was fond of this method of dealing with opponents.
  • Cruel Mercy
  • The Dark Age of Comic Books: Mark Waid's run was highly popular for defying much of the trends of the Dark Age, being relatively lighthearted yet very emotional. The spinoff Impulse bucked the trends even more.
  • Dead Guy Junior
    • Barry and Bart share the same full name (Bartholomew Henry Allen), but it's hardly ever mentioned except in profiles or when Bart's in really big trouble.
    • Wally named his son and daughter after the Golden Age Flash and his aunt, respectively.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Both Barry Allen and Wally West were known for dipping into this at times, but Wally West took it to new levels during his own run. Bart Allen also had his moments.
  • Death by Origin Story: This was one of the reasons that the Barry Allen stayed dead once his former Kid Sidekick Wally West came into his own as his successor. That's been undone now, though.
    • A pivotal story in the early '90s played with this by having Barry seem to return leaving Wally happy about Barry's return but conflicted about being back in his shadow (particularly since his speed had been reduced at the same point when Barry died leaving him the slower and less competent Flash). He had to deal with these issues in order to defeat Barry when he turned out to be Professor Zoom.
  • Death Is Cheap: Barry was the most well-known aversion in comic book history (23+ years)... and then DC Editorial resurrected him in 2008. Permanently, apparently. This has caused quite a backlash among fans.
  • Disposable Superhero Maker
  • Dodge the Bullet: Nowadays, if a criminal even attempts to fire his gun to the Flash, he deserves to be disposed of really fast (pun intended).
  • Due to the Dead
  • End of Series Awareness: The October 2004 cover.
  • Enemy Civil War: Rogue War
  • Everybody Smokes: In his Golden Age series, Jay Garrick is sometimes shown to smoke cigarettes. Given the era that the books were produced in, the 1940s, this would not be unusual. In his re-told origin story in All-Flash #1, Jay even takes a smoke break during the experiment that ultimately gives him his super-speed!
    • His girlfriend Joan also smokes. Jay once tracks down a car she's in because she threw a cigarette out the window. He found it and knew it was her by the rare European brand she favored.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: This is the Top's theory about how to be a master criminal. Tops operate on the same principle as advanced gyroscopes, so they're an excellent way to commit crimes and rule the world, right?
  • Evil Counterpart: The many Reverse-Flashes:
    • Jay has The Rival, Dr. Clariss (a human) and the Golden Age Reverse-Flash (a rarely-seen robot).
    • Barry has Professor Zoom (Eobard Thawne).
    • Wally has Zoom (Hunter Zolomon).
    • Bart has Inertia.
    • Jesse Quick has Lady Savitar.
    • Max Mercury has Savitar (the Savitars are only sometimes included in the "Reverse-Flashes").
  • Eyes of Gold
    • A quirk of the Thawne bloodline, though not unique.
    • Again, another character marker for Bart (who is part of said bloodline); that's why his goggles are the same yellow shade, to hide his eye color (although that hair should've busted his identity right then and there...). Unlike most examples, it serves to enhance his idealistic personality, and Meloni's nickname for him — "Sunshine" — sums it up best.
  • Feuding Families: Flash family and the Cobalt Blue line. Bart's a scion of both — and quite possibly the reason for said feud going wildly out of control — which brings this quote:
    Professor Zoom: You have no idea what kind of storm you created for my family. Your very existence disgusts me.
  • Freak Lab Accident: Accounts for Jay, Barry and Wally's super powers. With Jay, it was inhaling and absorbing hard water fumes all night after an experiment went wrong. With Barry and Wally, lightning struck a combination of chemicals that splashed all over them.
  • Freeze Ray: Captain Cold
  • Friendly Enemy / Go Karting with Bowser: Bart & Wally with Captain Cold and most of the Rogues.
  • Fun Personified
    • Bart as Impulse
    • And now Bart again once more, unless Johns is using him as the fanbase's avatar.
  • The Gimmick: Just about all of the Rogues Gallery.
  • Grin of Audacity: Worn often, at least by the DCAU version, who really enjoys his work and is an all-around merry fellow.
  • Heel-Face Turn: The Flash was one of the first comics to attempt this seriously, and at some point, almost every Silver Age Rogue had attempted to go legit, to varying degrees of success. This was Retconned to be the work of the Top, however, who gleefully undid it all during the Rogue War. It's implied that two of the Rogues, Pied Piper and the Trickster, legitimately went straight, though Top's meddling blinded Trickster to the fact that being on the right side of the law didn't mean he was in the right.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Common in the Flash mythos.
    • Barry Allen's classic sacrifice in Crisis on Infinite Earths. It even stuck for a while.
    • Wally West almost kills himself attempting to pull Superboy-Prime into the Speed Force, but certainly managed to finish off his tenure as the mainline Flash save for a brief interlude between Bart and Barry.
    • Jenni Ognats, Bart's cousin and Barry's other grandchild, was heavily insinuated by the Time Trapper in the Legends of the Dead Earth annuals to be destined to eventually follow Barry's example and sacrifice her own life to save the universe during a future crisis. Of course that was two or three reboots ago, now.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: They all have one...
    • Three out of the four are paired with a Green Lantern. Jay and Alan Scott, Barry and Hal Jordan, and Wally and Kyle Rayner are all Flash/Green Lantern Life Partners.
    • Bart has Tim Drake.
    • Wally is also closely linked to Dick Grayson, who was the best man at his wedding.
    • They also play these relationships for all the comedic value they can get, Barry and Green Arrow have a sort of rivalry over Hal, as do Bart and Superboy over Tim.
    • When she meets Kyle Rayner for the first time, Jenni Ognats mentions the enduring Flash-Lantern partnership and uses it as an excuse to flirt him up.
  • In Name Only: What Barry Alen was to Jay Garrick, having nothing in common with him besides superhero name and super speed. Less so after they met one another though.
  • An Ice Suit: Captain Cold.
  • Impossibly Compact Folding: The Flash's ring holds his entire outfit inside.
  • In the Blood: Subversions below.
    • Bart happily embraces his Allen side and completely rejects the Thawne legacy (he's a descendant of the first Zoom), and shows zero angst over it. Zoom does not take kindly to this at all.
      Professor Zoom: Your mother may be a Thawne, but your father was an Allen. Your blood is polluted.
      Bart: Look on the bright side, Professor Plum. We're only half related!
    • Meloni (Bart's mother) is the "black sheep" of her family; as someone on Comicbloc said, He [Zoom] didn't factor on Meloni not being a bitch though.
  • Invisibility: One of Jay's tricks in his early adventures is to use his speed to remain unseen so he can spy on the villains of the story. He's not technically invisible, he's just moving so fast that he's not even a blur any more. He's not in one spot long enough for the human eye to register his presence.
  • Irisless Eye Mask Of Mystery: The Flash is sometimes an extremely rare subversion — his eyes were originally drawn normally under that mask, and this has been mostly consistent between the various Legacy Characters who have taken up the Flash mantle, though Wally once commissioned a version of the suit that had them, after Vandal Savage destroyed all the originals he had left from Barry. He kept it for several years, until he figured out how to create a speed force-based version of the suit which lacked them. His design in the DC Animated Universe plays this trope straight the whole time.
  • Irony: Being the Fastest Man Alive somehow doesn't stop Barry Allen from repeatedly being late.
  • It Began with a Twist of Fate: Jay Garrick, the original Flash gets his superpowers when he falls asleep in a lab, accidentally drops a bottle to the floor, and inhales the vapors thus released. Barry Allen, the next Flash, originally got his powers from a similar lab accident, though this was later retconned so that the origin of his powers is his time-traveling future self.
  • Japanese Ranguage: The Trope Namer, believe it or not.
  • Kid Sidekick: Kid Flash; Impulse was a subversion of this until Didio struck and he was turned into a pod person.
  • Legacy Character: And legacy characters for legacy characters of legacy characters... One of Mark Waid's last big story arcs called Chain Lightning reveled that there is a long line of Flashes after the ones we know about pass on. And just as many villains named Cobalt Blue.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Averted with Barry and Jay's first meeting in The Flash of Two Worlds. Barry looks up Jay's address in the phone book, goes to meet him, introduces himself, tells his life story, and the two get along famously. They then team up to capture the bad guys with no clash of egos at all.
  • The Lifestream: The Speed Force is often portrayed as this.
  • Living Memory
    • Barry Allen, via Time Travel!
    • Eobard Thawne (Professor Zoom) as well, in the Story Arc The Return Of Barry Allen.
  • Living Statue: Jay Garrick briefly becomes one thanks to a chemical formula invented by a fellow scientist and stolen by a criminal.
  • The Load: Mary West, the mother of Wally West, became a particularly notable Load during his early years as the Flash. What are her Load bonafides? Start with the fact that she treats her twenty-something son (with years of superheroing experience) like a fourteen-year-old. This leads her to beg Wally not to help people, and basically act unwilling to let Wally out the door at all. She also behaves like a shrill banshee regarding Wally's girlfriends, calling them gold-diggers - even when Wally is dirt poor! She manages to get herself into various dangers due to her own wanderlusts, and she also blindly sets up several dangerous situations by telephoning the villains and giving up important information because "they seemed nice". Readers undoubtedly cheered when she married a European secret agent; you can have her, buddy.
  • The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: Subverted with Jay Garrick. His girlfriend Joan knows he's the Flash from early on, and even helps him out from time to time.
  • Meet Your Early Installment Weirdness: "The Flash of Two Worlds", where Silver Age Flash Barry meets Golden Age Flash Jay in an interdimensional mishap. The major success of this Silver Age story lead right into the annual JLA/JSA crossovers throughout the pre-Crisis era.
  • Mundane Utility: Well, if you had super-speed, you'd probably use it to get the shopping done too.
    • Averted in the '90s TV show, where Barry's attempt to clean his apartment at super-speed results in an even bigger mess being left in his wake.
  • Mutant: Jay Garrick is the only Flash capable of any Super Speed without tapping into the Speed Force since he's a metahuman as well. Modern stories have set his "natural" top speed at only the speed of sound, with faster speeds requiring energy from the speed force. However, in his original Golden Age series and as recently as a 1991 Justice Society mini-series, Jay could hit the speed of light on his own. On at least one occasion he went faster than light in order to time travel.
    • This, however, is totally different to how the Speed Force originally worked (maybe due to the Infinite Crisis Cosmic Retcon); at first, everybody with a speed unnatural for his species [[note: meaning not an alien or a naturally fast creature like the cheetah]] was tapping on the Speed Force, no matter how different their origins were (that's why Jay lost his powers like anyone else when Savitar "stole" the Speed Force). In fact, Invasion, where the meta-gene was originally introduced, showed Wally as a metahuman too.
  • Myth Arc: "The Flash is to time what Green Lantern is to space", says Geoff Johns.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: Much of the Flash's Rogues Gallery is like this... most of the time.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
    • Played with. Peek-a-Boo is an anti-villain, forced out of her job, and abandoning her education and her future to take care of her father. Her powers involve her unintentionally teleporting and accidentally destroying things. Her last ditch effort to save her father is to steal an organ he needs for a transplant, but the Flash (Wally) stops her and she is arrested. After that she is labeled a rogue and ostracized forever, originally hoping to be a hero, but after all that ends up being a villain instead. In the end Wally was the one who pushed her down this path, but as Wolfe points out she broke the law, and the organ recipient would have died if it hadn't been for him.
    • The Flashpoint timeline, and subsequent New 52 reboot, can largely be attributed to Barry trying to save his mother from dying when he was a kid.
  • Noble Demon: The Rogues. They not only have a code of conduct, but don't allow people to take up another Rogue's identity if the current holder is still alive and don't grant membership just because you've taken up the mantle of a deceased Rogue. In fact, they've been shown to outright stop in the middle of a crime wave because of an unrelated death with ties to the superhero community, have walked away from at least one Villain Team-Up because they weren't interested in taking over the world, and will defend Central City alongside the Flash if need be.
    Captain Cold: [Owen. The Rogues don't kill women & children.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Eobard Thawne a.k.a. Professor Zoom has both his superpowers and his Ax-Craziness ramped up considerably in The Flash: Rebirth.
  • Older and Wiser: Max Mercury and Jay take this role in regards to the other speedsters.
  • One Steve Limit: A notable exception.
    • Since 1976, when Jay Garrick began being featured on a regular basis again, there's usually been two Flashes active at any one time, both of them using the Flash name. During the period following Final Crisis up to Flashpoint, this increased to three active Flashes, with two of them in similar costumes. Following the New 52 reboot, it became a lot easier to identify them — Whilst DC gradually reintroduced a second & third Flash, they weren't in the the primary DC Universe & can easily identified as the "Flash of Earth 2/Justice League 3000".
    • This, fittingly, extends to their Evil Counterparts too, but it's not as complicated — whilst there are three Reverse-Flashes, the first & second have the alternate names Professor Zoom & Zoom respectively.
    • Intentionally avoided by the Rogues. Though roughly half of them qualify as a Legacy Character, they make it a rule to never have two members with the same title. They still have Captains Cold & Boomerang, however.
  • Personality Powers
    • Subverted with Jay and Barry, who are generally slow and methodical. However, as a young man Jay was fun-loving and mischevious, often "having a little fun" with friends and villains alike with his super speed.
    • Played mostly straight with Wally, and taken right to the extreme with Impulse!Bart, who'd just run blindly into everything.
    • Barry, since coming back to life, has been significantly more like Bart and Wally, which is noted by Hal Jordan during Blackest Night.
  • Plot Tumor: The Speed Force has so many applications and created so many allies and threats to the Flash that it has quickly become central to the Flash mythos.
  • Power Degeneration: Wally's powers were killing him for awhile, bringing his powers down to more reasonable levels. You know, not exceeding the mass of the universe while running, stuff like that.
  • Racing The Train: In one issue, Wally realizes that while he was fighting a supercriminal, his girlfriend was taking a train and leaving town. He then proceeds to run down the train, climb on board, and asks her to stay.
  • Rainbow Motif: Rainbow Raider
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: A fun and useful application of Super Speed powers. The best example probably being in Justice League Unlimited where Wally slams all the Brainiac out of Lex Luthor.
  • Required Secondary Powers: All the Flashes have an invisible aura around their bodies that protects them from air friction, inertia, etc, as they move at high speed. And that's just the beginning. Look at what they can do with the Speed Force, and try to figure out how their powers work
  • Rogues Gallery: The main Rogues Gallery actually call themselves that. In some continuities, they even have dental.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: At "A hair's breadth short of the speed of light", Flash saves a population of 532,000 from a nuclear explosion by carrying them one or two at a time to a hill 35 miles away and does this all in 0.00001 microseconds. If you do the math, the result is much faster than the speed of light. Thirteen trillion times, to be precise.
    • More like a Critical Research Failure if the predictions of Special Relativity hold up in the DC universe (and given that half the Flash's schtick depends on them, they probably do): time will flow in reverse once the speed of light is exceeded (even by a hair's breadth) meaning that Flash will be able to save everyone in the city.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Evan McCulloch, the second Mirror Master. He was an orphan and end up killing his father by accident in his job as a hit-man. As a result, his mother committed suicide. Another Rogue, Captain Cold, confronted his abusive father but couldn't bring himself to kill the man... so he had Heat Wave do it.
  • Serial Killer: Murmur, one of the unashamedly murderous rogues, hates the sound of speech and goes about cutting peoples' tongues out, including his own.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sidekick Graduations Stick: Wally was the most successful example. His run as the Flash lasted for over 20 years, he was a founding member of more than half-a-dozen teams, and a regular guest star in many other series. (Fun Flash Fact: Wally's series, Flash Vol. 2, ran to issue 247. Barry's run in Flash Vol. 1 was from 105 to 350, only 246 issues.) After Flashpoint and The New 52, however, Wally no longer exists. His graduation stuck so hard they had to reboot the universe to un-stick it.
  • Snap to the Side: His rogues' gallery pretty much has to learn this to avoid whiplash.
  • Split Personality: Rose and Thorn, one of Jay's adversaries. The mild and sweet and blonde Rose transforms into the super-powered criminal the Thorn. Rose is aware of the Thorn, but believes her to be her sister rather than an alternate personality, though Thorn is fully aware of who she is. Alan Scott later marries Rose, believing her to be cured of her split personality, and she becomes the mother of Jade and Obsidian.
  • Story Breaker Power: As his maximum speed climbs to the upper levels of insanity, he actually starts to run into a lot of the same problems as Superman. How does anything challenge someone who can think and react thousands of times faster than even the fastest person? Writers have repeatedly commented that an intelligently written speedster on the Flash's level should be completely unbeatable.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Bart gets a great deal of his mannerisms and appearance from his mother, right down to the crazy hairstyle!
  • Sudden Name Change: Wally West's father was originally named Bob West in all of his Pre-Crisis appearances. Post-Crisis, he was suddenly renamed to Rudolph West.
  • Super Family Team: The Garricks.
  • Superheroes Stay Single: Averted with all the Flashes except Bart. Jay had a steady girlfriend for his entire solo series, and they got married while "off page" between the Golden and Silver Ages. They remained married for over 60 years. Barry married Iris West, and Wally eventually married Linda Park. The New 52 has erased all of those relationships.
  • Super Reflexes: They all have them, as an obvious requirement to traveling that fast. They also tend to lose them whenever the writers want a Flash to do something like, say, get stabbed by Deathstroke.
  • Super Speed: Obviously. Flash-type speedsters are the fastest beings in the universe, full stop. Of course, running at superluminal speed doesn't come without risks; the faster you run, the higher the chance there is at being absorbed by/merging with the Speed Force, which is why they tend to keep to "normal" supersonic speeds (~Mach 10 or so).
  • Swiss Army Superpower: The Speed Force grants Flash-type speedsters an amazing amount of powers...
    • Photographic Memory: Only Bart has the true, "permanent" form; the others can only retain it temporarily.
    • Healing Factor: Barry is nigh-unkillable at the peak of his powers, being able to remain conscious and deliberately reassemble himself molecule by molecule even if he's been disintegrated. In other words, he has "complete control over his molecules," as mentioned every third comic or so back in The Silver Age of Comic Books, and is thus capable of reversing pretty much any sort of attempte to induce Power Incontinence on him. Considering the things he can undo with this power, mere regeneration is simple. One has to assume that this ability is what's kept Jay Garrick hale and hearty for a man who's nearly a century old.
    • Super Strength
      • Infinite Mass Punch: explained by the Theory of Relativity. Though a literal infinite mass punch is only possible for them due to the Speed Force and their aura's allowing them to ignore inertia and any nitpicky "Laws of Physics" that would get in the way. His target, on the other hand, had super speed that didn't derive from the Speed Force, and thus felt every bit of the effects of a ballistic path from South Dakota to the Serengeti.
      • In The Silver Age of Comic Books, Barry Allen occasionally karate-chopped his way through concrete and steel with a single blow. Being able to move his hand at near-light speed made it pretty easy; what was amazing was that the impact didn't shatter his own bones.
    • Speed Lend/Steal (from The Other Wiki): Perhaps his most versatile new power; because the Speed Force governed all motion, Wally could rob objects of their kinetic energy, motion, or momentum — for example, bullets in flight or turning a supervillain into a statue — and use the energy to accelerate himself even faster. He could similarly lend speed to inanimate objects or allies, enabling them to temporarily travel nearly as fast as himself. Bart Allen's future self is shown to also have this ability in the Teen Titans "Titans Tomorrow" story arc.
      • Speed control: if you think you can move that fast, you can.
    • Hammer Space Constructs
    • Time Travel: Barry Allen needed the "cosmic treadmill" to time travel. However, during the Golden Age, Jay Garrick was capable of doing this without the aid of technology by exceeding the speed of light.
      "By vibrating faster than 186,000 miles per second, the speed of light, the Flash is no longer subject to the scientific principles of this planet, no longer bound to the steady flow of time — he can move forward or backward through the time dimension!"
    • Shield
    • Flight (Johnny and Jesse Quick only)
      • DCAU!Flash tried that in the Justice League Unlimited episode "I Am Legion". Good enough to not die from a high altitude fall, but maneuverability is less than stellar. Wally also used a similar method once in the regular comics to save a flight attendant who had — again — fallen from a plane. Interestingly, this story also indirectly pointed out why Flashes can't really use their abilities to fly like you'd expect - the Required Secondary Powers that prevents friction from affecting them means that they just can't get enough "purchase" on the air to do much more than slow themselves down.
      • An ability Bart would do anything to get. One would wonder why when his current abilities are much more useful; probably representative of his free-spirited personality.
    • ESP
    • Speed scouts: Impulse gained the ability to create Speed Force clones of himself in the Dark Tomorrow story arc (#73-75); they have his personality, and he also absorbs their memories once they're done. One of them was killed during the Our Worlds at War crossover, and the psychic backlash sent him into a coma; he was eventually forced to use them again during World Without Young Justice. This ability is apparently now forgotten since we don't see it after that, or Bart is still reluctant to use them.
    • Negate Anti-Life Equation... somehow. That was probably more Power of Love than anything to do with the speed force. Considering what we learn later on (assuming it one of the things they selectively kept) about Piper's powers, it could partially be acquired immunity.
    • Self-molecular control
      • Generally used for intangibility and phasing.
      • The most dangerous use? Literal disintegration. As in, atoms scattered all over with no hope of reassembling them. Both Bart and Wally have threatened to use this, but haven't actually done so.
    • Oh yeah, and using itself as a inter-dimensional prison.
  • Taking Over the Town: This was Blacksmith's plan for taking over Central and Keystone Cities. She had Murmur and Mirror Master attack radio stations and reprogram their antennas to broadcast a mirror shield around the twin cities to prevent anyone from coming in or getting out.
  • Talking in Your Sleep: Iris finds out about Barry's dual identity this way on their wedding night, but keeps it to herself until Barry finally decides to 'fess up on their first anniversary.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Because of the whole time-travel schtick and Bart's ancestry.
  • Tornado Move: The Flash does this all the time. He usually uses it to shield others from harm, but he once froze a battalion of demons just with the icy winds.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Poor Pied Piper goes through a lot, highlighted by the deaths of Impulse, Kid Zoom and Trickster. Borders on Bury Your Gays.
  • Tron Lines: Post-Flashpoint, Barry's costume now has these. They light up when he's running, but when he's standing still or walking, they're black seams, barely visible.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: The Flash vs. Superman races, which, most of the time, would end in a tie. Wally West, the then-current Flash, beat Superman by a slim margin in the first Post-Crisis race between the two, on the basis that Supes is unused to running much as compared to the easier flying option, while that's what Flash does all the time. As the writer pointed out, it would be kind of lame if Flash weren't the best at his only power.

    As of the Flash Rebirth mini-series, all of the races between the two are only close because the Flash let them be close. When Barry Allen really wants to outrun Superman, The Man of Steel might as well be standing still compared to The Fastest Man Alive.
    Barry: You can't stop me.
    Superman: I've raced you before, Barry. I even won some of those races.
    Barry: Those were for charity, Clark.
    (Barry runs off, leaving Superman standing in his wake)
It was necessary to do this due to all the retcons that had happened since the last time Barry and Superman raced. Pre Crisis Superman really was nearly as fast as Barry and his superior stamina and strength gave him an edge (Barry was able to compensate by vibrating through obstacles Superman had to run around.) However, Post-Crisis, Superman has been considerably slower and with Barry's return they had to explain why the races were close.
  • Wham Episode: The Blitz storyline, which had two years of continuity behind it, leading to Wally's personal Big Bad, a disturbingly easy aversion of Infant Immortality, and arguably the most shocking Face-Heel Turn since Terra in Teen Titans. Johns apparently remembered that an Unpleasable Fanbase sent death threats to the people involved in Terra's turn (despite it being planned from her introduction), and laid out every piece of evidence given out as proof that this was always coming. The introduction comic ends with Wally's close friend, Hunter Zolomon, realizing that he's also capable of moving at superspeed. This, coupled with his irrational belief that Wally wasn't being heroic enough, led him to scratch away a paper with his name on it, leaving only the name "Zoom".
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In the "Ignition" story arc, which takes place immediately after the "Blitz" storyline above, Batman pays Wally a visit to confront him about the Laser-Guided Amnesia he (and everybody else) has suffered through Wally making a deal with the Spectre to make everyone (including himself, inadvertently) forget his secret identity in the aftermath of Linda's miscarriage at Zoom's hands. However, once Wally gets his memories back (via Batman unmasking himself in front of him), he shows no remorse for what he did, pointing out that he'd suffered a tragedy not unlike Bruce's own issues.
    Wally: I just lost my children, Bruce. I would think you would know what that's like.
    (Batman then flashes back to his own parents' murder)
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: The Rogues have their very own tailor, Paul Gambi.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Averted when Captain Cold faces his sister's murderer, who co-opted Cold's freeze guns as Chillblaine. Chillblaine tries to start the fight off with a witty pun, but Cold's there for vengeance.


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alternative title(s): The Flash; The Flash; Kid Flash; Flash; Impulse
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