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6 Quick Facts You Need About The Flash

6 Quick Facts You Need About The Flash

By Ryan Britt

CW/DC Entertainment

After his appearance on Arrow and now with a full costume reveal on EW yesterday, thoughts of a red-clad man called The Flash are racing through some of our minds. And while it’s hard to be completely up-to-speed on all things in the DC universe, here are six things you should know about the background of the scarlet speedster as he prepares for his small screen comeback.

6. A Flash By Any Other Name

Like the Green Lantern and even Batman, the actual person under the mask of the The Flash hasn’t always been the same. Starting with Jay Garrick in the 40’s, becoming Barry Allen in 50’s and then Wally West in the 80’s, there have been a lot of Flashes. And while their various backstories get a little muddled, Barry Allen has emerged as the predominant Flash and the most readily associated with the character. Not surprisingly, he also had the best costume.

5. The Flash Was Central to the Reboot of the DC Comics Universe

Back in 2011, DC comics restarted every single one of their characters from a new issue number one. Known as the New 52, some saw these 52 new titles (some are long gone now) as a weird marketing ploy. But, DC has a long history of rebooting and reorganizing the continuity of their shared universes, the most famous of which is the various incarnations of the “crisis” story arcs, which establish multiple universes or “infinite Earths.” But with the new 52, the creation of an alternate universe was complexly laid out though in a miniseries called “Flashpoint” which immediately preceded the new 52. That’s correct: Flash is the one who ushered in the DC renaissance.

4. In the 1990s He Fought Luke Skywalker & the Joker

Kind of a cult classic among those who grew up in the 1990’s, John Wesley Shipp was Barry Allen in another TV version of The Flash which boasted low production value and a snappy theme song. Fighting a slew of super villains, the most notable was perhaps Mark Hamill’s turn as The Trickster; a sort of genetic lovely child experiment between The Joker, The Riddler, and a used car salesman. Of course, Mark Hamill really was The Joker on Batman: The Animated Series and numerous other incarnations. And, of course he played a dude you might have heard of named Luke Skywalker.

3. Mixed Origins

The original Flash—Jay Garrick—inhaled some crazy vapors and as a result started being able to run super fast. In contrast, Barry Allen was struck by lightning while hanging around some various chemicals. Wally West was the nephew of Barry Allen, so some of those “powers” got sideways handed-down to him. From water vapors to lightning, it’s unclear if there is a real direct correlation between the Flash’s origins and actually being fast. Maybe a post-Barry Allen Flash could gain his or her powers from being struck by lightning while updating social media.

2. Centrally Located

No matter how he got his powers or what he calls himself, The Flash always lives in Central City, one of DC’s numerous fake towns. Between Metropolis, Gotham, Central City and elsewhere, it has been theorized that the America (and the Earth for that matter) is actually slightly larger and more densely populated than our “real” Earth.

 1. He’s the S.T.A.R.

Both the 1990’s TV version and this new Arrow-verse Barry Allen work at S.T.A.R. labs, which is in many ways the S.H.I.E.L.D. of the DC universe. Or if the Justice League is like The Doctor and his friends on Doctor Who, then S.T.A.R. labs is like U.N.I.T. or Torchwood. Or maybe… oh nevermind! In the DC universe S.T.A.R. labs is frequented by everyone from Lex Luthor to Cyborg to Henry Irons (AKA Steel). It’s where a lot of the cool inventions go down and also where much of D.C.’s science fiction leaning tendencies get explored. With S.T.A.R. labs being mentioned and depicted in Man of Steel, it seems possible the D.C. universe is about to get connected maybe not just through its new films, but also via the smaller TV shows like Arrow and Flash!

What are you excited about for The Flash?

Tags: tv, books-and-comics, arrow, cw, dc entertainment, the flash

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About the Author
Ryan Britt

Ryan Britt is the author of Luke Skywalker Can't Read and Other Geeky Truths , forthcoming from Plume Books in Fall of 2015. His writing has appeared with The New York Times, The Awl, VICE, The MindHut, Electric Literature, Tor.com, and elsewhere. He's taught for The Gotham Writers' Workshop and the Sackett Street Writers' Workshop and lives in New York City.

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