Flash (Barry Allen)

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See DC Comics * List of DC Comics characters *Flash


Contents

Stats

  • Height: 5'11"
  • Weight: 179 lbs
  • First Appearance: Showcase #4
  • Eyes: Blue
  • Hair: Blonde

Summary

Barry Allen is a superhero in the DC Comics universe and the second Flash. The character first appeared in Showcase #4 (Oct. 1956), created by writers Gardner Fox and Bob Kanigher and penciler Carmine Infantino.

Character Biography

Barry Allen is a police scientist (his job title was changed to forensic scientist in the Iron Heights one-shot) with a reputation for being very slow, deliberate, and frequently late, which frustrates his fiancee, Iris West. One night, as he is preparing to leave work, a lightning bolt shatters a case full of chemicals and spills them all over Allen. As a result, Allen finds that he can run extremely fast and has matching reflexes. He dons a set of red tights sporting a lightning bolt, dubs himself the Flash (after his childhood hero in the comic books, Jay Garrick), and becomes a crimefighter of Central City. In his civilian identity, he stores the costume in his ring, which can eject the compressed clothing when Allen needs it and suck it back in with the aid of a special gas that shrinks the suit. In addition, Allen invented the cosmic treadmill, a device that allowed for precise time travel and was used in many stories. Allen was so well liked that nearly all speedsters that come after him are constantly compared to him. Batman once said "Barry is the kind of man that I would've hoped to become if my parents hadn't been murdered".

Justice League

Showcase #4 (Oct. 1956): First appearance of the Silver Age Flash. Art by Carmine Infantino and Joe Kubert.
Showcase #4 (Oct. 1956): First appearance of the Silver Age Flash. Art by Carmine Infantino and Joe Kubert.

As presented in Justice League of America #9, when the Earth is infiltrated by alien warriors sent to conquer the planet, some of the world's greatest heroes join forces -- Allen is one of them. While the superheroes individually defeat most of the invaders, they fall prey to a single alien and only by working together are they able to defeat the warrior. Afterwards the heroes decide to found the Justice League of America.

During the years, he is depicted as feeling attracted to Black Canary and Zatanna, but he never pursues a relationship because he feels his real love is Iris West. Allen also becomes good friends with Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), which would later be the subject of the limited series Flash and Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold.

In Flash # 123 – "Flash of Two Worlds," – Allen is transported to Earth-Two where he meets Jay Garrick, the original Flash in DC Continuity; it is revealed that Jay Garrick's adventures were captured in comic book form on Earth-One. This storyline initiated DC's multiverse and was continued in issues of Flash and in team-ups between the Justice League of America of Earth-One and the Justice Society of America of Earth-Two. In the classic story from Flash # 179 – "The Flash - Fact or Fiction?" – Allen is thrown into the universe eventually called Earth Prime, a representation of "our" universe, where he seeks the aid of the Flash comic book's editor Julius Schwartz to build a cosmic treadmill so that he can return home.

Tragedy

In time, he married his girlfriend Iris, who learned of his double identity because Allen talked in his sleep. She kept his secret, and eventually, he revealed his identity to her of his own free will. Iris was eventually revealed to have been sent as a child from the 30th century and adopted.

In the 1980s, Flash's life begins to collapse. Iris is murdered by Professor Zoom (who had long loved her and been jealous of Allen), and when Allen prepares to marry another woman, Zoom tries the same trick again. Allen stops him, killing Zoom in the process by breaking his neck. Unfortunately, due to Barry being unable to make an appearance at his own wedding, his fiancé eventually descends into madness.

Put on trial for Zoom's murder, Allen is eventually acquitted, and learns that Iris's spirit has in fact been taken to the 30th century, where she is given a new body.

Crisis on Infinite Earths

Following the trial, Allen retires and joins Iris in the 30th century. However, after only a few weeks of happiness, the Crisis on Infinite Earths intervenes, and Allen is captured by the Anti-Monitor and brought to 1986; according to the Anti-Monitor, the Flash was the only being capable of travelling to other universes at will, so the Anti-Monitor couldn't allow him to stay free. Allen escapes and foils the Anti-Monitor's plan to destroy the Earth, but dies in the process. It has been said that Allen travels back through time and becomes the very same lightning bolt that gives him his powers, but later it is also strongly implied that the soul of Barry resides in the Speed Force, the mystical source and Valhalla open to all dead speedsters, and from which the living ones draw their amazing powers. After Allen's death, Wally West, his nephew and sidekick (known as Kid Flash), takes up the mantle of the Flash.

After death

Marv Wolfman, scribe for the Crisis on Infinite Earths, has repeatedly stated (first hinted at in his introduction to the original Crisis collected edition hardcover), then fully explained on his website [1]) that he left a loophole in the script wherein the Barry Allen Flash could be re-introduced, without a retcon necessary, into DC Universe continuity. This loophole would have featured Barry being pulled out of time at some period during his desperate run to annihilate the anti-matter cannon, but, knowing that he would someday have to return to the time loop, he would become ever more determined to use his speed to help others, cramming everything that he could into the little time he had left before he would have to return and die to ensure the stability of the timeline.

It should also be noted that the way Barry Allen seemed to have "died" in Crisis on Infinite Earths, was that he ran so fast that he was able to stop the Anti-Monitor’s anti-matter cannon from firing by catching the tachyon beam at the heart of the weapon. After this act, according to Secret Origins Annual #2 (1988), Barry Allen turns into a lightning bolt, goes back in time, becoming the lightning bolt that hit his lab, splashing his past-self with chemicals and transforming him into the Flash. [2]

In Deadman: Dead Again, Barry is one of the heroes whose spirit Deadman helps to enter Heaven, and the Green Arrow storyline "Quiver" depicts Barry Allen in Heaven. His spirit, however, seems to still be alive within the speed force, along with Max and the rest of the speedsters.

Legacy

Iris is pregnant when Allen dies, and she has two children, the Tornado Twins, who later meet the Legion of Super-Heroes. Each of her children themselves have children. One, Jenni Ognats, grows up to become the Legionnaire XS, while the other, Bart Allen, is born with a rapid-aging illness, and is sent back to the 20th century where he is cured by Wally West. He remains there as the superhero Impulse (later becoming the second Kid Flash and even later, the fourth Flash, until his death in "Flash the fastest man alive #13").

Post-Crisis appearances

Due to his time-travel abilities, even death does not stop Barry from aiding his friends and family.

Barry first reappears during the Chain Lightning arc, where Flashes from different eras join together to defeat Cobalt Blue. Previously, a man that was thought to be Barry Allen, was revealed to be a past version of Professor Zoom, the Reverse Flash, who had been driven mad on a visit to the past and believed himself to be Barry Allen. Cobalt Blue is Barry Allen's twin brother, who had been given to another couple at birth due to a mistake at the hospital. The resulting battle takes place shortly before Barry Allen is kidnapped during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Barry is nearly killed in this battle, almost rewriting the outcome of the Crisis.

When Wally West, wracked by grief for the loss of his unborn twins at the hands of Zoom, regrets the public knowledge of his identity, Barry comes from somewhere in time, counseling him, and talking the Spectre into granting his wish. He then disappears, telling his nephew that he will come to his aid three times, the three most difficult days of his life. In fact, when Zoom enlists the aid of Professor Zoom to make Wally relive the loss of his beloved twins, Barry is already there, trying to stop his own Reverse Flash. For the second time, he helps Wally to undo the damage dealt by Zoom, also allowing Wally to save his twins, and then he returns to his proper timeline.

Infinite Crisis

In the fourth issue of Infinite Crisis, Barry Allen comes out from the Speed Force, along with Johnny Quick and Max Mercury, to help his grandson Bart to deal with Superboy Prime, taking the villainous lad with him in the Speed Force. Bart Allen appears wearing Barry Allen's costume in Tokyo near the end of Infinite Crisis #5 to tell the heroes that Superboy Prime has escaped the Speed Force. Bart again reappears in Infinite Crisis #7 in Barry Allen's costume to combat Superboy Prime once more. In Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #6 (2006) (taken place shortly before Infinite Crisis #5) is told how Barry spent four years in an alternate Keystone City along with Max Mercury, Johnny Quick and an alternate Jay Garrick, until he met Bart and Wally West, joining him after the battle against Superboy-Prime. After Superboy escapes, Barry suggests that someone has to absorb the whole Speed Force and cross the dimensional bridge back to Post-Crisis Earth. As Bart volunteers, Barry gives him his suit as a last gift, to keep the Force contained, and stays behind. Wally West didn't go because of his wife and kids. It is unknown why Barry Allen did not make the journey himself.

Powers and abilities

Barry Allen was believed to be the fastest of all known Flashes, capable of running at the speed of light with little difficulty. In Flash #150, "straining every muscle," he ran at ten times the speed of light. However, when he pushed himself further (during the Crisis on Infinite Earths) he appeared to waste away as he was converted into pure energy, travelled back in time, and was revealed to be the very bolt of lightning that gave him his powers. Barry Allen possessed abilities that Jay Garrick and Wally West have not always been able to duplicate, most notably the ability to "vibrate" in such a way as to pass through solid matter. Allen regularly engaged in time travel using the Cosmic Treadmill device.

Rogues gallery

The Flash acquired a colorful rogues gallery of villains. These criminals typically had unusually modest goals for their power level (robbery or other petty crimes), and each adopted a specific theme in his or her equipment and methods.

Trade paperback and hardcover collection

Collected editions that reprint issues of The Flash (vol. 1) and other comics featuring Barry Allen. The Archives are hardcover, all the others are softcover trade paperbacks:

Title Material collected
Original
The Flash Archives Vol. 1 HC Showcase #4, 8, 13-14
The Flash (vol. 2) #104-108
The Flash Archives Vol. 2 HC The Flash (vol. 2) #109-116
The Flash Archives Vol. 3 HC The Flash (vol. 2) #117-124
The Flash Archives Vol. 4 HC The Flash (vol. 2) #125-132
Showcase Presents: The Flash Vol. 1 TPB Flash Comics #104
Showcase #4, #8, #13, #14
The Flash (vol. 1) #105-119
The Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told HC (1990) and TPB (1991) Flash Comics #1, 66, 86
Comic Cavalcade #24
Showcase #4
The Flash (vol. 1) #107, 113, 119, 124, 125, 137, 143, 148, 179
Five-Star Super-Hero Spectacular
The Flash (vol. 2) #2
The Flash: The Greatest Stories Ever Told TPB (2007) Flash Comics #86, 104
The Flash (vol. 1) #123, 155, 165, 179
The Flash (vol. 2) #91
DC Special Series #11

Other versions

  • Barry Allen guest-stars in Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again. He's been kept by Lex Luthor as a power source for most of the East Coast, constantly running on a treadmill to provide cheap electrical power or Iris will be executed. After being rescued, Barry wears a black version of his original Flash costume and aids Batman and other heroes in restoring order.
"Buried Alien"
"Buried Alien"
  • Barry Allen also stars in JLA: Age of Wonder as a scientist working with Superman and a consortium of early twentieth-century scientists such as Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. The uniform incorporates the silver age look with the Mercury-style helmet worn by Jay Garrick.
  • Other Elseworld appearances include: League of Justice, a Lord of the Rings-type story, where the character is re-cast as "Phaeton," who wears a mystical brooch resembling Flash's lightning-bolt chest emblem, and has bathed in dragon's blood in order to protect himself from speed friction; and Batman: Holy Terror, where he is one of a number of metahumans imprisoned by a theocratic state, and is killed when his captor deactivates the aura that protects him from friction.
  • A story in the Marvel comic book series Quasar has the Marvel universe speedsters facing off in a competition set up by a being called the Runner. The contest is a race from the Earth to the Moon. During the race, a surge of energy hits the track, leaving a being with blonde hair and dressed in the remains of a red outfit with yellow boots. This being has no memory, but an enormous desire to run. He goes on to win the race, passing Marvel speedsters such as Quicksilver and Speed Demon in the process. When asked what his name is, the man replies, "I don't know... Buried Alien, or something like that." When asked how it felt to be the fastest man alive, he replied, "It feels... right!" The racer goes on to take the name Fast-Forward, disappearing into the universe in an attempt to help Makkari, who is stuck at hyper speed.
  • In the Elseworlds tale Superman & Batman: Generations, Barry's life is still the same, but heroes aged in real time. However, this reality shows no sign of the Crisis ever happening, so Barry is seen to be alive and well in 2008.
  • The Elseworlds story Flashpoint shows an alternate reality where Barry Allen became the Flash in 1956, the year he first appeared in comics. He was more involved in government affairs. By 1963, he had ended the Cold War and pushed the communists out of Vietnam. However, his career was cut short as he took a bullet aimed at John F. Kennedy. He was paralyzed from the neck down, but he still had the fastest mind on Earth and formed Allen Industries. By 1988, he and Vandal Savage's Immortality, Inc. had begun an exploration of Mars. In 1998, Wally West led an expedition to Mars, during which he found the flashpoint, an object which killed all life on Mars. Savage revaled his true colors as the one who shot Allen and Barry made contact with Wally, who was going on a super speed rampage. Barry was cured and defeated Savage. He then entered the flashpoint, going into a Speed Force.
  • In The Flash Annual #7, an alternate universe is shown where shortly after Wally West became Kid Flash, he became a superstar celebrity. However, Barry was tragically killed while battling Captain Cold. Ten years later, Wally is now a parapeligic and Captain Cold has written a "true" story about Barry. Wally decides to make a movie about his mentor that is true. The resulting film is a success.
  • Recently the Barry Allen of Earth-51 where secret identities are no longer needed by superheroes. Later, he was killed by the Monitor of New Earth, Bob.

Other media

Kenny Johnston as Barry Allen in Justice League of America
Kenny Johnston as Barry Allen in Justice League of America
  • Ballad of Barry Allen - A song by the band Jim's Big Ego on their album, "They're Everywhere". The song portrays Barry as a tragic character, whose perception of the world is so accelerated that all of reality appears to proceed at a snail's pace, causing him to gradually slip into depression. The band's frontman, Jim Infantino is the nephew of Flash co-creator Carmine Infantino, who provided the cover art for the same album.
  • In the movie Catch Me If You Can, Frank Abagnale, Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) uses the name Barry Allen from The Flash comic book as one of his aliases in the film. The fact that he uses the name of a comic book character leads Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks) to believe that Abagnale is much younger than he had previously thought. He also had some Flash comic books in his room when his father woke him up to get the suit.
  • Barry Allen stars in the 1997 live-action TV pilot Justice League of America. He is played by Kenny Johnston. The pilot never aired in the US, but did in other countries.
  • In the movie Daddy Day Care, a child named Tony is almost always dressed as the Flash, and is shown speeding everywhere, out of reach of the daycare workers.
  • Allen appears in the animated adaptation of Justice League: The New Frontier. He is voiced by Neil Patrick Harris.

External links

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