Flash (Jay Garrick)

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See DC Comics * List of DC Comics characters *Flash

Flash fan art by Roger Caldwell
Flash fan art by Roger Caldwell

Jay Garrick is a superhero in the DC Comics universe and the first to use the name Flash.

Contents

Stats

  • Height: 5'11"
  • Weight: 179 lbs
  • First Appearance: Flash Comics #1
  • Eyes: Blue
  • Hair: Brown
  • Group Affiliation: Justice Society

Character Biography

The Flash

Jason Peter Garrick is a college student prior to 1940 (retconned from 1938) who accidentally inhales hard water vapors after falling asleep in his laboratory where he had been working (later stories would change this to heavy watervapors). As a result, he finds that he can run at superhuman speed and has similarly fast reflexes (retcons imply the inhalation simply activated a latent metagene. After a brief career as a college football star, he dons a red shirt with a lightning bolt and a stylized metal helmet with wings (based on images of the Roman god Mercury) and begins to fight crime as the Flash. The helmet belonged to Jay's father, Joseph, who fought during World War I. He has been seen using the helmet as a weapon/type of shield, as seen in Infinite Crisis.

His first case involves battling the Faultless Four, a group of blackmailers. In the early stories, it seems to be widely known that Garrick was the Flash.{ It is later retconned that Jay has a secret identity which he keeps without the use of a mask by continually vibrating his body while in public so that any photograph of his face would be blurred.

Like the Flashes who followed him, Garrick became a close friend of the Green Lantern of his time, Alan Scott, whom he met through the Justice Society of America.

Justice Society of America

The Flash soon becomes one of the best-known of the Golden Age of superheroes. He is a founding member of the Justice Society of America and serves as its first chairman. He leaves the JSA after issue #6, but returns several years later (issue #24, Spring 1945) and has a distinguished career as a crimefighter during the 1940s.

Several pieces of retroactive continuity fill out early Garrick history. A story explaining the retirement of the JSA members, including the Flash, explained that in 1951, the JSA is investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee for possible Communist sympathies and asked to reveal their identities. The JSA decline, and Garrick, who recently married his longtime girlfriend Joan, retired from superheroic life. A trained scientist, he ran an experimental laboratory for several decades. All-Star Squadron Annual #3 states that the JSA fight a being named Ian Karkull who imbues them with energy that retards their aging, allowing Garrick and many others - as well as their girlfriends and sidekicks - to remain active into the late 20th century without infirmity. The 1990s Starman series notes that the Shade prompted Garrick to come out of retirement in the 1950s, but the details of his activities during this time are hazy at best.

Earth-Two

First appearance in Flash Comics #1 (Jan 1940). Cover art by Sheldon Moldoff.
First appearance in Flash Comics #1 (Jan 1940). Cover art by Sheldon Moldoff.

Garrick emerges from retirement in 1961 to meet the Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen, from a parallel world. Garrick's world is dubbed Earth-Two, while Allen's is Earth-One. The rest of the JSA soon join the Flash, although their activities during the 1960s (other than their annual meeting with Earth-One's Justice League of America) are unrecorded. That he and Green Lantern (Alan Scott) are good friends is clear, however.

Garrick is a key member of the JSA's 1970s adventures (as chronicled in All-Star Comics and Adventure Comics), as well as helping to launch the careers of Infinity Inc. Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, all the parallel worlds are merged into one, and Keystone City becomes the twin city across the river from Allen's Central City (an updated story suggests that Keystone in this new continuity was rendered invisible and wiped from the memories of the world for many years through the actions of several supervillains).

21st century

In the early 21st century, many of Garrick's JSA cohorts have retired or died, but Garrick remains active with the latest incarnation of the group. He is physically about 50 years old thanks to the effects of several accidental anti-aging treatments, but his chronological age is closer to 90. Of the three original JSA members still on the team (along with Alan Scott and Wildcat), Jay takes a more fatherly approach towards his teammates and the DC superhero community in general. After eating lunch with Wally West and Nightwing (Dick Grayson) in one issue of The Flash, Grayson remarks that he "wants to be like [Garrick] when he grows up".

Infinite Crisis and "One Year Later"

Jay and his wife Joan have guardianship of Bart Allen after Max Mercury's disappearance. During the events of Infinite Crisis Jay states that the Speed Force is gone after a battle in which many speedsters, living and dead, wrestle Superboy-Prime into the Speed Force and disappear. Jay is left behind when he reaches his limit and cannot follow. Bart Allen returns, aged several years, and had absorbed the entire Speed Force during his pursuit of the escaped Superboy-Prime. Jay claims that without the Speed Force, his own power is less than before: like Wally West in the Crisis on Infinite Earths aftermath, he can only run close to the speed of sound. He also stated that as the Speed Force is no longer retarding his aging, his speed is diminishing with time. After Bart left Keystone City for Los Angeles, Jay once again is the city's sole guardian. After hearing news of Bart's demise, Jay collapses with grief, consoled by Jesse Chambers.

The Jay Garrick clone suited up. Art by Matthew Clark and Art Thibert.
The Jay Garrick clone suited up. Art by Matthew Clark and Art Thibert.

In the Outsiders: One Year Later story arc, a clone of Garrick appears as an antagonist, created by the Brotherhood of Evil. He appears to be in his late 20s or early 30s and is brainwashed into working for a Malinese dictator. The clone is defeated by the combined efforts of the Outsiders. He possesses Jay Garrick's super-speed, but none of his memories or expertise. His unconscious body is placed in the custody of Alan Scott, Checkmate's White King.

Jay is continuing his work as a member of the re-formed Justice Society of America, under the leadership of Power Girl. After the death of the Flash, Bart Allen, Jay's full speed returns.

Trade paperback and hardcover collections

Collected editions that reprint issues of Flash Comics and other comics featuring Jay Garrick. The Archives are hardcover, all the others are softcover trade paperbacks:

Title Material collected
Original
The Golden Age Flash Archives Vol. 1 HC (1999) Flash Comics #1-17
The Golden Age Flash Archives Vol. 2 HC (2006) Flash Comics #18-24
All Flash Comics #1-2
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

Powers and abilities

As the Flash, Jay can run and move his limbs at superhuman speeds, and possesses superhuman reflexes. He also has an aura that prevents air friction from affecting his body and clothes while moving. Unlike Barry, Jay is a metahuman and while he has a connection to the Speed Force, it was not on the level of the other Flashes. Jay possesses the ability to 'steal speed' from other speedsters. When the Speed Force was absorbed into (and only accessible by) Bart Allen following Infinite Crisis, Jay's top speed was the speed of sound. After Bart's death and Wally's return, the Speed Force returned to its normal functions and Jay can now reach near-light speeds that let him keep up with even Zoom.

Jay's status as a metahuman with natural speed may be a retcon. During the "Dead Heat" miniseries, Jay's connection to the Speed Force is disrupted by the villain Savitar, and he, along with many of the other speedsters, is totally powerless. However, Jay's words in Infinite Crisis #7 imply that his metagene was always there, but inactive until the Speed Force is 'destroyed' or perhaps until the formation of New Earth took place.

Alternate versions

In the final issue of 52, a new Multiverse is revealed, originally consisting of 52 identical realities. Among the parallel realities shown is one designated "Earth-2". As a result of Mister Mind "eating" aspects of this reality, it takes on visual aspects similar to the pre-Crisis Earth-Two now called Earth-2 to distinguish the two separate realities. Included in one panel showing is an new counterpart to Jay Garrick among other Justice Society of America characters. The names of the characters and the team are not mentioned in the panel in which they appear, but is later specifically used in the "Countdown: Arena" series where the new Earth-2 Flash is specifically identified as Jay Garrick and does not allow others to call him "Flash" in the series, opposed to openly using "Jay Garrick". Despite being an almost exact duplicate to the original World War II Garrick, it is shown that the new Earth-2 Garrick is much younger, having no gray hair at all.

In the Elseworlds book JSA: The Unholy Three, Jay Garrick is portrayed as a post-WW2 United States intelligence agent stationed in Russia, working under the code-name Mercury. He is instrumental in bringing down the story's rogue Superman.

Other media

  • In the Justice League episode "Legends", the creators chose to use an analog called The Streak rather than Garrick, who wore a football-style helmet rather than a WWI helmet.
  • Jay's helmet appears in the Flash museum, in the Justice League Unlimited episode, Flash and Substance."
  • Jay appears in comic book animated form in Justice League Unlimited #12 to help Wally/Flash and the other JL members against Mirror Master.
  • On the 1990s Flash live action TV series, the villain The Trickster paints a statue of Mercury red and yellow as a way to mock the Flash (Barry Allen). The statue resembles Jay Garrick's costume.
  • On Smallville, one of the aliases used by Bart Allen is Jay Garrick.
  • Also on the Flash live action series, Barry Allen's brother, whose murder in the pilot inspired Flash's career, was named Jay, likely in homage to Jay Garrick. Further, a street sign in that show's Central City showed the name Garrick.
  • The video game Justice League Heroes features an alternate costume choice for the Flash – that of Jay Garrick's.

External links

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