Other Aliases: The Scarlet Speedster, the Fastest Man Alive, the Monarch of Motion, the Sultan of Speed
Known Relatives: Henry and Nora (parents), Malcolm Thawne (twin), Iris West Allen (wife), Wally West (nephew), Don and Dawn Allen (son and daughter), Bart Allen (grandson), Jenni Ognats (granddaughter)
Group Affiliation: Justice League of America (founding member)
Base of Operations: Central City, Missouri
Hometown: Fallville, Iowa
Occupation: Police scientist
First Appearance: Showcase #4, September–October, 1956
Origin: 10–15 years ago (1 year before Wally)
Identity: Secret during his lifetime. Public knowledge after death, but erased from memories and records late in Wally West’s career (Flash v.2 #200, 2003).
Death: Saving the universe from the Anti-Monitor (Crisis on Infinite Earths #8, November 1985)
Resurrection: Brought back by the Reverse-Flash (DC Universe #0, 2008; Final Crisis #2, 2008; Flash: Rebirth #4, 2009)
See Also: Earth-1, Where’s Barry?, The Lost Days of Barry Allen
Police scientist Barry Allen was struck by lightning in his lab one night and splashed with chemicals from a nearby cabinet. He found he could run at super-speed. Inspired by Jay Garrick, Allen adopted the identity of the Flash, quickly becoming a celebrated hero.
Barry Allen grew up in the small farm community of Fallville, Iowa, son of Dr. Henry Allen. A fan of comic books from a young age, he often worked tales of the original Flash into games with his childhood sweetheart, the future actress Daphne Dean. He turned his methodical attention to detail and his fascination with science into a career as a police scientist, settling in Central City, Missouri.
At least, that’s what originally happened. The Reverse Flash traveled back in time to take pre-emptive revenge on Barry Allen before he ever became a hero. He burned down the Allens’ house, so they moved to Central City while Barry was still a child. Then he murdered Barry’s mother Nora, and framed his father. Henry Allen was convicted, and eventually died in prison. Barry pursued a career in criminal justice in hopes that he could learn who had really destroyed their family, and why.
One night, working late, Barry stood in front of a shelf of chemicals near the window. A lightning bolt struck the window, electrifying Barry and spraying him with charged chemicals. Miraculously, instead of being horribly burned, the scientist found he could move at super-speed.
As he gained mastery over his powers, he discovered that he had complete control over his molecules. In practice this meant not only running fast, but vibrating through solid objects, creating whirlwinds with his hands, carrying out tasks in moments that would take most people hours, days, or longer.
Barry used his extraordinary abilities to take his quest for justice outside the lab, protecting the city from a new generation of costumed criminals. He took the name of his childhood hero, and patrolled the streets as the Flash. A grateful city even dedicated a museum in his honor.
He also became a mentor to a younger hero, when his girlfriend Iris’ nephew Wally West fell victim to the exact same accident that gave Barry his powers (Flash v.1 #110, 1959). It has since been speculated that Barry unconsciously caused the accident to occur through his link to the Speed Force.
Early in his career, Barry learned that he could travel through time by setting up specific molecular vibrations. By halting these vibrations, he could return to his home era. To help with precision, he built what he called the Cosmic Treadmill.
In the pre-Crisis Multiverse, Barry discovered the existence of parallel worlds when he accidentally found a link between the Central City Community Center stage on Earth-One and a road outside Keystone City on Earth-Two. He met Jay Garrick, and the two Flashes teamed up to foil a series of robberies (Flash v.1 #123, 1961). (In the combined world that resulted from the Crisis on Infinite Earths, this occurred somewhat differently.) Barry would later visit a number of realities, including Earth-Prime (Flash v.1 #179)
Actress Daphne Dean grew up in Fallville with Barry. They were close friends as children, and dated in high school, but drifted apart. They remained friends, though a mutual attraction would occasionally surface.
Reporter Iris West, whom Barry met in Central City, was the love of his life. When Barry became the Flash, he struggled with keeping the fact secret from Iris, even after they were married (Flash v.1 #165). He finally told her on their first anniversary, only to learn that she had known since their wedding night: he talked in his sleep, revealing the secret. From then on, Iris became the Flash’s secret ally.
The Reverse-Flash, who harbored an obsession over replacing Barry, developed a fixation on Iris. Eventually, he demanded that she renounce her husband for him. She refused, and Zoom killed her (Flash v.1 #275). Barry battled Zoom through time, eventually leaving him stranded in a time machine with the controls jammed.
Barry grieved, then moved on. He began dating his new neighbor, Fiona Webb, eventually rushing into marriage...only to have the wedding interrupted when the Reverse Flash escaped. Zoom wanted a rematch, threatened to kill the Flash’s wife—again—and the two battled in a race around the world. As Zoom prepared to kill Fiona, Barry grabbed him in a chokehold, accidentally snapping his neck and killing him (Flash #323–324, 1983).
Zoom’s death led to a lengthy murder trial. The Flash gave up his life as Barry Allen, throwing himself into protecting the city and preparing his defense. Ultimately, he was acquitted...and reunited with Iris, who wasn’t dead after all (Flash #340–350, 1984–1985).
They relocated to the 30th Century, the era in which Iris had been born. They had only a short time together in the future of 2957, but it was enough time for Iris to conceive twins who would inherit their father’s speed. Barry also made several trips through time to visit his home era (see The Lost Days of Barry Allen).
Everything came to an end in the Crisis, when Barry was abducted by the Anti-Monitor. Held for days, tortured, Barry conserved his strength until he could escape. The Anti-Monitor had been preparing an immense cannon, one which would destroy the few remaining universes left. A hero to the end, the Flash set out to destroy the cannon. In outracing the tachyon at the cannon’s heart, Barry broke all limits of speed and became one with the other side of light. (Crisis on Infinite Earths, 1985–1986. See also Where’s Barry?)
Barry Allen found himself alive again, unsure how or why he had been given a second chance, as minions of Darkseid began taking over the Earth (hints in DC Universe #0, on-panel in Final Crisis #2; 2008). He later learned that he had been brought back by his arch-enemy, the Reverse Flash, in order to destroy his reputation as a hero — and that Zoom had been tormenting him throughout his past (Flash: Rebirth, 2009–2010).
Barry has returned to his old life with Iris in Central City, explaining his years of absence as having been in the Witness Protection Program. He has also returned to his old job—both of them: the one in the Central City Crime Lab and the one out on the streets, wearing the red suit.Text by Kelson Vibber. Do not copy without permission.
- Primary Sources
- Art Credits
- Origin Tales
- Profiles in Print
- Series Regular In...
- Silver-Age Appearances
- Legacy-Era Appearances
- Appearances in Flashback
- Appearances in Alternate Reality
- One Year Later Appearances
- Rebirth-Era Appearances
- Further Notes
- Related Commentary
- “Mystery of the Human Thunderbolt” - Showcase #4 (September–October 1956), Robert Kanigher
- “Mystery of the Human Thunderbolt” - Secret Origins Annual 2 (1988), Robert Loren Fleming
- “Will You Believe Me When I’m Dead?” - The Flash (original series) #290 (October 1980), Cary Bates
- The Life Story of the Flash (1997), Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn
- Modern: Flash Secret Files and Origins 2010 (May 2010) - Francis Manapul
- Classic: Showcase #4 (September–October 1956) - Carmine Infantino and Joe Kubert
- Showcase #4 (September–October 1956): “Mystery of the Human Thunderbolt,” Robert Kanigher
- Flash #167 (February 1967): “The Real Origin of the Flash,” Gardner Fox
- Flash #267 (November 1978): “The Origin of the Flash’s Uniform!” Cary Bates
- Flash #309 (May 1982): “How Do You Kill A Legend?” Cary Bates
- Secret Origins Annual 2 (1988): “Mystery of the Human Thunderbolt,” Robert Loren Fleming
- The Life Story of the Flash (1997), Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn
- Flash Secret Files #1 (November 1997): “A Run of Luck,” Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn
- Who’s Who in the DC Universe #8 (October 1985)
- The Official Justice League Index #1 (April 1986)
- Flash Annual 3 (1989)
- Who’s Who (loose-leaf edition) #10 (June 1991)
- Flash Secret Files #1 (November 1997)
- Silver Age Secret Files #1 (July 2000)
- JLA–Z #1 (November 2003)
- The DC Comics Encyclopedia (2004)
- Flash Secret Files and Origins 2010 (May 2010)
- DC Comics Super-Heroes and Villains Fandex (2010)
- The Flash (first series) (1959–1985)
- Justice League of America (first series) (1960–1985?)
- Adventure Comics #459–466 (1978–1979): 8-issue run of solo stories
- The Flash (third series) (2010—)
- Showcase #4 (October 1956): “Mystery of the Human Thunderbolt!,” Robert Kanigher
- Showcase #4 (October 1956): “The Man Who Broke the Time Barrier,” John Broome
- Showcase #8 (June 1957): “The Coldest Man on Earth,” John Broome
- Showcase #8 (June 1957): “The Secret of the Empty Box,” Robert Kanigher
- Showcase #13 (April 1958): “Around the World in 80 Minutes,” Robert Kanigher
- Showcase #13 (April 1958): “Master of the Elements,” John Broome
- Showcase #14 (June 1958): “Giants of the Time World!” Robert Kanigher
- Showcase #14 (June 1958): “The Man Who Changed the Earth!” John Broome
- Green Lantern #13 (June 1962): “The Duel of the Super-Heroes!” John Broome
- Superman #199 (August 1967): “Superman’s Race with the Flash,” Jim Shooter
- World’s Finest #198–199 (November–December 1970): “Race to Save the Universe,” Denny O’Neill
- DC Special Series #11: Flash Spectacular 1978: “Beyond the Super-Speed Barrier,” Cary Bates
- DC Comics Presents #1–2 (August–October 1978): “Chase to the End of Time,” Martin Pasko
- Legionnaires Annual 3 (1996): “The Long Road Home,” Roger Stern
- Flash #148–150 (May–July 1999): “Chain Lightning Parts 4–6,” Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn
- Impulse #86–87 (July–August 2002): “Crisis on Impulse’s Earth,” Todd Dezago
- Flash #200 (September 2003): “Blitz Conclusion: The Final Race,” Geoff Johns
- JLA/Avengers #3–4 (January–March 2004), Kurt Busiek
- Flash #224–225 (September–October 2005): “Rogue War, Chapters 5–6,” Geoff Johns
- Infinite Crisis #4 (March 2006): “Homecoming,” Geoff Johns
- The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1 (August 2006): “Lightning in a Bottle Part 1: Flashback,” Danny Bilson & Paul DeMeo (flashback)
- The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #6 (January 2007): “Lightning in a Bottle Part 6: Burning Bridges,” Danny Bilson & Paul DeMeo (flashback)
- Flash 50th Anniversary Special (1990): “Captives of the Atom Master,” Gerard Jones
- Secret Origins #50 (August 1990): “Flash of Two Worlds” (revised), Grant Morrison
- Flash #62–65 (May–June 1992): “Born To Run,” Mark Waid
- Flash Annual 8 (1995): “Kid Flash: Day Two,” Tennessee Peyer
- Speed Force #1 (November 1997): “Burning Secrets,” Mark Waid
- Flash 80-Page Giant #1 (August 1998): “The Speed of Life,” Mark Waid
- Flash 80-Page Giant #1 (August 1998): “Dark of the Sun,” John Byrne
- JLA: Year One (12 issues, January–December 1998), Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn
- Legends of the DC Universe #12–13 (January–February 1999): “Critical Mass,” Christopher Priest
- Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths (February 1999): “The Untold Story,” Marv Wolfman
- Legends of the DC Universe #15–17 (April–June 1999): “Dark Matters,” Michael Jan Friedman
- Flash 80-Page Giant #2 (April 1999): “Riddle of the Retro Robberies,” Brian Augustyn
- Flash Secret Files #2 (November 1999): “The Stunning Secret of the Scarlet Speedster’s Super Slow-Down,” Brian Augustyn
- Flash/Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold (6 issues, October 1999–March 2000), Mark Waid and Tom Peyer
- Silver Age: Flash (July 2000), Brian Augustyn
- JLA: Incarnations #5 (November 2001): “Changes,” John Ostrander
- Impulse #79 (December 2001): “No Laughing Matter,” Todd Dezago
- DC Comics Presents: The Flash (October 2004): “The Fastest Man—Dead!” Jeph Loeb
- Flash #215 (December 2004): “The Secret of Barry Allen, Part Two: Reformed,” Geoff Johns
- Flash #234 (January 2008): “The Fast Life, Part 2: The Allens,” Mark Waid & John Rogers (flashback, solo)
- Booster Gold v.2 #4 (January 2008): “He’s Gonna Save Every One Of Us!” Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz
- Justice League of America #29 (March 2009): “Star Struck!” Len Wein
- Booster Gold v.2 #17 (April 2009): “Reality Lost” Part III of IV, Dan Jurgens (flashback to origin)
- Flash Annual 7 (1994): “The Barry Allen Story,” Mark Wheatley & Allan Gross (Elseworlds)
- Impulse #46 (March 1999): “When Barry Met Bart,” William Messner-Loebs (imaginary)
- Flashpoint (3 issues, December 1999–February 2000), Pat McGreal (Elseworlds)
- DC: The New Frontier #2, 4–6 (April, July–Sep 2004), Darwyn Cooke (alternate reality)
- DC Universe #0 (June 2008), Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns
- Final Crisis #2–7 (August 2008–March 2009), Grant Morrison
- Flash: Rebirth (6-issue miniseries, 2009), Geoff Johns
- Blackest Night #0 (June 2009): “Death Becomes Us,” Geoff Johns
- Blackest Night (8-issue miniseries, 2009–2010), Geoff Johns
- Wednesday Comics (12-issue miniseries, 2009), Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl
- Green Lantern #44 (Late September 2009): “Only the Good Die Young,” Geoff Johns
- DC Universe Halloween Special 2010 (October 2010): “Time Or Your Life!” Alex Segura
- Green Lantern #59–60 (December 2010–January 2011), Geoff Johns
 During the Silver Age, Barry’s full first name was given as Barrence. The Flash Secret Files #1 (1997) gives it as Bartholomew. This was three years after Bart Allen’s debut and the same year as The Life Story of the Flash.
 Originally, Barry and Jay lived in alternate universes. Comic book writers on Barry’s world of Earth-1 had dreams about Jay’s world, Earth-2. After Crisis on Infinite Earths combined the two realities, the comic-book connection remained—but this time, they were licensed comics based on “real” heroes.
 Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1 suggests that in the post-Infinite Crisis world, Barry lived with Iris long enough to see their children grow up and their grandson born. When asked about this, writer Danny Bilson has stated that this was a dream, not a flashback.
 Since he was a core JLA member, it would take up a lot of space to catalog all of the Flash’s appearances in other series. I’m sticking to solo stories and major crossovers for now and leaving the complete catalog to those dedicated indexes out there.
 Quite a few Elseworlds and other alternate reality stories feature a Flash based on Barry Allen. These stand out because they were told in a Flash-focused series, or (in the case of DC: New Frontier) in a reality similar to the original series.
52 #7 states that Barry tried to stop the effects of Zero Hour in the 64th Century, which was Wally in the original version. It is not yet clear whether this is a change or an error. If it is a change, it is not clear how it fits with Barry’s role in the original Crisis.