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Releasing multiple covers for the same comic book did not become popular until the late 1980s, and to the best of my knowledge, the first Flash comic to receive this treatment was Flash v.2 #80 (1993). Most of the variant covers were released from 2006 onward, starting with the Infinite Crisis–spawned launch of Flash: The Fastest Man Alive.

If you know of a variant Flash cover that I have not listed here, please let me know at kelson@pobox.com. Please include scans or descriptions of both variations. Chances are I only have one of the two, but it could be either.

Flash v.2 #80

Flash v.2 #80 (Early September 1993)

This issue was a turning point in Wally West’s career. He had just come through the pivotal storyline, “The Return of Barry Allen,” in which he finally overcame his fear that he would be unworthy of Barry’s legacy. DC commemorated it with a special cover with red and gold foil gilded over the Flash’s costume and logo.

(Thanks to Mile High Comics for the covers. I only have the foil variant, and it’s signed.)

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Flash v.2 #100

Flash v.2 #100 (April 1995)

Several DC series that relaunched in the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths reached triple-digits in the mid-1990s. The direct-market editions of these Flash, Justice League America and other #100 issues featured an alternate cover with a catch phrase in large, holofoil letters with a small piece of artwork. Flash raced into the conclusion of “Terminal Velocity,” with Wally having run into the speed force at the end of the previous issue. Under those circumstances, the phrase, “The quick and the dead” was oddly appropriate (if a bit of a pun).

(Thanks to the GCD for both covers. I only have the artwork variant, and it’s got an autograph on it!)

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Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1

Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1 (August 2006)

DC relaunched a number of titles through Infinite Crisis, and in keeping with Crisis on Infinite Earths, they replaced the Flash. The series’ regular artist, Ken Lashley, provided the standard cover, with the Flash racing toward the reader out of a burst of energy. The alternate cover featured the father-son team of Joe Kubert and Andy Kubert, significant because Joe Kubert did artwork on many of the later issues of the original Golden-Age Flash stories in the late 1940s.

Both covers obscured the scarlet speedster’s face and eyes, to avoid revealing which Flash was wearing the costume.

(Thanks to the GCD for the Lashley cover; mine’s got an autograph on it!)

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Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #11

Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #11 (June 2007 cover date, April release)

While “Full Throttle” technically started the previous month, this issue featured the first real collaboration of the Rogues since Bart Allen took over as the Flash. In addition to Ethan van Sciver’s cover, looking up at a circle of sneering villains as they rip apart the Flash’s mask—a dramatic scene that came true two issues later—incoming penciller Tony Daniel provided a more dynamic cover showing the Flash and the Rogues in action.

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Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13

Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13 (August 2007 cover date, June release)

To keep the events of this issue secret, DC released a modified version for previews. They blacked out the Black Flash’s face and Bart Allen’s body, and recolored the costume to disguise which speedster was running toward the reader. Somewhere along the line, DC decided to release the masked version as well, and shipped the two versions in a 50/50 ratio.

DC also produced an extremely limited edition “DC Nation” variant. This cover used Ryan Sook’s Countdown teaser image featuring the Rogues standing triumphant over the Flash’s body, the word “alive” crumbling from the phrase, “The fastest man....” This version was not shipped to stores, but handed out at the DC booth at the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con.

(Thanks to chesscub for letting me know of an error on the two store-released versions, and the folks at ComicBloc—especially TitansFan—for helping me figure out how the two covers broke down. Thanks also to Nick Norris for letting me know about the DC Nation variant, and gogochex for answering some additional questions on it.)

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All-Flash #1

All-Flash #1 (September 2007 cover date, July release)

The Joshua Middleton cover on the left was originally announced as the cover for Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #14. DC later announced they had added a variant cover, but did not release a preview. After DC revealed that there was no issue #14, and the series was being canceled and relaunched with the previous series’ numbering, they released a preview of the Bill Sienkiewicz cover for All-Flash #1, a one-shot that would bridge the gap between the two series. All-Flash #1 replaced Flash: TFMA #14 on the schedule, and DC announced that they would ship the two covers in a 50/50 ratio.

Interesting trivia: Joshua Middleton posted the artwork for his cover on his blog, but at the time, the eyes were green. Most fans assumed it was a coloring mistake, since Bart Allen—the current Flash at the time—had gold eyes. The artist subsequently posted a corrected version in which he had added a yellow glow and lightning effects. By the time the cover appeared on an actual book, Wally West was back, and the original eye color would have been correct. Sadly, the printed cover is much darker than the version posted online, losing both detail and impact.

(Sienkiewicz cover taken from publicity material posted online.)

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Flash v.2 #231

Flash v.2 (relaunched) #231 (October 2007 cover date, August release)

Like the cover for All-Flash #1, the Doug Braithwaite cover to the left was initially released with the preview for Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #15, described as part of a storyline that would change the Flash forever. It turned out to be the first issue of the relaunched Flash v.2. DC then added a variant cover by the new regular artist, Daniel Acuña.

The figure on Braithwaite’s cover is based on Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing, Vitruvian Man.

There is also a limited promotional edition using the uncolored pencil version of Braithwaites’s cover. This sketch variant was released through DC’s Retailer Roundtable Program (RRP) and made available at the 2007 Diamond Retailer Summit in Baltimore, Maryland.

(Thanks to César Marins for sending me the image of the pencil variant, and Fastest for identifying it as a retailer incentive.)

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Text by Kelson Vibber. Do not copy without permission.

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