See Also: History of the Flash
The key ability all Flashes share is speed: running fast, thinking fast, kicking and punching fast. They can create whirlwinds with their arms or drill through the ground. They can move back and forth so quickly they become invisible. They can run up the side of a building faster than the pull of gravity, or across water before their feet have time to break the surface. Most of them have complete control over their molecules, and can vibrate through solid objects. The third Flash, Wally West, can lend speed to moving objects or steal it from them, slowing them to a stop.
The second Flash, Barry Allen, learned how to travel through time using his control over his molecular vibrations. On his own it was hit-and-miss, so he built the “cosmic treadmill” to help pinpoint destinations. By running on the treadmill, any Flash can set up the right vibrations to travel through time. Wally West is the only Flash (so far) to master time travel without the treadmill, though he avoids it whenever possible.
Four heroes have called themselves the Flash over the years.* The first, Jay Garrick, fought crime in Keystone City during the 1940s. The second, Barry Allen, protected Central City 10–20 years ago and died during Crisis on Infinite Earths. The third Flash, Wally West, started his solo career in New York City before moving to Keystone. He and his family vanished during Infinite Crisis, and Bart Allen took over while he was gone. Since Barry Allen returned, Jay, Barry and Wally are all active as “The Flash,” and the comic book has focused on Barry.
*Actually, there are a whole lot of them, if you bring in future and alternate universe stories.
Jay Garrick is a scientist. In his college years, a lab accident left him exposed to “heavy water” fumes overnight, and he woke up with super-speed. He fought crime in Keystone City, often with the help of his girlfriend Joan, and was a charter member of the Justice Society of America (JSA). He retired in the early 1950s and married Joan, but would come out of retirement when the need arose. Kept (relatively) young by his powers, he now works with the modern Justice Society.
Current Series: Justice Society of America.
Barry Allen was a police scientist in Central City, across the river from Keystone. Working late one night, he was struck by lightning and splashed with chemicals, giving him super-speed. As the Flash, he was a contemporary of Superman and Batman, and a founding member of the Justice League of America (JLA). A year or two into his career, Barry married reporter Iris West. Iris was eventually believed killed by Professor Zoom, but she survived in the 30th Century. The Flash later killed Zoom accidentally, leading to a lengthy murder trial and Barry being reunited with his wife in the distant future. Just a month later, Barry died in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, sacrificing his life to save the universe.
Barry Allen was brought back to life by the resurrected Reverse Flash, and has returned to his old life with Iris in Central City. His missing years have been explained as time spent in the Witness Protection Program.
Current Series: The Flash.
Wally West grew up in a small Nebraska town, and was a huge fan of the Flash. One day, visiting his aunt Iris, he got a chance to meet his idol. In a freak accident, Barry’s origin repeated itself, and Wally became his teen-aged sidekick, Kid Flash. Wally joined with other sidekicks to form the original Teen Titans, and has been a hero his entire adult life. After Barry’s death, he took on the role of the Flash, first in New York, then in Keystone City. After running through a series of girlfriends, he finally married reporter Linda Park. Wally worked as a mechanic for the Keystone City Police Department until he, Linda, and their infant twins disappeared in Infinite Crisis.
Current Series: None.
Bart Allen, Barry’s grandson, was born in the 30th Century with a hyper-accelerated metabolism. He grew up in a virtual reality adjusted to match his sense of time, giving him no sense of danger. His grandmother eventually brought him to our present in hopes that Wally would know how to cure him, and his system was shocked to a normal growth rate in early adolescence. At first he took on the name Impulse, and lived with Max Mercury as his guardian and mentor, but since Max’s disappearance, he has lived with Jay and Joan Garrick. A founding member of Young Justice, Bart went on to join the Teen Titans and changed his name to Kid Flash.
Bart had a brief career as the fourth Flash after he was artificially aged during Infinite Crisis. The Rogues killed him, and he was brought back to life as a teenager by the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Current Series: Teen Titans.
- Top - Flash (second series) #50 (May 1991) - Greg LaRocque and José Marzan, Jr.
- Jay as Flash I: Flash Comics #14 (by way of the Golden Age Flash Archives #1) (November 1996) - E.E. Hibbard
- Barry as Flash II: Showcase #4 (September–October 1956) - Carmine Infantino and Joe Kubert
- Wally as Kid Flash: New Teen Titans (first series) #31 (May 1983) - George Perez
- Wally as Flash III: Flash (second series) #133 (January 1998) - Paul Ryan and John Nyberg
- Bart as Impulse: Impulse #2 (May 1995) - Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher
- Bart as Kid Flash: Teen Titans #4 (December 2003) - Mike McKone and Marlo Alquiza