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Ride The Lightning List FAQ

I. General Info

1. What is this list about?

Ride the Lightning is a discussion list for fans of DC Comics' Flash.

2. Who maintains this list?

Kelson Vibber, maintainer of the site Flash: Those Who Ride the Lightning, <https://www.hyperborea.org/flash/> started this list to send announcements whenever the site was updated. People on the list wanted to discuss things, so now it's a discussion list. Announcements are now on another list, ridethelightning-announce.

3. What do all these abbreviations mean?

Over the years, the Internet has developed its own collection of abbreviations and acronyms for common phrases. Some of them are listed here. You can find more at The Jargon File (www.jargon.org)

As Far As I Know
I Am Not A Lawyer
If I Remember Correctly
In My Humble Opinion
Laughing Out Loud
No Text (use in subject if the subject itself is the message)
Rolling On The Floor Laughing
Rolling On The Floor Laughing My *** Off

II. Comics/Flash Info

1. How many Flashes are there?

Simple answer: Four.

  1. Jay Garrick was the Flash from 1940-1951. He was kept somewhat young by his powers, and has come out of retirement to work with the Justice Society of America.
  2. Barry Allen was the Flash from 1956-1986. He died in Crisis on Infinite Earths, and returned in 2008's Final Crisis to become the primary Flash in 2009.
  3. Wally West was Barry's teen sidekick, Kid Flash, until 1986. He was the Flash from 1986-2006. He disappeared for 1.5 years after Infinite Crisis, and returned to be the Flash again in 2007.
  4. Bart Allen is Barry's grandson. He first appeared as the teen super-hero Impulse in 1994, became Kid Flash in 2003, and took over as the Flash in 2006. He was killed after only 13 issues, then brought back in Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds in 2009, rejuvenated and again Kid Flash.

Complicated answer: Well, six if you include John Fox and Walter West, who each filled in for several months during the 1990s. Seven if you include Lady Flash, but she's a villain now. And then there are all the possible future Flashes...

2. What comics does the Flash currently appear in?

The monthly Flash series was relaunched starting at #1 in April 2010.

Barry Allen
The Flash
Bart Allen
Teen Titans
Jay Garrick
Justice Society of America
Wally West

Alternate versions of the Flash and Kid Flash can be found in Super-Friends and Tiny Titans.

3. What Flash series have there been in the past?

There have been several Flash miniseries, as well...

...and a dozen or so specials over the years. More info at https://www.hyperborea.org/flash/books.html

Jay also had solo stories in the first 29 issues of Comic Cavalcade (1942-1948). Some people refer to the 1959 series as volume 2 and the 1986 series as volume 3.

4. Which issues have been collected in TPB/trade paperback or hardcover?

This beyond the scope of this FAQ, but you can find a full list at:

Golden Age: Jay Garrick

Flash Comics #1-24 and All-Flash #1-2 appear in two volumes of The Golden Age Flash Archives.

Silver Age and Bronze Age: Barry Allen

Barry's early appearances are collected in three series of books:

DC has released several thematic collections, such as Flash of Two Worlds, Superman vs. the Flash, and Flash vs. the Rogues. Barry also stars in most of the stories in Flash: The Greatest Stories Ever Told.

Wally West

Several story arcs from Mark Waid's run on the book have been collected in trade paperbacks: Born to Run, The Return of Barry Allen, Terminal Velocity, Dead Heat, and Race Against Time.

The Grant Morrison/Mark Millar run (#130-141) is collected in two trades, Emergency Stop and The Human Race.

Almost everything from Geoff Johns' run (#164-225) has been collected in TPB form (see the above link for a full list).

Bart Allen

The Impulse: Reckless Youth TPB collects Bart's first appearances in Flash vol.2 and the first few issues of Impulse. Two volumes, Lightning in a Bottle and Full Throttle, cover the entire series, Flash: The Fastest Man Alive.

5. Why did DC relaunch the Flash? Three Times?

According to the DC Nation article that appeared in Flash #247, Dan Didio has wanted to bring back Barry Allen since he started at DC. They tried to set things up for a return in Infinite Crisis, but things "didn't work out." Since they were already committed to a relaunch, they launched with Bart. DC tried again a year later with "The Lightning Saga," and again, things didn't work out, but they'd committed to killing Bart and bringing back a Flash, so they relaunched with Wally. (This is starting to sound like building castles in a swamp.) Then they finally did manage to bring Barry back in Final Crisis, so they set up to relaunch the book again with The Flash: Rebirth.

Then there's the cynical interpretation, which states that they thought they could get huge sales with a relaunch, and when sales started dropping like a rock, they reversed course so fast that it gave the fans whiplash and relaunched again, and when that one failed, they relaunched again. From this standpoint, Didio's article sounds like "Oh, I meant to do that" posturing.

6. What exactly is a "retcon?"

The term retcon comes from "retroactive continuity." Basically it refers to any time that something new is invented about the past, especially if it contradicts something in an earlier story, and especially when the new version becomes the "official" version. For instance, up until 1985, Barry Allen and Jay Garrick had fought crime on two different, parallel worlds. After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC history was changed so that they had actually fought crime in neighboring cities on the same earth. Another example would be any origin story for Donna Troy written after 1984.

7. Wait, so Barry Allen and Malcolm Thawne are twins... does this mean Bart's parents are related? Eeew!

Yes, Barry Allen and Malcolm Thawne are twins, but while Barry jumped forward in time 1000 years before having kids, Malcolm did not. On the Allen side, it's only one generation from Barry to Don (Bart's father). But on the Thawne Side, there's around 40 generations between Malcolm and Meloni (Bart's mother), assuming the average age any of them has kids is 25. If you met someone and discovered you shared an ancestor in the 1500s, it would be interesting to find out, but it wouldn't make you worry about marrying or having children.

Looked at genetically: Barry and Malcolm are identical. Don shares 1/2 of Barry's genes. Meloni shares 2*10-40, or 1/1,099,511,628,000 of Barry's genes. I wouldn't worry about inbreeding at this point.

8. What is the Speed Force? What happened to it?

The "speed force" is an energy field from which speedsters draw their power. As speedsters approach the speed of light, they begin to interact more directly with it. If they're not careful, they can be absorbed by the field, or they can bounce off it, which usually leads to a trip forward in time.

Max Mercury knew the most about the speed force, while Wally West and Savitar were the most adept at channeling it. The concept was introduced in 1994, during Wally West's tenure as the Flash.

During Flash: Rebirth (2009), it was revealed that the speed force was created by the accident that gave Barry Allen his powers, and that his running actually powers the speed force. It exists outside of time (which is why speedsters could exist before Barry Allen), and acts as a portal to other times and dimensions.

9. Where were Wally, Linda and the twins when they disappeared?

During Infinite Crisis, as Wally, Jay and Bart tried to stop Superboy Prime, Wally felt himself being drawn out of reality. He had previously been drawn into the speed force twice, but had pulled himself back to be with Linda. This felt different, so he went to say goodbye to his wife. Linda refused to let the family be separated, and she and the twins disappeared at the same time Wally did.

As described in Flash v.2 #231-236, they spent that year on the planet Savoth, which has had a special relationship with the Flashes since Jay Garrick.

10. Why are Wally's children different ages? Weren't they twins? What are their powers?

Wally's and Linda's children, Iris (Irey) and Jai, grew rapidly (and at different paces) due to their inherited connection to the speed force. After only a year, Iris is effectively 10, and Jai is effectively 8.

It also left them with unstable powers. When they returned to Earth, Iris could vibrate her molecules and those of anything she touched, phasing through matter. Jai could accelerate muscle growth, giving himself temporary super-strength. Flash: Rebirth explained that the twins shared a single connection to the speed force. Iris absorbed her brother's connection, giving her a standard speedster's power set.

11. Why is Bart older in Flash: The Fastest Man Alive?

During Infinite Crisis, Bart and other speedsters trapped Superboy Prime on another earth beyond the speed force. Time flowed at a different rate there. Four years passed for Bart, while only hours or days passed for the rest of the world.

In The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1, Bart said that "a year ago" (i.e. right before Infinite Crisis) he was 16. He was 20 when he returned, and "one year later" he would be 21.

After returning from the dead in Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, he is a teenager again.

12. Who Killed Bart?

Several prominent members of the Flash's Rogues Gallery were involved in the attack which led to his death, but it's not clear exactly who participated in the murder.

Inertia planned the scheme to steal Bart's speed, and would gladly have killed his rival. Captain Cold, Heat Wave and Weather Wizard were clearly shown blasting him with fire, ice, and lightning. Abra Kadabra was involved, but not shown during the actual murder.

After that it gets a bit confusing. A panel shows Mirror Master, Trickster, and Pied Piper crowded around something unseen, with Inertia either on the ground or standing and kicking. This has been interpreted in several ways: as the pictured villains kicking an injured Bart to death, or kicking Inertia, or even Piper and Trickster going after Inertia, with Mirror Master separating them.

Countdown has clearly stated that Piper and Trickster did not participate in the actual murder, which fits with their character history. (Legally, though, they're still responsible under the felony murder principle.)

In the aftermath, Wally West captured Inertia and stole his speed, trapping him in the form of a statue in the Flash Museum. The Suicide Squad captured Kadabra, Cold, Weather Wizard, Mirror Master and Heat Wave, sending them into exile on the alien Hell Planet (as told in Salvation Run). Piper and Trickster eluded capture, until Trickster was shot and killed.

13. What the heck is Hypertime? The Multiverse?

The Multiverse and Hypertime are two ways DC has used to structure alternate-reality stories.

Until 1985, DC had a series of parallel universes that they called the Multiverse. Earth-1 was home to the Justice League and DC's current heroes. Earth-2 was home to the Justice Society and DC's Golden Age heroes. Other universes contained alternate histories, or heroes that DC had purchased from other comics companies. Each universe was distinct, and some heroes could easily travel from one universe to another. In 1986, Crisis on Infinite Earths got rid of the multiverse and combined all the groups of heroes into one shared universe.

Hypertime was a more fluid approach, introduced in 1999. Instead of parallel universes, there was a branching timeline. Each reality was an alternate timeline, branching off from some point in the past. Maybe a few months ago, maybe a few decades, maybe centuries. Traveling to a particular alternate universe would be difficult -- chances are you would be slightly off -- and getting back where you started would be harder still. A bigger difference was that similar timelines could also converge.

Hypertime was used as a framework for alternate universes, Elseworlds stories, retcons and handling the difference between real-world time and comics time. (A story might feature a Cold War plot or 1970s fashions, but only take place 5 years ago.) It became controversial because it could be used to explain continuity errors, and fans argued that the "crutch" would lead to lazy research and bad writing.

After Infinite Crisis and 52, DC established a new multiverse with 52 parallel universes. Only a few have been described so far, and some are similar -- but not identical -- to universes from the previous multiverse.

Time And Hypertime
This is an article I wrote, trying to explain time travel, dimension travel, and everything back to Crisis on Infinite Earths in terms of Hypertime.

14. What's happening next? Where can I find info about upcoming issues?

Speed Force
Flash-related news, reviews and commentary site.
DC Comics (official site)
Listings are posted three months ahead.
Other Comics News Sites
Comic Book Resources, Newsarama, etc.
These sites get the full list of upcoming solicitations from DC, usually on the third Monday of the month

15. Where can I find more info on the Flash?

Flash: Those Who Ride the Lighting
Lots of character profiles/bios, a few essays
Speed Force
Flash-themed blog featuring news, commentary, and more.
Crimson Lightning
Flash-themed blog focusing on the history of the character.
The Unofficial Flash Index
Issues guide
DC Comics (official site)
Profile, upcoming issues, and of course the rest of the DC Universe
Information about the series and characters

You can also check out the links page on Those Who Ride the Lightning.

III. Rules and Guidelines

1. Courtesy and Language

Everyone joins this group voluntarily, and they can leave voluntarily. Discussions are more interesting when there are more people, so please follow common courtesy when writing to or about your fellow members. Friendly jibes are one thing, but keep in mind that we have people all over the world here—every continent but Antarctica—and sometimes colloquial meanings get lost.

2. Spoilers

Not everyone makes it to the comic store on the same day, and new issues don't necessarily arrive on the same day at every store (or in every country). If you want to talk about the latest issue that's just come out, and you need to give away a major plot point, put "SPOILER" in the subject line so people can skip over it until they've had a chance to read the story. You can also add blank lines at the beginning if you want to, for people who hit "next" to page through their messages.

3. Topics of Discussion

This list is primarily about The Flash and other DC speedsters. Anything about Jay, Barry, Wally, Bart, etc. or the supporting cast or villains is fair game (within the realm of good taste, of course). Naturally, related happenings in Teen Titans, Justice League of America, Justice Society of America, or any crossovers are also included.

Occasionally, you may want to write about something that's not related to the Flash. That's OK, just make sure you put "OT" (Off-Topic) in the subject. But please don't make political statements. Again, this list has people on it from all over the world, and many of them won't be from the same country as you.

4. Repeated comments/questions

Ideally, everyone on the list would be completely current on discussion. Realistically, that's not the case. People join the list in the middle of or right after a discussion, or can't read the messages for several weeks, etc. However, there's not much point in bringing up a topic that's been done to death only a week before.

Before you post a question, especially if you're new, it's a good idea to check out the list archive and either skim the last week or so of postings, or do a search on the topic, so that you can either avoid repeating something that's been worn out recently or you can bring up something new that hadn't come up in that discussion.

If you want to deliberately repost something, there's no need (in most cases) to repost the entire message. Summarize it, then mention where it is in the archive (a subject and rough date is good, a link is even better) so others can look up the full posting.

If someone posts a question that's been answered, or an idea that's been discussed, politely let them know where to find it.

The list is archived at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ridethelightning/messages/

IV. How Do I...

1. How do I join?

There are two ways you can join. You can send a blank email to ridethelightning-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or you can go to http://groups.yahoo.com/subscribe/ridethelightning/ and sign up on the web.

2. How do I post/reply to a message?

You can post a message by sending it to ridethelightning@yahoogroups.com. If you want to reply to a thread, just hit "reply."

Note: If you're replying to a thread and the topic has changed, please update your subject line to reflect this!

3. How do I send an attachment? It seems to get deleted.

The list is set to block attachments to keep message lengths reasonable. (This has the added benefit of blocking viruses that email themselves to everyone in your addressbook.) However, if you go the Files section on the list archive (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ridethelightning/files/) you can upload the file and then send a message telling people where to find it.

4. I deleted a message. Can I look it up somewhere?
I just started. Can I read discussions from before I joined?

The entire list is archived on the web at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ridethelightning/

5. I just wanted to get updates for Flash: Those Who Ride the Lightning.
I don't want all this discussion stuff. Can I just get the updates?

Sure. Unsubscribe from this list (directions below) and join the announcement-only list by sending a blank email to ridethelightning-announce-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Alternatively, you can subscribe to updates via the RSS feed at https://www.hyperborea.org/flash/rss.xml. If you have a modern web browser (Firefox 2 or newer, Internet Explorer 7, etc.), you should be able to simply click on the link.

6. How do I get off this list?

If you have a Yahoo! ID, you can go to http://groups.yahoo.com/subscribe/ridethelightning/ and unsubscribe yourself there.

Otherwise, you can send a blank message to ridethelightning-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

List Home: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ridethelightning/
FAQ Updated June 13, 2010