With extraordinary powers, inspiring stories, and a great mix of main characters, The Flash has been one of DC’s most popular superheroes since the character made his debut in 1939. Who’s the best Flash? : Barry Allen, or his nephew, Wally West, has been a long-standing debate among Flash fans. Many casual fans don’t realize that none of these flashes, however awesome they are, is the original flash.
The original Flash in the DC comics was Jay Garrick, a college student who got super speed thanks to a bizarre lab accident. Although Barry and Wally became better known than Jay, Jay was DC’s only Flash from 1940 to 1955.
8 The Flash’s comedic debut
Jay Garrick and the Flash franchise made their comic book debut in Flash Comics # 1 in 1939. The story has a classic origin from the Golden Age, using simple everyday elements combined with fictional powers to create a fun and somewhat relatable origin story.
At a university in the Midwest, a young student named Jay Garrick is recovering from a lab accident in which he inhaled hard water fumes. Once recovered, Jay resumes his life on the school football team but soon realizes that the accident has left a strange effect on his body. Jay now has the ability to think and move at incredible speeds.
seven The beginnings of the JSA
The Justice Society of America, or JSA, is the first superhero team ever to be created. While their name isn’t as famous as teams like the Avengers and Justice League, the JSA existed long before either of those teams were formed. The JSA made its debut in AllStar Comics # 3 in November 1940, with a star-studded cast of DC’s greatest heroes.
The premise of # 3 was simple; each hero told the group the story of their most incredible adventure. This has become a standard format for the Allstar Comics title, with several short solo stories for each JSA member per issue. Because Jay Garrick was the most famous member, his stories always came first.
6 Quarterly 100% Flash
With his popularity growing through his appearances with the JSA, Jay Garrick received his first separate solo series in 1941 titled Quarterly 100% Flash. Quarterly 100% Flash ran for 32 issues and was originally published once a month. The big early sales resulted in a change in the bi-weekly releases after issue 6.
The series was originally written by Jay Garrick creator Gardener Fox. But Robert Kanigher, now considered an influential author in The Flash mythos, took over in 1946. Quarterly 100% Flash also saw the introduction of a handful of well-known DC villains like The Thinker, The Turtle, Star Sapphire, and The Fiddler.
5 The lightning of two worlds
DC Comics stopped producing Flash comics starring Jay Garrick and instead revived the myth with Barry Allen, a Central City forensic investigator. With Barry Allen introduced in 1955, it took over five years for fans to find out what happened to Jay Garrick.
In Lightning # 123, after accidentally creating a dimensional portal, Barry Allen finds himself on a different version of Earth called Earth-2. Eventually, Barry meets Jay Garrick, who explains that he retired a few years ago, but had no idea that another Flash existed. DC fans have learned the canonical explanation of the Silver and Golden Age. All of the Golden Age stories took place in a separate dimension of the Silver Age character world.
4 Barry Allen Returns
After the tragic death of Barry Allen in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wally West took over as the main Flash, so fans wondered if their favorite superhero would return. He got into Flash Volume 2, # 74. After showing up at Jay’s front door on Christmas Day, Wally believes his uncle, Barry Allen, has apparently returned from the dead. After being informed of Barry’s return, Jay joins the duo on a crime-fighting adventure.
After noticing that something was wrong, Jay concludes that the Barry Allen before him is not the Barry Allen he knew – but an evil impostor. Upon investigation, the duo conclude that Barry never returned from the dead, but Reverse-Flash intended to portray Barry as a violent killer.
3 The return of the society of justice
Right after Crisis on Infinite Earths, the JSA dissolved after considering their presence unnecessary. Shortly after, the group was sent back in time to fight the Norse Gods in WWII. It turned out to be a time loop, locking the JSA in time to fight the gods for all eternity. It wasn’t until 1991 that the JSA made its triumphant return in an eponymous miniseries. Paying homage to the original JSA comic book format, each issue of the series included a story about a member of the JSA. Number 1 presents a solo story about Jay Garrick.
2 Terminal speed
Mark Waid’s Flash Race, written in the 1990s, is considered by many Flash fans to be the most powerful race the character has ever seen. One of Waid’s best-known Flash stories, which took place between The Flash Vol 2 # 95, and The Flash Vol 2 # 100, is Terminal speed.
In this scenario, with the help of the new Flash family, Wally West is forced to confront his humanity as he tries to save the woman he loves. In chapter 3 of this story, which is in Flash Vol 2 # 97, Jay Garrick comes to the aid of Wally West and joins him in a fight.
1 Still life in the fast lane
Still life in the fast lane is a great, heartfelt story about Jay Garrick and his former nemesis, The Thinker. In Flash Volume 2, # 134, Jay Garrick learns that The Thinker is in terminal hospital. Jay had come to forgive the Thinker for his criminal past, and the two had quickly become good friends.
Not wanting to accept the eventual death of his new friend, Jay sets out in search of the Thinker’s mind. The cap is fueling his brain to incredible levels, which Jay hoped would cure him. Jay returns to the hospital with the cap only to find it is too late. It’s become a classic theme in The Flash Mythos – The Flash may be faster than a fastball, but sometimes The Flash isn’t fast enough to save loved ones.
NEXT: DC: Ranking All Flashes Based On Speed
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