The Flash (or simply Flash) is the name of several popular comic book characters from the DC Comics universe. Nicknamed the "Scarlet Speedster", all versions of the Flash have the ability to travel at a very high speed, they use superhuman reflexes and defy the laws of physics. The original Flash first appeared in Flash Comics #1 (cover date January 1940 / release month November 1939). This fictional character was created by writer Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert.
Over the years, at least four different characters—each of whom somehow gained the power of the "Speed Force"—have assumed the role of the Flash in DC's history: College athlete Jay Garrick (1940–1951, 1961–2011, 2017–present) was the first character to take on the alter-ego "The Flash", other characters who have been the Flash are forensic scientist Barry Allen (1956–1985, 2008–present), Barry's brother-in-law Wally West (1986–2011, 2016–present) who is currently the youngest Flash, he calls himself "Kid Flash"; and Barry's grandson Bart Allen (2006–2007) who becomes "Impulse", the second hero known as Kid Flash.
Each version of the Flash has been a key member of at least one of DC's premier teams: the Justice Society of America, the Justice League, and the Teen Titans. Most of the Flash stories take place in the fictional city of Central City.
Golden Age Flash: Jay Garrick
The original Flash Jay Garrick from the Golden Age got his powers by inhaling heavy water vapors after falling asleep in his science lab. He first used his powers to become a star football player. Then later he began to use his powers to fight crime. The character was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert, and he first appeared in Flash Comics #1 (1940)
Silver Age Flash: Barry Allen
Barry Allen is a police scientist. He got his powers when a lightning bolt hit his lab and splashed a number of chemicals on him. Becoming Flash was ironic as Barry was slow, methodical, and often late prior to gaining his powers. He is the Flash from the Silver Age, he was created by writer Robert Kanigher and penciler Carmine Infantino and he first appeared in Showcase #4 (October 1956).
Modern Age Flash: Wally West / Kid Flash
Wally West got his powers at the young age of ten when he visited his uncle's laboratory (Uncle Barry Allen who was already Flash). He got some chemicals on him and gained the power of super-speed. Since he was so young he became "Kid Flash". Later on he would take over the role of his uncle as Flash. He is somehow the Flash from the Modern Age. He made his first appearance as the Kid Flash in the Flash#110 in 1959 and he was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino.
Bart Allen / Impulse: The second version of Kid Flash
Bart Allen is Barry Allen's grandson. He was born with Super-speed, but also fast aging causing him to appear twelve when he was only two years old. Once he got his aging under control he became "Impulse". He would later become Kid Flash and finally Flash once he had grown up. The character was created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo and he first made a cameo appearance in The Flash #91 in 1994, while his first full appearance in issue #92, and appeared as the lead character in Impulse (1995–2002) and The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive (2006–2007).
Some of the Flash's love interests include Barry's wife Iris West, Wally's wife Linda Park, Bart's girlfriend Valerie Perez, friendly fellow speedster Max Mercury, and Central City police department members David Singh and Patty Spivot.
Some of their most iconic villains are called The Rogues (a group of enemies led by Captain Cold including Mirror Master, Heat Wave, Weather Wizard, The Trickster, Pied Piper, The Top and Captain Boomerang) and several evil "speedsters" who go by the names Reverse-Flash or Zoom.
Introduction of the "Multiverse"
The original meeting of the Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick and Silver Age Flash Barry Allen in "Flash of Two Worlds" (1961) introduced the Multiverse storytelling concept to DC readers, which would become the basis for many DC stories in the years to come. The "Multiverse" consists of multiple universes existing in the same physical space, kept sparate by differing vibrational speeds. These universes are sometimes called parallel universes.
The Flash has been adapted to numerous DC films, video games, animated series, and live-action television shows. In live action, Barry Allen has been portrayed by Rod Haase for the 1979 television special Legends of the Superheroes, John Wesley Shipp portrayed the title character in the 1990's television series The Flash and Grant Gustin portrays Barry Allen in the 2014 television series titled The Flash. Shipp also portrays a version of Jay Garrick in the 2014 The Flash series. Ezra Miller played the Flash in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and will again in Justice League (2017). The various incarnations of the Flash also feature in animated series such as Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Young Justice, as well as the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series.