The Flash is the name taken by a trio of superheroes from DC Comics, all gifted with the power of super speed. The Flash has been the inspiration for countless super speedsters.

The first Flash appeared in 1940. Jay Garrick was a college student messing around with heavy water when dangerous fumes gave him super powers. He fought crime alone and as a member of Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron, largely operating out of Keystone City, Kansas on Earth-Two. Garrick wore a red uniform with yellow lightning bolts and a bowl-shaped helmet based on the one worn by Mercury, messenger of the gods.

The second appeared in 1956. Barry Allen was a police scientist working in his lab when lightning struck the room, and the mix of electricity and chemicals gave him the gift of speed. Allen was the first Flash to wear the now familiar red tights with the lightning bolt on white circle logo. He was a member of the Justice League of America and fought crime out of Central City, Missouri on Earth-One. Allen died in 1985 during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. He saved the universe by outracing a tachyon in the Anti-Monitor’s anti-matter cannon.

Wally West first appeared in 1956. The accident that happened to Allen happened again (who says lightning never strikes twice?), so the young west became Kid Flash and fought crime at Allen’s side and as a member of the Teen Titans. When Allen died, West adopted his identity and costume.

The first two Flashes were ridiculously fast, able to travel time and across alternate dimensions. This enabled fan favorites like the Earth-1/Earth-2 crossovers and the Superman/Flash races. The Crisis was an effort to make the DC Universe more plausible and realistic, so naturally all that had to go. The alternate Earths became a single universe, and Garrick merely became Allen’s World War II predecessor. West was reduced to the speed of sound (sped up to lightspeed sometime in the 1990s).

I am not 100% sure, but I believe the three Flashes were created by Gardener Fox (Garrick), Robert Kanigher (Allen), and John Broome (West).

There was a Flash television show on CBS from 1990-1991, starring John Wesley as Barry Allen. The Wally West Flash has appeared on the current The New Batman/Superman Adventures cartoon.

For more info, check out this amazingly comprehensive web site: http://www.hyperborea.org/flash/

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