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15 Most Important Flash Moments That Defined DC History

In DC Comics, The Flash is quite literally “The Fastest Man Alive,” with his roots as a super-fast superhero stretching back to the 1940s. Not only has this speedster been involved in some of the most memorable comic stories of all time, but the fact that there are more than a few incarnations of his character running around the multiverse proves he’s a huge part of DC history that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Whether it be Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West, or even Bart Allen under the cowl (to name a few), Flash is an integral part of what makes the DC Universe tick, sometimes literally. Here are fifteen key moments that defined Flash and the comic book world he calls home.

Related: 15 Most Likable Villains in DC (Ranked)

15 Jay Garrick’s Debut

Racing onto the scene as the very first person to hold the mantle of the Flash in 1940’s Flash Comics #1, by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert, Jay Garrick’s debut puts him in the same era as two other DC icons, Superman and Batman, introduced in 1938 and 1939, respectively. Made famous for his quick speed, discus-shaped helmet, and eventual Justice Society of America membership, Jay was directly influenced by the mythical god, Mercury, and kicked off the speedy saga of a set of DC heroes that are still going strong to this day.

14 Barry Allen’s Debut

Barry Allen's debut on the cover of Showcase #4

Arguably the most famous Flash, Barry Allen’s Scarlet Speedster debuted during the Silver Age of comics in 1956’s Showcase #4, by Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino, and immediately became a hit. Wearing a more streamlined costume with an all-red suit complete with his iconic lightning bolt logo, Barry one-upped Jay in nearly every speedster-related way, setting the stage for a hero who had only just begun his runaway success in the DC Universe.

13 Flash Meets Captain Cold

Captain Cold picks his name and makes his costume

Known as Leonard Snart to his friends, Captain Cold became Barry’s nemesis in 1957’s Showcase #8, by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, marking the first time these two came to blows. Eventually leading the group of Flash villains called the Rogues, this initial battle laid the groundwork for Captain Cold and the rest of the Rogues to become the enemies all speedsters have to deal with at one point or another.

12 Wally West’s Debut

Wally West gets struck by lightning and is named Kid Flash

Introduced in 1959 as the nephew of Barry’s main squeeze, Iris West, Wally was just a kid when he was doused with electrically charged chemicals like his uncle, turning him into the young hero known as Kid Flash. In his first appearance in The Flash #110, Wally wore a similar red outfit as Barry, not donning his iconic yellow speedster costume until later.

11 Flash Joins the Justice League of America

Flash giving out assignments to Justice League as their chairman

Premiering as a supergroup in 1960’s The Brave and the Bold #28, by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky, Barry’s Flash was part of the original seven-member Justice League of America team. Shown to be the League’s chairman who would dole out missions and tasks as needed, Barry did his best as the fastest hero on the team (sorry, Superman) to thwart whatever evil the world faced on that particular day, ensuring a speedster will nearly always be on the team from then on out.

Related: 10 Flash Feats That Prove He’s the DC Universe’s Greatest Hero

10 “Flash of Two Worlds” Story Arc

Two generations of Flash run to help someone from DC Comics

An iconic story from The Flash #123, by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino, this 1961 tale introduced fans, in a general sense, to what would eventually become the DC multiverse. Unknowingly sending himself to Earth-Two after vibrating out of his own world, Barry visits a parallel reality where he meets the original Flash, the now-retired Jay Garrick. Teaming up to defeat a trio of pesky villains, this story set the stage for countless multiversal tales to come, as well as more than a few reappearances of Jay Garrick and the other Golden Age heroes of his world.

9 Introduction of the Cosmic Treadmill

Barry Allen explains the Cosmic Treadmill to Wally West

Introduced in 1961 in The Flash #125, Barry built this handy piece of tech to harness his super-speed to reliably travel through time. Using cosmic rays, radioactive pulses, and his vibration powers to send himself wherever he pleased, this contraption would eventually allow heroes to travel between dimensions and even had a hand in the creation of the longtime Flash foe, Reverse-Flash.​​​​​​​

8 Reverse-Flash’s Debut

Flash reacts to the Reverse Flash's debut while running

A villain introduced in 1963’s The Flash #139, Eobard Thawne aka Reverse-Flash, hails from the distant 25th century and grew up idolizing Barry Allen’s Scarlet Speedster. Thanks to time travel shenanigans, Thawne soon realizes he will eventually become Flash’s greatest antagonist, leading him to use his time-warping abilities to ensure that any and all versions of the Flash will never feel truly safe across any timeline, giving the Flash Family a constant threat who ranks up there as one of their greatest enemies.​​​​​​​

7 Flash Races Superman For The First Time

Flash races Superman on a cover and then lines up next to each other

Heroes who are consistently at the center of a nerd debate about which is faster, Superman and Barry Allen’s Flash finally put their speed to the test for the first time in 1967’s Superman #199, by Jim Shooter and Curt Swan. Racing for a charity only to finish the race in a tie, this was the literal first step in a series of events that pitted Flash against Superman in an attempt to figure out who should be crowned “The Fastest Man Alive.” Unfortunately for Superman fans, it isn’t him.​​​​​​​

6 Barry Dies in Crisis on Infinite Earths/Wally Becomes the Main Flash

Barry Allen dies running in Crisis on Infinite Earths and Wally West premieres as the main Flash

Famously sacrificing himself to save the DC Universe from utter destruction at the hands of the Anti-Monitor, Barry’s death in 1985’s industry-changing event titled Crisis on Infinite Earths, by Marvel Wolfman and George Perez, was one that not only stuck for decades to come — a rarity in the comic medium — but led directly to Wally taking on the role as DC’s main Flash in 1986. Becoming the Flash of a generation, Wally would see unprecedented success as a hero and character, solidifying himself as a legacy hero who earned his role as the Scarlet Speedster.​​​​​​​

Related: 15 Flash Powers That Make Even Superman Look Weak

5 Introduction of the Speed Force

Wally West talks to Max Mercury about the Speed Force

Surprisingly not a concept in Flash lore until over sixty years after Jay Garrick’s debut, 1994’s The Flash #91, by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo, introduced this iconic idea almost a decade after Wally took over for Barry, and quickly became something synonymous with all things Flash-related. A force created to explain Flash’s powers, this issue shows Wally running so fast that he essentially stops time, effectively bringing this quintessential speedster concept to the masses in a way that changes Flash stories forever.​​​​​​​

4 Barry Returns in Final Crisis/The Flash: Rebirth

Barry Allen returns in Final Crisis and the cover of The Flash: Rebirth

Absent for over two decades before officially returning on-panel in the second issue of Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones’ 2008 Final Crisis event, Barry’s true reintroduction as DC’s main Flash happened in the pages of The Flash: Rebirth, by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver. This 2009 miniseries not only revitalized and redefined Barry for a new age but put him back in the speedster spotlight after being away for far too long.​​​​​​​

3 The Introduction of Wally’s Kids, Jai and Iris

Baby Jai and Iris West are born held by the doctor

Twins born in 2005’s The Flash #225, by Geoff Johns and Howard Porter, Jai and Iris West were also erased from time along with their father, eventually gaining Speed Force-related powers, leading to them becoming the heroes Surge and Thunderheart/Impulse, respectively. Carrying on the Flash legacy even further, Wally’s kids have yet to show their full potential, but at the rate they’re going, it won’t be long.​​​​​​​

2 Barry Creates Flashpoint

Flashpoint DC Comics

An event that brought about The New 52, 2011’s Flashpoint story, by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert, saw Barry travel back in time to try and stop his mother from being brutally murdered. Succeeding in his task, Barry returns to a world completely changed for the worse, forcing him to find a way to regain his speedster powers while coming to terms with what his time travel shenanigans have wrought in his quest to save someone he loves.

1 Wally Returns After New 52 Erasure

Barry Allen and Wally West Hug DC Rebirth

Erased and temporarily replaced by Wallace West, The New 52’s version of Kid Flash, Wally had been removed from the timeline and forgotten by everyone he knew thanks to the machinations of Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen fame. Trapped in the Speed Force for years, Wally finally returns with Barry’s help in 2016’s DC Universe: Rebirth #1, making the Flash Family whole once again and giving fans back a hero who deserved better.

So although there are plenty more instances spread across Flash’s 80-plus years of existence to choose from, these fifteen exemplify why Flash is so integral to the DC Universe and fans alike. The Flash is an iconic hero who shows no signs of slowing in his crusade against the criminal element, so fans can expect even more epic moments in the stories still yet to come!

This story originally appeared on Screenrant

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