Back Issues: The Flash’s running mates

Barry Allen not the only speedster in Central City

The number of speedsters in Central City increased rapidly in season three of “The Flash.”

The show’s Big Bad is once again a speedster, this one going by the handle Savitar, who claims to be the god of speed.

While the reveal of Savitar’s identity was a major twist on the TV series (one I’ll avoid here for those of you waiting to catch up on Netflix), in the comics, he was a military pilot for an Eastern Bloc nation during the Cold War. He obtained super-speed powers when his experimental plane was struck by lightning.

A battle with two pre-Flash speedsters catapulted him forward in time to the present day, where he continued to target individuals with powers connected to the Speed Force, the source of speedsters’ powers. He was eventually imprisoned within the Speed Force by the Flash of that time, Wally West, who had taken over the mantle following Barry Allen’s death.

Wally was introduced in season two as Iris West’s brother, and received his own powers this season with the “help” of Savitar following Barry’s altering of the timestream.

In comics, he was Iris’ nephew, first appearing in 1960. Since the boy was a fan of the Flash, Barry decided to “introduce” him to his hero. While explaining how he got his own powers, Barry is shocked when the accident is recreated and a lightning bolt strikes a bunch of chemicals that splash onto Wally, imbuing him with speed powers of his own.

And because the only thing better than dressing up in colorful tights and fighting crime is doing so with the help of a minor, Barry makes the lad his own costume and takes him on as his sidekick, Kid Flash.

Wally would go on to be a founding member of the Teen Titans and serve as the Flash, encountering more than a few bumps in the road before hitting his stride and becoming a top-flight hero in his own right.

When Barry returned to the land of the living, Wally gradually moved toward the sidelines. He was all but erased by DC’s linewide New 52 reboot, and a new, African American Wally was introduced. One would assume this was done in part to reflect the portrayal of the character on TV by actor Keiynan Lonsdale.

This Wally got his powers from his future self, because what’s the Flash without a few time-travel paradoxes?

With DC’s latest not-quite-a-reboot, Rebirth, the original Wally is back, somehow erased from other characters’ memories, and nearly existence, by a mysterious force. He and the new Wally sort of coexist and are cousins, both named after their great-grandfather.

Also graduating from the Team Flash bench to the starting lineup this season was Jesse Quick. On the show, she’s the daughter of Earth-2’s Harrison Wells, but in the comics, she’s the child of two superheroes: old-school speedster Johnny Quick and patriotic powerhouse Liberty Belle.

Jesse was a student of superhero history and eventually utilized the formula her father developed to draw power from the Speed Force to assist the Justice Society of America. Her father died protecting her from Savitar, and she eventually lost her speed powers helping Wally defeat another evil speedster, Zoom.

She later accessed her mother’s power of super strength and joined the JSA as the new Liberty Belle. Eventually, she figured out a way to utilize both her mother’s strength and her father’s super-speed and later went back to the codename of Jesse Quick.

And those are just the speedsters we’ve met this season. Jay Garrick, DC’s original Flash, was (year-old spoiler alert) impersonated by Zoom for most of season 2 but has since become the elder statesman speedster he is in the comics.

The season three finale of “The Flash” airs Tuesday, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see speedsters like Barry’s grandson Impulse, Max Mercury and more in season four and beyond.

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Recommended Reading

* “Flash: Dead Heat” — Wally enlists the aid of other speedsters, including Jesse Quick and Jay Garrick, to battle the villain Savitar.

* “Justice Society of America” (2007) #8 — The life of the former Jesse Quick, now known as Liberty Belle, is spotlighted as she tries to prevent a young teammate from taking the life of a villain.

* “DC Universe: Rebirth” #1 — After being absent for about five years, Wally West returns, setting in motion a mystery spanning the entire DC Universe.

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