In the last handful of years, the CW network has quickly become a haven for fans of DC comics. Not only have their superhero shows like Arrow and The Flash brought comic book fans to the network, but it has also brought fans of the CW to comic book stores in search of stories starring their new favorite superheroes.
The Flash is entering its third season on the CW and over the course of the last two years, it has generated a reputation for itself as arguably the most consistent superhero show on the network. With all signs pointing to a similar showing in the show’s third outing, fans everywhere are salivating at the opportunity for more stories from the Scarlet Speedster. If you’re looking to get ready for Season 3 of The Flash, then these landmark comics starring The Fastest Man Alive are a great place to start.
If you just can’t wait for more exciting adventures from the Scarlet Speedster, you’re in luck because we’ve compiled the top Flash stories to get you ready for season three. These are the 15 Flash Comics You Need To Read.
15. The Flash: Rebirth
There’s a lot of love for Barry Allen these days; starring in his own comic book series, television show, and even a couple of upcoming feature films. With so much of Barry going around, casual fans may be surprised to learn that the character was actually dead in the comic books for over 20 years.
The Flash: Rebirth was writer Geoff Johns’ second “Rebirth” series, the first being Green Lantern: Rebirth four years prior. Similarly to his first “Rebirth” endeavor, The Flash: Rebirth saw Johns revive the Silver Age version of the character, reintroducing Barry Allen to the DC Universe.
The Flash: Rebirth did a lot for the character of the Flash. Not only do we get to see Barry back in his role as The Fastest Man Alive, but we get to see all of his classic villains and nearly every member of the Flash Family.
Fantastically written and beautifully drawn, The Flash: Rebirth is a must-read for any Flash fan and a great place to start for anyone who has never read or maybe took an extended hiatus from reading the comics.
14. Crisis On Infinite Earths
If you read through The Flash: Rebirth and left wondering, “How did Barry die in the first place?” then you’ll want to open up Crisis on Infinite Earths. A major company crossover event that occurred between 1985-1986, this Crisis changed the course of the DC universe, but at the cost of the Scarlet Speedster’s life.
The Crisis on Infinite Earths was one of the most important storylines that DC comics has ever created. This event had such a lasting and significant effect on every character in the DC universe that we denote DC stories by whether they are Pre-Crisis or Post-Crisis.
After the creation of the Multiverse in Flash of Two Worlds (see more on that below) things in DC history got a little messy. Characters didn’t age appropriately and continuity inconsistencies littered the publication across the board. The idea that DC came up with was Crisis on Infinite Earths.
It may not have cleared up everything, but this Crisis set the tone for all other major time-altering crossovers to come and was also one of the most significant storylines that Barry Allen was ever a part of.
13. The Flash: Born to Run
A major storyline for this upcoming season appears to be the emergence of Wally West as Kid Flash. Born to Run looks back at Wally’s childhood, growing up as a child superhero and learning about what it means to be a hero from Barry himself.
Far more than a standard origin story, Born to Run shows more than how Wally came to be, but it shows who Wally is as a hero. We see the relationship between Barry and Wally grow and gain a deeper understanding of how Wally feels taking on the mantle that Barry carried so proudly.
For an entire generation of comic book fans, Wally West is The Flash. For everything Barry has done, those who grew up in the Modern Age of Comic Books during the 1990s know and love Wally West as The Scarlet Speedster and this is the story that best exemplifies who that character is and how he isn’t just a clone of Barry Allen.
12. The Flash: Blitz
Blitz is a four-issue story arc from 2003 written by the acclaimed Geoff Johns. Blitz is most well-known in comic book circles for introducing the popular villain, Hunter Zolomon, whom fans of the show will recognize as Zoom from last season.
Blitz is the perfect story to read for Flash fans heading into the show’s third season because it presents a familiar villain to a less familiar hero. As stated previously, this story takes place in 2003, a time in which Barry Allen was still dead. Wally West was well into his career as The Flash by this time and was long past his days as Kid Flash.
This story arc is the perfect example for why fans have been clamoring to see more of Wally West. The action in this comic book story is drawn fantastically and it shows in detail how ruthless Zolomon can be and how powerful Wally can be when he’s pushed to the edge.
11. The Flash: Gorilla Warfare
Gorilla Grodd is a fan favorite villain in a Rogue’s Gallery full of popular adversaries. Unlike any other villain that we’ve seen on The Flash television show, Grodd hasn’t been a throw-away, villain-of-the-week character nor the Big Bad for either season we’ve seen before. Instead, the evolution of Gorilla Grodd has been a slow burn that has allowed the telepathic primate to inhabit a unique space as a recurring threat.
We’ve seen Grodd before, but we know that there’s still a lot left to settle between him and Barry and this time, it looks like the throwdown is being taken to Grodd’s home turf, Gorilla City. Gorilla Warfare is a little different from what we already know about the CW’s approach to Grodd this season, but it delves deeper into who Grodd is and what motivates his actions.
Not only does this story give us Grodd versus The Flash, but it also features fan favorite Rogues like Captain Cold, Heatwave, Weather Wizard, and Mirror Master, who we’re also looking forward to seeing this season. With so much thrown into this six-issue series, it’s undoubtedly one you should check out if you’re just itching from some Flash fun in your life.
10. The Flash: Move Forward
Move Forward picks up immediately after the universe-altering effects of Flashpoint and establishes Barry Allen as a newer, younger version of The Flash. Much of what you’ll see will be familiar if you’ve followed the show, but some of it will be different, but that’s part of the fun with this story.
Move Forward was the first story arc for The Flash in the post-Flashpoint world that DC called New 52. This makes Move Forward an ideal read for someone interested in reading The Flash on a regular basis.
For longtime fans of the character, Move Forward takes the Flash and brings him to his roots. Barry confronts a villain named Mob Rule who can be in multiple places at the same time, a classic adversary for the Fastest Man Alive. Not only do we get to see the Flash speed around and save Central City, but we get to see him do it with his mind.
9. The Flash: The Return of Barry Allen
The Return of Barry Allen takes place after his heroic death during Crisis On Infinite Earths, but it isn’t exactly what you may think it is. Barry shows up, apparently having reassembled himself within the Speed Force, but things soon become clear that this isn’t the Barry Allen we remember. This storyline is one of Mark Waid’s best from his tenure on the title and really, one of the best Flash stories ever written.
If there was ever a story that took Wally out of Barry’s shadow, this is it. While it may initially seem like the exact opposite is taking place, Waid masterfully uses the faux return of Barry Allen as a way to firmly establish Wally West in his role as the Scarlet Speedster. Readers are glued to the page as we see Wally witness the return of his hero, the man whom he has spent his entire life idolizing only to come to the conclusion that this scenario is sadly an impossible one. Barry is gone, and it’s Wally’s job to grow up and carry on his legacy.
8. The Flash: Black Flash
The writing duo of Grant Morrison and Mark Millar may be more well-known for some of their other works, but the pair also had a distinguished run on The Flash from 1997 to 1998. Cited by writer Geoff Johns as one of his favorite Flash stories, it introduced a concept of a speedster grim reaper that Johns would later utilize in his story, Flash: Rebirth.
The Black Flash, as explained by Morrison and Millar, is a living entity from within the Speed Force itself that appears to a speedster who is on the verge of death. With a black suited speedster already shown in the season three trailer for The Flash, this is one that you’ll want to check out. It looks like the speedster seen in the trailer is actually the villain, Savitar and not the Speed Force’s grim reaper, but if we’ve learned anything watching superhero shows on the CW, it’s that the staff behind the scenes isn’t afraid to change things up to fit their needs.
7. The Flash: Dead Heat
The Flash: Dead Heat serves as arguably the best preview for the third season of The Flash television show, based on what fans have seen so far. New impact players in The Flash universe are featured prominently in a story that puts Wally West up against the biggest challenge he’s seen so far, Savitar, the black speedster.
Savitar is another speedster who has spent his time studying and learning everything there is to know about the Speed Force. Using his knowledge of the extra-dimensional energy to his advantage, he strips some of Earth’s speedsters of their power, leaving Wally to face off with a foe who may have a better understanding of his power than he does.
While the rise of Wally West and the emergence of Savitar both appear to be major storylines entering season three, actress Violette Beane has already confirmed that her character of Harrison Wells’ daughter, Jesse, will be making a return this season. Fan speculation is running wild that her return will also mark the appearance of Jesse Quick, another speedster, to the Flash television universe.
6. Justice Society of America: Belles & Whistles
Sticking with the Jesse Quick theme, the Belles & Whistles story from the pages of Justice Society of America is a Jesse-centric one that gives readers an in-depth look at who she is as a hero and more importantly, as a person.
Jesse Quick is a speedster, the daughter of the Golden Age superhero couple, Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle. Jesse’s relationship with her father is a far cry from what fans of the show have seen between Jesse and Harrison Wells. Where the television show depicted Harrison as an overprotective father, Jesse’s comic book counterpart is actually encouraged by her father to study a mathematical formula that will allow her to tap into her super speed.
Not only do we get to see the origins of Jesse Quick as a superhero, but we also get to see her discover that she does indeed have a connection to the Speed Force like the rest of the speedsters. To top everything off, we even get to see her duke it out with Zoom. Belles & Whistles is the perfect introduction to a fan favorite character who could be the first female speedster we see on the CW.
5. Superman: Superman’s Race With The Flash
While Flash has no doubt been part of some of the most epic, universe-shattering moments in DC’s history, there are legions of Flash fans who love the character for his fun, often light-hearted demeanor. This story from Superman #199 pairs the Man of Steel with the fun-loving Barry Allen for a memorable adventure in the heart of the Silver Age.
Superman’s Race With The Flash centers around a story that perfectly sums up the light-hearted nature of Silver Age comic books. In an effort to raise funds for underdeveloped countries, the United Nations comes up with the idea of a charity race between Superman and the Scarlet Speedster. The two heroes obviously agree and unsurprisingly take a detour to defeat some bad guys along the way.
Seeing Barry interacting in such a fun way with Superman will no doubt remind fans of how ecstatic they felt seeing Grant Gustin’s Flash team up with Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl. With more crossovers on the way (including a musical mashup) this fun, one-shot adventure is a great way for fans to whet their appetites.
4. The Flash: Terminal Velocity
In Terminal Velocity, Mark Waid leaves his mark on the Flash universe by introducing an aspect of the character that has remained a remained with the Flash ever since, the Speed Force.
Some may be surprised to learn that the concept of the Speed Force is something that was only introduced to the property in 1995, with it becoming one of the most integral aspects of the character. Still, even with the introduction of something as groundbreaking as the Speed Force, that isn’t the best part of this story.
What makes Terminal Velocity so memorable is the quality of Waid’s writing and the pathos he creates. We see Wally love, we see Wally struggle, and we see Wally fight for himself and for those he cares about most. It’s everything you could want from a Flash story and it’s done with a meticulous attention to detail that can only be accomplished by a creative team that loves the character with a passion.
3. The Flash: Flash of Two Worlds
So here’s one that you really should have read before last season, but if you didn’t, that’s all the more reason to go back and experience this one immediately. The Arrowverse has grown exponentially over the course of the last year. Last season saw our heroes traveling through time, visiting different Earths, and even jumping across television networks, and none of this would be possible without this classic Silver Age story.
A landmark comic book event from 1961, this story from The Flash # 123 was the first time that DC acknowledged the idea of a multiverse. The success of this storyline lead DC to revisit many of its Golden Age properties such as Jay Garrick and Alan Scott. The popularity of the DC’s multiverse can still be felt today and Flash of Two World’s has gone down in history as one of the most important comic books ever made.
Flash of Two Worlds established the Flash as a character that was capable of crossing into different Earths and realities and this aspect of his character has stayed with him in every incarnation of the character.
2. The Flash vs The Rogues
Admittedly, The Flash vs The Rogues is a bit of a cop out. Instead of a singular story arc that takes place over the course of a few issues, Flash vs The Rogues is a collection of stories chronicling the first-time meetings of The Flash and the most popular villains from his colorful Rogue’s Gallery.
Fans of the show will recognize many of the characters in this collection, such as Captain Cold, Heat Wave, and Gorilla Grodd. What makes this a great homework assignment in preparation for season three, however, is the inclusion of perhaps The Flash’s most memorable villain who has yet to make an appearance on the show, Mirror Master.
Mirror Master is a powerful villain who is capable of showing Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, and the whole gang a run for their money and is already confirmed to be making his debut this season. An introduction to a new villain and look back at some fan favorites, this is certainly a must-read for any Flash fan.
The crux of The Flash’s third season is the 2011 storyline that redefined the DC Universe for a new generation, Flashpoint. A critical and community favorite, the Flashpoint storyline was a major company crossover that took all of our favorite heroes in the DC universe and threw them into an alternate reality created by Barry Allen himself.
We’ve seen Barry alter time, but the Flashpoint paradox created an alternate reality the likes we’ve never seen. It’s unlikely that the show will detail the war between Wonder Woman and Aquaman, but the team behind the show has already acknowledged that it will indeed affect the rest of the shows on the CW, most noticeably with Arrow. The altered timeline elements of Flashpoint could also be the catalyst for bringing the Supergirl team into the fold.
With so much riding on how the show handles its version of Flashpoint, it’s definitely a comic book you should cross off of your reading list as soon as possible.
Catch the Season 3 premiere of The Flash on the CW on October 4, 2016.