After the first season of The Flash ended with a bang (literally… sorry, Eddie), The CW wasted no time in throwing fans headlong into the show’s second season. However, they didn’t need to wait long to find out that Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) wouldn’t be lost to the singularity over Central City for long – and that the phenomenon would welcome yet another DC Comics super speedster to the show’s cast.
Since then, The Flash season 2 addition Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) has been marketed as the version of the hero that most comic fans already know. For those who aren’t up to date and/or haven’t done their homework on the first man to call himself “The Flash” – allow us to cover the basics.
Here is our list of 10 Jay Garrick Facts That Flash Fans Need To Know.
He Was The First Flash
There have been several men (and women) to carry the title of “The Flash” throughout the years, but it was Jason Peter Garrick who readers first met in The Flash #1 (1940). Introduced during the Golden Age of comic books – himself a fan of the comic speedster ‘Whip Whirlwind’ – Jay showed that super-speed was an effective power not only for the adrenaline rush of moving at high velocity, but how physics could be applied to give Jay powers he couldn’t have dreamed up on his own (example: being able to put out fires by creating a vacuum with his speed). Like all other superheroes his popularity declined following World War II, with Jay’s last appearance being in 1951 – after which he disappeared from DC Comics pages for a decade.
He Comes From “Earth-Two”
When Barry Allen was introduced as the new Silver Age Flash – with a science fiction origin story for the nuclear age – the first issue opened with him reading a classic Flash comic, regretting that Jay Garrick was only the creation of a comic book writer. In The Flash #231 (1961), Barry learned he was much, much more when he came face to face with Jay, having accidentally vibrated his molecules into another alternate universe. On this other Earth, Jay Garrick lived as the real Flash – along with the rest of the Golden Age superheroes who had been replaced in the years since. His own, Golden Age Earth was dubbed “Earth-Two”, and when it was destroyed in the 1985 “Crisis on Infinite Earths” event, several of its heroes (Power Girl, for instance) were folded into the main continuity of Earth-Prime.
He’s Not Powered By The Speed Force
Before the rise of the nuclear age and fringe science fiction of the 1950s, Flash comic book writers turned to a less… tangible source for Jay’s origin story. Instead of a bolt of lightning or chemical bath, Jay inhaled “hard water vapors,” which granted him the ability to run at the speed of sound. However, when Barry Allen unlocked the secrets of the Speed Force – revealed as the source of power for nearly every DC speedster – Jay’s history wasn’t entirely rewritten. He would have his powers boosted by the Speed Force, though over the years his powers would be explained as the result of a “metagene” in Jay’s DNA activated by the vapors – meaning his speed is something of a mutation. That fact has come in handy, since Jay’s slower speed also means that a disruption in the Speed Force leaves him as the only speedster who can still use his powers.
He’s Married to Joan Williams
Behind every incarnation of The Flash, there’s the love of a good woman. Barry has Iris, Wally has Linda, and Bart even had Valerie. Still, it was a tradition that started with the love between Jay Garrick and Joan Williams, and as the passing years made Jay into something of a role model for the young men to follow, his marriage to Joan became just as much of an anchor in the Flash legacy. When his run-in with hard water vapors left him nearly dead, he first turned his new skills to a less heroic cause: football. But when Joan was put into danger, Jay leapt to her defense – and the rest is history.
He Helped Raise Bart Allen
By now readers should understand why Iris Allen, when in need of a safe place to leave her grandson Bart, decided that Jay Garrick was the leading candidate. Not only did Jay offer advice on learning the ways of the Speed Force (along with Speed Force guru Max Mercury), but he and Joan provided a home and family that made a lasting impact on the hero known first as Impulse, and later, Kid Flash. It was confirmation that Jay had become something of a grandfather figure for The Flash Family, and the larger DC Universe as a whole (even if Bart’s hyperactive personality was a handful).
He Has His Own Reverse-Flash
You can’t have a version of The Flash without also introducing his exact opposite (well, an inexact opposite). But before the term “Reverse-Flash” was cemented as the name of any pinnacle Flash nemesis, he went by a simpler title: The Rival. His true identity was Dr. Edward Clariss, a professor at Jay’s university who believed that he had uncovered the chemical formula which had given The Flash his speed. Experimenting on himself, Clariss found some success, wearing a much darker version of The Flash’s suit, and turning to crime. The Rival would eventually be consumed by greed and ambition, accelerating himself into the Speed Force itself, and remaining trapped there for half a century. When he did escape, he had been driven mad and started killing people across America at super speed, just to spell out his own name.
He Was a Founding Member of The Justice Society
There are plenty of comic fans who believe that the Justice League of America was the first superhero team-up, but that honor goes to its forerunner, the Justice Society of America. The group – consisting of The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Hour-Man, Spectre, Sandman and The Atom – made their first appearance in All Star Comics #3 (1940). But when the JSA was first introduced, the story included heroes from both National Allied and All-American Publications, making it the first cross-company superhero crossover as well. (Both publishers would later merge to form DC Comics.) The comic was an obvious hit, and the decades since have shown Jay Garrick and Green Lantern Alan Scott to be just as important to a “true” version of the JSA as Batman and Superman are to the Justice League.
His Hat is a Family Heirloom
Jay may have been forced to assemble a superhero costume on short notice, but not every aspect of his uniform was slapped together in haste. His tunic was modeled after one of his college football jerseys (plus a lightning bolt), adding wings to his feet as a tribute to Mercury, the Roman god famous for his speed. It just so happened that Jay had a Mercury-like hat in his possession, as well: his father Joseph’s helmet acquired in World War I. Mercury may have made the hat famous, but these days, you can’t even include the helmet in a DC Comics property without people believing Jay Garrick isn’t too far behind.
He Began The Tradition of The Flash Re-Writing The DC Universe
Is it possible for a beloved, world famous superhero to still, somehow, be under-appreciated? Comic book fans have Jay Garrick to thank for at least popularizing the notion of a comic multiverse, retconning, and company-wide reboots. After Jay Garrick’s disappearance from the Silver Age “Flash” comics, the crossover story with Barry Allen was cooked up in response to fan demand. The result was such a hit, it spawned a company-wide return of Golden Age heroes (fitting, since Barry Allen had launched the Silver Age). Whether it’s The Flash’s powers or personality fans have to thank, DC made the move a tradition: Jay Garrick re-wrote the DC Universe in “The Flash of Two Worlds”, Barry Allen would do the same in “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, Wally West would become the first DC sidekick to take up his mentor’s title for decades, and Barry’s “Flashpoint” would create DC’s New 52 continuity.
The New 52 Made Him a Demigod
Jay Garrick used to owe his powers to a failed science experiment, or the Speed Force, but the new version of “Earth 2” introduced in DC Comics’ New 52 universe took a very different approach. When a terrible disaster saw the Justice League’s heroes defeated, the Old God Mercury (the speedy messenger) sought out a hero who could become even greater. Crashing into the ground not far from a young Jay Garrick, the deity decided fate had chosen his champion, granting Jay his own speed (and a new costume). He would eventually run into an alternate version of Hawkgirl, The Atom and Green Lantern, and the brand new twists helped to make “Earth-2” one of the most talked-about series in the company-wide reboot.
We’re eager to see what The CW has cooked up for their own version of Jay Garrick’s Flash, but hopefully we’ve laid out the core elements of his character, and shown why a super speedster mentor can be relevant to every Flash story. Even if the show’s writers aren’t ready to introduce all sides of his character – or have enough time to do so alongside the other speedsters joining the cast – it’s impossible to think that the showrunners’ commitment to the source material would do Jay wrong.
The Flash returns for season 2 on Tuesday, October 6, at 8pm on The CW; Arrow returns for season 4 on Wednesday, October 7, at 8pm on The CW; DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is expected to air on The CW in early 2016.
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