The Flash is one of the most popular superheroes of all time. Known for his lighting fast speed and equally quick tongue, the Scarlet Speedster provides some much needed levity in the darker moments of the DC universe.
It's generally accepted that there have been four Flashes in the DC Universe, but throughout the characters history, there have been 12 people who have held the title of "The Flash" in some form or another. Read on to find out who.
Here are 12 Characters Who Have Been The Flash.
12 Jay Garrick
Speeding onto the pages of Flash Comics #1 in January of 1940, Jay Garrick was the first person in the DC universe to become The Flash. While attending college in Keystone City, a lab accident involving hard water vapors (no, really) went horribly wrong. Jay was knocked out for a week, but when he came to, he found that the accident gave him super speed so, of course, he uses his newfound powers to fight crime and make the world a better place.
Just kidding! He actually uses them to become a star football player and get a girlfriend, but he eventually learned to use his powers for good, becoming the superhero known as The Flash. He was even a founding member of the Justice Society of America, fighting alongside heroes such as as Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern.
Later reboots and retcons would change Jay Garrick’s origin and powers, with the most recent reboot actually granting him the powers of the god Mercury. Currently, he is being portrayed by Teddy Sears on CW’s The Flash.
11 Eobard Thawne
It might be surprising to see one of The Flash’s greatest foes on this list, but Eobard Thawne, often called the Reverse Flash or Professor Zoom, depending on the source material, very briefly took Barry Allen’s place as The Flash. It’s sort of fitting when you consider that Eobard was originally The Flash’s biggest fan and his obsession is what drove him to villainy.
While travelling back in time in order to meet his idol, Barry Allen, Eobard ends up on Earth a few months after the the events of Infinite Crisis and discovers that he’s destined to become The Flash’s greatest foe. This proved too much for his already unstable mind and he began to believe that he was Barry Allen. Eventually, his violent nature gives him away and he was defeated by The Flash Family.
10 Lady Flash of Earth-33
DC’s multiverse isn’t as large as Marvel’s. In fact, according to the most recent canon, there are only 52 universes within the DC multiverse, but that doesn’t mean there aren't plenty of possibilities for storytelling. One of these worlds, Earth-33, was the world of the Conquerors where magic has replaced science as the driving force behind society’s advancement. Like other world’s in the multiverse, this one had it’s own version of the Justice League, known as the League of Shamans, who were magically empowered versions of the main DC heroes. One of these heroes was Lady Flash, whose mystical mastery over the Speed Force gave her powers similar to the mainstream Flash, in addition to a few new tricks such as the ability to throw lightning.
At some point during her tenure as The Lady Flash, she was visited by Ray Palmer, who warned her and the League of Shamans of an impending disaster. The Flashes of her world had a habit of sacrificing themselves in such situations, though she was hopeful that wouldn’t be necessary this time.
9 Bart Allen
Bart Allen, better known as Impulse or The Flash, has a complex history even for superheroes. Initially, he was born in the 30th century and was part of a long line of heroes and villains, but this origin would later be revised. The most common version of his origin is that Bart Allen was born with an incredibly fast metabolism, causing him to age rapidly. He was eventually sent back in time where Wally West was able to cure his condition. Bart stayed in Wally’s timeline, fighting alongside him first as Impulse before taking the name Kid Flash. During the Infinite Crisis storyline, it was thought that the Speed Force was destroyed, but this was a mistake as Bart was still able to channel it and, despite his desire to lead a normal life, eventually became the Flash in place of his mentor, Wally West.
Despite holding the title of “Flash” for a relatively short amount of time, Bart is one of the most influential characters to hold the title, often appearing as a member of the Teen Titans or as the character Impulse on Cartoon Network’s Young Justice.
8 Bar Torr
This entry crosses a bit with Bart Allen’s as Bar Torr was originally created as a rebooted version of Bart Allen, but, aside from a few similarities, the two characters are different enough that we think Bar Torr deserves his own spot on this list if for no other reason than the controversy surrounding the character.
Bar Torr was born in the 30th century and saw his parents killed by agents of the Functionary, a brutal regime which ruled the planet. Bar Torr and his sister had to fend for themselves. Bar Torr eventually joined the Purifiers, agents of the government that had killed his parents, while he waited until he found an opportunity to get his revenge. He eventually found work as a smuggler where a ship crash triggered his rapid healing and super speed. With his newfound powers, Bar Torr organized a rebellion against the Functionary and was pretty successful until they started targeting his sister, who he had left at a monastery some years earlier. As part of a deal to protect her, Bar Torr was sent back in time where he met Barry Allen and took the name Bart Allen, fighting crime as the Kid Flash.
What role, if any, Bar Torr has in current canon remains to be seen, but given the rather strong fan backlash, we wouldn’t be surprised if Bar Torr’s time as Kid Flash is past.
7 Ms. Flash
Fans of the the CW’s The Flash know Patty Spivot as Shantel Vansanten’s character, who made her appearance in the show’s second season. In the comics, Patty served as Barry Allen’s partner in the crime lab. One day, while working in the lab, she was almost struck by a bolt of lightning before being saved by The Flash. This led into an odd what-if story revolving around Barry’s failure to save her resulting in her becoming the speedster known as Ms. Flash.
The issue ends revealing her adventures to be nothing more than a fantasy, which is probably for the best considering she accidentally destroyed Central City with her powers. However she eventually did serve as the hero Hot Pursuit, but that also turned out badly, as she was killed by Brainiac.
6 Wally West
While visiting his Aunt Iris, Wally West got the chance to met his hero, the Flash,through a family friend Barry Allen. The Flash took Wally back to his laboratory and showed Wally the chemicals that gave him his speed and as fate would have it another bolt of lightning struck at that precise moment giving Wally the same powers as his hero. Wally would go on to serve as the Flash’s sidekick fighting crime as Kid Flash.
During the Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline, Barry Allen was killed battling the Anti-Monitor, and Wally reluctantly took up the mantle of the Flash in Barry’s stead. Wally held the title for more than 20 years and is certainly a fan favorite. During 2011’s New 52 event, DC introduced a new version of Wally West, that of a troubled youth living in Central City, where Barry Allen is still the Flash.
5 Lady Flash
Ivana Christina Borodin Molotova was born in the Soviet Union and, along with two other children, was raised by scientist Pytor Orloff, who invented a serum that would duplicate the powers of Barry Allen’s Flash. The three children became known as the Blue Trinity and often came into conflict with the Flash.
Ivana was actually given the title of Lady Flash by the villain Vandal Savage, who supposedly killed Barry Allen taking his costume and giving it to her. In order to keep her under control, Vandal Savage gave her a drug known as Velocity 9, but upon Barry Allen’s return she managed to break free of Savage’s control and helped the Flash and his allies overthrow Savage. She offered to return the Flash costume, but Barry told her to keep it and that she had earned the title of Lady Flash.
4 Iris West
Kingdom Come is widely considered to be one of the best story arcs in the DC universe, and is certainly a fan favorite when it comes to depictions of the future of the DCU. In this alternate timeline, Iris is the daughter of Wally West and Linda Park. She, like her brother, had inherited the powers of her father and took up the title of Kid Flash.
Prior to the New 52, Iris also served as a member of the Flash family, but instead of being Kid Flash, she took Bart Allen’s old title of Impulse. More than just a mere speedster, Iris is one of the most powerful heroes in the DC universe, an almost perfect conduit for the Speed Force and has displayed a mastery of it unrivaled by most in the DCU.
3 Jay West
Heroes like Batman and Superman have been around since the 1930s, but reboots and updates have kept their histories relatively short. DC normally builds up about 20 or 30 years of continuity and then rewrites it in some world changing event. DC’s Generations line does away with that and instead has heroes age in real time from their first appearance and follows their children, who tend to follow in their parents' footsteps. Overall, it’s a really interesting concept that spawned a lot of neat characters.
One of those characters was Jay West. Jay was the son of Wally West and had inherited his father’s powers. When his “uncle," Barry Allen, retired in 2008, he gave Jay one of his Flash costumes so he could carry on the Flash name. His first mission as the Flash saw him battling Metallo and saving Cyborg after he lost the use of his arms and legs due to an EMP. Overall we didn’t get very much development for Jay West, but the concept behind him, and Generations in general, is one that we would for DC to explore more in the future.
2 Mary Maxwell
Stan Lee is mostly known for his work at Marvel, but in the early 2000s he wrote a series for DC called Just Imagine where he reinvented famous DC characters, One of those was the Flash. In Stan Lee’s version, the Flash is a woman named Mary Maxwell. Mary’s father was a scientist on the run from an evil organization known as STEALTH. In an attempt to cure his daughter’s failing metabolism, Mary’s dad injected her with hummingbird DNA.
During the procedure, STEALTH caught up to them killing Mary’s father and causing her to be injected with the full vial of hummingbird DNA. This gave Mary super-speed, which she then used to dismantle STEALTH and avenge her father’s death. Like most of the characters in the Just Imagine line, Mary Maxwell was an interesting twist on a classic character. Her story, and the line in general, is well worth a read for the concept alone.
1 Barry Allen
The second person to hold the title of the Flash, Barry Allen also marked the beginning of what would become known as the Silver Age of comics. The Silver Age was an age steeped in science-fiction and the nuclear age. Those ideas are clear in Barry Allen’s origin as the previous Flash is, temporary, played off as nothing more than a fictional character. After a lab accident left him covered in various chemicals and struck by lightning, Barry found that he had superhuman speed and took to fighting crime as the Flash. Barry Allen is probably the most well-known of the various Flashes, having served as a founding member of the Justice League and having both a TV show and an upcoming movie based on his exploits.
It would later be revealed that Barry, and future DC speedsters, would actually derive their powers from the Speed Force, a vaguely explained energy source that exists outside of our universe. The exact specifics of the Speed Force and its origins vary by writer though it generally powers all of the Flashes in some form or another.
Did we miss one of your favorite Flashes? Let us know in the comments!