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Flash Facts - A Primer

Written by Christian on Tuesday, October 07 2014 and posted in News with Benefits

Flash Facts - A Primer

The Outhouse's new Easter Egg column kicks off a few hours early!



Welcome to Flash Facts, a new weekly column dedicated to discussing the various comic book references, Easter Eggs and other cool facts about The Flash, CW's new superhero show. While I'll attempt to be as thorough as possible, I'll definitely miss a reference here and there.  If I miss something, feel free to comment or shoot me a Tweet at @OH_IGW, and I'll gladly add it in and credit you. If you enjoy this column, be sure to check out Arrow Annotations, which discusses Arrow. 

While the first episode's column will be published on Wednesday, I thought it would be nice to publish an article about the main cast of The Flash and their roles in the comics to help keep the length of tomorrow's column at more manageable levels.


Barry Allen

Superhero Alias: The Flash (no duh!)

First Appearance: Showcase #4

Created by: Robert Kanigher, John Broome, Carmine Infantino

Portrayed by: Grant Gustin

File:Barry Allen (Prime Earth) 0001.pngWhile DC superheroes such as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are better known and considered to be more important in the history of superheroes, in many ways, Barry Allen was the man who saved superhero comics With Barry Allen's debut in Showcase #4, a new age of superhero comics began, bringing new readers and revitalized interest to the then struggling genre. 

For those not knowledgeable about their comic book history, DC began publishing superhero comics in the 1930s, in what we consider to be the Golden Age of comics.  Characters such as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman were all introduced in that time period, and many of DC's superheroes teamed up to fight Nazis and other threats in the Justice Society of America.  DC even introduced their first Flash character during this time period, who was named Jay Garrick (we'll discuss him some other time).

However, after World War II, superhero comics began to fade in popularity and were overtaken in sales by horror and crime genre comics.  By the 1950s, only three DC superheroes (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) were still popular enough to have their own series.  However, in 1954, Fredric Wertham released a book titled The Seduction of the Innocent, which blamed juvenile delinquency on the comics they read, spurring comics publishers to created the Comic Code Authority, a self-regulating panel that monitored comic content and created a major shift in the content of comic books.

DC decided to return to the well of superheroes in the wake of the Comic Code Authority, and decided to revitalize its Flash character with a new origin and setting.  Showcase #4 performed well enough that DC began updating other characters, such as Hawkman, the Atom, Green Lantern. In response to DC's new surge of superhero comics, Marvel began publishing its own superhero comics, which led to a whole new age of popularity.  Allen went on to co-found the Justice League of America, and has been involved in many of DC's biggest comic events.

Allen's origins and backgrounds were previously shown during his two part appearance in Arrow, which I discussed here.  We're probably going to talk a lot about Allen's history in future columns, so I'm not going to try to write a full comprehensive summary of his history.  One note: the "lightning bolt" scene at the end of Three Ghosts was pretty similar to Allen's comic book origin, with the only substantial change being the involvement of STAR's particle accelerator.  


Iris West

Superhero Alias: none

First Appearance: Showcase #4

Created by: Robert Kanigher, John Broome, Carmine Infantino

Portrayed by: Candice Patton

For much of Barry Allen's nearly 50 year history, Iris West has been his primary love interest.  A crime reporter in Central City, West befriends and later dates Allen, a police scientist involved with many of the cases she covers. In Flash Rebirth, it is Iris who gives Barry Allen his signature bow tie.  Iris later marries Barry and discovers on their wedding night that he's the Flash.  

From there, Iris's history takes a weird left turn.  After marrying Barry, Iris discovers that she was born in the 30th century and was sent back in time to escape a civil war during that time period. Then, Professor Zoom, the Flash's arch-nemesis, kills her at a costume party by vibrating his hand through her head.  However, her 30th century biological parents save her by transporting her soul forward in time using experimental future technology and giving her a new body.  Iris later assists her husband when he is put on trial for killing Zoom, and reunites with him in the future after he is found not guilty.  

In the 30th century, Barry and Iris conceive twins, one of whom becomes the father of Bart Allen, a later version of the Flash.  In the New 52, DC erased much of Barry and Iris's history, making it so the couple had never dated.  Recent comics have revealed that Iris is in love with Barry, but it's unclear if he reciprocates her feelings.

Iris West is played by Candice Patton in the television show.  Patton's casting as Iris caused a minor kerfluffle in some segments of comic fandom, as Patton is African-American and Iris has traditionally been depicted as white in the comics.  DC reflected this change by making Wally West, Iris's nephew and Barry's successor as the Flash, black in the comics.


Eobard Thrawne

Supervillain Alias: Professor Zoom, Reverse Flash

First Appearance: Flash #139

Created by: John Broome, Carmine Infantino

Portrayed by: Rick Cosnett

[EDIT: So, Rick Cosnett is playing a character called Eddie Thrawne, who may or may not be Flash's version of Eobard.  I don't know what's going to happen on the show, nor am I making any sort of predictions on this.  I guess there's some sort of argument as to whether he's actually supposed to be a villain on The Flash, and people who claim he's not have been very adamant for me to clarify this so that no one has any sort of preconceptions about the character. 

However, this Eddie Thrawne person is definitely named after Eobard, which  and it's pretty clear reference to the character that follows. Since that's the comic reference, that's what follows, and I'll try to make that a little more clear in future articles.] 

 [Note[[Like any good supervillain, Eobard Thrawne has a complicated origin.  Although Thrawne hails from the 25th century, his origins can be traced all the way back to Barry Allen’s birth in the 20th century.  When Barry was born, he was one of two healthy twins.  Unfortunately, Barry’s brother was switched with a stillborn child by a negligent doctor and given to the Thrawne family, who named him Malcolm.  When Malcolm Thrawne learned of his brother and his real family, he became the villain Cobalt Blue and became a recurring foe for the Flash and his successors.

In the 25th century, Malcolm’s descendent, Eobard, becomes obsessed with the Flash and even undergoes plastic surgery to look exactly like his idol.  After recreating the accident that gave Barry his powers, Eobard travels back through time to meet Barry, but arrives several years after Barry’s death. While visiting the Flash Museum, Eobard then discovers he’s destined to become the Reverse Flash, which causes him to suffer a complete mental breakdown.  Thrawne becomes convinced that he is actually Barry Allen, and impersonates him for several months until Wally West (Barry Allen’s successor as the Flash) discovers the truth during a particularly violent confrontation with some supervillains.  Wally manages to stop Thrawne and sends him back to the future. While Thrawne has no memory of his trip to the past, his obsession with Allen becomes mired with hatred, leading him down his eventual path to supervillainry.

After Thrawne is sent back to the future, he becomes a criminal known as “The Professor” and eventually discovers one of the Flash’s costumes in a time capsule. Thrawne manipulates the costume to gain the Flash’s powers, and travels back in time to become the greatest criminal in history.  Thrawne becomes a recurring villain of the Flash, using time travel and his knowledge of the past to try to manipulate events in his favor, and also altering his own timeline to better himself in the possible..  In addition to become obsessed with the Flash, he also becomes obsessed with Iris, and eventually kills her at a party after she rejects his advances. 

Thrawne is later killed by Barry when he tries to kill Barry’s second fiancée, Fiona Webb, on her and Barry’s wedding day.  However, he’s resurrected during the events of Blackest Night along with several other superheroes and villains.  When Thrawne discovers that Barry had sacrificed himself in order to save the world, he manipulates history to draw Barry out of the Speed Force during the events of Final Crisis and then uses his time traveling abilities to disrupt Barry’s childhood, ultimately murdering Barry’s mother and framing her for her murder.  When Barry tries to prevent this, he inadvertently creates an alternate timeline, which leads to the events of Flashpoint.  In the aftermath of that event, DC’s entire continuity is reshuffled, resulting in the New 52. 

Adding to Thrawne’s confusing history is how much of it occurs in a weird chronological order.  For example, Flash: Rebirth, the story that explains how Zoom caused Barry Allen to return from the dead, occurs chronologically after Final Crisis, the story in which Barry actually returns, but before Blackest Night, the story in which Zoom is actually resurrected.  Thrawne’s first trip to the present day (where he impersonates Barry Allen) was written in 1997, long after he had been introduced in the comics.  It’s all rather confusing and gives me headaches.  Hopefully, CW’s version of the character won’t be quite as convoluted.


Caitlin Snow

Supervillain Alias: Killer Frost

First Appearance: Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #19

Created by: Dan Jurgens

Portrayed by: Danielle Panabaker

There’s been several versions of Killer Frost in the comics, all of which have opposed the superhero Firestorm at some point in time in the comics.  The most recent version, Caitlin Snow, first appeared in Firestorm’s most recent series.  One of STAR Labs’ brightest scientists, Snow builds an engine that can create perpetual motion.  However, several of her co-workers are revealed to be working for the supervillain organization HIVE, and attempt to kill Snow by placing her inside the device.  When Snow tries to shut down the device by destroying its coolant device, her biological makeup is changed and she becomes a sort of heat vampire driven by the need to suck the heat out of other humans.  Snow later discovers that Firestorm’s powers can actually temporarily reverse her condition, which leads her to confront the superhero several times.  Snow later assists Steve Trevor and ARGUS during the events of Forever Evil.

Panabaker previously played Snow last season on Arrow.  The full write-up on that episode can be found here.


Cisco Ramon

Superhero Alias: Vibe

First Appearance: Justice League of America Annual #2

Created by: Gerry Conway, Chuck Patton

Portrayed by: Carlos Valdes

Cisco Ramon is better known to DC comic fans as Vibe, a shortlived 80s superhero given new life during the New 52.  Ramon was originally depicted as a reformed gang member named Paco Ramone.  A metahuman with sonic powers, Ramone joined the Justice League during its infamous "Detroit era", considered by many comic book fans to be a low point in the team’s history.  While most of his teammates had doubts about Ramone's abilities, he proves himself in several battles, including one against Amazo. Amazo's creator, Professor Ivo, later kills Vibe via a robot during a plot to get revenge on the Justice League. 

When DC rebooted its continuity in 2011, the company decided to bring Vibe back as a member of the Justice League of America.  Vibe's name was changed to Cisco Ramon (presumably responding to complaints about the character being a stereotypical portrayal of Latin Americans), his origin was tweaked and he was given additional powers, including the ability to sense and close interdimensional tears with his vibrational abilities.  Andrew Kreisberg, executive producer of  The Flash and Arrow, and Geoff Johns wrote early issues of a Vibe solo series that ran for twelve issues last year.

Ramon has generated a fair share of controversy over the years.  Famed DC artist George Perez considered the character to be a racist portrayal of Latin Americans, and refused to draw the character into his JLA/Avengers crossover series, the only character from either the JLA or the Avengers to not make a full appearance in the miniseries.  Unlike the other Avengers and Justice League characters, only Vibe's legs are shown after he is attacked and presumably killed off panel.  Vibe's love of break dancing has also been mocked by comic fans, although DC played up the character's breakdancing abilities in a cartoon short featuring a dance-off between Vibe and one of Ivo's androids. 


Some other things you should know…

The New 52: When discussing DC’s history, I’ll often refer to comics as pre or post-New 52.  In 2011, DC rebooted major portions of its comic history (called its continuity) during the Flashpoint miniseries, which starred Barry Allen.  Much of DC’s past history was radically altered or discarded during this event.  This isn’t an unusual thing in comics, nor is it the first time that DC has used an event to try to condense or simplify its characters’ histories.  As Arrow, and probably The Flash, use these older comics as inspiration for their stories, I’ll try to clarify whether they happened before or after DC’s most recent continuity shift.  For the record, I’m much more knowledgeable on pre-New 52 comics, although I did make an effort to read as much of the most recent Flash series as I could in preparation for this column.

Jay Garrick, Wally West and Bart Allen: Barry Allen is one of four major characters to take on the mantle of the Flash.  The Flash legacy is one of the best in comics, and many are fans of the Flash family because of its history and legacy.  Both Wally West and Bart Allen previously served as sidekicks to the Flash, and all four characters have pretty loyal comic fanbases.  Rather than try to explain all four characters’ histories in one column, I’ll run some “special” columns during re-run or episode breaks about the characters and their histories.

Differences between comics and the TV show: Since I published the first version of this comic, two different people have pointed out that there's no indication that Eddie Thrawne and Eobard Thrawne are the same character.  They're correct. However, The Flash's Barry Allen isn't the comic version, nor is Iris West the Iris from the comics.  My Barry Allen wears bow ties, goddamnit, not cutesy skinny ties like he does in the TV show!

Saying a character is named after a character from the comics is not meant as a guarantee that he or she is intended to be "that" character from the comics.  Arrow's made this abundantly clear. Thea Dearden Queen is not their interpretation of Mia Dearden despite the shared name, nor did Isobel Rochev wind up being anything like her comic counterpart. 

So when you read this article, please note that this isn't intended to lock characters into their comic book counterparts or reveal hints where the story might go in either of these shows.  I'm just pointing out the history of names, places and whatnot.


Welp, that's 2000 words I won't have to write tonight.  The Flash premieres tonight at 8 PM on the CW.  See you all tomorrow!

 

 

 

 





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About the Author - Christian


Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.

 


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