September 30, 2012

What’s Changed in the Flash’s Origin? – Flash #0 Edition

Category: Flash History — By @ 12:35 am

Flash #0 has been out for a few days, detailing the New 52 origin of Barry Allen as the Flash. In the style of the Flash: Rebirth retcon round-up, here’s a list of the major elements that have changed.

This is obviously going to contain some spoilers for Flash #0.

Lightning strikes Barry Allen in The Flash #0

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SPOILERS, I said!

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Family & Job

In the original history, Barry Allen grew up with both parents in Fallville, Iowa. He moved to Central City as an adult and began working for the Central City Police. Barry met Iris West, and they were dating seriously by the time Barry became the Flash. Captain Darryl Frye became Barry’s boss years later, after Iris’ death. Iris West has on brother, Rudy, one sister, Charlotte, and a nephew, Wally, who would go on to become Kid Flash and later the Flash after Barry’s death.

In Flash: Rebirth, the Allens moved to Central City when Barry was still a child. His mother Nora was murdered by Professor Zoom, and his father was framed for it. Who raised Barry from that point on was not revealed. At the time Barry gained super-speed, he had just met Iris West. Captain Frye was already his boss at the crime lab. Henry Allen died in prison, and Barry shut himself off from the world trying to prove his innocence until he met Iris.

In Flash #0, the new elements from Rebirth remain largely intact, though everything else appears to be fair game. Nora and Henry Allen were on the verge of divorce at the time of Nora’s murder, and it was strongly implied that she was or had been involved with Officer Darryl Frye of the Central City Police. Frye took Barry in after the murder. (It’s been theorized that Frye might even be Barry’s biological father.) There’s no indication that Barry and Iris had met at the time of the lightning strike. Frye made captain while Barry was in the hospital. Shortly before the accident, Henry Allen confessed his guilt to Barry, but it remains unclear whether he was telling the truth or simply trying to convince his son to move on. Becoming the Flash was the catharsis that enabled Barry to stop focusing on the past.

Iris West has at least one brother, Daniel. No mention has been made yet of other siblings or a nephew.

Becoming the Flash

In the original and Flash: Rebirth timelines, Barry Allen shook off the effects of the lightning strike with little apparent injury, and found himself accidentally speeding that night on his way home. Inspired by his childhood hero Jay Garrick, he took the name “The Flash.” His costume used a specially treated fabric that expands when it comes into contact with air, which he stores in a ring.

In the New 52 Flash #0 timeline, Barry was seriously injured and sent to the hospital. While dreaming about his mother’s murder, he felt so desperately that he needed to escape that he woke up and ran halfway across the planet before he realized what had happened. His costume is made from metal segments that assemble themselves in the presence of his speed.

26 responses to “What’s Changed in the Flash’s Origin? – Flash #0 Edition”

  1. mrmaczaps says:

    i miss the old DCU so bad after reading this… why does his mom have to die and his father be jailed? don’t we have enough spider-man heroes?

    thanks for the “side by side”.

  2. Martin Gray says:

    Thanks for the handy recap. I still don’t like the murder angle, and really miss that the first manifestation of super-powers in the Silver Age has changed (don’t ask me about J’onn J’onzz, I’m sticking with Barry!).

  3. Smells like Wally has been retconned out of existence.
    After Tim Drake was retconned out of ever being Robin, this does not surprise me, but it does bother me.
    I can’t read the book anymore, I just can’t get past the stupidity of DC’s Editorial decisions… to get rid of Wally West is to get rid of the best character that wore the costume.
    Infidelity, murder, a tormented soul, that’s not what the Flash is about, at least not one I want to read.

    • Golddragon71 says:

      Agreed DC’s current editorial seem to have a major problem with relationships. I’ve noticed this time and again. On the Fastest Forum Alive, I’ve ben posting a Wally West appreciation Day Thread. I think, from now on I’m going to add a Barry Allen Appreciation Day thread because the Barry allen we have no is NOT! the Barry Allen i’ve been reading about before even Flash Rebirth.

  4. I’m still not a fan of Nora dying, but I do like that she was probably cheating on her husband. Its a nice twist and Barry could always use more angst. The death of his mother is still unnecessary, but his parents having martial problems would be a fresh element to the typical superhero origin.

    Here’s hoping Daniel West isn’t replacing Rudolph…and of course not replacing Wally, which I don’t think even DC is that ballsy.

    • Flash is an angstless hero, he doesn’t need it (IMHO).
      I do think they have the balls (and stupidity) to retcon him out of existence. Remember his death in Flashpoint and remember that they just erased Tim Drake as Robin in the latest issue of the Teen Titans.

  5. chrchaves says:

    I don´t like the “Nora dying” stuff either. Which makes me wonder if anybody except for Johns does. The idea of dead parents is SOOOO cliched in the superhero world that only the lamest writers would use it.
    It´s so sad, speedforce is the closest thing I am now to read DC again, and that´s because here is the only place I can find Wally. I never thought I´d cross editorials completely and become a Marvel reader

    • Kyer says:

      Hate to say it but I tried Marvel only to find that they’ve screwed over nearly all my favorite characters from the old cartoons. Only Daredevil seems to have a good chance at being readable. Don’t know what’s got into the Big Two, but I don’t like it.

  6. Johns has added way too much pathos to Barry’s background, making him a tormented hero like so many other modern superheroes. Apparently no one wants their heroes to do it for the right reasons anymore, it has to be a dark and violent past that made them take vengeance on criminals. Batman’s mainstream success has screwed up what people expect of their heroes.

    I’m also not hugely enthusiastic about the origin of the costume, it screams to be retconned out when a different writer gets on the series.

  7. Rob S. says:

    I’m not crazy about the Nora Allen murder, either… though I do like that we haven’t yet been given any indication that Professor Zoom did it.

    Seeing Barry wrapped from head to toe in bandages made me think of Flash 300…

  8. […] Comics | Kelson Vibber breaks down the changes to Barry Allen’s origin as depicted in The Flash #0. [Speed Force] […]

  9. TheFlash1990 says:

    While I liked a lot of this issue, I will say again how I hate that they gave him dead parents. Trying to turn him into Spider-Man or Batman (even used the “Who am I?” line at the end…geeze). Because nobody becomes a superhero unless “MY PARENTS ARE…DEEEAAAAADDD!!!”

  10. Kyer says:

    From what I’ve seen the art is still terrific….but that’s it.
    I pine for the Flash origin tie to Jay. Plus the impending divorce (also death) doesn’t sit well. Can’t *anyone* in the new DC have a pleasant family life or childhood? Yes, this is probably more “realistic” of today’s digitally-distressed society, but gosh dang it–I miss those high ideals about family and loving relationships working out even if they were (supposedly) fantasy. Heck, I *want* fantasy! Isn’t comics supposed to be about escapism?

    Now I purchased the Artfx Flash statue because it looked so wonderful. I love my DCU Barry figurine. I’m not totally against all things DC52 (loss of the outerwear briefs was a good thing.) Yet by and large this just isn’t…this is just different enough from the very things that pulled me into comics (as opposed to cartoons and the old live action shows) that I’m not enjoying it. The only family comic is also big on horror which is the one genre (other than bodice rippers) that I detest.

    Tis a sad thing when the most fun I’ve had within the DC52 is some ad comic they put out for Craftsman tools. -_-;;

    Anyway, I’ve been busy with Real Life and realized that it’s been two weeks since I did my once ‘daily’ Wally West search though I did diligently check my favorite webcomics.

    Sigh. DC you’ve just about totally lost a once exuberant fan. Not even the coming Superman movie is igniting a fire within. The only thing I have to look forward to is a statue and the hope that Wally gets some decent heroism action in Young Justice and maybe dumps Artemis for a gal named Linda Park.
    Any possibility that Wally, Max, Linda, or Jay with the old hat and decent costume will show in Multiversity?

    • Lee H says:

      What did you think about Wally West being retroactively given a dysfunctional family after Crisis on Infinite Earths?

      There’s a possibility that a version of Wally may appear in Multiversity’s “The Just” issue: http://thegreenlanterncorps.com/web/grant-morrison-green-lantern-kyle-rayner-reunited-in-multiversity/

      • Kyer says:

        I hated the fact that the editors of the time decided that Wally needed a close tie to the Manhunters to tie into that Invasion event…despite that the writers didn’t want to do it. The only good to come out of that was some funny scenes *much* later with Castro and Mary’s marriage. The part where Rudy tried to ‘sell’ Wally to the Russians and kill Mary….ugh….could have done without that.
        So Rudy as a bit of a scoundrel….okay and at times even fun. Rudy as a downright souless bastard…not.

  11. Savitar says:

    I’m going to be bold and say: I loved this issue and I like the murder mystery.

    For one thing, only Nora is dead, so I don’t see how you all are pining over the ‘My parents are dead so I must become a superhero’ cliche when this clearly isn’t the case.

    Manapul and Co.have built a good foundation for this new Barry Allen. His parents were getting divorced, which is going to be a traumatic event for any kid. His mother is murdered and his father arrested for the crime.

    Unlike Bruce, Barry didn’t swear vengeance, didn’t travel the globe for umpteen years to learn esoteric skills in order to fight crime, and didn’t come back home to be inspired to become a costumed hero.

    Instead, his mother’s death gave Barry a focus, a purpose, a career, as he became caught up in trying to prove his father’s innocence. There is certainly more to Nora’s death than we’ve seen so far, but at no time did Barry want to become a costumed hero because of it.

    It’s only after he gained his powers, that he resolved the lingering feelings over his parents’ fate, that he was able to put on a costume and help others. He hasn’t given up on his father but he’s not going to let his case dominate his life as it had been before.

    So, this is about as far from ‘My dead parents helped me strike fear in the night’ as you can get. This title has been the most consistent New 52 book and Manapul and Co. have been steadily building up Barry’s new life, both personal and professional throughout.

    This has become a must-read title for me. Well done fellas, very well done.

  12. Eyz says:

    I’m not sure I like the grittier/darker turn of events for The Flash…or the whole DCnU for that matter!

  13. married guy says:

    The changes just strike me as unnecesary.
    What was wrong with Barry’s origin in the first place?
    Sure, I like the tweak about him being seriously burned then healed via speed force, but I thought the removal of his parents was a mistake when Johns first did it, and my opinion hasn’t changed.

  14. ted says:

    So, with Barry not being involved with iris means that most those Zoom stories never happened… meaning Zoom wasn’t motivated to kill Barry’s mother?

    And regarding post-rebirth and pre-new52, they never addressed that JT Krull slip-up when he mixed up Fiona and Iris when mentioning the manslaughter charge on Barry.

    Anyhoo, I don’t see the need to make him all gritty. They tried that, it didn’t save his book. This isn’t the Barry I wanted back. Just bring back Wally at this point. Or better yet, just create a new Flash and stop sullying them both.

    Art’s nice tho, isn’t it?

  15. The cliche is still there Lee, its just not the focus anymore. The writers said from the get go that Barry wouldn’t be the cold semi-depressed guy he was during Johns’ last run. Its up to them from here on out to not dwell on that death and make Barry interesting DESPITE that awful cliche. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were told that the Nora dying part of the origin had to stay. Its the New52, but Johns still has tons of clout in those NY offices.

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