Flash TV Fans: 5 Differences to Know if You Want to Pick Up the Comics

Flash Season Zero Banner by Francis Manapul

That was an awesome premiere for the Flash TV show last night, wasn’t it? If you can’t wait a week for more Flash action, you’re in luck — there are literally decades of Flash comic books you can choose from right now. We have a list of recommendations, but first, a few key differences that might trip you up if you decide to dive head first into the comics. (There are more, of course, but we’re keeping it simple.)

1. Multiple Flashes

Barry Allen is actually the second version of the Flash from the comics.

  1. Jay Garrick was a scientist who starred in the series from 1940-1950. He came out of retirement to help Barry on cases, and later to help train a younger generation of heroes.
  2. Barry Allen headlined the book from 1956 until 1986, when he died in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
  3. Wally West, Iris’ nephew, became Barry’s teenage sidekick, Kid Flash (who you may know from the Young Justice cartoon). He took over after Barry’s death and was the star Flash from 1987-2008.
  4. Bart Allen is Barry’s grandson from the future, who traveled back in time as a tween and went by the names Impulse, then Kid Flash, and briefly the Flash.

In 2008, DC brought Barry Allen back to life, and then in 2011, they revamped their entire line of comics and simplified the history of the Flashes. Now, like in the TV show, Barry Allen is the only Flash…in his reality.

2. Barry’s Parents

In the classic comics, Barry’s parents both lived to his adulthood. 2009’s Flash: Rebirth established his mother’s murder and his father being framed for it.

3. Supporting Cast

Joe West, Eddie Thawne, and Harrison Wells are new characters, and Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon aren’t connected to the Flash in the comics, so you won’t see any of them. There is a possibility that Thawne might be an established character in disguise, though: The time-traveling villain Professor Zoom, a.k.a. the Reverse Flash, just happens to be named Eobard Thawne.

Barry Allen’s co-workers at the Central City crime lab include Director Singh (also in the TV show) and fellow CSIs James Forrest and Patty Spivot. Wally West’s contacts on the Keystone City police force include detectives Jared Morillo and Fred Chyre (who had a cameo in the premiere), and profilers Hunter Zolomon and Ashley Zolomon.

4. Barry and Iris

Barry and Iris met as adults in the comics, and in the pre-2011 stories eventually married. Like Barry, she’s also been killed and brought back to life. In the current “New 52,” Barry and Iris have never quite gotten together, and Barry is dating Patty Spivot. Iris and her family are white in the comics.

5. S.T.A.R. Labs and the Particle Accelerator

The particle accelerator is a new element in the Flash’s origin. The DC Universe in the comics is one full of meta-humans who gain their powers from completely different sources, and the Flash’s powers aren’t connected to anyone else’s…well, that’s not entirely true. It turns out that all speedsters derive their power from the same energy field, which they’ve decided to call the speed force. (Now you know where our blog’s name comes from.)

S.T.A.R. Laboratories does exist in the comics, but Barry had to learn the ropes of being a speedster and a hero entirely on his own, without a scientific support team.

That should get you up to speed (so to speak)!

How did you like The Flash: Episode 1? Check out our reviews and join the discussion!


6 thoughts on “Flash TV Fans: 5 Differences to Know if You Want to Pick Up the Comics

  1. Kyer

    So…was it worth watching as a Flash fan (as opposed to strictly a Barry Allen fan)? Is there a Keystone City or just Central City? Any mentions of Jay and Joan even small hints? (I’m not looking for Wally. I don’t -want- Wally to be in this.)

    1. Jesse

      I’m as diehard a Wally fan as they come, and I thought the show was very well done. It’s such a different character than classic Barry that I don’t even think of it as Barry Allen anyway; just another Flash hero sharing the legacy.

  2. Phantom Stranger

    I’ve found the first four episodes capture the spirit and essence of Barry Allen, if not exactly mirroring all the well-known details from Flash’s long history. It wouldn’t surprise me if the TV show eventually introduces the concept of a Speed Force.


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