In recent years, the Flash has become an even larger star in the DC Comics firmament – no small feat for someone who was already considered one of the top five characters in DC's roster. In the hands of writer Geoff Johns, the character - specifically, the Barry Allen incarnation - has experienced a second wind as seen in the recent "Flash: Rebirth" miniseries and the newly relaunched ongoing series that carries his name as well as a live action movie reportedly being developed.
The Flash first raced into comics pages in 1940 with his own series, "Flash Comics," and the distinction of being the first super-speeder in comics history. Writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert conceived the scarlet speedster as Jay Garrick, a college student who received his powers from an accidental exposure to toxic vapors. This first iteration of the Flash wore a winged helmet reminiscent of the Greek god Hermes, and though later incarnations of the Flash carried a more streamlined superhero suit, Garrick's story and outfit set the tone for what was to come.
With the dawn of the Silver Age of comics in the mid-1950s, DC Comics saw in the Flash a chance to break new ground in the superhero genre. In the publisher's subsequent relaunch of the character, a police forensic scientist named Barry Allen gains the powers of super-speed, having been doused with chemicals after they were struck by lightning. Allen, a comics reader himself who read the original 1940s "Flash Comics" in his youth, takes up the name Flash for his own adventures in this new age of comics. The publisher soon realized that in the case of the Flash, lightning can strike twice, and the successful relaunch of the character pushed the publisher to revive several other Golden Age characters and to formulate a new team of superheroes called the Justice League of America.
Over the course of the character's history, the Flash has proven to be one of comics most viable concepts, giving rise to numerous variations as well as different men underneath the red and yellow mask. Barry Allen acquired a junior associates named Kid Flash, who eventually took up the mantle upon Allen's heroic death during DC's epic "Crisis on Infinite Earths" maxiseries from the mid 1980s. Since then, an informal Flash family has developed in the DC Universe, comprised of several heroes operating under the moniker of the Flash, as well as associated heroes such as Kid Flash, Impulse, Jesse Quick and even a Flash from the 27th century named John Fox. Their powers all stem from their connection to a extradimensional energy called the Speed Force, which fuels their power and acts as a highway for even more mind-bending antics including time travel or even returning from the dead. - Chris Arrant