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Superhero Origins: The Flash

VO: Dan
A superhero whose mantle has been passed down to several different heroes over the years, we have decided to focus on the origins of the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. The fastest thing on Earth, Jay Garrick was once a brilliant lab student double-majoring in chemistry and physics. His life changed when he experimented on Hard Water and accidentally found himself overpowered by its noxious fumes. He emerged with super quick reflexes and soon began fighting crime as the fastest man alive! Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the comic book origins of The Flash.
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Superhero Origins: The Flash

He’s the fastest man alive! Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we will explore the comic book origins of Jay Garrick, otherwise known as The Flash.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen to primarily follow the storyline that unfolded in 1940’s Flash Comics #1, and was expanded upon in 1961’s The Flash # 123: “Flash of Two Worlds.”

A superhero whose mantle has been passed down to several different heroes over the years, we have decided to focus on the origins of the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. The fastest thing on Earth, Jay Garrick was once a student at Midwestern University in his hometown of Keystone City. Smitten by a girl named Joan Williams, he was dismissed for not being a star of the school’s football team.

Nevertheless, he was a brilliant lab student double-majoring in chemistry and physics, who experimented on Hard Water in an attempt to separate its elements.

One night, while working in the lab, he accidentally leaned against his chemical flask, causing the Hard Water to crash to the floor. Overpowered by the noxious fumes, he passed out, before eventually being found and sent to the hospital.

Awaking weeks later, he discovered he had developed a strong appetite and rapid metabolism. His doctor then speculated that the Hard Water might have made Jay the fastest man on Earth, due to the elements speeding up his reflexes. Sure enough, Jay had become a freak of science, as he could walk, talk, run and think faster than any other human, and outrun a speeding bullet.

Jay soon escaped the hospital to meet up with Joan Williams. Witnessing his superpower, she asked him to use it to help the school win the State Football game, which made him into the school’s hero.

This celebration was interrupted by a drive-by assassination attempt on Joan’s life. Rescuing her, Jay learned that it had been part of a scheme to force her kidnapped father to reveal the location of a secret Atomic research base.

This prompted Jay to act, taking up a costumed identity, appropriately modeled on Mercury, the messenger of the gods. This consisted of attaching wings to his father’s World War I helmet and his shoes, while wearing a red pullover, inspired by his football uniform, but with a lightening bolt insignia across the chest. Unlike other superheroes he had read about, Jay didn’t cover his face, instead opting to vibrate his face to blur it from witnesses.

As the Flash, he tracked down the kidnappers, a gang called the “Faultless Four” to their hideout. Using his super speed he saved her father, and dodged their attacks, prompting them to haphazardly cause their own deaths.

In the years that followed, The Flash used his powers to become a hero of World War II, founded the Justice Society of America, became a prominent scientist and married his high-school sweetheart.

Following these events, DC comics introduced readers to a Second Flash named Barry Allen in the 1960s. This police scientist had likewise been transformed by chemicals, and grew up idolizing the comic book heroics of the Golden Age Flash, who was presented as a fictional comic book character.

As it turned out, Jay Garrick was in fact from another dimension called Earth Two, and his adventures had miraculously been printed as comic book fodder for Earth One.

The Flashes finally met when Barry vibrated into Earth Two’s frequency range and discovered Keystone City. There, he sought out Jay and they united to save the town from the trio of villains called The Fiddler, The Shade and The Thinker.

Afterwards, Golden Age Flash decided to retire once and for all. However, he would return to aid this and his other successors when needed.

A scarlet speedster known for his winged cap and lightening bolt insignia, The Flash continues to appear in various media, with each iteration of the character possessing variations of the iconic abilities that made him a fan favorite of the DC Multiverse. He has also become a prominent member of the Justice League, working alongside the likes of Superman, Batman, Wonder woman and The Green Lantern.
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