His name is Barry Allen but most people know him better as The Flash.
That line begins almost every issue of The Flash. I was 7 years old when I read it for the first time in 1976. As I was a chatty child, I’m pretty sure my parents bought me that first Flash comic to shut me up. I took to comics immediately. The Flash became my favorite in a…nevermind. I loved the idea of the chronically-late Barry Allen being altered at the molecular level by a freak lightning/chemical accident that blessed him with the ability to outrun bullets, sound and (in some cases) even light!
By the mid-1980s, I owned an almost-complete run of Barry Allen’s Flash with comics dating back to the early 1960s. My other friends liked Superman, Spider Man, The X-Men. But the Flash – he was my hero. I read and re-read every issue so many times that I knew them by heart. The fights with the Rogues, Grodd, Abrakadabra, the Time Travel, the Dimension travel, Iris’ death at the hands of Reverse Flash, Barry’s vengeance and subsequent trial, these were the stories I connected with. I could identify the issue number just by looking at the cover, recite the story by heart…I knew them all.
The Flash died a hero’s death during 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. I was 15 when it happened. I knew it was coming as DC had said the Barry Allen Flash run would end soon. Still, it hurt. But my hero died well – saving us all from the universe crushing Anti-Monitor. As opposed to most comic book deaths The Flash stayed dead too. His sidekick Wally West, the Kid Flash, took up his uniform and continued the fight. I didn’t care for Wally much. As they say, you never get over your first love.
The next time we saw Barry Allen was on the short lived 1990 CBS The Flash TV series and it was bad. Really bad. They changed Iris from a gutsy Lois Lane style reporter to flighty art student and then wrote her off the show. They bastardized every villain – tortured them really – until they were unrecognizable. It was a massacre. But it was Barry and it was the Flash and so I watched. It lasted for half a season. I hate-watched all 12 episodes before the show was thankfully put out of its misery.
Barry stayed dead for the next 20 or so years. DC teased at bringing him back from time to time. My ears perked up whenever they did. In that time culture formerly reserved for geeks became extremely popular. The world figured out how to translate superhero comics to TV and movies in Barry’s absence. Batman movies, X-Men movies, Marvel Universe movies, Smallville, Arrow and similar shows were now everywhere.
During DC’s Final Crisis event, Barry Allen – my hero, the real Flash – returned to the DC universe. During their Flashpoint crossover event, DC “rebooted” the entire universe into “The New 52” which included Barry as the Flash. I’ve been reading them since and they’ve been terrific.
The CW wants to introduce you to someone this October. His name is Barry Allen. Most people know him better as The Flash. He’s been my hero since I was 7 and I can’t wait to see him again.
“This is a 10/10 must see/must DVR” he said, surprising nobody. The series begins October 7th.