Jay Garrick has arrived in Central City. Technically, he’s been in Central City for the last six months, but he’s out of the shadows and ready to help Barry make a difference. Major Spoilers breaks down the episode in this week’s Flashback.
A mysterious man has a warning about an evil speedster intent on destroying The Flash; a determined officer wants to join Joe’s meta-human task force.
Jay Garrick (the original Flash) was created by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert in Flash Comics #1 in January 1940 and published by All-American Publications. As discussed in the episode, Jay Garrick acquired his ability to run really fast thanks to his experiments with hard water. After passing out from the vapors, Jay awoke to discover he had faster than normal reflexes, and the ability to run really, really fast. Interestingly, Jay revealed his identity to his girlfriend (later wife) Joan, though others have stated she discovered his identity before the big reveal.
From 1940 to 1949, Jay Garrick defeated the bad guys wearing blue pants, a red shirt, and a stylized metal helmet with wings. The “hubcap” helmet is actually a tweaked World War I helmet that belonged to Jay’s father, Joseph. Jay has used the helmet as a shield and a weapon over the years, and because it is shiny, it reflects light really well.
Unfortunately, by the time 1951 rolled around, Jay Garrick would disappear from the comic scene thanks to the decline of superhero popularity. The Flash comic series ended in 1949 after 104 issues, but Jay Garrick’s final appearance in the Golden Age was in All-Star Comics #57.
Five years later (1956), DC Comics would relaunch the Flash series, with an all new costume, all new name, and all new history. Barry Allen was the Flash, and as far as the publisher was concerned, Barry Allen was the ONLY Flash in the DC Universe. In his first appearance in, Showcase #4, Barry is seen reading a Golden Age comic featuring Jay Garrick’s Flash, and when he gained his super speed, he took on the name Flash from the comics written by Gardner Fox.
Barry’s character was popular enough (he’s the first hero of the Silver Age) DC Comics gave Flash his own book once again, and decided to continue the numbering with issue #105. While we’ll never know the true reason for the continued numbering (possible bragging rights), it did create an instance where Jay Garrick’s adventures would have to be acknowledged as something more than just stories in Barry’s comic books.
THE FLASH OF TWO WORLDS
DC decided both Jay Garrick and Barry Allen could both exist, providing they were from different worlds. In 1961, Gardner Fox penned the now famous The Flash of Two Worlds in Flash #123. In the tale, The Flash (Barry Allen) agrees to help Iris West (Barry’s girlfriend) raise money for the Picture News Orphan Fund Group. The magician that was scheduled to appear was a no show, so The Flash lends his super-speed to entertain the kiddies, and during the famous magic rope trick, The Flash ascends the rope at super speed only to disappear from reality.
Barry discovers he’s no longer in Central City, but rather Keystone City, the home of the Flash from his comic books. Barry tracks down Jay, and after explaining his origin story, Barry concludes must have vibrated so fast that he passed through to this other Earth. Though Jay’s Earth should be Earth-1 chronologically, that probably wouldn’t sit well with new Silver Age comic readers, so Barry’s Earth was named Earth-1, with Jay getting the sloppy seconds of Earth-2.
In a genius piece of writing, Gardner Fox writes himself in the issue as Barry explains that Gardner Fox wrote about Jay’s adventures because they came to him in a dream. Barry concludes that Fox, while sleeping, tapped into the vibratory frequency of Jay’s world, and was able to come up with tales for the comic books until 1949 – the same year Jay Garrick retired as a superhero.
I really love this idea. For one, it follows my own crazy rantings that my dreams allow me to see what is going on in other realities, but it also explains why Cisco made so many references last season that seemed to align with the show release schedule.
As the issue progresses, Jay and Barry team up to fight the Fiddler who is attacking Keystone City, and in a now classic image, the two rush to save a construction worker from a falling steal beam. Those who were paying close attention to this week’s episode saw that panel come to life when Patty Spivot called for the Flash at the end of the episode.
With Keystone City returned to normal, and Jay now out of retirement, Barry vibrated back to Earth-1. In the closing panel, Barry decides to track down Gardner Fox, tell him about his adventures so the writer could turn it into a comic book.
Dr. Martin Stein names the Multiverse in this week’s episode, but the first appearances of parallel worlds in DC Comics happened in Wonder Woman #59 in May 1953. In the story, Wonder Woman is transported to a mirror Earth where she meets Tara Terruna, who is exactly like her. The world jumping happened a couple more times before the DC reboot by Julius Schwartz and Gardner Fox, but Flash #123 set up the rules of the Multiverse.
All the universes vibrate at a specific frequency which keeps them separated; these “barriers” could by trespassed by “tuning” to that vibration. Because people could also “tune-in” these worlds in dreams, some people wrote comic books with the stories from those worlds they dreamed.
The success of the Multiverse allowed the Golden Age and Silver Age heroes to team up in Crisis on Earth-One (Justice League of America #21) and Crisis on Earth-Two (Justice League of America #22), and over the years, more Golden Age heroes were introduced to “modern readers.” But over time, the introduction of the Multiverse caused a large number of continuity errors, and DC needed to figure out a way to clean it all up.
Enter Marv Wolfman, George Perez, and DC’s 50th anniversary. To avoid further continuity errors, it was decided to wipe the Multiverse from the map, and create one continuity where DC could pick and choose what characters (and Earths) would survive, who would get a reboot, and who would never be heard from again. Crisis on Infinite Earths is still regarded as an important moment in comics, even if it created more problems than it solved.
Over the last 30 years, DC Comics has used Multiverse shattering events to streamline and update characters. Armageddon 2001, Zero-Hour, Infinite Crisis, and Flashpoint have all featured worlds in crisis with characters making the ultimate sacrifice. We know that the future newspaper describing red skies and a missing Flash still exists in the TV show, which makes me wonder if we are building to a Crisis level event at some point.
In this week’s episode, Cisco and Dr. Stein discover 52 rips in the fabric of space time, resulting in portals to 52 different worlds. Currently, in the DC Universe, there are 52 different worlds. SYNERGY!
In the real world, the idea of a multiverse continues to gain popularity, and if physicists like Michio Kaku and Stephen M Feeney are right, we have seen evidence of other universes existing outside the bubble of our reality. I’m not a physics major, though I almost was, so if you want to learn more about M-theory and string theory, I’d suggest jumping to your favorite search engine.
Patty Spivot first appeared in DC Special Series #1 in September 1977, and was created by Cary Bates and Irv Novick. In her original incarnation, Spivot was a part-time lab assistant to Barry Allen in the Central City Police Department. Patty had strong feelings for Barry, but because she knew Barry was obsessed with finding out who killed his mother, she kept her distance, by moving to Blue Valley, Nebraska.
She would later decide to become the new Hot Pursuit by stealing the former’s gear and evading police. Thanks to the temporal nature of Hot Pursuit’s technology, she was zapped to the year 3011, where she was captured by Brainiac. She was able to escape thanks to Kid Flash, but as we all know, one does not simply escape from Brainiac. During an attempt to get Bart’s powers back, Brainiac killed Patty. This all happened during Flashpoint, which was a really weird point in DC Comics, but it did lead to the New-52 where Patty and Barry are dating.
Who is ZOOM?
We’re probably going to spend a lot of time trying to figure out who this character is this season. The most likely candidate is Hunter Zolomon, the third Reverse-Flash. The character was created by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins, and since Johns is one of the series creators, all signs point Zolomon.
But what about Rival?
Rival first appeared in Flash Comics #104 in February 1949. Dr. Edward Clariss is a professor at the same University Jay Garrick went to when he discovered his powers. Clariss believes he’s created a formula that will give him super speed like The Flash, but instead of becoming a hero, Clariss uses “Velocity 9” to become a dark villain – a “Rival” of Jay Garrick. Interestingly, The Rival does not have red streaks that follow his super speed, but rather blue streaks.
Since Zoom is a villain in Earth-2, we should all keep our eyes open for more references to Clariss as the season progresses.
The big bad this week is Edward Slick – the Sand Demon. As we’ve seen in previous episodes, the Flash villain in the television series is actually a Firestorm villain in the comics. Sand Demon first appeared in Firestorm Vol. 2 #51, but only stuck around for four appearances before dying in Firestorm #75 (1988). As far powers go, you saw them all in action on screen this week.
Sand Demon was created by Gerry Conway and Joe Brozowski in September 1986).
THE LITTLE THINGS
There were a number of little things that popped up this week that are worth noting:
- Barry and Patty are Monty Python fans, as the two quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
- Patty Spivot attended Hudson University in New Carthage, New York. Apparently, Kansas University and K-State aren’t worth going to in the DCU.
- Sand Demon spent time in Blackgate Prison. Iron Heights was created by Geoff Johns, while Blackgate Prison was created by Peter Milligan and Jim Aparo in Detective Comics #629 in 1991.
- Sand Demon revealed to be hiding out in Woodrue Greenhouse. Jason Woodrue is better known as the Fluoronic Man. It will interesting to see if he shows up this season.
- War of Americas. This was a tough one because in the DCU, there isn’t an alternate reality where this happened. However, there was an event called the War of Americas in the 2004 series Jack & Bobby, which was produced by Greg Berlanti, Brad Meltzer, and Marc Guggenheim.
- There is a brief crossover with Arrow, where Ollie reveals he will now be known as Green Arrow.
IT’S CALLED A SECRET IDENTITY FOR A REASON!
Dr. Harrison Wells(deceased)
- Eobard Thawne (as Dr. Harrison Wells)
- Dr. Caitlin Snow
- Dr. Cisco Ramon
- Detective Joe West
- Dr. Martin Stein
- Mrs. Clarissa Stein
- Hartley Rathaway (Pied Piper)
- Felicity Smoak
- General Wade Eiling
- Oliver Queen (Green Arrow)
- John Diggle
Bette Sans Souci(deceased)
- Dr. Henry Allen (out of prison)
Iris West(in another timeline)
- Iris West-Allen (in the future)
- Iris West (via spark touch)
- Leonard Snart (Captain Cold)
Detective Eddie Thawne(deceased)
- Ray Palmer (The Atom)
- Brie Larvan
- Laurel Lance (Black Canary)
Hannibal Bates (Everyman)(deceased)
- Gorilla Grodd
- Lyla Diggle (Harbinger)
- Jay Garrick (The Flash of Earth-2)
And that should be everything! What did I miss? What did you catch? Use the comment section below to share your thoughts on this episode, and until next week RUN, BARRY! RUN!
FLASHBACK: THE PODCAST
Want to hear Matthew Peterson and I sit down to discuss this episode in detail? If you are a Major Spoilers VIP, look for the Flashback Podcast hitting the VIP site very soon![signoff predefined=”PayPal Donation” icon=”icon-cog”][/signoff]