Warning: Contains minor spoilers from season 1 of The Flash.
On Tuesday evening, the second season of The Flash will premiere on the CW. If you caught last season’s finale, you know that Barry not only accessed a different time but a different universe as well; the evidence of this being the strange looking helmet that came through the vortex at the end of the episode.
For longtime comic fans, this was definitely one of those “geek-out”-worthy moments. For casual fans, this was probably a head-scratcher and for those not in the know, this was the helmet of Jay Garrick—the original Flash. If you’ve seen the trailers for season 2, this helmet was not just a mere Easter Egg, but instead a tease of things to come, with Jay set to make his debut in the second episode.
“But just who is Jay Garrick?” casual fans may be asking. Well, I am here with answers. Here are five facts that can help you get to know the “Crimson Comet.”
Jay Garrick is the First Flash
When most fans think of the Flash, Barry Allen is to whom they are referring (though fans of the Justice League cartoon definitely have an argument for Wally West). However, years before either of them showed up in the pages of DC Comics, Jay Garrick was the one running at top speed fighting injustice. Debuting in 1940 in the aptly named Flash Comics #1, scientist Jay Garrick was caught in an accident where—instead of being struck by lighting—he inhaled experimental “hard water” vapors, giving him superhuman speed. Jay’s adventures lasted until 1951 when the Flash Comics were canceled. While the name and powers of the Flash would be reintroduced in 1956 with Barry Allen, Jay Garrick would not be seen in the comics again until 1961 (more on that later).
He is a Founding Member of the JSA
Before there was a Justice League or a team of Avengers, there was the Justice Society of America. Debuting a few months after Jay in Flash Comics #1, The Justice Society was comprised of the greatest heroes of the Golden Age: Hawkman, Doctor Fate, Green Lantern, Hour Man, The Atom, and the Sandman. While not full-time members, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman would make occasional appearances when duty called. Without this team and its success, many of the team books we know and love today probably would not exist.
He is the “Patriarch” of the Speedsters
On TV, with Henry Allen in prison for the murder of his wife Nora (a crime he didn’t commit), Barry had to look elsewhere for a father figure and found one in detective Joe West. In the comics, that father figure was also the man with which he shared a name, powers, and symbol. With multiple speedsters running around (for lack of a better term), Jay was always the one they turned to for guidance and advice. While years younger than their predecessor, Barry and Wally treated Jay as an equal, while at the same time giving him the love and respect a father figure should receive. It will be interesting to see how that dynamic is changed in the TV show since Barry already has a strong family unit.
The Flash of Two Worlds Caused a Crisis
In Showcase #4 from 1956, DC Comics rebooted the Flash, introducing Barry Allen to the world. In this story, Barry took his name from his favorite childhood comic book—Flash Comics. This could have easy ret-conned Jay Garrick out of existence. In 1961 though (in Flash #123), DC decided to bring Jay Garrick back. It turns out that Jay was not just a comic book character, but a resident of an alternate earth similar to our own, just vibrating at a different frequency. When Barry shows off his skills at a school assembly, he accidentally vibrates at that Jay Garrick frequency and is transported to what will come to be known as Earth-2. This classic story led to the eventual team-up of the Earth -1 JLA and the Earth-2 JSA. This led to MORE Earths being discovered—such as Earth-3, the home of the Crime Syndicate, and Earth-S, which was protected by Shazam and the Marvel Family. This culminated in the mid-80s with Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline, in which every single Earth in this “Multiverse” was combined into one. These Crises would pop up throughout the years, with Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis, and become a DC Comics mainstay. All of that happened because two guys in red that run really fast decided to have a get-together.
Flash #134: “A Day in the Life of the Flash”
Co-Written by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, this is a one-off story from 1998 that perfectly encapsulates Jay Garrick. When the third Flash, Wally West, goes down with an injury, Jay steps in for a day to help out in Keystone and Central City. He has a battle with Captain Cold, gives fatherly advice to both Wally and Dick “Nightwing” Grayson, and meets up with some of his teammates from the Justice Society. If new fans want to REALLY understand what it means to be the first person to become “The Fastest Man Alive,” this is the perfect story to read.
So what do you think? Are there any other Jay Garrick facts newbies need to know before his arrival on the CW? Let me know on Twitter or sound off in the comments below.