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The Flash: Who Is Jay Garrick?

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Jay Garrick Was the First DC Hero to Meet His Modern Counterpart

DC introduced a new Flash, Barry Allen, in 1956, kicking off the Silver Age of comics in earnest. More revisions of concepts from the 40s would follow, and the explanation for their inspiration was that the originals were fictional characters that the new vanguard read about in comic books. Thus, Barry’s decision to name himself the Flash came from Garrick’s adventures.

That changed in 1961 in one of the most pivotal DC stories ever, “Flash of Two Worlds!” (in The Flash #123). That tale saw Allen accidentally vibrate his molecules at the proper speed to break the barrier between dimensions, ending up on an alternate Earth where an older Jay Garrick was still operating as the Flash. This was the beginning of the DC multiverse, which lasted until the 1980s with Garrick and his Justice Society contemporaries fighting evil on Earth-Two while Allen and the Justice League of America kept Earth-One safe. Crossovers between the two groups even became an annual tradition.

(Sidebar: Shouldn’t Garrick’s Earth have been Earth-One, since super heroes chronologically appeared there first? That’s actually been addressed in the comics at various times, but the naming convention stuck.)

The famous event series Crisis on Infinite Earths changed things forever, rewriting continuity so that the two generations of heroes shared the same world. Keystone City became first the twin city of Barry’s Central City, and later ceased to exist altogether. Jay got even older and managed to outlive Barry, but he stuck around as a mentor to both the third Flash, Wally West, and a veteran presence in the JSA and the super hero community in general. The explanation for Jay’s super-speed was modified over the years to fit the Speed Force concept that united all the speedsters too.

Despite his many victories as the Flash, there was one enemy that Garrick couldn’t defeat, and that was another reboot of DC continuity. When the New 52 arrived, it wiped Jay and all of his teammates from DC canon, though his name would live on.

Next: Jay Garrick's Influence on The Flash