Since Warner Bros. announced they were planning on creating a “The Flash” TV series spinning out of The CW’s “Arrow,” DC Comics fans everywhere have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Barry Allen. And now, tonight, the alter ego of the scarlet speedster (as played by Grant Gustin) will finally be arriving in Starling City.
For those non-fans, though? Don’t worry, we’ll get you up to speed (pun intended) on The Flash, with our quick guide to everything Barry Allen:
Though this (we presume) won’t play into the series or tonight’s episode, Barry Allen is actually the second person to don the mantle of the character in the comics; the first being a guy named Jay Garrick.
Born in Blood
When Barry was just eleven years old, his mother was murdered and his father was wrongfully accused of the crime, then sentenced to life in prison. Ever since then, Barry has dedicated his life to finding the true murderer and proving his father’s innocence. This is also why Barry chose a career in forensic science!
The Twin Cities
While Arrow is based in Starling City, Barry Allen (and The Flash) operate out of the twin cities of Central City and Keystone City. Unlike Starling, Barry’s home base is an industrial center that is more based on Detroit than, say, Gotham.
Becoming the Flash
Before gaining super-speed, Barry was notoriously slow at work and consistently late. However, after a freak accident involving a lightning bolt and lots of unstable chemicals, Barry becomes the fastest living being on the planet. Being an avid comic book reader, he decides to adopt the moniker of “The Flash” after his favorite superhero, Jay Garrick.
The Power of Science
Being intellectually gifted, Barry is constantly discovering new uses for his incredible powers. In addition to being able to run faster than the speed of light, he can also create vortexes, turn himself invisible, travel between dimensions, and even pass through solid matter.
The Flash’s powers are, er, powered by the Speed Force, a pseudo-scientific energy that runs throughout time and space. The genesis and use of the Speed Force has changed with time, but in the current comics continuity, Barry is actually the conduit and generator for the Speed Force. Without The Flash running, the universe would cease to exist. Take that, guilt prone Spider-Man!
The Cosmic Treadmill
While Barry may primarily fight crime in and around Central City, he’s also created an apparatus called the Cosmic Treadmill, a time-travel device that utilizes the Speed Force to allow its user to travel precisely through time and space. Originally, Barry created the Cosmic Treadmill as a means of battling invading aliens in the future before they could ever come back to present day. You know, as you do.
Death and Rebirth
During the events of DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, Barry Allen actually sacrificed himself in order to save the entire world and becomes one with the Speed Force. Twenty three years later, he came back to our plane of existence via a time tunnel created during the events of Final Crisis and is later brought back to life permanently by his arch nemesis, a time-traveling speedster called Professor Zoom. You will need to know literally none of this when you watch “Arrow”.
“Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 PM E.T. on The CW.