High-Speed History of The Flash (PHOTOS)

Damian Holbrook

Cate Cameron/ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Flash From the Past

The Flash celebrated its 75th anniversary this year, and no matter how fast time has passed, one thing has stayed the same: his everlasting popularity. In honor of the Scarlet Speedster's history, we're zooming through his comic-book origins and then leaping forward to his animated alter egos before arriving at his present incarnation on The CW.

So before The Flash returns to The CW for a second season on Tuesday, October 6, take a crash course in the superhero's timeline for a real blast from the past.

The Flash comic books

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Speed Reading

One of DC Comics’ most popular characters, the Flash first raced into our lives in 1940, when Jay Garrick made his debut as the fastest man alive in Flash Comics No. 1. As an homage to the Roman god Mercury, Garrick sported a winged helmet—which made a surprise cameo in The Flash’s season finale. In 1956, police scientist Barry Allen took over the mantle, running into the spotlight in the pages of Showcase No. 4.

John Wesley Shipp as the Flash

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Abs-olute Original

The Flash muscled onto live-action TV for the first time in CBS’s 1990-91 series, with John Wesley Shipp under the cowl. He now plays Henry Allen, Barry’s dad, on The CW’s flashy new version.

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On Your Marks...

Over the years, DC Comics has showcased mad dashes between the man in red and the Man of Steel (including a 1997 episode of Superman: The Animated Series). Both are obviously faster than a speeding bullet, but the grudge matches usually ended in ties or tumult, due to the interference of a baddie. Still, we’d love to know who would win.

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Making It to the Big Leage

The Scarlet Speedster was a founding member of the superstar team on the animated series Justice League. Michael Rosenbaum of Smallville provided the voice for the character, who in this incarnation was Wally West.

Kyle Gallner as the Flash on Smallville

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Smallville’s Clark Kent teamed up with speedy teen Bart Allen (played by Kyle Gallner), who adopted the code name Impulse.

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Role Reversal

Shipp revisited the Flash-verse once again in 2010 for a guest appearance on the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold—this time playing Professor Zoom, the futuristic villain behind the Negative Speed Force!

Grant Gustin as the Flash on The CW

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The Speed Force Is Strong in This One

Lightning struck for Grant Gustin, the latest man to embrace the Speed Force. The Glee alum helped set ratings records for The CW this past season, with The Flash mixing action and emotion while tapping into 75 years of lore. “As soon as we saw the dailies of his stuff on Arrow, we knew we had chosen right,” says executive producer Greg Berlanti of spinning off the classic character. Gustin gives props to the longtime fans for embracing Barry. “People just love him…and that makes [me] more excited about it!”

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