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Flash (Barry Allen)

Bartholomew “Barry” Allen is a fictional character, a superhero in the DC Comics universe and the second Flash. The character first appeared in Showcase #4 (Oct. 1956), created by writers Robert Kanigher and John Broome and penciler Carmine Infantino. His death in 1985 removed the character from the regular DC lineup for 23 years. His return to regular comics occurred in 2008 within the pages of Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis limited series.

Fictional character biography

Cover of The Flash vol. 5, #60 (February 2019). Art by Derrick Chew.

Barry Allen is a police scientist (his job title was changed to a forensic scientist in the Iron Heights one-shot) with a reputation for being very slow, deliberate, and frequently late, which frustrates his fiancee, Iris West. One night, as he is preparing to leave work, a lightning bolt shatters a case full of chemicals and spills them all over Allen. As a result, Allen finds that he can run extremely fast and has matching reflexes. He dons a set of red tights sporting a lightning bolt, dubs himself the Flash (after his childhood hero in the comic books, Jay Garrick), and becomes a crimefighter of Central City. In his civilian identity, he stores the costume in his ring, which can eject the compressed clothing when Allen needs it and suck it back in with the aid of a special gas that shrinks the suit. In addition, Allen invented the cosmic treadmill, a device that allowed for precise time-travel and was used in many stories. Allen was so well liked that nearly all speedsters that come after him are constantly compared to him. Batman once said “Barry is the kind of man that I would’ve hoped to become if my parents hadn’t been murdered”.

Justice League

As presented in Justice League of America #9, when the Earth is infiltrated by alien warriors sent to conquer the planet, some of the world’s greatest heroes join forces — Allen is one of them. While the superheroes individually defeat most of the invaders, they fall prey to a single alien and only by working together are they able to defeat the warrior. Afterwards the heroes decide to found the Justice League of America.

During the years, he is depicted as feeling attracted to Black Canary and Zatanna, but he never pursues a relationship because he feels his real love is Iris West. Allen also becomes good friends with Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), which would later be the subject of the limited series Flash and Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold.

In Flash # 123 – “Flash of Two Worlds,” – Allen is transported to Earth-Two where he meets Jay Garrick, the original Flash in DC Continuity; it is revealed that Jay Garrick’s adventures were captured in comic book form on Earth-One. This storyline initiated DC’s multiverse and was continued in issues of Flash and in team-ups between the Justice League of America of Earth-One and the Justice Society of America of Earth-Two. In the classic story from Flash # 179 – “The Flash – Fact or Fiction?” – Allen is thrown into the universe eventually called Earth Prime, a representation of “our” universe, where he seeks the aid of the Flash comic book’s editor Julius Schwartz to build a cosmic treadmill so that he can return home.


In time, he married his girlfriend Iris, who learned of his double identity because Allen talked in his sleep. She kept his secret, and eventually, he revealed his identity to her of his own free will. Iris was eventually revealed to have been sent as a child from the 30th century and adopted.

In the 1980s, Flash’s life begins to collapse. Iris is murdered by Professor Zoom (who had long loved her and been jealous of Allen), and when Allen prepares to marry another woman, Zoom tries the same trick again. Allen stops him, killing Zoom in the process by breaking his neck. Unfortunately, due to Barry being unable to make an appearance at his own wedding, his fiancé eventually descends into madness.

Put on trial for Zoom’s murder, Allen is eventually acquitted, and learns that Iris’s spirit has in fact been taken to the 30th century, where she is given a new body.

Crisis on Infinite Earths

Following the trial, Allen retires and joins Iris in the 30th century. However, after only a few weeks of happiness, the Crisis on Infinite Earths intervenes, and Allen is captured by the Anti-Monitor and brought to 1986; according to the Anti-Monitor, the Flash was the only being capable of travelling to other universes at will, so the Anti-Monitor couldn’t allow him to stay free. Allen escapes and foils the Anti-Monitor’s plan to destroy the Earth, but dies in the process. It has been said that Allen travels back through time and becomes the very same lightning bolt that gives him his powers, but later it is also strongly implied that the soul of Barry resides in the Speed Force, the mystical source and Valhalla open to all dead speedsters, and from which the living ones draw their amazing powers. After Allen’s death, Wally West, his nephew and sidekick (known as Kid Flash), takes up the mantle of the Flash.

After death

Marv Wolfman, scribe for the Crisis on Infinite Earths, has repeatedly stated (first hinted at in his introduction to the original Crisis collected edition hardcover), then fully explained on his website) that he left a loophole in the script wherein the Barry Allen Flash could be re-introduced, without a retcon, into DC Universe continuity. This loophole would allow a writer to pull Barry out of his desperate run to annihilate the anti-matter cannon. However, Barry would know he must someday finish his death run, and would become more determined to use his speed to help others.

It should also be noted that the way Barry Allen seemed to have “died” in Crisis on Infinite Earths, was that he ran so fast that he was able to stop the Anti-Monitor’s anti-matter cannon from firing by catching the tachyon beam at the heart of the weapon. After this act, according to Secret Origins Annual #2 (1988), Barry Allen turns into a lightning bolt, goes back in time, becoming the lightning bolt that hit his lab, splashing his past-self with chemicals and transforming him into the Flash.

In Deadman: Dead Again, Barry is one of the heroes whose spirit Deadman helps to enter Heaven, and the Green Arrow storyline “Quiver” depicts Barry Allen in Heaven. His spirit, however, seems to still be alive within the speed force, along with Max Mercury and other speedsters.


Iris is pregnant when Allen dies, and she has two children, the Tornado Twins, who later meet the Legion of Super-Heroes. Each of her children themselves have children. One, Jenni Ognats, grows up to become the Legionnaire XS, while the other, Bart Allen, is born with a rapid-aging illness, and is sent back to the 20th century where he is cured by Wally West. He remains there as the superhero Impulse, later becoming the second Kid Flash as a member of the Teen Titans. One year after the events
of Infinite Crisis, Bart becomes the fourth Flash until he is abruptly killed
by Inertia and the Rogues in The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13. Wally then retook the identity of The Flash.

Post-Crisis appearances

Due to his time-travel abilities, even death failed to stop Barry from aiding his friends and family.

Barry first reappears during the Chain Lightning arc, where Flashes from different eras join together to defeat Cobalt Blue. Previously, a man that was thought to be Barry Allen, was revealed to be a past version of Professor Zoom, the Reverse Flash, who had been driven mad on a visit to the past and believed himself to be Barry Allen. Cobalt Blue is Barry Allen’s twin brother, who had been given to another couple at birth due to a mistake at the hospital. The resulting battle takes place shortly before Barry Allen is kidnapped during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Barry is nearly killed in this battle, almost rewriting the outcome of the Crisis.

When Wally West, wracked by grief for the loss of his unborn twins at the hands of Zoom, regrets the public Knowledge of his identity, Barry comes from somewhere in time, counseling him, and talking the Spectre into granting his wish. He then disappears, telling his nephew that he will come to his aid three times, the three most difficult days of his life. In fact, when Zoom enlists the aid of Professor Zoom to make Wally relive the loss of his beloved twins, Barry is already there, trying to stop his own Reverse Flash. For the second time, he helps Wally to undo the damage dealt by Zoom, also allowing Wally to save his twins, and then he returns to his proper timeline. Barry has yet to help Wally a third time.

In the Marvel Comics series Quasar, an amnesiac Barry Allen easily wins a race, sponsored by the Runner, made up of the super-speed competitors of Earth-616; his costume is greatly tattered as part of his disguise (said disguise possibly done for copyright reasons), and he is amnesiac, remembering himself only vaguely as “Buried Alien.”

Infinite Crisis

In the fourth issue of Infinite Crisis, Barry Allen comes out from the Speed Force, along with Johnny Quick and Max Mercury, to help his grandson Bart to deal with Superboy-Prime, taking the villainous child with him in the Speed Force. Bart Allen appears wearing Barry Allen’s costume in Tokyo near the end of Infinite Crisis #5 to tell the heroes that Superboy-Prime has escaped the Speed Force. Bart again reappears in Infinite Crisis #7 in Barry Allen’s costume to combat Superboy-Prime once more.

In Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #6 (2006) (with a portion taking place shortly before Infinite Crisis #5) is told how Barry spent four years in an alternate Keystone City along with Max Mercury, Johnny Quick and an alternate Jay Garrick, until he met Bart and Wally West, joining him after the battle against Superboy-Prime. After Superboy escapes, Barry suggests that someone has to absorb the whole Speed Force and cross the dimensional bridge back to Post-Crisis Earth. As Bart volunteers, Barry gives him his suit as a last gift, to keep the Force contained, and stays behind. Wally West didn’t go because of his wife and kids. Bart says he knows Barry would go if he could, but why Barry Allen could not make the journey himself is not stated.


Barry Allen returns to the DC Universe, fleeing the Black Racer. Art from
Final Crisis #2 by J.G. Jones.

In April 2008, the special DC Universe #0 issue features an unnamed narrator who initially associates himself with “everything”. As the story progresses, he begins to recall his past and association with Justice League members, particularly Hal Jordan and Superman. The lettering in which he speaks to the reader is yellow on backgrounds that are initially black. As the story moves forward, the background slowly begins turning red. In the final pages, the narration boxes feature a yellow lightning bolt. On the final page, the moon appears in front of a red sky, as a yellow lightning bolt strikes diagonally in front of it creating the logo of the Flash. The title of the story is revealed to be “Let There Be Lightning.”

Teaser image for The Flash: Rebirth by Ethan Van Sciver and Moose Baumann. Released at Comic-Constitution International 2008.

A New York Daily News story released on the same day proclaims that Barry Allen has returned to life, with issue co-writer Geoff Johns stating, “When the greatest evil comes back to the DC Universe, the greatest hero needed to return.”. He appears in proper DC continuity in Final Crisis #2. On the 2nd to last page, Jay Garrick and Wally West feel vibrations to which Jay remarks, “Wally, don’t you recognize those vibrations? It can’t be… Not after all these years… Not after all this time.” On the final page, Barry Allen is seen in hot pursuit of the bullet which kills Orion, outrunning the Black Racer and yelling out to Jay and Wally to “Run!”

During Final Crisis #3, Jay Garrick speaks to Barry’s wife, Iris, and tells her that her husband is truly alive. Meanwhile, Wally and Barry run a few weeks into the future. When they come to rest, Wally asks Barry if it is really him. Lamenting on Orion’s death, which he was unable to stop, Barry wonders why he is now alive after being dead for so long. It is then that Barry and Wally are confronted by Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Catwoman and Giganta, who have all been transformed into the new Female Furies following the release of the Anti-Life Equation.

Despite the fact that this new version of the Female Furies is equipped with the ability to track down speedsters, perceived by Libra and Darkseid as the only obstacle left between them and world domination, Barry’s expertise allows to overcome their foes, and run through the ruined Earth.

Barry stops to see again, and save, his wife Iris, left behind on Earth. Despite Iris now made a slave by the constant broadcast of Anti-Life Equation through the media, Barry Allen attempts to shock her personality back with a deep kiss. While kissing her, the Speed Force sparkles out of his body, enveloping Iris and freeing her. The three are left to fend off in a conquered world.

The Flash: Rebirth

Announced at Comic-Constitution International 2008, writer Geoff Johns and artist Ethan Van Sciver will create a 6-issue mini-series bringing Barry Allen back to a leading role in the DC Universe as the Flash. When asked what Flashes would appear in the series, Johns and Van Sciver said, “All of them.”

Powers and abilities

Barry Allen was capable of running at the speed of light with little difficulty and, at times during the Silver Age of comics, the speed of thought. In Flash #150, “straining every muscle,” he ran at ten times the speed of light. However, when he pushed himself further (during the Crisis on Infinite Earths) he appeared to waste away as he was converted into pure energy, traveled back in time, and was revealed to be the very bolt of lightning that gave him his powers. Barry Allen possessed abilities that Jay Garrick and Wally West have not always been able to duplicate, most notably the ability to “vibrate” in such a way as to pass through solid matter (Wally could do this in his teen years, though after “Crisis on Infinite Earths” this ability was lost). Allen regularly engaged in time travel using the Cosmic Treadmill device, and was able to “vibrate” between dimensions as well. It has been said that Barry had complete control over every molecule in his body. Using the Speed Force, Allen is able to undo the effects of the Anti-life Equation upon an individual.

Originally Posted by Kain Darkwind of the Dicefreaks forums.

On this Thread

Barry Allen, The Flash
Medium humanoid
Wounds32 WP 379 VP (23d8+253)
Speed540 ft.
AC34 (+6 Dexterity, +18 speed)
Base Attack/Grapple+17/+38
AttackUnarmed strike +42/+37/+32/+27 melee (1d6 + 12)
Full AttackUnarmed strike +42/+37/+32/+27 melee (1d6 + 12)
Space/Reach5 ft. /5 ft.
Special AttacksSpeed tricks
Special QualitiesFast healing 5, resistance to fire 20, superspeed level 18
SavesFort +18, Ref +37, Will +11
AbilitiesStrength 17, Dexterity 23, Constitution 32, Intelligence 19, Wisdom 18, Charisma 15
SkillsBalance +31, Craft (chemical) +24, Craft (electronic) +22, Craft (mechanical) +22, Diplomacy +10, Investigate +11, Jump +207, Knowledge (physical science) +21, Knowledge (streetwise) +10, Knowledge (technology) +9, Research +10, Sense Motive +21, Sleight of Hand +35, Tumble +26
FeatsBounding Assault, Brawl, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Endurance, Fleet of Foot, Improved Initiative, Mobility, Spring Attack, Weapon Finesse
Epic FeatsEpic Endurance
Climate/TerrainCentral City
OrganizationSolitary (unique) or with JLA
AlignmentLawful Good

Speed Tricks:

  • Cyclone By running in a tight circle as an intense action, Barry can create a tornado force vortex with a 50 foot radius. (Fortitude DC 50)

He can also use this method to create a windstorm (see below) to catch falling creatures. Creatures caught by his cyclone take no falling damage.

  • Gravel blast: By quickly slapping his hand against loose rock, gravel or sand, Barry can create a field of deadly projectiles, dealing 18d4 points of damage in a 180 foot cone. (Reflex DC 50 half) This is a full attack action.
  • Run on Water: So long as the Flash moves at least 500 feet in a single direction every round, he may run directly on the surface of water. Rough water affects his movement rate in the same way that rough terrain affects normal movement rate. If Barry fails to move 500 feet in a single round, he falls through the water and begins to sink.
  • Run up Wall: So long as Barry moves at least 100 feet upwards every round, he may run directly up vertical surfaces such as building walls.
  • Vibration: The Flash may move through solid material at will as an extraordinary action. This is effectively a nonmagical ethrealness ability. Flash may also attune his molecules to different vibratory frequencies, functioning as a nonmagical planeshift ability.
  • Whirlwind: By circling both of his arms at a rapid rate, Barry produces a hurricane force wind in a 100 foot cone. This is an intense action for him to use. The Fortitude save DC for the wind is 50. Those who fail their saves against the wind are flung to the edge of the cone, taking 1d6 points of damage per 10 feet flung.

Barry may use this to catch falling creatures. A creature so caught determines falling damage as if he had fallen 100 feet less, and receives damage reduction 90/- against the falling damage.

Barry may attempt this trick as a standard action with a single arm, but the range and DC are halved.

Superspeed Level 18 (Ex): The following benefits are provided from Superspeed Level 18:

  • +18 speed bonus to AC, initiative, and Reflex saves
  • +18 speed bonus to attack and thrown damage rolls
  • +9 speed bonus to melee damage rolls.
  • The Flash may make 18 swift actions in a round.
  • Barry reduces the amount of time to complete an action by 4 steps, allowing him to take full round actions as immediate actions.
  • Characters with less than Superspeed level 9 are considered flat-footed for the purposes of Barry’s attacks. Characters with Uncanny Dodge have an effective Superspeed Level equal to their Dexterity modifier for this purpose.
  • When using the run action, Barry moves 80 times his movement rate (43,200 feet)

By using the Push, Barry may accelerate even beyond this speed. He raises his run multiplier by a power of 1 every round he spends this way. He suffers 1d6 points of Constitution damage per round while using the Push at second level (276,480,000 feet) and 2d6 points of Constitution damage per round while using it at maximum level. (22,118,400,000 feet)

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