They have earned the title of the Fastest Men Alive - four successive generations of superheroes who have been bestowed with the extraordinary power of immense speed and the ability to access a dimension known as the Speed Force. Each of these heroes has taken on the name of the Flash, becoming the vanguard of an era filled with champions and establishing a legacy characterized by bravery and valor. Within this article, I aim to provide a concise account of the four individuals who have carried the mantle of the Flash. Each of them has brought their own unique style to the superhero, and you can see the visual difference between Jay Garrick and Barry Allen in ExpressVPN’s Flash infographic. It's important to note that some of the information presented below may not always align with the current storyline, but it serves as an excellent starting point for delving into the history of these beloved characters.

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Jay Garrick

In 1940, writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert introduced the Flash to DC Comics, with Jay Garrick as the character. Garrick, initially a failed college football player turned research scientist, gained incredible superhuman speed by accidentally inhaling radioactive atoms. Donning a red and blue costume, he became the Flash, playing a vital role in forming the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron during the war.

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During the McCarthy era in the 1950s, Garrick was forced into retirement due to a superhero registration act. The villainous Fiddler placed him in suspended animation, but he was saved by Barry Allen, the second Flash. As a result, Garrick did not age and married his girlfriend, Joan Williams. Although he briefly retired, he returned to active duty with the latest incarnation of the Justice Society of America.

In later years, Jay Garrick served as a mentor and elder statesman to the third Flash, Wally West, assisting him in handling formidable threats. After the events of FLASHPOINT, the Golden Age heroes, including Jay, were largely forgotten until their recent triumphant return in the pages of JUSTICE LEAGUE.

The future of this beloved character remains uncertain, but there are rumors suggesting that we will see Jay Garrick and the rest of the Justice Society of America again in the near future.

Barry Allen

Barry Allen made his debut in Showcase #4 (October 1956), marking the beginning of the Silver Age of comics. As a police scientist, Barry idolized Jay Garrick, the original Flash from the Golden Age. A lightning strike during a stormy night infused Barry with superhuman speed, prompting him to take on the mantle of the Flash and become one of the founders of the Justice League of America.


Barry served as a mentor to Wally West, Iris' nephew, who gained powers similar to his own. Barry's arch-nemesis, Professor Zoom (Reverse Flash), became obsessed with defeating him. When Zoom seemingly killed Barry's fiancée Iris, Barry took revenge and was later reunited with her in the future. However, their happiness was short-lived as Barry sacrificed himself to save the universe from the Anti-Monitor.

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In an unexpected turn of events, Barry found himself alive again, brought back by his enemy Zoom to tarnish his heroic legacy. This led to the Flashpoint storyline, where Barry altered history to save his mother, resulting in the New52 era. The truth behind the timeline changes was revealed in DC Rebirth and Doomsday Clock, implicating Dr. Manhattan as the orchestrator.

With the restoration of the pre-Flashpoint timeline, the Flash family remains central to the ever-evolving DC universe.

Wally West

Wally West, the nephew of Barry Allen (the second Flash), made his debut as Kid Flash in Flash #110 (1959) after a lightning strike granted him powers similar to his uncle. Wally served as a teenage sidekick to Barry and was a founding member of the Teen Titans. Following Barry's death, Wally took on the mantle of the Flash from 1986 to 2009.

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Under the guidance of writer Mark Waid, Wally discovered his connection to the Speed Force, becoming the fastest Flash and a key member of the powerful Justice League. He also developed a formidable rogues' gallery as the protector of Keystone City.

Unlike his peers, Wally revealed his secret identity and married reporter Linda Park. After a tragic miscarriage and a battle with Zoom, Wally asked the Spectre to erase memories of his identity from the public to protect his loved ones.

Wally returned alongside his family after being brought back by the Legion of Super-Heroes. Barry's return in Final Crisis and Flash: Rebirth led to the events of Flashpoint, where Wally seemingly vanished. He later resurfaced in DC Rebirth, revealing that Barry was not responsible for the alteration of reality but rather an unknown entity, ultimately revealed as Dr. Manhattan from the Watchmen universe, in the events of Doomsday Clock.

Bart Allen

Bart Allen, created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo, made his first appearance in The Flash #91 in 1994 before his full debut in issue #92.

Bart comes from a complex family tree of heroes and villains, being the son of Meloni Thawne and Don Allen. His lineage includes Barry Allen (his grandfather), Iris West Allen (his adoptive aunt), Wally West (his cousin and the first Kid Flash), and XS (his cousin from the future). Bart also has connections to supervillains Professor Zoom and Cobalt Blue, as well as the second Captain Boomerang, Owen Mercer. He even has a supervillain clone called Inertia.

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As the lead character in Impulse, Bart was mentored by Max Mercury and became a beloved character in the DC universe. He was a founding member of Young Justice alongside Robin (Tim Drake) and Superboy (Conner Kent). Bart later took on the mantle of Kid Flash and joined the Teen Titans. After a disappearance and return during Infinite Crisis, he became the Flash but was eventually killed by the Rogues. He was revived by the Legion of Super-Heroes.

During the New 52 era, Bart's character was changed, but he made his return in the Rebirth era with some mystery surrounding his absence. Currently, he is part of the newly returned Young Justice team and seems to remember his past life.

The Flash Family has seen many speedsters, but these four have taken up the mantle of the Flash. The legacy aspect ensures that someone will continue to carry the mantle in the future.