For decades, more than one Flash raced across the landscape of the DCU. Barry Allen was on Earth-1 alongside his teen partner Wally West and Jay Garrick ran solo on Earth-2. Barry and Jay’s paths crossed once a year or so, but they generally remained apart. They couldn’t be described as being a family. When Wally West took over the role of the Flash in the late 1980s, that slowly began to change. When Mark Waid took over as Wally’s writer in the mid-1990s, that change went into overdrive.
Soon after Bart Allen, teenage speedster, showed up in Wally’s life, Wally realized he was in over his head. Unable to get through his protege’s thick skull, Wally called upon his mentors, colleagues, and fellow speedsters to help train the young man. After being slammed onto his backside, Bart found himself staring up at Max Mercury, Wally West, Jay Garrick, Jesse Quick, and Jesse’s father Johnny Quick. Penciled by a young Salvador Larroca, the chosen camera angle makes these characters look more like iconic idols rather then a loose conglomerate of like-powered individuals.
Though I knew nothing about these characters when I first read this story in 1994, this line-up, with its focus on legacy and commitment, quickly resonated when me and captured my attention in a way few other pages had before. This was the introduction of the Flash Family, a group that would see its membership ebb and flow over the years, but whose commitment to each other lasted long afterwards. I as a young reader was vicariously let into this group along with Bart and it thrilled me. Truth be told, it still does.