Stay at Home Con-Sensus: “Who is the Best Flash?”

Jeff: Since Timmy and I weren’t invited to host a panel at this year’s San Diego Comic Con, we thought we’d bring a panel to you. Welcome to our Stay At Home Con-Sensus where we’ll finally settle the decades-long debate of just who is the best Flash.

Timmy: Who could it be? There are many. Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West, or Bart Allen? Let the Debate begin!

Jeff: This isn’t going to be easy. Each Flash has his defenders. At this point, each has been around for decades. Even Bart, the youngest Flash, first hit the scene in 1994. Jay, the oldest, first ran along in 1940. Do you bend towards youthful exuberance or with the wisdom of age? Or somewhere in between?

Timmy: I would say I fall somewhere in the middle. Shall we go through this Flash by Flash? Judging the pros and cons of each?

Jeff: Sounds like a great plan. Let’s start with the original Flash. What do you know about him?

Timmy: Jay Garrick! Yes, I would say I am a fan. He gained his powers by inhaling “Hard Water” which sounds like it would lead more to an asthma condition as opposed to moving fast.

Jeff: Science was looser in the 1940s. More bendable. I’m sorry to say that the hard water in my house only leads to streaky glasses and not super speed. But Jay has made up for his odd origin by being a great hero and mentor over the years.

Timmy: Yeah, one thing I do love about Jay is his role of guidance to the other speedsters in the DC universe. I know he wasn’t always meant to be the old hero, that he started young just like other characters, but him being there to help all the other Flashes along the way is something truly special. I will miss it with the new Earth 2 version of him.

Jeff: But let’s get down to the cons. That hat. What about that hat, Timmy?

Timmy: I love the hat! It does seem like it could fall off easily. I guess that’s why the chin strap is there.

Jeff: That thing would fly off in a moment going at the speeds he goes. It’s that non-aerodynamic lip on the end. I just don’t get it. And he seems too nice. I’m suspicious of too nice.

Timmy: Well, let’s move on to the next in this legacy. Allen, Barry Allen.

Jeff: Barry had a good, completely unverifiable origin: Chemicals and lightning. Do you know what they do when mixed? I sure don’t. I’ll buy that they can give you super speed.

Timmy: At least it fits with the Flash mythos with the lightening bolt.

Jeff: True. Barry also works for the police so using his powers to help others certainly makes sense with his background.

Timmy: Barry plays a very important role in the DC Universe. I think that might be why so many rally for him to be the greatest Flash of all time.

Jeff: The only con I have against Barry is that he’s a bit, well, bland. You rarely see the guy truly passionate about anything.

Timmy: I think part of that is a hold over from the Silver Age. If you go and read a lot of those Silver Age comics, the characters can come off as bland and without personality. I would argue that Hal Jordan, Oliver Queen and even Bruce Wayne can be a little bland in those comics from that time period. Then Barry went away for most of the Modern age, which is when they really started crafting personalties for those characters.

Jeff: That’s true. Still, the stigma remains. I just can’t help feeling that I want to like Barry more than I actually do.

Timmy: Of Course! I always want to like the Flash no matter who is under the mantle because it’s the Flash! Barry is like that guy you work with at any office. A little boring but his actions make up for. He can’t hold an interesting conversation but he brings donuts on Fridays. Barry doesn’t have a super unique personality except he saved the world in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Jeff: But what has he done for the multiverse lately, Timmy? That guy needs to stop resting on his laurels. We’re halfway to definitively deciding out which Flash is the best one. What about Barry’s nephew, Wally West?

Timmy: Wally West, I think, is spoken favorably for many our age. Sorry, think is the wrong word. KNOW is the correct. Convention people are still asking, “When are we going to see Wally West again?” And this isn’t like once in a blue moon, like when people ask when they were going to see Stephanie Brown. This is every convention, every panel. Even the non-DC panels people ask it. I am sure Robert Kirkman gets asked it all the time.

Jeff: Well, that’s because Wally had the best story of any Flash, hands down. The guy started out as a real jerk just after he got the job. Slowly, he began to realize what being the Flash really means and was able to overcome his self doubt. He even found true love, got married, and had some kids. His story had a full beginning, middle, and end. True growth happened there. He was the only sidekick to ever graduate to the big show. He’s really unique in that way.

Timmy: Well, the only sidekick besides Dick Grayson.

Jeff: Fair point.

Timmy: Yes, there is sort of a fantasy aspect to him. Many of us come into comics as kids, relating to the sidekicks, then maturing and becoming adults and relating to those characters. So as a fan favorite yes I see the point, but let’s take a look at what he has done as the Flash. Barry sacrificed his life in a very memorable way. He was a big part of shaping the modern DCU and the Justice League. What has Wally done as the Flash? What has he actually brought the table?

Jeff: He won the lottery one time.

Timmy: I think while Wally may be a favored Flash amongst us fans, Barry is the favored amongst the fictional characters of the universe. Also, let us not forget his kids. Oh my goodness THOSE KIDS!

Jeff: Okay, okay. The kids were a problem. You are not going to hear me say otherwise.

Timmy: “It’s not you Marty Wally, it’s your kids. YOUR KIDS!” Fast Girl and Weird Strong Muscle Boy. I give Mark Waid credit for trying something new. Making the Flash Family an actual family is an interesting idea. It just didn’t work.

Jeff: Actually, I do sometimes wonder what would have happened if we’d gotten some post Flash: Rebirth stories about Wally’s daughter, Impulse II. But, overall, it was weird.

Timmy: And don’t even get me started about after Barry came back and we had Barry and Wally in almost the same outfit. The only way you could tell them apart was if you wrote about DC histories for a popular comics website.

Jeff: Come on, Timmy. Everyone knows that Wally’s eyeballs were pure white and you could see Barry’s eyes. Also, Wally’s cowl was a little flatter across the nose. These are super obvious differences to everyone!

Timmy: Wally has green eyes and his boots are smaller. That’s the only way I could tell.

Jeff: Let’s talk about that last Flash, the forgotten Flash, Bart Allen. Barry’s grandson from the far future who was the Flash for a mere 13 months in the mid 2000s. Do you have any fond Bart memories or did you happen to blink and miss his reign?

Timmy: YES! I love Bart Allen in all psuedonyms and costumes. I loved him as Impulse. I loved him as Kid Flash. I loved him as THE FLASH! I think Bart Allen as the Flash felt like fun Spider-Man comics. Or, when the comics were good they did.

Jeff: That’s the thing though. They were only good for about 7 of those 13 months. That’s not a great track record when half of your superhero career isn’t so hot.

Timmy: DC screwed the pooch on that one. They relaunched the book with what could have AND SHOULD HAVE been a great creative team. You kill off a beloved character, replace him and then put a sub par team on the book? That’s no way to run a business.

Jeff: But it happened. That’s the way the comic gets polybagged, as they say. Are those 7 months good enough for you to say that Bart Allen is, definitely, the best Flash of all time?

Timmy: When Guggenheim came on board the book started to show promise but it was too late. Bart may be a favorite. And I am giving him a little more credit because I think there was a lot of potential there that wasn’t fulfilled upon.

Jeff: I think we’re coming close to finally revealing the answer.

Timmy: Okay so I think it’s pretty clear cut.

The Best Flash is..

Timmy: Based on his many contributions to the Universe, I’ll say Barry Allen.

Jeff: Based on his having a definable character arc that readers got to witness over the course of years, it’s Wally West.

Timmy: Cool, I am glad we were able to talk and come to a consensus on this, Jeff.

Jeff: Yup. I think we did it, Timmy. They say it couldn’t be done but look where we are.

Timmy: THE BEST FLASH HAS BEEN NAMED!

Jeff: Definitively.

Timmy: That felt good.


Comments

  1. This was a really fun read, great job guys. Oh, and it’s Wally by the way. Also, we are all huge nerds.

  2. Dammit, iFanboy, I was hoping for a quiet evening, and now you’ve got me thinkin’!

    You know what? I just can’t decide. They are all equally good for different reasons. Cop out answer, I know, but it be truth.

  3. Yeah but none of them have the snazzy fashion sense of one Dr. John Fox – FLASH OF TWO ERAS!

  4. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Added a poll in case you’d like to weigh in.

    • Good idea Paul. During SDCC, you’re basically the iOverlord here right? With one click of the mouse you have given the people the power to speak.

  5. I picked “other.” And by “other” I mean Flash Gordon.

    He’s just a man. With a man’s courage.

  6. Okay, but who’s the *fastest* flash? 🙂

  7. Nice article! 🙂
    I give Jay’s hat a pass since it’s supposed to evoke the whole “Hermes” thing. Barry ushered in the Silver Age and made the ultimate hero sacrifice in COIE, but I say Wally might be the best “character” of the bunch. I dunno, tough call.

  8. I love the Wally West from the Justice League: Animated Series

  9. That was really fun. I’d love more of articles like this.
    But the poll says clearly Wally is the best Flash. I couldn’t agree more.

  10. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Why isn’t Jay Garrick winning in a landslide? Stop failing me, iFanbase.

  11. While I like Barry, think Wally is more interesting and Jay is amazing, I can’t vote for anyone but Bart. He’s one of my favorite characters in all of comics and, if legacy were still a thing in the DCU, I think think he would’ve grow up to be the greatest.

    MAN, we’re nerds.

  12. YEAH WALLY!!

    Wally’s beating Barry by 30%!! Sadly, this is the best part of my day so far.

    I thought I was in the minority with my WW love. Thanks iFanbase! Ya never let me down. But apparently you do let Paul down, and that’s no good.

    I just dropped Flash the other day. Manapul’s art sure is pretty, no doubt, but I just don’t care about Barry Allen.

    Long live Wally West! Gone but not forgotten.

  13. If you asked me what Flash I most want to read, it’s Wally, followed by older Jay. Barry was best as a shadow cast on Wally’s life. Bart was never truly the Flash in my mind.

  14. I’m sure it’s my age, but when I hear “The Flash,” I think Barry. Unlike some other heroes whose later incarnations were simply modernized versions of their Golden Age versions, Jay and Barry are completely different people. As a result, Jay will always be old to me, trapped in his Golden Age roots in a way that Superman and Batman never were. Jay and Alan Scott. They’re cool, but they’re relics. But I do love the hat.
    And everyone after Barry lives in his shadow and pretty much owes their existence to Barry by having been taken under his wing or by being his actual progeny. Perhaps if I had followed Wally’s story, I’d feel otherwise, but there’s only one, real Flash.

  15. Of course my favourite “speedster” will always be Fastback.

  16. Why does everyone forget that for a time.. Maybe one ish issues around Issue 100. Jessie Quick became the Flash

  17. I know it seems odd to speak this way about fictional characters, but here goes…

    I think most readers currently ‘accept’ Barry simply because he’s… Barry! Nevermind Jay Garrick, Barry is really, in a sense, the ‘1st’ Flash to everyone. He’s the guy who died selflessly during Crisis and STAYED dead until a couple of years ago. So its kind of like… “Oh, Barry is back as the regular Flash? Ok… he is Barry Allen after all”.

    But then the reality is… ever since 1985, anyone who read the Flash has mostly been reading about Wally West. We all like and love the West character because that’s what we know. I vote for West as well.

  18. Never liked Wally all that much after the Timmverse Justice League and Young Justice hasn’t helped my impression of him at all. Barry was the Flash when I read the book as a kid and I’m enjoying his current run. Barry is The Flash for me.

  19. The best Flash to me right now is Flash Thompson. :P.

  20. I grew up w Barry Allen or at least I thought I did until I realized he died in Crisis on Infinite Earths and was out of comix for like 20 years, I didn’t know Wally West took his place in the comix for such a long time until a few years ago when I really got into the DC canon and its rich history (I was a Marvel kid mostly), now only a few years in trying to play catch up on an 80 year old Universe they go and reboot everything,lol….gotta love it. But ultimately I still think Barry Allen is the best Flash based on what I know and read of him. Earth-2 Flash is looking pretty cool in speedster motion when Nikola Scott draws him so he might be creeping up on that vote for me.