Despite not yet being two months old, The Flash has been an outstanding success for the CW, earning positive reviews and impressive ratings. He first spun out of Arrow to protect Central City, and manages to do it while balancing his day job as a forensic scientist. Flash has appeared in other shows, including the original 1990 live-action series and Justice League, but the 2014 series has opened up the world of the Scarlet Speedster to new viewers while also enticing hardcore comic book fans with its faithfulness to the source material and its embracing of the character's comic book roots. The show has already introduced characters like Captain Cold, General Wade Eiling and Gorilla Grodd, and having scored a full-season order, the series has much more Flash mythos to explore this TV season.
There are only two episodes left in 2014 after tonight’s episode, the first being the crossover with Arrow and the second introducing the Reverse-Flash, but have no fear! If you’re looking to get yourself a Flash fix during the winter break, there’s no place better to turn than the source material itself. Whether you’re a comic book fan who’s only now learning about The Flash or someone who has never picked up a comic book before, there are plenty of Flash offerings to check out, both old and new. So if you’re looking to read more Barry Allen adventures, here are a list of Flash stories you should check out, all of which can be found in collected editions or on Comixology.
8. Crisis On Infinite EarthsIn 1985, DC decided to reset their 50 year-old continuity with the 12-issue miniseries Crisis of Infinite Earths. The story pitted heroes and villains across parallel Earths against the powerful Anti-Monitor, who attempted to destroy all of reality. As a result of their battle with the near-omnipotent being, the multiverse was destroyed and recreated as one universe, retconning many events in DC history as taking place in that one universe. Despite not being a Flash solo story, the miniseries featured one of Barry Allen’s greatest moments when he sacrificed his life to stop one of the Anti-Monitor’s attacks. His death ushered in a new era for Flash comics, specifically with his former sidekick Wally West taking up the Flash mantle. Considering that headline on the future newspaper at the end of the pilot, viewers may see Barry go through a similar crisis in the show.
7. The Flash: The Dastardly Death Of The RoguesCan you be guilty of a crime you haven’t committed yet? This is the question that The Death of the Dastardly Rogues asked. Written by Geoff Johns and taking place after the Blackest Night crossover event, this story had Barry confronting an incarnation of The Rogues from the 25th century called The Renegades, only these costumed characters are law enforcement officers rather than villains. The team charges Flash with the murder of one of their members (whose body Barry discovered earlier), the catch being that he commits this crime in the future. Now on the run from these future cops, Barry needs to clear his name and figure out what would cause him to brutally kill someone. Basically, think of this story as Flash meets Minority Report, only with no Tom Cruise and brighter colors.
6. The Flash: Season ZeroIf you’d rather stick close to the TV show, Season Zero is the perfect comic to follow. Set between episodes 1 and 2, this series features Barry going up against a group of metahumans led by Mr. Bliss, the former owner and ringmaster of the Central City Circus. Like the episodes we’ve seen so far, Barry is still getting used to his new powers, as well as struggling to balance his life as a forensic scientist and superhero. Besides, it stars all of the characters you know from the TV series, and Season Zero releases two digital chapters per month (with a printed collection of the chapters released the following month at your local comic book store).
5. The Flash "Lost Time" (#30 and onwards)Back in April, writers Robert Vendetti and Van Jensen and artist Brett Booth took over as the new Flash creative team with issue #30. Taking place after Forever Evil, the story follows two versions of Barry Allen: the present day version, whose powers are acting up while he’s tracking down a killer with supervillain weaponry, and the Barry from 20 years in the future, who is traveling back in time to right mistakes from his past. This arc has also introduced Wally West into the New 52, who is now biracial and has a new backstory. In fact, one of the reasons future Barry is traveling back in time is to prevent Wally from dying in a car accident five years from the present, which is just all kinds of mind-blowing. If you’re eager to jump into current Flash comics, head over to your local comic book store or Comixology to pick up the issues, which include The Flash Annual #3 and The Flash: Futures End one-shot.
4. The Silver Age StoriesWhen in doubt, it never hurts to go back to the beginning. Although The Flash has been around since 1940, Barry Allen debuted in 1956 as the Scarlet Speedster in Showcase #4, unofficially kicking off the Silver Age of comics. Although the dialogue in these stories is extremely cheesy, they introduced the basic elements of the modern Flash lore, like Barry’s lightning and chemicals origin, his love interest Iris West and her nephew Wally, most of his rogues gallery, the running gag of Barry always being late, etc. One of the most groundbreaking issues was The Flash #123, a.k.a. Flash of Two worlds, where Barry traveled to a parallel Earth to team up with Jay Garrick, the original Flash. It may seem like a simple team-up adventure, but this story led to the creation of the DC multiverse, a concept that’s still being used today. You can find these stories collected in Showcase Presents: The Flash Vol. 1 and the subsequent volumes, all of which are printed on black and white paper. If you want to read the stories in color and are willing to drop $100, you could also buy The Flash Omnibus Vol. 1, which was released right before the TV series debuted.
3. FlashpointIn 2011, DC decided to reboot the DC Universe, again. To usher in the New 52, they released the five-issue miniseries Flashpoint, which had Barry waking up in a dramatically different version of the DC universe. Among the unusual changes was Cyborg being the world’s most famous superhero, Batman running a franchise of casinos, Aquaman and Wonder Woman at war with each other in Europe and Kal-El being captured and experimented on by the government after he crash-landed in Metropolis. Suspecting his arch-enemy Professor Zoom to have a changed history, Barry teams up with this world’s Batman and several other heroes to find the yellow-garbed speedster and undo the damage he’s caused. If you want to learn more about this bizarre world, you can also check out the 16 tie-in miniseries and four one-shots, all of which are collected together in several trade paperbacks. Farooq, the villain in tonight’s episode of The Flash, was a minor character in Flashpoint, and given the hints that time travel will be explored, it’s likely that other elements from the mini-series will make their way into the show at some point.
2. The Flash: RebirthHe may have stayed dead for 23 years, but death is rarely permanent in the world of comics. In 2008, DC revived Barry in the crossover event Final Crisis. The Flash: Rebirth takes place immediately afterwards and follows Barry struggling to acclimate to a world that changed significantly while he was gone. Rebirth also brought back Barry’s most dangerous adversary Eobard Thawne, a.k.a. Professor Zoom, who is contaminating the Speed Force to power his self-created Negative Speed Force. The biggest moment comes when Thawne reveals that he is responsible for every tragedy in Barry’s life, specifically murdering Barry’s mother Nora when he was a child and framing his father Henry. This six-issue miniseries is heavily influencing the TV series, so if you want to get a sense of where the show might go with its narrative in the future, this is the book to pick up.
1. The Flash: Move ForwardLike every character in the main DC continuity, Barry Allen and his supporting cast were rebooted in the New 52. In The Flash #1, a younger Barry has been a superhero for five years (like almost every other superhero), and previous established elements like his marriage to Iris West and having Wally as a sidekick have been eliminated. The first story arc pits Barry against against Mob Rule, who are later revealed to be clones of Barry’s old friend Manuel Lago. This arc also showed Barry trying to use his Speed Force powers to enhance his mental abilities. Francis Manapul and Brian Bucellato’s run lasted until for more than two years, so if you liked Move Forward, make sure to check out the subsequent volumes Rogues Revolution (which reintroduced many of Barry’s classic adversaries), Gorilla Warfare and Reverse.