Flash (Jay Garrick)

Jay Garrick

Jay Garrick, the original Flash.
Cover art for JSA #78, by Alex Ross.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Flash Comics #1
(January 1940)
Created by Gardner Fox
Harry Lampert
In-story information
Alter ego Jason Peter "Jay" Garrick
Team affiliations Justice Society of America
All-Star Squadron
Justice League
Partnerships Barry Allen
Wally West
Green Lantern (Alan Scott)
Bart Allen and Wildcat (comics)
Abilities Ability to run at the speed of light
Superhumanly fast reflexes
Augmented by the extra-dimensional Speed Force
Frictionless aura
Speed theft

Jay Garrick is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. He is the first superhero to call himself The Flash.[1] The character was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert, and first appeared in the comic book Flash Comics #1 (1940).

After a bizarre laboratory accident, he acquired the ability to move at superhuman speed and chose to fight crime as a costumed vigilante, calling himself "the Flash". Jay Garrick has made numerous appearances in other media, including his live-action debut as a cameo on Smallville played by Billy Mitchell, and later in The Flash portrayed by John Wesley Shipp.

Publication history

First appearance in Flash Comics #1 (Jan 1940).

The character of Jay Garrick was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert. The character first appeared in the first issue of the anthology series Flash Comics in 1940, published by All-American Publications. He was soon featured in All-Star Comics as part of the Justice Society of America. In 1941, he got his own solo book, All-Flash. After World War II, superheroes declined in popularity. All-Flash was canceled in 1948 after 32 issues. Flash Comics was canceled in 1949 after 104 issues. All-Star Comics was canceled in 1951 after 57 issues, marking Garrick's last Golden Age appearance. Garrick would not appear again for ten years, and never got another solo series.

In 1956, DC Comics reinvented the Flash character, giving him a new costume, name, and background. Named Barry Allen, he was completely unrelated to Jay Garrick. In fact, Garrick never existed as far as the new books were concerned. Barry Allen's first appearance shows him reading a copy of Flash Comics, lamenting Garrick was "just a character some writer dreamed up". Readers welcomed the new Flash, but still had an interest in the old one. Jay Garrick made a guest appearance in Flash #123. Garrick was treated as residing in a parallel universe, which allowed the character to exist without any continuity conflicts with Barry Allen yet allowed him to make guest appearances in Silver Age books. Garrick only made guest appearances for most of the 60s and 70s, but in 1976 he became a regular character in the revived All-Star Comics, partaking in adventures with the Justice Society set in modern times. In 1981, he and the Justice Society appeared in All-Star Squadron in stories set in World War II.

In 1985, DC Comics merged all of its fictional characters into a single shared universe. Jay Garrick now shared the same world as the new Flash. DC wrote the character out of continuity in the one-shot Last Days of the Justice Society, but brought the character back in the 1990s due to fan interest. Unlike characters such as Batman or Superman, DC decided not to update Jay as a young hero, but portrayed him as a veteran of World War 2 with a magically-prolonged lifespan. Jay Garrick became a regular character in JSA and Justice Society of America.

Fictional character biography

The Flash

Jason Peter Garrick[2] is a college student prior to 1940 (later retconned to 1938) who accidentally inhales hard water vapors after taking a smoke break in his laboratory where he had been working (later stories would change this to heavy water vapors). As a result, he finds that he can run at superhuman speed and has similarly fast reflexes (retcons imply the inhalation simply activated a latent metagene). After a brief career as a college football star, he dons a red shirt with a lightning bolt and a stylized metal helmet with wings (based on images of the Roman god Mercury) then begins to fight crime as the Flash.[1] The helmet belonged to Jay's father, Joseph, who fought during World War I.[3] He has been seen using the helmet as a weapon/type of shield, as seen in Infinite Crisis.[4] He has also used it to direct a beam of light at Eclipso.

His first case involves battling the Faultless Four, a group of blackmailers (Sieur Satan, Serge Orloff, Duriel and Smythe) who plotted to steal an Atomic Bombarder and sell it. In the early stories, it seems to be widely known that Garrick was the Flash.[5] Later stories would show him as having his identity secret, and that he was able to maintain it without the use of a mask by constantly "vibrating" his features, making him hard to recognize or clearly photograph. The effectiveness of this is debatable as he later blamed his lack of a mask for his girlfriend Joan deducing his true identity.

During his career he would often find himself embroiled in semi-comical situations inadvertently initiated by Winky, Blinky, and Noddy, a trio of tramps known as the Three Dimwits, who tried their hand at one job after another, and never successfully. It was later revealed that a professor found the last container of heavy water vapors and used it to gain superspeed, becoming the Rival. He briefly took away Jay's speed after capturing him, making him super-slow, but Jay used the gases again and was able to regain his superspeed and defeat the Rival.

Like the Flashes who followed him, Garrick became a close friend of the Green Lantern of his time, Alan Scott, whom he met through the Justice Society of America.

Justice Society of America

The Flash soon became one of the best-known of the Golden Age of superheroes. He was a founding member of the Justice Society of America and served as its first chairman.[6] He was originally based in New York City,[7] but this was later retconned to the fictional Keystone City. He left the JSA after issue #6, but returned several years later (issue #24, spring 1945) and had a distinguished career as a crime-fighter during the 1940s.

Several pieces of retroactive continuity filled out early Garrick history. A story explaining the retirement of the JSA members, including the Flash, explained that in 1951, the JSA was investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee for possible Communist sympathies and asked to reveal their identities, which was later revealed to be partly caused by Per Degaton. The JSA declined, and Garrick, who recently married his longtime girlfriend Joan, retired from superhero life. As a trained scientist, he ran an experimental laboratory for several decades. All-Star Squadron Annual #3 states that the JSA fought a being named Ian Karkull who imbued them with energy that slowed their aging, allowing Garrick and many others - as well as their girlfriends and sidekicks - to remain active into the late 20th century without infirmity. The 1990s Starman series notes that the Shade prompted Garrick to come out of retirement in the 1950s, but the details of his activities during this time are hazy at best.


Garrick emerged from retirement in 1961 to meet the Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen, from a parallel world. Garrick's world was dubbed Earth-Two, while Allen's was Earth-One. The rest of the JSA soon joined the Flash, although their activities during the 1960s (other than their annual meeting with Earth-One's Justice League of America) were unrecorded, although it is clear that he and Green Lantern (Alan Scott) were good friends.

Garrick was a key member of the JSA's 1970s adventures (as chronicled in All-Star Comics and Adventure Comics), as well as helped to launch the careers of Infinity Inc. Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, all the parallel worlds are merged into one, and Keystone City became the twin city across the river from Allen's Central City. An updated story suggests that Keystone in this new continuity was rendered invisible and wiped from the memories of the world for many years through the actions of several supervillains.

21st Century

In the early 21st century, many of Garrick's JSA cohorts have retired or died, but Garrick remains active with the latest incarnation of the group. He is physically about 50 years old thanks to the effects of several accidental anti-aging treatments, but his chronological age is closer to 90. He was one of the few surviving members of the Justice Society of America after Zero Hour.[8] Of the three original JSA members still on the team (along with Alan Scott and Wildcat), Jay takes a more fatherly approach toward his teammates and the DC superhero community in general.

Infinite Crisis and One Year Later

Main articles: Infinite Crisis and One Year Later

Jay and his wife Joan have guardianship of Bart Allen after Max Mercury's disappearance. During the events of Infinite Crisis Jay states that the Speed Force is gone after a battle in which many speedsters, living and dead, wrestle Superboy-Prime into the Speed Force and disappear. Jay is left behind when he reaches his limit and cannot follow. Bart Allen returns, aged several years, and had absorbed the entire Speed Force during his pursuit of the escaped Superboy-Prime. Jay claims that without the Speed Force, his own power is less than before: like Wally West in the Crisis on Infinite Earths aftermath, he can only run close to the speed of sound. He also stated that as the Speed Force is no longer retarding his aging, his speed is diminishing with time. After Bart left Keystone City for Los Angeles, Jay once again is the city's sole guardian. After hearing news of Bart's demise, Jay collapses with grief, consoled by Jesse Chambers.

Jay is continuing his work as a member of the reformed Justice Society of America, under the leadership of Power Girl. After the death of the Flash, Bart Allen, Jay's full speed returns. Jay is currently the mayor of Monument Point, where the JSA is now based. He faces problems due to the JSA being based in the Town, but after talking to another Official who says as he is not a Politician Jay doesn't have to worry about being re-elected he gains confidence.[9] Soon after this he holds a funeral for Alan Scott who was killed defeating the villain D'arken, and tells the Justice Society they must endure.


In the Outsiders: One Year Later story arc, a clone of Garrick appears as an antagonist, created by the Brotherhood of Evil. He appears to be in his late 20s or early 30s and is brainwashed into working for a Malinese dictator. The clone is defeated by the combined efforts of the Outsiders. He possesses Jay Garrick's super-speed, but none of his memories or expertise.[10] His unconscious body is placed in the custody of Alan Scott, Checkmate's White King.

Due to lingering issues in the cloning process, made more unpredictable by the metagene itself, the clone is infected by a fast acting version of the clone plague deteriorating and shortening the lifespan of clones in the DC Universe. This makes it difficult for Checkmate to find a way to wake him and undo his brainwash, because even with his special suit tailored to stave the degenerating process, he would be doomed to a slow death whenever he awakens from his suspended animation.

Brightest Day

In Brightest Day Jay and the rest of the JSA helped Alan Scott and his children over come the power of the Starheart and in turn helped save the planet from the Dark Avatar. After the events of the Brightest Day, Jay and the rest of the JSA travel to the city of Monument Point, which has been attacked by a superpowered terrorist named Scythe. Just before being defeated, Scythe snaps Jay's long standing friend Alan Scott's neck.[11] In the subsequent story, it is revealed that Scythe is the product of Nazi genetic engineering, and that Alan and Jay had been tasked by the president with killing the experiment back when he was in infancy during World War 2. The two heroes could not agree on a course of action, and, as a result, Scythe was allowed to live.[12] Doctor Mid-Nite discovers that the injuries Alan sustained have rendered Alan paralyzed, and that any attempt to heal himself could break his constant concentration, which could result in the Starheart once again regaining control of his body.[13]

Jade visits her bed-ridden father in the Emerald City, and offers to use her abilities to help him walk again. Alan declines his daughter's offer, reasoning that if the Starheart were to once again take over his body, it could result in the deaths of everyone in the city. Eclipso attacks the city, which results in Jesse Quick having to get Alan to safety.[14]

Later, the JSA try to take down the villain D'arken who has broken free from imprisonment beneath Monument Point and absorbed the powers of JSA members, but D'arken is too powerful. Due to this only non-superpowered and magical members fight D'arken. The JSA tell Alan Scott that unleashing the Starheart is the only way to destroy D'arken. However, after releasing the Starheart energies, Alan's body begins to incinerate. Afterwards, the JSA attend a funeral for Alan, whom they believe to be dead.[15] Jay is upset to have lost one of his closest friends and founding members of the JSA.

New 52 and beyond

Following the 2011 reboot of the DC comics universe, Jay Garrick appears to have never existed or if he did he's long dead.

The new Jay Garrick, from the cover of Earth 2 #2.

Instead a new version of Jay Garrick is introduced in the first issue of the Earth 2 comic book, portrayed as a 21-year-old recent college graduate, this version of Garrick is spurned by his girlfriend, Joan, and possesses very little in terms of career prospects. The character receives his superspeed from Mercury, a dying Roman god who sees bravery in Jay, and is also the last god to fall following a war with Apokolips. He claims he has been held for the past 10 years by a greater threat than Apokolips. Jay escapes a World Army Helicopter that sees the event as Mercury dies and tells Jay to run. He saves a couple from Apokorats, saying he will do it in "a Flash", the man then mentions he heard the hero say something. Later, Jay arrives in Poland and meets Hawkgirl. [16] Working alongside Hawkgirl and Alan Scott, he assists in defeating Solomon Grundy, making his first public debut as the Flash. [17]

More recently following the return of Wally West to DC continuity during DC Rebirth, Barry Allen is overwhelmed by the Speed Force when he shakes hands with Wally which not only causes Barry to become possessed by an echo of Eobard Thawne but is also being absorbed into the Speed Force itself. It takes both Wally and the current Kid Flash's interference to prevent Barry from being absorbed for good. Barry later reveals that when he was overwhelmed by the Speed Force he saw visions of possible future events and that his last glimpse before he was returned to normal was something that was trapped inside the Speed Force and although he could not recognize it, it still filled him with hope. It was then revealed to the reader that what Barry saw was actually the helmet of Jay Garrick.[18]

Collected editions

Collected editions that reprint issues of Flash Comics and other comics featuring Jay Garrick. The Archives are hardcover, all the others are softcover trade paperbacks:

Title Material collected
The Golden Age Flash Archives (vol. 1) HC (1999) Flash Comics #1-17
The Golden Age Flash Archives (vol. 2) HC (2006) Flash Comics #18-24
All Flash Comics #1-2
The Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told HC (1990) and TPB (1991) Flash Comics #1, 66, 86
Comic Cavalcade #24
Showcase #4
The Flash (vol. 1) #107, 113, 119, 124, 125, 137, 143, 148, 179
Five-Star Super-Hero Spectacular
The Flash (vol. 2) #2
The Flash: The Greatest Stories Ever Told TPB (2007) Flash Comics #86, 104
The Flash (vol. 1) #123, 155, 165, 179
The Flash (vol. 2) #91
DC Special Series #11
Crisis on Multiple Earths: The Team-Ups (vol. 1) Flash (vol. 1) #123, 129, 137, 151
Crisis on Multiple Earths, The Team-Ups (vol. 2) Flash Vol. 1 #170, 173

Powers and abilities

As the Flash, Garrick can run at superhuman speeds and has superhumanly-fast reflexes. The limits of his speed have fluctuated over the years, though he has usually been kept second to DC's "flagship" Flash, Barry Allen.

In his earliest appearances, Jay could move swiftly enough to intercept bullets. He could carry people away with him at super-speed without causing injury due to extreme acceleration. He could make himself invisible by vibrating his body at high frequencies. Over time, Jay Garrick finds the fuel for his powers (and those of other speedsters) is the Speed Force.

In the 2012 series Earth 2, Jay's powers are a blessing from the god Mercury. He can magically transform his clothing into his costume at will.

52 and Countdown

In the final issue of DC's year-long series 52 in 2007, a new Multiverse is revealed, originally consisting of 52 identical realities. Among the parallel realities shown is one designated "Earth-2". As a result of Mister Mind "eating" aspects of this reality, it takes on visual aspects similar to the pre-Crisis Earth-Two now called Earth-2 to distinguish the two separate realities. Included in one-panel showing is a new counterpart to Jay Garrick among other Justice Society of America characters. The names of the characters and the team are not mentioned in the panel in which they appear,[19] but is later specifically used in the Countdown: Arena series where the new Earth-2 Flash is specifically identified as Jay Garrick and does not allow others to call him "Flash". Despite being an almost exact duplicate to the original World War II Garrick, it is shown that the new Earth-2 Garrick is much younger, having no gray hair at all.[20] Other Jays are also shown in the 52 multiverse. A second young Jay Garrick lives on the unspecified Earth that Wally West went to with his young children at the beginning of Bart Allen's tenure as the Flash. This Jay is separate from the young post-Crisis Earth-2 Garrick, as the post-Crisis Earth-2 heroes make no mention of Wally or his children on their Earth.[21]

The multiverse established in 52 is later replaced following DC's 2011 Flashpoint storyline. Following this, a new multiverse is established and all series were relaunched as part of DC's The New 52 publishing event. The post-52 pre-Flashpoint Earth-2 Jay Garrick ceases to exist, as did the mainstream Jay Garrick. A new but entirely different Earth-2 Jay Garrick then becomes the continually published version of the character (see publication history).


In the Elseworlds book JSA: The Unholy Three, Jay Garrick is portrayed as a post-WW2 United States intelligence agent stationed in Russia, working under the code-name Mercury. He is instrumental in bringing down the story's rogue Superman.[22]


When Brother Grimm helped Captain Cold and Mirror Master trap Wally West in an alternate world where the Speed Force never existed, it is revealed that Jay Garrick never gained his speed in the accident and died during the Second World War.


In the Flashpoint reality, Jay Garrick died rather than developing super-speed after inhaling hard water.[23]


Jay first appears in "Haunted," where, in an attempt to help Impulse find a way to keep his speed demon from stalking him, Clark takes his friend to the JSA Brownstone, saying they must find Jay because, as a fellow speedster, he might have answers they need. Arriving at an old residence in the outskirts of Utah, Superman and Impulse encounter an old withered appearance of Jay Garrick equipped with a cane. At first Jay isn't thrilled at meeting the punk who had stolen his identity a few years back. Superman informs Jay of Carter Hall's initial plan prior to his untimely death to reinstate the Justice Society of America with the remaining living members to help guide the new generation of Heroes. Impulse asked Jay to reveal all that he knows about the Black Flash. Jay shows signs of fear at the mention of that name and beings to reveal the reason behind his handicap as a result of the Government breaking his leg a decade ago and his own refusal to have his leg repaired as a means to incapacitate his Super speed abilities to prevent the black flash from haunting him. Although he can still feel it's presence and realize it's got it sights on Impulse and the only way to stop it is for Impulse to die. As the speed storm crackles in Utah, Clark tries to reason with Jay Garrick that there must be another option to help Bart. Garrick asserts that there is no choice in the matter and that by using the Speed Force, the demon is there to collect the debt. Clark asks why there were no records of speed storms while Garrick was with the JSA. The old man surmises that Bart is so fast that it has made the creature hungry and desperate. Picking up on the thought, Clark reasons that it is sending out the speed storms to try to create a new speedster to take on as its prey. Bart realizes that the biology of the speedsters is special and that's why so many have died in the attempts. Bart asks Garrick how many speedsters there are. The old man gives a mealy answer about not being the first and Bart not being the last. Bart confronts him about not having raced the demon himself to stop to have possibly stopped it, and Garrick denounces their abilities as a curse. Clark offers that curses can be blessings if they don't let their powers control their lives. Garrick likens Clark to Carter Hall and Bart jumps on the moment to call him out for not having stayed in touch with his team, mentioning that even though he didn't know Carter he still attended his funeral. The old man owns up to not being proud of how he acted, but it's not good enough for Bart. Riled up, he starts tapping into the Speed Force before Clark manages to stop him. Clark fields communication from Chloe at Watchtower. He asks how she is and she tells him she's coping. She alerts him to a speed storm brewing in Las Vegas, a huge one that isn't slowing down and many dying. Clark relays the message to Bart, who tries running off on his own. Clark grabs him and Bart argues that the racer is waiting for him there and is calling to him. Clark tells Chloe that they didn't come up with a solution. She responds that S.T.A.R. Labs might have something. Patched to Emil Hamilton, the doctor explains they took the concept of sending Clark into the sun to remove his irradiation to fashion a containment suit. He states that they modified the suit to collect speed energy and that Clark might be able to use it to constantly move fast enough to confront the demon. The scientists at S.T.A.R. fire a pod into the atmosphere and it quickly rockets its way to the young heroes' location in Utah. The pod opens to reveal the new suit, a black and silver affair with a glowing S-Shield. Clark quickly puts on the suit and speeds to the massive storm in Las Vegas. Boldly, Clark proclaims to the demon that it's "time for round two." After Clark leaves Jay and Bart sit silently and watch the speed storm on the horizon. Bart decides to go help Clark before he leaves he tells Bart that he heard the same names that Bart did the first time he got his powers. Jay tells him that the speed force is something that binds all the speedsters together. Bart then runs off. Later Jay and Clark meet at the JSA brownstone and talk about Bart and Carter. Clark tells him not to blame himself but Jay feels like he should have done something about it years ago. Jay leaves with Abigail Hunkel when Emil shows up, but not before looking at his old tin hat. runs a school for the "gifted" in San Francisco with Conner Kent/Superboy, Speedy, Blue Beetle, Miss Martian & Zan and Jayna as his students.[24] He also had his leg fixed and regained full use of his speed powers, though he is seen wearing a brace when out in the field.

In other media

Comic adaptations



Live action

John Wesley Shipp as Jay Garrick / The Flash on The Flash.


Video games


  1. 1 2 Jimenez, Phil (2008). "The Flash". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. pp. 124–127. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5. OCLC 213309017.
  2. JSA #87 (September 2006)
  3. The Flash (vol. 2) #208 (May 2004)
  4. Infinite Crisis #4 (March 2006)
  5. Gardner F. Fox (w), Everett E. Hibbard (a). Flash Comics 6 (June, 1940), All-American Publications
  6. Gardner F. Fox (w). All Star Comics 3 (Winter, 1940), All-American Publications
  7. Flash Comics 5: 4/4 (May, 1940), All-American Publications
  8. Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #2 (September 1994)
  9. Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #49 (May 2011)
  10. Outsiders #36 (July 2006)
  11. Justice Society of America #44
  12. Justice Society of America #45
  13. Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #46
  14. Justice League of America (vol. 2) #55
  15. Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #54 (August 2011)
  16. Earth-2 #2 (June 2012)
  17. Earth-2 #5 (September 2012)
  18. The Flash #09
  19. 52 52: 13/3 (May 2, 2007), DC Comics
  20. Brady, Matt (2007-05-08). "The 52 exit interviews: grant morrison". Newsarama. Archived from the original on May 10, 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-12.
  21. The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #6 (January 2007)
  22. JSA: The Unholy Three (2003)
  23. Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #3 (August 2011)
  24. "BRYAN Q. MILLER Brings the TEEN TITANS To SMALLVILLE". Newsarama.com.
  25. Smallville Season 11 #11 (March 2013)
  26. Goldfarb, Andrew (July 11, 2015). "COMIC CON 2015: THE FLASH ADDS JAY GARRICK, WALLY WEST FOR SEASON 2". IGN. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
  27. Abrams, Natalie (February 23, 2016). "The Flash reveals Zoom's identity!". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  28. Abrams, Natalie (May 24, 2016). "The Flash reveals man in the iron mask!". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  29. "'The Flash' Season 3 To Explore Earth 3, More Jay Garrick Scenes". Movienewsguide.com. 2016-05-27. Retrieved 2016-08-25.
  30. Daniel Falconer (2016-11-18). "The Flash: Jay Garrick Returns In 'The Present' Synopsis". Screenrant.com. Retrieved 2016-11-27.

External links

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