First appearing in All-American Publications’ Flash Comics #1 in 1940, Jay Garrick, a college student, became the original Flash after inhaling hard water vapors which gave him his amazing speed. This ability first served him on the football field, where his swiftness and lightning quick reflexes made him a star of the gridiron. Later, he turned his unique abilities to crime-fighting, adopting the first of the character’s mens Superhero costumes, an eye-catching metal helmet with wings, along with a red shirt adorned with a lightning bolt. The helmet was customized from a World War I helmet worn by his father. Always preferring to keep his real identity secret, one of his early methods for disguising himself involved continually vibrating his body to make certain any photographs taken would reveal his face as a blur, making identification impossible.
As The Flash’s legend grew, he became friends with other Superheroes, including the Green Lantern. The pair were charter members of the original Justice Society of America, of which The Flash was made the first chairman.
The next Flash, Barry Allen, took a much different route in attaining Superhero status. A police scientist (a forerunner of the modern criminologist), Allen was a bit of a legend already among his colleagues for his methodical, deliberate manner, as well as his practice of never being on time. This all changed when a random lightning bolt struck his lab, spilling chemicals over his body. The mishap resulted in Allen acquiring super-speed and reflexes, serving him well in his profession. Like Jay Garrick, Allen adopted a smiliar mens Superhero costumes, which he kept concealed in a specially-designed ring for easy access when needed.
Allen’s nephew, Wally West, was a favorite of his uncle, and one day, when the 10-year old was in Allen’s laboratory, a freakish accident occurred, and Kid Flash was born. Donning miniature versions of his uncle’s mens Superhero costumes, West became the third “Flash” to join in battling crime and injustice.
Over more than seven decades, The Flash has made appearances in numerous comic books, including All-Star Comics, DC Comics, and DC Universe. In addition, The Flash has appeared in several TV productions, both animated and live-action. His first TV appearance is believed to be in Challenge of the Superfriends, an animated series that ran during the 1978-79 season. The “Fastest Man Alive” even had his own live-action series for one season (1990-91) on CBS, starring John Wesley Shipp as the Scarlet Speedster.
The Flash character remains popular into the 21st Century, appearing in the successful crossover video game, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, as well as in the DC Universe Online series. The wildly successful CBS sitcom, The Big Bang Theory also pays homage, with the program’s star, Emmy winner Jim Parsons (Dr. Sheldon Cooper) donning iconic mens Superhero costumes on occasion, including The Flash.