Can you also explain the flash family tree because there are so many flashes and I get confused on which is which.
OK, so this is a bit of a big one so we’re going to break it down into stages to make it more manageable. We’ll be covering three main areas:
- The New 52 Flash Family Tree(s) – simply, by Flash standards
- The pre-New 52 Flash Family Tree – this is where it gets complicated
- Even more members of the Flash Family – yep, it just keeps going…
You’ll see below that I’ve actually thrown together my own graphics showing the family trees. There are a few others out there but I didn’t feel any did exactly what I wanted, were complete enough or easy to understand. You can see the others here though:
- DC Wikia version – reasonably complete pre-New 52 tree. (Text with links)
- Hyperborea.org version – Good pre-New 52 tree, shows lots of descendants and site, while no longer updated, has heaps of info (Graphics)
- Flash Wikia version – OK pre-New 52 version, too many dead articles (Text/photos and links)
- The Fastest Forum Alive version – includes pre and post New 52 trees, but they’re messy and hard to read (Graphics)
Also, I’ve kept the definition of family pretty literal: there are so many people, civilians and speedsters, out there who are part of the wider Flash family that I just didn’t have time to cover. I love Jesse Quick, Max Mercury and the rest too, but they’ll have to be part of another post.
Anyway, without further ado, let’s get on with it!
The New 52 Flash Family Tree(s)
Why am I starting with the New 52 version? well, a number of reasons. Chief among these are that, compared to what is to come, it’s a lot simpler so seems a good place to get our toes wet.
As it currently stands there are actually four, unconnected family trees in the New 52. If you look at the graphic below you’ll get a sense of how they’re laid out and then I’ll go through and explain each one after:
Barry Allen is the Flash, the fastest man alive. In the New 52 continuity he’s the first person to be called the Flash – more on that later – and is the son of Henry and Nora Allen.
Nora died when Barry was a young boy and his father Henry has been in jail for the crime since. Nora was planning to divorce Henry and was actually having an affair with police officer Darryl Frye. With Nora dead and Henry locked up, Darryl actually ends up adopting Barry and raising him. He’s also now, as Captain Frye, Barry’s boss.
Barry is currently dating his co-worker, Patty Spivot, who is aware of his dual life as scientist and hero.
Iris West is a friend of Barry, and in previous continuities his wife. For now they’re just friends but her family is still involved in the Flash legacy – her brother, Daniel, became a new version of the Reverse Flash in the New 52.
They had a hard upbringing with their mother dying in childbirth with Daniel and their abusive father, which eventually lead to Daniel running away and his life of crime.
There is also, apparently, still an older brother, Rudy, whose son is Wally. Prior to the New 52 reboot Iris’ nephew Wally was first Barry’s sidekick Kid Flash and later too over as the Flash when Barry died. While flashforwards have shown him becoming a speedster still we’re still very early in his story.
Here’s a bonus picture of Wally in the future, looking flashy:
These guys live over on Earth 2.
Jay began as a troubled college graduate whose life seemed to be going nowhere. He had been dating a young woman named Joan until she decided that they were spinning their wheels. She left him and he decided to contemplate his future on a small hill on the outskirts of town. It was there that what he thought was a meteor crashed nearby, and he chose to investigate.
What young Jay Garrick finds is the dying god Mercury who gifts him with his power of speed and Jay becomes a new wonder of the world. I’m not sure if his father has ever been mentioned but his mother has turned up regularly and Jay is very protective of her. Interestingly, Joan is the name of the original Jay Garrick’s wife (see below).
The Flashes, as you’ll see, have a long history of mucking about through time, especially with the 30th Century. We first met a kid calling himself Bart Allen, and publicly Kid Flash, in the New 52 Teen Titans book, and Barry’s descendant of the same name had travelled back in time to become Kid Flash in the past so it seemed to check out.
It’s eventually revealed he’s not Bart Allen actually but that his real name is Bar Torr and that he’s a freedom fighter/terrorist (depending who you ask) whose parents were killed, leaving him to look after his sister Shira Torr. He’s eventually caught, mind wiped and sent into the past as the most ridiculous form of witness protection while awaiting trial.
This is all wrapped up and hopefully will never be addressed again.
The pre-New 52 Flash Family Tree
So, that wasn’t too complicated, was it? Well, with that in mind, let’s dive into the rabbit hole of the pre-Flashpoint continuity. As before we’ll start with the family tree and then I’ll explain each section:
So, starting at the top left you’ll see we have, just floating there, the Garrick family, and in particular the original Flash, Jay Garrick:
An experiment he was working on during his junior year was to purify hard water without any residual radiation in a cyclotron. When a test tube of the hard water was accidentally spilled, the fumes knocked him out. His friend Elliot Shapiro dragged him from the lab. After a week of unconsciousness, during which Jay’s metabolism increased and his body rejected nutrients, he discovered that he had been given superhuman speed by the accident, and he used this speed as the superhero, Flash.
Jay was the Flash during the Golden Age and when the Silver Age introduced a new, unrelated Flash in Barry Allen it was later retconned to say that Jay, and all the other Justice Society members, were from Earth-Two. Crisis on Infinite Earths ended up merging these different Earths into one timeline and Jay has been a semi-retired hero and mentor to future Flashes since.
Barry Allen was the Silver Age Flash and the second to take the name. While inspired by Jay Garrick, his origin is unrelated:
…Barry grew up reading the adventures of his favorite superhero, Jay Garrick, the original Flash, and acted many of his hero’s adventures out … When he was a child, his mother [Nora] was killed and his father [Henry] was convicted of the crime. The drive to prove his father was innocent gave Barry a strong belief in justice.
He graduated in three years with a major in organic chemistry and a minor in criminology … While a senior, Barry helped the authorities apprehend a bank robber, and he was offered a job as a police scientist for the Central City Police Department Scientific Detection Bureau. Eager to be in the sister city of his childhood hero’s home, Keystone City, he accepted the offer.
Eventually, while in his lab, a “a bolt of lightning streaked through a window, shattered a chemical cabinet and covered Barry in the electrified chemicals” which gave him the powers of superspeed!
Barry would eventually marry Iris West. She was seemingly killed by the Reverse Flash, Professor Zoom and Barry nearly married another woman, Fiona Webb, but in the end it didn’t matter as Iris was still alive! Together again they had two children… although that gets a bit complicated so will come up under 30th Century Family below. You’ll also note he appears to have a brother but to keep that all simplified that will be covered under the Thawne Family section.
Barry died during Crisis on Infinite Earths but – after the odd appearance over the next few decades – ended up coming back properly eventually during Final Crisis. All the mad stories that came after that are beyond the purview of this article but Barry dying is what allowed the third Flash to take the mantle: his nephew through marriage, Wally West.
Iris West Family
Iris West is the adopted daughter of Ira and Nadine West, although she wasn’t told she was adopted for most of her life. She had two older siblings, Rudy and Charlotte. The latter is basically inconsequential – she married a man named Edgar Rhodes, whom she later divorced, and had a child called Inez Rhodes.
Rudy West is more important as, while he was a terrible parent, he was responsible for fathering, with his then wife Mary West, the boy who would grow up to be the first Kid Flash, and, later still, the third Flash, Wally West. I’ll cover more on Wally in his own section, Wally West Family, below.
Anyway, back to Iris. She married Barry and they were together for years before a storyline had her killed. At a costume party:
Professor Zoom … vibrated his hand at superspeed through Iris’s skull, doing fatal damage to her brain molecules, causing her to die painlessly and instantly.
How did she get better? Well, the next two sections should help explain that.
Remember how Iris was adopted? Well, meet her biological parents – parents from the future!
Which explains everything other than why. Luckily, Hyperborea.org has our back:
Fearing for their own safety and that of their daughter, [the Russells] began forbidden research into time travel … As the East prepared a devastating assault on Central City, they placed their infant daughter Iris in the escape pod and sent her a thousand years into the past, where she was adopted by Ira and Nadine West.
The Russells survived the war, and kept up with their time travel research, eventually contacting their daughter. Since she had married the second Flash [Barry Allen], the couple were able to visit her parents from time to time. (In fact, their son-in-law was instrumental in helping the post-war world unite.)
You’ll also notice there’s a 20th Century ancestor of Eric called Philip Russell? Eric actually came back and teamed up with Barry to help/stop Philip in a truly bizarre tale you can read on Philip’s wiki article here.
30th Century Family
So, I did promise that all this 30th Century family stuff would be able to help explain how Iris survived being killed by Professor Zoom. In a classic of comic book science, “because she had died before her birth” her parents in the 30th Century were able to save her:
Upon her death, Iris’s biological parents used experimental time-travel technology to draw her life-force back to the 2900s. They gave her a new body to look like her original one and reunited her with Barry.
Alls well that ends well, right? Well, no. That reuniting with Barry actually happened on his personal timeline before he died in Crisis on Infinite Earths. The couple were only together again for about a month or so of relative time in the 30th Century but it was long enough for Barry to do whatever the future equivalent of the “nasty in the pasty” is:
After Barry left to fight in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Iris had twin children, Don and Dawn Allen. They inherited some of Barry’s speed and become the Tornado Twins. During her years in the 30th century, Iris also reprises her role as a reporter by doing some work for the Daily Planet.
Now, the continuity around Barry and Iris’ children, Don and Dawn, has shifted a few times over the years but I’m going to stick to the highlights. At first the two were not operating as heroes but a visit from a time jumping Wally changed that.
We’ll get to the whole Thawne part of the family tree shortly, honest.
One other thing:
At some point, a battle between Wally West, Zoom, and Professor Zoom aboard the Cosmic Treadmill picked up Captain Boomerang and deposited him in Meloni’s era. During this time, he became the father of Meloni’s other son, Owen.
This is used to explain how Owen has some connection to the Speed Force and can use ‘Speed Bursts’, mainly to throw boomerangs really fast when he takes over the mantle from his father. However, Meloni had no powers of her own, and while the Thawne line had speedsters its seems a bit of a stretch. It’s also not explained, from memory, how he came to be raised back in the present so… who the hell knows.
Anyway, Iris would eventually return to the past with her grandson, Bart Allen, to save his life:
Iris’s grandson, Bart, was locked in superspeed, aging extremely rapidly. He was going to die of old age … so Iris’s parents helped her and Bart go into the timestream and travel to the 20th century so that Bart could get help from his cousin, Wally West, who had also had superspeed as a youngster.
Which is how we got Bart Allen in the present: first as the hero Impulse, then as the new Kid Flash, and later still, after Wally disappeared, Bart become the fourth hero to call himself The Flash.
Oh, and that clone of Bart? Well, that’s Thaddeus Thawne, named after the President, and Meloni’s father, who was actually responsible for creating him. He was better known as Inertia, is basically Bart’s version of the Reverse Flash, and was actually responsible for getting Bart killed soon after he became The Flash. It’s OK, he got better, de-aged and became Kid Flash again when both Wally and Barry were back on the scene.
Oh, and Iris eventually got to live in the present with the returned Barry so I guess it all worked out OK?
Wally West Family
OK, we can finally forget about the future for awhile! As already covered, we know that Iris’ nephew, Wally, was a hero in his own right:
One summer, when he was ten years old, Wally went to Central City to stay with his Aunt Iris, who he called his best friend. Iris was going out with police scientist Barry Allen, who was “friends” with the Flash. Barry “introduced” Wally to his idol, the Flash. In the back room of Barry’s apartment was a lab, where Wally asked the Flash all sorts of questions.
When he asked Flash how he got his powers, it turned out the speedster had set up his chemical cabinet just as it had been when he was created. Wally wished that something like that could happen to him; the Flash dismissed it as a billion-to-one chance. However, it just so happened that the weather that particular day was stormy and, at that moment, lightning did strike the cabinet, bathing Wally in the same chemicals that created the Flash.
With that, Wally became the first Kid Flash. He first had a costume of red that looked like Barry’s but soon swapped it for his classic predominantly yellow look.
Hilariously he eventually had to stop adventuring as, as he was younger than Barry when he got his powers, it was causing him pains during puberty. Luckily, when Barry died in 1985, it also opened the door for Wally to follow in his footsteps:
During the Crisis on Infinite Earths, after Barry Allen sacrificed his life to destroy the Anti-Monitor’s antimatter cannon, an antimatter ray fired by the Anti-Monitor hit Wally full force. While it knocked his speed down to that of sound, it also removed the malady that caused him intense pain. Wally took Barry’s uniform and declared himself the Flash, just until Barry returned.
And so Wally became the third person to take on the mantle of The Flash! I won’t cover all of Wally’s career but highlights include Iris returning from the future with Bart who while only two years old was physically 12:
Wally managed to stabilize his speed, but the two did not mesh very well at all, Wally claiming it was because they were too alike. Bart took up the speedster gig, but laughed at the idea of going by Kid Flash, instead dubbing himself Impulse.
In keeping with the tradition of Flashes marrying reporters, Wally eventually married Linda Park, and the two, eventually, had two children – another set of twins! Maybe it’s something in the Speed Force.
Jai West and his twin sister, Iris, were born to the third Flash, Wally West, and his wife Linda Park. Although the twins were initially miscarried as the result of an attack by Zoom, Linda’s pregnancy was miraculously restored during a later battle.
When Wally went into the Speed Force during a battle with Superboy-Prime, he brought Linda and the infant twins with them. After spending some time on an Earth-like world inhabited by an alternate version of Jay Garrick, they traveled to another planet occupied by technologically advanced aliens who had had dealings with a Flash in the past.
When they were first born, Jai and his sister exhibited no signs of having inherited their father’s powers. However, after turning three months old, their metabolisms sped up and they began to age rapidly and exhibit powers. Their alien hosts taught Linda the basics of operating machinery to stabilize the growing twins’ powers.
The family would eventually return to Earth and, much like with Bart before them, the rapid aging was cured.
This speed only manifests itself as the ability to temporarily accelerate the growth of his muscles, causing superhuman strength. Once, while emotionally distressed, dormant DNA in Jai’s cells vibrated to the fore, causing strange transformations.
More than Jai, Iris is a living conduit for the Speed Force, with absolute mastery over it almost rivaling the one briefly gained by her father during the Dark Flash Saga. Mind-controlled by Queen Bee, she exhibited the power of forming “cocoons” of Speed Forces, bubbles in which she could control speed and time, freezing her targets or hastening their metabolism to death. Moreover, she repaired the weakening connection to the Speed Force crippling her father. Badly traumatized by her ordeal, she refuses to give in her powers again.
Part of her being powerful was that she actually, seemingly, removed Jai’s powers while saving him, becoming even more powerful herself:
Her resolution wanes with the return of the first Reverse Flash, Professor Zoom, during the The Flash: Rebirth event. Since Jai and Iris’ connection is still precarious, the attempts of Zoom to disrupt the Speed Force force both kids to endure a large amount of crippling pain, until Iris decides to take the bulk of the Speed Power connection, freeing Jai but taking the pain for herself.
She survived of course and chose to take up the mantle of Impulse, which Bart used before he joined the Teen Titans as Kid Flash. Seriously though, check out her list of powers – she was pretty powerful.
OK, I can’t put it off anymore, can I? :P
See up near Barry again where he seems to have a brother? Well, there’s an explanation for that, and it’s the story of Malcolm Thawne:
On the stormy night of May 13, two pregnant women came to the office of Fallville, Iowa’s Dr. Gilmore. However, the doctor had been drinking, and he had sent his nurse home. The child of one of the women, Charlene Thawne, had been strangled on its own umbilical cord, and Gilmore was too intoxicated to save the poor baby. However, the other woman, Nora Allen, successfully gave birth to twin boys. Gilmore, trying to be fair, gave one of the twins to the Thawne family, telling the Allens that one of their children had been stillborn. The twin that remained with the Allens was named Barry, and he grew up to be the Flash. The other twin, however, was raised by the Thawnes, and he was named Malcolm.
Malcolm’s adoptive parents were con artists, using a strange inherited Thawne power, a blue flame, to heal people, afterwards selling jars of petroleum jelly with blue food coloring to the healed and their friends. All the other members of his family had this power except for Malcolm, and they constantly taunted him for being inferior.
Malcolm eventually finds out he’s adopted, kills Dr Gilmore in a rage and then basically stalks Barry, even witnessing the accident that made him the Flash, and becoming more and more jealous.
He went to his adoptive grandmother, the mother of Hugo Thawne, to learn more about the blue flame the Thawnes wielded. It turned out that it was an art with many more capabilities than what Hugo and family had been using it for. Malcolm’s grandmother taught him that the flame could steal anything that your heart desired, feeding on passion. Using this power, she taught him how to place his hatred for Barry Allen inside a talisman, which he wore on his chest.
And so was born the first of many Flash enemies to use the name Cobalt Blue! Basically he has his magic flame, can make objects like his sword, absorb powers – which he uses to steal speed from speedsters – and heal.
Now, there would eventually be lots more Thawnes and lots more Cobalt Blue’s throughout the centuries. I don’t think it’s ever clear how they’re descended from Malcolm but it all starts there.
One of the most famous is of course Eobard Thawne, the classic and fan-favourite Reverse Flash, Professor Zoom. His tale is a post in and of itself, and there’s already a few on here, but it seems even before he was born in the 25th Century that his fate was entwined with Barry Allen.
And with that, we’re finally done with the second section! Just one more to go kids and you’ll have a relatively complete understanding of the Flash’s entirely family tree!
Even more members of the Flash Family!
So, that’s the whole family tree, right? Wrong! There have been plenty of other descendants of Barry Allen and Wally West seen throughout the years. Plenty were seen during the Chain Lightning arc that features heaps of speedsters racing through history to protect other speedsters from attacks by reincarnations of Cobalt Blue. You can read the overview of that madness on ComicVine here.
Anyway, it’s worth noting what this list is not:
- It isn’t exhaustive. I have no intention of making sure I mention every relative who’s gotten their 15 panels of fame.
- It isn’t just about any speedster. Sorry fans of Jesse Quick or Max Mercury and the like but this list is about a family tree, not just anyone connected to Speed Force or who can run fast – even if they’re friends and allies – so thye have to be confirmed descendants.
- It isn’t about any version that’s been seen. Alternate reality versions or Elseworlds versions aren’t going to show up here – sorry fans of Walter Allen, Hot Pursuit or Green Lightning. Maybe I’ll do another post on them but, for now, see point 2.
With that in mind, let’s get cracking!
Time Period: 23rd Century
Bio (from hyperborea.org):
This Flash has apparently met an older Max Mercury several times. Through a paradox of time travel, the first time Max met him was the last time he met Max. Months earlier, Cobalt Blue had captured him and his family. He was forced to watch as Cobalt Blue killed his wife and crippled his daughter [Sela, see below]. At the time of Max’s arrival, the Flash had finally caught up with Cobalt Blue and extracted his vengeance.
He had killed him. Unfortunately, a passing child picked up the gem and was consumed with the Thawne rage and power. This Cobalt Blue took a life for a life, killing him, one of the two Flashes destined to be extinguished by the Cobalt Blue flame.
Name: Sela Allen / The Flash
Time Period: 23rd Century
Bio (from hyperborea.org):
Sela’s father was the Flash before her. When a Cobalt Blue became active, he captured the whole Allen family, forcing the Flash to watch as Cobalt Blue killed his wife and crippled his daughter, shattering her spine and stealing the energy from her brain’s electrical impulses to the point where she was as slow to the world as the world would be to a Flash. In desperation, her father took her into the Speed Force, hoping it would restore her system to normal or even trigger her latent speed.
When her father was killed by a new Cobalt Blue, Sela appeared as a conscious manifestation of the Speed Force, projecting a humanoid appearance and able to lend speed to other objects but unable to physically interact with the world.
Like her father, Sela had known a future Max Mercury prior to Cobalt Blue’s attack.
Time Period: 25th Century
Bio (from hyperborea.org):
For several decades, the Allen family kept the Cobalt Blue gem locked away… until Chardaq Allen awakened it.
Having lost his super-speed in a battle with Savitrix, he became a profiler with the Policenet, studying the criminal mind. His attempt to examine the gem caused it to possess him, and he immediately started tearing things apart. The police, including Chardaq’s son Simogyn, released Professor Zoom — the Reverse-Flash and a Thawne — on a short leash to stop Chardaq’s rampage. Things became stranger when Wally West arrived. He managed to snap Chardaq free of the gem’s control (realizing the true meaning of “consuming a Flash”), but not before Zoom touched it and gained the knowledge of its future — and vanished through time.
Name: Blaine Allen / The Flash
Time Period: 28th Century
Bio (from hyperborea.org):
Little is known of the origin of this Flash, save that he is related to the Flashes of the 20th Century and that he and his son lived on the colony world of Petrus. In an attempt to end the Allen bloodline, Cobalt Blue infected Blaine Allen’s normal-speed son Jace with a deadly virus. The Flash then froze the entire planet to prevent the virus from killing him. Realizing there was no way out, he took his son into the Speed Force, in hopes that it would take him. Instead, it took Blaine, and gave super-speed to Jace, enabling him to shake off the virus and survive.
Name: Jace Allen / The Flash
Time Period: 28th Century
Bio (from hyperborea.org):
Jace Allen had a very personal dispute with his era’s Cobalt Blue. When he was a child on Petrus, she had infected him with a virus to end the Allen bloodline and a 700-year feud. In a last-ditch effort, Jace’s father Blaine, the Flash of his era, froze the entire microplanet to buy time in which to save him. He ultimately took his son into the Speed Force, hoping it would take him. Instead, it took Blaine, and gave super-speed to Jace, enabling him to shake off the virus and survive (Speed Force, 1997). In memory of his father, Jace took up the mantle of the Flash…
Over the next ten years, Jace pursued Cobalt Blue across the galaxy to bring her to justice. Finally, in 2764, they arrived in Central City on Earth. Cobalt Blue’s flame engulfed the city, disintegrating everything it touched. Jace was stuck on the defensive until time-travelling Jesse Quick arrived. Together, they defeated Cobalt Blue and turned her over the the authorities (Flash #145–146, 1999).
Time Period: 3rd Millenium
Bio (from hyperborea.org):
The Flash of some future era, a fifth-generation Jupiter colonist who grew to enormous size due to the higher gravity. Unfortunately, his bulk tended to counteract his speed.
Appearances: Flash #146–149 (1999), pictured in The Life Story of the Flash (1997)
OK, so that’s all that I can probably be bothered ranting about for now, but it should give you a good idea of how complicated family histories can get when time travel is involved and also how far reaching and complicated the Flash legacy is. Hell, I haven’t even begun to touch on possible worlds, imaginary stories or parallel Earths!
Want even more?
- Follow the links! I’ve tried to link to the DC wiki pages for characters whenever I’ve mentioned them so you can go explore.
- Dive into the DC Wikia disambiguation page. Scroll down through all the entries and be overwhelmed!
- There’s a gallery here of speedsters that appeared in Chained Lightning. As you can see, many never even got a name but I bet a bunch are Allens or Wests. ;)
Anyway, as this ticks over past 5000 words it’s probably time to end it as I usually do: hope this was helpful :)