Move over, Jesse Quick — The CW’s “Flash” is poised introduce a new speedster to the game, and this one isn’t as friendly as the Earth 2 hero. As announced this past summer, the series is bringing in the villainous Savitar for the current third season.
But who, exactly, is this new big bad, and why should we care about him? To answer the first question, CBR has put together a primer on the 20-year-old comic book character; to answer the second, well — read on to find out (Hint: You should care).
Savitar was brought into the “Flash” comics way back in 1995’s “The Flash” (Vol. 2) #108 by writer Mark Waid and artist Oscar Jimenez. For context, the issue kicked off a story arc called “Dead Heat,” one of many fan-favorite “Flash” stories Waid worked on over the course of the ’90s.
Starting out as an editor on the series, Waid took over writing duties in the mid-’90s. Waid’s run (no pun intended) is notable for expanding the Flash mythos in a big way, by blowing up the cast with several other speedsters and introducing the element of the Speed Force — a separate plane of reality, only accessible to speedsters, which is essentially the source for super-speed while doubling as a Valhalla of sorts for fallen speedsters. The quasi-mystical element has remained a key component in “Flash” comics to this day, and explains a lot about speedsters and why they’re so connected to one another.
Another major part of Waid’s “Flash” run was the development of Wally West as the Flash, in lieu of the fallen silver age speedster Barry Allen. Originally Kid Flash, Wally took on the Fastest Man Alive mantle after his mentor passed away in the massive “Crisis On Infinite Earths” crossover. Over the course of 20 years, Wally was established as the one and only Flash, loved by fans for his whimsy, sense of humor and overall badassery. (You can read more on Wally’s greatness here.)
Enter: Savitar. In “Dead Heat,” Wally and his then-fiancée Linda Park are interrupted on a date by a group of speedster ninjas. It turns out, those ninjas are acolytes of a greater force — Savitar — who has the ability to transfer speed from one being to another. Thus, he’s able to power an entire army of ninjas with energy from the Speed Force, using them to steal speed from existing speedsters.
We soon learn that Savitar is a self-proclaimed god — even naming himself after the Hindu God of Motion — who formed a Speed Force-obsessed cult for himself, developing a messiah complex along the way. First attaining power from the Speed Force between the retirement of Jay Garrick and the introduction of Barry Allen, Savitar got his powers amidst the Cold War as a fighter pilot that accidentally broke the sound barrier.
Here’s an excerpt on the character’s origin from “The Flash” (Vol. 2) #109:
“It was a moment of absolute epiphany to his mind. The gods had gifted him with a power that had spared him from death, not once — but twice. Speed was his religion…and he became a zealot. Traveling the world, he tore through volumes, both common and forgotten — gathered and mingled mythologies far and wide — all in an attempt to learn more about the force that drove him. In a short time, armed with knowledge, he began thinking of himself not as a disciple of speed…but as its high priest.
…Eventually naming himself ‘Savitar’ after the Hindu god of motion…upon whom all moving things were dependent. All the while, he pushed himself constantly. Gaining even greater speed, he hoped that if he moved swiftly enough, he could enter the Speed Force — learn its secrets. Such was his form of worship. Try as he might, however, he could not attain the Nirvana he sought. His fervor turned slowly to madness…and that’s when he became dangerous.”
After an entanglement with a time-displaced Max Mercury, Savitar ended up trapped in the Speed Force, until he was summoned by his followers decades later while Wally and co. were running around as speedsters. Resurrected and hell-bent on taking power away from existing speedsters like Flash, Jesse Quick, Impulse, Jay Garrick and others, Savitar built a “Citadel of Pain” (as Jesse calls it) to harness the power of super-speed all for himself.
How exactly Savitar will go about implementing his plan on “The Flash” TV show remains unclear at this point, but the character’s established abilities from the comics — the power to transfer speed, regenerate using the Speed Force, and create force fields — open up a ton of possibilities. Could he give powers to characters that have yet to have super-speed? Or perhaps trap somebody in the Speed Force? Maybe even bring in his hoard of super-fast ninja acolytes along the way? We’ll have to watch to find out…
Starring Grant Gustin as the Scarlet Speedster, “The Flash” airs Tuesdays at 8 pm ET/PT on The CW. The series also stars Jesse L. Martin, Tom Cavanagh, Carlos Valdes, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Keiynan Lonsdale and more.
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