The Fastest Man Alive, The Flash is one of DC Comics’ longest-lasting superheroes. Known not only for his incredible speed, but also his equally good nature, The Flash garners the respect of nearly every other hero, and citizen, he encounters. Jay Garrick, the original Flash, was seen as a father figure amongst other superheroes. When Barry Allen became The Flash, he changed the perception altogether. Generally considered “perfect” and the ideal role model, it was unthinkable that he could do anything slightly unforgivable. Barry’s contemporaries, especially his nephew Wally, saw him as a boy scout and a larger than life figure. For his part, Barry never saw himself as perfect, simply trying to take each day at a time.
Wally West, though different in personality and temper than Barry, would become a legacy in his own right; he was The Flash a whole other generation grew up with. He became beloved, arguably more so, than his mentor Barry. Yet despite their seeming imperfections, The Flashes were anything but. They’ve all performed, at the very least, questionable deeds. From wrecking the timestream to plain old murder, we’re here to look at 15 moments when The Flash wasn’t so squeaky-clean; we’re looking at the worst things The Flash has done.
15 TAKING INJUSTICE-SUPERMAN'S SIDE
In DC’s comic series Injustice, Superman, the Man of Steel and symbol for righteousness, has turned into a tyrannical dictator. Following the manipulations of The Joker, which led to the death of his wife Lois Lane, their unborn child, and the destruction of Metropolis, Superman snapped and killed the villain. He then went on to kill or recruit every other super powered individual.
Enforcing his will on the Earth with an iron fist, The Flash, despite his reservations, joined Superman is his quest for global domination. Even watching Superman kill Shazam isn’t enough to convince Barry he’s on the wrong side. Unwilling to fight back or help Batman and his resistance, The Flash fights for Superman. Only towards the end of Superman’s reign does The Flash realize the error of his ways.
14 USED HIS POWERS FOR FOOTBALL
Before there was Barry Allen, there was Jay Garrick. The Golden Age Flash, the original Scarlet Speedster, Jay Garrick’s legacy continues to this day. Yet after Garrick received his speed powers, thanks to a bizarre accident involving hard water, becoming a superhero was the last thing on his mind.
Rather, Jay Garrick initially chose to use his newfound gifts for self-profit. In Flash Comics #1, Jay decided to use his speed to play football on his college team in the State Game and help his team emerge victorious. Of course the only reason Jay does so is because Joan promised a date with him if he used his powers to achieve victory. So perhaps the real question is who’s more selfish here, Joan or Jay?
13 KILLED GRODD
In The Flash Annual #3, the future Flash has strayed far from the traditional path of being a hero. Instead of simply locking criminals away, the Scarlet Speedster has chosen a more definitive approach to dealing with his rogues gallery: murder. Sure, villains like Gorilla Grodd are certainly dangerous, but The Flash has stopped him countless times without killing him.
Planning on going back to the past to stop a series of crimes, the future Flash first makes a stop at Grodd’s lair. The two battle it out, with The Flash revealing his intention to kill the super-powered ape. True to his word, while in the midst of battle The Flash plants a miniature bomb in Grodd’s head, exploding the telepathic ape’s skull and killing him stone dead. With the grisly deed completed, The Flash continues his journey to the past.
12 KILLED WALLY WEST
After Barry returned from the future, following his murder of Grodd, his next step is to eliminate his past self. In The Flash #35, future Barry and present Barry meet. Future Barry explains not only has he come back to correct the errors his present self will make, but he’s also appeared to fix a time anomaly, brought on by a rip in the Speed Force. Turns out, anytime The Flash or another speedster time traveled, they ripped into the “wound” more and more, with reality itself bleeding out.
To close it all out, future Barry plans to kill present Barry; when he dies, energy will erupt out of him and fix the wound. Before the older Barry can kill his younger self, a future Wally West shows up, stronger than ever. Unfortunately, just as quickly as he arrives, the future Barry kills Wally, as Wally takes a hit meant for Barry.
11 HIT ON DONNA TROY
Romantic relationships among superhero teams are so frequent; you’d think they wouldn’t be a dig deal. Yet stories need drama and what’s better drama than heartbroken heroes forced to fight alongside teammates who rejected them. In Dan Abnett’s current run on Titans, Roy Harper, a.k.a. Arsenal, has been pining after Amazon Donna Troy for nearly the entire series. Pretty much the whole team knows about his feelings for Donna, and it’s really just a matter of stepping up and telling her how she feels. Finally, in Titans #12, Roy decides it’s time.
Unfortunately, Wally beats him to the punch. Having been displaced in time and with Linda not reciprocating his advances, Wally turns to Donna for romantic support, seeing as she’s going through some emotional stuff too. Roy, about to confess his love to Donna, walks in on the pair already in each other’s arms and kissing.
10 DROVE THE TOP INSANE
During Identity Crisis, an event we’ll explore again later, the heroes debated the ethics of altering a criminal’s mind and replacing their identity entirely. After all the repercussions that followed, you’d think it would be enough to stay away from mind-wiping people. Not for Barry Allen however.
When he came across The Top, the supervillain is almost more than he can handle. Completely psychotic, The Top doesn’t care who he hurts. It’s revealed in The Flash #215 that after Barry captured The Top, he had Zatanna mind-wipe him, changing The Top into a better person. Alas, The Top, now good, remembered his past actions and is literally driven insane, disturbed by his own misdeeds. Now a broken man, The Top effectively commits suicide. Yet most haunting was Barry referring to the ordeal as an “experiment,”something to see if he could do again.
9 CONSTANTLY LYING TO IRIS
Barry Allen loves Iris West, and Iris loves him. Their relationship is one of the cornerstones of DC Comics; the stuff of legends. Yet in the current Rebirth line of The Flash, the two characters don’t yet have the shared history that made their coupling so iconic.
The problem is that Barry is constantly keeping her at arm’s length, unwilling to share his secret that he’s The Flash. While this might not be a problem for some, Iris senses Barry is hiding something, refusing to trust her with whatever is the problem. This has only strained their relationship, despite Iris proving herself on multiple occasions, and even her nephew Wally, Kid Flash, is angry with Barry for keeping his aunt in the dark for so long. Time will tell whether Barry will eventually be able to trust Iris or whether the two will split up.
8 AGREED TO MIND-WIPE DOCTOR LIGHT
In DC’s Identity Crisis, it comes to light that members of the superhero community condoned the tampering with, and altering of, various criminal minds. After Doctor Light sexually assaulted Sue Dibny, the Justice League captured Light and debated brainwashing him. On the one hand, there's nothing stopping him from doing it again, but on the other hand, completely rewriting his identity seemed unethical.
Concluding Light was a sadist, half the team agreed to lobotomize him, while the other half refused. Barry is the swing vote, and vote he does. The decision wore heavily on his conscience, though not enough to not try it again with The Top. Barry agrees to wipe Light’s mind, turning the villain into a neutered facsimile of his former self. Batman accidentally catches them in the act and tries to stop them, but he too is mind-wiped, sending the situation spiralling out of control.
7 BROUGHT HIS KIDS INTO BATTLE
After Wally West, along with his wife and kids, returned from a rather impromptu trip through the Speed Force, Wally discovered his kids had super powers. Not even in double-digits age wise, there’s still the question about whether they can be superheroes. Wally decides to let them be superheroes, despite all the flack people like Batman gets for bringing teens into battle.
In The Flash #233, the Justice League is more than unhappy with Wally’s decision, and tries to talk some sense into him. Somehow, despite the League’s completely legitimate argument, Wally makes them think it’s okay to let little kids fight horrible monsters. His rationale is that the kids sometimes experience age growth spurts, so there’s no way of knowing how long they have. That being the case, Wally essentially lets them do whatever they want so they can live life to the fullest.
6 MIND-WIPED THE WORLD
After his fearsome battle with the evil speedster Zoom in The Flash #200, Wally reevaluates having his identity be public. It was that common knowledge that allowed Zoom, and potentially other bad guys in the future, to attack Wally’s friends and family and give Linda, Wally’s wife, a miscarriage.
Weighing the decision, Wally summons Hal Jordan, the Spectre, one of the most powerful beings in the universe, to his side. The two discuss the matter and Wally decides he wants to mind-wipe the entire world, robbing people of their memories concerning him and his identity as The Flash. Ever so reluctantly, Hal agrees, but the mind-wipe is so powerful that even Wally forgets, at least for a time, that he was ever The Flash. At this point, if you want to talk mind-wiping ethics, The Flash is not the person to go to.
5 KILLED THE REVERSE-FLASH
Once before the Reverse-Flash did the unthinkable and killed Iris West, Barry’s eternal love. At the time, Barry had no idea Eobard Thawne was behind the gruesome act, but he eventually discovers the truth. Eventually Barry moves on and finds someone new, Fiona Webb.
The two are about to get married, when once again the Reverse-Flash interferes, set on killing Barry’s soon-to-be wife. However, this time around Barry isn’t having any of Thawne’s nonsense. In a fit of rage, he accidentally snaps Thawne’s neck. Wracked with guilt, Barry soon finds the whole city has turned against him, even putting him on trial for the murder. His nephew Wally reluctantly testifies against him, stating Barry could have done more to stop Thawne without killing him. After a long trial, the court eventually finds Barry guilty. Rather than sticking around, Barry flees to a different time period.
4 MADE ZOOM RELIVE HIS WORST MEMORY REPEATEDLY
In leading up to The Flash #200 by Geoff Johns, Wally had been battling the insane speedster Zoom for the past several issues. Enlisting every friendly speedster he could, Wally siphoned off and borrowed their speed to aid in his fight against Zoom. Despite the newfound power, it was all Wally could do to keep up. In the midst of battle, Zoom attacked Linda, Wally’s wife, releasing a sonic boom right on her, injuring her, but even more importantly, ending the lives of the babies in her womb.
Overcome with emotion, Wally’s determination grimmer than ever, he finally catches Zoom and finishes the battle. Yet in the heat of the moment, Wally does the worst thing he can to Zoom: He effectively freezes the villain in a single moment, forcing Zoom to endlessly re-watch the worst day of his life on a perpetual loop.
3 TURNED INERTIA INTO A SENTIENT STATUE
There was a time when both Barry and Wally were gone; there was no one to fill the boots of The Fastest Man Alive. Enter Bart Allen, the grandson of Barry Allen. Already having taking on the mantle of Kid Flash in years prior; through a series of kooky events, Bart aged past being a teenager to full-fledged adult. Taking up the torch as the Scarlet Speedster, his tenure as the Flash is short-lived as the Rogues and the evil teen speedster Inertia kill him.
When Wally returned as the Flash, he immediately hunts Inertia down. Realizing the evil speedster wasn’t the least bit sorry, he freezes Inertia, turning him into a sentient statue. Putting Inertia in The Flash Museum, the young villain is still fully conscious but is trapped in a frozen body, forced to spend his days as another dusty relic.
2 GLOATED OVER THE BODY OF A DEAD CRIMINAL
Back in Jay Garrick’s day, fighting crime and villainy was much simpler. It’s all the more true when the guy you’re fighting just happens to be named Satan, despite having no affiliation with the actual Devil. In Flash Comics #1, after Jay has gotten playing football with super speed out of his system, the weight of responsibility slowly begins to creep on him, especially after Joan nearly gets shot in a drive-by shooting.
Taking it upon himself to investigate, The Flash finds and corners a small entourage of villains, but not before Satan himself escapes and drives off. In hot pursuit, The Flash cuts Satan off and Satan’s car goes crashing down a mountainside, leaving the criminal extra dead. Upon arriving at the crash scene, Jay, in classic Golden Age fashion, all but gloats on his victory over the freshly-minted corpse.
Arguably the most notorious thing The Flash has ever done, creating the world of Flashpoint was forever a game-changer in the world of comics. One night, when Barry was missing his murdered mother, he went back in time (abusing the timestream in the process), and prevented her from being killed. The effect has ripples all throughout time and space. The end result is a nightmarish world where most of the planet has been destroyed in a war between Wonder Woman and Aquaman, the government has imprisoned Superman, Bruce Wayne is dead and his father is a murderous Batman.
In a final struggle to restore the world, Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash, appears and reveals the truth: Barry is responsible for wrecking the timeline. After some fighting, Barry rushes back into the timestream, stopping his younger self from causing Flashpoint, and birthing the New 52 universe in the process.
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