The Flash: How He Kicked Off the New 52 (And How It Changed Him)

Flash New 52

One of biggest changes to the history of the DC Universe was the New 52 publishing initiative. Launched in 2011, it rebooted the company's comic book continuity and reimagined many of the DCU's iconic characters for a new generation. While the subsequent DC Rebirth era and comic book crossover event Doomsday Clock have since revealed that the classic Watchmen character Doctor Manhattan is responsible for the alterations of DCU continuity, including the removal of the original Wally West, it was initially thought to be the fault of Barry Allen, who seemingly warped reality during the crossover event Flashpoint.

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Now, CBR is taking a look back at how the Flash was linked to the origins of the New 52, how it affected him personally, and the resulting creation of a second Wally West with his own connections to the era's Reverse-Flash.

RELATED: Wally West Poised to Become an Integral Character in the DCU, DiDio Promises


Following his resurrection at the end of Blackest Night, Eobard Thawne, the villainous Reverse-Flash changed history by traveling back in time to kill Barry Allen's mother Nora and frame his father Henry for the crime. The tragic revision to Barry's origins re-envisioned the Scarlet Speedster as one who joined the Central City Police Department as a forensic scientist to work tirelessly towards proving his father's innocence. After learning of the Reverse-Flash's actions, Barry decided to take drastic steps himself to saving his parents.

Barry traveled back to save his mother from Reverse-Flash, intentionally causing a massive fluctuation to the DCU timeline that resulted in the Flashpoint reality where he never gained his powers to become a superhero while the rest of the heroes and villains drastically had their depictions altered in a universe-wide ripple effect.

After learning from Reverse-Flash that he was responsible for the change, a repowered Barry raced back to stop the past version of himself from saving his mother and to restore the prime timeline. However, as a result of the constant tampering with reality, a mysterious figure known as Pandora warns Barry that his actions have far-reaching consequences, leading to the DCU merging with the Wildstorm and elements of Vertigo to form the New 52.


The Flash New 52

Unaware of the changes he had apparently caused to reality, Barry was reimagined in the New 52 as approximately five or so  years younger than he had appeared before Flashpoint. Barry's uniform as the Flash took on more of a slightly armored appearance than it ever had before, although the character's tragic past and career with the Central City Police Department remained. One new power that Barry developed in this incarnation was the ability of thinking at super-speed, which allowed him to quickly develop strategies on the fly and think out a multitude of possible outcomes and solutions which proved invaluable during his fight with the new villain Multiplex.

RELATED: Lobdell Says Flash Forward Is a Wally West Story Nine Years in the Making

One of the bigger changes to Barry's life revolved around his relationship with Iris West. Like many of the more notable superhero marriages in the DCU, Barry and Iris were never married in this new continuity and not even romantically involved. Instead, Barry's initial love interest was a fellow Central City detective named Patty Spivot, and Iris was relegated to friend and Barry's journalist liaison.


The biggest lasting change to the Flash mythos, even as the DCU moved into the Rebirth era, was the creation of a new teenage Wally West. Still Iris' young, impressionable nephew, the New 52 incarnation of Wally absorbed a portion of the Speed Force from Barry engaged in a nearby battle resulting in Wally becoming the new Kid-Flash. Wally's father Daniel would become the New 52's Reverse-Flash.

RELATED: Wally West Explores His Post-Heroes in Crisis Reality in Flash Forward

DC Rebirth revealed that the pre-Flashpoint Wally had been trapped within the Speed Force following a brief confrontation with Doctor Manhattan after he secretly caused the New 52 reality. After being freed through his connection to Barry, the original Wally and his New 52 counterpart struck up a friendship, with the younger West going by his birth name of Wallace to avoid confusion. It was eventually revealed that Daniel West was actually the uncle of Wallace, effectively making him Wally and Iris' cousin instead of her nephew.

When Pandora confronted Manhattan for his role in creating the New 52, the omnipotent being disintegrated her to prevent his actions from becoming public, erasing one of the New 52's signature characters.

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