SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Flash #50 by Joshua Williamson, Howard Porter, Hi-Fi and Steve Wands, on sale now.
A whole heck of a lot happened in The Flash #50, the conclusion to the epic “Flash War” storyline pitting Wally West vs Barry Allen vs Hunter Zolomon. There were massive changed to the nature of the Speed Force and the DC Universe, there were big returns and hints at even more to come and there was a tease of a massive new threat known only as Crisis who has broke free from a futuristic prison with one thing on their mind: Revenge on the Flash Family.
There are some notable candidates for who Crisis could be; The Anti-Monitor is certainly possible, considering the name and his pledge that worlds will live and worlds will die. It could also be Monarch, the evil incarnation of Hank Hall who also went by the name Extant. However, there’s one character who not only has such a dedicated hatred for The Flash family as well as a link to previous Crisis stories, someone we haven’t seen in a long time: Superboy Prime.
Who is Superboy Prime?
Superboy Prime debuted in 1985’s DC Comics Presents #87 by Elliot S! Maggin and Curt Swan, which takes place in the immediate wake of Supergirl’s death during Crisis On Infinite Earths. Still mourning his cousin, Superman takes refuge from the Superman Revenge Squad on Earth-Prime, a facsimile for our own world first introduced in 1968. There, he met a teenage Clark Kent dressed like Superboy but without powers, until coming into contact with a Kryptonian activates his own heritage and he discovers he is Earth-Prime’s counterpart to Superman.
Superboy Prime was one of the few survivors of the Anti-Monitor’s attack on all creation that wasn’t folded into the new world created as an amalgamation of Earth-One, Two, Four, S and X. Superboy Prime entered a paradise dimension with Alexander Luthor Jr of Earth-Three as well as the Superman and Lois Lane of Earth-Two. However, years later Superboy Prime and Luthor Jr grew to see paradise as a prison and were able to manipulate Kal-L into breaking them free and helping them return the infinite multiverse under the impression returning the dying Lois Lane to Earth-Two would save her life.
Superboy Prime had spent his time in the paradise dimension watching the growth of the new DC Universe and as someone who grew up reading the adventures of the DC heroes in the pages of comic books, he grew dissatisfied with the new direction they were taking; Superman died, Batman had his back broken, Green Lantern went evil, things weren’t like they were when he was a kid. He was obsessed with creating a new perfect Earth and his entitlement drove him insane, in a not too subtle satire of a certain breed of fan who feels ownership over the content and media they love.
He killed many beloved DC characters that debuted after his own creation, including Kon-El, the Superboy of this era, before he was eventually stopped and imprisoned by the Green Lantern Corps. He reappeared multiple times in the noughties, including during Sinestro Corps War, Countdown, Final Crisis and Blackest Night, proving to be one of the deadliest threats in an era of DC that was marked by excessive violence, dismembering and explicit bloodshed. Superboy Prime exemplified a lot of the worst traits of this era, but also served as a rather pointed commentary of the era at the same time.