SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The Flash #46, by Joshua Williamson, Scott Kolins, Luis Guerrero and Steve Wands, on sale now.
While it’s not exactly a one-to-one comparison, most comic book fans would agree that speedsters are to the DC Universe what mutants are to the Marvel Universe. Simply put, there are a lot of them.
However, since 1940, very few have been lucky enough to carry the mantle of DC’s premier speedster, and in The Flash #46, Joshua Williamson and Scott Kolins tip their hats to the four most notable incarnations of the Fastest Man Alive.
While visiting the Flash Museum (or rather an illusion of the Flash Museum), Wally West pulls back his cowl and stops to admire one of the many statues on display. On the placard, we see an inscription that lists four years (1940, 1956, 1986 and 2006), each of which is followed by a letter (G, S, B and P).
1940, of course, was the year the very first Flash, Jay Garrick, debuted in Flash Comics #1 by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert. In 1956, DC introduced the Barry Allen iteration of The Flash in the pages of Showcase #4 by Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino. In 1986, following Barry’s death in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wally West took up the mantle of his late uncle/mentor as the new Scarlet Speedster. Then, in 2006, the former Impulse and Kid Flash Bart Allen enjoyed a short-lived stint as The Flash before he was unceremoniously killed by the Rogues.
As for the corresponding letters that follow each year? Those serve the purpose of linking each of the four Flashes to the various comic book “Ages.” The first three are clearly nods to the Golden, Silver and Bronze Ages of comics, and logic would dictate the “P” presumably stands for “Present” or “Postmodern.”
It’s certainly a deep cut on the part of Williamson and Kolins, but one that longtime readers will most definitely appreciate. In fact, if Williamson’s research materials are any indication, we’ll likely see even more clever nods to the past when “Flash War” officially kicks off in two weeks.