One of DC Comics’ premiere superheroes, the Flash, the Fastest Man Alive, has saved the world more times than anyone can count. Arguably the most powerful hero around, or at least potentially so, when written appropriately, there’s little the Flash cannot do. Whether it’s Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West, or even Bart Allen, the Flash’s abilities to exceed the speed of light, time travel and even create alternate timelines makes him practically a god. Luckily, at least for the most part, the Flash often resists the temptation to change the universe (we won’t discuss “Flashpoint”), so it’s difficult to imagine anyone proving a challenge for him.
With his infinite mass punch, accelerating to the speed of light and hitting someone with potentially world-destroying power, he can take on Superman or anyone really. If the Flash sets his mind to it, no one can see him much less touch him. Only by getting distracted or falling for traps does the Flash experience defeat. And that’s what we’re here to discuss. Not just the times the Flash was defeated, but those moments when he’s been killed dead as a doornail. Impossible you say? You’re wrong. Here at CBR we’re looking at 15 times the Flash wasn’t fast enough to outrace death.
15. FUTURES END
In issue #0 of the nearly year-long event known as “Futures End”, the world 35 years from now is a nightmarish dreamscape. Most of the world’s population is dead, all thanks to the megalomaniacal A.I. known as Brother Eye. Originally created by Batman as a safeguard to deal with dangerous superhumans , Brother Eye evolved to the point where it simply decided to destroy every superhuman. Those it does not destroy, it converts to become a part of Eye’s army.
Here, we see an older version of the Flash, one of the last human survivors. Running back to one of humanity’s last strongholds, he inadvertently leads Brother Eye and its minions down on the Flash and his friends. Despite putting up an excellent fight, he’s eventually cornered by Frankenstein. Frankenstein, having surgically implanted Black Canary’s head into his chest, unleashes her voice, killing the Flash instantly.
14. COUNTDOWN ARENA
In the miniseries known as Countdown Arena the neigh all-powerful villain known as Monarch has captured heroes from all over the multiverse. In order to create a perfect army to lead against the Monitors and the rest of creation, Monarch needs the best of the best. To that end, he’s captured three different Batmen, Superman, Flashes, etc. and has the respective groups of three fight to the death to determine who’s the strongest.
The fights are brutal as heroes die left and right. When it’s time for the Flashes to fight, it’s between a version of Jay Garrick, Johnny Quick and Lia Nelson. The entire time Lia’s been manipulating Jay emotionally, but it does her little good as Johnny Quick kills her. Garrick breaks Quick’s legs. As Quick begs for forgiveness, Jay lowers his guard long enough for Johnny to phase his hand through Jay’s skull, killing him.
In the 12-issue series Justice, Lex Luthor and a cabal of villains have seen a prophecy stating the world will end on account of the superheroes failing to prevent a nuclear Armageddon. The actual vision Lex and the bad guys experience takes place in issue #1 of Justice. All things considered, it’s pretty horrifying.
The Earth begins falling apart, the Justice League and the defenders of the planet start dying one by one as they fail to save both their cities and the people they’ve sworn to protect. We see the Flash, taking a breather, thinking he’s saved Central City, but it’s too little too late. Everyone in the city is dead and the shock of the situation has consumed to the Flash to the point of rendering him immobile. As the planet explodes, only Superman escapes, but the Flash and everyone else, dies a terrible death.
12. A BETTER WORLD
The Justice League cartoon from the early ‘00s is one of the highest regarded animated superhero shows of all time. It features an excellent portrayal of the Justice League of America and the DC Universe. In episodes 37 and 38, “A Better World”, we see what happens should Superman and the gang ever go over the edge and lose control.
In another timeline, Lex Luthor, who has become the President, captures the Flash and has the Scarlet Speedster executed on TV. In response, an enraged Superman storms the White House and kills Luthor with an explosive dose of heat vision. From there, Superman then proceeds to take over the world with the rest of the Justice League. Without Wally West, The Flash, the now evil Justice League has lost the “heart” of their team.
11. ZERO HOUR
The event known as “Zero Hour” threatened the existence of the entire universe; the timestream itself was put in jeopardy. When Hal Jordan tried to remake creation, he had succumbed to fear. In so doing, he became Parallax, the living embodiment of fear and the source of the Green Lanterns’ weakness to yellow. Practically every DC hero was called to arms to combat the threat; no one hero, even one as mighty as Superman, could win the day alone.
Yet each hero had his or her own specific mission, and that included Wally West, who at the time was the Flash. With Parallax’s power growing out of control, both the 64th Century and the timestream itself are at risk of blinking out of existence due to destructive waves of entropy. Wally, along with Rip Hunter and the Waverider, manage to save everyone, but not before the Flash is seemingly killed.
10. TERMINAL VELOCITY
In the “Terminal Velocity” story arc, Wally’s been having visions that Linda Park, the love of his life, will meet her end at the hands of the villain Kobra. While the vision also includes himself, Wally doesn’t care and is focused on saving her. The only problem is that the Speed Force is not only boosting his abilities, but it’s also slowly pulling him back into another plane of existence.
It becomes a literal race against the clock as Wally is trying to stop Kobra before getting pulled into the Speed Force. When Wally thinks all is well and good, chaos erupts and Wally enters the Speed Force, trading his life for Linda’s. He apparently dies, but then comes back (in typical superhero fashion) without too much hullaballoo.
9. CHAIN LIGHTNING
The Flash #145-#150 kicked off the story arc called Chain Lighting. It was made up of a convoluted series of events, beginning with the Flash (Wally West) capturing Cobalt Blue, the long-lost twin brother of Barry Allen. Cobalt vows to destroy the future legacy of the Speed Force, causing Wally and his speedster friends to travel through time to find each future Flash and warn them.
Wally goes running around from the 25th century to the 30th century and back and again until eventually it’s time for the final showdown. At the battle’s zenith, Cobalt Blue kills Barry Allen from a different point in Wally’s timeline. Desperate, Wally tries to fill his mentor’s place in the Crisis, but because of differences in their powers, he fails. So he runs back in time, saves Barry Allen, and beats Cobalt Blue.
8. OBSIDIAN AGE
Right before the JLA story arc “The Obsidian Age”, there was the massive event “Our Worlds At War”. In it, the cosmic being known as Imperiex is on the verge of destroying the universe. At one point during the epic story, Aquaman sacrifices himself to save the world. Flash forward a bit, and the JLA discovers he might have been sent through time, rather than being obliterated.
With the help of Zatanna, the JLA follow a trail of magic, going through a portal that sends them back in time. While there, plenty of shenanigans ensue, with the primary one being that the entire Justice League gets killed by the protectors of the past. The Flash gets his legs chopped off before dying, and the rest of the League is slaughtered. They all come back however thanks to the power of magic and time travel.
7. THE FLASH: FASTEST MAN ALIVE
Following “Infinite Crisis”, Bart Allen, the grandson of Barry Allen, suddenly found himself older than his friends and had lost memories of the time he spent in the Speed Force. As a result, he yearns for a normal life, but when danger rears its ugly head, neither Barry nor Wally is around. Bart is forced to take up the mantle of the Flash.
Yet the young hero meets his match when he battled all the Rogues at once. In the midst of the battle, the Rogues use a machine that drains the Speed Force from his body. The removal of the Speed Force summons the Black Flash, but also the machine is on the verge of exploding and taking out the city. Bart struggles to give his friend Valerie Pere time to shut it down. He succeeds, but in a panic, the Rogues unite their powers and kill Bart Allen.
6. SUPERMAN/BATMAN: ABSOLUTE POWER
Batman and Superman, two of DC Comics’ greatest heroes, have teamed up hundreds of times! Many of those adventures have been either mind-bogglingly bizarre or creepy and heinous. In issues #14-18 of Superman/Batman, history has been re-written by the Legion of Super-Villains and the world is in peril. Cosmic King, Lightning Lord, and Saturn Queen have changed history. They raise Batman and Superman as their own children, and kill the members of the Justice League, Barry Allen included, before they have their powers.
Eventually, Superman and Batman regain their memories and their goodness, and fight back. To fight the awesome opponents, they resurrect their fallen comrades via a Lazarus Pit and launch an attack against the evil Legion and Ra’s al Ghul. Yet once again, even with powers, the Flash and company are killed, leaving Superman and Batman to repair the timestream and beat the bad guys.
5. SUPERMAN: EMPEROR JOKER
In the nine-part comics storyline known as “Superman: Emperor Joker”, The Joker has reshaped reality to his whim. After manipulating the fifth-dimensional imp Mr. Mxyzptlk into giving The Joker his powers, The Joker immediately wrecked havoc on the universe. Superman is front and center of the whole event and is the first to break free from the clutches of The Joker’s vision.
Imbued with the power of a god, The Joker is neigh unstoppable. Superman goes to enlist the aid of Batman, but it’s not enough. Scouring the globe, Superman finds his teammates from the Justice League, now turned into horrible cartoonish versions of themselves. Yet Superman is able to help them break free of Joker’s spell and together they team up against the Clown Prince of Crime. The Flash is among the heroes, but in the blink of an eye, The Joker kills them all, save Superman.
4. SUPERMAN: CAMELOT FALLS
In the storyline “Superman: Camelot Falls”, the Altantean wizard Arion time travels to the present to warn Superman about the future. According to the mage, Superman and the others aren’t helping the world whenever they band together during a crisis, rather they are only making matters worse. If they keep saving the day, Arion warns, then something bigger and darker will eventually break through and destroy them all. The only way to prevent it is to start letting people die. To convince Superman further, Arion shows the hero a vision of the future.
In one instance, we see the Flash crippled in a battle with a villain called Mad-Eye. Though he survives the encounter, he loses the use of his legs. Eventually, the Speed Force all but abandons the Flash, he ages at an accelerated rate, and ends up dying of old age.
3. THE END OF THE ROAD
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 rogue gallery: murder. After killing Gorilla Grodd, Barry time traveled to the present to take the place of the current Barry Allen. Future Barry knocks present day Barry into the past and proceeds to live out his younger self’s life.
This being comics, the good Barry comes back, but by that time, the evil Barry is experiencing a change of heart; his time among friends and family having changed him for the better. The two Flashes team-up to fight the bad guy Selkirk and the older Flash sacrifices himself so they can win. Present day Barry watches his older self die right before his eyes.
2. DC UNIVERSE ONLINE LEGENDS
In the comic book tie-in to the video game DC Universe Online Legends, readers were exposed to a not-too distant future where the villains of the world had united in all-out war against the planet’s superheroes. In the cinematic trailer leading up to the video game, we see how the Flash kicks the bucket.
During the final fight, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and Black Adam are engaged in a vicious dogfight. However, the old god gets the upper hand on the ace pilot hero. As Adam is about to deliver the finishing blow, the Flash rushes to his friend’s aid, but Black Adam is ready for the assault. The moment he spots the Flash out of the corner of his eye, he cries out “Shazam!”, bringing down a massive pillar of lightning that crashes on him, Green Lantern, and the Flash, killing the two heroes.
1. CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS
Without question the most famous death experienced by Barry Allen as the Flash, or any Flash for that matter, is when the Scarlet Speedster sacrificed his life to save the multiverse in “Crisis On Infinite Earths”. Throughout the event, Barry appears like a phantom at random moments in time, conveying a vague warning.
The foreboding event hasn’t happened yet; in issue #8 of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the future and present finally clash. The Anti-Monitor is making a weapon to destroy the Multiverse and is holding the Flash captive. Breaking out, the Flash proceeds to obliterate the doomsday device. Running around the machine, against the flow of the antimatter and forcing its energy back into the device, Barry feels the timestream around him. The Flash runs so fast he goes back through time, to the moments he appeared in earlier, before dying and saving the day.
Which Flash death was the most gruesome to you? Let us know in the comments!
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