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Best Flash Comics: DC’s Scarlet Speedster’s Must-Read Comics

Best Flash Comics

Best Flash Comics

The Flash is one of DC Comics’ most iconic and enduring superheroes. First appearing in 1940’s Flash Comics #1, several characters have taken up the mantle of the Scarlet Speedster over the years, most famously by Barry Allen and Wally West.

Combining lightning-quick speed with a strong moral compass, The Flash has thrilled readers for over 80 years with his adventures across time, space, and the depths of the speed force. His stories have captivated fans across multiple generations.

For both long-time fans and new readers looking to get into Flash comics, there is a wealth of great stories to choose from. To aid your search, here are some of the definitively best Flash comic book runs and graphic novels over the years. From revolutionary reinventions of the character to classic tales across DC history, these are the cream of the speedster crop.

The Best of The Flash: DC’s Scarlet Speedster’s Must-Read Comics

Barry Allen Makes His Debut and the Silver Age Begins (1956-1985)

The Flash needed a revival by 1956. His Golden Age adventures had ceased in 1951 and the superhero genre was fading from popularity. Enter writer Robert Kanigher, editor Julius Schwartz, and artist Carmine Infantino with Barry Allen, a whole new take on the scarlet speedster. Barry Allen became a fan-favorite character whose stories reinvigorated the superhero genre.

Debuting in Showcase #4 in 1956, police scientist Barry Allen became The Flash after a lab accident gave him incredible speed powers. The success of Barry’s first appearance launched the Silver Age of comics, with DC breathing new life into Golden Age heroes like Green Lantern and Hawkman as well.

From Showcase #4 through to the original end of his story in Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-1986), Barry’s journey as The Flash spawned a slew of classic stories that have become pillars of DC history.

Essential Barry Allen Recommendations

  • Showcase #4 (1956) – Barry Allen’s first appearance ushers in the Silver Age.
  • Flash of Two Worlds – The Flash #123 (1961) – Barry meets his Golden Age predecessor Jay Garrick in a groundbreaking tale.
  • Flash #179 (1968) – A trippy, psychedelic issue by writer Mike Friedrich that was unusual for its time but exemplified the era’s boundary-pushing storytelling.
Comic Significance
Showcase #4 Debut of Barry Allen
Flash of Two Worlds – Flash #123 Barry meets Jay Garrick
Flash #179 Trippy, psychedelic departure from usual comics

Wally West Takes Up the Mantle (1987-2011)

Following Barry Allen’s noble sacrifice saving the universe in Crisis on Infinite Earth, his former Kid Flash sidekick Wally West took up the speedster mantle in 1987’s The Flash #1 by Mike Baron and Jackson Guice.

After initially struggling to live up to Barry’s legacy, Wally came into his own in a 1992 makeover by the creative team of Mark Waid and Greg LaRocque. In a landmark run that redefined The Flash forever, Waid transformed Wally into a fully-realized hero, introducing concepts like the Speed Force which became core to Flash mythos.

Wally became a fan favorite and made the role of Flash his own during this period. Notable storylines include “Terminal Velocity” (1994), “Dead Heat” (1999), and “Crossfire” (2001).

Must-Read Wally West Flash Stories

  • The Flash #62-65 (1992) – “Born to Run” kicks off Waid’s game-changing run that redefined Wally West.
  • Flash #91-94 (1994) – “Emergency Stop” introduces the Speed Force which gives depth to the Flash’s powers.
  • Flash #95-100 (1995) – In “Terminal Velocity,” Wally pushes his powers to the brink in an iconic storyline.

Geoff Johns’ Definitive 2000s Run (2000-2011)

If Mark Waid reinvented Wally West for the 90s, Geoff Johns perfected the Flash formula for the 2000s. Taking over the title in 2000, Johns fundamentally understood the core of the Flash – embracing legacy, family, and the concept of speed itself.

During his tenure, Johns penned several epic storylines, notably “Blitz” (2001) and “Ignition” (2006), as well as expanding the Flash universe with allies like the Rogues, Kid Flash, Max Mercury, and Jay Garrick. Johns had a deep understanding of what made the Flash an appealing character.

Johns also wrote the brilliant time travel tale Flashpoint (2011), which spawned the New 52 universe and introduced Barry Allen again as the main Flash.

Geoff Johns’ Flash Masterpieces

  • Flash #197-200 (2003) – Features Captain Cold and the definitive origin of the Rogues.
  • Flash #231-236 (2007) – “The Wild Wests” has brilliant alternate reality action.
  • The Flash: Rebirth #1-6 (2009) – Barry Allen returns in this iconic miniseries that brought Barry back to the mantle of Flash.

The New 52 and DC Rebirth Revivals (2011-Present)

Following Flashpoint, DC’s New 52 reboot in 2011 gave Barry Allen a clean slate as The Flash once more. Writer/artists Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato spearheaded this revival, bringing sumptuous art and sci-fi-tinged stories back to Flash comics.

Barry was given an updated background and new adventures for modern audiences. Highlights of this run include acclaimed story arcs like “Mob Rule” (2012) and “Reverse” (2013).

Wally West also returned with the DC Rebirth relaunch in 2016, and two excellent Flash series (starring Barry and Wally respectively) entertained fans with both classic and new takes on the scarlet speedster.

New 52 and Rebirth’s Fastest Moments

  • The Flash #0 (2012) – A Zero Issue origin story beautifully illustrated by Francis Manapul.
  • The Flash #17-20 (2013) – In “Gorilla Warfare,” Barry clashes with intelligent apes led by Gorilla Grodd.
  • DC Universe Rebirth (2016) – Wally West breaks through from being lost in the Speed Force and sets the Rebirth era in motion.

Alternate Flashes: Tangent Comics, Elseworlds and Beyond

While Barry Allen and Wally West are undoubtedly the two marquee men to don the red and gold, many other Flashes have made their mark across DC’s Multiverse.

When writers and artists have been let loose to reimagine the Flash on alternate Earths or Elseworlds settings outside the main DC canon, some wild interpretations and riveting stories have resulted. Creative teams have brought unique twists to Flash mythos through these alternate tales.

Alternate Reality Flashes Worth Reading

  • Flash Annual #1 (2007) – “The Many Deaths of Barry Allen” sees a Multiverse filled with alternate Barry Allens.
  • The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1-13 (2006-2007) – Bart Allen briefly takes up the Flash mantle before being killed by the Rogues.
  • Tangent Comics: The Flash (1997) – On the Tangent Earth, the Flash is a teenage superheroine and daughter of the Atom.

That wraps up our recommendations for the must-read Flash stories across DC history – from revolutionary introductions to iconic runs to alternate reality excitement. The Flash has thrilled fans consistently for over 80 years, and his legacy lives on today.

Whether you’re a diehard Wally West fan or a devotee of Barry Allen’s Silver Age tales, there’s something for every Flash enthusiast on this list. So strap on your boots, power up the Cosmic Treadmill, and get ready to dive into some of the fastest comic book adventures ever published!

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