FLASH Facts: Tina McGee and Patty Spivot

These Women.

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I feel bad that it has taken this long to write about two of the more important women in the history of The Flash, each with very different stories. Tina McGee and Patty Spivot are the lost loves of Flashes, Wally West and Barry Allen respectively, and today we’ll take a quick look at each one of them.

Tina McGee was introduced early into the Wally West Flash years. She was a nutritionist working at Syracuse University who was loaned out to S.T.A.R. Labs to help run some experiments on Flash to better understand his powers. During the experiments, the gang woke an electro-mechanical-organic intelligence called Killg%re and Wally saved Tina, as well as the rest of the world, from the threat of this monster. Tina, a decade older than Wally, found him to be brash, egotistical, and pretty damn sexy. Wally, a twenty year old who had recently won the lottery, and just happened to be one of the most famous superheroes in the world, thought Tina was a MILF, though she had no children. Still, they did not hook up, because Tina was married to Jerry McGee.

Tina and Jerry met in college, where Jerry used pidgin French to woo her. Since college, Jerry started an experiment to recreate the Flash’s powers. When things weren't going well, Jerry started to test his serum on himself. It made him stronger, and angrier. He became jealous of Wally, and convinced that Tina had slept with the boy hero. Jerry began to beat Tina, and Tina being smart, took off. She went to Wally, hoping he could keep her safe.

Jerry took more of his serum and turned himself into Speed McGee, a second rate Reverse Flash. Wally took him down easily enough, mostly because Jerry’s own invention was killing him, shutting down all of his internal organs. Jerry was going to die, but Wally saved him, helping a Russian scientist escape the Soviet Union who had successfully created super speedsters in the past. Jerry was safe, but his and Tina’s relationship was ruined.

Tina and Wally became an item, one that clearly wouldn’t work. For one thing, Wally was too childish to handle a real relationship. For another, Tina was dealing with the end of her marriage. Still, they would remain friends. Great friends. When Wally lost his powers during the Invasion! story, it was Tina that figured out how to get Flash up to speed again. With the help of Jerry, Tina set up an experiment in Manhattan to help Wally out. Wally regained his power, but he was unable to control it. He left a wake of destruction from New York to New Mexico, ending in a giant crater. It appeared that Wally West was dead.

Unwilling to give up on him, Tina, Jerry, and Wally’s roommate Mason (Wally had lost his fortune by this point) went looking for their pal. They drove across the country looking for clues to what happened to Wally, and finding very little. They finally found Wally in Swainsville, New Mexico, his mind empty and his body covered in fleshy spikes. He was caught somewhere between here and what would later be called the Speedforce. Barely human, Wally was creeping around the town at night, eating living chickens, then hiding in caves at night. Tina was able to coax Wally out, and with the help of Wally’s best friend, Chunk, heal Wally of his wounds.

Wally and Tina stayed friends. She was at Wally and Linda’s wedding, along with Jerry.

I know it doesn’t sound all that amazing here, but to read a character like Tina in a comic book being produced by a major comic company in the mid '80s and early '90s was pretty impressive. She started out like your average ingenue, needing to be saved and all that garbage, but writer Bill Messner-Loebs turned her into a complete character. A woman who realized she was dating an idiot ten years her junior and called it off because she didn’t want to waste her time on that garbage, who lead the charge to save her friend when he vanished, who helped her estranged husband come back from the edge of death and stood by him through rehabilitation. She kicked butt. Serious butt.

I like that on the show they have brought in Amanda Pays to play Tina. Amanda played Tina in the '90s Flash series, and while that show hasn’t held up so well, she, and John Wesley Shipp as Barry Allen, were great in it. I hope Tina gets to be more of a player on the new series. So far, Pays feels like little more than fan service for a twenty-year-old show that doesn’t really have many fans.

Patty Spivot had the hardest job a fictional character can ever have; she had to be as good as a legend almost right out of the gate.

Shortly after becoming Flash, forensic scientist Barry Allen was appointed an assistant, a woman named, you guessed it, Patty Spivot. Patty and Barry got along great, and quickly became friends. One night, while working in the lab, Barry saved Patty when a bolt of lightning came crashing through the window. It would have hit Patty and sent her directly into a shelving unit of chemicals. Would she have gained super speed? We’ll never know.

Patty had a crush on Barry, but she knew his heart belonged to another woman, Iris West, so she never told Barry. Pining away for her friend while watching him go off with another woman, Patty decided she needed a change of venue and moved to Blue Valley, Nebraska. Reluctantly, Barry Allen said goodbye to his friend.

When sidekick superheroes started showing up dead, and really old, in Keystone City, Barry called on Patty, asking for her help. Always awesome, Patty agreed. Patty and Barry found a boy hiding in a shipping container near where the body of Elongated Kid was found. They brought the boy to the station to see if he saw anything.

That boy, as it turns out, was Reverse Flash in disguise! He had found a way to kill people by aging them at superspeed, and now he was going to use it on Patty. Clearly Flash saved the day.

Then Barry erased all of history in Flashpoint.

In the New 52 Universe, Barry wasn’t with Iris, he was with Patty. They were dating, and things were good right up until Barry got sucked into a wormhole during a date and Patty blamed Flash for it. Barry was gone for months and presumed dead. When he returns from the “dead” Barry decides not to tell Patty that he is Flash. Of course, Patty is pretty darn smart, and she figures it out on her own. Patty tells Barry that she knows, and they move in together. This being a soap opera done in 22 pages a month, you know it didn’t end there…

Patty came to see that there were two things standing between her and Barry being truly happy; his life as Flash, and Iris West. Patty left Barry, much like she did in the show last night. In both cases, Barry was the jerk.

I’m not a huge fan of the comic version of Patty, partly because she was never really given her own identity. She was introduced as a one-off character, and the her issue was almost entirely from the imagination of Barry Allen - in it, Barry imagined what would have happened if the lightning had struck Patty in the lab that night. 

In the story of Barry’s mind, Patty gained speed powers and called herself Ms. Flash. Her powers - again in Barry’s imagination - proved to be uncontrollable, and she destroyed all of Central City. Now, this was written in 1977, well after Barry let a child get hit by lightning and gain superspeed, but the idea of this woman, a scientist, getting the power made him fear for the city. What up sexist Barry Allen?

It was Geoff Johns who pulled her from obscurity, which is pretty cool. Still, she was never more than the girl who loved Barry, and that’s a bummer when you look at how cool she is… was... on the show. 

On the show, Patty was smart and funny and cool as hell. She shot King Shark! She did actual detective work and figured out that Barry was Flash! I loved her. Now she’s gone. We all mourn today because The Flash lost a great character.