FLASH Facts: Griffin

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Just over ten years ago, DC Comics totally fucked up Flash. I mean, they royally screwed up. DC decided that, since they were doing Infinite Crisis, a big universe changing event that was a sequel to the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths series, they should do what the original did and change out their Flashes. Where Crisis on Infinite Earths made the switch from Barry Allen to Wally West work by having Barry die saving all of reality and passing the torch to his now twenty-year-old sidekick, Infinite Crisis just did the switch haphazardly. By COIE, Barry Allen’s popularity had dipped. His book was cancelled. On the other hand, when IC happened, Wally West was still very popular.

So, Wally was “killed” and Bart Allen, the grandson of Barry Allen who was the current Kid Flash, was super-aged (he was thirteen at the start of Infinite Crisis, but twenty by the time the series ended. He aged seven years between panels) and took over as Flash.

To celebrate, DC started a new Flash series titled Flash: The Fastest Man Alive. It lasted a year. By the end of it, Bart was killed off and Wally was back. Why? Because everyone knew the passing of the torch was done poorly. Also, because the Bart series just full out sucked. For some reason, the powers that be at DC chose Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo, the two guys behind the short lived 1990 Flash TV series, to write the new Flash series. Never mind that these guys had never written comics, and seemed to not really know much about the Flash mythos.

All of this is to say that Griffin Grey, who we saw in last night’s episode, “Back to Normal”, as the one and done baddie was just a useless in the comics.

Griffin Grey was Bart Allen’s best friend and roommate. They worked at the same job, and Griffin was positive that the constantly sad Bart needed to get out more and have fun. Griffin was the wacky best friend that we all hated in ‘90s sitcoms. I’m shocked he didn’t wear a loud vest and polka dot tie in every issue.

Anyhow, when Griffin got caught in a bombing, Bart (who had not yet taken on the identity of Flash - Bart was retired from the hero thing) rushed him to the hospital. Griffin suffered severe organ damage from the explosion, and things didn’t look to good for him. It was then that Griffin started to emit a green glow that seemed to heal him. Griffin had powers, but he didn’t know how to control them. When he returned to the bombing site, Griffin lost control of his green energy and almost killed a cameraman. Still, Griffin decided that he would become a hero like Flash and start protecting the people of Keystone City.

Griffin made himself a costume and came up with the superhero name… Griffin. He started sitting around listening to the police band, waiting for a chance to show the world what he could do.

Turns out what Griffin could do was seriously screw up a hostage situation. Griffin’s actions would have lead to the death of children if not for the quick (pun intended) thinking of Jay Garrick, the first Flash. Jay gave Griffin a stern talking to, as was Jay’s way, and told the kid to cut the superhero junk until he trained some more.

Instead of taking the advice of one of the greatest superheroes ever, Griffin decided to figure out who planted the bomb that almost killed him. He figured it out (which makes me question the quality of the Keystone detectives. Griffin worked the assembly line at Keystone Motors, how is he better at solving crimes than the police?) and also found out where the next bomb was going to be. Griffin called in the bomb threat as the bomber to ensure that the press would be there when he took down the real bomber. As an added bonus, because he still sucked at using his powers, Griffin killed the bomber. Still, the people of Keystone applauded their new champion, which annoyed Jay.

The president of Keystone Motors, wanting to get in good with Keystone’s new hero, gave Griffin a cool car and a hundred grand, which Griffin used to set himself up with a sweet penthouse superhero base of operations. Griffin was living the good life.

Then two things went wrong for Griffin. First, he started to age faster than a normal human would. Second, Bart decided to come out of retirement and take on the mantle of Flash. The people of Keystone were happy to have Flash back in town.

For some reason, Griffin moved his base from his sweet penthouse to an abandoned subway station - I guess this was a sure sign that he was becoming evil. Or maybe it was just bad writing. Maybe both. Griffin figured that, since he was aging faster than he should be, his best way to stop the super-aging process was to take Jay Garrick hostage and run some tests on him. Again, how this guy who was an assembly line worker knew the advanced biology is beyond me.

Griffin didn’t get any information from Jay, since Bart showed up and saved Jay from the idiot. Angry that the new Flash was getting so much love from Keystone City, Griffin decided to destroy a bridge, then save everyone on it to make people like him again. His plan backfired and he needed Bart to save him. Griffin apologized for being a dick, then died of old age.

I read Flash: The Fastest Man Alive when it was originally published, and I had forgotten pretty much all of it until this week’s episode of The Flash pushed it back to the front of my brain. It was a shit series that thankfully ended fast (no pun intended).

Still, I think the show used the character of Griffin pretty well. They didn’t try to turn him into a bigger threat, the aging stuff looked cool, and they didn’t waste a cooler Flash baddie in a one and done appearance.


Ken Lashley