WARNING: This piece could spoil parts of Flash season three. Most notably episode 20. If you don’t want to risk it, stop reading now and come back after you’ve seen the episode. You’ve been warned…
If there’s one thing comic books love, it’s alternate realities and future versions of characters. Messing around with these concepts in comics is almost as old as superheroes themselves - it's like every comic book writer heard about Everett’s Many Worlds Theory and instantly knew that it was a perfect way for Superman, Captain America, and Wonder Woman to interact with older/evil versions of themselves.
And if we’re talking about alternate realities and time travel stories, no character is better connected to the concepts than Flash. After all, it was Flash issue 123 that first brought the whole thing to the DC universe when Barry Allen took a journey to Earth-Two and met Jay Garrick, the first Flash.
Before long, everyone was running off to weird Earths and different futures, mucking about in things that weren’t their business. We’ve discussed the vastness of the DC Multiverse before, but today we’ll be focusing it down just to the fastest man alive and all the problems he has.
Since we follow the adventures of the good Flashes, you can be pretty sure that any Flashes from a different reality will be evil or, in the least, dark. To help me keep my sanity, we’ll tackle each of these alternate/future versions of Flashes in the order that they appeared, which means we start with a quick (pun intended) trip to Earth-Three…
You may be thinking “Hey, idiot, you told us about Johnny Quick and he’s a good guy!” Yes, the Earth-Two Johnny is a good guy but the Earth-Three Johnny is a real summabitch. On Earth-Three, a reality where the British colonies revolted against the American Empire and Abraham Lincoln assassinated president John Wilkes Booth, there is no Justice League. In the place of the great heroes of DC is the Crime Syndicate of America, who rule things with an evil fist while fighting the only hero around, Alexander Luthor.
The Crime Syndicate of America traveled to Earth-One looking get some exercise by duking it out with the Justice League. Unsurprisingly, the League beat the Syndicate. Over the years, they fought again and again, with the League always winning right up until Earth-Three was wiped out of existence in Crisis on Infinite Earths. There isn’t much background on this Johnny Quick - he was just an evil version of Flash.
Still, no good idea stays dead for long, and the Crime Syndicate showed up again, this time coming from the Anti-Matter Universe. This version of evil Johnny Quick got his speed by injecting himself with a highly addictive serum called Speed Juice, which is made from the blood of the first evil Johnny Quick. Gross.
In the New 52 we met a third version of the evil Johnny Quick. This one even had a name - Jonathan Allen. He got his speed when he was struck by lightning at S.T.A.R. Labs while running from the police, getting his powers and becoming a real dick. While fighting on Earth-One, Johnny got his leg frozen and broken off by Captain Cold, then he got himself killed at the hands of Alexander Luthor. These evil Johnny Quicks don’t have long lives.
The first Bizarro Flash was created by Bizarro No. 1 aka Bizarro Superman, who used a duplicator ray to make more Bizarros to fill up Bizarro World aka thraE, a square version of Earth that revolves around a blue sun. When Bizarro No. 1 created a yellow suited Bizarro Flash, he came out different than the others. Bizarro Flash was physically perfect, unlike all the other Bizarros who were gray and had angular features. Disgusted by the look of Bizarro Flash, the other Bizarros shot him into space.
Bizarro Flash landed on Earth and took on the superhero identity of “Hero”. He quickly fell in love with Lois Lane, and Superman wasn’t having any of that, so Big Blue trailed Hero and found out the truth. Over a few days, Bizarro Flash’s skin turned gray and his features became more Bizarro like. Superman took Bizarro Flash back to Bizarro World and he joined the Bizarro Justice League.
After Crisis on Infinite Earths, the third version of Bizarro created Bizarro World and with it a Bizarro Flash who was morbidly obese and ran slow but could fly at the speed of light.
In All Star Superman, Bizarro Flash wears a red costume but is super slow.
After a battle that took the work of all the Flashes across time, Wally West didn’t come home. In his place was a dark version of him. Not evil, mind you, just not the Wally everyone knew and loved. This version, commonly called Dark Flash, came from an alternate Earth.
This version of Wally, who called himself Walter came from a reality where the love of his life, Linda Park, was killed by the super-terrorist organization Kobra. The death of his Linda drove Walter mad, leading him to pull Savitar out of the Speed Force so he could learn at the feet of the god of speed. Once Walter learned all he could from Savitar, he killed the “god”.
One day, while protecting the city, Walter saw something he couldn’t believe - Linda Park was standing outside the Flash Museum. As Walter would learn, this Linda wasn’t the one he loved, but the one from Earth-One. She had been taken by Abra Kadabra in a super evil plot to make sure Wally West didn’t have a connection to reality, leading him to fall into the Speed Force and getting stuck there. Luckily, Linda escaped from Kadabra but found herself stuck on an alternate Earth.
When the true Wally showed up, pulled out of the Speed Force and to the alternate Earth where his one true love was, he and Walter took on Kadabra. In the battle, it appeared that Wally and Linda were killed, and Walter was aged ten years. He also gained a boss scar across his face. Walter then traveled to Earth-One looking to hunt down Kadabra and avenge Wally and Linda. When the true Flash and Linda showed back up, Walter returned to his own reality.
A version of a Speed Forceless Barry Allen from the future who comes back in time to warn current day Barry that all of time and space is about to get real messed up, Hot Pursuit uses a Speed Force powered cosmic motorcycle to get around fast.
At first, Hot Pursuit believes that it is Bart Allen, the grandson of Barry from the future and at the time Kid Flash, who will cause the destruction of the timeline, but it soon becomes clear that Reverse Flash is the true danger. As the gang fights Eobard Thawne, the villain uses his speed to age Hot Pursuit to the point of death. All of this leads to Barry deciding to go back in time and save his mom, creating the Flashpoint. Hot Pursuit came to save all of space and time but instead caused its destruction. What a maroon.
I guess Barry didn’t learn anything from the whole Hot Pursuit leading to Flashpoint and ruining everything because twenty years in the future, he traveled back in time to screw things up yet again.
This time, Future Flash, who wears a blue suit, travels back in increments, stopping every few years to relive some things, like the death of Captain Cold. As he goes back in time, Reverse Flash explains his motives, which are two-fold.
In the current day, there will be a car accident. In the accident, Iris West will be left paralyzed from the waist down, and Wally West will be killed. Also, there is an ever growing rift in the Speed Force that threatens to destroy all of existence. Future Flash’s plan is to stop the car accident and also seal the Speed Force rupture, but the only way to seal the rupture is to kill his past self.
As Future Flash and current Flash duked it out, Wally West from the future, and now with super speed that he gained when Future Flash saved his life, shows up and gets into the mix. Future Flash ends up killing Wally, closing the rupture and trapping current day Flash in the Speed Force. Future Flash, who has somehow de-aged, takes over current day Barry Allen’s life.
In time, current day Flash gets out of the Speed Force but before he can beat the tar out of his future self, the two Flashes team up to take out another baddy. During the fight, Future Flash sacrifices himself to kill the villain.
You can bet that sooner or later we’ll see another alternate reality Flash or a version of Barry from the future who also happens to be a real ass. After all, the Multiverse is back, and the future is full of possibilities.