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The Flash (also known as the Scarlet Speedster and the Crimson Comet and the Ruby Runner and the Carmine Crusader and the OMG What was that???) is a superhero from the DC Comics universe who runs around in red Spandex.
The Flash possesses "super-speed," which lets him move extremely fast and violate various obvious laws of physics, where other superheroes confine themselves to violating the obvious laws of criminal justice and good storytelling. For example, when moving at "super-speed," The Flash becomes invisible to normal people; whereas when standing in one place scratching his head over a riddle that even the youngest reader has already figured out, The Flash is — still invisible.
Happily for The Flash, there are no "youngest readers." Casting a paunchy, balding, middle-aged man as a comic book hero was DC's first attempt to penetrate the market beyond pubescent fanboys and sell subscriptions to Jewish accountants. This new audience obviously had less concern for realism, and found The Flash's bouts with exhaustion, cardiac health, and nasal hair to be gripping drama.
"Super-speed," like that more storied power to turn everything one touches into gold, turns out to be overrated, because The Flash turns out to be something less than a superhero when it comes to pleasing the ladies. Experts in the business of superheroing have concluded that getting duded up in a bright red Spandex suit is a gigantic diversion so that no one focuses on the obvious liability of sexual encounters taking at most 0.05 second. The reader, in theory, could bask in the hope that no one would focus on his own underperformance.
Another basic rule that The Flash violates is the rule of storytelling continuity. No fewer than four separate characters have suddenly acquired not just "super-speed" but a suit of bright-red long johns. There has been a Flash in the Golden Age of Comics, the Silver Age of Comics, the Modern Age of Comics, and the Post-Modern Age of Comics, none of them seemingly aware of any of the others. The Flash is conspicuously absent from the Bright Red Age of Comics.
edit Jay Garrick
Jason "Jay" Garrick was in college in 1938 and inhaled experimental vapors after accidentally going to sleep in the fume hood with his chemistry experiment. As a result, he acquired exciting new powers, rather than the result if the reader should try it, quick death by poisoning. He used these to star on the varsity football team. Then, realizing he could not stay in college for the rest of his life (it was 1938), he set out to make his mark in the Real World — in a red shirt with a lightning bolt and a stylized metal helmet with wings, like the Greek god Herpes. He strove against blackmailers and against newspaper photographers.
Jay kept his identity secret for years without a mask by using a special super-power called deus ex machina. He was originally from Earth-Two but served on Earth-One following the Crisis on Infinite Earths (apparently, Google Earth) and is still active as The Flash, operating out of Keystone City, through the magic of time travel plus inattentive editing.
edit Barry Allen
Barry Allen was the first "The Flash" because he put "The" in front of "Flash." He was one of America's leading scientists. He was also the first guy really notorious for failing his girlfriend in that department, so he started wearing full-on, red body-suit Spandex. He is so proud of his ability to underperform in the sack that he travels through time with a treadmill imbued with an artificial sense of embarrassment. Because "The Flash" travels time, he is dead and alive, here and not here, boring and boring, and useless.
edit Wally West
Wally West, nicknamed Baby, was the first "Kid Flash." He was born into a precocious generation, so his lack of sexual mojo was noticed early on. Luckily he had a superhero to look up to and draw inspiration from: the said Barry Allen. He was such a wannabee that he wore a red Spandex suit of his own — and red Polartec® during the winter. When Barry got lost through time (or merely confused by it), Baby took up the mantle and became "The Flash."
Baby was the first Flash to realise that the inability of all the Flashes to do for a woman what any normal man can do was not an accident. A mystical energy sucked away their libido faster than a middle-aged librarian. He resolved to use this energy to fight crime. Thus, Baby was able to suck at sex through walls, and even to make people around him of either sex suck at sex. He became the most powerful Flash yet. His forte was "super-fast" masturbation, which we would now term Flash-in-a-pan.
- Flashdance — What a Feeling
During Wally's time as The Flash, he was confronted by adversaries called the "Rogue Squadron." Most of them had had successful careers as actors at Lucasfilm until George Lucas stole their souls and turned them to the Dark Side.
The Rogue Squadron split in half and chose to fight on Wally's turf. Wally called in all of his friends (except for Aquaman, who sucks), and they stopped the Rogue Squadron. But not before Wally's arch-nemesis, Broom (a Reverse-Flash of some sort) knocked up Wally's Chinese Mistress Linda Park.
Of course, this didn't matter, because Wally was shot by Max Lord.
edit Bart Simpson
In the future, the unmentionable problem that haunts The Flash is cured, and Barry successfully couples with many women, in many different time zones. Somewhere along the time line, he has sex with the daughter of the son of him having sex with his niece's brother. He thereby gives birth himself to a new Flash, Bart Simpson. Bart is then raised in TV-reality, with a family, and never ages. After an infinite time, Bart inexplicably and vaguely breaks out of this reality and ends up, grown up in present-day New York City, complete with body piercings. Bart then steals a random news reporter (superheroes always partner with news reporters) and jumps dimensions to acquire "super-speed" and begin adult life as the latest incarnation of "The Flash," a legacy he has no idea what to do with.
edit The Justice League
"The Flash" is a member of The Justice League. His role in the team is essentially to never use his powers, as that would resolve any conflict too quickly. So he travels everywhere with the team but does nothing at all. When travelling, he never goes by himself, partly because he needs the moral support. Currently, the League are annoyed with The Flash because, on their last journey together (Issue 216 - where HagelHawk defects), his only role was to incessantly whine, "Are we there yet?"
edit The Flash: The movie
An upcoming The Flash movie will star a pretty boy as "The Flash", a Shakespearean actor who owes the studio as much money as he does his hundreds of enemies and dozens of storefront paycheck-loan agencies. A random hottie actress will be his "love" interest, despite her connections to his adversaries and the fact that intimacy with her forces him to confront a variety of personal demons. She will leave him but get second thoughts and return within the two-second window that lets her save his life. This is because none of the above has ever been a part of any Hollywood movie plot before.