The Flash (Jay Garrick)

Created by Gardner Fox & Harry Lampert

Jason Peter "Jay" Garrick

Joan (wife), unnamed son (deceased), Major Williams (father-in-law, deceased)

Justice Society of America, All-Star Squadron, Justice League of America

Flash Comics #1 (Jan. 1940)

The original Flash is one of DC's most popular supporting characters. He has played an important role not only during the Golden Age, but in every incarnation of the Justice Society, and in serving as a mentor to multiple generations of new heroes.

He was the first of DC's Golden Age heroes to return in the company's Silver Age. His reintroduction in 1961's "The Flash of Two Worlds" (The Flash #123) also introduced the concept of "parallel worlds," called Earth-One and Earth-Two. These became the cornerstone of the DC Comics multiverse that existed until all Earths were merged in Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985–86).

From Flash Comics #1 (1940); art by Harry Lampert.
The Flash comforts Joan Williams then races off to take care of Sieur Satan and the Faultless Four. From Flash Comics #1 (1940); art by Harry Lampert.
From All-Star Comics #37 (1947); art by Harry Lampert.
The readers had reportedly spoken — the Flash was the third DC character awarded his own solo title. All-Flash Quarterly ran for 32 issues (1941–1948).

Jay Garrick was born on 3 April 1918 (Flash vol. 2 #134) and grew up in the central United States. His story began in early 1939 while he was attending Midwestern University, Jay Garrick gained super-speed powers from exposure to "heavy water" fumes. After his graduation, he became an assistant professor at Coleman University. There he first stepped out as the Flash when he used his abilities to save his college sweetheart, Joan Williams, and her father from Sieur Satan and the Faultless Four as. Right away, he shared with Joan the secret of his dual identity. (Flash Comics #1, Secret Origins #9)

Flash Comics #1 was published in 1940, but after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC's Golden Age timeline shifted because other heroes were needed to fill the "inspirational void" left by the elimination of the Golden Age Superman and Batman. The modified dates of Jay's origin were contradictory. Secret Origins #9 (1986) was written to be the definitive post-Crisis version. It established that the accident took place in early 1939, and his heroic debut later that year. The origin story in Flash Comics #1 spans that time. Years later, timelines in Zero Hour #0 (1994) and Flash Secret Files #1 (1997), as well as references in Sandman Mystery Theatre, asserted that he debuted even earlier, in 1938. Many of his early stories described the Flash as operating in New York City, but most modern accounts place him in Keystone City.

Blinky, Winky, and Noddy. From All-Flash #15 (); art by

Jay Garrick meets Joan Williams at Midwestern University, he asks her to a dance but she rebuffs him, having accepted from a football player already, Bull Tryon. On the field Jay is known as a leadfoot. Later in the lab, he studies "hard water. Late at night he gets clumsy spills his chemicals. Breathing in the gas, he passes out, Professor Hughs finds him unconscious, brings him to hospital. He lies for weeks but is very healthy when he wakes. The doctor deduces that Jay has become "the fastest thing that ever walked on earth!!" Jay rushes out stunningeveryone, he toes to see Joan and others, appearing and disappearing, and uses the power on the football field too. Later Joan sees him playing tennis with himself, he learns her father has been kidnapped. Sieur Satan heads up some racketeers called the Faultless Four and targets joan but Jay is faster than a bullet. He works with Serge Orloff, surgeon; Duriel the assassin; Smythe. They want to steal some atomic secret invented by Major Williams. Jay departs saying it looks like a job for the Flash (though he's never been seen before). Costume includes yellow bolts on the pants. When he rescuyes the major he doesn't recognize Jay. Hard to breath when carried by Flash. The Flash listens to the Four's next plan, he makes quick work o fthem, sending Satan off a cliff. In the end Joan winks at Jay; she knows his identity. 1

 A dancer in the Fancy Follies is shot and Joan is there to comfort her friend. The Flash gets on the case, Lord Donelin is implicated Joan goes to visit him. Flash uncovers wide plot to take out many entertainers. 2

Major arrested and Jay wonders if the paper that reported it is involved. He spies finds that the editor is being bribed to sway public opinion. publisher schemes to get Major's inventions to sell. He demonstrates ability to create a whirlwhind, appears invisible. 3

Flash saves the painter Boleau in the countryside from assassins sent by the Vandal -- after the man's picture "Night moon" wins the Knight award for best painting of the year. They feel the works are more vaulable if he's dead. He often uses powers to become invisible, moving back and forth quickly. The Vandal dresses in a queer green hooded cloak. No bolt on pants. 5

Joan calls Jay Flash in public. They go to see running races at the Olympics pre-meet. They run afoul of a man who douses a runner's shirt with a chemical drug to slow him down and rig the meet. Jay takes his place and far outruns the others and makes the gamblers lose all their bets. Later Flash has no problem revealing his ID to the runner. 6

Black Mike terrorizes Smith for his inventions. Jay motoring through Minnesota and his car's metal disappears. He transforms to Flash right in front of a local. Finds the inventor's house nearby. It's Henry Smith of Duluth has a new paint gun that fuses with metal. He goes to friend Jimmie Dolan the auto racer, reveales his secret to him too. It's another race sabotage plan linked to gambling. 7

The Flash is 50 times as fast as anything that moves! always with the invisible man trick. Always with a fat bald man. 8

Scientists makes way to turn creatures into great monsters, giant lizard. Flash must stop them by allying with a friend in the air who bombs them to death.9

Natalie Nixon society girl kidnapped. Flash witnesses it but holds off rescuing wanting to find their boss instead. The Chief has a way to counter the Flash, a special pair of red glasses that 'revolve in different directions' so he can see rapidly moving objects; this will allow him to shoot the Flash. It's all for nothing as the Flash surprises him anyway 11

Flash visits nation of Kurtavia who need his help, he gets there by swimming which takes 8-9 minutes. He finds the country under attack by submarines from Nural, helps escort shipwreck survivors to shore. He sweeps up their guns, disarms their planes and subs which retreat; follows them back to Nural where he knocks out a power station. They declare peace then he swims home. 12

Joan appears, clearly knows Flash is Jay. 14

Flash artist Hibbard appears to up his game; more panels, more detail. 16

Flash plays baseball with himself. He goes undercover on baseball team to root out some gambling plot. He throws men through a door and sticks them there: the same principle that allows a hurrican to thrust a straw right through a tree trunk. Ad announces that Flash has won the contest for who gets the next dedicated magazine. 17

Jay and Joan meet debutante Brenda Forest now running restaurants with Fred Devere. Flash defends her from racketeers. 18

68 pages. Retelling origin. cast him as non-athletic, workaholic student. Assigned to breaking down "hard water" into it's gaseous elements. so swift he can hurl an ordinary drinking straw right through a door, matches the speed of flying bullets and plucks them right out of the air. When he runs his speed is so great it creates a terrific suction behind him. Mr. Norris invents formula to turn living things to stone K2-10, meant to help embalming, turn people into statues. Bio of the creators, Gardner Fox and E.E. Hibbard. The smooth, suave, clever Monocle strikes, stealing precious gems from a fashion show where Joan is the clothing designer. Monocle keeps a Garden of gems", gems as flowers. His next robbery foiled by the Flash, he sends his men after Joan, a known accomplice. His trap includes rooms fitted electric eyes. and bright lights and mirrors that create momentary confusion but Flash turned the trick back on the Monocle. Some 'flash facts' included. He stops Flash with a stroboscope which reveals his presence so men can shoot at him. Flash caught him in his airplane took him down. (All-Flash #1)

Joan a frivolous ?? wins a utlity company in an auction. 20

The Flash brings "thrills and laughs".

In black Chinatown, the Flash tries to stop killings by hatchet. led by Gorm, a man treated to look Chinese by Dr. Vordyce, the adopted son of Kai Fu, the Flash's ally who is killed. The speed of the Flash is greater even that light itself. When he hurls and object at the speed of its :release velocity" it's so terrififc that the ojbect can pas through metal untouched. As can the flash himself when he races. Joan invited to do an article on "Chinese dens." 22

Swims so fast water turns to steam. "flies" because of speed, as if he had glider wings. Full book length tale, vs. Roy Revenge, master of medicine, law and science known as The Threat, gathered geniuses to commit expert crimes. The Threat was Joe Connor, small timecrook sent away by D.A. Jim Kelley. When released he's become much more cold and calculating, boned up on chemistry and physics. Approaches Kelley pretending to have repented but then robs him and his family, kidnaps young son then goes into hiding. Years later, after Kelley becomes mayor, Joe's 'son' Roy Revenge is bitter, blames Kelley for killing his mother. During Roy's trial, Joe plans to slip him a gun to kill Kelley. Jay is there saves him but Roy escapes. Joe comes to control 3 states wants the whole country. Roy's sister reaches out to the Flash wants to stop Roy doing crime; she frees him. Later the Threat on the run hides in a barrel of lye that eats through his skin, in hospital vows to alter his appearance and becomes Dr. Cravath who offers that service to others. Sister Ann comes to know Jay and Joan takes them to meet Roy who's supposedly repented. When all meet, Joe commits suicide with poison rather than be arrested. (All-Flash #2)

Garrick's colleague Jennings invents a rocket that travels into space and he kidnaps people to take to Mars. He can launch himself into the air for short distances and simulate flight. They encounter native spider-like aliens, the Kriglo, who call the planet Kigor and speak telepathically. After the ordeal Jennings realized his error and repented.24

Flash used his velocity a lot for his body and projectiles. Joan becomes a defense coordination secretary going undercover for racketeer-busting. Jay got a job as an assistant investigator to help and protect her. 25

Flash "fleet as light itself." Always doing some event associated with the well-to-do. 26

Flash uses speed to catapult into the air. 28

Jay appeared never too concerned for his secret identity. When the Flash exonerated Joan Williams's father, Major Williams, of espionage charges, the Major also learned that the Flash was Jay Garrick. (#3) His feature co-starred the Three Dim-Wits They first appeared in All-Flash #5 (1942), as incompetent small-time criminals working for a crooked stable owner. After the Flash captured the stable owner, the three henchmen decided to move on to more benign pursuits. The trio wandered from job to job, usually getting into trouble or causing it, and the Flash would always get involved.

The Flash was officially deputized by Keystone City's police commissioner. (All-Star Comics #1) and very soon afterwards, he became a charter member of the Justice Society of America. On 9 November 1940, at the behest of British Intelligence, President Roosevelt sendt the Flash, and Green Lantern on a mission to Scotland to investigate rumors of a planned Nazi invasion of Great Britain. The heroes were captured by Major Helmut Streicher and taken to Berlin, where Hitler nearly executed them with the Spear of Destiny. They were rescued by the arrival of Dr. Fate and Hourman. With the intervention of several more heroes, they barely escaped a catastrophe in Europe. At FDR's suggestion, they formed the Justice Society of America. At some time after this story, Hitler used the Spear to erect the "Sphere of Influence," which brought any metahuman under Hitler's mental control if they entered Axis territory. (DC Special #29, Secret Origins #31, All-Star Comics #3)

The Flash was a hit for National (DC), and he was awarded his own second quarterly title. After All-Flash Quarterly began in mid-1941, the Flash became ineligible for membership in the JSA. (Per DC's editors, heroes featured in two or more other comic books must be removed from All-Star Comics). For the Justice Society, this meant that Johnny Thunder joined as his replacement, and the Flash became an honorary member. (All-Star Comics #6) He returned again along with his friend Green Lantern to accompany the JSA 500 years into the future to help a group of time scientists develop an indestructible force field. (All-Star Comics #10)

He still appeared with the team occasionally as an honorary member, as when he was called upon to help raise $1,000,000 for war orphans. (#7) That same year, Jay participated in a case wherein he and the JSA gained a measure of supernatural youthfulness. The evil Ian Karkull had gathered a group of super-villains to help him assassinate eight future U.S. presidents. The JSA called upon its reserves to thwart him. When he was destroyed, Karkull released a burst of "temporal energy" that enhanced the longevity of everyone present (this also included Joan Williams!). (All-Star Squadron Annual #3)

The Thinker; All-Flash #12. The Fiddler; All Flash #32; art by Harry Lampert.
The Shade. From Flash Comics #33 (1942); art by Everett Hibbard.

Jay's most iconic villains also joined the JSA's rival team, the Injustice Society. The Fiddler first appeared in 1947 but later stories would place him as a much earlier wartime adversary. (All-Flash #32) The Thinker ??. (All-Flash #12) Years later, the Shade would fight for good, but in the 1940s, his darker natures won out and he clashed frequently with the Flash. (Flash vol. 1 #33) The Rag Doll would return repeatedly for decades, and spawn three children to carry on his twisted legacy. (Flash Comics #36) The Turtle was also the enemy of Jay's successors. (All-Flash #21)

Eventually, the Flash rejoined the JSA on a more regular basis, being brought back with Green Lantern to replacing the outgoing Spectre and Starman. (All-Star Comics #24) Their return to active membership was announced the next issue. (#25)

Both at home and in his adventuring career, success followed young Mr. Garrick. In October 1945, he the Flash was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his efforts during the war. (Flash vol. 2 Annual #3) And in early 1947, he became the first JSA member to wed, marrying Joan Williams. During their honeymoon in Las Vegas, the Justice Society paid an impromptu visit. Naturally, they also needed to put down shenanigans by the Fiddler, the Shade, and the Thinker. (Flash vol. 2 #161) (Before this story, Flash's wedding had been dated a bit later, in 1948 by Flash vol. 2 #134).

One of Jay's foes became the romantic interest for Alan Scott (Green Lantern). Rose Canton and her psychotic alternate personality, the Thorn, were unaware that they are the same person. (Flash #89) After he and Alan took her for treatment, Rose secretly bore Alan's twins). (Lois Lane #113) (This story was written for Flash Comics #107, but the series was canceled before the story was published. Two pages were later printed in Lois Lane #113 and two more pages appear in issue #6 of Alter Ego magazine.)

As paranoia grew in America about "subversive behavior," FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover attempted to convince the Flash to work with the agency against domestic Communism. That sounded well and good until the Flash discovered that the FBI considered his alter ego Jay Garrick and his good friend Elliott Shapiro to be potential subversives themselves. (Flash Special #1)

In the final Golden Age issue of Flash Comics, the Flash confronted his only arch speedster during the Golden Age. The Rival was one of Jay's teachers from Midwestern University, Dr. Edward Clariss. Clariss created a formula to temporarily duplicate the Flash's powers. (Flash #104, JSA #16) After the cancellation of Flash Comics, the hero continued to appear with the JSA in All-Star Comics. Their last case was to rescue four kidnapped detectives from the Key. (All-Star Comics #57) That story was the last Golden Age appearance of the Flash, but his DC Comics history extended a bit further before the character's return in 1961.

The Justice Society disbanded in 1951 following their appearance at a round of HUAC hearings. (Adventure #466, JSA #68) That same year, the Flash announced his retirement and left Keystone City in the hands of another costumed hero, the Spider. Eventually Jay's foe the Shade discovered that the Spider was a criminal and killed him before the Spider could murder Jay and Joan Garrick. Seeing that his retirement was premature, the Flash resumed his heroic career. (The Shade #3)

Silver Age

At this point it's worth reiterating the difference between pre- and post-Crisis DC continuity. Before the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Jay's life continued normally on Earth Two, one of an infinite number of parallel Earths. After Crisis, there was only one universe, so the Flash's absence from the public stage was written as the result of a plot by his most persistent rogues…

The Flash had been active for another five years after the JSA disbanded, until the Fiddler, the Shade, and the Thinker actually managed to shift Keystone City into another dimension, creating a hypnotic illusion that prevented outsiders from noticing the city's absence. They placed Keystone's inhabitants (including the Flash) in suspended animation so that they could prey upon them at will. (Secret Origins #50)

The next time anybody heard from the original Flash, it was the surprise meeting between he and an all-new Flash, Barry Allen! In this momentous event, Jay Garrick became the first Golden Age hero hero to resurface in the the 1960s. In the story, Barry Allen accidentally transported himself to Earth Two and together the Flashes defeated the Fiddler, the Shade, and the Thinker. (This was also the first textual reference to "Earth One" and "Earth Two." (Flash #123) In the post-Crisis retelling, Allen pierced the barrier separating Keystone City from the outside world. (Secret Origins #50)

The cosmic counterparts hit it off and more team-ups followed. In their second meeting, the Flashes fought Allen's foes, Captain Cold and the Trickster. At this time, Jay told Barry about the Justice Society. (Flash #129) Soon after that, Barry actually met the JSA when the two of them rescued the Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Wonder Woman and Johnny Thunder from Vandal Savage. After this, the JSA came out of retirement. (Flash #137)

After this, team-ups between the Justice Society and Justice League became annual events, and the original Flash participated in almost all of those. In addition, he and Barry continued their trans-universal camaraderie, battling the Shade (Flash #151), Abra Kadabra (#170), and the Lord of Limbo. (#305)

Never one to bother hiding his real face in public, Jay officially outed himself as the Flash in an interview in We magazine. (DC Special Series #11, 1978)

Among his peers Jay Garrick was always the buoyant and steadfast one, yet the nature of fighting evil must eventually include difficult moral situations. Such was the case when the Rag Doll founded a cult and slayed the family of a famous actor. Starman, Flash, Green Lantern, Wildcat and Dr. Mid-Nite hunted him down and the villain was apparently slain by Starman's cosmic rod. The next day, the JSAers removed Rag Doll's body from the morgue so that the cause of his death would not be publicly revealed. After this however, Rag Doll's followers rescued his body and nursed him to health. (Starman vol. 2 #9, 11, 67-68) Rag Doll reportedly had many children. Rag Doll II continued his father's cult. Rag Doll III was a complicated vigilante who bonded with the Secret Six. (Villains United #3) Their sister might have been the worst: ?? was a super-sadistic crime boss called ?? who fought both the Secret Six and the Birds of Prey. (Secret Six #??, Birds of Prey #??)

And during a Justice League team-up, Jay's body became the vessel of vengeance for an entity called the Spirit King. This wraith possessed the Flash's body and killed the JSA member Mr. Terrific. (Justice League of America #171-172) What's more, the Spirit King returned years later and nearly killed the second Mr. Terrific as well. (JSA #62)

The original Flash disappeared again for a time when the Justice Society entered another dimension in order to stave off an invasion. Joan Garrick received only an impersonal government telegram informing her that her husband was missing. She believed him to be dead. When the third Flash, Wally West, investigated Jay's disappearance, he learned the fate of the JSA from Green Lantern's children. Wally tried and failed to enter this Ragnarok dimension. (Flash Annual #3, 1989)

While he was gone, Joan was kidnapped by the Fiddler, who traveled back in time to seek revenge on the Flash in the 1940s. She was rescued by the new Hawkman and Hawkwoman of Thanagar, who followed her into the past. (Hawkworld Annual #1, 1990)

Leaving a Legacy

The JSA returned soon enough and true to form, he and Green Lantern decided to return to active duty. (Justice Society of America vol. 2 #1) The team's case load was sporadic, but the Flash could always be found among them. The days of regular JLA/JSA team-ups had subsided, but Jay was always on hand to help the Justice League with or without the Society. Several members aided the Justice League Europe against Sonar. (JLE #47-50) Following the death of Superman, Wonder Woman asked him to serve as their temporary field leader. (Justice League America #78-89)

Meanwhile, Jay became an integral part of the "Flash family" as a mentor to Wally West. He and another Golden Age speedster Johnny Quick also tracked down another hero of their kind, Max Mercury (aka Quicksilver). (Flash vol. 2 #76) When they battled Professor Zoom, Jay leg was broken. (Flash #78) That didn't stop him from pitching in against Kobra. (Flash #97-100)

In the cosmic event known as Zero Hour, fate awarded the Flash another measure of youthfulness. (Starman vol. 2 #20) His contemporaries were not so fortunate. Jay visited Johnny Thunder, whose Alzheimer's disease had become acute. Unbeknownst to Jay, Johnny inadvertently transferred his mystic Thunderbolt to a fountain pen, which he gave to Jay. (Flash #134) Later, Jay passed this pen onto young Jakeem Thunder, who continued Johnny's legacy. Jakeem joined the remaining JSA members in an old-style JLA team-up to stave off an imminent invasion from the 5th Dimension. (JLA #28-31)

Jay Garrick did not leave a blood legacy. He revealed only in his later days that he and Joan ??

At this point, the Justice Society was limited to those members lucky enough to benefit from supernaturally retarded aging. They came together at the funeral of the original Sandman, which was interrupted by a villainous attack. This set in motion the creation of an new Justice Society built with members who continued the legacies of the original group. The original Flash, Green Lantern (now "Sentinel") and Wildcat were joined by the children of their old friends. (JSA #1-2)

This team was hugely successful but for one such as Jay, who'd lived through a cycle of highs and lows, it looked like it might be time to finally call it quits. When the JSA headquarters was destroyed in a battle with the Gentleman Ghost, he considers disbanding the team. But his wife scolded him, saying that they were essential to the world. (JSA #87)

Indeed, the JSA enjoyed continued success after they rebuilt. One of their cases led him to his final station in life—public service. After the Justice Society saved the city of Monument Point, Jay refused to leave. (Justice Society of America #44-45) His generosity was not welcomed by all in Monument Point's ?? Hogan, who did everything he could to drive the heroes from the town. One of his plots resulted in the death of their mayor (#46) and in a bizarre twist, the City Council elected Jay as his replacement! His aide advised Jay to use his super-hero experience to deal with his mayoral duties—his strength was that he didn't care about reelection. (#49-51)

New Earth-Two

One side note: Another result of Infinite Crisis was the short-lived resurrection of a distinct Earth-Two. This Earth bore a continuity that picked right up from the original Earth Two—as if the Crisis had not happened and things went on normally. (JSofA vol. 3 #11) The JSA and Infinity Inc. eventually merged to form Justice Society Infinity. The Flash had retired by this point. (JSofA Annual #1, JSofA #18-20)

The New 52

The Golden Age Flash last appeared in Justice Society of America vol. 3 #54. Following this, DC rebooted all of its mainstream continuity in late 2011. In the "New 52" universe, a young new Jay Garrick was created on Earth-2. Read about him here!

Earth-2, Version Two

After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the original Earth Two was merged into all other surviving Earths. After the Infinite Crisis, the multiverse of the DC Universe was restored, there was again an Earth-2. Their history seemed to have unfolded as if the first Crisis had never happened (picking up approximately after Infinity, Inc. #24). On it, Infinity Inc. and the Justice Society merged to form Justice Society Infinity, and the Flash was a member. (JSA Kingdom Come Special: The Kingdom #1)

In Other Media

Jay Garrick's origin was dramatized as part of "The Official Adventures of the Flash," one of three adventures on a 1967 record album entitled Official Adventures of Aquaman, The Flash [and] Green Lantern. Narrated by Jackson Beck, the announcer on the 1940s Adventures of Superman radio series, the story was adapted by Ron Liss from the first Flash story from Flash Comics #1 (Jan. 1940), and "The Origin of Flash's Masked Identity" from Flash #128 (May 1962). The album, which was Jay's first non-comics appearance, was produced and directed by Herb Galewitz and released on MGM's Leo the Lion Records imprint (CH-1040). The story might have come onto Liss's radar because it had been recently reprinted in the 80-Page Giant Magazine (March 1965).

Jay has appeared in a number of DC animated series, and in 2014 made his live action debut on the CW series The Flash, played by actor John Wesley Shipp (who previously starred as Barry Allen in the 1990 Flash TV series). In the CW series, Jay Garrick lives on Earth-3, not Earth-2.


Geoff Johns says:

"Along with Alan Scott, Jay is as important to the DC Universe as Superman in my eyes. He represents that tie to history and tradition and he fills a role no one else does. I think it’s important to have older mentors in a fictional universe who kick ass, just like Obi One and Gandalf. There was an editor at DC who no longer is there that said when we launched JSA back in ’99, “You should get rid of the ‘old guys’; they just make it lame.” I immediately thought, this guy doesn’t get it. The greatest thing about the DC Universe is the diversity in character types. From Adam Strange to Zatanna. From Krypto to Swamp Thing. Why have all the same type of characters? There are so many more stories to tell when you make the possibilities endless." (from Newsarama)


Appearances + References


  • All-American Comics #74


  • Flash Comics, 104 issues (Jan. 1940–Feb. 1949)
  • All-Flash, 32 issues (Summer 1941–Dec. 1947/Jan. 1948)
  • All-Star Comics #1–7, 10, 24–57 (Summer 1940–Feb./Mar. 1951)
  • Comic Cavalcade #1–29 (Winter 1942/43 – Oct./Nov. 1948)
  • JSA, 87 issues (1999-2006)
  • Justice Society of America vol. 3, current (2007–11)