The Flash has proven to be one of the best new shows of this fall season. It is definitely my favorite, mixing my love of joyful superheroes, appreciation for the weirder aspects of DC Comics, great cast chemistry, and compelling plotlines. On Tuesday night, The Flash midseason finale "The Man in the Yellow Suit" will finally pull back the curtain on Reverse-Flash, also known as Professor Zoom. So when will The Flash come back, after following the undoubtedly exciting episode with a hiatus? The Futon Critic lists the winter premiere for Jan. 20 and though The CW has not announced an official return date, this is likely, as usually CW shows break from mid-December to mid-January.
While that hiatus will definitely feel like a long time for those as obsessed with the show as I am, it means we have the opportunity to get our The Flash fix elsewhere. The Flash's history isn't as well known as fellow DC Comics superheroes like Batman and Superman, so the hiatus is the perfect time to learn more about the Scarlet Speedster. In the comics, Barry Allen is actually the second superhero to take on the name The Flash. Jay Garrick came before him. Afterwards, we have my favorite Wally West, who is the nephew of Iris West, and finally Bart Allen, Barry and Iris' grandson. Even Professor Zoom isn't the only villain to take on the name Reverse-Flash (which he will most likely be called on the show). This list, which mixes recommendations for new readers and deep cuts for long time fans, will help make the wait feel much shorter until The Flash returns from hiatus.
Justice League Animated Series
Justice League and Justice League: Unlimited are two series I love to recommend to people. Why? 1) Because they're awesome. 2) Because they're an easy way to get a handle on certain characters for people haven't delved into DC Comics. Justice League focuses on the core members including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and The Flash. Justice League: Unlimited (which is technically just Seasons 3 and 4 of Justice League with a new subtitle) expands the scope, showing members not usually given the spotlight including Vixen, Green Arrow, Fire, and The Question.
Each series mixes stellar writing and voice acting with a sincere love of the stories these characters came from. The Flash on the series is Wally West, whose goofy, wisecracking nature is similar to the Barry Allen we see played by Grant Gustin on the CW show. Both of these series are streaming on Netflix, along with the short-lived Young Justice. You'll thank me once you get to the episode where Lex Luthor and Wally West switch bodies.
Flashpoint was a major crossover story arc that paved the way for the company-wide reboot of DC Comics known as the New 52. At its core is a story written by Geoff Johns, the executive producer of The Flash and CCO of DC Comics. I am not personally a fan of Flashpoint, but I think it is an important read. The series involves Barry Allen in an alternate universe created through time travel gone wrong. Things are vastly different.
For starters, The Flash has never existed, Captain Cold is Central City's premiere hero, and Superman became a lab rat having never crashed near the Kents. Most importantly, there is a fearsome war between Wonder Woman's Amazons and Aquaman's Atlanteans. The Flash teams up with this gritty universe's Batman to restore the original timeline. I have a lot of issues with this arc, particularly the writing of Wonder Woman, but fans of The Flash will notice some interesting parallels to the TV show and understand how important time travel is to the character's mythos.
The Flash: Move Forward
This is the first major arc for The Flash in DC's New 52 and is a good introduction if you're interested in reading current stories. You'll be introduced to some of the characters you've come to love on the show, albeit quite differently.
The Flash: Rebirth
This miniseries reintroduces Barry Allen after a prolonged absence. Superheroes rarely stay dead, after all. Barry's origins are rebooted and provide the basis for what we see on The Flash. Professor Zoom, Barry's greatest nemesis who is a major focus in the midseason finale, is the main villain.
The Flash: The Return of Barry Allen
If you're a long-time comic book fan, you grow used to have your heart ripped out and set on fire repeatedly. Penned by Mark Waid, this series does just that. Wally West has taken on the mantle of The Flash only for his mentor, Barry Allen, to turn up alive. Wally is happy until Barry starts acting less like himself and more like an outright jerk. Wired puts it best, writing that "as much a story about hero worship and the need to grow out of such things as it is a superhero slugfest (but it is the latter, as well), this is a pretty great primer on the Flash as a concept and a legacy."
This list is a good mix of well known and deep cut narratives about The Flash. For fans of the show new to comics, this list gives you a taste of why people like me love DC Comics' characters so much. Hopefully, it will also help you make sense of all the time travel (or it will confuse you even more). For long-time fans I would also like to recommend checking out The Flash comics from 1956-1961 that appear in Showcase Presents: The Flash, which has some dope science fiction stories with the straight-arrow version of Barry. No matter what category you fall into, I know we're all looking forward to when The Flash returns after what is sure to be an electrifying midseason finale.