Warning: SPOILERS for The Flash #791With the Flash Family’s latest event, DC is finally giving their first Flash, Jay Garrick, a place to shine: the battlefield. Jay is the Flash of World War II, and that experience is an essential part of understanding his role in One Minute War.
A number of DC characters have held the Flash title over the decades, including the extremely well known Barry Allen and Wally West. But Allen and West aren’t the first to be called the fastest men alive: Jay Garrick, who debuted in 1940, has that particular honor. Jay’s origins and place in the DCU have shifted over the decades as continuity was updated to fit the times. He is often associated not only with Barry and Wally’s extended Flash Family in a quasi-grandfatherly role, but also with the Justice Society of America, who have become DC’s World War II-era team. Currently, he’s working with Wally West and Earth’s other speedsters to take down an invading alien force in the latest Flash title event, One Minute War.
And One Minute War certainly is the perfect stage to spotlight Jay Garrick’s character history, as readers can see in The Flash #791 by Jeremy Adams, Roger Cruz, Wellington Dias, Luis Guerrero, and Rob Leigh. This issue follows various Flash allies in the immediate aftermath of a mysterious invading force’s crash-landing on Earth. Jay Garrick comes across Kid Flash and Impulse and immediately corrals them. When Impulse describes what they see as an “invasion,” Jay corrects him: “No, boys… this is war.” Later, he tells Kid Flash and Impulse to “roll you shoulders back, boys. If we’re going to die today, we’ll die like men. Tall and proud.“
Among One Minute War‘s other virtues, the event is already serving as the perfect spotlight for Jay Garrick, whose familiarity with war—and it’s dangers—comes across in these seemingly minor character moments. But the’re really anything but minor: when Jay describes the invasion as “war,” the reader can feel the weight of his words, and so the weight of his experiences. Despite the ever-lengthening distance between World War II and the present day, the superhero genre will forever be inflected by its happenstance emergence during World War II. Jay Garrick’s history may be constantly fluctuating within the DC Universe, but his connection to the war will never be severed, and One Minute War is right to put that connection on display—and use it to its full emotional effect.
But war also mean fatalities, and it’s likely not everyone in the Flash Family will survive One Minute War. Iris West is already believed to be dead—will the first Flash, Jay Garrick, survive this catastrophe? It would certainly be an emotional blow to Wally West and his allies, who all adore Jay as they would a father or grandfather. But there’s always a cost to war—something this speedster veteran, the very first Flash, knows extremely well.
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Check out The Flash #791, available now from DC Comics!