His name is Barry Allen and, let's be honest, even if you don't read comic books on the regular, you probably know how this story goes. Grant Gustin has been starring in the origin story of Barry Allen on CW's The Flash for five seasons now. Sure, he may not be Superman or Batman in terms of instant cultural recognition but Barry Allen's story is definitely climbing that ladder.
But don't be so quick to take it all for granted no matter how well versed in Barry's beginnings you may be, especially in 2019, when the Scarlet Speedster is getting his very own Year One story for DC Comics, courtesy of writer Josh Williamson and artist Howard Porter.
For the uninitiated, "Year One" stories have become a tradition in the pantheon of DC's heroes after Frank Miller and Dave Mazzucchelli revamped Bruce Wayne's earliest days as a crime fighter in Batman: Year One back in 1987. Since then, various characters from around the DCU have been given the Year One treatment--some multiple times--in order to expand on their historical foundations within the continuity, however the continuity stands at the given moment. Year One stories can sometimes reiterate origins, add new characters into the mix, uncover new information, or put new twists on big transitional periods in a character's past. Wally West , fan favorite Flash of the 90s and early 00s, received his own Year One treatment prior to the New 52 relaunch of DC's universe back in the 90s, but Barry's early life has been left free to explore.
So, what does that actually mean? GameSpot sat down with Josh Williamson to find out exactly what Flash: Year One has in store.
"Everyone thinks they know the story but--well--let's just say there's something that happens in the early days of [Barry's time as the Flash] that Barry never talks about," Williamson teased. "There's going to be some twists and turns. It gets really nutty--there's a lot going on that people are not going to expect."
And make no mistake--this isn't just going to be about Barry. Williamson teased that there will definitely be other characters present, and we're going to be getting an entirely new look at their earliest days as well. "We're going to have a returning villain who hasn't been in the book for a while show up to be part of that first year, but we're also going to have a new villain that is going to be part of that story," Williamson said. "We're going to see some other villains too, and see what they were like in that first year before they became the costumed criminals we know today."
The story is going to be "loaded with Easter Eggs" for Flash fans, and aim for a tone that will be considerably more light-hearted than something like Miller and Mazzucchelli's Batman. "This is Barry definitely running before he can walk," Williamson explained. "We want it to be more fun--but there will definitely be some darker moments in there, too. You know, after his mom died, before the lightning, Barry was really standing still. He wasn't moving forward. So we're going to get to see that version of him, too. And that's something I don't think we get to see from him very often."
Flash: Year One will be hitting shelves as part of the main Flash ongoing series in early 2019--which means there is plenty of time to hop into the book and prepare. Lately, Barry has been dealing with an onslaught of brand new cosmic forces--think the Speed Force, but for things like strength and mind--empowering random villains around Central City.
Currently, as of Flash #56, the villain Heatwave has been tapped into what's called the "Sage Force," granting him superhuman intelligence and the ability to shape the way people around him see reality. It's sort of like the matrix, but--you know, molded by Mick Rory. It's all building toward something Williamson is calling Barry's "Force Quest," a moment where he finally has to stop and realize he's been allowing himself to be distracted and pulled in too many different directions. "Barry knows which way he's supposed to be running, he knows what he's supposed to be doing, but he's been ignoring it," Williamson said. "He's been ignoring it because he doesn't want to leave and potentially leave Iris alone--but of course when he says that, Iris just tells him that she's going to go with him. So that's what's coming up--that's what Barry's going to have to deal with."
There's also the looming Flash Annual #2, set for release at the end of January, which Williamson calls "the saddest thing [he's] ever written." It will be a tie-in to the ongoing Heroes In Crisis event, which, tragically, showcased the untimely (and mysterious) death of a well-known speedster in its first issue. So, be prepared to experience a little more heartbreak before Year One really kicks into gear.
If you're a new Flash fan looking for a quick on-ramp to the ongoing, rewinding back to Flash #47 will put you right at the start of the "Flash War" arc, setting up the dominoes that will topple down into the events we see in motion today.