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Dark Crisis: Is DC teasing an ominous repeat of history for the Flash?

The DC Universe faces a world without the Justice League as Dark Crisis begins and the Flash leads a crucial mission that could turn the tide for the heroes.

Flash #783 excerpt
Image credit: DC

As DC’s latest crossover event Dark Crisis, by Joshua Williamson and Daniel Sampere, sweeps across the multiverse and the heroes scramble from the devastating loss of the Justice League, the Flash Family has rallied to play their own role in the battle for the fate of reality. With Wally West taking point as the main Flash of the prime DC Universe of Earth-0, the fan-favorite speedster assembles his fellow high-speed superheroes to mount a rescue mission to locate the missing Barry Allen. And with this odyssey spanning time and space, Wally and his team are about to be reminded of the Flash’s painful legacy when it comes to reality-shaking crises past.

Spoilers ahead for The Flash #783 and Dark Crisis #1.

Here is how the Flash’s role in Dark Crisis is quickly taking shape, how Barry’s bizarre fate aligns with the rest of his Justice League teammates, and how the Flash’s tragic history with crises may come back to haunt the speedsters as they race into the unknown.

What happened to Barry Allen?

Infinite Frontier excerpt
Image credit: DC

At the end of the 2020 crossover event Dark Nights: Death Metal, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, the DC Multiverse was reborn after a harrowing battle against the Batman Who Laughs. Barry volunteered to explore and document this expanding multiverse, working with a team of superheroes from across the multiverse known as Justice League Incarnate. Barry’s travels take him to Earth-Omega, where a group of omnipotent overseers known as the Quintessence were defeated by Darkseid after the evil New God merged all of his alternate forms into a single body.

Shortly after arriving on Earth-Omega, Barry is ambushed by Psycho-Pirate, with the emotion-altering supervillain now working for Darkseid. Barry is forced to run on a modified version of the Cosmic Treadmill, with the raw Speed Force energy being used to help Darkseid gain dominion over the entire multiverse. Though Darkseid and Psycho-Pirate were both defeated, Barry’s rescue was prevented by the multiversal wanderer Pariah.

Introduced in 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, Pariah was cursed to witness the dying moments of each universe as his punishment for unleashing the Anti-Monitor. Back to confront Barry on Earth-Omega, Pariah appeared unstable and transported Barry away to a different pocket universe. With Barry off the table, Pariah then set his sights on the rest of the reality as he prepared to launch his master plan for the multiverse.

Wally West’s big mission

Dark Crisis excerpt
Image credit: DC

In the wake of the Justice League apparently dying and Barry remaining missing, Mister Terrific develops a tracker that is able to hone in on unique energy signatures in the Speed Force across the multiverse. Using this device to focus on different iterations of Barry, Terrific and the Flash Family decide to explore the multiverse to find their version of Barry and bring him home to the main DCU. This new mission begins in The Flash #783, written by Jeremy Adams, illustrated by Amancay Nahuelpan, colored by Jeromy Cox, and lettered by Rob Leigh.

This impromptu rescue mission is complicated by Wally and his wife Linda Park’s children Irey and Jai who are determined to prove they are superheroes in their own right. Seizing the Speed Force trackers and the two children impulsively run into a portal developed by Terrific attuned to one of the multiverse’s Barrys, with the Justice Society’s Flash Jay Garrick running after them. Suiting up, Wally leads the remaining speedsters, Max Mercury, Jesse Quick, and his rebooted DCU counterpart Wallace West to follow the others through the portal.

Irey and Jai arrive in a universe apparently controlled by its version of Barry, with a shadowy speedster approaching them menacingly as they acclimate to their new surroundings. Max and Jesse land in a post-apocalyptic wasteland akin to the Mad Max movies, with this world’s Barry appearing as a grizzled figure driving a muscle car across the desert alongside a fearsome band.

While Jay’s current whereabouts are unknown, Wally and Wallace arrive in a vision of Central City modeled after the Silver Age, the publishing era of American comic books in the '50s and ‘60s. In this reality, Barry fights his classic supervillains with the help of a teenage version of Wally as the speedster sidekick Kid-Flash. This world’s Barry appears to be from the main DCU, resembling the world where he was transported by Pariah.

The Fate of the Justice League

Dark Crisis excerpt
Image credit: DC

Preceding Wally and the Flash Family’s deep dive into the multiverse was the reveal that the Justice League did indeed survive their own confrontation with Pariah and his Dark Army on the other side of the cosmos. While each of the heroes appeared to have disintegrated after being blasted by Pariah’s corrosive powers, the first issue of the main Dark Crisis series revealed that each of the heroes were actually transported to their own pocket universe overseen by Pariah. This discovery was followed by Pariah revealing his plan to drain the energy from these worlds towards his ultimate scheme to destroy the entire multiverse, with Pariah and his forces driven by the mysterious Great Darkness, a cosmically corrosive entity that has recently resurfaced throughout the multiverse.

Barry appears to be in a similar world as the rest of his teammates, having been the first to fall victim to Pariah’s insidious plot. In an interview with Popverse, Williamson and Sampere hinted that Pariah took the essence of each of the fallen heroes and placed them in these individual pocket dimensions, with each of these multiversal prisons designed after each of their respective inhabitant’s image. Barry’s world is based on his heyday as the Flash, in a loving marriage to Iris West and with his protege Wally by his side, unaware that he is playing an active part in Pariah’s destructive plans.

The Flash’s turbulent Crisis history

Crisis on Infinite Earths
Image credit: DC

The Flash Family has had a particularly costly history whenever a crisis looms over the DCU. Crisis on Infinite Earths saw Barry kidnapped by the Anti-Monitor and Psycho-Pirate only to break free and destroy the Anti-Monitor’s powerful antimatter cannon, sacrificing his life in the process. This trend would continue in 2005’s crossover event Infinite Crisis, with Wally and his family temporarily trapped within the Speed Force while ensnaring the maddened Superboy-Prime.

Though the West family would eventually return to the DCU and Barry would be resurrected shortly thereafter, the specter of crises would continue to haunt the Flash Family. Apart from the return of Pariah, the miniseries Flashpoint Beyond, written by Adams, Tim Sheridan, and Geoff Johns and illustrated by Xermanico and Mikel Janin may not be as isolated to the Flashpoint Universe as previously believed. Psycho-Pirate was recently discovered dead in this dystopian reality while Howard Porter’s cover for Flashpoint Beyond #5 ominously showcases Barry’s sacrificial run in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Wally and Wallace may have stumbled across the universe where Barry is being kept, but in order to free him and save the multiverse from Dark Crisis, a Flash may have to pay the ultimate price.

The battle for the DC Multiverse continues in Dark Crisis #2 by Joshua Williamson and Daniel Sampere, on sale July 5. Wally and the Flash Family’s adventures in the multiverse continue in The Flash #784 by Jeremy Adams and Amancay Nahuelpan, on sale July 19.

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Sam Stone avatar
Sam Stone: Sam Stone is an entertainment journalist based out of the Washington, D.C. area that has been working in the industry since 2016. Starting out as a columnist for the Image Comics preview magazine Image+, Sam also translated the Eisner Award nominated-Beowulf for the publisher. Sam has since written for CBR, Looper, and, with a penchant for Star Trek, Nintendo, and martial arts movies.
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