The Flash is one of my favorite superheroes, despite the many jokes about his name. (His alias is Wally West for those of you who don’t know.)
On the JLU, Flash could always be counted on to lighten the mood, and the mood often was pretty heavy.
On a show about alien invasions, bizarre mind control, diabolically clever bad guys, and unbelievably powerful supervillains, there really isn’t much to laugh about. The show was never corny enough for none of it to seem serious.
But Flash keeps everyone from taking themselves too seriously. Which is his obvious role: comic relief.
But what sets him apart is that he is not merely that. We all know the comic relief guy can be totally useless often enough, because, it’s funny. (Actually, I typically find that character annoying. Ron Stoppable was the only one I laughed at, and that was after I got used to him.) But Flash isn’t, there are several episodes in which in the crunch, it all comes down to him.
He is after all, the fastest man alive.
And the only being faster than Superman that was ever officially shown. (Though that was on the Superman show. (Which is worth checking out, but avoid any episodes with magic in them because they were absolutely horrid.)
Here’s another interesting thing about him, he was also the only one of the team ever to overuse his power to the point where he actually burned himself out.
Unlike the other’s, Flash’s power is still tied to his normal human abilities. That is to say, he has to keep a lot of calories in his system because his metabolism burns them up so quickly when he runs. This means that, just like a normal human, he can expend his own strength. He does it one time on the show and it nearly kills him, but his friends save him. (By the way, that part of the episode never made sense to me.)
We never really find out whether or not Flash needs the League, in the same that Batman or Superman or Hawk Girl, or the Martian need it. He’s more like Diana and the Green Lantern in that he could probably be okay on his own, handling his own villains, and still have other friends and family. Flash is not dysfunctional.
In fact, he is also one of the only members who really has a life outside the League that isn’t just in his secret identity. As The Flash, he goes and visits kids in an orphanage, regularly. They love him. He’s not so infamous that his popularity ruins any personal good he can do as The Flash.
The funny thing is, we never see him as Wally West on the show, because we don’t need to see him that way to know he had a human life too, because Flash really never ceases to act like a normal person.
He’s not a genius, though I doubt he has only average intelligence. He’s not super skilled with weapons or gadgets; he doesn’t talk the talk; and he flirts with girls; Flash never acts like he’s someone special.
That’s why the rest of the League loves him, though they rarely admit it. In the Justice Lords episode, it’s even demonstrated that he’s the glue that holds them together. He’s also the one who busts them out when everyone else is unable to do anything because of their doubles. (The alternate Flash is dead, you see. It’s really sad.)
It’s interesting that the supposed death of Superman daunted the League, but the death of Flash twisted them. But not so surprising, since in Hereafter, it’s Flash who stops Diana from taking that road by reminding her it’s what Superman would have wanted.
It’s also Flash who is the first to completely forgive Hawk Girl after she betrays them, and the only one in my memory who never criticized her or even seemed angry.
One of my favorite Flash episodes was the Christmas one Comfort and Joy. In that one, Flash encounters the Humanite (a weird gorilla-shaped mutant with genius intelligence who talks with a deep silky voice.) Humanite is up to his usual no good stuff, when Flash makes an impromptu speech about Christmas, after his gift to the orphans got accidentally destroyed. Humanite is actually moved by this (though he still knocks Flash out for awhile just to get even) and repairs the toy and helps him deliver it to the kids. It’s really sweet, but better if you check it out for yourself.
Flash also shows compassion to another villain, who is really just a man who goes off his meds and does crazy things. Flash talks him into turning himself in with the promise that he’ll visit him. We don’t see him do it, but we know he’s going to.
Because as irresponsible and often immature as Flash seems. he is really neither. He cares about people.
Finally, there’s an episode I forget the name of, in which Batman and Orion follow Flash around for a day, and Orion just doesn’t get why Batman even puts up with Flash, and Batman just says sadly “No, you don’t.” Through the course of the day we see how Flash can be both annoying and really caring. And we wonder also why Batman actually seems to envy Flash in way.
Finally we get it. Batman may care about people, but it has never been his only reason for doing what he does. And he’s never been as able to open up to people as Flash is.
The truth is, what Batman acts like as Bruce Wayne, Flash actually is, effortlessly. Batman always feels that the Dark Knight part of him is there, preventing him from really being carefree and open; while Flash is always the same person, whatever mood he’s in and in whatever guise.
Batman may never go to Flash for life advice, or want to have him as a mission partner, but he still wishes he could be more like him. And I’m not sure we can say that of anyone else in the League, except possibly Superman.
Flash is humble too, and the least suspicious out of all of them. He’s also willing to go against them when he thinks it’s right, as in the episode featuring more of my favorite characters The Ties that Bind. In it Flash helps out Scott Free and Barda when they come to the League for help. (They’ve helped the League, so it was a fair trade.)
Actually, Flash is the only League member known to disagree with the Martian and get away with it in the end.
There’s only one bad Flash episode in the whole show, and he wasn’t the bad part of it. Actually, he was almost playing a Christian role. (I wonder if he is Christian. But even if not, it doesn’t take away anything from his character.)
So, that, in a nutshell, is The Flash. But check him out yourself for the full appreciation of how awesome he is.
Until Next time–Natasha.