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The Many Faces Of… The Flash

john-wesley-shippThe next time around the Flash was taken a little more seriously, and finally got the spotlight all to himself instead of sharing it with other heroes. The TV series “The Flash” ran on CBS from 1990 – 91 and starred John Wesley Shipp as Barry Allen/The Flash. The series owed much in its style and tone to Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman” movie, right down to its Danny Elfman theme music. Several of Flash’s comic book rogues showed up in the series, such as David Cassidy (Katie Cassidy!) as the Mirror Master and Mark Hamill as the Trickster. Original “Flash” stars John Wesley Shipp and Amanda Pays are expected to show up in the new series.

FLashCBS2In 1997, the Flash once again found himself alongside other superheroes in a pilot for a live-action “Justice League of America” series. This pilot featured Kenny Johnston as the Flash. Green Lantern, The Atom, Martian Manhunter, and Fire and Ice rounded out the team. The pilot was not well received, never aired in the US, and a series never followed.

In that same year, the Flash made a guest appearance on “Superman: The Animated Series,” in the episode “Speed Demons.” In this episode Superman and the Flash take part in a race around the world for charity. Charlie Schlatter voiced Flash, and though it is not specifically stated in the episode, this is the Wally West version of the character, marking the first time Wally had appeared as the Flash on TV. Schlatter played Ferris Bueller in the short-lived “Ferris Bueller” TV series, based on the popular Matthew Broderick movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

Wally_West_JLU-2Four years later, in 2001, The Flash sped over to Cartoon Network to join the animated “Justice League.” This version united the Flash with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, and Martian Manhunter. The series would later be re-branded “Justice League Unlimited,” and expand its roster to include dozens upon dozens of heroes. The Flash’s voice in both versions of the show was provided by Michael Rosenbaum, well-known for his role as another DC comics character, Lex Luthor on “Smallville.” (The “Justice League” writers even had a bit of fun with this fact. In the episode “The Great Brain Robbery” Flash and Lex Luthor temporarily switch bodies, so Rosenbaum was essentially voicing Lex Luthor for an episode of “Justice League.”) Rosenbaum also provided the voice of Kid Flash when he made a couple of appearances on the animated series “Teen Titans.”

In late 2003 the WB considered picking up a live-action series about a young Flash, similar in style to “Smallville.” The proposed series would have had a “no costume” approach, similar to the “no tights, no flights” rule on “Smallville.” This version of the character was intended to live in Gotham City (Batman’s hometown!), and his powers would have enabled him to run fast enough to travel through time. The WB ultimately passed on the show.

impulse_288x288The Flash did make his way to the WB in another form however, during the fourth season of “Smallville.” The episode “Run” featured a guest appearance by the future Flash, Bart Allen. Bart was portrayed as an impulsive (pun intended) teen who lived on the streets and used his super speed to pick pockets until he met Clark Kent. Inspired to use his powers for good, Bart suggested that maybe he and Clark could “form a club or a league” with other super powered individuals. “Run” features a nod to other incarnations of the Flash as well; the fake IDs that Bart uses sport the names Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, and Wally West. Bart appears in several other episodes over the course of the series, most notably the sixth season episode “Justice” that features Bart, Clark, Oliver (Green Arrow), A.C. (Aquaman) and Victor (Cyborg) forming an early version of the Justice League. Bart was played by Kyle Gallner, whose other credits include roles on “CSI: NY” and “The Shield.”

images-22In the ninth season of “Smallville,” the two-hour long episode “Absolute Justice” involved Clark and Chloe discovering the existence of a prior super team known as the Justice Society of America. One of the members of the JSA was Jay Garrick, played by Billy Mitchell. The winged helmet that was a trademark of the Golden Age Flash can be seen in this episode, and Jay is shown in flashback.

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