On this week’s episode of The Flash, the big bad of the season has finally been revealed to us! Psych! It was not just Doctor Alchemy—although he is a pretty impressive threat in and of himself—it is a speedster named Savitar.
…I know the episode is called “Killer Frost,” but I just have to explore Savitar because he is such a weird and interesting character. Plus, he has a much longer history with a variety of Flashes than Killer Frost.
If you are looking for some reading you can pick up Savitar’s origin in THE FLASH (Vol. 2) #108 from 1995. It’s a pretty accessible issue and it’s easy to get your hands on since it’s available digitally.
Savitar came to us care of writer Mark Waid and artist Oscar Jimenez during Waid’s much beloved Flash series (which is, fun fact, my favourite Flash run of all time). To step outside of his comic book origins for just a moment, Savitar’s name is actually Hindu. The Hindu “God of Motion” was named Savitr and when a Cold War pilot—from an indeterminate third world nation—was struck down by a bolt of lightning and discovered his speed powers, that was whom he named himself after on a quest to unlock the secrets of the Speed Force (although he didn’t know about the Speed Force at the time of this accident).
Much like the deity he named himself after, Savitar’s obsession and conviction gained him followers and disciples over the course of many years, until he eventually became the leader of a speed cult. During this time, the only heroic speedsters operating in DC Comics continuity were Johnny Quick (perhaps there’s a hint there that on The Flash Savitar will be facing down our very own Jesse Quick?) and Max Mercury (someone we have not—YET! —met on screen in The Flash), who eventually forced him back into the Speed Force where he could no longer cause anyone any harm.
For several decades Savitar remained stuck in the Speed Force, and when he re-emerged he learned that his cult of speed had only grown and expanded in his absence. Like any good savior figure, his return had been foretold and anxiously awaited by his followers. During this appearance in the DC Universe, Savitar encountered a lot of other speedsters including Christina Alexandrova—known as Lady Flash at the time—and through associating with her, Savitar was able to harness speed force energy and focus it directly into his own followers (some of whom happened to be ninjas!). With an army at his back, Savitar set out to destroy those who would oppose him, including the Flash (who was Wally West at the time), Impulse (Bart Allen), Golden Age Flash (Jay Garrick), Johnny Quick, Jesse Quick, XS (Jenni Ognats), and his old foe Max Mercury.
Fun fact: Lady Flash would go on to change her name to Lady Savitar. This move in and of itself should tell you where Christina Alexandrova is going to end up.
From a #DCTV perspective, this could be a chance for Wally to step up and take down the main villain of the series while Barry is pitted against Doctor Alchemy (in particular given his identity reveal at the end of “Killer Frost”!), and/or a chance for Wally and Jesse to team up and take down Savitar.
One of Savitar’s signature moves, in the comic books, is that he can steal speed from other characters. I know that this is a move we saw Zoom a.k.a. Evil Jay Garrick make liberal use of in The Flash Season 2, but it could prove to be very important leading up to the final conflict in this season of the show as well.
There has been a lot of blame leveled at Barry Allen over this season of The Flash, and he does have some interactions with Savitar in the comics that if recreated on the show may expand characters’ frustrations with him in coming episodes. When Barry is revived from an almost 30-year death (for more on this read CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS where Barry sacrifices himself to save the DC Multiverse), he knocks Savitar free from the confines of the Speed Force to terrorize the citizens of Earth once again.
I won’t spoil exactly how Barry defeats Savitar because it’s surprising and kind of awesome, and it’s worth either picking up the FLASH: REBIRTH miniseries and reading for yourself or crossing your fingers and hoping that The Flash brings a similar adaptation to the small screen.
Savitar brings huge stakes and large scale danger to The Flash on television, in particular if they adapt the story arc where he threatens to destroy The Flash’s entire world until he gives Savitar what he wants—union with the Speed Force. This could serve to take the Flash’s superhero-ing to a global scale in a more public way than we have seen from the series in previous seasons.
Ashley V. Robinson covers The Flash as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club. You can find her on Twitter at @AshleyVRobinson and on the Jawiin YouTube channel. The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW.