This week, The Flash finally returned to our television screens in an episode with, possibly, their most awesome title to date—“Borrowing Problems From the Future.” It’s a clever nod back at the recent trend of Barry Allen messing around with the timeline and having to deal with the ramifications, although does not tip its hat to the awesome HR Wells subplot that runs around tonight’s episode like a crazy person. It is an absolute dream to watch Tom Cavanagh bring to life the most eclectic Multiverse version of Harrison Wells that we have seen so far. The hilarity that ensues whenever he appears on screen aside, HR accomplishes something pretty awesome in this latest episode—he brought the Flash Museum to life!
A slight disclaimer: in its current television incarnation, HR’s pet project is referred to as “The S.T.A.R. Labs Museum,” but it is so similar to the original Flash Museum that it seems likely to become that in essence, if not necessarily in name.
For those who don’t know, the Flash Museum is a mainstay of the DC Comics Universe, that debuted in the THE FLASH #154 (August 1965) during the period now referred to as the Silver Age of Comics. There has always been a special focus on Barry Allen across various incarnations of the Flash Museum and the reason for that may be twofold: 1) Barry Allen was the Flash at the time of its debut (Jay Garrick being the predecessor and Wally West the successor), and 2) what happened to Barry Allen during the events of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. Spoiler alert for a book published in 1985: He dies saving the world and goes down as one of the most heroic heroes in the history of the DC Universe.
Fun fact: More contemporary versions of the Flash Museum feature statues to fallen Flashes including Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West and Bart Allen, who have all had to make sacrifices in service of the mantle they share.
Given the mythology of The Flash TV show, it seems likely that Barry Allen will be the primary focus of its version of the Flash Museum. Even in his heroic identity, the Flash is tangentially tied to S.T.A.R. Labs—probably even more than Barry himself, who does have a very public profile. It would be cool to expand different sections of HR’s museum to include some of the other speedsters on the show, like Jay Garrick and Wally West, and maybe some of the metahumans that are important staples of Team Flash and the S.T.A.R. Labs Scooby Gang. For instance, we see a holographic Cisco Ramon (“SCIENCE!”) tour guide throughout the episode. Maybe this means that his alter-ego Vibe will also be making an appearance?
The S.T.A.R. Labs Museum is located in Central City (as is much of the action of the show), which is a parallel to the founding of the original Flash Museum in the comics. Something interesting that happens in the comics is that the Flash Museum is often destroyed. My use of the word “often” is not an exaggeration, either. Even moving forward into Wally West’s tenure as the Scarlet Speedster this hallowed hall isn’t safe. It was famously destroyed by Hunter Zolomon AKA Zoom, before it had to be rebuilt/relocated to Keystone City. (You may remember when Teddy Sears played Hunter Zolomon during The Flash Season 2, masquerading as Jay Garrick of Earth-2.)
Keystone City is the sister city (think Kansas City, if you need a real world reference), to Central City and traditionally the homes of both Jay Garrick and Wally West. It would be interesting if the television show has Wally West move there when he leaves his family home and maybe a new branch of the S.T.A.R. Lab museum opens up there? Keystone City has also been mentioned on the show, although not explored in any great depth.
For those readers who are waiting with baited breath for this spring’s Flash/Supergirl crossover (MUSICAL!!!), one of the many destructions of the Flash Museum in comics continuity does have a tie to the super family. After Bart Allen (the fourth Flash), died and his statue was erected, it was vandalized by Superboy-Prime in retaliation for the events of 2005’s INFINITE CRISIS. While it doesn’t seem likely that this scene will be directly lifted for The Flash television show, there is precedent for a super and speedster to clash on the grounds of a museum.
There are also stories (usually surrounding the speedster Cobalt Blue), set in the 25th and 20th Centuries that still feature the Flash Museum, which may lead to cool cameo potential the next time Barry goes to check up on Iris and Savitar.
If you are looking for some good books to pick up to get a sense of what the Flash Museum is all about Mark Waid’s IMPULSE story (look for it in issues #1-6) and any of Geoff Johns’ FLASH stories would be great. Both are paramount Flash runs of the modern age and highlight the Flash Museum.
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.