Hey, Couch Clubbers! I’ve been writing this column through two seasons of The Flash for almost three years and I have so thoroughly enjoyed diving deep on a lot of the weird, lesser known characters. When approaching what to write about for “Run, Iris, Run,” I went back and looked at the archives and was shocked (and a little disappointed in myself), to learn that I haven’t full-on written about Iris West-Allen yet. She’s been featured in many of these #DCTV Couch Club pieces, but never celebrated on her own. So, here we are!
Miss Iris Ann Russell West debuted in the comics in SHOWCASE #4 (September 1956). In these early Silver Age adventures, she feels like a character who is very much derivative of Lois Lane. Iris is a smart reporter who is fixated on—and inspired by—a local superhero: Barry Allen, the Flash. Instead of The Daily Planet, Iris West writes for Central City-based Picture News. She later goes on to work for other outlets including the Galaxy Broadcasting System.
Yes, she's been a speedster in the comics as well (it didn't last very long there either)
Much like on The Flash on television, Iris and Barry Allen have known each other for years and have a friendly, maybe even antagonistic relationship. Iris is hard on Barry for always being tardy and showing up to crime scenes, and later dates, late. (In contrast, Iris is always on time, if not early.) The couple does eventually get married and it isn’t until after the vows that Iris gets the full scope of exactly who Barry Allen is and how he spends his time. “Surprise, honey, I’m the Flash!”
This is around the same time that she learns that her beloved nephew, Wally West, is the hero known as Kid Flash. In short, she has always been far closer to the infamous speedsters than she ever realized.
This is hilariously accomplished by having Barry Allen talk in his sleep on their wedding night and effectively out all of his deepest, darkest, most personal secrets.
Since her proximity to various Flashes has been a stalwart facet of Iris’ personality for decades, I was thrilled when The Flash announced that she was going to get a chance to step into their speedy boots for herself. I want to give mad props to the costume designers for Iris’ awesome suit! Cisco continues being the most impeccable tailor in the #DCTV Universe (although Gambi over on Black Lightning might be able to give him a run for his money) and the repurposing of an early Jesse Quick mask was pretty clever.
I can’t honestly say if Iris’ Flash costume was inspired by Doctor Meena Dhawan a.k.a. Fast Track from Joshua Williamson’s current FLASH run. Doctor Dhawan gets powers resulting from the “Godspeed” storyline and gets a cool black costume of her own. If you are interested in learning more about Doctor Meena Dhawan or about this storyline in general, you can check out my review of Williamson’s first volume of The Flash.
Anyhow, if that assertion of mine is true then I’m still here hoping Meena shows up on The Flash in an upcoming season. Pretty please?
Before leaving the visual elements of “Iris Flash” in the dust completely, I want to express my appreciation of the purple Speed Force lightning that was used to demarcate her movements throughout Central City. I know it was just a design choice that was made to subtly make her stand out from Barry, Wally, Jesse, Jay, Hunter, Savitar and the plethora of other speedsters that have crossed through The Flash, but it took my breath away. Please hop into the comments and let me know that I wasn’t the only person who found this small detail so, so beautiful!
Last season of The Flash focused heavily on Iris’ death at the hands of an aforementioned speedster. This was an event that actually did occur in the comic books and left Iris West-Allen dead and off the pages of DC Comics for a short while. While she didn’t fall to the hands of Savitar, as was prophesied during season three, Iris was murdered by Professor Zoom (Eobard Thawne), who vibrated his hand inside her head before solidifying it. Yeah, pretty brutal.
Thanks to magic of time travel, baby, Iris was sent to the past and created a paradox that ultimately allowed Iris West to be brought back to life just in time for Barry Allen to die in the pages of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. Somewhere in between her resurrection and his death, they conceived Don and Dawn Allen (who go on to be known as the Tornado Twins). I’ll fully admit that I don’t think we’re likely to see much of the Tornado Twins on any season of The Flash, barring adult versions visiting from the future. So, considering how much this show loves time travel and alternate realities, they do still stand a chance!
What it comes down to is, Iris as a speedster was pretty badass tonight on The Flash! She really impressed me and all of my fingers and toes are crossed that through some comic book-level shenanigans we’ll get a chance to see more of her. I’m looking forward to “Run, Iris, Run” being spoken in the same breath as “Run, Barry, Run” in future.
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.