The Bronze Age of DC Comics existed from 1970 to 1985 ending with the massively successful and legendary Crisis on Infinite Earths. The comic event effectively reset the DC Universe, creating the “pre-Crisis” and “post-Crisis” terminology referring to the times before and after. Barry Allen’s Flash was a central figure in the birth of the Silver Age and helped conclude the Bronze.
Before Crisis destroyed worlds and merged others, the Flash starred in some memorable comics, deepening his relationship with Iris West, racing his deadly rival, the Reverse-Flash, and teaming up with Batman and Green Lantern. Fans looking to explore underrated parts of the Flash’s history should look no further than his Bronze Age catalog.
10 Batman and The Flash: “Disco of Death”
The Brave And The Bold #151 by Bob Haney, Jim Aparo & Jerry Serpe
Barry Allen and Bruce Wayne are the Justice League’s resident detectives, and their team-ups always feel natural. Recently, the Flash and Batman teamed up for “The Button,” a four-issue crossover arc that involved the original Reverse-Flash’s return, the Comedian’s button from the Watchmen universe, and Doctor Manhattan’s DC manipulation. Rewind the clocks over 40 years, and Flash and Batman teamed up in The Brave and the Bold #151.
While “Disco of Death” had far lower stakes than “The Button,” it was still an enjoyable Silver Age story. Batman sought answers through Gotham’s criminals while the Flash traveled through time. Both played to their strengths to solve the case.
The Flash #328 by John Broome, Cary Bates, Carmine Infantino, Joe Giella & Carl Gafford
Soon after the Flash accidentally murdered the Reverse-Flash to save Fiona Webb’s life, the Justice League convened to decide if Barry Allen would remain a member of the team. As the League decided, the Flash remembered how he met Iris, their wedding, and how Eobard Thawne murdered her.
The Flash #328 features material from earlier Flash comics that originally housed those moments, but those flashbacks were very important. The “Trial of the Flash” storyline was a vital arc for Barry Allen in the Bronze Age, and the League’s potential decision to remove Barry from the team highlighted the importance and consequences of the Reverse-Flash’s death.
The Flash #347 by Cary Bates, Carmine Infantino, Frank McLaughlin & Carl Gafford
“The Trial of the Flash” lasted years and took over The Flash comics for over two dozen issues. The Flash #347 features one of the most shocking revelations of the trial: the Reverse-Flash was alive after all. After jury members and witnesses recounted stories of the Flash, Captain Invincible recorded footage of the Reverse-Flash running after his apparent death issues earlier.
The Flash TV series adapted the “Trial of the Flash” storyline in season four after the Thinker framed Barry Allen for the murder of Clifford DeVoe. The trial eclipsed Flash comics in the Bronze Age and explored complex themes of right and wrong from Barry Allen’s perspective.
The Flash #276 by Cary Bates, Alex Saviuk, Frank Chiaramonte & Gene D’Angelo
After Iris West died, Barry Allen interrupted a Justice League meeting and asked Superman, Wonder Woman and his good friend, Hal Jordan, to resurrect her. Naturally, all the heroes refuse, but the Flash, upset and irrational, lashes out at his allies. Superhero vs. superhero stories are always exciting, and this one occurred rather obscurely in The Flash #276.
Iris West is the most important person in Barry’s life. She’s his lightning rod, capable of grounding him to reality, even when trapped in the Speed Force. The Flash TV show adapted various versions of her death, but the fallout of her original death plagued Flash’s Bronze Age comics.
6 “Run Flash… Run for your Life!”
The Flash #284 by Cary Bates, Don Heck, Frank Chiaramonte & Gene D’Angelo
The best Flash crises require Barry Allen’s full focus and top speed. The Flash #284 reads like an anniversary or annual issue. The creators celebrated so many aspects of Flash’s life and journey as Barry takes a major step forward in his life.
After Eobard Thawne sent the Flash hurtling through time, Barry relived the moment the lightning struck him to give him powers, his first team-up with Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash, his wedding with Iris West, and even her death. When Barry returned to his original time, he came to terms with his wife’s death.
5 “Flash Flees”
The Flash #350 by Cary Bates, Carmine Infantino, Frank McLaughlin & Carl Gafford
The Flash #350 was the final issue of The Flash volume one before DC launched Crisis on Infinite Earths, the comic event that reset the DC Universe. Issue #350 had everything a final issue should: the Flash teamed up with Kid Flash and the Rogues to defeat the Reverse-Flash.
After succeeding, Barry Allen reunited with his first wife, Iris West, in the 30th century. Barry Allen next appeared in Crisis on Infinite Earths, but DC would utilize this time-displaced Barry in future stories, post-death. Famously, Barry returned in “Rogue War” helping Wally’s version of the Flash defeat Thawne and Hunter Zolomon’s Zoom.
4 “Green Lantern… Master Criminal of the 25th Century”
The Flash #225 by Cary Bates, Irv Novick, Dick Giordano & Carl Gafford
In The Flash #755 from 2020, Barry Allen teamed up with his arch-rival the Reverse-Flash for the “Flash Age” story arc. While their team-up was unexpected, given Thawne’s hatred for Barry, the two opposing speedsters actually teamed up once before in a Bronze Age comic.
Barry reluctantly faked an alliance with Eobard Thawne in the 25th century to trick him. The facade resulted in Hal Jordan’s arrest, but gave Barry an opportunity to defeat his nemesis. The Flash #225 features a memorable team-up with the equally flashy cover depicting the two speedsters shaking hands.
3 “The Slayer and the Slain!”
The Flash #324 by Cary Bates, Carmine Infantino, Dennis Jensen & Carl Gafford
Long before DC revealed that Reverse-Flash killed Barry Allen’s mother, setting Barry on the path to initiate the Flashpoint universe, Eobard Thawne tormented the Flash’s life for years. Thawne not only murdered Iris West but attempted to do the same to Barry’s second wife, Fiona Webb. As Barry chased Reverse-Flash around the globe, he cut Thawne off, preventing him from reaching Fiona.
The sudden stop at super speed snapped Thawne’s neck. Barry had inadvertently murdered his rival. DC referenced this event many times over the years. Bronze Age readers were shocked, and suddenly, Barry questioned his role as the Flash.
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2 Crisis On Infinite Earths
By Marv Wolfman, George Perez, Dick Girodano & Anthony Tollin
Worlds lived, worlds died, and the universe would never be the same. The creators made that promise ahead of Crisis on Infinite Earths and they certainly delivered. The Anti-Monitor used his antimatter canon to destroy countless universes, and the Flash was the only one who could stop his assault on the multiverse.
In issue #8 of the miniseries, titled “A Flash of the Lightning!” Barry Allen ran faster than he ever had before, destroying the cannon and his own body in the process. Barry famously gave his life to save the DC multiverse, closing out the Bronze Age, and allowing Wally West to take up the Flash mantle in his absence.
1 “Happy Birthday Wally!”
The Flash Vol. 2 #1 by Mike Baron, Jackson Guice, Larry Mahlstedt & Carl Gafford
After Barry Allen sacrificed himself to save the multiverse in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wally West, the former Kid Flash, took up his mantle. Wally’s first adventure as the titular Scarlet Speedster was an intimate, character-building story. He fought no Reverse-Flashs or universal threats. Instead, Wally delivered a heart to a patient at a hospital across the country.
The new Flash comic showcased Wally’s humanity, humor, and charm from its very first issue. The Young Justice animated series writers later used this simple and heartfelt story as inspiration for the episode “Coldhearted.” The Flash Vol. 2 #1 was one of the books that launched DC into its next age, setting the tone for Wally’s adventures for the next two decades.
During DC’s Bronze Age, from 1970 to 1985, Barry Allen battled the Reverse-Flash and saved the multiverse, paving the way for a new Flash. Read More