The Flash season 2, episode 2, “Flash of Two Worlds,” introduced Jay Garrick, a speedster from another world. But just who is he in the comics?
Jason Peter “Jay” Garrick made his debut in the DC Comics in 1940’s Flash Comics #1. Much like his television counterpart, Jay was a scientist who gained his powers after an accident in his junior year of college. He was trying to purify hard water without any residual radiation. However, when he took a smoke break — this was the 1940s, remember — the hard water spilled, and the fumes knocked him unconscious.
Though a friend pulled him from his lab, Jay fell into a coma. When he woke up, he had gained the powers of a speedster. He first attempted to use his new-found powers on the football field, but he was eventually inspired to become a costumed superhero. (The helmet belonged to his father, who fought in World War I.)
As The Flash, Jay was a founding member of the Justice Society of America. As Jay, though, he would continue his scientific work and eventually found Garrick Laboratories.
Jay Garrick, a history
Superheroes decreased in popularity after World War II, and Jay’s solo comic was canceled in 1948. His last Golden Age comics appearance was in 1951. In 1956, Jay was replaced by Barry Allen, and at first Jay was imagined as a fictional character in Barry’s world.
Flash #123, though, established Jay as a resident of a parallel universe. He made guest appearances in Silver Age comics until 1976, when he became a regular in the revival of All-Star Comics, which featured the Justice Society adventuring in the modern era.
In 1985, DC Comics merged all of its properties into a single universe, and Jay was written out of continuity. However, he returned in the 1990s as a WWII veteran with a magically-prolonged lifespan. He acted as mentor to the Flash family members who followed in his footsteps, including Barry Allen and Wally West. Jay also married his longtime girlfriend, Joan Williams.
The 2011 DC Comics reboot put Jay Garrick, now a young superhero with a new costume, back in a parallel universe. In this version, he was granted his powers from the Roman god Mercury.
Portrayed by Teddy Sears
In The Flash season 2, Jay is being portrayed by Teddy Sears. Sears says that when he signed on for the part, he “didn’t anticipate was how important it felt when I was doing it. Most specifically putting on that helmet.”
He says of the scene when he puts the helmet on in “Flash of Two Worlds,” “[T]here was a real sense of awe and reverence for seeing this thing. That was absolutely not acted at all. There was such substance in that moment. You just keep coming back to this feeling of ‘Wow!’”
EP Andrew Kreisberg was “insistent” that Sears make Jay his own. “Bringing a lot of what the writers’ current intentions are, what I’m feeling about the character, bringing those things and fleshing them out in 2015 and not trying to play 1940s Jay Garrick,” he explains.
“But I don’t think you can separate the two necessarily, especially aesthetically,” he adds. “Thank goodness they didn’t try to age up the helmet. They kept it a WWI-era helmet, but they did modernize the suit while keeping the original lightning bolt. So they’re really trying to achieve a balance between the two.”
He continues, “But I also think Jay Garrick is kind of an old school guy. He’s a physicist and chemist who has some years on Barry. He’s got more life experience. He’s a bit more world weary than young, eager Barry Allen. So all of those things I try to keep in mind while also doing what’s on the page and interacting with these wonderful characters at S.T.A.R. Labs.”
The Flash season 2 airs Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET on The CW.