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The Flash had a giant twist last night. Here's an explanation.

The Flash
The Flash
The CW
Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

Warning: There are spoilers about the series premiere of The Flash in this post. Please don't read further if you don't like spoilers.

On Tuesday night, the CW's winsome superhero show The Flash debuted. An estimated 4.5 million people watched, making it the network's most-watched and highest-rated series debut since 2009, according to TV By The Numbers. Those are good numbers and helped the show beat its comic rival, ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

If you're one of the 4.5 million who tuned in, you were treated to some zippy, lighthearted fun. If you stuck around until the end, you were also treated to one of the bigger twists on television this fall — one that might have left you with some questions. But you're in luck! The Flash is based on a comic and the comic can provide some answers to those questions.

Here, then, is a comic book explanation to that scene and the show's numerous Easter eggs:

What the hell happened at the end?

At the end of the first episode, Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) is seen getting up from his wheelchair and entering a secret room. It's the "what the hell is happening" moment of an episode already filled with weather manipulation, super-charged lightning bolts hitting young men, super-speed powers, and comas that give you abs.

Wells, whom you're not supposed to trust because people who pretend to be paraplegic are pretty terrible humans, then pulls up news from the future. It's a surreal moment for journalism pessimists, because it's proof that journalism exists 10 years from now. But it's also shocking because the newspaper of the future says the Flash is missing "in crisis":

The Flash

The CW

The show's creators and producers have been playing coy about Wells's fascination with and possible involvement in the Flash's disappearance, but the paper is a clear nod to what's known in the DC universe as an event called Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985). The "Red Skies Vanish" headline is also a hint to the event.

That story, a cross-over of epic proportions was one of DC's most important. Editorially, it was needed to reboot many characters. At the time, DC had trouble with continuity and keeping its characters and conflicts consistent. Powers were all over the place, depending on which writers handled which characters.

The plot involves The Flash/Barry Allen saving the world by sacrificing himself in Crisis #8:

The Flash

Crisis #8 (DC)

That event established Allen's selflessness, but it also affected the Flash character. After Allen died, Wally West took up the mantle for years to come and formed a persona that was more sarcastic, humorous, and lighthearted than Allen's had been. A major part of West's story line, was honoring and never letting people forget Allen's courage and sacrifice.

Because of budgetary constraints and licensing (the whole Justice League would have to show up), it's highly unlikely the show will tackle an actual Crisis storyline (io9's Rob Bricken has a good explanation of why). But the paper seems like a signal that the show will definitely play with an element of time travel.

"As the good Doctor says, time can be rewritten, so not everything you see on the show is necessarily what's going to come to pass, and not necessarily everything that's happened is fixed," executive producer Andrew Kreisberg told Entertainment Weekly.

More importantly, it brings up questions of Wells's allegiance. Does this make Wells nefarious? Is Wells trying to stop the death from happening? Or is he trying to cause it to happen?

Who was that villain?


(The CW)

The first main villain in the show is a rugged blonde man who has the power to manipulate the weather. He appears to be modeled after Weather Wizard, known in the comics as Mark/Marco Mardon. In the comics, Mark's brother Clyde (the name of the Weather Wizard-esque character in this episode) has perfected a way to manipulate the weather, and Mark learns how to wield that power after Clyde dies via a wand. That might be a little too cheesy for television, but it was curious to see his powers translated to television:



Who are Barry's friends?

Wells, Cisco Ramon and Caitlin Snow (The CW)

Aside from his main love interest, Iris, Barry doesn't seem to have many friends. Over the course of the pilot, however, he seems to find some in Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) and Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker), two of Wells's assistants. In the comics, these two characters end up being fixtures in the DC universe.

Cisco "Paco" Ramon eventually turns into a hero who can manipulate sonic and molecular vibration named Vibe. When he was introduced in the '80s, he felt a little bit like a token character, since he was a Latino breakdancer. But in the last two years, he has been fleshed out, given more attention, and his own (well-received) solo book:



Snow, who is the more serious scientist of the two, is equally intriguing because Caitlin Snow is a villain called Killer Frost in the comic books. Killer Frost is a DC flagship villain who has many different incarnations in the comics. She can manipulate ice and freeze stuff, but she needs heat to survive:



Because Snow needs heat, she's usually facing off against a hero named Firestorm. And it just so happens that the show has cast Robbie Amell (cousin of Arrow star Stephen Amell) as Firestorm for an appearance on the show.

Are we missing anything else?

The Flash

(The CW)

Well, the yellow flash who appears in the opening scenes when Barry's mother is murdered is a nod to Professor Zoom (he also goes by the less-cool codename Reverse-Flash), who is one of Flash's main nemeses. In the comics, Zoom has the power to manipulate the time around him, giving him the power of super speed. He also wears a yellow suit, hence a yellow blur:

professor Zoom

The Flash (vol. 1) -139 (DC)

Professor Zoom's real name is Eobard Thawne. There is no character on the television show named Eobard, but Allen's main rival for the love of Iris West is a man named Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett). There hasn't been a clear confirmation that the yellow blur is, in fact, Professor Zoom (the creators want you to keep watching, after all) or how much Eddie is connected to Zoom, but there are enough coincidences here to tell you that the relationship between Allen and Eddie is probably not going to be a friendly one.

The other fun Easter egg is an allusion to the great supervillain Gorilla Grodd, a gorilla with genius intellect and a telepathic powers. There's a scene showing Grodd's busted cage:

(The CW)

A thing to keep in mind is that the show has no obligation to keep itself in line with the source material. It could give us a psychic gorilla or an awesome Killer Frost, but that might not mean it can, budgetarily, or even that it wants to. Anything can happen here, and that makes the show just as fun for Flash fans and newbies alike.

Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to Robbie Amell as Stephen Amell's brother. Stephen is actually Robbie's cousin. The post has been updated to reflect that correction.

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