We know your comic reading free time might be limited (unless, like this week’s subject, you have super speed) so you have to make it count. That’s where this column comes in. Each week we curate a DC storyline that we feel is the perfect comic to dive into this weekend. And since The Flash is hitting movie theaters today, it was kind of a no-brainer that this weekend’s comic would focus on him.

The Flash is partially centered around an important trial, which got me thinking about “The Trial of the Flash,” an underread Barry Allen storyline that adeptly blends tense courtroom drama, true crime and superhero action. What happens when the Flash kills one of his enemies and is forced to defend himself in court? If that premise got your attention, just wait until you see how the trial plays out.

“The Trial of the Flash” can be read a few ways. If you prefer your comics in print, the storyline is collected in the trade paperback Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash, which includes the main storyline and the exciting leadup in The Flash #323-339. If you’re a DC UNIVERSE INFINITE subscriber, the main storyline is available in individual issues with The Flash #340-350.

The Premise:

Years ago, the Reverse-Flash killed Barry Allen’s wife, Iris West. The Flash has since healed from this trauma and moved on with his life. After finding love again with a woman named Fiona Webb, Barry prepares to get married once more, but Reverse-Flash is not ready to let Barry enjoy his happily ever after. The villain vows to kill the Flash’s bride on their wedding day and races towards the church. Seconds before the Reverse-Flash reaches the vulnerable bride, the Flash grabs onto the villain, halting his attack.

This would normally be the end of the story, but here, it’s only the beginning. The sudden stop beaks the Reverse-Flash’s neck, killing him instantly. Now, the Flash finds himself on trial for murder, which brings with it some puzzling complications. For example, if he reveals his motivation for stopping the Reverse-Flash, it would jeopardize his secret identity. For once, the Flash has a problem on his hands that he can’t outrun. Barry Allen is on trial for murder and the outcome can end his heroic career forever.

Let’s Talk Talent:

During the Bronze Age of comics, Cary Bates and Carmine Infantino were the premiere team on The Flash. Cary Bates’ long run is often overlooked, but he took some extraordinary risks. During Bates’ tenure, the Flash lost his wife, a longtime villain was killed and the hero’s life was consistently turned upside down. Bates was certainly not afraid to shake things up, and “The Trial of The Flash” is one of his biggest examples of this.

Since this was Barry Allen’s final storyline, having Carmine Infantino back as the penciler was the perfect bookend. Infantino helped co-create Barry Allen back in 1956’s Showcase #4 and went on to pencil some of the speedster’s most iconic stories. Infantino’s style has clearly evolved here since he first drew the Flash, becoming more mature alongside the title. It’s hard to make a courtroom scene look exciting in a superhero comic, but Infantino delivers. He captures all the emotion and tension flawlessly.

A Few Reasons to Read:

  • Readers wouldn’t have known it at the time, but this would prove to be Barry Allen’s final Flash story for 23 years. Crisis on Infinite Earths, which saw the death of Barry Allen at the hands of the Anti-Monitor, was published concurrently with these issues of The Flash. This means that “Trial of the Flash” had to serve as not only a grand finale for the comic series, but for Barry Allen’s career as a whole. This story delivers, raising the stakes, and giving the readers emotional closure. You get the feeling that anything can happen, and you’re constantly proven right.
  • This probably isn’t the first time you’ve read a comic where the hero has been on trial. What makes this story different is that Flash wasn’t framed. Barry really did kill Reverse-Flash, making it even harder to fight for an exoneration. There is no magic confession or hidden piece of evidence that can clear the Flash. The challenge is proving that the killing was accidental, and that Fiona’s life was at stake.
  • If you’re a fan of The Flash television series, then you might recognize the speedster’s defense attorney. This is the introduction of Cecile Horton, who is a bit different here from her Arrowverse counterpart. This version of Cecile does not have psychic powers, and she is romantically attracted to the Flash, not his surrogate father. (Joe West did not exist yet.)
  • Do you love courtroom drama? Because there is plenty of it here. For example, see what happens when Kid Flash is called to testify against his mentor. There is also a tense moment when Flash is unmasked before the entire courtroom. I won’t spoil what happens next, but Barry finds a really creative way to maintain his secret identity.
  • There are some gripping mysteries in this storyline as well. For example, Nathan Newbury is one of the jurors in the trial, and he has a big secret. I guarantee that you won’t be able to guess what Nathan’s hiding, but know that once Nathan’s secret is out, everything will change for the Flash. In fact, Nathan’s revelation has major ramifications that continue to be felt to this day.

Why it’s Worth Your Time:

With The Flash racing onto the big screen, this is the perfect time to explore Barry Allen’s comic book history. If you’re a new reader, “Trial of the Flash” isn’t confusing or overwhelming. It’s a perfect introduction to Barry Allen and his world. If you’re a seasoned reader who has never read “Trial of the Flash,” then the story arc can serve as a fun history lesson. But regardless of how long you’ve been a Flash reader, or even if this is your first DC comic book, this storyline is fun, thrilling and addicting. Like any courtroom drama or true crime documentary, it’s hard to put down. So sit back, get ready for the weekend, and enjoy Barry Allen’s final run in “Trial of the Flash.”


“Trial of the Flash” can be read in print in the collection Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash or as individual issues on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.

The Flash, directed by Andy Muschietti and starring Ezra Miller as Barry Allen, is in theaters June 16th. Visit our official Flash hub for more news, interviews and videos about the Flash!

Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DC.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros., nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.