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Essential comics to read ahead of The Flash Season 5

Contributed by
Oct 8, 2018, 3:43 PM EDT (Updated)

This week, The Flash is returning to The CW for its fifth season in the Arrowverse. There are new characters joining Team Flash and a new threat is waiting in the wings as this year's primary villain. But if you're looking for a Flash comic that mirrors the events of the show, then you're bound to be disappointed.

While The Flash takes some of its cues from the comics that inspired it, the show barely resembles anything we've seen in the comics DC Universe. Barry and Iris aren't young newlyweds, and they certainly weren't raised under the same roof. Nor does Barry have a support team led by Vibe and Killer Frost. Harrison Wells doesn't even exist in the comics!

However, there are a few comics that may inform some of the series' creative choices heading into Season 5. Last season, The Flash introduced Jessica Parker Kennedy as Nora West-Allen, Barry and Iris' daughter from the future. Nora has inherited Barry's speed, and she has her superhero codename: XS. Within the comics, XS was Jenni Ognats, a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes and the granddaughter of Barry Allen. XS has a closer familial tie to Barry on the show, but her new life in the present is something that we've seen before.

Given the tendrils connecting DC's comics and The Flash, it seemed appropriate to consider some stories that might be worth reading ahead of the Season 5 premiere.

IMPULSE #9 (1995)

Impulse 9 cover

In the mid-'90s, XS and a few other members of the Legion found themselves stuck in the present. So XS decided to look up her cousin, Bart Allen, aka Impulse. Bart was also Barry's grandchild from the future, and we may eventually see him on The Flash somewhere down the line.

Impulse 9 page 2

The key aspect here was giving XS someone to bond with who also shared her connection to the Speed Force. It also dealt with XS acclimating herself to the present, at least as much as she could. If anyone knows what it's like to try and bond with someone via the Speed Force, it's The Flash's Barry Allen.

Impulse 9 page 4

During this era, Wally West was the one and only Flash, and Barry Allen had been dead for over a decade. But Wally did get a brief moment to share with XS in The Flash #109, which took place in the "Dead Heat" storyline. The show has already drawn upon that story, as it also marked the introduction of Savitar.

The Flash 109 page 1

IMPULSE #12 (1996)

Impulse 12 page 1

XS and Impulse spent most of this issue as out of costume as Jenni and Bart, while coming to terms about her pending departure. The Flash is going to need an episode like this as well because Nora simply can't stick around forever. XS' real home is always going to be the future.

However, Jenni's time in the present had a profound effect on Bart in the comics. We can only imagine what it will be like for Barry and Iris to let their grown daughter go. Hopefully, it will be as poignant as Bart's farewell to Jenni.

Impulse 12 page 2

THE FLASH #170-173 (2001)

The Flash 172 cover

This season on The Flash, Chris Klein is joining the cast as Cicada, the new big bad. The producers have indicated that this version of Cicada is nursing a grudge against all metahumans and he won't be a cult leader like in the comics. But it's still worth taking a look at "Blood Will Run," the story that introduced Cicada to the DC Universe.

As noted above, Wally West was the Flash in this era, so Barry Allen isn't even a part of the equation. This was also a very personal story for Wally, as he discovered that someone was murdering people he had saved as the Flash, including one of his exes.

The Flash 171 page 1

Cicada and his cult were stealing the life force from their victims to resurrect Cicada's wife. The cult also had a fanatical love for the Flash because Cicada convinced them that anyone Wally saved was meant for them. It was a very sick rationale, and it horrified Wally to see his legacy perverted.

The Flash 172 page 1

While Cicada was able to draw upon the Speed Force, he wasn't a speedster himself. Instead, he relied upon his ability to steal life force, as channeled through his lightning-shaped daggers.

The early trailers for The Flash Season 5 have revealed that Cicada's dagger is definitely going to be used by the villain. And in order for Cicada's murders to emotionally resonate, he's probably going to kill one of the already established supporting characters.

The Flash 172 page 2

It's worth noting that Cicada's incarnation on the show blames metahumans for the destruction of his family. In this storyline, it was revealed that Cicada was personally responsible for his wife's murder nearly a century ago. That twist could easily be revisited in the show, and it would fit the character's history if Cicada's downfall came from his own actions.

The Flash 173 page 2

Cicada literally left his mark on Wally in the form of a major scar on his chest, and that's another detail that could be revisited on the show... perhaps even for Wally himself. Keiynan Lonsdale isn't going to be a series regular this season, which means that Wally is suddenly very expendable during Lonsdale's limited appearances. Wally is going to be in the season premiere, so we may not have to wait long to see how this plays out.

The Flash Season 5 premieres on Tuesday, October 9 on The CW.