Spoiler Alert: If you aren't familiar with the comic book world of The Flash, this post may contain spoilers for the adaptation of this world in CW's The Flash.
Iris West, beloved of Barry “The Flash” Allen, now played by Candice Patton on The Flash, used to have a simple history. From her creation in 1958, two years after Barry debuted in his role as DC Comics’ new Flash, to her “death” in 1979, Iris was an investigative reporter and, more relevant to the romance community, one half of one of the best comic love stories of all time.
But since then, she’s been dead, a displaced time traveler, a man, alive, widowed, became a grandmother, spent time in limbo, and finally was alive again, back as an investigative reporter but now single. (Comics everyone!) I can only hope, with Iris appearing as Barry’s true love on The Flash television show, that their love story will live again, to the joy of romantics everywhere.
Iris was a normal superhero love interest for the first part of her history. She had a long and happy marriage and that, for the time period, she was portrayed as unusually intelligent and capable. In the first Flash comic that I ever read, Flash #233, Iris figured out Barry had been replaced by his doppleganger from the future, the Reverse Flash. Iris had set Barry’s wristwatch ahead because he was notoriously late to events requiring his civilian alter ego. When he still showed up late, she knew something was up and confronted Zoom. Of course, she wasn’t capable of defeating Zoom by herself but Barry came back from limbo in time to save her life.
Two things are notable about this comic. One, it featured a happily married couple in a book for kids. Two, Iris West had a life outside being a wife (though she did go shopping in the issue). Not bad for 1975.
However, Iris was murdered by the Reverse Flash in 1979. Given the comic market downturn at the time, this was likely done to increase sales—basically, Iris was fridged before there was even the term. Boo, comics. Over the next few years, Barry recovered from his loss and become engaged to someone else but when Reverse Flash tried to kill her too, Barry killed him. This led to Barry being put on trial for killing Zoom. But Barry was found innocent.
This is where things got weird for everybody.
First, while researching Iris’ history, Barry found out she was not the Wests’ natural daughter but a baby from the far future brought back in time. Then one of the jurors at his trial, a man, was instrumental in proving Barry’s innocence. When Barry himself was transported to the future after being found innocent, it was revealed that this male juror was, in fact, possessed by the spirit of his late wife, Iris. O_o! However, future tech being what it is, Iris received a new body that looked like her old one, and she and Barry were married and had twins.
End of the original Flash series with issue #350 in 1985, and they lived happily ever after, right?
Not so much.
Barry Allen was destined to die in the original Crisis on Infinite Earths mini-series in 1986. His sacrifice saved the universe but it left Iris both a window and a grandmother. However, their grandson Bart suffered from accelerated growth because…speedforcecomicscience…and Iris and Bart traveled back to the comic book present so the new Flash, her nephew Wally West, could teach Bart how to control his speed. Bart Allen became the superhero Impulse and Iris became a supporting character in the Flash mythos once again, this time as the voice of wisdom.
DC then went into another reboot and wanted to bring back their classic heroes. This should have been good news for Iris, since she’s Barry’s classic love interest. It wasn’t.
Skipping a couple of reboots, the bottom line is that the current Barry is younger, dated a co-worker and not Iris, and definitely not in love with Iris. At least Iris still was a reporter. DC claimed at the time that no heroes should be married, never mind happily, because superheroes shouldn’t be happy. Lois & Clark’s marriage was also a casualty of this, and even Aquaman and Mera were said to be unmarried, though she was Queen of Atlantis. Batwoman and her fiancée, Detective Maggie Sawyer also weren’t allowed to marry.
And so, where does that leave Iris and Barry and their happily ever after? That’s unclear. The couple is circling around each other in DC’s current Flash comic. Barry is mentoring Iris’ young nephew, Wally West, not yet Kid Flash.
But wait! DC is reorganizing its universe once again this summer, to concentrate on the characters that appear in movies and television. So, who knows? In the meantime, Iris is appearing on The Flash, back in her old role as the Flash’s friend/ultimate love. Will they get together on television and finally give this couple, separated for 30 years now, a happily ever after?
Given that the show airs on the CW, well-known for its melodrama and angst, that likely won’t happen anytime soon. I’m betting in the last episode.
Corrina Lawson, Blogger