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Flash (TV Series) (John Wesley Shipp)

Flash

(1990s live action version with John Wesley Shipp)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

This profile is about one of the TV adaptations of DC Comics’ famous speedster  the Flash. This one is the 1990 live-action series, with John Shipp starring as Barry Allen.

The series lasted for but one season, despite the impressive costume. The more successful 2014+ Flash live action series includes a number of references to the 1990 one, though.


Background

  • Real Name: Barry Allen
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Henry Allen (father), Nora Allen (mother), Jay Allen (brother, deceased), Eve Allen (sister-in-law), Shawn Allen (nephew)
  • Group Affiliation: Central City Police Department
  • Base Of Operations: Central City
  • Height: 6’1” Weight: 180 lbs Age: 30
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown


Powers & Abilities

Barry Allen is a professional criminalist with extensive experience. He was sometimes specifically referred to as a forensic chemist, but the breadth of his work commonly extended beyond that specialization into general criminalistics.

He also has a great deal of knowledge regarding archaeology, his original field of expertise in college. His general knowledge of science and engineering is impressive, allowing him to quickly analyze phenomena and design his own devices. He also had some facility with explosives and could quickly disarm most simple bombs.

Barry keeps himself in good physical condition, practicing boxing as part of an overall fitness regimen and maintaining excellent marksmanship with firearms. He is proficient with melee and missile weapons such as clubs and bows. He may have practiced those skills as part of his interest in archaeology, seeking to better understand the tools used by ancient cultures.

Barry is also a music aficionado, knowledgeable about up-and-coming new musicians in the local clubs and able to play some mean riffs on the guitar.

Barry was not a street cop. However, he spent enough time in police hang-outs (favored restaurants, bars, etc.) and with friends of his father’s and brother’s to develop a decent network of informal community informants. His access to police files can likewise direct him to individuals he can interrogate as either Barry or the Flash.

The Fastest Man Alive

As a result of his lab accident, Barry’s electrochemical systems have been accelerated. His musculo-skeletal system adapted to keep pace. These changes allow Allen to move at superspeed.

He can:

  • complete tasks in a fraction of the time normally required
  • heal very quickly (a deep knife wound to his leg healed to nothing more than a large scab in approximately half an hour)
  • move up to approximately twice the speed of sound

At maximum speed he was able to keep ahead of a large surface-to-surface missile (whose speeds usually range from Mach .9, to Mach 2). He once ran over 10 miles in 25 seconds to get an explosive out of the range of its detonating signal.

This heightened metabolism often requires Barry to eat copious amounts of food to replace the energy he expends. Another frequent complication is Barry’s inability to sleep properly, though this often has as much to do with mundane psychological factors as it does with his unique physical condition.

The Flash (John Wesley Shipp) trying his costume

Allen’s tendency to push himself too hard sometimes results in long-term exhaustion, making him noticeably slower and more error-prone.

Need for speed

At first, Barry struggled with putting his powers to their best use. An early attempt at cleaning his apartment at superspeed was wasted when the air currents generated by his motions caused the very items he had just straightened out to be scattered again while friction with his carpet simultaneously caused his shoes to catch fire.

On the other hand, it did not take Barry long to apply such air currents offensively, such as running in a tight circle to generate miniature stationary tornados.

He also soon learned to spin objects quickly enough to let them cut through other materials even if they would not normally have been strong enough to do so. He once cut through the lock bar of a small safe by taking a common ventilation shaft fan blade and spinning it at superspeed. On another occasion set a pool ball spinning quickly enough to drill through a bar counter.

Barry likes to use unconventional tactics, as noted in detail in the Personality section.

The Flash’s superspeed movement usually does not affect his surroundings as much as one would expect. Even at top speed he only generates a mild breeze at most unless deliberately moving in a manner that maximizes his air displacement, such as generating a wind vortex.

Likewise, even when he breaks the sound barrier the resulting sonic boom is fairly mild, making a rumble like thunder but not significantly disturbing nearby objects. Given the relatively tight urban confines the Flash commonly operates in, this phenomenon is beneficial in avoiding significant collateral damage.

Misc. aspects

After exposure to the drug Blue Paradise, the Flash vibrated so quickly that he could move through solid objects. While he has not been able to repeat this feat as yet, it is possible that he will learn to do this at will as he becomes more adept with his powers.

He also once leapt 10 years into the future and later returned to his original time, in both cases with the energy of a powerful explosion supplementing his normal superspeed movement. These temporal jumps may also be something he can learn to do on his own with further practice.


Video

Barry and Dr. McGee test his speed. 480p video, so you can probably just watch it on this page.


History

Henry Allen was a former sergeant with the Central City Police Department (CCPD). He wanted his sons Jay and Barry to follow in his footsteps. This was simple enough for Jay, who was inclined to be a man of action anyway. But the more intellectual Barry struggled with reconciling his interests with the family legacy.

When Barry entered college, he became the protégé of the famous archaeologist Ted Preminger. Ted encouraged Barry’s academic pursuits in a way that Henry Allen never did. Barry had fond memories of working two summers in the local museum, free to engage in his studies of choice without fear of criticism.

After the first two years of classes, Barry decided to switch his major to police science. This was a way of combining his love of archaeological studies with police work as well as putting him in a position to take a job that had a more direct effect on the world.

His mentor Preminger was so upset over Barry’s choice that he didn’t speak to him again for 10 years.

After Barry graduated college, he joined the CCPD as a member of the crime lab. 8 years later, Barry had become head of the crime lab and his brother Jay had taken command of the CCPD motorcycle division.

The elder Allen was somewhat disdainful of Barry’s job, holding the view that “real cops work the streets”. But Jay appreciated the contributions of the forensics lab in tracking down perpetrators and providing enough evidence to put them away.

A Bolt of Lightning

When a homicidal biker gang called the Dark Riders began a campaign of terror in Central City, Barry Allen became obsessed with finding clues as to their whereabouts. The CCPD was being publicly ridiculed by the press for its failure to stop the Riders. Barry always took such criticism of the police force personally.

While working alone late one night in the lab, Barry was injured. A bolt of lighting shot through the window and exploded the shelves of chemicals beside him. Barry initially believed he had come out of the accident with nothing more than a few scrapes and bruises. But a much more unusual side-effect soon became apparent as he developed the ability to move at superspeed.

Barry’s physician had sent his post-accident blood work to Dr. Tina McGee, a specialist in unusual human conditions working at Star Labs. She contacted Barry to follow up on the accident and Barry decided to confide in her regarding his new-found abilities.

McGee’s tests determined that Barry’s body had been completely altered by the experiment. Fearing the unknown effects this transformation might ultimately have, Barry wanted to be cured. Until that could be achieved, he settled on learning to control his superspeed with Tina’s assistance.

She provided continued examination of Barry’s changing physiology. Dr. McGee also procured a prototype deep-sea diving suit from an abandoned Soviet project. It would:

  • help protect Barry from the pressures of high-velocity movement
  • regulate his body temperature
  • most importantly it would hold together while he ran at superspeed unlike his normal clothes, which were often damaged as Allen moved at hypervelocities

Hermetic

During this same time, Jay Allen was placed in command of a special task force to bring down the Dark Riders. Unbeknownst to the task force, the Riders’ leader was Nick Pike, Jay’s former partner. Pike had been busted for criminal activity and was currently a fugitive from justice.

Pike had set a trap for the task force on the same spot where Jay had arrested him. Barry’s lab work uncovered Pike’s identity, but he was too late to stop the trap, which resulted in Jay’s death.

The Flash (John Wesley Shipp) in motion

After Jay’s death, Barry decided to use his powers to hunt Pike down. Tina did not want Barry to risk his health. When she realized he would take this course of action with or without her assistance, she agreed to help him on the condition that he allowed her to add sensors to the suit to continue monitoring his medical status.

Barry added gloves to the suit to avoid leaving fingerprints, and a cowl to conceal his face. The final touch was a lightning emblem on the suit’s chest. It was based on the track medal Jay had won in high school and served as a counter-symbol to the splattered blood-red dot that the Dark Riders used as their icon.

In this new superheroic identity of the Flash, Barry Allen brought down several members of Pike’s. These were then arrested by the police. In response, Pike raided the Central City Prison to free his captive colleagues.

The Flash helped responding police officers end the resulting prison riot, then confronted Pike. Despite suffering complications with his still-unstable powers at a critical moment, the Flash defeated Pike. He left the unconscious felon tied up to be taken into custody.

Central City Legend

For the next few months Barry took a more active role in policing Central City in both his civilian identity and as the Flash. He conducted investigations that the regular police force did not have time or inclination to pursue. He also battled opponents that were too unusual for traditional policing methods to stop.

His body adjusted to his powers so he did not have the sudden onsets of torpor or semi-consciousness that initially plagued him. Yet he still sometimes struggled with more conventional exhaustion from overwork.

Barry received assistance from several friends in his endeavors. Dr. McGee continued to monitor Barry’s health and provided both scientific expertise and emotional support as needed. Allen’s lab assistant Julio Mendez provided these same things from a different perspective.

Though Barry did not tell Julio of his secret identity, Julio may have figured it out on his own. He witnessed various suspicious incidents even though Allen used several subterfuges in hopes of convincing Julio that he was definitely not the Flash.

During Barry’s trip into the future, he learned that Julio had become certain that Barry was the Flash after both men disappeared at the same time (due to the aforementioned time travel). Howbeit that particular event was undone once Barry returned to his original time.

If Julio did eventually discover his friend’s secret, he nevertheless respected Barry’s privacy.

Showcase

Barry also had a brief romance with private detective Megan Lockhart. He ended up working with her to oppose his most persistent foe, the Trickster. However, their diverging careers and her move to San Francisco kept the relationship from developing further.

For a brief time the Flash had a partner of sorts in the ’50s-era superhero Nightshade. Dr. Desmond Powell created the Nightshade persona to clean up organized crime in Central City. After defeating his greatest enemy, the Ghost, Powell acknowledged the toll his alter ego was taking on his life and retired.

While many normal criminals challenged him, the Flash was met unconventional foes with increasing frequency. Barry feared that some of the Flash’s critics were right, that the superhero’s presence was somehow inspiring these new supervillains.

However, it could also be argued these menaces had always plagued Central City in secret and were now being forced into public view by a crime-fighter who had a unique ability to oppose them.


Description

A tall white male with excellent muscle definition, a strong brow, thick tousled hair, and a square chin. Barry Allen has the smooth features of a classic leading man or Golden Age hero.

While at work, Barry wears business casual attire, donning a lab coat when appropriate. Off-duty, he dresses loose button-up shirts and jeans or dress up in dark slacks and silk shirts.

As the Flash, Allen dons a scarlet bodysuit with integral cowl, textured like velour laid over sculptured musculature. This is the result of the material shaping itself to Barry’s body. His forearm-length gloves are made of the same material while his boots are leather and in a darker shade of red.

This outfit is accessorized with:

  • a symmetrical golden lightning bolt-shaped trim around his waist and the ends of his gloves
  • golden winged earpieces reminiscent of those on the Greek god Hermes’s petasus
  • a chest logo consisting of a small white circle overlaid with a large golden lightning bolt

The costume makes an interesting contrast to the dark, gritty urban environment of Central City. The speed with which the Flash moves and the color of his costume often leaves witnesses describing him as “scarlet lightning,” a crimson blur, or a blood-red demon.


Personality

Barry inherited his father’s devotion to the police department and its motto to protect and serve. As a consequence, he is constantly pushing himself to produce results. This is borne both out of a sense of duty to the force and to prove that he is a good cop in his own way.

Allen was initially concerned about his accident-derived powers and only wanted to be cured. However he soon realized that he could put those powers to use in assisting the police in a way that no one else could. This allowed him to become more involved with community problems after gaining his powers. He could directly intervene in crisis situations both in his civilian identity and as the Flash.

Father figures

One of the driving forces in Barry’s life has been living up to the standards his father figures had set for him. It was from his father Henry that he received his sense of duty to the public. It pained Barry for a long time that his father never seemed to appreciate his scientific contributions to the CCPD.

His college mentor Preminger became like another father to Barry by virtue of encouraging Barry’s intellectual development. Barry was deeply hurt when the two became estranged after Barry left archaeology for police work.

Fortunately Barry has had the chance to reconcile his issues with both men. When Barry and Henry worked together on one of Henry’s old cases, Henry explained that he actually respected Barry. His discomfort stemmed from not being able to relate to the work that Barry did.

Solving the case in question together helped Henry Allen gain a better understanding of his son’s contributions. A similar settling of old conflicts occurred when Barry helped provide security to one of Preminger’s museum exhibits. During this incident Barry explained why he had changed professions and how useful his old instructor’s lessons continued to be to him.

Preminger apologized for shutting him out and even began cultivating an interest in archeology in Barry’s nephew Shawn.

Driven to Extremes

Barry was already a workaholic before the accident. His acquisition of superpowers raised his tendency to overwork to new levels. He is constantly out on the streets as the Flash and the lack of rest often leaves him tired both physically and mentally.

This is a continuing source of disagreement between Barry and Tina McGee. McGee’s husband died while testing an experimental chemical designed to enhance human abilities. Thus she is acutely aware of the dangers Barry faces when he overexerts himself.

The Flash (John Wesley Shipp) using infrared lenses

The Flash using IR goggles.

While much of this urge to be constantly patrolling is based in his desire to help others, it is not entirely rooted in altruism. Barry also enjoys the excitement of being a superhero.

This is often reflected in his tactics as the Flash. When taking out opponents, the Flash uses superspeed tricks as often as he throws a simple punch. Some stunts he has performed include:

  • dismantling drums and grabbing the liberated cymbals to smash them together around someone’s head
  • juggling a bunch of candlesticks in a circle around an enemy which struck him when he tried to run away
  • playing an amped electric guitar at superspeed to disable a group with the intense noise
  • stopping a would-be thief in a museum by throwing a shield to cut a tapestry’s lines loose, dropping it over the felon, and then pinning him to the wall by firing a dozen arrows at superspeed to nail the tapestry down

That last example also illustrates how Barry’s enthusiasm sometimes drives him to impulsive acts. The tapestry in question was over 5000 years old and he subsequently regretted punching numerous arrow holes through it.

Defensive running

Barry took on the Flash identity to help others and to demonstrate in an indirect way that he is a capable protector. Thus, he is particularly vulnerable to criticism and frustration in these areas. He was infuriated when the Flash was sometimes painted as a potential public menace or was otherwise castigated for doing an inadequate job.

These incidents can even bring his father-figure issues to the fore again despite the aforementioned reconciliations. He has even been tempted to quit his superheroic work or leave Central City on a couple of occasions.

This most notably occured when it appeared that his brother’s killer Nick Pike would go free while the Flash was being painted as Jay’s real murderer. Howbeit, his sense of responsibility to others ultimately pulled him back from such measures.

To a lesser degree, Barry experiences the same defensiveness when the CCPD’s efforts in general or the crime lab’s specifically are questioned.


Quotes

Doctor: “Mr. Allen, you’ve been exposed to highly volatile and reactive chemicals, you’ve suffered lacerations, abrasions, and head trauma.”
Barry: “Oh, in other words, cuts, bruises, and a headache. Hardly enough to keep me in the hospital.”

Barry: “Uh, listen, my skin really isn’t affected by speed. Do I really need to wear this (suit) ?”
Tina: “Well, as your clothes keep falling apart, it’s either this or you can run buck-naked.”
Barry: “Oh. Thank you.”

“I realize how an unhappy childhood probably led you to all this, but that’s really no excuse.”

“I used to haunt the lab. It was the only place I felt in control. Now it feels cramped, confined. I have this overwhelming need for space. For speed. The accident changed me… Maybe more than I know.”


DC Universe History

This Flash would simply be a parallel-Earth version of the DCU Flash.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Flash

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Upholding the Good
Int: 05 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: Police Scientist
Inf: 03 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 024 HP: 050

Powers:
Air Control: 05*, Claws: 10, Projectile Weapons: 03*, Regeneration: 06, Superspeed: 10, Systemic Antidote: 04*

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • All Powers are Contingent on Superspeed (-1FC each)
  • The Flash cannot use Air Control to propel himself on gusts of air (-1FC)
  • Claws requires an object of opportunity that Barry can spin such as a fan blade — even a blunt object such as a cue ball will serve for this purpose (-1FC)
  • Projectile Weapons requires a small object of opportunity — see “Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” below (-1FC)
  • Projectile Weapons has no AV — use DEX or Weaponry (Missiles) instead (-0 or -1FC depending on house rules)
  • Superspeed is not subject to the rules concerning the environmental effects of high-speed objects (+1FC)
  • Superspeed cannot substitute for hand-to-hand EV (-1FC)
  • Superspeed is Fatiguing when used at more than 08 APs, but only “attacks” at 05/05 AV/EV and the RAPs can be reduced by Last Ditch Defense (-1FC)
  • Systemic Antidote does not add to RV versus the initial application of drugs, but instead adds to the EV or RV of subsequent attempts to overcome their effects — this represents Barry using Superspeed to burn drugs or toxins out of his system (-1FC)

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics): 04*, Artist (Guitar): 04, Detective (Clue Analysis, Legwork): 05*, Gadgetry: 05*, Martial Artist (All except Techniques): 04*, Medicine (First Aid): 03, Military Science (Demolition): 04, Scientist (Analysis, Observation, Research): 05*, Thief (Stealth): 10*, Vehicles (Land): 02, Weaponry (Firearms, Melee, Missile): 04*

Bonuses and Limitations:
Thief (Stealth) is a Powered Skill Contingent on Superspeed (-2FC).

Advantages
Attractive, Expertise (Archaeology), Familiarity (Jazz Music and Musicians), Mystique (-1CS to the OV of Intimidation attempts as the Flash, though using this Advantage usually requires Barry to perform a Superspeed stunt to demonstrate his abilities)

Connections:
Dr. Tina McGee (High), Julio Mendez, CCPD forensic scientist (High), Desmond Powell, M.D., Ph.D. a.k.a. Nightshade (High), CCPD Lt. Garfield (Low), Fosnight, small-time criminal and stoolie (Low), Megan Lockhart, private investigator (Low),

Drawbacks:
MIF (Snakes), MPR (Barry’s hyper-metabolism requires him to eat frequently and copiously, especially after extended use of Superspeed), Secret Identity (Barry Allen)

Genre:
Mock-Real

Equipment:

  • COSTUME [BODY: 07, Cold Immunity: 01, Flame Immunity: 01]. Tina McGee provided Barry with this suit incorporating reactive insulation. This material smoothly sculpts itself to the wearer’s body to provide minimum drag and also regulates the wearer’s temperature.
  • RADIO EARPIECE [BODY 01, Radio Communication: 10]. Initially, the right wing of the cowl on Barry’s suit had a built-in radio earpiece set to pick up standard emergency frequencies and to act as a transceiver transmitting data from sensors that monitored the Flash’s vital signs and allowed Dr. McGee to track his location (a +1FC Bonus to Radio Communications).
    The latter functions proved unreliable at hyperspeed (R#05) and Barry did not like “being kept on a leash” so this device was eventually removed from the suit. It was periodically re-installed when circumstances required Dr. McGee to precisely monitor Barry’s location or his current medical condition.
    Barry continued to use a smaller version of the device that was small enough to look like a conventional hearing aid, though it lacked the vital sign monitors. This version’s smaller size allowed him to wear it unobtrusively even in his civilian identity.
  • INFRARED CONTACT LENSES and WRIST MODULE [BODY 01, Thermal Vision: 04, Limitation: +1CS to the OV/RV of vision-based Perception Checks].
    These experimental contact lenses, used in conjunction with a strap-on control bracelet, allowed the wearer to see in the infrared spectrum. However, the resolution of the images was rather poor. Barry borrowed these from the CCPD’s Search and Rescue Unit to foil a villain using a stealth device that made him invisible to normal sight.

Running on Empty

When Barry Allen first acquired his powers, it took a while for his body to adjust.

During his early adventures, he had the equivalent of an R#5, which he rolled against every Phase that he planned to use Superspeed or any Contingent Powers. If he failed the roll, he was Stunned for 1D10 Phases during which he could not use Superspeed at all.

Because Barry frequently worked himself to the point of exhaustion in both identities, he regularly underwent Power Complication Subplots. These usually took the form of Superspeed becoming fully Fatiguing or dropping to 08 or 09 APs, or Barry suffering a +1CS to the OV of all actions due to medical issues such as long-term insomnia.


Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

Though the Flash usually prefers to simply dodge bullets, he will on occasion catch them instead. This is usually only done in extremis, such as intercepting an already-fired bullet before it hits its target.

Catching a bullet requires the Flash to make Check with his DEX as AV/EV versus an OV/RV of 12/12 (the OV/RV of such an attempt would normally be 14/14, but I’m assuming that Barry’s superspeed perceptions would reduce the difficult by one Column).

The Flash can substitute his Superspeed for DEX as usual for this purpose, but will usually spend some HPs as well to make sure he is successful. Because Barry is moving at the same speed as the bullet, he is not harmed by catching; this may not be realistic but falls within the realm of comic book physics.

Barry can also use bullets he has caught or other small objects as thrown weapons. Bullets use their original EV as the Flash can throw them back as quickly as they were originally fired.

Another use of this ability was seen when Barry, while tied up, plucked a button off of his shirt with his teeth and spit it with sufficient force to shatter a lightbulb, allowing him to finish his escape at superspeed without being observed using his powers.

Smaller objects like a button still use the Projectile Weapons Power but probably only have an EV of 01.


Looking to the Future

Though this version of Barry Allen was not as powerful as the comic book version, he showed signs of developing similar breadth of abilities.

Exposure to the drug Blue Paradise caused him to inadvertently use Dispersal: 10 as a Trick Power of Superspeed, moving intangibly through a brick wall before resolidifying on the other side. It is possible that the Flash could eventually learn to use this technique deliberately.

The Flash has travelled through time twice so far. The first time was due to being pushed forward by a large explosion while already running at top speed, which sent him forward ten years (27 APs of time).

This also burned out Barry’s Superspeed, though it could be momentarily restored by electrical shocks or a metabolism boosting shot.

The Flash was able to return through the tear in space-time left by his initial trip when propelled by a nuclear explosion while running at superspeed and merged with his past self, undoing the effects of his travel through time but leaving him with the memories of the alternate future he witnessed.

By Roy Cowan

Source of Character: The Flash (TV series), character played by John Wesley Shipp

Helper(s): Morgan Champion, Ethan Roe

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