The Flash: Who is Harrison Wells?

With each new episode of The Flash, one question just keeps popping up...who the hell is Harrison Wells? We look at some suspects...

This article contains potential spoilers for The Flash TV series and comics.

UPDATE! If you saw the latest episode of The Flash, it looks like we got one of these right…you can read our review of “The Man in the Yellow Suit” by clicking here.

His true identity is one of the biggest secrets on television. Just who is Harrison Wells? Is he a time traveler (his name would suggest it. Get it, H. Wells? H.G, Wells. The Time Machine? Read a book!) Is he a visitor from an alternate dimension? Is he Barry Allen’s greatest protector?

We have prepared this handy guide into some possible identities for TV’s most enigmatic scientist and the man who invented the device that gifted the Flash (and many others) with his powers. Join us, as we try to puzzle out the true identity of Harrison Wells and how he can figure into the coming Crisis.

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Professor Zoom

Harrison Wells clearly has a connection to the future. In the comics, the original Reverse Flash, aka Professor Zoom was a criminal from the far future who came back in time to wreck havoc by using his advanced intellect and super speed. The original Reverse Flash’s name was Eobard Thawne. Sound familiar? Yes, there already is a Thawne on The Flash but there’s still plenty of room for red (yellow?) herrings on this show.

Not to confuse things too much, but there was also a Reverse-Flash that was actually a disgruntled cop named Hunter Zolomon, but it was Professor Zoom who inspired Zolomon to don the jaundiced version of the Flash suit. Could Wells be the man who killed Barry’s mother or maybe he just inspires/creates the modern day Reverse-Flash, Eddie Thawne?

Click here for more details on the Reverse-Flash.

A Pawn of Gorilla Grodd

There is certainly something timey wimey going on with Harrison Wells, but what if he was actually not a time-traveling serial killer and instead something stole his brilliant mind, twisting his vast intellect and ideals to make him something truly dangerous. We’ve already seen how a gorilla named Grodd was a major point of contention between Wells and General Wade Eiling and it was clear that the (literal) eight hundred pound gorilla in the room had some vast and valuable powers.

Grodd basically has the same powers as Professor Charles Xavier contained within his snarling, feral form, so it’s conceivable that Wells, a heroic visitor to our time here to witness the birth of a hero could be a controlled by the gorilla despot. Whether this is the case or not, man, we just cannot wait until Grodd busts free of that cage and wreaks some monkey mayhem on Central City. Caesar who?

Dr. Alchemy/ Mr. Element

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The time travel stuff would seem to go against the scientist being the split personality villain Dr. Alchemy/Mr. Element, but work with us a bit here. In the comics, Albert Desmond has adopted the dual villainous identities of Dr. Alchemy and Mr. Element and also suffers from multiple personality disorder. Desmond used the magically enhanced philosopher’s stone as Dr. Alchemy and his super sciency element gun as Mr. Element. It wouldn’t be too far a leap to speculate that either super weapon could be the result of future tech.

In addition to the advanced nature of those weapons, we sure have seen Wells switch personalities like other people change clothes. One minute he is Barry’s kind mentor, the next he is murdering Simon Stagg. Like Desmond, maybe Wells doesn’t know when his villainous personality takes over. Wells also certainly knows about the nature of matter and how to manipulate elements. I know it doesn’t sit right with the time travel stuff, but being the television version of Albert Desmond would go a long way toward explaining Wells’ mercurial behavior.

Rip Hunter

Back to the temporal explorer thing. Rip Hunter is DC’s version of Doctor Who, a time traveling adventurer who acts as a sort of linear cop to keep the time stream safe. What if Wells has to make sure certain events happen for Barry to be in place to combat that future Crisis that Wells is so preoccupied with? The latter day Rip Hunter is a master manipulator who usually does right by the time stream even if it means breaking a few eggs along the way.

It wouldn’t be too hard for Rip to pose as a theoretical physicist with his vast array of futuristic technology he has access to, and traditionally, Rip has always worked as part of a team of usually young followers. They may not know it, but what if Cisco and Kaitlin are just the latest conscripts in Rip’s mission to keep the time stream safe? Best of all, if Rip Hunter is indeed part of the Flash’s world, then can Hunter’ s son, Booster Gold, be far behind? Wells seems a bit too sinister to be Rip Hunter but you have to admit, if you we are talking time travel in here, DC’s most classical time cop has to get consideration in the Harrison Wells identity sweepstakes.

Elseworlds DC Comics The Monitor Crisis on Infinite Earths

The Monitor

One word keeps glaring at us when it comes to Harrison Wells: Crisis. Wells is certainly monitoring Barry Allen isn’t he? From helping him develop his powers, to making sure that the neophyte hero is mentally prepared for life as a metahuman, Wells has been there every step of the way, monitoring Barry’s progress as a hero. Could it be that Wells, the Monitor, is making sure that Barry is physically and mentally prepared to save the multiverse come the Crisis?

Wells also is surrounding himself with other figures that could become heroes and play a role in the coming Crisis. In the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths, Killer Frost is front and center in the early issues, is that why Caitlin Snow has been chosen to be one of Wells’ assistants? Also, Wells’ experiment gone wrong created a virtual army of metahumans, that could be used as his weapons against the Anti-Monitor. Harbinger, the Monitor’s companion and confidant during the original Crisis was named…Lyla Michaels. Yes, you are correct, that is the name of Diggle’s ex-wife and the mother of his child. The pieces are in place for the arrival of the Monitor to DC TV, the question is, has he been here in the guise of Harrison Wells all along?

Pariah

Speaking of Crisis (Crises?), this one seems at least worth a look. Crisis on Infinite Earths introduced us to Kella Mossa, known as Pariah. What a charming superhuman code name that is. What are your powers, Pariah?

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Oh, you’re apparently immortal and your forced to observe universes get absorbed by walls of anti-matter and you’re powerless to stop them so all you do is cry about it? That’s, ummmm….that’s a bummer. No, it’s cool, let it all out.

Kella Mossa (before he took on the Pariah stage name) was a serious scientific genius on his version of Earth until, well, you know, the waves of anti-matter started destroying everything in site. Rather than a dude in a purple cape crying, maybe he’s here to try (possibly in vain) to stop THIS universe from getting absorbed. 

Appa Ali Apsa

Perhaps the longest of long-shots on this list, the Guardian of the Universe (not to be confused with those other, competing Guardians) who spent the most time living among humans deserves to be here. Between The Flash and Arrow this season we’ve already seen about a half-dozen Green Lantern themed easter eggs. Appa Ali Apsa, also known as “Old-Timer” is the Guardian who joined Green Lantern and Green Arrow on their epic road trip in the ’70s, and showed up in the Superman novels of Elliot S! Maggin, has the wisdom of the ages and ridiculous alien technology at his disposal. Who knows what a guy like that could get up to? 

While Old-Timer ultimately came to a bit of a bad end in the comics (he had some issues), that madness could explain Harrison’s murderous mood swings. A Guardian could have knowledge of the future without actual being from there, and would have a vested interest in keeping a superhero alive in the event of a pending multi-dimensional catastrophe. The guy was there for the whole Krona fiasco (erm…it’s a really long story, but it involves the Guardians and the birth of the Multiverse) so that could explain a lot. No, really.

Abra Kadabra

Remember when we said that the guy above was the longest of long shots? Well, we lied. Would they dare?

Flash has some classic time traveling villains, but one of the most storied is Abra Kadabra, an egotistical madman who uses technology from the far future to commit crime and receive accolades in the distant past. As far as Wells is concerned, the future tech and ego are in place but there really is nothing magical about Wells. But could Wells be setting up the Flash so he can have the distinction of defeating the hero? That would be a very Abra Kadabra sort of move. This one is a huge long shot, but if somewhere along the line Grant Gustin turns into a marionette, we’ll revisit this possibility.

We’ll learn more (or maybe we won’t) when the midseason finale of The Flash, “The Man in the Yellow Suit” airs on Tuesday. Who do you think he is?

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