Last year’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover redefined the boundaries of the Arrowverse. The DC multiverse as it was known was destroyed and then reborn during the massive conclusion. We witnessed the deaths of a number of those universes directly (by weird Earth-2 where most dopplegangers were slightly evil versions of our heroes) and some of them were directly reborn/replaced (DC’s JSA-focused Stargirl TV series takes place on a new Earth-2), others such as Earth-38 (home of Supergirl) and the unnamed Earth where the first three seasons of Black Lightning took place, were folded into the new Earth-Prime, which is the new official home of much of the reconfigured Arrowverse.
Other Earths weren’t so lucky, though, and their demise came offscreen with no additional explanation of what happened. One of these was Earth-3, the home of Jay Garrick, which was wiped from existence by the events of the Crisis. In the comics, Jay Garrick is the original Flash, operating during the Golden Age of heroes and working with the Justice Society of America. But on The Flash TV series, he’s the doppelganger of Barry Allen’s father Henry, and a veteran speedster who has been fighting crime as the Flash for decades on his own world. Shipp’s version of Jay Garrick has been presumed dead since the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, as the character wasn’t seen during or after the events of the crossover.
On TV, Garrick is portrayed by John Wesley Shipp, an actor who has been closely associated with various incarnations of Flash history through the decades, having played Barry Allen on the 1990-1991 The Flash TV series, Professor Zoom in an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Henry Allen on the current The Flash, as well as Jay Garrick (plus a return to his original version of Barry Allen for a triumphant ending during Crisis). While speaking with Shipp about the 30th anniversary of the original The Flash TV series (where he played Barry Allen), I asked the actor if he felt like he has said all he has to say with the character.
“I feel in a good place with Barry, the character who interests me now is Jay,” Shipp says. “Having had this long, winding road with this franchise, I’m an actor who is particularly placed at the moment to play Jay Garrick.”
And it seems that there are indeed plans to reveal Jay’s fate after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
“I know Jay Garrick is coming back to the CW show, but they were supposed to be at a further point in the story,” Shipp says. “They didn’t get to play out the end of season six because of COVID as we know, so they’ve got to tie up some things. [The Flash showrunner] Eric Wallace has said that he does want to talk to me about some ideas about Jay Garrick going forward.”
It’s not clear how Jay would have survived the destruction of Earth-3 but whatever the case, it seems like he’ll now be in a position to get together with Team Flash without having to run between dimensions.
“We know that Joan (Williams-Garrick) and Jay are on Earth Prime,” Shipp says. “We’ll see what they come up with. My experience with this group is that they’ve given you every reason to have faith that whatever they come up with is going to be interesting and you’re going to want to play it.”
So how is Jay now on Earth Prime? There’s are a couple of possibilities. The first is simply that since Jay and Joan are scientists who knew the Crisis was coming, they were able to find a way to escape the destruction of their universe.
But it’s also possible that elements of Earth-3 were simply folded into the new Earth-Prime, similar to what happened with Supergirl and Black Lightning. Barry and Team Flash were still discovering differences in their world throughout the season after the conclusion of Crisis, so the revelation that a character as important as Jay is still around shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
In this latter scenario, this “post-Crisis” version of Jay would have always existed here, and likely had a career as The Flash years before Barry Allen. This was the approach that the Crisis on Infinite Earths comic took, where many characters were simply folded into the existence of the new Earth Prime, something which The Flash showrunner may have alluded to in an interview earlier this year.
“There are things that have not changed but are a little different,” Eric Wallace told The Mary Sue back in January. “For example, like a Jay Garrick who used to be on another earth. Jay Garrick’s now on our earth now, Jay and Joan are alive. So at some point, we, hopefully, will run back into them because they’re a part of our world. You never know what kind of familiar face you might run into.”
In any case, it sounds like it’s only a question of when, not if, we’ll get to see another Barry Allen and Jay Garrick team up. And it sounds like Shipp can’t wait to put on Jay’s helmet again.
“I’m just waiting to see,” he says with a smile. “They need to hurry up though because I’m not getting any younger.”
The Flash Season 7 will arrive in January. We’ll have more from John Wesley Shipp about his time as Henry Allen, Jay Garrick, and his big Crisis on Infinite Earths moments in the coming weeks!