This article contains major spoilers for The Flash season 3 episode 6, “Shade” and 7 “Killer Frost.”
Well, we’re about to find out Savitar’s true identity on The Flash Season 3 Episode 20 (note: you can read our full, spoiler-filled review of that episode right here). Don’t worry, though, this is unlikely to turn into another Zoom scenario (what a cheap reveal that turned out to be), and he’s different enough from Reverse-Flash that the mystery that has surrounded this guy for the course of this season is hasn’t felt too repetitive for longtime Flash fans.
Of course, assuming he’s anything like his comic book counterpart, and based on what we just saw, well…he sure doesn’t look like the comic book version. That’s not really a bad thing, though. We could do without a bare-chested dude with a mustache speeding around on this show…
Savitar was created by Mark Waid and Oscar Jimenez in 1995’s Flash #108. Keep in mind, this was pretty early in Mark Waid’s career, and his work on Flash is one of the things that really helped the writer make his mark in the comic book world. And with good reason. His tenure as Flash writer, even though he primarily dealt with the Wally West Flash, is one of the three most influential creative periods on the TV version of Flash (the other two are Geoff Johns later work, and, of course, the earliest John Broome/Carmine Infantino stuff).
Waid’s period writing Flash was marked by an expansion of the character’s mythos and powers (the Speed Force is one of the things to come into play during the Waid years, for example), a greater focus on additional speedsters (Jay Garrick as mentor to all speedsters and Jesse Quick’s rise to prominence came during this time), and new villains, one of whom was our pal Savitar.
Savitar was introduced in a story called “Dead Heat” and that remains his only real story. He’s more than a speedster, he’s essentially the man who discovered the Speed Force. He was a nameless fighter pilot during the Cold War for a nation that most certainly wasn’t the US or Russia whose plane was struck by a mysterious bolt of lightning, and after that, his powers manifested, so he did what any sensible person would do in that situation: he named himself after the Hindu god of speed (Savitr, no seriously, look it up) and formed a cult! Since one of his deals is that he can transfer his speed to others, you can imagine the rewards of joining the cult of Savitar. They’re basically speedster ninjas with a fondness for edged weapons, and things get pretty messy for his victims. You can see his fondness for edged weapons on the show when that blade thingy popped out of his Transformers-looking fist there.
But just as Savitar can giveth, Savitar can taketh away, kids! He can sap your connection to the Speed Force, so if you’re hoping to spend an episode with Barry moping around without his powers (c’mon, it’s becoming a tradition on this show!) you’re likely to get your wish this year.
I’m not going to recap “Dead Heat” here, because really, you should go read it. Fans of the TV series will find lots of familiar stuff to love, even though your main Flash is Barry and not Wally, the tone will feel very familiar. DC recently announced they’re going to start reprinting Mark Waid’s entire run on Flash in nice new TPBs, but it might take a little while before we get to “Dead Heat.” You can find out of print versions of it, though.
Anyway, what does all this have to do with the Savitar from the show? Well, Alchemy and his cult were revealed as disciples of Savitar. I couldn’t help but feel like the bearded guy in the hood with the nasty looking knife looks like he could be Savitar without that crazy Speed Force armor, but I might very well be imagining things. And, of course, Killer Frost’s reaction to the Savitar reveal at the end of “The Once and Future Flash” implies something quite different.
As for speculating on his actual identity? I’d be a little surprised if he’s from an alternate Earth or even from the Flashpoint timeline, both of which would feel a little lazy. Considering that the CW is expanding the backstory of their timeline with the introduction of the JSA on Legends of Tomorrow, I’d be cool with this Savitar simply being an earlier speedster, even this world’s first speedster. You don’t call yourself the God of Speed if you’re new to the game or lack a healthy ego. But the key would seem to be that he’s known to Team Flash, or at least to Ms. Snow. I’m still not sure what this could mean, although there are theories out there that indicate he could be anyone from Barry to Jay Garrick to Wally.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole helluva lot to go on from the comics, since Savitar only appeared in “Dead Heat” before he was unceremoniously dispatched in the pages of Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver’s The Flash: Rebirth. He’ll be longer for this world than poor Rival was, though, so at least we have that.
Got any theories about Savitar’s identity? Drop ’em in the comments or hit me up on Twitter, speedsters!
This article first ran on November 15th. It has been updated with some new information.