The Flash: How DC’s Tangent Universe Introduced a New Kind of Speedster

Over the past few months, Superman and the Authority by Grant Morrison and Mikel Janín brings a new version of the WildStorm Universe’s brutal team to the DC Universe. To fill out this new team, the Man of Steel has recruited are some easily recognizable heroes and villains and some more obscure characters. Intriguingly, one of the team’s new members shares a name with one of the Flashes of the DC Multiverse, speedster Lia Nelson.

Lia started out in the unique universe of DC’s Tangent Comics. Tangent Comics was an imprint created by writer/artist Dan Jurgens in 1997, where it reimagined a number of DC’s characters in ways that completely diverged from anything that had come before. Only the names of these characters, such as Joker and Nightwing, linked them to familiar DC Universe concepts. The biggest difference between the Tangent Universe and the regular DCU was the impact and influence metahumans had on society, and nowhere was this more apparent than Tangent’s version of the Flash, Lia Nelson.

RELATED: The Flash: Infinite Frontier Sends Barry Allen Into DC’s Next Crisis

Lia Nelson was created by Todd Dezago, Gary Frank and Dan Jurgens. Unlike other Flashes like Barry Allen and Wally West, Lia’s identity is public knowledge. Her celebrity status originally came from her parents, who were the first astronauts to travel to Jupiter. Whilst in space, they had an affair which resulted in Lia. Though the exact reason why is unclear, this space-based pregnancy gave Lia superpowers. Her superhero mother immediately placed her child in the spotlight, building up her potential as a superhero, which resulted in her becoming the Flash.

Though this origin seems innocent enough, it was later revealed that Lia’s father orchestrated her unusual birth to create a superhuman weapon for the shady Nightwing organization. Despite her father’s plans, Lia was a free-spirited child, and she used her powers to escape with ease. Being immediately placed in the spotlight after that foiled her Nightwing’s plans, resulting in her father constantly trying to eliminate his own daughter. However, Lia never notices her father’s ill intent, mostly because he’s so bad at his villainous job.

Her father’s incompetence isn’t entirely to blame though, since Tangent’s Flash packs considerable power. Essentially, she is a being of pure light. She can travel at the speed of light, which makes her one of the multiverse’s fastest speedsters, and she can manipulate it too. She can utilize this to create light constructs, similar to Green Lanterns, and also make her own hard light clothing. When she came up against her own version of the Reverse-Flash, her duplicate claimed to be her equal in every way. Lia proved that was impossible, since the limits of her own powers had never been tested, and defeated her knock-off with ease.

RELATED: The Flash: How Impulse and Barry Allen Are Really Related

Lia has proven to be one of the more enduring characters to come out of DC’s Tangent Comics imprint. Her fun and lighthearted debut in Tangent Comics: The Flash #1 gained a sequel with Tangent Comics: The Trials of the Flash #1 by Todd Dezago, Paul Pelletier, Andy Lanning, Joe Rosas and Comicraft. This continued the happy-go-lucky tone of the original and saw Lia join the Secret Six, Tangent’s premiere superhero group.

Since Tangent Comics ended, she’s appeared in other titles too. Countdown: Arena by Keith Champagne and Scott McDaniel saw her go up against Flashes from across the multiverse and prove her cunning by tricking Earth-2’s Jay Garrick, securing her victory and safety from the deadly event. She also featured prominently in the Tangent Universe’s eventual return in Tangent: Superman’s Reign from the imprint’s creator Dan Jurgens. There, she teamed up with Wally West’s Flash and went up against Tangent’s evil Superman, Harvey Dent.

Most recently she was seen alongside the Flashes of the Multiverse, who assisted the Flash Family in their fight against the Legion of Zoom. Though Superman and the Authority‘s Lia is sure to be different, it will be interesting to see what elements of the original character remain.

KEEP READING: Superman and the Authority #3 Pits the Man of Steel Against the Ultra-Humanite (Exclusive)

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