'The Flash' Just Teased the Biggest, Scariest Villain in Recent Memory

Here's what that "Red Death" teaser is all about.

While the Flash is currently dealing with Cicada in Season 5 of his TV series, another major villain may not be far away. And when we say “major,” we mean it. The arrival of this character may be one of the biggest, scariest things to come to the Arrowverse yet: Red Death.

Spoilers for this week’s episode of The Flash, “Memorabilia,” ahead.

In “Memorabilia,” Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton) enter the memories of their daughter Nora Allen (Jessica Parker Kennedy). There, Barry and Iris enter the fabled Flash Museum, an institution dedicated to chronicling the storied career of The Flash.

As Barry and Iris follow Nora through the museum — and into a literal Rogues Gallery — Nora plays a video of Barry’s boss, Captain Singh, who explains just how deadly Cicada really is. He’s got a massive body count: 152 victims, “and rising.” Though Savitar was hinted back in Season 3 to be Flash’s most devastating enemy, it’s Cicada who haunts Flash as the rogue who gets away.

But will Cicada be the scariest? Singh compares Cicada’s villainy to two other monstrous foes: Zoom (still one of the best villains in the entire show, hands down) and — wait for it — Red Death.

Yes really. If you heard the collective gasp of every DC fan last night during The Flash, the teasing of the Red Death is why.

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New York Comic Con cover variant of 'Batman: The Red Death' #1.

Who is the Red Death?

In short, the Red Death is Batman, fused with the power of The Flash and utterly, totally corrupted by fear.

In case you missed it, in the summer of 2017 DC published Dark Knights: Metal, a massive crossover chiefly written by Scott Snyder. The event saw the arrival of the “Dark Knights,” evil Batmen from across the multiverse led by the worst Batman of all, The Batman Who Laughs. (For more on Batman Who Laughs, read our interview with Scott Snyder here.)

Generally speaking, the Dark Knights are different versions of Bruce Wayne/Batman, each of whom correspond with another member of the Justice League and personify Bruce Wayne’s fears in a different way. The Red Death is basically “Batman, but The Flash” and exists as a manifestation of Batman’s fear of losing his family and not being fast enough.

The Red Death’s origins were revealed in a one-shot tie-in issue, Batman: The Red Death, which showed a corrupted, paranoid Bruce Wayne demanding Flash give him his Speed Force powers. When Flash refused, Batman strapped him to the hood of the Batmobile, and basically gunned it until their bodies fused together into one. Although Flash had lost his body, his consciousness remained dormant inside Batman’s, and at the end of Dark Knights managed to regain control and destroyed the Red Death.

It’s a totally gnarly backstory, and his teaser brings up a lot of questions.

Red Death Flash Batman DC Comics
The Red Death rises in 'Batman: The Red Death' #1. By Joshua Williamson, Carmine Di Giandomenico.

Is the Arroverse Doing Dark Knights?

Without Batman and most of the Justice League, it’s really unlikely that the Arrowverse will adapt Dark Knights: Metal in any way. Especially since the 2019 crossover will officially be an adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which is a wildly different story than Dark Knights.

Still, an Arrowverse version of the Red Death could be just as frightening as “Evil speedster Bruce Wayne.” The Red Death’s identity doesn’t have to be Bruce Wayne, nor does it have to be anyone we expect. Really, all it takes is for the Red Death to come at the screen with that sick, sharp, blood red cowl and he will be just as scary no matter who is under the mask.

Until we find out the answers, you can reread Dark Knights: Metal and rock out to Red Death’s official theme song (performed by Brann Dailor) on Spotify.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on The CW.

Media via DC Comics, Warner Bros. Records, The CW