The Rival

Personal Data

Dr. Edward Clariss

Residence: Unknown
Occupation: Professional Criminal,  former chemistry instructor
First Appearance (Golden Age): Flash Comics #104 (February 1949)

History

        Virtually nothing is known of life of the villain would be known as the Flash's rival before he became an instructor at Midwestern University. In the early 1940's, Dr. Edward Clariss was a chemistry teacher at Midwestern in the department where Jay Garrick was a student. In need of a break to make it into the inner circle of the research community, Clariss overheard Joan Williams tell a classmate that the Flash had acquired his powers in a lab accident at Midwestern. Searching the scene of Garrick's accident, Clariss happened on some hard water sample and initiated a series of experiments to duplicate the Flash's speed formula. His work was widely ridiculed and he eventually lost his appointment at the University. Moving to Europe and other work, Clariss continued to develop his speed formula and nurse a healthy desire for revenge on his former colleagues.

   In 1949, Clariss returned to America after some correspondence with Jay Garrick, now director of Garrick laboratories. When Garrick met his former teacher at the ship's docking, he was amazed when Clariss was carted off at super-speed. Shortly thereafter, a criminal calling himself the Rival announced his intention to counter the Flash. Following a lead to track down the Rival, Garrick was ambushed by thugs moving at super-speed. After a quick scuffle, the Flash was knocked unconscious and carried to the Rival's lair. Unleashing a "slow-gas" on his foe, the Rival reduced the Flash to a crawl and made off with his men to rob the Keystone City Bank.

    As the Rival's men tore the bank apart at super-speed, they were surprised by the sudden recovery and appearance of the Flash. After subduing the Rival's thugs, the Flash administered a stunning blow to the crime lord himself and was astonished to see him revealed as Dr. Clariss, his former teacher. As the police and the Flash listened, Clariss confessed his crimes and described his plans to avenge himself of those that had scorned him. The Rival was then taken to jail to serve a lengthy prison sentence (Flash Comics #104).

    The Rival's activities on Earth-2 since 1949 remain unknown. Whether he survived or has passed on his speed formula remain to be seen.

Multiversity

Prior Earth-0 = The initial encounter between The Rival and the Flash occurred on the prior Earth-0 in much the same manner as it did on Earth-2.  In this timeline, it is known that a few months after the first, a second battle occurred between the Rival and the Flash, a brief one in which the Rival was able to reach light speed velocity and exceeding it, was pulled into what later became known as the Speed Force where he remained for nearly 50 years.

In the late 1990's, Clariss was freed from the Speed Force by the villain Johnny Sorrow.  Because his speed was temporary, the Force rejected him as an infection once his powers wore off and the remaining decades in the Force had driven Clariss insane. He launched a murderous spree across the United States, running at top speed, not avoiding people in his path and killing them instantly, thus spelling out his own name across the US to attract the attention of Jay Garrick with the intention of murdering Joan Garrick at the end of his run.  The Flash managed to stop him in time and pushed him back into the Speed Force (JSA #16-18).  Soon thereafter, Clariss emerged from the Speed Force as pure Speed energy and ultimately possessed the body of Max Mercury, in which he escaped the Flash and Impulse and traveled through time (Impulse #88).  Mercury eventually re-emerged  (Flash: Rebirth #4) but the fate of the Rival Flash on this earth remains unknown.

Powers/Skills

The Rival powers stemmed from his derivation of the "hard-water formula that originally gave speed powers to Jay Garrick. Unlike Garrick's powers, which were permanent,  The Rival's formula only allowed short periods of speed powers.  At peak efficacy, his speed rivaled or exceeded that of the Flash.

Weaknesses and Limitations

Once his speed formula wore off, the Rival  was a ordinary human and could be captured as such.  Clariss was also significantly older than Jay Garrick, likely in his 50's when he began his career and his age may have been an additional limitation.

Appearances 

Issue Comment Reprinted in
Flash Comics #104 First Appearance and Origin, vs. the Flash The Flash #211, Flash Archives #1, Showcase Presents The Flash #1, Flash The Greatest Stories Ever Told, The Flash: The Silver Age Omnibus #1

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