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Flash Thompson
Flashthompson1.jpg
Flash Thompson.
Art by Tim Sale.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug 1962)
Created by Stan Lee
Steve Ditko
In-story information
Full name Eugene "Flash" Thompson
Supporting character of Spider-Man

Eugene "Flash" Thompson is a supporting character in Marvel Comics’s Spider-Man series. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, he first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962).

Flash is a star high school football player and classmate of Peter Parker (secretly the superhero Spider-Man) who mercilessly bullies "Puny Parker." On the other hand, Flash greatly admires Spider-Man, an irony Parker takes some pleasure in knowing.

After graduation, Flash joins the United States Army and is haunted by his combat experiences, leading to alcoholism. Later on in the series, Flash and Peter become friends.

Flash Thompson has appeared in several other media adaptations of Spider-Man, usually in his earlier bullying incarnation.

Contents

Fictional character biography

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High School

Eugene Thompson was born in Forest Hills, Queens. In his early appearances, Flash Thompson is a high school classmate of Peter Parker. In high school, Thompson is a stereotypical jock who continually bullied Peter. It is Thompson who dubs Peter with the derogatory nickname "Puny Parker." and humiliated him daily in front of the whole school. Ironically, Flash admires Spider-Man, Parker's other identity, forming a "Spider-Man Fan Club" and vocally supporting his idol wherever he goes, even criticizing J. Jonah Jameson and his editorials to his face. When Spider-Man was seen committing robberies, Flash was one of the few to stand up for him claiming that he could still be innocent. It soon turned out that Spider-Man had been framed by Mysterio and Flash boasted about how he was always right. Peter Parker, who openly stated that he wouldn't "trust [Spider-Man] any further than I can throw him", took some secret pleasure in that Flash supported his alter-ego.[1]

In a later twist, and a retcon, the Flash nickname largely used by Eugene during his whole life is revealed as only falsely related to his football successes, stemming instead by a simple and rather embarrassing case of premature ejaculation.[2]

In a very early issue (Amazing Spider-Man no. 8), Flash and Peter square off for a boxing match in the school gym. Initially expecting an easy victory, Flash is astonished to discover that he simply can't lay a hand on his opponent (due to Peter's enhanced speed and reflexes), and a single tap from Parker's fist knocks him clear out of the ring. Significantly, after this episode, Flash's bullying is restricted mostly to verbal harassment, suggesting that he was secretly wary of Peter's fighting prowess. Over the next few years, as the two become rivals for Liz Allan's affections, Flash is only willing to confront Peter when he (Flash) is surrounded by his friends. Peter, for his part, begins to laughs off his threats with good-natured comebacks (much to Flash's annoyance, as well as bewilderment). This subtle reversal of their positions is typical of Lee-Ditko character developments in the title.[3]

At a much later point, Flash's back story is retconned to imply that he was physically abused by his alcoholic father, often called Harrison Thompson, leading to Flash's own violent, bullying nature - and, in a sense, making Peter a victim of Flash's misplaced anger. To add a further layer of misery and irony to the constant abuse suffered by Flash, it's implied his adoration for Spider-Man drove an even deeper wedge with his father, a policeman, and led him to an even more abusive attitude towards Flash, making Peter himself the leading cause of the misplaced anger Flash showered upon him.[4]

Towards the end of Ditko's run on the title, Flash was employed mainly as comic relief, more a local buffoon than a serious threat. Major changes in his personality took place subsequent to issue 39, when Johnny Romita, Sr.) took over as the strip's artist. Following Romita's take in place, Flash was made into a more sympathetic character and his clean-cut image was similarly emphasized to give him an "All-American" persona.

College and adulthood

After Flash enters Empire State University, his relationship with Peter becomes progressively less hostile.[5] While the two still trade the occasional insult, Flash has grown to respect Peter's intelligence and is surprised by his popularity with the girls (particularly Gwen Stacy, and Mary Jane Watson). Perhaps most tellingly, both are friends with Harry Osborn, whose presence serves to defuse the tension between the former rivals. Although genuine friendship is still a long way off, the outright hostility that characterized their relationship is a thing of the past.

While in university, Flash enlists with the United States Army and serves in the Vietnam War (although, due to Marvel's sliding time scale, this was later retconned to some unspecified overseas conflict). This was a further elaboration of Flash's "All-American" persona; unlike many students of the time, Flash was never conscripted - instead, volunteers for service of his own free will. Although Flash was absent from the strip for months at a time, his frequent stateside visits kept him familiar with the readers.

While in Vietnam, Flash's unit bombs an ancient temple whose acolytes had earlier sheltered Flash when he was wounded. Flash tried and failed to stop them.

When he returns to America, he drops his antagonism toward Peter. Peter, in turn, begins to respect Flash's new found maturity and the two become close. However, Flash soon finds himself tailed by mysterious assassins, former acolytes of the temple who think that Flash had betrayed them. Spider-Man holds off the assassins long enough for Flash to explain his side of the story. Sha Shan, the leader of the assassins, forgives Flash and even dates him for a while, but leaves him when she finds out he is cheating on her. Flash's tour of duty profoundly changed him from a reckless and immature youth to a tormented and conflicted man. Finding no comfort in his military decorations, Flash turned to alcohol for years.

When Sha Shan is attacked by the Hobgoblin, Flash makes the mistake of insulting the villain on television. The Hobgoblin takes his revenge by abducting Flash and framing him as the Hobgoblin's true identity. Spider-Man is aghast that his old friend is a villain, but Flash is legally exonerated when the Hobgoblin's true identity is revealed.

Thompson has relationships over the years with several of the same women as Peter. In high school, he dates Liz Allan. One of the reasons Flash bullies Peter is because he secretly fears that Liz prefers Peter to him. Flash is briefly romantically involved with Mary Jane Watson in college. He has a long, on-and-off relationship with Betty Brant. Felicia Hardy (the Black Cat) dates him in order to make Peter jealous, but is surprised when she actually falls in love with him. Finally Flash breaks up with her, as he feels he can't keep up with her high-speed lifestyle. After he and Peter put their antagonism behind them and become friends, Flash serves as best man at Peter and Mary Jane's wedding.

After a bout of severe depression over the course of his life and his inability to reconnect with Betty, Flash went drunk-driving and was badly injured in a crash. Soon afterward, his life began a dramatic upswing when Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, offered him a job at Oscorp as his personal aide in order to annoy Peter Parker; not knowing the reasons behind this, Flash became loyal to Norman for giving him a second chance and turning his life around. During this time, Flash meets the hero Prodigy, not realizing he is also Spider-Man in disguise. Later, as part of a plan of driving Spider-Man to murderous violence by attacking his family and friends, Osborn kidnaps Flash (under the pretense of picking him up from an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting), force-feeds him whiskey and has him crash a truck into Midtown High School, where Peter works. Flash survives, thanks to his excellent physical condition, but he suffers severe brain damage that leaves him in a coma. Liz Allan Osborn, although widowed and raising her son Normie all on her own, becomes Flash's caretaker, and hires a full-time nurse to care for him. Peter, blaming himself for what happened to Flash, makes a point of visiting his friend as often as he can.

Peter learns that Flash had awakened from his coma during the "Spider-Man: The Other" story arc. Flash takes a job as the men's gymnastics and interpretive dance coach at Midtown High School, where Peter teaches science. However, Flash suffers from severe memory gaps. When meeting Peter again, he treats him like a nerd and picks on him, as he did in their high school days. In The Amazing Spider-Man #533 Flash watches the news reports of Spider-Man unmasking, but dismisses it as a trick, as "Puny Parker" couldn't be Spider-Man. When Peter returns to work as a teacher, Flash still refuses to believe it, even after Peter uses his abilities in an impromptu dodgeball game that blackens both of Flash's eyes. Afterward, Flash seems to flirt with the school nurse, Miss Arrow. Finally believing Peter after witnessing his battle with Daniel Berkhart and Francis Klum, both battling for the Mysterio namesake, he forms a renewed alliance with Peter. After sharing a kiss with Miss Arrow (who earlier has, unbeknown to him, displayed stingers similar to that of the Other), he is convinced by her to talk Peter Parker into keeping his teacher role.

Flash briefly appeared at the conclusion of the controversial One More Day story arc, attending a welcome home party for the newly resurrected Harry Osborn. Due to Mephisto's magic, Flash, like the rest of the world, no longer remembers that Peter is Spider-Man.

Iraq War

After the One More Day events, Flash never discovered Peter's identity while they both worked at Midtown High. Instead he willingly leaves his place as a P.E. instructor to rejoin the Army and fight in the Iraq War out of patriotic zeal, inspired by the selfless life of his lifelong idol, Spider-Man. He is still in a close friendship with Peter, as he is seen, laying in his hospital camp bed, with a greeting card by his best friend, and an iPod loaded with Christmas in Fallujah by Peter himself.

There, he's revealed in a flashback to have lost both his legs while attempting to save his platoon by an Iraqi ambush, selflessly dragging his superior officer out of debris instead of waiting for a medevac, reasoning that Spider-Man had often committed the same sacrifices for everyone else, and glad to have had the opportunity to imitate him. Flash's sacrifice is enough to earn him a recommendation for the Medal of Honor.[4]

He returns to New York, only to shock Peter with the loss of his legs. He reveals to Peter that Spider-Man was his inspiration in Iraq. Harry appears to have rented a condo just for Flash, in order to help him out.[6] He later competes in a paraplegic sporting event at the local YMCA, managing to come in first place.[7]

Flash later accepts an offer to join Mayor Jameson's office of veteran's affairs. When the Chameleon (disguised as Peter) meets Flash at the subsequent press conference, he cruelly mocks him, calling him "puny Flash".[8] Flash is seen going through his stages of grief backwards, even so far as to use dangerous experimental procedures to regain his legs, but comes to terms with his condition, thanks to the support of his friends, family, and his new rehabilitation trainer Sha-Shan.[9]

Other versions

House of M

In the House of M: Iron Man series, Flash is a commentator for 'Sapien Deathmatch'.

MC2

In the MC2 continuity (the alternate future of Spider-Girl), Flash Thompson is now on the faculty of his old high school. He is the coach of the girls' basketball team. He married Felicia Hardy, but later divorced her, and they had two children, Felicity and Eugene Jr (Once a red herring for The New Spider-Man). He still is unaware of the fact that Peter Parker was Spider-Man, and is similarly unaware that Peter's daughter, May, is Spider-Girl. Felicity, on the other hand, is aware of all of this, and briefly assumed the identity of the Scarlet Spider in attempt to partner with Spider-Girl.

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane

In Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, Flash is the star football quarterback at Midtown High. Flash bullies Peter and refers to him as Puny Parker. Flash recently started dating Liz Allan again; this ended after she dumped him at homecoming for declaring his love to Mary Jane in front of the whole school.

Ultimate Flash Thompson

Ultimate Flash Thompson.

In the Ultimate Marvel continuity, Flash Thompson is a jock who attends the same high school as Peter and bullies him. Later, Flash challenges Peter to a fight. Peter merely blocks a punch from Flash and manages to break his hand. Flash hangs out with another student named Kenny 'Kong' McFarlane. When Peter joins the basketball team, Flash's attitude changes, as he is loyal to his teammates. When Flash suddenly wants to talk to Peter alone for a moment on at least two occasions, Peter turns him down rather furiously, believing he just wanted to bully him in private. It was revealed after Gwen Stacy's death that he had a crush on her and was actually trying to ask Peter for help in approaching Gwen for a date. During the Silver Sable arc Flash is kidnapped, after being mistaken by the Wild Pack for Spiderman, who had only moments before disappeared into an alley Flash happened to be standing in. After realizing their mistake the group considered killing him,Flash however is able to escape. This experience gives Flash a new level of popularity within the school especially after a TV movie is made about his ordeal. As revealed in Ultimate Spider-Man #65 his real first name in Ultimate Marvel continuity is Fred. Unlike most versions of the character, Flash doesn't idolize Spider-Man (that trait was primarily passed on to Kenny).

In other media

Live-action films

In the 2002 film Spider-Man Thompson was played by Joe Manganiello. He is depicted as Mary Jane's boyfriend at the start of the film, and, like his comic book counterpart, is a bully who torments Peter, and sometimes Peter's friend Harry. Later on in the film, after Peter accidentally uses a web to splash Flash with a tray of food. Later, a fight between them breaks out in the school's hallway, in which Peter first learns of his newfound abilities. Flash then wants Peter to fight him but he initially refused. Flash then started punching Peter but Peter ducks and in the end, he defeats Flash with just one punch. Mary Jane later remarks that Flash was thankful for Peter not hurting him even more. Flash is last seen at graduation, where he and Mary Jane break up.

In Spider-Man 3 (2007), Flash, once again played by Manganiello, is seen at the end, attending Harry's funeral, he appears to have put his bullying ways behind him, and seemed much more reserved.

Animation

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

The television show, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was Flash Thompson's first animated appearance, and was voiced by Frank Welker. In the episode "Video-Man", he finds out that Angelica Jones and Firestar are one and the same person. But he is unable to remember that in the end. In "Spider-Man Unmasked", Sandman learns Spider-Man's true identity as Peter Parker and Firestar tricks Flash into wearing a Spider-Man's costume to a party, which successfully mislead the Sandman into thinking he made a mistake. In the end, Flash tries to take some credit in Sandman's defeat but Peter throws him some sand, scaring him.

Spider-Man (1994 TV series)

In 1994 Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Flash tries to have a relationship with Felicia Hardy (Black Cat), which didn't work out and he later found a new, more comfortable, relationship with the brainy Debra Whitman. Flash does not physically bully Peter but insults him on various occasions. He is also a fan of Spider-Man, not believing Jameson's news when the Insidious Six were on the rampage when Spider-Man was framed by the Chameleon.

Although Peter and Flash continue their rivalry, he is invited to Peter's wedding where he meets Felicia again. Flash tries to get along with other beautiful girls but always fails, sometimes being pushed back by Debra Whitman.

He was voiced by Patrick Labyorteaux.

Spider-Man: The New Animated Series

In Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, Flash appears in the episode "Flash Memory", voiced by Devon Sawa. This version is based on the high school Flash, although his dislike for Peter is actually pushed to a new extreme: instead of often making jokes at Peter's expense, he instead insults him up front, and at one point in the episode is shown to be even willing to endanger Peter's life.

The Spectacular Spider-Man

Eugene "Flash" Thompson appears in the The Spectacular Spider-Man, voiced by Joshua LeBar. He continues to bully Parker, even when Peter already has his super powers and Flash is always trying to out smart him but usually fails. He is similar to his original portrayal in the comics, dating Liz Allan until they break up in the episode "Reaction", seemingly due to Liz developing a crush on Peter. In "The Uncertainty Principle", he had to be a cheerleader for Halloween due to a bet he lost to Peter in an earlier episode, but convinced the rest of the football team into also dressing as cheerleaders. He and Mary Jane had also been voted the king and queen of the Fall Formal, which leads him to try asking out Mary Jane, but she denied Flash as she did not want an actual relationship. After seeing Peter in his Spider-Man costume, (he claims it was his Halloween costume to protect his identity) he argued that Peter looked nothing like Spidey and he should've dressed up like the wall-crawler. After Peter becomes angrier and easily agitated from the symbiote suit, it is Flash that snaps Peter back into reality by reminding him that his friends only want to help. Flash later shows his more heroic side when he and his friends help save Gwen Stacy from falling to her death at the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

In "First Steps" it is revealed that he and Peter were best friends in Nursery School. Peter also gave Flash his trademark nickname because of his tendency to streak as a little boy. He is also shown to have an attraction to the show's version of Sha Shan, who doesn't want anything to do with him. However, she eventually went out with him after he reported Harry's use of the Goblin serum on the team, feeling that it's better that he earn trophies fair and square.

References

  1. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #13 (June 1964)
  2. ^ Amazing Spider-Man #574
  3. ^ As noted by Daniels in Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics (p.130) Ditko's plotting emphasized the more subtle aspects of human relationships, stressing (for example) Aunt May's quiet strength over Flash's macho posturing.
  4. ^ a b Amazing Spider-Man #574
  5. ^ Sanderson, Peter (2007). The Marvel Comics Guide to New York City. New York City: Pocket Books. pp. 30–33. ISBN 1-14653-141-6. 
  6. ^ Amazing Spider-Man Extra #3
  7. ^ Amazing Spider-Man #591
  8. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #603
  9. ^ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Amazing_Spider-Man_.23622; see Help:Cite error.

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