'The Flash': Who Is Gridlock?

The Flash returned for its fifth season tonight and while Barry faced a major personal shock with the arrival of his daughter from the future, Nora, crime in Central City stops not even for the arrival of future speedsters leaving the hero to take on a new villain: Gridlock.

Spoilers for tonight's season premiere of The Flash, "Nora", below.

Promotional photos for tonight's premiere previously revealed that Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) and Barry (Grant Gustin) would team up to take on Gridlock, a character that might be somewhat familiar to some DC Comics fans.

In comics, Gridlock is Abner Girdler, a man who worked as an urban planning and new transportation technology specialist for Technodyne, but when his proposed monorail project was scrapped at the last minute by transportation commissioner Clifton Burdett, Girdler lost his job -- but gained a serious grudge in the process.

When Burdett later ran for mayor, Girdler moved to sabotage the election under the guise of Gridlock. Girdler used technology to allow him to steal kinetic energy from people and objects, a move that would bring them to a full standstill for an hour. Gridlock manages to freeze most of the city of Manchester, Alabama as well as kidnap his former boss before ultimately being defeated by Impulse. A version of Gridlock -- at least one with the same powers -- also appeared in 2015's Bat-Mite.

The Flash's take on Gridlock draws on the idea of kinetic energy manipulation but other than that is a dramatically different character. Television's Gridlock is William Lang, a carjacker who has the ability to absorb kinetic energy and then use it himself. The powers have helped him move beyond carjacking as well, as he's seen robbing an armored car early in the episode before using the kinetic energy to super punch the Flash. However, while The CW's Gridlock isn't that close of a match to the comics version his last name is of interest as it is also the last name of a character most commonly associated with Superman -- Lana Lang.

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The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.