- "I know first hand the battle going on inside of you. I know what it feels like. When it happened to me, I lost. All right? I was weak. And I let it win. And I did...I did horrible things to a lot of good people, and you don't have to do that."
- —Julian to Caitlin Snow[src]
Julian Albert Desmond, known simply as Julian Albert, is a crime scene investigator for the Central City Police Department, specializing in meta-humans. As a result of the Flash's tampering with the timeline, Julian was assigned as his senior lab tech. During an expedition in the Indus Valley, Julian found the Philosopher's Stone. Once he found the stone, he woke up in his hotel room and learned his expedition team was found dead. He then ran off to Central City while unknowingly becoming Alchemy under Savitar's control, being nicknamed Dr. Alchemy by Cisco Ramon. As "Alchemy", Julian was possessed to restore the abilities of several meta-human's from the Flashpoint timeline. After being freed from Savitar's control, he joined Team Flash, using his scientific expertise to aid in protecting Central City. He also grows close to Caitlin Snow, eventually him trying to find a way to suppress her powers, and later to potentially cure her of her Killer Frost side. Their relationship becomes strained as Julian finds out that Caitlin recklessly tried to use a piece of the philosopher's stone in order to attempt to get rid of her powers, but when she suffers a life-threatening injury, he's quick to do all he can to save her.
Julian was born to a wealthy family in England and as the first born son was meant to inherent the large sum of money built up from past generations. Though Julian was an 'odd duck' and would rather go outside and explore than deal with formalities. He eventually became a historian, with his dissertation "Anthropological analysis of the Brahmastra" published by Oxford University.
Pursuit of the Philosopher's Stone
When Julian was 20, his sister Emma died and as a result, his parents stopped talking, driving the family apart. One night, Julian had a hallucination of Emma who told him that the "Philosopher's Stone" could bring her back and where to find it in India. So, against his parents' wishes, he used his future inheritance to form a search team in India to find it. Weeks later without luck, Julian began to lose hope but a woman on his team told him they found it. They led him to an underground cavern where Julian opened the box containing the stone and screamed at the glowing light.
Julian woke up the next morning in a motel where he saw a news cast saying that the rest of his team was found dead at the campsite. Afraid he would be blamed, he ran to America. Over the next few years, Julian would repeatedly black out and wake up in a different location. This would be the result of Savitar controlling his mind to become his deceitful "Alchemy".
Meta-human expert and Dr. Alchemy
Three years later he got a job Central City Police Department as a CSI specializing in meta-humans sharing a lab with Barry Allen who he developed a disliking to due to his mysterious disappearances and behavior.
At some point, Alchemy transformed four individuals into meta-humans, leaving behind husks of skin from each individual.
Almost a year later, he began working on a case involving dermal husks appearing around Central City, unaware they were a result of his being controlled by Savitar. He attended a meta-human conference for two days, before returning to a surprised Barry. The following day, he went to the scene of a fifth husk, refusing the help of Barry and instead taking his own samples, finding DNA belonging to Edward Clariss. The following day, Barry came to see him about the case and he ultimately allowed him to look at the file, albeit begrudgingly. The day after that, Julian gave Barry the finished Edward Clariss report, revealing he never told Barry the name belonging to the DNA, which meant Barry stole a sample at the earlier crime scene, and that he didn't like him as he couldn't trust him.
As Alchemy, Julian communicated with Edward Clariss through unknown means and led him to his lair where he and his followers awaited him. Alchemy also forced Clariss to remember his Flashpoint life and manipulated him into agreeing to serve him in exchange for restoring his powers, allowing Clariss to become "The Rival" again. After the Rival's first encounter with The Flash, Rival led Flash to a sawmill where Dr. Alchemy attacked Flash. Dr. Alchemy claimed that he is helping people achieve their true potential to prepare the world, and had Rival fight Flash again. However, Rival was defeated by the joint efforts of Flash and Vibe. When Clariss was imprisoned, Dr. Alchemy scolded him for his incompetence and Savitar came into the cell and punished him for his failure.
Alchemy later awakened another Flashpoint metahuman, Frankie Kane, recreating her Magenta persona as a split personality. After Magenta attacked her foster father and was confronted by the Flash at CCPD, Magenta came to Alchemy's lair, complaining that Frankie was fighting to gain control. Alchemy then told Magenta that once she showed Frankie's foster father that Magenta was in control, Frankie would also. This led to Magenta to attempt to destroy the hospital her foster father was in with a tanker, but the Flash managed to coax Frankie back to the surface, repressing Magenta.
In the wake of another failure, Alchemy decided to target the Flash directly. Sending another of his transformed meta-humans, dubbed "Shade", to spread fear and panic and attract the Flash's attention, Alchemy reached out to Wally West through dreams/visions and his telepathy, imploring West to seek him out so that he could restore West's Flashpoint powers. As the pain of Alchemy's communications worsened, Team Flash and the CCPD used West to infiltrate Alchemy's lair and then stormed it with the Flash's help. The Flash went to grab Alchemy's stone from a pillar but Alchemy telekinetically stopped him from moving and summoned the stone to blast Flash repeatedly with beams of blue energy until it was shot out of his hand by Joe. Forced to his knees, Alchemy derided their efforts as the Flash moved to unmask him. Suddenly, an earthquake shook the lair and Alchemy bowed his head to the floor in reverence as a mysterious and unfathomably fast speedster slaughtered the CCPD cops and beat the Flash down. Meanwhile, Alchemy used his telepathy to reach Wally West once more and succeeded, turning him into a cocoon. His master saw a distracted Flash and pinned him to the ceiling, declaring himself as Savitar, the god of speed. As this was happening, Alchemy got up, watching Savitar finish him off.
As Savitar was about to kill the Flash, Joe resisted and shot him but to not avail. As the situation was getting worse, Alchemy started to flee, leaving the scene unharmed. Alchemy's master then decided to "take Barry for a ride" and took off as well.
During Julian's stay at the hospital, hurt by Killer Frost's attack, Barry visited him, pleading Julian to lie about what happened the identity of Killer Frost (Caitlin, whom he knows as 'Barry's friend'). He complied, but he demanded Barry to resign from his position as the CCPD's forensic scientist. After Barry sadly agreed and left, Julian suddenly heard the voice of Savitar and fell under the speedster's mind control, leaving the hospital to find the mask of Alchemy and serve his "god" once again.
Julian then kept the mask in his lab at Central City Police Department, when suddenly he heard Savitar's voice ordering him to become Alchemy again. Alchemy soon becomes impatient and creates a portal for Savitar to come through, as well as restore all the metahumans from Flashpoint. As Alchemy and his cultists prepared to bring back every meta-human from Flashpoint with a massive ritual using the Philosopher's Stone, the Flashes of two worlds appeared, with Jay Garrick taking Savitar's attention, while Barry Allen went after the unprotected Alchemy, taking the Philosopher's Stone and bringing it back to its box. As the box closed, Savitar disappeared from reality, sealed away with the stone, and Alchemy's host, Julian, lost consciousness. When Barry spoke to Julian, he revealed that he remembered nothing of his actions as Alchemy, and even refused to admit being turned into this criminal at first. Later, Barry returned to Julian's cell, asking if he had any blackouts, unmasking himself to get Julian to trust him. Afterwards, Savitar tried to leave the Philosopher's Stone's box by, effectively, turning Cisco Ramon into his new Alchemy, using the same trick with a spectre of a dead sibling that he used on Julian before. Although Cisco released Savitar and was ready to attack Caitlin during a trance in which he thought he's seen his brother alive, Caitlin managed to persuade him to close the Philosopher's Stone box, trapping Savitar once again.
As Team Flash accessed Julian's mind, seeing him as their last link to Savitar, the "God of Speed" spoke through Julian once again, telling Team Flash the truth behind Alchemy and his plans as whole. Afterwards, Julian discusses with the rest of Team Flash what to do with the Philosopher's Stone, refuting the first suggestion to destroy it, stating it was indestructible, hence why it's still around. Ultimately, Barry and Jay throw the stone into the Speed Force to neutralize the threat of Savitar. Afterwards, Julian declined Caitlin's invitation to the West family Christmas party, but later changed his mind, informing Barry that he talked with Singh and rescinded his resignation from the CCPD.
In the year 2024 of the timeline in which Savitar killed Iris, Julian remains at S.T.A.R. Labs to keep Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost in the pipeline as her caretaker. He was a bit distraught over the disbanding of Team Flash and Iris' death, which made him focused on his science work thoroughly in after seven years. After the Flash from 2017 arrived in the future, he was surprised to see present Barry and stated that he hadn't seen Cisco and Barry in a while. He told Barry that he come to the wrong place for answers, but he was willing to show Caitlin in the pipeline locked up and being incarcerated. Later he eventually reformed Team Flash and helped the two Flashes to stop Mirror Master and Top.
According to Julian himself, he doesn't like people or things he doesn't trust. He took a quick dislike of Barry Allen on the grounds that he can see that he hides secrets from everyone else. He seems to take great pride in his scientific expertise, to the point of refusing help when carrying out important investigations, although Barry claims that he often dumps on him all the paperwork he doesn't want to do himself. Ironically, he disliked the Flash because he consistently outperforms the entire police force, and believes that the Central City Police Department has become lazy and lethargic as a result. However, after Barry began trying to open up with Julian and worked on a case together, to which Barry would save him and later Julian nearly killed a child, only to be stopped by Flash, Julian began to see the "two" in a different light. Accepting that Flash is a symbol of hope for the city, he also decided to give Barry a chance, becoming more civil with his coworker.
Julian has shown to be extremely tactless at times, as shown when he openly accused Frankie Kane of having attacked her foster father, causing her to trigger her alternate personality 'Magenta' in the middle of the police station, potentially placing many lives at risk just to prove himself right. He also chastised Barry for wanting to leave two minutes earlier for his date with Iris, which hints that he might be a workaholic to a fault. This is also shown as Julian is a bit outraged that despite nine violations, Barry is able to get off with a 15-second warning. While not heartless, his sense of justice and morals is still considerably higher, agreeing to keep Caitlin's meta-human rampage a secret for Barry only under the condition that he resigns from law enforcement, believing Barry is too random in his views.
Julian's perfectionist tendencies appear to stem from insecurities in his life. Not fitting in with the glamorous lifestyle of his family, Julian was determined to make a life for himself in his own way. Despite his persevering and studious nature leading him to become a top-level forensic scientist, he became distraught when the meta-human outbreak changed everything. He came to hate meta-humans because the vast majority of them went on to become criminals and made all his work and research seem irrelevant by comparison. At the same time, he envies them because he wasn't one of the "chosen" who got such remarkable abilities, only wanting to help the world as best as possible.
After learning of Barry's identity as The Flash, and who saved him from Savitar's control, Julian was initially left with deep shame, knowing that he was essentially responsible for many crimes as Alchemy. Wanting to redeem himself, he accepted Team Flash's offer to join them. Upon which, enjoying the feeling of people accepting him in a closer relationship than merely associates, he began showing a kinder and more open side.
Despite his tactlessness at times, Julian's perfectionist tendencies do serve him well in avoiding repeats of his past mistakes. Since joining Team Flash, Julian has shown himself making considerable efforts to improve his social skills, though they often come at the expense of him making a fool of himself in the process, much to his chagrin and the occasional amusement of his newfound friends. From his regular interaction with Caitlin and her constant support, Julian has begun to develop feelings for her, enough to risk his life to keep her safe.
Julian is also a true scientist at his core: though not as bombastic or enthusiastic as Cisco Ramon or Barry, he has a genuine passion for discovery and learning, having a quiet enjoyment of his work. To which, he shows a strong adventurous side, immediately and excitedly deciding to join Team Flash on a rescue mission to a parallel Earth against super intelligent apes.
Powers and abilities
- Philosopher's Stone empowerment: While under the possession of Savitar via the Philosopher's Stone, Julian would become a powerful sorcerer known as Alchemy.
- Psychokinesis: Alchemy has shown multiple times to be able to carve his name into mirrors and other surfaces without touching them, or even being present for that matter. However, it is implied that this may be a hallucination, as Iris wasn't able to see it when Wally was during while being called on by Alchemy. By extending his arm, he stopped Flash's super speed, keeping him in a standing position unable to move long enough to summon his Philosopher's Stone to his hand to blast him across the room. He then sent Flash sliding across the floor with a wave of his hand.
- Retrocognition: Alchemy is able to remember the Flashpoint timeline and is capable of making people, such as Edward Clariss, remember their alternate lives. Dr. Alchemy was able to perform this despite the fact that the Flashpoint timeline was reset by Eobard Thawne on plead from Barry Allen.
- Telepathy: Alchemy is able to communicate with anyone regardless of where they are, but it is revealed that Savitar was really channeling Julian to do this. However, Alchemy himself is susceptible to enforced and apparently one-sided telepathic communication by his master Savitar.
- Transmutation: Alchemy is able to biologically alter individuals to give them meta-human powers, the individuals leaving behind a "husk" in their place after being granted their powers. Acolyte Craig said that he can also take powers away from meta-humans, although whether this is true or not is up for debate. He also said Alchemy's powers are also greatly amplified if he chooses to. Whereas The Rival in the Flashpoint Timeline could only match the much slower Flash/Wally and struggled to keep up with a weakened Flash/Barry, in the new slightly altered timeline The Rival's powers were increased to the point that they could practically compete with The Flash.
- Genius-level intellect: Despite his high-standards, Julian views are often well-founded from his natural insightfulness. Very shrewd, he is able to perceive both the situation quickly at first glance and likewise quickly determine an effective means to handle it. Ignoring his initial dislike of Barry, he quickly began to realize that Barry was hiding his true nature, not surprised when he finally learned that Barry was The Flash. Since joining Team Flash, his methodical and calculating nature is also shown him to be an effective tactician, offering optimum choices on how to act.
- Expert computer skills: Julian is shown to be very skilled in computers, able to program an algorithm to locate people with potential connections to Alchemy.
- Expert scientist/Archeologist: Like Barry, Julian is highly skilled in forensics, sometimes even superior to the former, praised even by Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon. Very detailed oriented, he is able to comprehend much of a crime scene after an initial inspection. Specializing in meta-human forensics for the CCPD, he is also well-versed in the various reports of meta-human activity. Julian is an accomplished archeologist and historian, his dissertation on the Brahmastra being among those featured on Oxford University's web site. He is also very advanced in mathematics, able to calculate Barry's ability to increasing his speed given his current rate.
- Military training: Julian had four years of military training under his belt. Because of this, he has experience with a hand gun. He also served as field medic, able to handle minor injuries. Combined with his advance knowledge on biology and Caitlin's instructions, he was able to successfully remove shrapnel lodged deep inside Caitlin's abdomen.
- Pistol: As a member of the CCPD, Julian used a pistol in his line of work.
- Philosopher's Stone: Alchemy uses Brahmastra, or the Philosopher's Stone, to project concussive energy blasts that could send opponents flying through the air. It's unknown what it is made of. It also turns Alchemy's "chosen" ones into cocoons should they choose to reclaim their Flashpoint powers by touching it.
- Julian Albert is the second character who was a historian by profession introduced, after Nate Heywood.
- During his time with Team Flash, Julian developed affection for Caitlin Snow. When she transformed into the murderous Killer Frost, Julian was almost killed by her sadistic freezing kiss. When she helped them restore Barry's memory, and therefore Savitar's, Julian confessed his feelings to her, briefly bringing Caitlin back to the surface.
Behind the scenes
- In DC comics, Doctor Alchemy is the alter-ego of Albert Desmond (Julian's middle and last names), a friend of Barry Allen who, due to a personality disorder, sometimes lapsed into a life of crime, using an object called the Philosopher's Stone to physically reshape objects into any form of matter he desired. One of his other villainous identities was "Mister Element," in which he could generate any chemical element to help him in his crimes. Additionally, after Desmond was cured of his personality disorder by Barry Allen, the Philosopher's Stone created a phantom construct Alchemy named "Alvin Desmond", that pretended to be Albert's twin brother. Desmond also had a number of successors, such as Alexander Petrov in the guise of Mister Element, and Curtis Engstrom in the guise of Dr. Alchemy. He also had a precursor named Zobar Zodiak, nicknamed "the Alchemist", who was one of the original wielders of the Philosopher's Stone.
- Tom Felton's role in a plot concerning a Philosopher's Stone is reminiscent of his role as Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, of which the first movie was released in the countries outside of the USA under the title Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
- Julian Albert unknowingly becoming Alchemy is similar to the DCAU version of Batman character, Tim Drake unknowingly becoming The Joker in the future.