Just because he’s the Fastest Man Alive doesn’t mean that the Flash actually uses speed. In fact, Barry Allen’s number one enemy, the Reverse Flash, discovered the Speed Force’s greatest secret, shining a light on what being a speedster actually is.
The DC Universe is full of mysterious, hard to define energies that give heroes and villains phenomenal abilities. The Flash and the several other speedsters zipping around fighting crime draw their power from the mysterious Speed Force. Barry Allen’s heroic career began when he was doused in a unique combination of chemicals and struck by lighting connecting him to the powerful Speed Force. Since then, the electrically charged hero and his many speedster allies have used their powers to travel at incredible speeds, pull off impressive feats, and travel to other times and dimensions. Few may understand the Speed Force, but many imbued with it recognize the potential their speed unlocks.
But a discovery from the Flash’s bitter rival, the Reverse Flash, puts the Speed Force in an entire new context. During the “Road To Flashpoint” story arc of the Flash by Geoff Johns, Scott Kolins, and Francis Manapul, a series of mysterious deaths are occurring in Central City. Flash works with the police to investigate why so many bodies are appearing to die of rapid aging. Barry discovers a little boy at one crime scene and believes he may know who’s behind the deaths. But the child is actually the evil Reverse Flash in disguise. He reveals his true nature to forensic analyst Patty Spivot and mentions that he has been experimenting with the Speed Force in ways the Flash hasn’t ever tried. By draining the years from others and using them to alter his own appearance, Thawne realizes that the Speed Force is actually time-based.
Reverse Flash’s reveal isn’t too surprising since time travel is a classic Flash power, but that’s usually seen as a practical application of their speed, usually in conjunction with a Cosmic Treadmill. But what Thawne has discovered is that the Speed Force itself is a manifestation of time, not speed or even electricity as some may think. This means that speedsters like Flash and his ilk are actually time-based superheroes instead of speed-based.
It’s commonly assumed that Barry and others simply move faster than the world around them. But what may be actually occurring is that speedsters manipulate the flow of time, making it seem like they’re traveling at great speeds. The Reverse Flash Hunter Zolomon actually utilized this technique as Zoom since he originally had no connection with the Speed Force. But Thawne implies that this may be what the Speed Force allows all speedsters to do. Despite his reputation, this would mean that the Flash isn’t actually the Fastest Man Alive, he’s just slowing the rest of the world down. Granted, it’s all relative depending on the perspective. But Flash’s archenemy may have made the case that speedsters are actually just modified time travelers.
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Author: Justin Epps