With all of CW’s new shows coming back I thought I wanted to do a Flash article. I thought otherwise because most at this point probably know the back story of the Flash. One of the most important heroes in DC lore for various reasons I thought I would touch on one of his most important aspects his Speed Force.
The Speed Force is an energy field that grants all speedsters their power from Barry Allen and Wally West to Johnny Quick and Max Mercury. One Flash who is not able to access it is Jay Garrick who was given his powers through the God Mercury interestingly enough. Those with access to the Speed Force can use a large number of abilities which I’ll look at in a minute.
Scientists on planet Savoth had a deep understanding of the Speed Force and there were many universities devoted to its study. One of these scientists, Gorflack, built a Speed Force cannon to defend his planet from a force of alien invaders. Instead of performing its intended purpose, it brought Jay Garrick the first Flash ever, to Savoth. After Garrick helped defeat the invaders on Savoth, Gorflack gave him a lightning shaped piece of solidified Speed Force which he and his successors could use to transport to and from Savoth. As you can see its intended purpose was to travel through different dimensions and is a physical space where speedsters can travel. Many have no idea about this but it was actually invented by Barry Allen – a Flash after Jay Garrick!! When he became the Silver -Age Flash, Barry generated the Speed Force with every step that he ran. When he was struck by the bolt of lightning that gave him his powers, the Speed Force was created and echoed through time and every dimension. By running, Barry creates a kinetic wall between the present and the time barrier that manifests as electrical energy that touches every part of reality and contains the knowledge of every place and every time. In essence the Speed Force grows every time Barry runs and someone from past, present or future can tap into it! After Barry’s death, the Force stops growing because he’s the engine that generates the electrical energy and in doing so it allows one Professor Zoom’s negative Speed Force to be created.
I know it’s a lot to take in but when Barry dies in “Crisis on Infinite Earths” the Speed Force becomes a negative zone now. Barry stopped Anti-Monitor’s plans of destroying Earth with a canon full of energy so great that when Barry absorbed it he died. He knew he would die but saving Earth 1 was more important. Anti-Monitor knew that if he destroyed Earth 1 he could destroy other dimensions. By stopping this the Flash basically ran himself to dust and made the ultimate sacrifice which no comic book hero has ever done. When this happened – the Reverse Flash was created. In comic book lore he has been in the Speed Force this whole time and only comes into play after Barry Allen was created/died. He’s the ying to Barry’s yang and he orchestrated Barry’s return from the “dead” because he couldn’t survive without Barry Allen’s presence. A perfect circle so to speak.
This must seem crazy to think how in the world could a Flash (Barry Allen) have created the Speed Force when he wasn’t even the first Flash. Without going into massive detail it’s because of the different dimensions and Earth’s. Barry Allen was actually born before Jay Garrick but was in a different Earth therefore has no real age or birthday. All Flashes ability to use the Speed Force leaves them with a bit of mystique and it gives the writer so much leeway to further develop these characters. When fighting Super-boy Prime, Wally West was nearly swept into the Speed Force. Wanting to see his wife and children one last time the entire family was taken into the Speed Force in a famous comic “Infinite Crisis”. Super-boy Prime is one of the only people ever to escape the Speed Force alive!! With the help of Bart Allen, another Flash, Prime is defeated.
Different conduits throughout the multiverse excel in different Speed Force related abilities and it has different effects on all its users. Jay Garrick’s decelerated aging opposed to Barry Allen’s over accelerated aging process. Lady Flash, the keeper of the Speed Force in Earth 33, casts electrokinetic blasts that are capable of paralyzing opponents. Bart Allen has the ability to divide himself into multiple physical selves. Wally West learns to manifest his costume at will, being created purely from the Speed Force. Jai West’s super speed can temporarily grow his muscles, giving him super-strength. This also works the same way in the Negative Speed Force which negates and opposes the Speed Force.
The Speed Force only exists in the DC multiverse and when speedsters die they become one with it like the Force in Star Wars. It’s an energy like no other, is dangerous to rely on, and can only be used in limited access. It does however grant amazing powers. Introduced in Grant Morrison;s Justice League of America the Infinite Mass Punch is the most powerful attack of any superhero. Traveling near the speed of light this punch could take down a white dwarf star!! Flash’s durability is regulated by the Speed Force meaning Flash acquires a relativistic mass to impart shocks that could hit with a mass comparable to an infinite mass!! Perhaps his most versatile power is his speed. The Speed Force governs all motion and it’s how Wally West can rob objects of their kinetic motion and then use that energy to accelerate himself faster. In the New 52 comic book series, Speed Force users can slow their atom motion to make themselves harder than steel and grant themselves strength without slowing down molecular structure to make them invisible like air. The Speed Force can create solid structures and has healed Wally West before by using a “Team Medic” meaning it has principles that accelerate healing without aging the user. Speed Force has given flight capability before by allowing Johnny Quick to fly in the “Kingdom Come” story arc of Justice Society of America. One of the coolest powers it has is the Anti-Life Equation. In “Final Crisis #4” when Barry kisses his wife, who was under control of Anti-Life, the Speed Force surrounds her and she regained free will to escape!! Speed Force is a living, breathing, property with limitless boundaries. The total control over your own matter and molecular structure allows the various Flash’s to match the vibrancy frequency needed to travel easily in and out of solid matter.
A flowing world of mystery morphing hyper-dimensioning gels, this is the source of all Flash’s power. If the Flash draws too much energy from the Speed Force ( basically running past the speed of light) he risks losing himself in the field. It has happened to Wally West in the past and although he returned he could have easily been turned to dust. The Speed force or Speed field if easier to visualize lines the boundaries between universes and exits through time. My best example of this is to think of soap in the form of soap bubbles, where each bubble is a universe. This gives Flash the ability to travel between universes, and forward/backward in time.
According to Professor Zoom, the second Reverse-Flash, the speed force IS time!! Manipulation, either deliberate or accidental, sent Bart Allen ( in “Reckless Youth” and “Fastest Man Alive”) and Iris and Jai West ( In “Wild Wests”) up and down the age scale, so maybe this cancels out relativistic problems. Wally West was able to convert speed force energy into a costume, assuming E=mc squared is applied!!
Amazing scientifically to think about, the Speed Force is quite the unknown. Some think it’s magic, others believe Science to explain it. It’s the most complicated anything in comic book lore to explain but hopefully I haven’t bore you to tears by now. I hope you enjoy it as much I did writing about it.