Superhero Secrets: The Flash

Flash Facts

[Flash is freeing Batman from an evil Batman’s prison]
Batman:How did you get out?
Flash: “I sped up my heart until it looked like it flat-lined.
Batman: “I didn’t know you could do that.
Flash: “Neither did I, but I had to come up with something if you weren’t going to.
Batman: “I couldn’t. Not with him anticipating everything I could ever think of. But who could anticipate you?

Justice League “A Better World” (Season 2, Episode 10)

The Flash is fast, but do you know why he runs? There are many things he’d rather not think about, secrets he’ll never tell, and horrors he doesn’t dare remember.

So what has The Flash been running from? Let’s find out.

#5 The Flash of Two Worlds

Jay: How can you claim to be The Flash, Barry Allen, when I, Jay Garrick, am The Flash and have been for more than twenty years?

The Flash of Two Worlds

The Multiverse is a hot commodity these days. Marvel is leading the charge while movies like Everything, Everywhere, All at Once won Oscars for exploring infinite possibilities. Our first Flash Secret is how he helped DC beat everyone to the punch.

While performing magic tricks for charity, Flash vibrated in place so fast that he seemed to disappear. When he came back into view, he was in an empty theater. A superfast investigation revealed that he was in Keystone City, which Flash recognized from old comic books. Barry Allen soon met his inspiration: the first Flash, Jay Garrick. 

Barry theorized that both of their worlds were in the same place, but vibrating at different frequencies. His trick accidentally sent him to the world Earth-2. Jay’s adventures had been written after series creator Gardner Fox tuned in to Earth-2 while dreaming.

The return of three villains that Jay had captured lured him out of retirement. Working together, the two Flashes trapped the villains and beat them in a flash. Barry recreated the magic trick to return to his world while inadvertently showing Jay how to follow him. The rest is history.

#4 Flash Secret: The Black Flash

Jay Garrick:It’s a little-known fact that Death can’t travel faster than light. But Wally can.”

Flash #141

Death eventually comes for everyone. No matter how hard you fight or hide, no one escapes death. Our fourth Flash Secret is the time The Flash did just that.

The third Flash, Wally West, suffered several near-death experiences. The final one killed his fiancé, Linda, and his grief cost Wally his super speed. Wally’s friends also noticed that every picture of him had been altered and now showed a corpse in a black Flash costume.

This was The Black Flash, an incarnation of Death created to catch speedsters. It killed Linda to balance Death’s books because Wally kept surviving. Black Flash stops time while hunting, which only people connected to the Speed Force can resist.

The Black Flash came after Wally, but was slowed by other speedsters. A pep talk restored Flash’s speed and he began his final run. The Black Flash chased him through time until they arrived at the end of the universe, where the incarnation dissipated because there was no one left to die. Flash returned to the present by outrunning the Big Bang, stopping only long enough to pull Linda out of the afterlife and resurrect her.

Have I ever mentioned that the Speed Force is freaking overpowered?

#3 Flash Secret: Buried Alien

Mysterious Man:What’s happening? Why am I here? The last thing I remember is… is running. Wait a minute, I don’t even remember who I am!

Quasar #17

There’s nothing like a rival to keep you running faster. Our third Flash Secret takes us to Marvel Comics as they pay tribute to their Distinguished Competition.

An all-powerful being called The Runner wanted to learn who was the fastest being in the universe. He created the Galactic Marathon and set up a tryout for Earth’s champion. Many heroes and villains were invited to race to determine Earth’s fastest person.

During the race, a blonde man suffering from amnesia appeared on the track. The only things he knew were that he had a name similar to Buried Alien and some sort of lightning encouraging him to run. He effortlessly won the race and was dubbed The Fastest Man Alive, a title he claimed “feels right.”

It is obvious that Buried Alien is actually Barry Allen following his death in The Crisis on Infinite Earths. He appeared one last time for the final race of the Galactic Marathon, now using the codename Fastforward, but lost to Makkari of The Eternals. No one has seen hide nor hair of Buried since.

#2 Flash Secret: Heroes In Crisis

The Flash:My name is Wally West. I am the fastest man alive. This is my confession.

Heroes in Crisis

Some mistakes can’t be forgiven. DC will never be able to fully outrun this penultimate Flash Secret.

Wally West had recently returned to the DC Universe after being retconned out. He was sent to a therapeutic facility for heroes called Sanctuary, but believed it was an attempt to coddle him. He accessed video files of heroes discussing their trauma and watched them all at superspeed. His paranoia and the emotional damage from the videos caused Wally to lose control of the Speed Force, which exploded and killed everyone at Sanctuary.

Wally went mad and covered up the disaster. He leaked the files to Lois Lane, framed Harley Quinn and Booster Gold for the massacre, and killed a temporal duplicate to fake his death. He planned to make a point about the mental health of superheroes before dying to atone for his crimes, but he was talked down by his friends.

Author Tom King wanted to explore mental health with this series, but executives insisted on a murder mystery involving specific characters. Delays, shifting plots, and poor reception warped this story into a mess that later writers couldn’t wait to retcon away.

#1 Use The Force(s)

Iris:Mick Rory was a pyromaniac with a flamethrower. He never had the power of telepathy… right?
Flash:It’s called The Sage Force. Recently, Central City was the epicenter of a series of new Forces that were unleashed on the world.

The Flash: Force Quest

We’ve talked a lot about the Speed Force’s power. Time travel, lightning, mind boggling speed, there’s a reason it made our list of the Top Superhero Power Sources. But it’s not alone. The final Flash Secret is the other Forces.

The first new Force is The Negative Speed Force, created by Flash’s archnemesis, The Reverse-Flash. It conveys all of the Speed Force’s powers, plus weakens speedsters, corrupts people, and makes the user immune to temporal paradoxes.

Zoom tricked The Flash into freeing three more Forces that had been sealed away. The Strength Force makes users invincible while granting them power over earth and gravity. The downside is that their invincibility weakens the more a host uses their powers.

The Sage Force grants hosts telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation, and superhuman intelligence. It can also be channeled through technology.

The Still Force is the most dangerous of the new Forces. It can slow anything, drain life energy, create energy constructs, and grant entropic abilities. It is the equal and opposite of the Speed Force.

Didya Get All That?

There are some secrets that no Flash can outrun.

Image: Photograph by Courtesy of HBO Max

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