Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Speed Force?
(Hey, make like the Flash and run for now if you haven’t seen this week’s episode yet. Spoilers!)
Well, certainly not Barry, if we’re going to go by his actions in this week’s episode of CW’s the Flash. Although to be completely honest, I’m a little miffed at how obstinate the Scarlet Speedster can become at times. I mean, come on, Barry: you got to play by the rules, man! In all seriousness, though, this week’s Flash episode serves more like a way for the show to recompose itself and reorganize what would otherwise be an unwieldy number of speedsters. For one, Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash, will possibly be out of the game for quite some time; Jessie Quick, for some reason, had to go back to Earth-3 only after a couple of episodes where she “decided to stay here because I love Wally,” which pretty frustrating; and Wally’s shell shocked because of his recent trip to the Speed Force. So, Barry’s front and center again when it comes to facing the “speed god” Savitar. All in all, this week’s installment seemed more like a bridge between the set-up and their eventual beat down. I just hope there won’t be a musical crossover between the Flash and Supergirl coming next week. Oops!
But l let’s pull back a little, though, and ask this one important element in the Flash universe: what the hell is the Speed Force? Well, the TV show did quite well in providing us a general idea of what it is – you know, this sort of world/energy that speedsters can tap into –, and it’s a pretty good explanation compared to how the comics describes it. To be fair, however, the Speed Force concept’s been around for more than twenty years now, so we can’t blame DC for it becoming so convoluted. In any case, it was first introduced by writer Mark Waid during his classic Flash run (Zing!) back in the 1990s, particularly in the Terminal Velocity storyline. Originally, its explanation was pretty much the same as the CW version of things, but it’s evolved into something more since then.
You see, by the time Geoff Johns had his turn penning the adventures of DC’s resident speedster starting in the Flash: Rebirth, the concept will have a massive retcon that makes Barry Allen all the more important, not to mention perhaps one of the most powerful, beings in the entire DC universe. During that era, it was revealed that the Speed Force was in fact Barry himself. Now, that could be pretty tricky to wrap your head around, but imagine it this way: without Barry Allen, there would be no other Speedsters in the DCU. Yeah, yeah, we know that Jay Garrick preceded him, but Flash’s continuity involves a very non-linear understanding of time, paradoxes be damned. So, what does this tell us? Well, Barry is a god in the DC universe that, if you ask me, could beat Darkseid’s crusty face any day.
In any case, I’m still waiting for the Max Mercury to appear on the show. That would be good.