WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for The Flash Season 3 finale
Barry Allen may have saved Central City in The Flash season finale, but a brand new wave of speedster metahumans may have already been born. Because as quickly and calmly as Barry Allen went to Speed Force Heaven, the action leading up to that sacrifice was hectic, or as some of Central City’s residents are likely to call it, something close to the apocalypse itself. How else do you describe the otherworldly force blasting the city apart from above and below, covering the streets with a rainbow of lightning? Well, if you’re following the comics, you call this the birth of Central City’s new speedster army.
We’ve already shared our expectations for an “evolved” Barry’s return in The Flash Season 4, but regardless of what new powers, new sense of purpose, or simply new costume he returns with, a new ‘big bad’ may be the least of his worries. The CW series has already pulled inspiration from some of the best known Flash comic stories and events, and in the Season 3 finale they managed to set up the possibility of adapting The Flash’s most recent “Rebirth” relaunch.
It’s a story that turns Barry from a ‘superhero’ into a veritable ‘Speed Force Sensei,’ so for obvious reasons, fans will want to know what story they might be telling us next.
The Speed Force Calls For Barry… Violently
By now it’s safe to assume that most fans of The Flash have caught up on the season finale’s shocking conclusion (since you’ve read this far), rolling out what appears to be a final chapter for Barry Allen’s story. At least, it would be, if we weren’t almost completely positive that Barry will return next season – somehow. But the exact events leading up to his departure need a closer examination, since the emotional weight of his many goodbyes may distract fans from the real development. And it all started, in typical Flash fashion, when the worst finally seemed to be behind our heroes.
Suddenly, without warning, the air exploded in bursts of Speed Force lightning scattered across Central City, firing wildly and constantly as the ground shook to the very limits of the Richter scale in response. The S.T.A.R. Labs team narrowed down the source of the catastrophe to a massive rift between the normal world and the Speed Force. Too big to be a breach, Barry recognized it as the fabric of the Speed Force itself convulsing from the instability caused when Jay Garrick escaped from his Speed Force Prison.
The heroes had forgotten, amidst all the merriment (and the funeral for their friend, H.R. Wells) that the Speed Force still needed a speedster to take up residence within it… even if the exact mechanics or requirements are a bit unclear. And with Wally and Jay having served their time, Barry Allen stepped up for his turn.
Don’t Ignore The Lightning…
Thankfully the Speed Force informed Barry and his friends that the experience would be a pleasant one for our hero, allowing him to finally make up for his meddling with history, and kicking off his goodbye tour to his Team Flash friends, father Joe, and Iris. While the devoted fans of the show’s emotional storylines probably shed a few tears, the ones here for the science or mythology of the Speed Force were probably concerned Barry was taking his sweet time to, you know, stop Central City from being bombarded with multi-colored lightning.
It’s bad enough to assume that these blasts could be seen as regular lightning or electrical energy, in which case the power grid would be out of control, and innocent civilians would be dropping across the city. But this is Speed Force lightning, which seems like it may be worth a little more examination than usual. After all, it was just a single bolt of lightning launched by a storm cloud formed from disruption in the Speed Force turned Barry into The Flash. Since that appears to be the exact way of describing the phenomenon unfolding in Central City, you have to admit it’s odd nobody asks the most obvious question.
Should we be at all concerned that the men and women being struck by this lightning – whether directly, or indirectly – may undergo similar metahuman changes? It’s a question fans simply have to ask… but for the current readers of DC Comics, it’s a question that helped launch The Flash‘s most recent comic book reboot last summer.