Batman has done some pretty messed up stuff in his career. Superman has gotten a little weird. But the Flash? Surely, he’s free of total ‘WTF’ territory, right? Not so, dear reader. Whether he’s Barry Allen or Wally West, the Fastest Man Alive has found himself in a slew of compromising situations throughout his superhero career.
From Golden Age comics through The Flashpoint Paradox, the Scarlet Speedster has never shied away from testing the true limits of his powers. Whether he’s getting shot by Gorilla Grodd and gaining a thousand pounds of water weight, or intentionally getting blasted by lightning twice, it’s clear that the Flash is no stranger to physical hardships. He’s also masterminded some seriously warped strategies against his enemies, like the time he froze a young boy into a living museum statue. True story.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are The 15 Most WTF Things The Flash Has Ever Done.
15. When He Partied With Fidel Castro
When an alien race known as the Durlans invade Earth, the conflict converges on Cuba. Wally West flies to the island but gets shot down and crash lands in a jungle. Upon crawling out of the wreckage, he finds himself surrounded by an army of guerilla fighters and a guy smoking a stogie. It’s Fidel Castro, of course, and the Flash is so surprised that he looks like a velociraptor mid-extinction event. Even Wally’s dad shows up to offer Fidel some real-life political advice: “It’s not the CIA who replaced you…it’s Durlans! They’re shape-shifters, and if you think Baptista was bad, just wait til you see what they do to Cuba!” As we soon find out, this Wally West adventure is a full family affair.
Wally leads the resistance and exposes the Durlans on national TV, quickly becoming a Cuban celebrity. Fidel lights up another cigar and throws him an over the top party with guests dressed as the Flash’s greatest allies and worst enemies. Out of nowhere, Wally’s mom shows up, talks trash about her ex-husband, and proceeds to put the moves on the dictator. If Fidel ever loved reading comics, you can bet he had Flash #21 framed.
14. When He Impaled Himself on Deathstroke’s Sword
Deathstroke may be the most lethal assassin in all of DC Comics. He’s fast, impossibly strong, and has shown the wherewithal to even take down the Dark Knight. In a battle against the Fastest Man Alive, however, Slade Wilson should have a tougher time. Not only is he physically quicker than any hero on the market, but the Flash also has the mental agility of Stephen Hawking. That’s what makes his speed all the more dangerous — he knows how to wield it.
Unfortunately, Mr. Bolt becomes a total dolt when fighting against Deathstroke. Though he zigs and zags through the Speed Force, he gets tripped by the assassin’s katana. That’s bad enough, but things get even worse. After surviving Slade Wilson’s rigged explosives, Wally runs in circles before doing exactly what Deathstroke anticipated: approaching him from behind. Like a total rookie, Flash impales himself on the blade and bleeds out while hearing the taunt, “New costume; same old mistakes.”
13. Pinocchio: Flash Puppet
Pinocchio is a triumphant story of a marionette who comes to life. The wooden toy moves from a puppet plaything to a fleshed-out human, the “real boy” he always imagined. Flash #133 flips the tables on that narrative and turns Barry Allen into a puppet, making for one of the most bizarre and frightening Flash stories on record.
It all starts with a twisted magician named Abra Kadabra. After escaping from prison, this low-life thug creates his own Punch and Judy puppet show to make his fortune. Armed with a marionette version of the Flash and his humbling arch-nemesis “Captain Creampuff,” Kadabra thrills audiences nightly by ruining the reputation of Central City’s speedy guardian. After attending the show, Allen grows livid and hunts down Kadabra with all his might. While running beside posters for the puppet show, however, The Flash gets blasted with dark magic and immediately becomes a marionette. His wildest dreams having finally come true, Kadabra upgrades his show with the real Flash-puppet and strings up Barry for public torture every night.
12. When A Wizard Dwarf Gave Him Powers
Every comic book superhero has a few stories they’d rather forget. Indeed, Silver Age Superman is the king of dated jokes, feckless villains, and taboo plot lines. The Flash is no stranger to absurdity, either. Though most comics readers might believe he had just one origin story (getting doused with chemicals during a lightning strike), The Flash has a second history that time forgot.
Enter Mopee, the diminutive wizard who obliterated Barry’s electrically-charged origins. This bespectacled dwarf wandered onto the scene in The Flash #167 and declared himself the god creator of the red-suited speedster. According to the mini-magician, Barry Allen’s alter-ego wasn’t a product of chance, but was actually the result of a science experiment conducted by Mopee himself. He also alleged that Barry didn’t even own the chemicals that gave him his powers. Like a tax collector, Mopee demanded Barry pay his outstanding dues within 24 hours, lest he reverts to being a lowly civilian. Using his fast legs and quick mind, Barry tracked down the money and kept his credibility as The Flash.
11. When He Was Forced to Run On His Hands
Mopee might have been a lackluster addition to Barry Allen’s history, but nothing can top the sheer humiliation of The Flash #146. In this story, titled “The Mirror Master’s Master Stroke,” the eponymous villain uses a reflective device to swaps legs with Barry Allen and speed off into the distance. More mortal than ever, the former-Flash runs at a snail’s pace while the enemy zooms toward the horizon. In a moment of brilliance, Barry elects to run on his hands. Forget the Speed Force, the cosmic treadmill, and everything else you know. If this dude can break the sound barrier while doing a handstand, then what can’t he do?
The scenes that follow are the most ridiculous the Flash has ever known. While looking like an inverted ape, Barry Allen runs fast enough to create a tornado that keeps the Mirror Master imprisoned in a wall of wind. Somehow, the villain outsmarts Barry and knocks him out cold with an uppercut, before bolting off to enjoy a few more minutes with his super-powered legs.
10. Losing To A Patch of Ice
Without friction, The Flash is worthless. Though this vulnerability makes sense given the nature of his powers, it opens the door to some truly embarrassing scenarios that make Barry Allen the laughing stock of the meta-human world.
Chief among these sorry weaknesses is ice. Throughout his storied past, the Scarlet Speedster has gone slipping, sliding, and smashing into frozen H2O. It’s Captain Cold’s go-to retaliation against The Flash’s speed, even when Allen is running on water. Simply turn a wave into a sheet of ice and send Barry Allen careening into a wall of shame. That’s par for the superhero course, but when Superman and Barry Allen agreed to a global foot race, the competition got derailed by a frozen Canadian pond. Even a power-skating Clark Kent mused, “Hmm! Flash doesn’t seem to be doing as well!” No kidding, Kal. For The Flash, ice essentially functions as a banana peel. Think about it.
9. When He Became a Deeply Religious 8-Year-Old
The Flash has encountered some absurd scenarios, but this next issue is in a league of its own. In The Flash #198, Barry Allen spends his days helping some high school orphans make the most of their lonely lives. While helping build an orphanage, he gets shot in the head by some thugs and completely forgets his superhero identity. Even worse, The Flash’s trauma gives him the mental maturity of an eight-year-old trapped in an adult’s body. This makes Barry Allen an emotional mess, one who fears everything around him and cries at the drop of a hat. When he hears rustling in the forest, for example, he gets so scared that he hides behind his teenaged friends. While the phantom menace is revealed to only be a squirrel, Barry makes the most of the situation and turns the critter into his personal pet.
Through all of this insecurity, Barry becomes more sanctimonious and holy than any other superhero. Falling on his knees, he prays, “They say I’m The Flash! Please make it come true, God!” Fortunately, Barry gets hit in the head by a rock and finally gets a hold of himself.
8. Making Zoom Forever Relive His Mentor’s Murder
Hunter Zolomon got dealt a bad hand. Having failed to protect his family, the former FBI hero inadvertently got his father-in-law murdered and his family disbanded. Hoping to reverse this tragedy, Hunter approached the Flash and begged to use his cosmic treadmill to right his egregious wrongs. When the Scarlet Speedster declined, Hunter took matters into his own hands, hopped on the chronal cardio machine, and accidentally created countless ripples in time and space. Now going by the name Zoom, Hunter then decided to use his powers to bring pain to the Flash’s nearest and dearest.
This sounds like a standard superhero plotline, but our hero’s furious response is out of left field. Rather than take him down in a fist fight, the Flash rams Zoom into one of the extra dimensions he created by hijacking the cosmic treadmill. It just so happens that the reality in that time window is dominated by Hunter’s greatest nightmares. Now stuck in a loop of his past, Zoom is forced to repeatedly watch the murder of his father-in-law. The Flash, therefore, imprisons his enemy in the very definition of hell.
7. When He Was Obsessed With Flash Comics
There will always be a place for self-awareness in comics. It’s what made Tony Stark’s “I am Iron Man” moment so perfect, why “I’m the goddamn Batman” became so famous, and why we’ll have to excuse Barry Allen for reading comics about his heroic progenitor, Jay Garrick. Even Alfred Pennyworth sneaked away into his study to write Batman & Robin fan fiction while their real-life counterparts protected Gotham City. It happens.
Superheroes are allowed to have idols. It’s just hilarious to look at the shameless grin on Barry’s face as he sips a carton of milk while indulging in Silver Age Flash. Just look at the description for the scene: “While in the police laboratory, scientist Barry Allen chuckles over an old magazine.” Chuckles? That’s an understatement. It’s clear young Barry is borderline obsessed with Jay Garrick: “what a character Flash was…what a unique weapon he had against the arsenal of crime!” It’s fiction, Barry. Calm down.
6. Cyborg’s Sex Test
Few superheroes have perfected the art of consolation. Batman’s too emotionally scarred to help others out, Superman’s still learning how to level with humans, but The Flash shows no fear when helping a friend in need. On one such occasion, he found Victor Stone in a state of total depression, staring out into space as Barry approached him to find out how he could help. As he learned, Cyborg had recently been insulted about his less-than-human nature. He confessed, “I’ve thought about it. Half of my body is gone. Part of my brain is a computer.”
Ever the sage, Barry assesses the situation and offers his vote of confidence. After offering a few examples to prove Victor is far more than a retrofitted terminator, The Flash dons a toothy grin and asks, “Do you ever fantasize about making out with a toaster?” Cyborg hardly hesitates before rejecting the question and saying, “You’re a funny guy, Flash.”
5. Using Himself As A Human Lightning Rod
After he lost his powers during the Flashpoint arc, Barry was determined to get back his A-game. Though Thomas Wayne’s Batman thinks the plan is insane and even tells Barry he belongs in Arkham, the pair sets about recreating the happy accident that gave him access to the Speed Force. This Hail Mary strategy involved using a medieval-looking electric chair, setting up massive lightning conductors, and waiting for a serious storm to strike.
The first time the clouds opened up and Zeus bolts rained down, nothing happened. Though Barry gets drilled by lightning and suffers serious burns, he doesn’t regain his powers. Despite the plan’s failure and the total scarring of his body, Barry commits to the strategy once more. Now bandaged up like a mummy, he straps himself into the chair and orders Batman (who takes a big hit of his flask) to flip the switch. Before either of them are ready, however, the lightning strike commences and brings Barry back to Flash form.
4. When He Became Morbidly Obese
The Flash Gets Fat. Could there be a more seductive title? Barry Allen’s writing staff bet it all on Flash #115, where Gorilla Grodd shoots his nemesis with a radioactive gun that turns him into a moisture sponge. The formerly fit Flash turned into a terribly obese hero who weighed more than his gorilla enemy. Sheets of ice may have been one way to stop the Flash, but a fat-blasting weapon is undoubtedly an even more reliable routine.
Unfortunately, Barry Allen’s plight does not stop there. After turning into a blubbery mess, the Flash gets hit by a second gun that zaps him of his mental acuity. Both immobilized and lobotomized, Barry Allen becomes a sideshow freak dubbed “The Fattest Man Alive: The 1000 lb. Blunder.” Onlookers muse, “Wow! Is he fat!” Fortunately, Barry Allen rolls into a dehydrating room, sits on a mountain of pumice stones, and slow drips off his extra pounds.
3. Freezing His Enemies into Sentient Museum Statues
If you’re most familiar with The Flash via the CW show, then you might not realize just how sadistic the Scarlet Speedster can be. To date, his most heinous act starts with an evil clone named Inertia, who was hellbent to strip the Flash of his signature strengths. Though there are multiple timelines and realities at stake in this story, Inertia ultimately sets off a chain reaction that gets Bart Allen killed against an army of villains.
When Inertia relays this information to Wally West, things go south. Though Wally would undoubtedly love to dispatch this evil clone, he resists the temptation and concocts something far more malevolent. By zapping Inertia of his speed powers, Flash turns the killer into a living, breathing statue. Not only does Inertia become a museum ornament, but as Wally describes, “he’s still conscious. He still sees and hears in real time. But he’s trapped for eternity in a frozen body…forced to stare with eyes that take a hundred years to blink.” Even for the most morally bankrupt villains, that’s a seriously twisted punishment.
2. Screaming Into An Empty Valley
The full-throated scream is a risky move. After Darth Vader’s yell at the end of The Revenge of the Sith became a punchline, you’d think most movies and TV shows would try something different. For all of its excellent drama and thrilling action, even The CW’s Flash series falls prey to hackneyed entertainment tropes every now and then.
When team Flash finds out Jay Garrick is Zoom, tension is at an all-time high (it’s nearing the end of season two, after all). Everyone is in disbelief, especially Barry. Cisco brings the bad news, but Barry gets the ultimate reaction. Storming out of headquarters and into the great beyond, the Flash ends his journey at a giant crevasse in the middle of nowhere. He rips off his headgear, assumes the position, and belts out a hearty scream. Full credit to Grant Gustin for going there, but as much as you want to take this moment seriously, it’s very hard not to laugh.
1. When He Became A Human Boomerang
If we’re being honest, Captain Boomerang is horribly mismatched against The Flash. Even if he’s fighting on the palms of his hands, Barry Allen could outrun and outsmart Digger Harkness before he could even lay a hand on his trusted boomerangs. Logic be damned, however, because the pair has squared off on more than a few occasions.
The duo’s first fight came in Flash #117, where Digger mused, “I knew I’d eventually have to tangle with my nemesis The Flash – that’s why I prepared this lightning-fast boomerang to streak back and knock him out from behind.” Brilliant! Sadly, these tactics didn’t fare so well, and Digger was forced to think a little harder. This led to the creation of his zaniest contraption yet: an over-sized boomerang designed to launch the Flash deep into orbit. After Harkness pulls the trigger and sends the speedster hurtling to the stratosphere, the Elongated Man stretches up, grabs the boomerang, and saves Barry from certain doom. It pays to have flexible friends.
What other Flash moments are WTF-worthy? Let us know in the comments!