Superhero comics don’t need to make sense all the time. Characters can fly and run at the speed of light, so logic clearly isn’t the most important thing to consider when first approaching these stories. Despite that, most of the characters and series have a set of unofficial rules that guide how that character works and interacts with the rest of the universe.
The Flash, whether he’s Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, or Wally West, is no different. Just because he can run at the speed of light and travel through time doesn’t mean he should be able to do anything he wants. Sometimes writers for the comic go out of their way to establish guidelines and standards for the character, but often times the same arc will include something that makes absolutely no sense!
Whether the Flash is fighting villains on the silver screen or the comic pages, he is at his best when the stories around him make sense and his position in the world is firmly established. None of these things ruin the character or the wonderful stories he’s been a part of, but when parts of a story or the way a character acts doesn’t make sense it’s harder to feel completely engaged.
Come read the 15 Things That Make No Sense About The Flash!
15. Barry a Lightning Bolt?
Barry Allen may have made his triumphant return to the DCU in Final Crisis, but it was Geoff John’s Flash Rebirth that really reintroduced him.
Throughout the course of the series, Barry finds himself locked in battle with his oldest, and most vindictive foe, Professor Zoom. Zoom reveals that he has been the boogeyman throughout Barry’s whole life, causing havoc at key points in his life and even murdering his mother. To stop his foe from traveling to the past and killing Iris West before the lovebirds ever even met, Barry has to run harder than ever before. While racing through the Speed Force, he is met by Wally and told that he needs to keep pushing. Together, the two of them reach the past in time, but they also somehow become the lightning bolt that strikes Barry Allen and gives him his powers in the first place.
The Flash isn’t the only character with a connection to the Speed force. In addition to his numerous side kicks, there are other speedsters like Liberty Belle and Max Mercury in the DC Universe. While everyone who has been Flash or Kid Flash can access their speed abilities whenever they want, some of the speedsters need to recite an equation to tap into the speedforce.
The formula,which has been a part of Flash lore dating all the way back to 1941, was first associated with Johnny Quick. Before the Speed Force was formally named, he used this equation to tap into another dimension where he could harness mysterious energy to run at super speed. Quick eventually taught the equation to his daughter Liberty Belle, hinting at the possibility that anyone can access the speed force if they are able to state the mnemonic equation properly.
13. The Show’s Use of Time Travel
Time travel is a big part of some of the Flash’s best stories, but that doesn’t always mean it makes sense. The TV show, in particular, has been jam-packed full of time travel stories since the first season and sometimes has trouble keeping things straight. Though the show goes out of its way to discuss physics and the rules of time travel, the storylines often end up being more confusing and convoluted than they need to be.
In addition to most of the series’ villains being a result of time travel gone wrong, the show already adapted the Flashpoint storyline, which saw the entire timeline reboot for a few episodes. The constant time travel has left the show riddled with plot holes and instances of Barry changing the past without massive fallout and other times where the whole world is different.
12. The Flash Museum
There’s no denying that the Flash is an amazing hero for the DCU. During Crisis on Infinite Earths, he even sacrificed himself and saved the entire Multiverse from the Anti-Monitor’s destructive plan. He may be heroic, but there’s no reason for him to be celebrated more than heroes like Superman and Wonder Woman, who have also saved the planet countless times.
Central City, Flash’s hometown, has a museum dedicated to the Scarlet Speedster and his numerous adventures. Packed with memorabilia throughout the hero’s career, the museum also includes exhibits on the various villains he has faced. Flash is much loved by his city, but so are most heroes. It makes more sense for there to be a whole Justice League museum at the site of the Hall of Justice instead of just one hero receiving such a tribute.
11. His Quick Mind Blocks Psychic Abilities
There’s no denying that Flash is the fastest person in the DCU. A forensic scientist, Barry Allen is also a smart man but he’s nowhere near the top of the list when it comes to the Universes’ smartest individuals.
Thanks to his speed, the Flash is able to think incredibly quickly. He’s known for dolling out knowledge, aptly named Flash Facts, but his mind also helps him on the battlefield. Not only is he able to quickly analyze multiple variables to figure out strategies in a quarter of a second, he can also block psychics from reading or controlling his mind. One of his oldest foes, Gorilla Grodd, has the ability to psychically control people, but luckily the Scarlet Speedster is able to avoid this manipulative attack. Wait, what?
10. How Do Villains Have Time to Draw Their Weapons?
In a standoff or a classic duel, whoever is quicker ends up winning or surviving the affair. It doesn’t matter that Clint Eastwood faces down three gunmen at the end of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – he is quick enough to strike first and walk away from the situation.
He may not use a gun, but the Flash is also quicker than all of his opponents. Despite this, his Rogues Gallery is constantly able to draw their weapons and even shoot them at the fastest man alive. If Flash were really as quick as the speed of light, why can’t he just reach all of his opponents the millisecond before they draw their weapon and either throw them aside or just break them?
9. The Speed Force
Spider-Man got his powers from a radioactive spider and Superman’s super cells give him immense strength when he comes in contact with rays from a yellow sun. The Flash, on the other hand, gains his speed from being connected to a mysterious energy source known as the Speed Force.
Different writers have brought new dimensions to the idea, but it is still a rather confusing entity. Unlike other energy forces in the DCU, like the emotional spectrum that powers the various Lantern corps, the speedsters don’t just tap into the Speed Force – they become a living part of it.
8. Bart Allen’s Super Reading Abilities
Multiple people have been the Flash and the main thing that ties them together is the fact that they can run really, really quickly. Barry and Bart Allen are related, but that doesn’t mean the two of them have the same abilities. While all of the members of the Flash family can use their power to speed-read, not every speedster is able to remember everything that they read.
Under the direction of veteran Flash scribe Geoff Johns, Bart Allen proved that he was different from the rest of the speedsters. His mind is capable of remembering everything he reads – a fact that shocks both Jay Garrick and Wally West.
After being shot in the kneecap by Deathstoke during John’s first Teen Titans arc , Bart speed reads every book in the San Francisco Public Library. Feeling wiser after the cramming session, Bart casts aside his childish Impulse persona and formally becomes the newest Kid Flash.
7. MURDERER ON THE JUSTICE LEAGUE!
The Justice League is made up of some of the DCU’s finest and most ethical heroes. Willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, every member of the Justice League lives to a higher moral code than the rest of us. Superman has the power of a god, but was raised to respect life and knows that killing is wrong. Batman, even though he’s just a man in a costume, has a similar moral code that prevents him from taking a life.
Pushed to the edge after Eobart Thawne, aka Professor Zoom, tells the Flash that he has been disrupting his whole life at different points in the timeline, Barry snaps. In an effort to defend his wife from being killed, Barry chases Thawne and grabs his neck while the two are still running. Barry accidentally murdered Thawne in that moment by snapping his neck, a crime that he later stood on trial for – despite the fact that Thawne was essentially a time-travelling terrorist.
6. Wally Permanently Immobilizes Inertia
After Infinite Crisis, Bart Allen became the fourth Flash. He still had the mind of a teenager but his body had rapidly aged due to being stuck in the Speed Force for so long. Originally, he tried shutting that part of his life out and even got a job at a factory, but soon the superheroics came calling.
Inertia, a clone of Bart Allen from the future, came back with a villainous plot in mind. With the help of the Rogues, Inertia instigated the beat down and subsequent death of the Scarlet Speedster. After this took place, Wally West was livid and decided to get back at the future foe. Before Inertia is able to escape, Wally confronts him and uses his connection to the Speed Force to siphon away Inertia’s speed. Not only can he no longer access the Speed Force, but he can’t move at all, and he was placed inside the Flash museum for the whole world to see.
5. He Stole His Name From a Comic Book
Barry Allen’s Flash may be the one most fans know, but he wasn’t the first. The Golden Age Flash, aka Jay Garrick, was a speedster who helped fight the Nazis during World War II while wearing a stylish hat.
As the 1960s approached, new versions of classic heroes were introduced in what is now called the Silver Age. It was at this time that Barry was introduced to readers. Around the same time, the concept of the multiverse was brought into the DCU, making it easier to explain multiple versions of one character. Barry was a comic book fan and he even read about Jay’s adventures from another Earth in comics.
Inspired by Jay’s heroic attitude, Barry took the name for himself after he received powers and became the Flash. If this happened in real life and someone started calling themselves Flash, it’s pretty likely WB would sue to shut the superhero down.
4. Costume in the Ring
Every superhero who keeps their identity a secret has to run off and change into their costume before fighting crime. Superman famously changes in a phone-booth while Spider-Man is known for wearing his costume underneath his clothes at all times. The Flash, on the other hand, keeps his costume close at all times.
Instead of keeping it on underneath his clothes, Flash is able to store his costume inside a ring. Spring-loaded, the ring is able to shoot out a compressed version of the costume for the speedster to change into. Different illustrators have interpreted how the costume comes out differently, with some showing it come out in patches that form on the hero’s body while others show it as a full costume jumping out the hero speedily changes into before it hits the ground.
3. Savitar on TV
The most confusing time travel story beat on the Flash TV series includes the identity and existence of Savitar. After a season long build up, the villain’s identity was revealed as a future, darker version of Barry himself. The show had already introduced future versions of Barry by this point, but this was a brand new persona for the audience.
A story idea that follows after the show introduced the idea that Barry can create time remnants of himself, it was believed that Savitar had killed all of Barry’s duplicates. Eventually, it was revealed that one of those Barry remnants actually traveled into ancient history and built a legacy around himself that resulted in him being coined a god of speed known as Savitar.
Yes, one of Barry’s copies somehow became Savitar despite the fact that the duplicate was originally made to assist Barry fight Savitar…
2. The Cosmic Treadmill
Sometimes the Flash is quick enough to travel through time by simply pushing himself past the speed of light, but there are some instances where he needs to use a device known as the Cosmic Treadmill. The treadmill allows speedsters to more accurately travel into the future instead of throwing themselves blindly into the time stream.
Originally introduced back in 1961 in Flash #125, the treadmill was made to send Barry to the future to battle aliens who took over the Earth in the year 2287.
Before Crisis on Infinite Earths, the cosmic treadmill could vibrate at specific frequencies to allow speedsters to travel throughout the multiverse. Somehow the treadmill is even powerful enough that speedsters can drag others through the time stream with them.
1. What Kind of Hero Risks the Universe to Save his Mom?
The Flash is a key member of the Justice League who has saved the Earth countless times. A hero through and through, he even sacrificed himself in Crisis on Infinite Earths to save the entire multiverse. Despite this, after he was reintroduced to the DCU in Flash Rebirth, the selfless hero makes an incredibly selfish decision.
Thinking he could change things for the better, Barry travels to the past and tries to rescue his mother from her mysterious murder. As a result of his action, the entire universe shifts and nothing in the DCU is the way it was before. Bruce Wayne is no longer Batman and Wonder Woman and Aquaman are monarchs locked in a war that threatens the whole world.
Barry is a smart guy who has a lot of experience with time travel, so it doesn’t make sense that he would think such a big move was a wise decision.
What’s the most confusing aspect of The Flash for you? Sound off in the comment section below!
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