This fall, there are going to be some big changes coming to The Flash. One thing we have learned from the season three trailers is that in the new timeline, Wally West is the Flash, not Barry Allen. This isn’t going too far off-book, either. In the comics, Wally does become the Flash – he starts out as Barry’s sidekick, Kid Flash, before taking up the Flash mantle after the death of Barry.
While the on-screen version of Wally will no doubt be very different from the one in the comics, it would still be nice to see some of the contrasts between the two brought on screen… and there are some impressive differences! Barry may be the best known member of the Flash family, but Wally can do some amazing things that he can’t - and we’ve rounded up fifteen of them.
Note: Since Barry’s return to comics as The Flash in recent years, his powers have grown hugely, often allowing him to do some of the things listed here. However, when Wally first took up the Flash mantle, these were powers that he displayed first. Barry discovered them long after.
15 Infinite Mass Punch
One of the Flash’s better known abilities is the incredible Infinite Mass Punch. It was introduced when Wally West was the only Flash in town. The punch is what happens when Wally runs at top speed toward an object (or usually toward a supervillain who is so powerful that they're immune to less impressively-named punches) and punches it. With a run-up that breaks light speed, the resulting punch is said to "hit with the force of a dwarf star."
It’s Wally’s connection to the Speed Force that allows him to cope with this kind of impact on his own body and the changes that this kind of speed create. Infinite Mass Punch involves his own mass increasing exponentially, which also adds to the sheer force of a punch that can knock a supervillain across continents in a single blow. Although the returned Barry can also use the Infinite Mass Punch, we’re attributing this particularly awesome power to Wally.
14 Show Off Some Hand-To-Hand Combat Skills
Although Barry Allen has done more than his fair share of fighting bad guys over the years, a lot of it didn’t involve any actual fighting. He usually defeats foes with his speed powers – using vortices, distraction, lightning, afterimages, time travel, and all kinds of tricks that allow him to take down an opponent. But when it comes to hand-to-hand combat, Wally is the speedster that you would want on your side.
Wally is the more athletic of the two heroes, and is well trained in several hand-to-hand combat techniques. Like Barry, Wally tends to rely on more speed-based solutions when tackling his villains, but his extensive training and natural athletic ability definitely help when things get down to an actual fight. Despite Wally’s extensive training, he is, however, still far from the best fighter in the DC Universe, and only uses this particular skill when he absolutely has to.
13 Understand Technology (Without Trying)
While Barry Allen is an incredibly intelligent man, Wally has an innate understanding of machines and technology. We’ve seen a lot of this particular talent on the CW show so far, where Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) is a drag racer and, as a student, is designing a turbine supercar.
In the comics, Wally has an even greater mechanical aptitude, and can understand almost any machine just by looking at it. It’s a power that borders on the supernatural, but this is actually a human talent of Wally’s, not one that is directly connected to his speedster powers.
However, due to the ability to speed-read, Barry would theoretically be able to study enough about mechanics to become as capable as Wally on the engineering side of things. He just hasn’t had the desire to do so (and it would still not be a natural talent the way that Wally’s is.). Barry’s talents are in chemistry, rather than engineering.
12 Run Through Time (Without The Cosmic Treadmill)
Barry Allen built the Cosmic Treadmill – a device he uses to travel back in time. He uses a combination of super speed and "cosmic rays" to race to any time he desires. In the CW series, Barry does have a treadmill at STAR Labs, but it seems that he can travel through time without it (it’s mostly used for diagnostics of his super-speed).
In the comics, Barry couldn’t (originally) time-travel without his treadmill. Even when Wally took up the Flash mantle, he used the treadmill for some time before discovering that he was actually able to time-travel using only his own powers. By exceeding light-speed, Wally can zoom along the timeline, watching as all of time goes by (similar to fast-forwarding a movie). He chooses where to “get off” (emerge in time) based on what he sees, whereas Barry used to program his treadmill to specific dates.
11 Travel Inter-Dimensionally
Obviously, Barry Allen spent quite a bit of time travelling inter-dimensionally during season two of The Flash, but he was able to do it using wormholes, not by simply using his super-speed. Wally, on the other hand, is capable of moving so quickly that he can skirt the Speed Force dimension itself. This allows him to travel through time and into other dimensions using only his own power. Interdimensional travel requires Wally to run faster than the speed of light, which isn’t a problem for him, and lets him explore any parallel dimension that he wishes to (and return home safely).
This is a power that is unique to Wally, and comes from his special connection to the Speed Force. Although this is an ucommon speedster power, Wally is not the only character in the DC universe to have mastered interdimensional travel. Many other characters use magic to travel between dimensions, or use man-made portals to do so.
10 Win A Footrace
This one is contentious, but (until Barry’s recent return), Wally West was actually the faster Flash. Wally’s connection to the Speed Force gives him a huge advantage over his uncle (even though Barry technically creates the speed force… that’s comics for you!), and allows him to race past Barry at super-high speeds. He can also reach higher speeds than Barry, although both can run faster than the speed of light. Wally also has more control of his powers, especially at incredibly high speeds.
With any comic book comparison, it’s difficult to draw a direct comparison – the latest version of Barry could potentially beat Wally, as could a much earlier version of Barry against Wally as Kid Flash. However, we’re willing to say that Wally, at the peak of his powers, could beat pre-Crisis Barry at the peak of his. Which means that Wally can actually be considered faster than Barry, giving him the ability to win a speedster race – something Barry couldn’t do.
9 Mainline Power From The Speed Force
The Speed Force is a complicated thing. Created by Barry Allen, the Speed Force is the entity/dimension which speedsters tap into for their power. While all the speedsters who use the Speed Force are connected to it, Wally’s connection is unique. He is a much more direct conduit for the Speed Force and, unlike the other speedsters, his connection cannot be cut off.
This is what allows him to do so many things that other speedsters cannot, including travelling through time and other dimensions at will, and surviving in inhospitable environments by drawing energy directly from the Speed Force. Wally is also able to travel into the Speed Force itself using only his own power – another ability connected to his "direct line" to the source of his power.
He gained this unique connection when he entered the Speed Force in an attempt to save the woman he loves (Linda Park), and managed to return again – something that should have been impossible. This changed his relationship with the Speed Force, gaining him an array of new powers.
8 Restore Memories
This year’s Rebirth relaunch of the DC comics line brought with it some new powers for Wally. This is one of Wally's newest powers. When he returns to the DC Universe from the Speed Force, no-one can remember who he is (as he was effectively deleted post-Flashpoint). However, after he is returned fully to life (with the help of Barry Allen), he discovers that he is able to restore other’s memories of him. Returning to the Teen Titans, Wally is able to restore the memories of his teammates by physically touching them.
It’s not the first time he’s used his powers to heal, either. In a far more direct way, he has accessed the Speed Force to heal Jesse Quick when she was injured while he was in the Speed Force. While restoring memories isn’t a power that would have many future applications, it’s surprising that Wally doesn’t use this healing ability more often.
7 Create Solid Constructs
While Wally West’s early costume was a fairly standard superhero outfit, his later costume was something much more impressive – a construct of the Speed Force itself. After his journey through the Speed Force that changed his powers considerably, Wally discovered that he was able to use his connection to the Speed Force to actually create things out of pure energy. He put this ability to use in creating a suit for himself – one that he can now alter (with some effort) when necessary. He used this to create an armored suit at one point.
At other times, he has used the ability to repair his suit or to create pockets, for example. Although this would appear to be an incredibly useful talent, it’s not something that he can do easily, so he doesn’t use this ability often. The creation of constructs takes vast concentration, so it’s also not something he can easily use in a fight.
6 Survive On The Speed Force
Starving to death isn’t usually a concern for speedsters - no matter where they may end up on the planet, it would take seconds to reach somewhere that food is available. (Although the new series did make a point of addressing the vast number of calories a speedster would have to consume to balance out the amount burned through running so quickly!)
However, Wally never has to worry about this – even in space or an alien planet, as he can sustain himself solely with his connection to the Speed Force. He can draw energy directly from the Speed Force, and therefore doesn’t actually need to sustain himself through eating or drinking – incredibly useful for battles that take place in outer space. This would also come in handy if Wally was ever trapped somewhere, or kidnapped and held without sustenance. Living off the Speed Force also doesn’t make Wally weaker, as the energy he gets from it provides everything he needs.
5 Fix The New 52
This year, DC made some sweeping changes to their comic universe with Rebirth – a new line of comics that combined the New 52 and the pre-Flashpoint universes. Rebirth brought back many characters who had been unceremoniously dumped for the New 52, including Wally West. Turns out, Wally is actually a vital part of reconciling the various continuities. Stuck in the Speed Force for years, he was able to get out and reach the New 52 Earth – and when he was saved, the entire pre-Flashpoint universe was saved right along with him.
With so many fans angry at the changes that DC made in the New 52, and generally considering much of the new DC Universe to be a big mess, Wally pulled off the biggest “save” of any superhero yet – he saved the DC Comics universe from the mess it was in! We’ve yet to see quite how all the Rebirth changes pan out, but Wally did a pretty solid job so far, just by coming back.
4 Give Speed To Objects and People
For most speedsters, bringing a person along for the ride means carrying them at super-speeds (and remembering to support their neck, otherwise they are looking at a serious case of whiplash!). This isn’t the easiest or most convenient way of doing things, but it’s the only option. Wally, however, has the ability to “lend” his speed to other people (or objects). For people, this means allowing them to keep up with him, without having to drag them in his wake – including super-beings.
He can also lend his speed to objects already in motion – so that if an object is thrown, Wally can use his powers to speed up that object while it is in mid-air, which is a pretty impressive trick. When he does this, he is tapping into the Speed Force to allow others to use it, but the effect is always temporary and requires him to be nearby.
3 Take Speed From Objects and People
Similar to his power to lend speed to other people and objects, Wally West can also steal speed from people and objects. This simple reversal of his other ability applies to anything moving – he can stop a speeding train, a thrown object, even a bullet from a gun – just by taking that object's speed into himself. He can also steal speed from other super-beings, including Superman, bringing them to a dead stop.
This ability can be used on multiple people at once (he used it on the entire Earth at one point), and works on almost anyone. The only people Wally is unable to steal speed from are Barry Allen and Professor Zoom. This is because Barry created the Speed Force, making it impossible to take it away from him. Zoom also created his own version of the Speed Force – the negative Speed Force, making this particular power of Wally’s unusable on him. It does, however, work on most other speedsters.
One of Wally’s least-used powers is the power of flight. As a speedster, Wally can use his running ability for most scenarios in which he might need flight – running up the sides of buildings, running to far away locations in the blink of an eye, even running in space. However, should he need to, Wally West can actually fly by controlling his molecular energy and directing it. This comes from his power’s basis as a quantum phenomenon, but essentially means that he can make himself fly if he needs to.
Although Barry Allen is unable to fly, other speedsters have also managed to take flight in the past. Johnny Quick, the golden-age speedster who learned a secret formula for speed, was also able to fly for short periods. Wally rarely uses his power of flight, as he doesn’t often need to and he tends to prefer running (for obvious reasons).
1 Outrun Death, Teleportation, and Black Holes
Several of the story arcs that gave Wally the title of Fastest Man Alive (before Barry re-gained it after the events of Final Crisis) show just how fast the speedster really is by having him outrun incredible things. He can move faster than thought, faster than light, faster than pretty much anything imaginable. Wally can win a race against someone using a teleportation device, or a natural teleporter, even though they can traverse any distance in seconds – but compared to some of his other feats, that’s child’s play. He has outrun a nuclear blast – while saving all those people in the blast zone at the same time.
He has also outrun a black hole – an event which we saw on screen in The Flash. The season one finale showed Barry Allen managing to run away from the gravitational pull of a black hole, although this was Barry, rather than Wally, obviously. But possibly the most impressive feat is the time that Wally outran Death. The Black Flash (who is the Speedster Death) was defeated when Wally outran him through the end of time and space-- and into the next Universe.