Warning: SPOILERS for DCeased #5
The question of whether Superman can match The Flash's speed never needs to be asked again, in at least one version of the DC Universe. Not because a winner has been decided, but because none ever will be... not once Superman kills Barry Allen to save the world.
It's only the latest (and potentially most tragic) twist revealed in DCeased #5, the horrifying comic series that asks what would happen if a zombie-like outbreak ever struck the DC Universe. Which heroes would be the first to fall, which ones would manage to survive, and even which villains would work with the heroes to save tomorrow. When Barry Allen is infected, and instantly corrupted into a mindless, crazed zombie running too fast for anyone to catch... Superman knows what must be done. But that won't make it any easier for fans to witness.
The Speed Force nightmare is created, ironically, after the remaining Justice Leaguers unite in key locations--both cut off from any digital device that could spread the strange techno-anti-life plague, and physically isolated from those already infected. But putting most of the surviving heroes in one place is asking for trouble. And when Barry Allen is infected, every second costs more and more lives.
Adding to the tragedy is the fact that both Barry Allen and Wally West knew the risks if one of them was infected. It was for that very reason that in the first issue of DCeased, Superman finds the two speedsters hiding out, resisting the urge to help. So when Barry bolts from the Fortress of Solitude, consumed by the need to kill and spread his corruption, Superman tells Wally to stay put. This is a job, sadly, for Superman.
It's a strange twist of fate that this issue should release alongside the Superman: Up in The Sky chapter in which both heroes put their speed to the test. In that version of the classic showdown, Superman beats Flash in a race once he learns billions of dollars for charity are counting on him. Yet in DCeased #5, Superman knows that he doesn't stand a chance of beating Barry. And once he rises to Earth's orbit to help him spot Flash in motion, he verifies that there's no hope of saving Barry, either. At which point he informs Cyborg via comms that his goal isn't to catch up to Flash... it's to fly straight through him.
The pained expression on Superman's face is exactly the kind of horror fans would expect, after the Man of Steel is forced to kill one of his oldest friends in one of the most unthinkable ways. But it's also the exact kind of horror that Tom Taylor, Trevor Hairsine, and Stefano Guadiano have cultivated in this limited series--and likely why DCeased is a major hit for DC Comics, too. With just one final issue left, there is no telling what kind of nightmare will reveal itself next.
- DCEASED #5 (OF 6)
- Written by: Tom Taylor
- Art by: Trevor Hairsine, Stefano Guadiano
- Cover Art By: Joshua Middleton
- The world is dying at the hands of the infected, and the very survival of humanity is at stake. Facing extinction, Superman and the heroes will make a decision that will fundamentally alter Earth’s present”¦and future!
DCeased #5 is available now from your local comic book shop, or direct from DC Comics.