Getting struck by lightning is pretty terrible. It can kill you or leave you with permanent nerve damage, not to mention an insane scar pattern. However, in the case of The Flash, being struck by lightning resulted in superhuman speed and access to the speed force. Not a bad deal, huh? But these powers weren’t the only side effects of his lab accident, since Barry Allen and all the other Flashes’ bodies are hiding some strange facts. Barry and the whole Flash family are among the fastest people in the entire DC universe, and as a result, their bodies work a bit differently.
Different superpowers affect those who have them in different ways, and The Flash is no exception, especially considering the fact that all the Flash family members are essentially gods with how they can access the speed force. The speed force is literally a force of physics and nature, and The Flash’s ability to access and use its power is what causes his body to experience interesting side effects. What side effects exactly? Let’s just say there’s a lot going on with the bodies of the speed force users. Here are some of the strangest facts about the Flash’s body that you probably never knew!
(Flash Skull design in feature image by BSTGraph.)
15. PROTECTIVE AURA
In reality, if any human being were to move at the speeds of The Flash, they would die ten times over. Not only would their body catch fire, their organs would also liquify and spill out of their pores before they’d completely disintegrate. Sounds pretty gruesome, doesn’t it? So, what stops Barry Allen and the rest of the flash family from suffering this horrible fate?
The answer lies in a secondary power granted by the speed force: the speed aura. This aura is exactly what it sounds like, a protective shield that surrounds the speedsters as they run, preventing the forces of their own speed from tearing them apart. This aura also protects them from some damage and debris as they move, keeping them safe at supersonic speeds.
14. SUPER SPEED BRAIN
The Flash’s speed doesn’t just let him move fast, it also affects things like his senses and his brain. Thanks to his body’s super speed, The Flash’s brain is basically a super computer; he can calculate the outcome of nearly everything he sees, predicting the future within a small margin of error. This is to say that the Flash can make his move ahead of time, making him a god who can see and stop any future tragedies.
If that wasn’t enough, The Flash can also read something with super speed and hold on to the information for a temporary period, and Bart Allen even has the power to retain the information permanently. Plus, The Flash’s speed makes it hard to read his mind, since his brain basically vibrates from how fast his thoughts move.
13. VIBRATING DISGUISE
Remember how in The CW’s Flash, Barry was able to disguise himself beyond the mask on his face? He did this in two ways, by blurring his face and changing the way his voice resonates. Both were done with the use of vibration, Barry shook his face at super speeds to blur it out and he vibrated his vocal chords to make his voice sound buzzing and distorted.
These disguise methods were straight out of the comics, as Jay Garrick would vibrate his face in front of cameras and Barry would change the way his voice sounds. This is just one of the interesting ways that Barry and the other Flashes have used their super speed to affect their body, and it makes The Flash the only superhero who could realistically keep his identity a secret.
12. HEALS FAST, NOT ALWAYS CORRECTLY
One of the benefits of having super speed is that you heal really quickly. It may not be the same kind of healing as, say, Wolverine, but healing from a broken leg in a matter of hours must still come in handy. However, there’s another main difference between super speed healing and a healing factor that could result in some pretty disastrous effects on The Flash’s body.
See, the thing with a healing factor is that it basically reverses all damage dealt to the person. Super speed healing, on the other hand, is just sped up healing. This means that if a broken bone isn’t set before the super fast healing kicks in, then it will not heal correctly. Guess the Flash’s healing is both a blessing and a curse, since he’d be dead without it, but it could also be the death of him.
11. BART ALLEN’S PLASTIC KNEE
Speaking of incorrect healing, one member of the Flash family almost suffered a permanent injury because of his super speedy healing and metabolism. When the Teen Titans were facing Deathstroke, Bart Allen, who went by Impulse at the time, faced the terminator and suffered a gunshot to the kneecap, leaving him a bloody mess who was close to never running again.
Thankfully, Bart got to a hospital before his super speed healing took over and his knee was permanently shattered. In the end, Bart’s kneecap was damaged beyond repair, but he was given an artificial one, putting him back in action not long after. It might not be exactly the same, but this artificial knee sort of makes Bart Allen like his fellow Teen Titan, Cyborg.
10. A SPEEDY APPETITE
This is one that everyone knows, since it’s been included in nearly every adaptation of the Flash. Pretty much all the speedsters have a hyper fast metabolism that gives them superhuman appetites. Both because of how fast their bodies move and because of how much energy their powers require, all the Flashes have to eat large amounts of calories to keep their abilities running.
We see this in Wally West on Young Justice, in Barry Allen on the CW’s The Flash, and in the Flash of Justice League, both the animated version and the DCEU version. It makes sense, since plenty of people have fast metabolisms, and when you add super speed to that, the massive appetites of the Flash family sort of checks out scientifically.
9. DENSITY SHIFTING
Speaking of questionable comic book science, The Flash’s ability to vibrate through solid objects is one of his signature super speed abilities. The idea is that The Flash is vibrating his body at such a high frequency that he slips through the space between atoms of walls and other seemingly impenetrable objects, or something to that effect.
We’re not scientifically inclined enough to know how accurate this is, but we can speculate the weird effects this must have on a speedster’s body. Not only must it feel just plain weird to move through solid objects, but vibrating at that speed must be pretty jarring to the The Flash’s body. Not to mention the fact that this ability has been shown on multiple occasions to leave a speedster low on stamina and/or bleeding from the nose. Yeah, maybe leave the density shifting to Martian Manhunter.
8. “RUNS” IN THE FAMILY
When Barry Allen got struck by lightning and doused in chemicals, he was given super speed and access to the speed force. But, the accident didn’t just grant him superpowers, it also rewrote his DNA, including the reproductive parts of it. This is to say that Barry Allen’s powers became a hereditary trait.
The proof of this is in Impulse, aka Bart Allen. Bart is the grandson of Barry Allen and Iris West who travelled back in time. Impulse didn’t get his powers from a recreation of Barry’s accident like Wally West, he got them from his father, one of the twins that Barry and Iris had, both of whom also inherited The Flash’s speed. This means that the lightning bolt changed Barry’s DNA structure on top of making him a speed force conduit.
7. THE WEST TWINS
Speaking of twins and inheriting powers, Wally West’s kids are also proof that speedster powers are hereditary, though they weren’t quite affected in the same way that Bart Allen was. For some reason, Wally’s twins did not inherit the speed force in the same way that Barry and Iris’ kids did.
Jai and Irey West were unlucky with the speed force right off the bat, aging rapidly in random bursts. Their access to the speed force didn’t result in super speed either, but instead they got the power to speed up their muscle growth and phase through solid matter respectively. However, Irey eventually took her brother’s speed force “burden” and gained super speed when their powers were combined, taking up the mantle as the newest Impulse.
6. BECOMING ONE WITH THE SPEED FORCE
Barry Allen’s death was one of the few deaths in superhero comics that actually had weight to it. Though he would eventually come back, Barry stayed dead in the comics for over 20 years, which has gotta be a record for DC. Regardless, it turned out that Barry wasn’t actually dead, and instead of running so fast that he died, he actually become one with the speed force.
Barry’s body accessed the speed force so much that his body ceased to be a conduit for it and instead was sucked into it, becoming one with the powerful dimension from which all speed comes from. Of course, he eventually returned from the speed force, and the DC universe continuity was rebooted twice over since this return, but it’s still interesting that Barry’s body was once lost in the mess of the source of all speed.
5. FULL CIRCLE
Speaking of interesting facts, perhaps the most interesting fact of all comes from Barry’s origins. Before he was The Flash, Barry’s time was spent at his job as a forensic scientist. One stormy night while working in the crime lab, Barry was struck by lighting, the blast knocking him into a shelf of chemicals. The combined elements supercharged his body and turned him into the fastest man alive.
We all know this origin, but did anyone know that Barry actually got struck by… himself? What? How could that be? When Barry died in Crisis on Infinite Earths, his death resulted in a speed force time travel loop that turned him into the very lightning bolt that struck him the faithful night. This wasn’t the first time either, since Barry and Reverse Flash’s fight through time and speed in The Flash: Rebirth led them to also become the lightning bolt.
4. SUPER STRENGTH
It would be pretty inaccurate to say that Barry Allen and all the other speedsters’ access to the speed force only makes them fast. There’s a whole list of powers that super speed can give someone, but perhaps the most notable is super strength. When you think of The Flash, you think of just super speed, but being able to move as fast as a speedster does mean you can also perform feats of great strength.
For one thing, The Flash can lift extremely heavy objects as long as he’s moving fast enough, since he can move them before the force of gravity takes effect on the object’s weight. Or, if he’s moving fast enough, he can simply push a heavy object with the force of his inertia. There’s also the fact that The Flash can increase his mass with his speed, like when he uses his “infinite mass punch.”
3. SPEED CLONES
While we’re on the subject of other superpowers that super speed results in, let’s talk about speed clones. Otherwise known as speed scouts, Bart Allen has shown that he has the power to duplicate his body using his super speed. How exactly does he do this? Well, it’s not super clear, but the idea is that he uses energy from the speed force to manifest constructs, or after images.
Bart uses these speed scouts to, well, scout. He’s been shown using his speed clones to scout ahead for him so that he could absorb them and their memories in order to strategize for whatever challenge he was about to face. It’s a pretty nifty use of the speed force when you think of all the possible applications, and Bart is surprisingly the only Flash shown to have this ability, with the only other exception being the villain Godspeed.
2. SPEED FORCE CLOTHES
Yet another power that the speed force can grant a some form of matter manifestation. Though it doesn’t quite get to god-levels of matter creation and manipulation, the speed force users of the DC universe are able to channel the energy from the speed dimension to create matter. This is how Bart Allen manages to create his speed scouts and it even lets the speedsters create new clothes when needed.
One of the best examples of this power came from The Flash: Rebirth, when the entire Flash family used energy from the speed force to repair and create their costumes, resulting in the epic panel pictured above. This power basically means that all the Flashes have the ability to create clothes and objects from their bodies, since they act as the conduits to the speed force energy used for the constructs.
1. PLASTIC SURGERY
We apologize for ending on a bit of a rough note, but this is one fact about Barry Allen’s body that most people might not know. The Flash actually had facial reconstructive surgery at one point, meaning that, like Bart Allen, part of his body is artificial. When the world thought Barry Allen was dead, The Flash had been beaten up to the point of his face completely shattering, so he needed surgery to get it fixed.
But, because he was supposed to be dead, Barry not only had his face repaired, he had it changed into a new identity so that he could hide from the world after his trial. While he eventually got his old face back, thanks to the medical technology of the 30th century, Barry spent a good amount of time with a part of his body being completely different to how it originally was.
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