SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Flash #50 by Joshua Williamson, Howard Porter, Hi-Fi and Steve Wands, on sale now.
Sometimes, a unique power, gift or ability becomes so overused that it becomes more of a trope than a special event, and that can lead to creators deciding to tone it down or even take it away to force characters to no longer rely on it in every situation. Secret War took Nick Fury off the board for this reason, and the semi-recent “The Truth” series of storylines in the Superman books did the same with most of the character’s powers, to show us why he’s still Superman without being able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
This week’s milestone The Flash #50 does this not just for Barry Allen, but for every DC character with access to the Speed Force, taking away a key ability which speedsters have become over-reliant on in the past decade or two. With so much going on in "Flash War," it’s easy to miss the importance of this monumental change, but the destruction of the Force Barrier has already led to some major knock-on effects for the rest of the DC Universe, and this new change will surely only make things worse.
Back To The Future
Hunter Zolomon tricked Wally West into breaking the Speed Force Barrier in order to unlock the powers of the hidden Strength and Sage Forces, taking on the mantle of The Flash for himself with the ability to access all three cosmic powers. Though the Flashes are able to defeat him for now — he’s still out there, waiting to attack again at any moment — their adventure through Hypertime has led to a disastrous knock-on effect; the Speed Force is now detached from the space-time continuum, meaning there is no temporal energy in the Speed Force and speedsters can no longer travel through time at their will.
The new status quo is a shocking one for the Flash Family, who have become used to going up and down the timeline of the DC Universe as easily as they go up and down a busy city street. Wally West’s link to the Pre-Flashpoint timeline allowed him to channel temporal energy into attacks which cut Zoom off from his connection to Hypertime, but it seems that in doing so he’s cut off all speedsters from the extra-dimensional timestream.
In the present, this means that time-travelers like Commander Cold of The Renegades are stranded from their home time, but it also has major knock-on effects that have already led to the destruction of the twenty-fifth century as we know it and unleashed a potentially multiversal-scale villain with a massive grudge against the Flashes.