Max Mercury. Jay Garrick. Barry Allen. Wally West. Jesse Quick. The DC Universe has many speedsters in its stories, most of them tapping into their powers thanks to an extra-dimensional stream called the Speed Force. It’s what gives them their superhuman abilities as well as being a place they can actually visit and use as part of their adventures. It’s been shown frequently on The Flash show. And for the large part, the show manages to get the Speed Force quite accurate when compared to the comics. There are things they haven’t shown us yet, whether that’s partly for budget reasons or things that wouldn’t fit into the story of a season. Even the Justice League film managed to use the words ‘Speed Force’ as a tentative name for how Barry described his powers.
But there are things that the Speed Force lets its users do that are actually more incredible than at a first glance. Sometimes, it lets speedsters alter the shape of reality itself, or travel to other dimensions. One thing we do know, is that the Speed Force is partly responsible for some of the most famous storylines in DC Comics. Here are 15 things you didn’t know the Speed Force can do.
15 SPEED SCOUTS
Bart Allen might not be the most iconic of The Flash Family, but he has a particular power that sets him aside from the rest of the speedsters. He can create temporary versions of himself, called ‘Speed Scouts’, that can be sent forwards or backwards through time. He can even co-ordinate with their thoughts, absorbing any knowledge they have wherever they are.
But there’s a reason he doesn’t make use of this power all the time. After all, having multiple extensions of yourself could be quite useful against enemies. During ‘Our Worlds at War’, one of his speed scouts was killed -- Bart was plunged in a coma because of the mental trauma. It made such an impact on him, he vowed never to use the power again. More recently, Godspeed made use of the power during DC Rebirth.
14 SPEED SENSE
Wally West is easily as famous as Barry Allen when it comes to notable Speedsters. He took over The Flash mantle after Barry died during ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’. He has a long list of abilities thanks to his many years of superheroics, one of which is a type of ‘Speed-sense’.
To break it down easily, it basically allows Wally to slow down his perception of time. To everyone else, it would simply look like Wally was moving at a higher super speed. But to Wally, it’s as if time has stood still and he merely moves through it. He can slow a single second down to feel like years in his eyes. Thanks to his near limitless speed, his body simply moves faster the slower he sees the world. Is this better than Spider-sense?
13 BRAIN EVOLUTION
The Speed Force doesn’t just give heroes powers and abilities, but villains too. And not just the ability to run pretty fast, it gifted some of Flash’s most iconic villains the very ability that makes them a threat. During The New 52, Gorilla Grodd’s origin was changed to accommodate ‘The Light’ aka the Speed Force.
Grodd’s brain was evolved thanks to the Speed Force along with the rest of Gorilla City. It’s what makes them truly formidable foes for The Flash. It also gives Grodd an ability called “Cerecorbis”. When he eats the brains of someone he’s defeated, he gains their intelligence and sometimes any abilities they had. Occasionally, he does gain super speed much to the surprise of The Flash when he was stopped mid-run by Grodd.
12 TOTAL RECALL
When we think of superpowers, we usually think of super strength, speed and the fantastical abilities that heroes have, but the Speed Force grants speedsters a whole host of powers that aren’t just physical, but mental too. One such ability that manifested in Bart Allen was total recall.
He uses this to absorb knowledge quickly and to put it to use in various situations. Other speedsters forget what they’ve just learned very quickly, Bart retains every single detail. It also means that everything he’s ever experienced is stored in his brain like a library. He can use his fights and defeats to learn from his mistakes and gain the advantage during a fight. His photographic memory can sometimes be annoying for others, but ultimately it’s an incredibly useful ability.
Since speedsters often go up against incredibly powerful villains and enemies, their fights sometimes lead to near-fatal injuries. And although it makes for a compelling to see a hero claw their way to victory, it would be pretty boring if they were defeated immediately by a wound.
Luckily, the Speed Force grants speedsters an enhanced metabolism, meaning they can heal from their injuries a lot faster than the average human being. We’ve seen Barry do this on The CW show plenty of times. But they can also pass this ability on to others. Wally West used his power to speed up the metabolism of his Justice League teammates so they could heal quickly. Having a Flash on your team makes the difference between death and the second round of a fight.
10 TECH MANIPULATION
It doesn’t sound like much of an impressive power, but the Speed Force allowed Albert Lim, aka Turbo Charger, the ability to manipulate all sorts of technology at will. Using his speed powers, Lim could alter the state of any piece of technology, cycling it up to the most efficient and evolved version of itself. So if he used it on a car, the car would evolve into the most revolutionized, advanced invention possible.
The power also allowed Turbo Charger to increase the amount of energy a piece of technology could use. Meaning that anything he touched could be made increasingly efficient. It’s worth noting that Turbo Charger has been the only person the Speed Force has given this power to, and since he was murdered by the Reverse-Flash, don’t expect to see it again any time soon.
Even though The Flash is famous for being the Fastest Man Alive on foot, he can also fly. No, we’re not kidding. The Speed Force does allow him to run at immense speeds without actually pushing off a solid surface. Who needs wings to fly when you can just use your feet?
Sure, he can spin so fast he becomes airborne or uses his arms like rotor blades to propel himself off the ground, but because he can choose which direction the molecular energy inside him goes, he can fly without running. But, to keep in with the signature powers and look of the character, he usually does so by looking as if he’s running on air. But it’s partially because he enjoys the physical side of running too.
8 COSMIC WARNING
When DC rebooted their continuity with ‘DC Rebirth’ in 2016, they brought another well-known series of comics into the fold, Watchmen. It turns out that Doctor Manhattan had stolen ten years of time from the universe, although his reason for doing so isn’t clear just yet. But one speedster was replaced entirely, Wally West.
The original, red-haired Wally finally made his return after his absence in The New 52. But once he had regained his footing in the world, he realized that something was looming over the universe and pulling the strings of every living being. But he couldn’t be sure what. Because he’d been lost in the Speed Force, its’ all knowing power had brushed off on Wally, giving him an instinct that something wasn’t quite right in the cosmos.
Not only do speedsters have an overactive metabolism causing them to heal quicker and maintain an impressive physique, they also have a decelerated rate of aging. Speedsters have everything going for them really, don’t they? Healing, youthful looks AND superpowers. We’re jealous. But they can actually share this decelerated aging rate with those around them.
Although it’s worth mentioning that they don’t do this on purpose. It’s a side effect that comes from being around a speedster for prolonged periods of time. We don’t just mean few hours or even days, but years. Once you’re a part of the family, the benefits happen by themselves. Although one of Zoom’s acolytes, Magali, used her speed force connection to shift a person’s age up or down at will, now that’s a scary power to exert over someone.
6 INFINITE MASS PUNCH
Like most well-known metahumans, the Speed Force gave The Flash super strength. It means that when he hits normal people, they’re going down without hesitation. But against those who are stronger than him or have other abilities, The Flash has to tap into a strength stronger than his usual abilities. It requires him to tap into something deeper using every molecule of his being.
He moves so quickly in fact, that his body mass becomes so dense, it mirrors that of a dwarf star. Essentially, it means that when he really wants to, The Flash can roll out a punch so heavy with extreme speed that it would incapacitate characters like Superman. Realistically, it would kill normal people like cutting through paper. Best not put any of The Flash family in a bad mood…
5 CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM
Some of the most famous DC heroes creates constructs of sheer will from a Green Lantern ring to combat their enemies. Well, The Flash doesn’t need a Lantern ring to create constructs thanks to the Speed Force. If used correctly, the Speed Force can create physical constructs made out of lightning and speed.
The most recent example of this is when Wally West returned during DC Rebirth, and needed a new costume to set him apart from the other Wally. He created a red and silver costume out of the Speed Force. The costume looked like a combination of his old Kid Flash uniform and the suit he wore during his time as The Flash. At least he wouldn’t have to worry about ripping a suit in a fight, he can just make a new one if he feels like it…
4 SPEED ABSORPTION
Many supervillains like the Reverse-Flash and Godspeed were obsessed with stealing the speed from Barry and other speedsters in order to become faster than anything on the planet. But it isn’t just the villains that can do so, but the heroes as well. They do this by tapping into the atoms of a person.
Sounds pretty invasive. But really, they take the kinetic energy stored up inside someone or something whilst they’re moving and taking it for themselves. And if a person steals the speed from a similarly powered metahuman, they’re about to rocket forward with an extremely enhanced speed skillset. Wally West has been shown to stop explosions by using this power, so it is not always about selfish speed gain. Unless it’s Godspeed, and then it’s a murderous rampage.
3 ISLANDS IN THE STREAM
The Speed Force isn’t just something that speedsters pass through because of how fast they’re running. There are physical places inside of it that speedsters can visit or get thrown into depending on their circumstances and how comfortable they are with using their powers.
These islands are physical manifestations that house various creatures and humans that have been flung into the Speed Force and lost inside it. It lies very close to the timestream, so it’s unsurprising that many beings are forced together. They make a home for themselves, but since it’s dangerous cohabiting with dinosaurs, animals and humans altogether -- it’s commonly referred to as the ‘Savage World’. It’s quite an appropriate description. The ‘Outpost’ is the only human camp, but we don’t recommend organizing a holiday there.
2 ANTI-LIFE EQUATION
When Darkseid made his assault on Earth after acquiring the Anti-Life Equation, he enslaved millions of people under his rule. In 2008, ‘Final Crisis’ showed us just how powerful Darkseid can be. Although the early Jack Kirby work proved Darkseid’s worth as a villain, ‘Final Crisis’ really hammered it home when the Anti-Life Equation was broadcast across the world.
With the return of Barry Allen, he desperately checked in on Iris West, and managed to use the Speed Force to counteract the Anti-Life Equation as it had a hold of her. Since the Speed Force is a conduit of energy and life itself, it’s no surprise that one of the most legendary speedsters was able to use it to break Darkseid’s hold over Iris. It conveys how incredible the Speed Force is.
1 REALITY CREATION
We all know that speedsters can travel backwards and forwards through time. There’s been countless times that a hero (or villain) has accidentally rocketed themselves into a different era of time because of how fast they were running. Sometimes they’ve done so on purpose for a very specific reason, like when Barry traveled to the night of his mother’s murder to stop her from dying.
But in doing so, he created an entirely different reality that saw Barry as a normal CSI with no superpowers. Obviously, the Speed Force still existed in this Flash-absent world, because he was able to recreate the experiment that gave him those powers in the first place. But because Barry saved one life, he created an entirely new reality. Being a speedster is a huge responsibility, one that can actually put the universe at stake sometimes.