WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Flash #79 by Joshua Williamson, Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona, Arif Prianto and Steve Wands, in stores now.
For the past few months, the Flash has been dealing with an increasing number of previously hidden forces. AThe Speed Force isn't unique int he DC Universe. It's connected to the Sage Force, the Still Force and the Strength Force, which have all recently been unlocked. Each of these forces now has a wielder, who uses its powers either for good, bad or something else.
The arrival of these new forces may have created other superpowered beings, but it also has an unfortunate consequence: they are eating away at the Speed Force. Therefore, the source of the Flash's powers is currently dying and, as a result, the Scarlet Speedster is growing slower.
However, there is one hope left for the Speed Force: the Speedster of Death, the Black Flash.
For the past few issues, the Flash has been on the run from the Black Flash -- the embodiment of Death for all Speed Force users. When a speedster sees the Black Flash, that usually means their time has come. However, that's not the case this time. While the Black Flash usually only goes after speedsters, he is currently not interested in Barry Allen. Instead, he has his sights set on the users of the other hidden forces: Fuerza, who wields the Strength Force; Steadfast, the passive user of the Still Force, and Psych, who uses the Sage Force for his own purposes.
While the Flash has been running non-stop to try and save the lives of all three of the new force users, he unfortunately wasn't fast enough to help Psych. In The Flash #78, the Black Flash caught the Sage Force user, and sucked the life right out of him, leaving only an empty husk behind.
While the loss was undeniably tragic, it also leads to a direct result. In The Flash #79, Barry brings Psych's body back to the Speed Lab, where he briefly clashes with Fuerza over his methods. However, the Strength Force user and Commander Cold are both quick to point out that Barry's waning speed is now much stronger than before, and Barry already realizes this.
"When Psych died," he explains, "I could feel the Speed Force power up. Which means the Speed Force got healthier... because someone died." Therefore, while the Black Flash's methods might seem cruel, but his function is beneficial for the Flash. The Speed Force is dying, and it has dispatched the Speedster of Death to ensure its survival. He is essentially, as Barry puts it, the antibody.
But herein lies Barry's conundrum: either he lets other heroes he has come to know over the past few months die to ensure the survival of the Speed Force, or he defeats the Black Flash and ensures the death of the source of his powers. There is no obvious answer here, but this is shaping up to be one of Barry's toughest tests as a hero. Since he doesn't put his needs above the safety of others, he might end up sacrificing his superpowers to ensure the survival of the other force users, unless he can find a way for them to coexist peacefully.
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