SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The Flash #43, by Joshua Williamson, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Ivan Plascencia and Steve Wands, on sale now.
It was back in Joshua Williamson and Carmine Di Giandomenico’s first story arc on The Flash, “Lighting Strikes Twice,” that a massive Speed Force storm struck Central City, turning countless ordinary citizens into full-fledged speedsters. However, it wasn’t until the start of “Perfect Storm” that we finally learned who the true mastermind behind that unnatural disaster was: Gorilla Grodd.
Suffering from an unknown, but apparently fatal disease, Grodd believed the only way he could heal himself was through the Speed Force. It stood to reason, then, that by granting all of Central City access to it, there would simply be more for him to steal in the long run. Unfortunately, the ailing ape once again underestimated the resilience of the Scarlet Speedster. In The Flash #43, Grodd’s forced to make an improvisation that could prove to be even more dangerous for not just the Flash family, but for all of Central City.
With all of his allies under Grodd’s control, the odds certainly don’t appear to be in Barry’s favor. However, being chased around Central City from all angles affords him the perfect opportunity to collect everything he needs to tweak the very same lightning wand he used to regain his connection to the Speed Force in the previous issue.
Activating the wand, Barry channels the Speed Force energy and fires it directly at Grodd. Thanks to his adjustments, though, it only grants him access to the Speed Force “for a fraction of a second,” curing Grodd of his ailment, but leaving him completely powerless (except for his inherent mental abilities, of course).
While a lesser man (or ape, as it were) would simply be thankful for a second chance at life, Barry is quickly reminded just how thankless a job being a superhero can sometimes be. “I’d rather be dead than live without power!” Grodd says after smashing the lightning rod, turning the Speed Force storm into a Negative Speed Force storm. “And I will take Central City with me!”
Created by Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse Flash, the Negative Speed Force is like a disease to the regular Speed Force; it’s not only destructive, but it can also negate traditional speedsters’ powers and even absorb their memories. Barry, of course, recently had to deal with the Negative Speed Force firsthand when he was corrupted by it courtesy of Thawne, but now, with all of Central City exposed to this explosive extra-dimensional field of negative energy, there might not even be a Central City for much longer.