Speed Buggy isn’t often spoken of in the same breath as body horror films like David Cronenberg’s The Fly or Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, but that might be about to change. The vehicular protagonist of the 1973 Hanna-Barbera animated series recently found his way into the DC Universe via a crossover comic with the Flash. The Flash/Speed Buggy Special #1 sees the speedster duo team-up to take down an evil time-traveling Savitar, but the story has the added effect of completely rewriting elements of both the Flash and Speed Buggy’s backstories. The result is existentially horrifying.
The story itself starts simple enough, with Flash going toe-to-toe with Killg%re, the building-sized techno-organic villain who has taken the shape of a vicious, many-limbed reptile. Midway through the fight, though, a previously unseen car comes hurtling through the monster’s chest, disabling it. The car’s driver aids the Flash in cutting off Killg%re’s power supply, but in doing so reveals that he has tapped into the Speed Force using his buggy. Tampering with the Speed Force is a big fat no-no in the DC Universe and a sure sign that things will start going poorly for the driver very soon. So very, very poorly.
The driver introduces himself as Dr. M. Blanc, one of the original founders of S.T.A.R. Labs. The character is a new addition for the mashup comic and draws is name from famed voice actor Mel Blanc, the voice of Speed Buggy in the original cartoon (another red flag). Despite all the warning signs, Flash decides to help Dr. Blanc with his Speed Force buggy tests. Something goes catastrophically wrong on the day of their big test, though. The duo experiences an anomaly while traversing the Speed Force and get spit out in a strange, desolate cityscape. Dr. Blanc is seemingly missing, until the Flash realizes that the doctor is not gone, but rather his consciousness has been transferred into the buggy.
Dr. Blanc, now a buggy, briefly goes insane and attacks the Flash (understandably, considering how shocking it must be to suddenly be a jaunty little car). The two sort out their predicament, though, and deal with Savitar. In most stories, that would be the point at which Dr. Blanc is turned back into a human and we all laugh this off as another weird adventure with that kooky Flash. Instead, Dr. Blanc makes the ultimate sacrifice and travels back in time to save the future from ruin, thus sealing his fate: He will forever remain a buggy, albeit a very speedy one. Dr. Blanc’s transformation into the Speed Buggy also means he can reconnect with his estranged daughter, perhaps to help her solve… mysteries? Thus, Speed Buggy gets the prequel it never received when it was on air, it just comes off as a lot more stomach-turning when you see the man crammed inside the machine.