WARNING: This article contains spoilers for The Flash #54 by Joshua Williamson, Christian Duce, Luis Guerrero and Steve Wands, on sale now.
The cracking of the Source Wall in Dark Nights: Metal unleashed new, mysterious concepts into the DC Universe. For The Flash, that meant the introduction of brand-new, powerful energies that rival the Speed Force: the Still, Strength and Sage Forces.
Hunter Zolomon revealed the existence of these Forces in "Flash War," leaving Barry Allen to open an investigation to learn their origins. Joining Barry is Commander Cold from the 25th Century, stuck in the past after Barry and Wally West broke the time traveling capabilities of the Speed Force.
While Justice League has dealt with the Still Force, The Flash #52-54 put the Strength Force front and center when it possessed the body of Trickster, leaving the Rogue member a giant, muscle-bound powerhouse. However, after Flash and Trickster were imprisoned inside Iron Heights, the Strength Force decided to take over The Flash's body as well.
The Strongest Man Alive
With the Strength Force coursing through his body, The Flash finds himself looking like an oversized pro wrestler on steroids. Of course, Commander Cold and Warden Wolfe only see Flash and Trickster as potential threats, especially because the Strength Force is an unknown entity. Flash is an expert when it comes to the Speed Force, but he's left to uncover the secrets of the Strength Force through an impressive display of trial and error.
Seeing The Flash using brute strength instead of his speed and quickness is a change that took some getting used to. Barry even jokes that this must be how Superman feels, giving readers an idea of just how powerful the Strength Force has made The Flash.
This show of force (pun intended) does tip Barry off to one fundamental difference between the Speed Force and Strength Force. When Barry first became The Flash, he assumed the key to harnessing the Speed Force was running super fast. However, he could also use its powers to think at an accelerated level as well. Another aspect of the Strength Force is weight, which increased for Trickster because of a manipulation of the gravitational field around him. Barry correctly theorizes that if he concentrates on just his weight when using the Strength Force, he can successfully control the gravity around him, thus decreasing his body mass.
The Strength Force needs an outlet, which The Flash can be for Trickster to help him burn off its influence on him. Suckering Trickster into a test of strength (there goes another pun) where both of their new powers collide causes an explosion inside Iron Heights, with The Flash turned back to normal minus the Strength Force.
What's left of the Strength Force energy is transferred to Trickster, who keeps the ceiling from falling down long enough for Flash to rush the Rogues to safety, but not before everything comes crashing down on top of Trickster. Commander Cold can find no trace of Trickster or the Speed Force in Central City, leaving him and Flash to ponder if its in hiding or disappeared altogether.
Of course, this more than likely isn't the last we'll see of the Strength Force. It's quite possible a DC character will step up to join with it permanently, just like Flash did with the Speed Force. As for Trickster, the final pages of The Flash #54 reveals he's still alive, thanks to the return of the original Trickster, James Jesse. We should learn more about the Strength Force when The Flash title begins its "Force Quest" story arc.