April 18, 2011

Why I Don’t Like Barry Allen Generating the Speed Force

Category: Opinion — By @ 10:53 am

Flash: Rebirth featured a number of retcons, some of them explained away by time travel, others explained as new information, and others simply stated with no explanation at all. The most galling one to me was the revelation that the Speed Force is generated by Barry Allen with every step he runs, and that all other speedsters (including those who preceded him like Jay Garrick, Max Mercury, and Johnny Quick) depend on Barry’s existence for their own.

There are two things that bug me about this.

First: it doesn’t make sense. The speed force was introduced to do two things: provide a hand-wave explanation for the impossible physics of super-speed, and tie all speedsters’ origins together. Where do Flashes get their energy? The speed force. Simple, end of story. But now the speed force gets its energy from Barry Allen. So we’re right back where we started: Where does Barry get his energy?

Second: it elevates Barry Allen above all other Flashes permanently.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it were simply a matter of: Barry’s back, and here’s why he’s important now. That would be the same kind of thing Mark Waid did when he had Wally West become the first Flash to mainline the speed force and gain new powers, or that Bilson & DeMeo did when they had Bart Allen absorb the speed force. In those cases, it was still a progression, and you could imagine that whoever came next would follow in their footsteps and become the most important Flash now.

What bothers me is that they didn’t want to take that route. They instead wanted to take the route that Barry Allen was not only the most important Flash now, but that he has always been and always will be the most important Flash ever. It flat out tells us that we’ve been reading about a second-rate Flash for the last 25 years. I know there are people who hold that opinion, but it’s galling for it to be declared canon.

It’s like two kids trying to one-up each other in a bidding war, and one pulls out, “well, I bid infinity!” — and because it’s the author of the series, not to mention the Chief Creative Officer of the company, it sticks instead of getting laughed off.

Adapted from a comment made last year. I was reminded of it by this recent Reddit discussion: What’s your least favorite retcon?

73 responses to “Why I Don’t Like Barry Allen Generating the Speed Force”

  1. ElfGrove says:

    This echoes my feelings on it rather articulately. Thank you for posting this.
    Much agreed.

  2. Here here! And for a guy who makes the speed force happen, he sure doesn’t know much about it. Hell, he can’t even make suits like I can.

    PFFTTTTTT.

  3. Brett says:

    And where was Wally last issue? If Bart can make it over from San Fran., wouldn’t make sense that Wally could make the trek across the river to check in on the situation.

    Maybe this will lead to “War of the Flashes”

  4. Brett says:

    *wouldn’t it make sense

  5. BohemiaDrinker says:

    I agree completely. To be blunt about it, it`s like GJ decided to enter a fanboy d$%#k measuring contest with the audience.

    And then, cheated on it.

  6. matt ishii says:

    I’ve always thought for some reason Johns was saying that Barry is the source of the Speed Force even though he didnt come first because of his influence as the central and most important Flash (to history), because Garrick never really entered public consciousness.

    So, the Speed Force is the representation of the Flash’s influence in OUR universe in the DCU.

    I thought it was Johns getting blatantly meta on us.

  7. Fastest says:

    I don’t really want to get into a flame war, because I don’t care one way or another about Wally or Barry. I’m a fan of Bart primarily, and the Flash mythos second.

    But, honestly now Kelson, if Flash: Rebirth had made Wally the source of the speed force, would you have written this article?

    In my opinion, Barry generating the Speed Force is no different than any of the other wacky Speed Force concepts that have come before it.

    • Steve says:

      To be fair, it’s different in that it works retroactively. It not only affects the future, but it affects the entire history of Flash comics. Barry is now responsible, in a way, for every achievement that Wally and Bart ever accomplished. Because they literally stole his thunder. They could not have done it without him. That’s why it’s different.

    • ElfGrove says:

      What Steve said.

      Additionally, as Kelson seemed to be pointing out, by sourcing the Speed Force in a single mortal man (any of them, Barry or not) you eliminate the original reason to have a Speed Force–as a supernatural force/comic book hand wave. By basing it in a person, you once again have to wonder the whys, hows and limitations of the speed gift because it is sourced in the existence of a single, “normal” man.

      I would not want ANY of the speedsters made out as the source of it. It does not work.

      • Fastest says:

        But it is a wacky Speed Force concept because even is this normal mortal man dies, the speed force still extends forward and backward through time, as well as to all parallel realities. So it is always there, and always will be there.

        The only difference that happened after Flash Rebirth was the existence of a Reverse Speed Force that can take away the positive Speed Force unless Barry keeps running. The speed force exists and always will exist. Barry’s ability to generate it is just a plot device to further Geoff Johns eventual Reverse Speed Force story ideas.

        • kyer says:

          Yet there was no need for a generator of the Reverse Speed Force any more than a generator for the Speed Force. If the Speed Force was kept as a natural element of nature, then it would have not been anymore unreasonable for there to be a natural phenomenon in the Reverse Speed Force. Heck, it could be an Anti-matter Speed Force that Professor Zoom managed to tap into due to…I dunno…something that happened to him. Maybe even a manipulation of the Anti-monitor. This is COMICS. It doesn’t have to be logical.

          It should, however, be fair to all the fans and that includes other speedsters like Bart and XS and Jessie, and Max, and Jay…and so on even twenty years from now with new speedsters not yet imagined.

      • KC Flash says:

        Yeah, what Kelson, Steve, and ElfGrove said…

    • Kelson says:

      Of course not. I would have written one about why I think it’s a stupid, nonsensical idea for Wally West to be the source of the speed force.

  8. Steve says:

    Yeah.

    Does anybody remember when Wally was taken off the board the last time during Infinite Crisis? Fans kept pestering Didio about when they’d see Wally next and he said “read the back issues.” The prevailing wisdom is that nothing can alter your enjoyment of past issues that did feature Wally as the past. Geoff Johns proved this wrong with Rebirth. Whenever I pick up The Return of Barry Allen today and read the part where Wally learned that the only things keeping him from being as great as Barry Allen were his own insecurities, it doesn’t read the same way. It doesn’t read the same way because now I know that Wally can never be as important as Barry, and that the power he discovered that day didn’t come from within himself, it came from the speed force that Barry Allen generated, and that he only received because he shared certain traits of Barry Allen. He didn’t get his power by being the best Wally West he could be. He got his power by being kind of like Barry Allen. And that destroys the story.

    • Fastest says:

      I don’t see each Flash as being more or less important that Barry Allen. Wally West may not be the Speed Force generator, but he is the master Speed Force manipulator. When Barry Allen ran into the Speed Force at the end of Rebirth 3, Wally was the one person who had such control of his powers that he could run to the Speed Force and not only not die, but return with Barry and Max Mercury.

      Barry is not responsible for everything Wally or Bart do. It’s not about the source of the super powers, its about the heroic actions that define the hero.

      • Groundrunner says:

        Note that Barry basically had to save Wally from becoming stuck. Wally didn’t leave with Barry and Max, Barry left with Wally and Max. They really making it seem like none of the other Flashes can do anything without Barry. You’re right though, it’s not about being more important than this Flash or that one. However, that seems to be the view of DC and IMHO making Barry the speed force generator was a blatant attempt to “make him better” than everyone else, and, as Kelson said, is just unnecessary and ill-advised. (I would have had the same opinion no matter who the “creator” turned out to be, mind you.)

    • Fastest says:

      Everything that Wally did, Wally did. Everything that Wally does in the future, Wally will do in the future.

      I don’t read my Superman comics and say, “you know what, I really like this Kal El character, but if it wasn’t for the Sun he wouldn’t be able to do any of this.”

      • kyer says:

        But what if you found that Superman is somehow responsible for the creation of the sun; that his being alive somehow brought the sun into existence and therefore Supergirl, Superboy, and Krypto owe their power not only to the sun being yellow, but to Superman for being…well, Superman.

        It’s so blatantly idiotic and I agree with Kelson’s answers 100%. As a Wally fan first and foremost, I’d have been LIVID if Waid had pulled this sort of fanboy bigotry during his run and made Wally the source of everything good and true.

        • Fastest says:

          So an extradimensional energy source that can be tapped into by certain people, allowing them move faster than light, travel through and manipulate time is okay, but once it is generated by Barry Allen it is idiotic?

          The conceptualization of the Speed Force takes the idea of heroes who run at super speed and makes it needlessly complex. Have you ever tried to explain it to someone who’s not big into super-heroes? I’ve seen that eye roll a thousand times. The Speed Force was created during Wally’s run as the Flash and made it so that no one could be as fast as him (Bart was too young, Jay was too old, Barry too dead, and Superman not tapped in). No one had a problem.

          This is all the same wacky sci fi concept, and I think the major problem people have with it is that it makes Barry more important than Wally. If Barry had never returned, and just the next arc of Flash Volume 2 made it so that Wally generated the Speed Force, I think everyone would say it is an interesting concept and addition to the mythos.

          But it doesn’t have to make Barry more important than Wally, it just gives them different roles. I would love to see a Speed Force book where each speedster specialized in a certain way. Not as rigid as Jai and his super speed muscles, but something like Barry generating, Wally manipulating, Bart having photographic memory and super speed, Jay maybe having a stronger aura than the others or something. Specialization would eliminate the need for “a most important” speedster.

          I mean, the whole concept of a most important speedster is ridiculous anyway. Geoff Johns thinks it’s Barry. Most people on this blog think it’s Wally. I think it’s Bart. It’s relative. What matters is how you look at it.

          Wally is going to come back greater than ever, you’ll see.

          • Kelson says:

            Fastest, I explained why Barry generating the speed force is different from Wally mainlining the speed force (or any of those other “wacky sci fi concepts”) in the original post.

            I also explained why the Flashes being powered by an outside energy field makes more sense than the Flashes being powered by an energy field that’s in turn powered by Barry Allen.

            I’m beginning to think you didn’t actually read the article, and just popped in here to tell me that my opinion isn’t valid because of who my favorite Flash is.

          • Fastest says:

            Of course I read your post. Your argument is that it is not a forward progression. It of course is a forward progression.

            When Bart became the Flash, he had the entire Speed Force inside of him, so in FMA #9 he says, I’m Bart Allen, I’m the Flash, I’m the fastest man who ever was alive.

            And that has since been abandoned and the Speed Force has moved forward. The story now is that when Barry Allen runs, he generates the speed force, and when Professor Zoom runs, he generates a negative speed force which is in battle with the postive speed force. He’s adding a new dimension to the speed force aspect. He’s moving it forward by creating a whole negative version of it.

            Things I’d like to see: If we have a Speed Force, who would make up a Reverse Speed Force? If when the Reverse Speed Force completely takes over the postive speed force, Barry Allen becomes the Black Flash, what happens if the positive Speed Force completely overtakes the reverse speed force? What does Zoom become? And speaking of the Black Flash, has he always been the Black Rider, as was explained in Final Crisis, or has he been a speedster charged with reverse speed force with the ability to move through time and hunt speedsters? Will we eventually seem him be created or is he a speedster from the past? And one of the most important and interesting story points that I’m looking forward to seeing the answer to in the future is the very same one that you brought up in your post “Who or what powers Barry Allen?”

            These are ideas that excite me and move the mythos forward. I like the idea, and I’m wondering if it was tweaked just a little bit, and Wally was the generator of the Speed Force, if everyone would feel the same way.

      • ElfGrove says:

        The sun is still a natural force, not a person. The rest of us seems to agree that, like the sun, the Speed Force should be a natural force, not man-made.

      • Kelson says:

        Another example I’ve used is this: Imagine that in Green Lantern, they revealed that Hal Jordan (or Kyle Rayner, for that matter) is the original source of the great power battery on Oa, and that all the Green Lanterns derive all their power from Hal. He didn’t just build or repair the battery, or ignite it like a match — he actively powers it.

        Not his ring, but Hal himself.

        And not just the current Green Lanterns, but every Green Lantern from the founding of the Corps to the distant future. All the Guardians. All the Manhunters. Everything powered by the green energy of will, even Ion itself…

        All of them draw their power from Hal Jordan.

        Whether you like Hal or not, does that make any sense at all?

      • Steve says:

        It’s not like Superman and the Sun, though. Superman doesn’t get his powers by behaving like the Sun and adhering to the Sun’s moral code. Other Flashes need to follow Barry’s code of behavior to even get their powers. It’s more like Green Lantern and the Lantern. If Hal Jordan was the power battery for the entire corps, and instead of willpower, the one requirement was that every member behave like Hal, that would be the same situation as Barry Allen and the Speed Force.

    • Kelson says:

      “He didn’t get his power by being the best Wally West he could be. He got his power by being kind of like Barry Allen.”

      Bingo.

      Certain segments of the fan base have compared Wally West to a watered-down Barry Allen. (He wasn’t, though I kind of get the impression that Geoff Johns was trying to turn him into one toward the end there — but those are both topics for another discussion.) Making Barry the generator of the speed force and making it clear that those who tap into the speed force can only do so because of their similarity to Barry basically states, in canon, that all Flashes are either Barry Allen or watered-down versions of him.

      • Kyer says:

        Exactly. (certain people can’t seem to get it into their heads that we are against the ‘generator’ role on principle and not specifically because it is currently tied to Barry.)

        But my problem with it is not just that Barry is the generator. If it was only that Barry’s running was somehow feeding the Speed Force and making it larger and stronger…well, okay, I could live with that just like I can live with Bart’s memory capacity and Wally’s sf tailoring.

        But it’s more than that. According to Geoff, Barry Allen CREATED the speed force….which should be a natural phenomenon…he CREATED it. Something that did not exist before Barry Allen shocked HIMSELF and created it. Like God created the Heavens and Earth kind of created.

        Even Ray Palmer never claimed to have created atoms and molecules out of thin nuthin.

  9. I agree with your thoughts on this matter. I would rather have had the Speed Force remain as a mysterious source of energy that all speedsters could draw upon. Bringing in a positive and negative Speed Force, headed up by Prof. Zoom, seems too much like the Green and Yellow Lanterns.

    Rather than concentrating on the Speed Force in Rebirth, which was lame, I kept waiting to see why Barry Allen would be as exciting/charismatic as Wally West. Even reading the Flash as a kid, while I loved all the super-speed stunts of the Flash, I always found Barry a bit boring. Wally, on the other hand, was interesting to read out of costume as well as in costume.

    I find it a bit strange why I prefer Wally over Barry, yet I prefer Hal over Kyle on the Green Lantern side. Anyone else have the same reaction?

    • matt ishii says:

      You must prefer confident characters to everyman characters. Wally and Hal are both really confident, born leaders and heroes, while Barry and Kyle are 2 normal people who get powers and decide to help people with them because that’s what’s right.

      I think the contrast is important, which is why I wanted Barry back when they brought Hal back. I don’t have a massive investment in Wally’s character though.

  10. Joey says:

    I think it’s very cool that Barry was given the speedforce generator title. I think it will make the Flash books more interesting and maybe that the fact that Barry knows thatt he’s the speedforce source now will make him do even more spectacular things! I honestly don’t care about the Wally VS Barry war, I only want to read a comic with a guy that runs incredibly fast and does the right thing, thatt’s all I really want, so either it’s Barry or any other dude, I don’t care.

  11. Nergal says:

    I don’t think that making Barry the generator of the Speed Force makes Wally or another speedster “less important”. It’s like saying: ” if x-person creates a sport (or something like that), everybody who play it in the future will live in the shadow of x-person.” And we all know that this isn’t true. Barry may be the creator of the sport, but Wally plays in his own league, the highest one.

    • Fastest says:

      Exactly.

    • Steve says:

      The speed force isn’t just the sport in this instance, though. It’s the equipment, the field, and the sponsorship. It’s not just the sport, it’s the capacity to play it at all. When one kid can just take his ball and go home, then yes, that person is more important than the other players and gets preferential treatment.

      Apart from that, you’re speaking in hypotheticals. Wally didn’t need to be made any less important than Barry, I agree with that. But he has. In everything that they’ve written so far. He’s definitely not playing in the highest league, because he’s getting zero “air time.” And when his duties have devolved into being Barry’s sidekick again, when he has no venue to shine on his own, how can anybody argue that Rebirth has been good for Wally West? It hasn’t. They’ve taken away his achievements (being the premiere Flash, discovering the Speed Force, etc.) in the interests of building Barry back up. And they’ve put absolutely nothing back into the tank. I agree that it is possible to make Wally count for something in the DCU even after all that’s been taken away from him, but that hasn’t happened yet. Didio and Johns have expressed little interest in making that happen. Until it does, we can only comment on what has happened and how we feel about it.

      Rebirths are fine, but there’s one thing that’s even better than a Rebirth…not putting a character in a situation where it will take a Rebirth to make them a top-tier character again. And that’s basically what it will take to make Wally a major player again thanks to the Speed Force retcon. A massive re-writing of continuity and a creator who’s actually passionate about the character.

      Nothing against Barry, but if DC had played it smart they would have had two A-list, profitable characters coming out of Rebirth, instead of just one.

  12. Lia says:

    I don’t like the Speed Force concept to begin with, honestly, but if it must exist I’d rather it just remained a mysterious natural force. Having any one person be responsible for it (however unwittingly) spoils that.

    I like the concept of the Negative Speed Force even less, so it’s annoying that Johns went there.

  13. papa zero says:

    Wally and Barry are both compelling characters in their own right. Wally has been unmatched with his decades long arc in rite of passage… Barry is a personal favorite for me because he projects the convergence of certain quantum physics revelations, post modern philosophies, and uniquely American ethos in a single neatly knit character.

    Unless I’m really missing something, up to this point in our story, I see absolutely no need for the speed force to have been designated an abject force perpetuated by Barry Allen alone other than “oneupman-ship” to artificially designate relevance.
    Barry’s relevance as a character should be found in the stories – and so far I think it has in the ongoing series at least.

    The real fear here is that by virtue of Barry generating the speedforce, those that favor any other feel that the writer is saying that everyone else is derivative. I submit to you that the speedforce is the wrong criteria upon which to judge what is derivative. DC didn’t make Barry the title character because they discovered he was the force carrier – he was picked after several (sales) failures with other characters. We certainly all agree that none of these characters are remotely alike. Right now, they’re “trying something else” and guess what? When this doesn’t work, some other writer will self-righteously scrub and one-up the current status quo.

    If you stop and think about it, the very invention of the speedforce was a device to seperate the power from the man and thereby take Barry Allen down a notch. This was useful insofar as it paved the way for Wally’s arc to distinction but pretty stupid thereafter as it opened the door for a lot of lazy writing. As I mentioned before in my blog on the physics of The Flash – giving his powers “a name” was about as useful as giving him magic boots. Calling it the speedforce and qualifying it ad nauseum doesn’t make for a good character engine unless the comic book is about a character that leads a cult that worships said speedforce…

    Forget the stupid speedforce. It’s a shoddy device that will stress you out because it’s built to be retconned. Forget why any given writer justifies the current run with “oneupman-ship.” That will never go away. They did it with Green Lantern and it will happen again somewhere, sometime.

    Just remember why any Flash rocks on his/her own merrits and that he or she could stomp the living shit out of any other character ever.

    • Flash1990 says:

      I agree with everything you just said. I see Barry generating the speed force as a reflection or metaphor for his impact on comics and The Flash in general. Nothing wrong with that.

      • papa zero says:

        The problem is that when you start using metaphors to qualify or quantify that importance (as evident by this blog post) it is taken as a comparison of the different characters by the fans. That kind of qualifying and quantifying by writers missses the point of why each one is cool. The speedforce doesn’t make them cool.

        I just wish they would have given SOME vehicle for Wally all this time.

        • Flash1990 says:

          They’re all cool but there’s no denying that ones made a larger impact on publication than the other. Even the most biased of fans must see that. And you’re right the speed force does not make them cool, so I don’t get what the problem is if Barry generates it. I think it’s cool and doesn’t detract from any of the other speedsters. I mean keep in mind they are wearing Barry’s costume after all (lightning that points to the crotch in the shape of an arrow (that appeared on Barry’s tv show suit first, btw) does not make the suit Wally’s or Bart’s) and fighting his villains, so saying that Barry generating the speed force detracts from anything they’ve done is kinda moot.

          • kyer says:

            Yes, it did.

            However, it was hardly Barry’s TV show. More a mix of basic ‘generic’ Flash. That Flash had Barry’s name and occupation, but ‘Barry’ also had Wally’s appetite and Wally’s girl friend Tina. Also, Wally was the Flash at the time it was airing.

            By contrast, Wally/Flash in the JL cartoon was given Barry’s occupation, but was otherwise pure ‘young’ Flash Wally. Even there, the lab boss looked suspiciously like one Barry Allen and it could be argued that Wally was just an intern working there on his uncle’s recommendation. (Damn, I wish they hadn’t cancelled that show!)

          • Flash1990 says:

            @Kyer,

            The creators of the show said were more influenced by Barry than anything, even said they liked his sense of humor (see Flash Companion). In fact, the only Wally West elements could be boiled down to the appetite (for a running gag) and Tina. They wanted the police job but also the stuff with Tina in the lab because it gave them a greater pool for stories. I never got where Barry’s brother came from tho haha (least they named him Jay :-P).

            JLU Flash had a lot of Barry’s elements. Occupation, founding membr of the JLA, he had Barry’s origin, worked in Central City, fought the classic rogues. His name and appearance was that of Wally West…and of course the appetite which hasn’t been in the comics for years (oddly enough, I think that’s Wally’s biggest and most enduring contribution to The Flash, people just think it’s funny to have a character eat that much). Personality was influenced by Impulse though. I don’t remember Wally ever acting like that. He was always much mor intelligent for my money in the comics. Timm and CO were going to use Impulse originally because they were going to pitch the show to WB, and WB likes younger characters. So when Cartoon Network picked it up they changed Impulse to Flash to mirror the more classic JLA but still used that personality.

            I think they gave him Barry’s origin and stuff just because it made a simpler, cleaner transition. If not, the JLU episode would’ve clashed with the flashback sequence with him in the lab getting hit by lightning in the episode “The Brave and he Bold”. They gave John Stewart a lot of Hal Jordan’s elements too, same for Kyle Rayner’s appearance on Superman: the animated series. I’d like for one day to see just a pure version of them in animation instead of a hybrid. But I loved JL/JLU, that show should still be on. All the characters, the show’s versions, they had great chemistry and played off each other well. It was always fun to watch.

  14. Eyz says:

    I dunno…I kinda like the “idea”. But I can see Wally-fans/Barry-haters not liking it.

    Maybe it would have been better if the speedforce had been generated by a more unexpected character, like the Turtle or even Zoom. (seriously though, was a negative speedforce also necessary??)

    • Flash1990 says:

      Yeah, I really like it too lol. And how it encompasses all dimensions and time and goes kinda circular simultaneously. I think it makes sense of a lot of things, especially sillier (even by comic book standards) aspects like Wally’s accident in Barry’s lab. I think Wally die hards actually kinda shoot themselves in the foot by hating on it.

      • Kyer says:

        I loved the concept of a speed force. Just not as something a person -ANY person- generated. Keep it simple…a natural phenomenon generated by the same laws that govern gravity and so on. Placing it as something that was made by Man (even a meta-Man) just makes it…less somehow…while making the creator of the idea look like a self-serving…well, you get my point.

        • Flash1990 says:

          I think it can work either way. The “mystical” element was cool but now since Barry is the lead it only makes sense that there’s a “scientific” explanation for it. I love The Flash book right now. I always loved the psuedo-science of the silver age stuff, even tho that was waaaaay before my time. 😀

  15. Kyer says:

    Oh, for the love of Peter…

    Show of hands!

    ANYONE WHO POSTS HERE ACTUALLY *HATE* BARRY ALLEN the DC character? ANYONE *HATE* BART? ANYONE? I’m not counting dislike or ‘bored by’ I’m talking what we keep being accused of despite how many times we explain ourselves here and in other forums.

    The difference between Wally mainlining the Speed Force was that it didn’t mean THAT NO OTHER SPEEDSTER IN CREATION COULD NOT DO THE SAME AT SOME POINT IN TIME.

    Geoff has stated that Barry will never learn how to manipulate the speed force and make himself a suit. C’mon! Why not? Is Barry an old dog who can’t learn a new trick? All of the speedsters should be able to learn to do what Wally does. Maybe they’ll never be as good at it just as Wally can remember tons of stuff like Bart…but only temporarily. Jay and Bart should be able to do manipulation too. So should Jessie and XS.

    See? Not biased against Barry. I like him. Don’t love him, but I LIKE him. Sheesh.

  16. Married Guy says:

    Geoff Johns simply went out & basically pissed all over 20 years of character development with Wally West.

    Retconning so that Barry is the reason every speedster has their powers not only dimishes Wally, but EVERY. OTHER. SPEEDSTER.

    It was the one thing in Rebirth that irked me more than anything else, and it’s become painfully clear that editorial doesn’t care how many characters are torn down to elevate their ‘Flash’ Barry Allen.

    What was wrong with Wally surpassing his uncle?? As a reader it made sense to me that someone who has had these abilities since he was a kid, would eventually have a better handle on them.

    Keeping Wally West as a powerful, competent & confident hero in no way lessens Barry Allen’s return to the DCU.

    Let me state again, I HATE HATE HATE HATE this retcon.

    • kyer says:

      Yes, and in the same vein Bart SHOULD excel over Wally when he’s an adult since he was born with a SF connection. That’s progression. I fully expect Irey to one day top Wally too and I seriously dislike that character. But my dislike would be an illogical reason for her not to do better than her father unless she actually has something wrong with her.

      The Flash book needs a writer who embraces all the speedsters and not just one. If Geoff can’t do this then surely someone else can step up to the plate and Geoff go on with one of the other hundreds of things he’s involved in.

      Otherwise start a second Flash team book. I’m actually not for that as I would far rather have them all play nicely together rather than each to his own separate world like segregated prima donnas.

  17. Mike W. says:

    My head is about to explode on this subject!

  18. Phantom Stranger says:

    I think it is appropriate that the Speed Force is from Barry, it ties together a number of dangling storylines all over the DC Universe. Wally had a great run for over 20 years as the main Flash, but making Barry the source of the Speed Force is a successful retcon that works in the confines of the DC hierarchy of heroes. It does not take away anything from Wally, whose fans seem pissed that DC would like to focus some stories on Barry at the moment.

    • ryanoneil says:

      You can focus on Barry by, you know, focusing on Barry. This retcon was unnecessary to that end.

      As a Wally fan, I’m annoyed that:

      * Wally has virtually disappeared
      * this retcon elevates Barry about every other speedster permanently for no discernible reason
      * DC’s general attitude towards Wally.

  19. Kelson says:

    I’m getting awfully tired of these “You just don’t like it because it’s Barry and you like Wally/hate Barry” comments.

    What that says to me is “Your opinion isn’t real, and I’m going to tell you you’re wrong without even listening to your reasons.”

    • KidZoom says:

      I don’t usually post on here, but I would like to say that I’ve read every post, and I’m getting pretty tired of people saying that they’re tired of hearing “You just don’t like it because it’s Barry and you like Wally/hate Barry.” Whether people are saying this directly or simply insinuating it should not be an issue of frustration. Making Barry the source of the speedforce certainly doesn’t make me like the character. He represents, for now, lazy writing.

      Now, I think that some posters would like us to address our personal biases towards characters, like Wally, who many of us have literally grown up with. I really don’t think that such a heated response would have occurred had Wally been named the source of the speedforce, because let’s face it, before Barry came back Wally was written as the greatest Flash ever. Had he been named the source though, the Flash book would have probably been able to keep most other continuity, allowing a stable status quo, so there would have been less of an issue and a smoother transition.

      Despite this, someone being the source of the entire speedforce is ridiculous not matter who it is. I totally agree with how you’ve reach your conclusion on the matter, but if it was Wally it would be more easily accepted, at least for me.

      What Geoff’s done is created a clean slate for himself, by removing all other players and their achievements from the board until he needs them again to further this new take on the Flash, because that’s what this is, a new take.

      I must also point out, despite my dislike of Geoff’s laziness, I have been able to put that aside and have enjoyed the new Flash book as something new and a bit refreshing in tone. Manapul is a boss.

      • kyer says:

        If people continuously call you an idiot every time you spout an opinion that counters theirs, then -yes- you’re going to get frustrated…unless you’ve got the patience of a saint and I’m no saint.

        I’ll say it again. I’m a fanatical Wally fan and if Waid or anyone had said that Wally was the source of the Speed Force I would have screamed obscenities. I don’t need or want my hero to be some overbloated, overpowered, extreme superman. Wally is not nor should he ever be a god. Neither should Barry be one. Or Bart. It’s like those old books where Superman was super in every way even remotely possible: turned the character into a laughingstock. (Super ventriloquism, anyone?)

        Manupal is a great artist and I purchased the first Barry series tradebook based solely on wanting a bit of his work. However, I want more than just good artwork, so that one trade will be enough for me until DC lets Wally return in a meaningful capacity. Until that happens, I’ve switched over half of the money I had allocated for Flash to other interests like Doctor Who. No, DC doesn’t have to bring back Wally just to please me. However, neither do I have to bankroll everything DC does. Certainly not if the books don’t interest me at the same time DC is blowing off my favorite character by showing only three tiny panels and a cover that utterly misled.

      • Kelson says:

        There’s a difference between “I disagree with your opinion because of X, Y and Z” and “I’m not even going to address your points because you also think W, and anyone who thinks W is automatically wrong about X, Y and Z.”

        We’ve had both kinds of comments here. One is a form of discussion. The other is not.

        • KidZoom says:

          oh, I see where you’re coming from.

          I didn’t take much stock in either sort of comment. They just made me wonder if my affinity for Wally was affecting my opinion. I guess I was more interested in why someone would mention it to begin with, because, to be honest, I don’t really give a flying frag what someone else thinks. I’m more interested in the why.

          In short, I’m not arguing, merely speculating. I guess.

  20. Savitar says:

    For what it’s worth, I think the speed force is one of the most original ideas in recent memory. A mysterious energy force, outside normal physics, that empowers or amplifies a speedster’s abilities.

    Plus, it also serves as a speedster’s Heaven, a place where one can literally run forever. This is what supposedly happened to Barry, to my fav villain Savitar, to Johnny Quick. It also helped to highlight the strength and power of Wally’s love for Linda for without her, Wally would have vanished long ago.

    That is what bugs me the most about this retcon. Barry apparently created Heaven for speedsters. Don’t understand it, don’t see the need in it. Does that mean he should be able to bring back anyone who’s ever ‘died’ in it? If they were trying to ‘modernize’ Barry for today’s hip audience, this wasn’t the way to do it. Build his character up, remind us why he’s one of the noblest heroes around, with his nephew Wally alongside.

    Wally has more than earned his right to be Flash. This shouldn’t be about one-upman-ship. It should be about family and legacy.

    • papa zero says:

      “This shouldn’t be about one-upman-ship. It should be about family and legacy.” – right on…

      While my comment above mentioned the speedforce idea isn’t my favorite since “putting a name on it” necessitates a recursive sequence of explaining how or why it works, it has been used successfully to tell some really fun stories just as you point out.

      To me, much of Flash Rebirth serves as an example of how not to use the speedforce as a storytelling device. But who knows? Perhaps the longview will show that the story was a credit to the mythos.

  21. Xian says:

    Pre-Rebirth: A mystical extra-dimensional force without origin “explains” all.

    Post-Rebirth: Lightnings and chemicals at two points in time (Barry and Eobard but not Wally’s identical electro-chemical incident) CREATES TWO extra-dimensional forces that exist throughout ALL dimensions and ALL time (despite being plotted as finite and needing to be generated, this omnitemporal declaration means it precedes its own creation / generation in time). Despite a history of genetic and moral atheism (Quick, Wests, Garrick, Fox, etc; Savitar, Thawne, etc), now the Force’s origin should be tied to a bloodline and grant power only to benevolent speedsters… but isn’t. Moreover, now with the knowledge of this awesome power and its source, our hero completely avoids any responsibility for said power. A mystical unknowable force, it is sensible to simply do your best but not be expected to be responsible for it… but when the power to change all of time is fueling people like Professor Zoom there should be an impetus to master what you KNOW you’re putting out into the universe.

    Guess which one of these is badly conceived?

    • Xian says:

      Part of my point of saying this is that although the INTENTION was to elevate Barry, instead the EFFECT is to demonstrate him as hapless, irresponsible, and unintelligent.

      The existence of an evil speedster into the far future means that Barry NEVER gets a handle on his powers or role as the source of the Speed Force, consistent with the way he is being portrayed now. It runs contrary to his characterization as a scientist and basically makes his attitude among the worst temporal / dimensional imperialist… caring only about the short term and the here-and-now as opposed to the externalities he’s forcing other times and dimensions to bear.

      Sure, in some cases, the Speed Force may be a resource in another time/place if consumed by the just or law-abiding… but it is just as much a toxin if dumped into a time/place where it is abused, whether by Zoom or by 64th century worshipers of Wally. Either way, the point is that Barry is currently written as not caring or being concerned about it in the least. He has been given this massive insight into his abilities but instead of acting like a scientist or someone concerned with justice he just shrugs it off and keeps churning out juice the consequences be damned.

      To have the CHARACTER hand-wave away questions is to make him arrogant, ignorant, or both. With the Pre-Rebirth Force, we identified with the questions asked by the Flash and identified with the frustration of trying to know a mysterious and unknowable thing (something universal to us all, for example, knowing what happens after death)… Post-Rebirth, we have been given all this information about the Force providing us with even more pointed questions, but the Flash- instead of asking them- ignores them making us frustrated with the character. Barry absolutely could and should be pro-active about his powers considering their revealed significance, but instead the reader feels like someone trying to convince the passive and ignorant into activism- voting, being aware of what they eat, their environmental impact, etc.

      Hey Barry, aren’t you the least bit concerned that your contemporaries know more tricks than you? What about the fact you’re fueling psychopaths in the past and future with time traveling / reality altering abilities? Hasn’t your own history been altered? Does it at all concern you that your powers seem to be reproducible by science / accident and that even your source generating abilities were somehow duplicated? Given that you’re apparently creating a resource shouldn’t you find some way to gauge or estimate what you’re putting out there and its consumption? Are you going to consult with any of the speed force talented or scientists in the way a scientist might? Does, “With great power comes great responsibility” mean anything to you at all? No? You’re just going to ignore all that and stop car jackings? OK then.

      Sigh.

  22. Kelson says:

    Here’s an interesting idea, jumping off of something Kyer said earlier:

    How about, instead of revealing that Barry Allen is the source of the Speed Force from the beginning to the end of time, and everyone else is just running on borrowed speed and basking in reflected glory…

    Barry’s extended time in the speed force transformed him from a normal speedster who draws on the energy field into one who amplifies the power when he uses it, and feeds it back into the collective pool.

    It still makes Barry the fastest/most important Flash *today*, but it doesn’t undercut Wally’s or Bart’s previous status as best Flash at the time, and it leaves things open for a future Flash to surpass him without a retcon.

    It also doesn’t reverse the concept of the speed force as an explanation for where the Flashes get the energy to do what they do.

    It’s even still possible to have Thawne find a way to taint the speed force, and Barry have a way to counter it.

    But it doesn’t elevate Barry to the status of a god, and it doesn’t diminish the value of other speedsters.

    I suspect if Flash: Rebirth had done something like this, I wouldn’t have minded much…if at all.

    • Kyer says:

      I would have liked that a lot.

      To me, (before Geoff went and muffed it imho) the speed force was this wonderful thing. It was a natural part of the universe yet unseen that effected velocity…like modern scientists coming up with dark matter to explain things they don’t yet know for certain. It was understood that it wasn’t something we could ken anymore than we could see the first moment of creation, we could only catch glimpses of it…possibly erroneous ones at that. But what was really important…what made the speed force great…was that it made speedsters awesome fast even though natural laws as we yet know them said this was impossible. The speed force was science and fantasy at the same time.

      I adored it back then.

      Now it’s become this silly means to elevate one man’s favorite speedster above all others because he’s behaving like a spoiled p****

      btw, Kelson, I’m curious: not counting my own post here….is this the largest amount of posts this site has ever seen in regards to one uploaded thought? And have we broken the bandwidth yet? :p

  23. Javi Trujillo says:

    Not much to add, just echo. The Barry creating the speed force thing just doesn’t make sense to me, especially in light of Wally being able to make suits and not him. Given this premise, Barry should be the Ultimate Flash and a master of ALL tricks of the speed force trade, especially as he’s spent so much time in it, compared to how little Wally did when he came back with his new, enhanced powers circa issue 100.

    I miss the “You’re the Flash to my Flash” sentiment Barry expressed that DC seems to be missing out on. I understand wanting to give Barry some focus, being back from the dead and all, but the rest of the Flashverse is suffering for it, after years of delays and suffering already.

  24. Phantom Stranger says:

    Obviously another Flash book would be ideal so Wally could have his own adventures again, but I understand the concerns that DC probably has about splitting the Flash fan base up into too small of a market for each book. I get the feeling from reading comments here that some are more Wally fans than pure Flash fans. It killed me when DC put Barry on the sidelines for years after Crisis, but that never affected my enjoyment of Wally’s run.

    • Kelson says:

      See, this is the kind of thing I was talking about halfway down the thread: You didn’t address any of the actual points made in the article or the comments. Instead, you dismissed it all as just those Wally fans complaining again because he’s not the Flash anymore. And then you went on to tell them that they aren’t real fans.

      The post isn’t called “Why I Don’t Like Barry Allen.” It’s “Why I Don’t Like Barry Allen Generating the Speed Force.” That should tell you something.

    • kyer says:

      If they were so darned concerned about splitting up the fanbase than why aggravate a good percentage of them the way they have been for the past year?

      I’m a relatively new Flash fan who has spent hundreds on Flash related products (almost all of the toys featuring Barry/Flash) these past three years. I was just starting to get interested in other DC projects (because of Flash/Wally) and was about to invest in them (had a chance at a deep discount) when Didio started with the stupid ‘Wally’ comments and they did the Flash9/10 cover fiasco. Went from hyper Flash fan to almost pure Wally fan to pissed off Wally fan in that time and its all because DC h.q. has been acting like jackasses. Now I’m only interested in spending money on Wally things and Wally only….may buy the DVD Green Lantern movie when it hits half price (yeah, even though I’m excited about it.)

      Also, I’m not the only recent fan who feels this way. I’m a recluse, and yet I know a handful of people through the internet who feel exactly the same way. We are disgusted with DC’s treatment of the Legacy characters and most of the former Titans. A couple are also on the brink of just dropping DC and comics totally.

      Yep, and Wally’s run made me anxious to see more Barry. (God, I was so excited to read that Barry had returned…Wally and Barry together..it was like a dream come true! Heh…little did I know.

      I’m sorry that they ‘killed’ Barry way back then. I hated it when they ‘killed Bart and ruined his run. So this makes what they are doing to Wally justified?

      So if I’m a pure Wally West fan now rather than a pure ‘Flash’ fan (rolls eyes) then DC helped to make me that way.

  25. Javi Trujillo says:

    I was born in `77 and was a Barry fan. I even had the Super Powers figure and it was one of my favorite toys. When the tv show came out, I tried the comic again, issue 49, and found Wally to be a jerk. I picked it up off and on, but it wasn’t til Waid came on that I began to see the character development and became a fan, which was cemented by issue 79. Still, I always knew that one day Wally would be replaced and the next generation would have it’s own Flash. I was okay with that. Going backwards with the legacy, not so much. Still, Barry’s return can have some great interactions, but we really aren’t seeing them too much with the other speedsters. A second book would be really nice.
    To me, Barry being the generator of the Speed Force is like midichlorians being the generators of the force in Star Wars. I didn’t really need that explanation. Like I expressed earlier, I can see all the time he spent there giving him more understanding and mastery over his powers, just like Wally had.

  26. Realitätsprüfung says:

    My take:

    1. Barry Allen generating a Speed Force throughout all space/time is a bad idea.
    2. Thawne creating a negative version of the same is also a bad idea.
    3. The Speed Force is, in general, a derivative and ill-conceived idea. And with every major addition/revision to it, it’s only gotten sillier.

    But most importantly:

    4. Points 1-3 do not hamper/help **any** fictional characters – not Barry, Thawne, Wally, Bart or some supposed Flash coming down the pike.

    The Speed Force is like yellow sun energy, Gingold or a lantern-shaped battery – an engine for superhero stories where good guys fight bad guys. It’ll be retconned / expanded upon again, and the rules will change.

    And the fictional characters will be just fine, too. Both now, and after that happens.

    • Xian says:

      Not true at all.

      The mechanism of power can both drive mythology and hamper it significantly. Superman’s solar powers has been a plot point in dozens of stories, not the least of which are major motion pictures. Genetics and minority themes drive the X-Men. Making Batman, ostensibly, a ninja made him more palatable to modern audiences than a psychologically disturbed James Bond. By contrast, human batteries stand as one of the most embarrassing plot-holes in The Matrix and what the midicholorians represent- rather than what they are- result in almost universal groans.

      Given the significance of origins and powers its an unsupportable position that they do nothing for fictional characters. Quite the reverse. A number of characters are naught but their origins and powers- their ongoing adventures be damned, we’ll tell and retell their origins in perpetuity.

      Even if you want to argue, philosophically, it’s all just fiction… exactly the point, these trappings exist in fiction and are driven by such fictional constraints. The Speed Force, since it’s introduction, has driven a number of significant story arcs, enriched the mythology, increased the character interaction and history, and led to the moniker of this blog. By contrast, post-Rebirth retcons have completely shut down all SF-related plotlines (barring Hot Pursuit) despite an info-dump that should be creating motivations to the contrary. So a retcon that actually spurs relevant and diverse stories (enough to support both Wally and Bart and varied events during their runs) versus a virtual drought of stories where the character is even illogically turning aside plotlines handed to him on a plate (his own altered history, the nature of his new powers and responsibilities, his role and significance to the universe, etc).

  27. Jess says:

    This may sound immature but… Does this mean that when Wally was sucked into the speed force, he was sucked into… Barry?

    That’s… That’s just…

  28. Javi Trujillo says:

    I’m hoping his mom’s murder gets addressed in Flash Point.

  29. Savitar says:

    I’m still not convinced this elevates Barry to speed godhood or paints Wally as a ‘second-rate’ Flash.

    Barry may generate the speed force, but it exists and will continue to exist without him. He was ‘dead’ for 20 years yet the speed force did not disappear with him. He started it, but doesn’t appear to be a lynchpin for it.

    He doesn’t appear to be quite the master that Wally is with the speed force. But then again, previously, Barry and Wally each had their own distinctive tricks of speed that the other had trouble mastering.

    So Wally now derives his speed from Barry? Couldn’t one say the same thing about how Wally got his powers initially, from the exact same accident as Barry? That’s always been there, but I haven’t read that many diatribes against that nugget of origin.

    And when did the idea of a Flash Legacy evolve into the current Flash must surpass everything about the previous Flash? I don’t see that at all. Wally had his own insecurities and doubts about being the Flash, knowing what his uncle Barry had accomplished. It was more personal to him that he overcome those doubts in order to become a true hero. Now Bart must do the same thing in order to surpass Wally?? No, the Legacy is about carrying on the ideals and values of the being the Flash, not trying to set new records that makes everyone forget the previous one.

    To me, this doesn’t diminish Wally as the Flash. Wally is still the same hero as before. DC would rather you read Barry now instead, just like they wanted you to read Hal instead of Kyle. However unlike GL (where Kyle was still visible in the GL books) Wally has all but disappeared. Now they’re catching serious flak over Wally from the readership and they don’t know what to do about it.

  30. WOW!! so many comments 🙂

    I also think that Barry beig the human dynamo of a god-like energy is stupid. Mainly because is kind of hard to wrap this idea around your head, and destroys the basic concept of the speed force.

    This is exactly like midi-chlorians in Star Wars, that destroyed a mystical concept introducing a sci-fi/biological concept (also idiotic). Barry Allen being the generator of the Speed Force doesn’t build on the concept of the Speed Force, it destroys it because it ceases to be a magician’s hat for all speed related mumbojumbo.

    I think that Geoff, aside from being told he is pretty to many times, was trying to come up with a Speed-related concept that would allow him to build a story similar to the Sinestro Corps war. Maybe one of these days we’ll see purple colored Flashes and stuff, but my guess is that he wanted to establish a strong dichotomy between Flash and Zoom, and build an army for each one of them.

    Why exactly he thought that making Barry the generator of the Speed Force was a good idea, I have no idea.
    It Seems that now Barry is Edison and Zoom is Tesla and the war of energies is comming, but i’m pretty sure he could have found a less complicated way to say that the two characters fighting each other all the time was unavoidable… the problem is that I’m sick and tired of Zoom, I don’t want to see the character for the next 5 or 10 years… but that’s wishful thinking.

    I liked the article Kelson.

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