Reverse-Flash Immunity

The Professor Zoom spotlight in The Flash #8 (review coming soon) reminded me of something that’s been bugging me about the current version of the character. In Flash: Rebirth, it’s pointed out that while Eobard Thawne can change history to make Barry Allen’s life a living hell, he can’t prevent Barry from becoming the Flash. Without a Flash, there’s no Reverse-Flash, and without the positive speed force that Barry Allen generates, there’s no negative speed force for Thawne.

Somewhere along the line, it turned into the idea (stated in The Flash Secret Files 2010) that Thawne can’t kill Barry Allen because he needs Barry’s speed force to power his own.


They made a big point that the speed force, once generated, stretches out and touches all times, past and present. That’s why Jay Garrick, Johnny Quick and Max Mercury could have super-speed before Barry was even born. That’s why John Fox and Eobard Thawne could have super-speed centuries after Barry’s death. That’s why Wally West, Bart Allen, Jesse Quick, and the surviving older speedsters could all have super speed while Barry was gone.

Thawne can’t erase Barry Allen from history, but he can still kill Barry anytime he wants…after Barry becomes the Flash!


25 thoughts on “Reverse-Flash Immunity

  1. Ken O

    While I’m not thrilled with the creating the Speed Force thing, I understand why they built that into Barry as a form of protection. There is going to be enough time travel going on without Zoom going back in time every issue trying to kill “that damn Barry Allen kid.”
    If that was the case they’d have to ditch Barry’s crew cut and start drawing him like Edward Furlong.

  2. Ken II

    I try and try to like Geoff Johns, and liked him much better during his JSA and GL runs, but the more he writes Flash, the more I hate him. Flash Rebirth and the new Flash series are the worst Flash stories ever. The new Speed Force aspects and Thawne are terrible.

  3. Keeter

    Actually, I don’t think he CAN kill Barry. Didn’t Rebirth mention that Barry generates the speed force and in doing so, also replenishes Zoom’s on negative speed force? If he kills Barry, then there is no more regeneration of his own speed force and he’ll lose out, too.

    I don’t have the books in front of me at the moment, but I’ll double check when I can.

    1. Kelson Post author

      Keeter, I addressed that in the fourth paragraph in my post. The speed force, once generated, is present in all times: past, present and future.

      The claim that Zoom can’t kill Barry without cutting off his own power source doesn’t hold water. Otherwise, what happens when Barry dies of natural causes four centuries before Thawne is born?

      Or is Barry immortal now?

  4. Fiery Vulpine

    Can we chalk it up to some psychological element that keeps Thawne from killing Barry? Since Johns clearly defines him as a predatory stalker, perhaps he developed a co-dependent relationship where he needs Barry as a focus for his hatred. I’m just saying he just uses the “loss” of the Negative Speed Force as an excuse not to kill his enemy and instead make Barry’s life a living hell. He won’t lose his powers but he’d lose his entire reason for existing.

    Would that be a better explanation?

    1. Aleclom

      Yeah, I guess it’s along the same lines as why Joker won’t kill Batman. They’ve based themselves on their enemy, so they need them no matter how much they hate them.

    2. Kelson Post author

      I like the psychological explanation. Zoom *can* kill Barry (just not in the past), but it has to be under the right circumstances for him to be satisfied.

      1. Ben Hall

        If you think about it Thawne likes to not only kill now, but erase certain people’s lives from time. And if he kills Barry Allen too early he (Thawne) will change his (thawne’s) past. If he were to kill Barry than Thawne’s identity as the Reverse-Flash might be known at the time he is born.

        Speaking of which I think that Thawne and Booster Gold should be updated to the 26th century. That is if they want to keep characters like Superman static in age.

          1. Perplexio

            He doesn’t want to. I agree with the others, it’s a psychological thing– much like the Joker not wanting to kill Batman.

            Thawne feeds off not only Barry’s Speed Force but also his own hatred of Barry. Where would he focus that hatred if Barry were dead?

            He doesn’t seem to hold the same level of hatred/disdain for Wally (although comments he made in Rebirth indicate he does hold a similar level of contempt for Bart as he does for Barry as Bart has “tarnished” his Thawne blood).

  5. Savitar

    The Flash fact section of #8 has the biggest hint to how killing Barry may or may not work.

    Yes, I agree with your saying Thawne can *kill* Barry after Barry becomes the Flash. But can he kill Barry before Barry snapped his neck? He’s erased other people from the timeline but would this cause too much of a disruption?

    Otherwise, I’d also agree with the psychological effect. He needs Barry alive to fulfill himself.

    1. Kyer

      Which is the best explanation for why he has not killed Barry…but still doesn’t explain for me why he has yet to kill anyone else connected TO Barry. Thawne can go back in time to change things…so why hasn’t he killed Jay, Max, Wally, Bart all of whom he’s exhibited nothing but disgust for? They’d have to have Barry and/or Wally running after Thawne like a danged shadow to stop him in the nick of time from dealing death.

      I hate this whole Barry Allen = Speed Force and being able to change time thing. 🙁

      1. James

        Who’s to say he hasn’t already. I’m surprised we haven’t seen Wally, Bart, and the others second-guessing their pasts, wondering if Thawne screwed around with their own lives.

        In Wally’s case at least, he may not have to.If Thawne was telling the truth in “Rebirth”, then Irey, Jai, or a later child will make Wally’s life a living hell down the road. Thawne only has to sit back and watch Wally’s life destroyed, much as Degaton watched the JSA’s final fates during Johns’ JSA run.

        Speaking of Degaton, I wonder if he’ll pop up as an ally of Thawne’s during Flashpoint…

      2. Hyperion

        And Bart especially. Outwardly, Thawne’s shown more hatred towards Bart than to any other speedster (apart from Barry), precisely because of their shared blood (I do so love the irony) – you think he’d jump at any opportunity to kill the poor kid, like he did (and nearly succeeded at) in Rebirth #4.

        (being a major Bart fan, I am not advocating this at all – it’s simply the part of the mythos that’s grabbed the most attention for me)

  6. Married Guy

    I think the entire ‘Barry created the Speed Force’ retcon was a colossal cock-up. It was the big thing that irked me about Rebirth, and it continues to tick me off now.

    It read as Geoff trying too hard to make Barry Allen ‘the’ speedster of the DCU.

    Shoehorning the retcon into canon has just made things more complicated then they need to be.

      1. cv

        After giving it a bit more thought, I retract that statement. I think Barry coming back as the MAIN Flash was a cock-up.

        I think they should have retired Jay and put Barry into the mentor position.

  7. Joe

    I just have to say. While I was totally against Barry Allen coming back, and I still regret how Wally has turned into a background character after 20 sterling years in the uniform, we haven’t had a good, FRESH Flash series since Johns’ Flash run ended waaaay back in 2004 or 2005. (geez, I can’t even remember any more.)

    Also, I have never been a fan of time travel plots. WIth the exception of how it revitalized Booster Gold into a character that can carry TWO series, I feel it’s an overused concept.

    I was actually worried that it would revert to the 80s Barry Allen series or be bland, and Rebirth didn’t get my hopes up.

    HOWEVER, this new Flash series is something FRESH for the character. It’s got people talking and while we don’t always agree with what’s happening, it’s got the Flash mattering again. I personally like the ride.

    I just wish they gave us closure on Wally’s story. (I actually think he can still work on a team concept. Just as Booster Gold is a time cop now, how about a Multiverse exploring team. They had it in 52 but it can be executed better.)

  8. West

    It’s a giant mess, any way you look at it. Kelson’s right but it goes a bit deeper for me.

    Thawne has shown that he can change the past without unwanted consequences…somehow. Otherwise, if he changed his past, he wouldn’t have experienced it, so he couldn’t have changed it. Y’know, that old song.

    Another problem is that it not only shows Thawne to be petty and vicious, but it also makes all the heroes who ought to stop him seem incredibly ineffectual. He’s doing horrendous things to people and to the timeline, often without punishment. So no one is safe. No Flash or Superman or Booster Gold or Time Masters or whatever to the rescue. He can do pretty much ANYTHING, as-presented, and depending on how you look at it, he already has.

    1. Imitorar

      It only makes the heroes seem ineffectual until they stop him. Remember, this issue was in large part a set-up for Flashpoint. So I wouldn’t judge things like the new portrayal of Professor Zoom and the Negative Speed Force until you read the culmination of it all.

      And Kelson, while Secret Files and Origins said that Thawne had to leave Barry alive, Flash #8 modifies that to saying that he can’t erase Barry from history, which does make sense, because Barry needs to create the Speed Force at some point. I’d read that as a clarification of what was written in Secret Files and Origins.The question is why just killing Barry isn’t good enough for Thawne. The psychological aspect mentioned above is compelling, and there also may be something of the idea that death isn’t as much of a punishment as a miserable life. Death just ends Barry Allen, but ruining his life pains him much more.

  9. Martin Gray

    Oh, the Speed Force business is a mess. I was dubious when it was first introduced, as a way to explain the speeds attained, but got used to it, and even enjoyed it via the Impulse book. But now it’s being used as a way to make Barry even more significant … nah!

  10. Dan Reyj

    Maybe the Negative Speed Force needs a living functioning barry in order to exist? And previous to Rebirth Zoom just tapped into the regular variety?

  11. EJ

    The Speedforce now is no more confusing than it was when it was first created, if anything thanks to Johns it makes more sense now. I think people sometimes like to overthink things because it’s been made pretty clear what the Speedforce does and what Proffesor Zoom’s relation to it is. I’m looking forward to seeing how all of this plays out with Flashpoint, hopefully things are back on track now with the book because it’s been really good when it comes out.

    1. Kelson Post author

      Sorry, I’ve got to disagree with you there. The original purpose of the Speed Force was to do two things:

      1. Explain where the Flash gets the energy to do the things he can do.
      2. Tie all of DC’s speedsters together.

      #1 has been completely reversed: instead of the speed force powering the Flash, the Flash powers the speed force. Well, a Flash, anyway. And he always has, even before he was born, so every other speedster in the entire DC Universe owes their powers to him, subverting #2.

      What Flash: Rebirth did was take a concept that was designed to hand-wave away the physics problems and link a group of characters together and change it into something that serves primarily to prop up one of those characters. I guess you don’t mind, since he happens to be your favorite, but it makes as much sense as making Hal Jordan (not his ring, but Hal himself) the source of the energy used by the entire Green Lantern Corps.


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