Steven Ogden asks:
I’m a huge Flash fan. He’s without a doubt my favorite superhero. Unfortunately, there’s only one thing I don’t understand: the Speed Force. I don’t understand how Barry Allen created the Speed Force. Is it some kind of magical force? Hope not, not a big magic fan. If anyone can take the time to help a Flash fan out I’d appreciate it.
Well, Steve, there are a couple of ways to look at the speed force, from simple to complicated. Let’s start with simple.
The name is a little misleading. The speed force is basically a field of energy which exists just outside reality. Speedsters like the Flash can tap into this energy, which makes it possible for them to perform feats of amazing speed. With practice, they can learn to manipulate this energy as well, stealing and lending speed from other objects (or people). It also produces an aura that protects them from friction, so they don’t burn up running through the air at a zillion miles an hour.
If the Flash draws too much energy (basically, by running past the speed of light, the cosmic speed limit), he risks losing himself in the field. In the pre-Flashpoint universe, this has happened to Max Mercury, Johnny Quick, Barry Allen, Wally West and Savitar, among others. Wally was the first to return from this fate, but not the last.
Then things get complicated.
The speed force — or speed field, if it makes it easier to visualize — lines the boundaries between universes, and exists throughout time. Think of it as the soap in a foam of soap bubbles, where each bubble is a universe. This gives the Flash the ability to travel between universes, and forward and backward in time.
And then we start getting into the weird stuff.
According to Professor Zoom in Flash: Rebirth, the speed force is time. Manipulation, either deliberate or accidental, sent Bart Allen (in “Reckless Youth” and Flash: The Fastest Man Alive) and Iris & Jai West (in “The Wild Wests” and “Fast Money”) up and down the age scale. Perhaps this cancels out relativistic problems?
Wally West was somehow able to convert speed force energy into a costume. (Assuming the standard e=mc2 equation applies, that means he’s using a lot of energy to cover up his street clothes. It’s a wonder he has any left to run.)
And I have to apologize for waiting this long to tell you this, but as for explaining how Barry Allen generates the speed force…? I can’t, because it doesn’t make any sense. Fortunately, judging by the first few issues of the New 52 Flash series, it sounds like he doesn’t in this universe, so neither of us will have to worry about it anymore.