Tag Archives: Science

Reader Questions: Explain the Speed Force

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. Continue reading

Flash #1 Preview / The Science of the Flash

CNN’s Geek Out! has an article on The Science of the Flash. Of course, science in comic books is always a bit more…flexible than it is in the real world.

The speed force is one of the topics discussed. In the 1980s, when DC relaunched the book with Wally West, they tried to explain away the Flash’s super-speed by requiring him to eat a lot. As physics professor James Kakalios points out, “the numbers just don’t work. A typical Flash running at his various speeds would have to eat something like 500 million cheeseburgers to run at the speeds he’s doing, even chewing super fast.” The solution: a field of energy that the Flashes draw their power from. A hand-wave explanation to be sure, but one that at least acknowledged the issue.

Today’s an interesting time to post the article, given the announcement of possible faster-than-light particles. (It does get into that staple of science fiction, the still-theoretical tachyon.) Revolutionary if it can be confirmed, but even the physicists who found the effect aren’t convinced yet. The announcement is basically: “We got these amazing results and haven’t been able to find any errors. We need more people to check our work.” As the webcomic XKCD points out, extraordinary claims like this usually don’t pan out…but when they do, it’s tremendously exciting!

Anyway, what most of you are probably interested in is the Flash #1 preview at the top of the article. It’s a different format than the usual method of just posting the full pages, more like reading a digital comic on a smartphone…only with commentary on each “page” by co-writer/artist Francis Manapul.

The Flash #1 arrives in stores next week, on September 28.

Speed Reading: Bad Comics, Gaga, Firefly Trek and More

More weekend linkblogging!

Grumpy Old Fan asks (and answers) the question: why reprint “bad” comics?

Wikipedia has a good breakdown of comic book super-powers.

Collected Editions takes a look at DC’s Spring 2011 trade paperbacks.

Fantastic image: Firefly crew as the Enterprise crew. Classic Star Trek, of course.

Sillof, the custom action figure builder who made the Steampunk Justice League and Legion of Doom, collaborated with Glorbes on a Star Wars in World War II series.

Empire Online has a set of Lucas Lee Movie Posters featuring one of Ramona’s Evil Ex-Boyfriends from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Humor! The Onion reports: Supervillain Lady Gaga Kidnaps Commissioner Gordon.

Science! Darryl Cunningham debunks the Moon Hoax in comic-book form.

Elementary Flash

Comics Alliance has posted a Periodic Table of Super-Powers, detailing not just powers but origins as well.

Click through to the original article, where they link to a full-sized table that you can actually read.

Let’s see if we can come up with the “chemical” formula for the Flashes:

Jay Garrick:
Speed, Intangibility, Time Travel; Scientist struck by Chemicals

Barry Allen:
Speed, Intangibility, Time Travel, Detective; Scientist struck by Chemicals

Wally West:

Speed, Intangibility (sometimes), Time Travel; Chemicals, former Sidekick, Legacy hero

Bart Allen:

Speed, Intangibility, Time Travel; Mutant (closest I could come up with to inherited powers), Time-lost, Legacy hero.

Arguably you could include H=healing (super-metabolism) & Is=invisibility (they can move too fast to be seen), or Sn=super-senses (seeing things more quickly, or moving so fast that radiation is red– or blue-shifted into the visible spectrum), etc.

Who wants to try the Rogues?

Speed Reading: Manapul Nomination, Batman vs. Shark, Elementary Heroes & More

Some weekend linkblogging:

Francis Manapul has been nominated for a Shuster Award. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with Glee. Rather, it’s the Joe Shuster Awards recognizing Canadian comics creators. Manapul was nominated for his work on Adventure Comics and Superman/Batman last year.

Ben Morse - Flash Action Figure ShelfBen Morse at the Cool Kids Table posts photos and commentary on his five favorite Flash figures.

Comic Critics: In This Issue, a Titan Dies! – This webcomic is absolutely 100% true!

Fan Art

Batman Vs. Shark with LightsaberYou’ve probably seen that image of Batman fighting a shark with a lightsaber by now, right? ComicMix has identified the artist as Andrew Zubko.

Flash by Adobe.Comics All Too Real specializes in merging the fictional and real worlds, including: The Flash by Adobe. They’ve also got a great Flash birthday cake.

Krypton.Zero Lives draws *ahem* Elementary Heroes. This one’s for the chemistry geeks. And Mr. Element, of course! (via Comics Alliance)

Speed Reading: Fast Vision, Legacies, Steampunk Doom & More

What Were They Thinking?! has found a…novel way to see at super-speed.

Comic Wallet is selling two wallets made from pages of Blackest Night: The Flash #1.

Multiversity Comics recommends Geoff Johns’ original Flash run.

Grumpy Old Fan considers the likely structure of Legacies and its implications.

IGN’s top 100 covers of 2009 gives Flash: Rebirth #1 the #3 spot.

Toycutter has a Steampunk Legion of Doom set of custom action figures, featuring Sinestro, Black Manta, Joker, Gorilla Grodd, Captain Cold, and Bizarro. (via Great White Snark)

Flash fans will probably get a kick out of this Shortpacked! strip. (via @batmansgirl)