The Flash: Powers and Abilities Explained
Barry Allen is the fastest man alive. He should have died when he was struck by lightning and doused in chemicals, but instead, he gained access to the Speed Force — a cosmic force of time and space.
He became The Flash, and as he learned to interact with the Speed Force through the years, he gained more and more powers.
Just like most characters with nearly a century-long comic book presence, his powers have changed, expanded, and sometimes shrunk through the years. With that in mind, let’s explore some of his most iconic powers — and even some of the more unexplored abilities.
Perhaps the most notable power that Barry Allen possesses is super speed. He’s able to move so fast that he can run around the world in a fraction of a second. Of course, he had to learn how to use his full speed. Over the years he’s gotten faster and faster.
His use of super speed grants him a variety of other powers. Thanks to the Speed Force, he doesn’t burn when moving too fast. He loves the science of the Speed Force so much that he always seems to focus on the mechanics instead of enjoying the moment. Because of this preoccupation, even though Barry has perhaps the greatest connection to the Speed Force, someone like Wally West is often even faster than The Flash.
Using his enhanced speed, he’s able to transfer momentum into strength. So when The Flash runs around the world, all he needs to do is focus, allowing that speed and power from all around the world to do the impossible: fight Superman.
Of course, Barry Allen doesn’t usually fight the Man of Steel, but if he needs to, he can. Naturally, Superman is much stronger overall. But moving at his highest speeds, Barry can punch Superman with enough force to knock him back through walls. He has greater strength than most heroes, simply because of his ability to transfer speed into energy.
One of the most incredible things that The Flash can do is run so fast that he enters the Speed Force. Since the Speed Force encompasses movement itself, it also deals with the movement of time. By entering the Speed Force, The Flash can run through time in any direction.
Of course, this always has consequences. Most notably, when The Flash ran back in time to save his mother from the Reverse Flash, he created an entirely new timeline. This Flashpoint Universe changed everything. In that world, instead of Bruce Wayne’s parents being killed, it was Bruce himself. Thomas and Martha Wayne both dealt with the pain in different ways: Thomas became Batman, and Martha became The Joker. The Flash is so powerful that he can change timelines in ways he didn’t even intend.
If time travel wasn’t enough, Barry Allen can also run across different dimensions. He can vibrate his molecules so fast that he can match the vibrational frequency of nearly any dimension. The Speed Force allows him access to perhaps the entire Multiverse.
Just like time travel, there can be unforeseen consequences to dimensional travel. Not only did Barry create the Flashpoint Universe, but he also changed the Multiverse itself by inadvertently creating the New 52. With just one sprint through the Speed Force, Barry can create entirely new timelines and universes.
Creating Time Remnants
Running back in time really is ano extraordinary ability. When Barry does this, he can communicate and collaborate with his own past self. It creates a parallel timeline in which a past version of himself runs into the future. In short, The Flash can effectively create clones of himself.
Each time remnant really is The Flash. That said, these clones usually don’t stick around for long. That’s due to the mysterious science of the Speed Force and the continuity of the timeline. However, when The Flash is really in a pinch, he can rely on countless versions of himself to help him out.
The Flash harnesses so much energy from the Speed Force that he can actually generate energy using heat and light. As a result, he can even generate lightning. If he’s moving fast enough, he can grab the lightning that discharges off of him and throw it.
When fighitng, The Flash is capable of using lightning in nearly all of his attacks. If used creatively, he can even form constructs out of the lightning and the energy of the Speed Force itself. He’s used this ability to create lightning-enhanced punches, and even lightning platforms to run on. Wally West is perhaps the most talented at creating constructs from the Speed Force but Barry Allen has the ability as well.
At one point in the comics, we got to see just how fast Barry Allen could think. It’s as if time slows down to a complete standstill, and he can spend as long as he needs to assess any situation. In less than a second, Barry Allen can read countless books and articles just so he can have the proper knowledge to save the day.
His speed thinking also allows him to think through every possible outcome of a situation. He can consider each factor and variable and determine the best course of action for any given moment. Barry Allen once said that a second alone could feel like days, weeks, or even years.
It may be one of his least-used powers, but it shouldn’t be ignored. Barry Allen can steal speed. In fact, all members of The Flash Family who access the Speed Force can learn to use this ability. Just like they can learn to temporarily share their Speed Force abilities!
In one comic, Wally West was racing against a teleporter for the fate of the universe. It seemed that all hope was lost. However, Wally had a plan. The whole world, metahumans and humans alike, started running as fast as they could just so that Wally could steal their speed. Wally West channeled the Speed Force and pulled the momentum of every single bit of movement. Essentially, he stole everyone and everything’s speed. And in that moment, he raced across the universe faster than a teleporter.
Becoming the Speed Force
Of course, one of the most impressive things about The Flash is his ability to channel the Speed Force. Barry Allen is perhaps one of the greatest conduits of the Speed Force in the history of comics. Not only is he able to channel the Speed Force, enter the Speed Force, steal Speed Force, and grant Speed Force, he’s actually able to become the Speed Force itself.
It was revealed in the comics that Barry Allen actually ran so fast that he became the very lightning bolt which first granted him access to the Speed Force. In the same way that the Green Lantern Hal Jordan can become pure willpower, Barry Allen can become pure Speed Force.
Batman has often regarded Barry Allen as one of the greatest detective minds in the world. His speed thinking ability no doubt helps him out when solving crime. But even before he had access to the Speed Force, Barry Allen was a world class detective. To this day, he remains an incredible detective.
Actually, Barry’s ability to use speed thinking is only a strength because of his creative thought process. Speed thinking wouldn’t help if he wasn’t also extremely clever and extremely dedicated. While he might not have the answer as fast as the World’s Greatest Detective, his dedication to finding truth shines through.
Which powers did you know about? Were you surprised by any of Barry’s powers and are there any we should have included? Most importantly, which powers would you like to see in DC’s upcoming film The Flash?
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