Off My Mind: The Dangers of Flash's New Powers

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Posted by G-Man (39826 posts) - - Show Bio

How many times have people discussed what the best superpower would be? Often super-strength or flight are at the top of the list. People looking for personal gain might choose invisibility or telepathy to get an inside edge on things. Super-speed isn't a superpower you usually hear people choose.

Being able to move faster than anyone would give the hero a huge advantage over enemies. If a thug tried pulling out a gun, the Flash could speed behind him and smash him in the back of the head before he can finish pulling it out. If someone is in danger, Flash can zip over to the scene before the situation gets deadly. And changing from civilian guise to superhero attire is easy if you can change faster than someone can take off a sock.

With all his powers, it turns out he's getting some more that could give him an even bigger advantage. It makes sense that Flash should be able to do everything quickly. But with his new powers, there are some potentially big dangers that Barry and writers of The Flash will have to deal with.

== TEASER ==

When Barry was trying to figure out if it was possible for him to go even faster. His friend, Dr. Elias, found some interesting information. It turns out that Barry's body is using the speed force to its full extent but his brain is not. In other words, Barry has to use his brain to gain more speed.

I've often wondered how his brain operates. If his brain can send the nerve impulse signals to make his body move at high speed, why couldn't he just process things at those same high speeds. If Flash can move between moments of time, that gives him time to consider what the best route or option would be to take. Barry is now able to use "augmented cognition."

By being able to think faster, Barry will be able to process more information and make even quicker decisions. While in the comic Barry says to himself he can now see everything before it happens, that isn't exactly what's happening. Flash co-writer Francis Manapul said this:

Click to enlarge.
It's important NOT to confuse this with being able to 'see the future.' What the Flash is doing is improving his decision making skills, his ability to see probabilities, and take the appropriate course of action.

This new ability really gives Barry the upper hand. Now that he can map out all the possibilities and plan out the best course of action to defeat any problem that comes, how can he be stopped? Isn't that an enhanced version of what Batman does? Flash can now be prepared against anyone at a moment's notice. Why would this be a problem?

For one, does this mean he will be able to out-think all his opponents? Writers already have to be creative in coming up with ways for Barry not to simply mop the floor with the bad guys. If you can move as fast as the speed of thought, the Flash should almost be untouchable. Readers often looked down at Superman because he was too powerful and, at times, the stories could get a little boring.

The other area it could cause problems for is with Barry directly. We've already seen from the moment he first discovers this ability, he describes it as being able to "see everything before it happens." That sounds like a big heaping spoonful of overconfidence.

Just because he can see the probabilities doesn't mean he can know with complete certainty how events will unfold. He can try to make the most logical or probably choice but all it takes is one tiny discrepancy to make things go the wrong way. Innocent lives could be put at risk if he thinks defeating a villain is a piece of cake.

Also, he may be thinking over these probabilities at super-speed but that could also be a distraction. Would he do it while running at high speeds? Being distracted for a mere moment could result in him running into a person at high speed or some object. Trying to figure out how everything will unfold could be a never ending process. There could always be one more thing that could happen after each event.

We have to imagine that Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have given all this some thought. Barry is a smart guy and friends with an even smarter person. This new power could be a huge advantage to his superhero career but hopefully he won't become too dependent on it. Perhaps by using his brain more, he'll figure out that this new ability may not be the answer to making things easier.

#1 Posted by Donovan Montgomery (5666 posts) - - Show Bio

Wow....and that stack of apples looks like it's gonna fall over as soon as the guy touches it again, lol.

#2 Posted by Vendel (370 posts) - - Show Bio

Flash can now think better than Batman? I'm sure Bruce has thought of that already and has a plan for it.

#3 Posted by mksystem74 (89 posts) - - Show Bio

When I read it, my first thought was "he got Limitless powers!!!" I didn't know what to call it ro anything, but it did remind me of the movie with that drug.

#4 Posted by kama_094 (27 posts) - - Show Bio

This is some impressive stuff... If anything the disadvantage might even end up being physical... like brain fatigue or something ... The flash has food to compensate his high metabolic rate ... but the best way to cure brain-fag is rest... So I'm guessing that Barry will find out that excess use of this power leads to serious headaches or deadly migraines or something ... Damn it would suck if he had to stop in the middle of a fight to massage his temples....

But all this is me trying to be scientific XD ... It's actually a really cool power. I wonder if Wally will have it ... If he's still going to make an appearance as the Flash that is..

#5 Posted by VanAce (142 posts) - - Show Bio

His new thinking speed would mean that he would be able to read super fast and be able to process it very quickly.

#6 Posted by Deadcool (6919 posts) - - Show Bio

So, he has the Flash-sense... Interesting...

Who wins in a chess-battle?

Spider-man, Midnighter, Captain Mar-Vell or Flash...

#7 Posted by UltimateSMfan (1741 posts) - - Show Bio

@Vendel said:

Flash can now think better than Batman? I'm sure Bruce has thought of that already and has a plan for it.


#8 Posted by hitechlolife (194 posts) - - Show Bio

Got to say I'm loving this digital release stuff more than i thought I would . I was halfway through the article thinking maybe I should have picked up Flash #2 last week afterall and remembered I could correct that right now.

#9 Posted by Eyz (3187 posts) - - Show Bio

Barry did "sort of create" this whole new world post-Flashpoint...he has indeed become something like a God.

#10 Posted by eiderglast (66 posts) - - Show Bio

@Deadcool said:

So, he has the Flash-sense... Interesting...

Who wins in a chess-battle?

Spider-man, Midnighter, Captain Mar-Vell or Flash...


#11 Posted by eiderglast (66 posts) - - Show Bio

@VanAce: This will be a challenge for writers to make Flash have difficulty fighting villains.

#12 Posted by gangly (113 posts) - - Show Bio

@eiderglast said:

This will be a challenge for writers to make Flash have difficulty fighting villains.

True, but G-Man makes a great point to the contrary. Even thinking with super speed can't account for every outcome, and every minuscule detail changed would make for a whole new set of outcomes. Add a villain that could exponentially add to that fractal-like complexity like Mirror Master, and you've got a prety good story to tell.

#13 Edited by The_Tree (8607 posts) - - Show Bio

I didn't know that's a newly gained power, I always just assumed he had it after I saw him speed read a book and then fix a building in Geoff Johns' previous run.

#14 Posted by Icemizer (181 posts) - - Show Bio

No new powers here folks move along, move along. Barry has always been able to do this. He can run at near light speed so his brain must have the ability to process what he sees fast enough to react to the outside world. Now if you want to say that Barry has been holding himself back from his true potential because he didnt want to feel less human or something that would be ok. But to say he has a new power is absolutely silly.

#15 Posted by doordoor123 (3810 posts) - - Show Bio

Only you would know about the Flash's new powers Tony. You ARE Doctor Guerrero.

#16 Posted by Lurkero (377 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't read Flash comics so I am not aware of the history, but has this seriously never been addressed? Why is it hard to believe that Flash could process information more quickly and think about probabilities?

I do not believe that this would give Flash "super senses" to predict everything his opponents will do.

- First, he can't think of probability in battle if he is not looking at the enemy's actions

- Second, he has to have the knowledge of this things he is trying to predict. For example, Batman is a well learned individual. He knows many things and is able to take them into consideration. I don't know how intelligent Flash is, but I assume less intelligent than Batman.

- Third, really? This has never been addressed? Flash has super speed, he should have the reflexes to outmaneuver all his opponents that don't possess super speed! There is no excuse.

#17 Posted by DoomDoomDoom (4296 posts) - - Show Bio

So that's the cover of issue #2 shows Flash with a lighting brain...

#18 Edited by pspin (1081 posts) - - Show Bio

Plus he might be able to catch a certain evil scientist that tried to blow up Central City very easily, right G-Man?

#19 Posted by evo23 (9 posts) - - Show Bio

Hopefully he doesn't burn himself out like Freestyle did.

#20 Posted by BatUniverse (153 posts) - - Show Bio

It's great seeing how Flash can think and run at the same time, because the way like he thinks is something in relation with the speed force, it's like, let's say, the speed force thinks in the brain of Barry!

Now, let's see how Superman thinks all the time. That will be AWESOME!

#21 Posted by MetropolisKid41 (523 posts) - - Show Bio

I think the augmented thinking is a necessary to make the Flash more revelant and add some depth. I've always thought that he was a little un-needed when Superman is around, I mean he is faster than Supes, but when his Superman's super speed not fast enough? This makes him more needed in my opinion. And I think his over confidence is a good thing, and I'm sure something bad will happen out of it resulting in him to learn some humility, that seems to be a running theme for all the big heroes right now who are a little on the arrogant side when they first pop up. Good article.

#22 Posted by Migz13 (170 posts) - - Show Bio

It's nice to hear that writers are actually expanding upon his primary superpower which is of course super speed.

Because let's face it... having ONLY superspeed iiissss..... kinda lame:P

#23 Posted by Sissel (2049 posts) - - Show Bio
#24 Posted by Thunderscream (1975 posts) - - Show Bio

Quicksilver's been able to process information like this for a while now. Surprised it took Flash writers this long to touch on it.

#25 Posted by Danial79 (2526 posts) - - Show Bio

As much as I love The Flash, I think the human variables involved make this "new power" a bit ridiculous. Getting the apples to fall is one thing, but he couldn't guarantee that the crook would actually step on any, and the same goes for the dude crossing the street--how could he possibly know that he would spot the money and that he would reach down to pick it up?

#26 Posted by perry_411 (453 posts) - - Show Bio

The title is very misleading, the power isn't new.

#27 Posted by LordRequiem (1335 posts) - - Show Bio

He does still only move fast though right? I'm unsure as to whether or not he retains his time travel, light speed powers and speed force source powers.

#28 Posted by HalfShellHero (146 posts) - - Show Bio

If he thinks at super-speed, mapping out all probabilities, wouldn't he also save some of that brain power for his physical surroundings? I would think that would be how it works, although it might just be for a single task. I think if he were to make this newfound "power" a mainstay, his most dangerous opponent would be someone like the Joker who is "unpredictable" ((He had fairly elaborate plans in the Dark Knight movie ><)). If someone were so crazy and psychotic that they could not be predicted, Flash's super speed thoughts would not have the desired effect. Then again, he could just super speed to victory.

Weirdly enough, the super power I always chose was super speed; Just seems like a really awesome power to have, especially if you can get around pesky things like.... air.... and the sound barrier

#29 Posted by illmatic06 (59 posts) - - Show Bio

"When I read it, my first thought was "he got Limitless powers!!!" I didn't know what to call it ro anything, but it did remind me of the movie with that drug." Lol. I just watch the movie yesterday.

#30 Posted by illmatic06 (59 posts) - - Show Bio

Deadcool said: "So, he has the Flash-sense... Interesting... Who wins in a chess-battle? Spider-man, Midnighter, Captain Mar-Vell or Flash... nice!" Throw in Longshot and Domino and you have a very interesting poker game.

#31 Posted by fitchy101 (210 posts) - - Show Bio

@Vendel said:

Flash can now think better than Batman? I'm sure Bruce has thought of that already and has a plan for it.

Bruce had a contingency plan for this before it even happened. Why? Because he's Batman!

#32 Posted by Doctor!!!!! (2135 posts) - - Show Bio

They just made Flash even cooler! but there are always consequences to power.... maybe not, i HOPE.

#33 Posted by kennybaese (1219 posts) - - Show Bio

My guess is that this'll backfire somehow in this arc, so they'll be giving Barry this power but making sure that he has to be careful about how he uses it.

Man, it's so cool to care about the Flash. As much as I liked Wally, I'd mostly only read him in the context of JLA, but when Johns started writing Flash again, I went back and read a lot of his Wally stuff and it was fantastic.

#34 Edited by Nerd Of A Hero (1145 posts) - - Show Bio

The Flash with Batman's thinking abilities... That's Flash in a whole new level, but if he had something like spider-man's "spider sense" that warns him (though the electrical nerves I think) of danger while at the same time coming up with ways to counteract opponents and other obstacales, that would be something.

#35 Posted by Or35ti (1133 posts) - - Show Bio

I'd bet solid money on Barry being/becoming the most powerful character in the DCnU. He sorta made a fool out of Superman in Justice League #2 and now with his super brain he has time to anticipate and react to Superman's finger knocking him away.

#36 Posted by mattydeNero (535 posts) - - Show Bio

I love the retooling of these DC Legends. Flash, for one, is getting refined and this book is apparently answering questions many reader have asked in the past. There is a both positive and negative to this new power, but it's a new power nonetheless. I wouldn't call it a "mutation" but it is something that writers should look at when writing. There are so many metas that have a vague power, that could be something so much more if you think about it. I was a little skeptical in Manapul taking over the new series. It's been pretty interesting thus far.

#37 Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus (6958 posts) - - Show Bio

Why do I start to think that Buccelatto and Manapul watched "Limitless" before starting this series? The whole brain thing makes me think instantly of the NZT pharmaceutical and its ability to expand the wide capabilities present in the brain. At any rate, I like this little adjunct to his powers but I do worry if he will overthink things too much and lead to a breakdown. Fact is, while it could be to his advantage, I could just see Barry burning himself out from too much thought in midst of his super speed. And if he uses both at the same time its almost bound to happen if he wants to get full of himself in believing he could outsmart any opponent at any time. Of course you bring up a good point also that this could lead to Barry being an overpowered character and with these lightning thought brain processes, who's to say he could be overtly too powerful int his new DCU order? Fascinating stuff though regardless!

#38 Posted by BlackArmor (6222 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm guessing it's like Bart Allen speed clones. something bad happens and we never see this again

#39 Posted by HombreMan (101 posts) - - Show Bio

Does anyone else beside me remebers the 2000 Action Man CGI animated series? According to Wikipedia:

Alex Mann, Action Man's civilian identity, is an extreme sports athlete of Team Xtreme. Danger and adrenaline trigger hidden mental powers called AMP (Advanced Macro Probability) Factor, a result of secret experiments by his former high school coach Simon Grey voiced byChristopher Judge. Alex is able to calculate all future possibilities, choosing the best course of action. Alex "Action" Mann voiced by Mark Hildreth

Man I loooved that show, and how Alex could possibly see all the outcoming possibilities in fractions of seconds, so the concept is not new to me, working on The Flash new superpower, is incredibly awesome.

Panini Comics Action Man Final Issue:/panini-comics/57-2350/

#40 Posted by Dernman (17785 posts) - - Show Bio

Barry has always been able to think fast. It seems to me they rolled back to a point when he didn't

#41 Posted by ComicMan24 (147494 posts) - - Show Bio

@HombreMan:I remember that show. It was a nice one. Had forgotten about it.

#42 Posted by Supreme Marvel (11572 posts) - - Show Bio

This is a challenge that not all writers will be able to continue with. They will make mistakes.

#43 Posted by Sixsoda (82 posts) - - Show Bio

Well now we see that he can't pay attenchion to what's right infront of him Both Charlie and Isis were talking and all he could do was see around him so if your right on top of him you have the advantage.

#44 Posted by Dark_Flame35 (7 posts) - - Show Bio

So this is a thought and many of you may get mad but flash is my all time favorite character and this thought would be sad but pretty cool at the same time. One way this can play out is that he overdoes this power and breaks down from it making him insane and thus making his character become the new 52 version of the Reverse Flash. We would then have Wally step back in as the Flash. I know far fetched idea but then again it could happen.

#45 Posted by Black_Kn1ght (355 posts) - - Show Bio

Ya know I was wondering if the power could accelerate other abilities too. Well I got my answer

#46 Posted by Igotsomethingtosay (1 posts) - - Show Bio

I have always hated Super Speed as a power for a character - whether it be a hero or villain. Why? There is just no way to make this power work, realistically. So you have super speed? OK, first you've got to develop some sort of costume that can withstand high-velocity wind and projectiles. Where do you get that kevlar suit from? Better make sure you are covered from head to toe in the stuff, or else you're going to have an insect penetrate your body and kill you. What happens when you trip? You're dead, of course. Changing clothes at super speed? Impossible. Your clothes would immediately rip, buttons would pop off, zippers would get wrecked, etc. etc. Same goes for doing pretty much any day-to-day task. Trying to read a newspaper, drink your cup of coffee, talking to a co-worker, or cooking a meal at super speed would all end in disaster.

This is why I can never like The Flash or any other speedster. I can't read the comics without just criticising everything I see.

#47 Posted by The Impersonator (6965 posts) - - Show Bio

It's cool for Flash to have a new ability.

#48 Posted by thehuntsmen5434 (2 posts) - - Show Bio

Doesn't matter if he can think faster. Possibilities and ideas still stem from what the Flash would already have to know. Take yourselves for example. If you thought about the outcomes of anything for an entire day or week it wouldn't matter if you didn't think of some perspective or angle which was the right one.

your mind is limited to what you know, thinking faster doesn't mean much considering from people's instinct, experience, and memorization things pop into your brain instantly anyways. if your given a Algebraic expression without learning Algebra, you'll never get the question right.

If the Flash is trying to protect a woman crossing the street and he thinks of a car hitting her, sniper shooting her, and bomb exploding. He'd still have to choose a action that would stop one of those to save her. Might be the wrong one.

#49 Posted by IcePrince_X (5061 posts) - - Show Bio

I guess with the current trend of new information and stuff people just have to know how powers and the wielders operate. Basically, taking the charm out of what is fantasy in comic and making it too real for it to be appealing.

Its no longer he has superpowers or how he got his superpowers, but to make it interesting lets know how their powers operate ala CIS then push it to a thousand variations and possibilities. Used to be charming but after Storm, Scarlet Witch, among others... this concept will be the possible demise of interest to a character.

#50 Posted by Spiderslike (653 posts) - - Show Bio

I have to agree with a lot of people here because I always assumed that the flashes processes powers where above human norms but I guess the best way to describe it is his brain only functioned proportional to his super speed but when you think of it the incredible speeds that your mind moves far exceeds what you physical body can do I guess a good way to think of it is that the Flash's body moves at the speed of his thoughts normally they're now saying he can far exceed that speed by using the speed force to it's full potential on only his mind. He normally doesn't use his speed to think far in the future but only in the present but now he can use it to think about the billions of possible outcomes and process them better than any being. I've often begun to believe that the Flash is becoming a semi-godlike being but now it really does seem true but as with most things he will have some weakness or draw back. More than likely simple sensory overload from seeing too many possible options.

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