You use speed on everyday life. Whether you’re slow or fast, you still use speed. Speed can also do unique and amazing things. Let me tell you all about them. Since the Flash can move at super sonic speeds, I will tell you all about his abilities that require speed and those who use speed.
Quantum Tunneling a.k.a Phase Shift:
Also known as phasing, quantum tunneling is the ability to vibrate at such high speeds, and with such intensity, that the user can pass through solid objects like walls. Not only does The Flash have this ability personally, but he can also transfer this ability to objects that he touches. In the New 52’s The Flash #3, The Flash actually used the ability to phase a plane through a bridge to avoid a catastrophe. There is a down side however, as the larger the object affected, the more drained The Flash is once it’s done.
The ability usually renders him invisible to the naked eye due to the fact that he’s vibrating at such a high frequency. The frequency of the vibration must also be correctly calculated, and used correctly. If it is not, the object has a tendency to sort of explode. Since that’s usually not the wanted outcome, the power needs to be used rather carefully. Not every incarnation of The Flash has the same handle on this particular power, so depending upon who they are, they may or may not be able to use this one as effectively as some of the others. Yup, we’re totally calling out Wally West on this one!
The Flash’s ability to tap into the speed force not only enables him to run super-fast and for great distances, but it also has other interesting effects on his body. The speed force gives the user such additional gifts as superhuman endurance, an accelerated metabolism and a decelerated aging process, as well as increased reaction speed and enhanced strength.
One of the most interesting things that comes from all of this, combined with his super speed, is the ability to create the ‘infinite mass punch.’ It is the most powerful punch of all time and is basically like hitting something, or someone, with more force than a meteor. If that’s not enough, his increased speed and reaction time also gives him the ability to throw up to one billion punches per second. When combined, this makes The Flash one of the most formidable and dangerous members of the Justice League.
Using his abilities to run at, and sometimes beyond, the speed of light, The Flash is able to also move through time. Initially, he used to accomplish this using the Cosmic Treadmill (yup, that is actually a thing!), which helped guide him to the correct place and time. In the pre-Crisis comic books, the treadmill also could transport beings between dimensions to multiple Earths, but it was damaged during the Crisis story arc.
The treadmill requires a great deal of speed to function, turning that speed into vibrations that shift the user through time. No one other than Speedsters in the DC Universe can generate enough speed to use it, so it is often seen as an exhibit in the Flash museum. Sadly, the cosmic treadmill is no longer required for the Flash to make sure he gets to the precise location he’s aiming for. Wally West figured out that it wasn’t required and he was able to use nothing more than his powers alone to achieve the same effect.
The Speed Force not only has applications where it works through a being that is tapped into it, but it can also manifest itself in physical ways. Wally West discovered this, when he realized that if he concentrated hard enough, he could actually create solid constructs that had real world applications.
He often uses the power to create or enhance his super suit, which is how he stumbled across the power in the first place. He created solid armor that allowed him to run, even with two broken legs. The Flash has also used this power to seal damage to his suit to prevent infection and disease and to create ‘pockets’ to hold various items. He is also able to use this power to repair the super suits of others, altering them so that they are usable by various speedsters. In fact, Wally’s Flash costume is actually a construct that was molded from the Speed Force itself.
To outsiders, it sometimes probably seems like being a speedster in the DC universe is like being in a secret club of some kind, given that they virtually have their own language. Because of their increased reflexes and ability to process information, those who can tap into the speed force have the ability to speak with one another at such a rapid rate that, to others it sounds like gibberish and is pretty much indecipherable. Only another being with superhuman cognitive abilities is able to understand what is being said.
This is often used to great comedic effect in the comic books. When The Flash gets excited about something, the words start pouring out of his mouth at an increasingly rapid rate, often baffling whoever he’s conversing with. This ability has yet to manifest itself on the television series, although it would make for a great scene, especially if it involved Cisco and a look of utter confusion.
Another side effect of The Flash being able to vibrate his body at the molecular level is the fact that it can help him transfer between dimensions. Much like the Cosmic Treadmill, the intensity and speed of the vibrations cause The Flash to be able to shift to other dimensions, making it easy for him to slip into other worlds and versions of Earth in the DC Universe.
Although it’s not a power that Barry has currently displayed on the CW’s series, it is one that may come into play in the near future. Given that Kara Zor-El and company are technically the heroes in their own version of Earth, at least for now, it would be an easy way for Barry to interact with the folks over there. Of course, given that the Arrowverse likes to do all sorts of crossover events and the like, it won’t be surprising if the Supergirl version of National City somehow ends up being transferred to Earth-1. It just makes everything so much easier, especially for those that are unable to cross dimensions so easily.
Lending and Borrowing Speed:
One of the more interesting effects of the ability to draw from the speed force, is the fact that The Flash can both lend speed to others, as well as borrow speed from them, in order to boost his own powers. He accomplishes the latter by absorbing the kinetic energy stored, transferring it to himself to give himself an extra shot of speed. This is especially useful when he’s dealing with other speedsters, as this transfer involves him tapping directly into the speed force itself. Another cool trick is that he can actually ‘steal’ the kinetic energy from things like bullets in flight, rendering them useless.
Through the same governing principles, he is also able to lend speed to inanimate objects or allies that are already in motion and need a boost. This gives the user temporary super speed, making them almost as fast as The Flash himself. While the effect eventually wears off, it gives whoever The Flash lends the power to the ability to really know what it feels like to be a speedster.
Speed Force Aura:
Under normal circumstances, travelling at the speed of light (and occasionally beyond) without any sort of protection other than your super-suit, would be mighty dangerous. Thankfully, one of The Flash’s more obscure powers is the Speed Force Aura, which is created when he is in full speed ahead mode.
The aura is a protective barrier that forms around his body and clothes that prevents air friction and air-borne particulate matter from affecting him when he’s moving at high velocities. The aura also extends to things and people that he is carrying, protecting them from the forces as well. It absorbs kinetic energy, siphoning some of it off from The Flash as he moves. It also provides a bit of resistance so if he crashes into something, the impact won’t actually kill him. It’s never bad to have a built in air bag when you move at the speed of light.
A bonus of being able to harvest the speed force is that it speeds up everything in the body, including the ability to heal. The increase in the speed of his immune system and metabolism means that he can rapidly heal from even the most grievous of wounds. This is not to say that it’s instantaneous like some other heroes, as it will take some time for the wounds to heal. It’s just a much shorter time than the average person.
On top of that, The Flash is also able to transfer some of that power to others who are wounded, increasing their metabolism and ability to heal. This is not to be confused with regeneration, however. Rapid healing means that the wounded party’s body can rapidly repair tissue and may even be able to regenerate certain cells, but they are unable to regrow missing limbs and the like. Still, it’s not a bad power to have.
Because everything, including all the muscles in The Flash’s body and even the speed of his neurons in his brain and nervous system, functions on a much faster level than normal, he is able to obtain immense amounts of information very rapidly. It takes mere seconds for them to read all of the books in a library, for instance, but he is unable to retain the information for long periods of time, as it only stored in the short term memory banks of his brain. He usually uses this skill to find a few relevant facts, which he then shares with someone on his team, who will actually remember the information.
The exception to this little bit of a handicap is Bart Allan, who has a photographic memory and seems to be able to transfer the information into his long term memory. This gives him total recall of every bit of information he’s ever read in his entire life.
Immunity to Telepathy:
It wouldn’t really make a whole lot of sense if The Flash was able to move at such high velocities, but his brain was unable to process what was going on around him. The influence of the speed force also alters the speed at which his brain processes information to match what’s going on with the rest of his body.
This means that his brain and thought patterns move at such a rapid rate that he is immune to basic mind reading and mind control. That’s a pretty handy bit of protection when one of your main adversaries is a highly intelligent, telepathic gorilla. It’s not completely foolproof, however, as the more powerful telepaths, such as Martian Manhunter, can pull vague impressions and images from his mind. It also doesn’t protect from psychic blasts that are meant to hurt or wound him, and that is one way to bring him down.
Change His Voice At Will:
The Flash has control over every part of his body, right down to the molecular level. This makes it easy for him to control various parts of his body at will, often without affecting other parts of his body at the same time.
This becomes especially useful when you’re trying to keep your secret identity, well, secret. The Flash is able to change the vibration of his vocal cords, altering the tone and register of his voice to mask his real identity. Barry does this quite often in the television series, or used to, before everyone and their dog knew that he was actually the Scarlet Speedster. It’s a pretty effective tool that he can employ without a huge amount of effort, and the results are impressive. He managed to fool the girl he grew up with and considered his best friend, for over a year.
One of the benefits of moving at the speed of light is that it does have a tendency to create some cool side effects. The Flash moves at such super speeds that he is actually able to generate his own electricity.
Although he could probably use it as a renewable resource, to, you know, power Central City or something, he’s actually managed to turn it into a weapon to use against his enemies. Basically, he harnesses this energy in the form of a lightning bolt, and tosses it at his enemies. In the television show, Jay taught Barry how to do this and he used it to great effect against the villain Sand Demon, turning him into glass. The Flash has also been known to use the power to shock a person who has become unresponsive. This is a great tool for The Flash to have, as it has real world, physical applications. And being able to create your own weapon in a matter of seconds is pretty handy.
Create Speed Vortexes:
Although the speed force has granted The Flash many interesting, and few unexpected, powers, one the things that he can’t do is fly. But it’s not all bad, because he has figured out a way to use his powers to mimic the effects of flying, at least to a certain extent. The Flash is able to propel his arms and legs fast enough to create a vortex of air when he’s free-falling, creating a cushion of air to soften his landing. Although technically not actually flying, it’s close. These vortexes, or twisters, can also be used as a weapon to propel or push people or objects back.
He can also create larger vortexes by running really fast in a tight circle around people or objects. This can accomplish a number of things; it can suffocate whoever is in the centre by pulling all of the air out, it can levitate whatever is there, or even send it into another dimension.
The Flash actually has the ability to make duplicates of himself because of the timeless nature of the Speed Force. These ‘scouts’ have the ability to move backwards and forwards in time, and even manipulate objects that they come in contact with. They are mentally linked to Bart Allen (the only Flash in the comics to exhibit this power), and once re-merged, can inform of their findings. This is rather dangerous, however, as when one of his scouts was killed, Bart fell into a coma. He hasn’t used the power since.
The television show showed Barry using a version of this power towards the end of season 2, when he used ‘time remnants’ to help defeat Zoom and his evil plan to destroy all the other worlds in the multi-verse. The remnants appearance and use has to do with them being left over from aborted timelines. Whether these are the same phenomena or the show runners are planning on using the actual speed scout idea at a later date has yet to be determined. One thing’s for sure, however. This speed force and time travel stuff can get pretty confusing.
So there you have it, all of the flash’s abilities. More of his abilities may be coming soon.