Friday, June 27, 2008

Real Superhero Adventures: The Fastest Man Alive

So I was reading about the Flash. (I don't know which one.) If you've never read the article I'm linking, take a minute to at least skim it.

Back yet? Okay, good.

There's a problem with Flash being emperiled by a fall out of a plane. According to various descriptions of his powers, the reason he can run at the speed of light and whatnot is because his powers (colloquially packaged hereafter as "Speed Force") cancel out all negative effects of travelling at high speeds. Let me repeat with shifted emphasis: cancel out all negative effects of travelling at high speeds. That means that the Flash can throw a punch that sends someone on a near-orbital trajectory.

Doesn't being able to throw a punch that powerful sound more damaging to one's body (albeit to an extremity) than falling out of a plane?

Granted, if you look at it this way, Flash's powers become potentially more awkard than even Superman's comparable abilities. I mean, if you look at Wikipedia's Speed Force abilities section, the Flash basically could have more powers than Silver Age Superman. And even just with the Speed Force protection quality, if you apply it in a logical way with the laws of physics (namely the Theory of Relativity), the Flash becomes pretty much invulnerable:

Superman: Flash, you're out of control and have too much power for one person to be allowed to have. I'm going to arrest you.
Flash: You're one to talk, Supes.
Superman: I thought you might refuse to give up to my completely unreasonable demands. Eat fist, Flash! (punches the Flash, sending him flying) Hm, why didn't he bother dodging?
Flash: (sailing through the air, miles away) Because I'm immune to the negative effects of travelling at high speeds, including crashing into crud. And that includes your fist.
Superman: Darn. Guess I'll have to drop the Moon on you.

And if you do include some of the Speed Force abilities that have been attributed to various speedsters, it gets worse:

Superman: Now that I've pinpointed your location, I'll go grab the Moon and-hey, why can't I move?
Flash: I've stolen your kinetic energy. Ha, ha, ha.
Superman: Darnit Flash, now it's personal!

Anyway, in all truth, superspeed is always an awkward power, one that writers really can't afford to forget the consequences of (but usually do).

Not to say I don't like superspeed. Executed well, it can be awesome. Executed the way it's usually executed, it often makes me roll my eyes.

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