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Flash Fact: JLA #89

September 3rd, 2006 by | Tags:

Your Flash Fact for today comes from JLA #89, with words by Joe Kelly and art by Doug Mahnke. For context, Fernus the Burning has sent a nuclear bomb into North Korean airspace. The city of Chongjin is about to catch a bad one… but the JLA is on the way. More specifically, The Fastest Man Alive.

JLA89pg01.jpg JLA89pg02.jpg

There’s a lot to like about this two page scene. I think my favorite touch is that the gold on Flash’s outfit glows and smokes different from the red. It’s just really cool, and fits with the red and gold blur that he gives off when he’s speeding. The cracked and glowing ground is also good, as is his speed lines on the first page.

Flash running these folks to 35 miles out is a good idea. That should be far enough away that you aren’t blinded by the blast, though some eye damage is definitely probably, and you’re also out of range of the deadliest radiation.

To be fair, though, him having done this in .00001 microseconds puts him so far beyond the speed of light as to be utterly ridiculous. Wally traveled 70 miles, round trip, at least 250,000 times. That’s the equivalent of 17,500,000 miles, also known as a hair over 3/4 of the way from the Earth to the sun. He ran a total of 17,500,000 miles in one hundred-thousandth of a microsecond. Multiply that by one hundred thousand to get the distance he can run in one second, and then that by sixty by the distance he can run in one minute, and then that by sixty again to get his mph. I got 6,300,000,000,000,000,000,000mph. 6.3 sextillion miles per. That’s 34,054,054,054,054,054 times the speed of light. And that’s if I lowball it and say he always carried two people at once.

That’s a little suspension of disbelief stretching, but I still love this scene. It’s a great show of what Flash can do, and also of how to keep your mind open when you’re reading superhero comics. People are going to do impossible things. Spider-Man would rip whole chunks out of buildings, Superman would suck all the oxygen out of your lungs when he zooms by, and Batman would get shot in the face and die. Comic physics let them get away with these things. You’ve got to keep an open mind. Is Flash overpowered? Probably, but if we can get scenes like this, I’m all for it. I bet that before I explained how fast he was going, 90% of you thought, “Wow, that’s cool!”

That’s tights’n’fights. That’s the Flash.

Flash is awesome. That’s a Flash Fact.

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8 comments to “Flash Fact: JLA #89”

  1. Flash outran fourth-dimensional travel in an issue of his own comic, and yes, it was Wally. Effectively, that means he’s capable of moving so quickly that time literally stops for him.

    Frankly, he may very well be one of the most powerful heroes in the history of any comic book universe, ever – that could be, of course, why DC made him disappear during Infinite Crisis.


  2. Personally, I just put down .00001 microseconds as an exaggeration. It doesn’t really matter, to the story (unlike the fourth-dimensional thing).


  3. You trying for the “Suspension of Disbelief” style? :P

    Anyhoo… Flash is cool. That’s a fact.


  4. Yes and yes.


  5. … He ran a total of 17,500,000 miles in one hundred-thousandth of a microsecond. Multiply that by one hundred thousand to get the distance he can run in one second,…

    .. nope, that just gets you one microsecond

    multiple by another million for the second.


  6. During One Million Wally ran a race at ungodly speeds and actually outran himself.

    Fun times.


  7. This sort of scene is great as long as you don’t get picky (which I know you only did for fun), especially by comparing it to others of the same sort. Mark Waid had a great issue where Wally had to find a bomb that was going to blow up Keystone, and he was carrying Frances Kane around on the slim chance that her magnetic powers would twig to it. While doing this, he struggled with whether it would be better to carry as many people as he could to safety. He had a couple of minutes left; he figured he could save maybe fifty people in that time. “And start with… who? The elderly? The kids? I can’t do it that way. I don’t have the courage.” This was before the Speed Force thing, but on the other hand, Wally had just broken through the mental block that had kept him from being as fast as Barry.

    That issue is great; your two pages are great. But they sure don’t play well together.

    Sci-fi has the same problem sometimes. One of my favourite ST:TNG comics has the Enterprise evacuating a space station before it falls into a rift. They have about an hour, and Riker notes that with nearly a hundred people to transport, it’s going to be close. Fair enough; even with several transporter rooms getting six people at a time, there are reasons it could be complicated. But you can’t square that with other Trek stories where they can beam whole crowds around in seconds.

    - Z


  8. Just read this in a tpb. I too find this incredulous. Aside from the insane speeds as the one you calculated, theres the matter of him PHYSICALLY carrying 50,000 people.. no matter how long it takes. And “sometimes two at a time”. I would imagine he can only carry 2 if they were kids. Wally doesnt have Superstrength. A normal human (say a firefighter or even Batman) could probably carry 10-20 people max before he tires out. And what if there are some really obese people weighing 300 lbds or something. And the speed you computed doesnt include him scouring the city, checking each home, room, corner etc to make sure he didnt miss one.

    Now lets talk Superman. DC always plays up the who’s faster? Superman or Flash thing. Its now generally accepted that Flash is indeed faster, but its always Superman as a VERY CLOSE second. And yet he let one lousy nuclear missile outrace him. Pfffft. Flash could have gone to the site the missile was headed and created a tornado or something to delay the missile strike to give Superman an extra second to catch the missile.

    So yeah, im having a hard time suspending disbelief at that scene. It was written as a “cool moment” without much thought put into it.

    And it all goes back again to the age-old question.. just how fast/powerful is the Flash anyway?

    If he can really accomplish a feat like that, then how on Earth would normal humans in the Rogue’s Gallery even give him a hard time?

    How many seconds to reach for their Freeze/Flame/Mirror gun? How many seconds to fire it? How many microseconds for the ray to hit Flash?

    And speaking of Flash Villains.. they just recently brought back Cap Boomerang. Sheesh, at least the other rogues have ray guns. CB has to actually to pull back, aim and throw a boomerang which will travel NOWWHERE near light speeds, not even bullet speed.. so explain to me how a Flash can do the trick above and still possibly get hit by a Boomerang?