The Flash is one of the fastest characters in DC Comics, able to cover every inch of the planet in mere minutes. Despite this, Barry Allen has always struggled with using time-travel correctly, and the Reverse-Flash knows that if the Flash ever figured it out, he would be the greatest hero to ever live. If Flash learned how to time travel properly, he could save everyone who ever died in tragedy.
The Flash has a whole host of powers related to his super speed: he’s capable of moving faster than sound, can generate tornados from his hands, and can phase through objects. But the most powerful ability the Flash has access to is that of time travel. While using the cosmic treadmill, the Flash can either run forward or backward in time, depending on how he sets the treadmill. Despite having this amazing ability, the only thing to ever come from it has been total disaster. When Barry Allen tried to go back in time and save the life of his mother in Flashpoint (by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert), he ended up completely ruining the world. But changing the past doesn’t inherently ruin the future, and this was first explained by the Flash’s arch-nemesis, the Reverse-Flash Eobard Thawne.
The Reverse-Flash explains time travel to the Flashpoint version of Batman (Thomas Wayne) in Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Flashpoint #1 by Bryan Hitch, Andrew Currie, Scott Hanna, Alex Sinclair, Jeremiah Skipper, and Rob Leigh. In this dark universe, instead of Barry Allen regaining his speed and going on to fix the nightmarish timeline he created through time travel, the lightning bolt actually strikes Eobard Thawne, which inadvertently kills Barry. The Reverse-Flash then takes over this new timeline, interacting with characters like Thomas Wayne. Eobard gleefully explains to Thomas that Eobard has mastered the art of time travel: he is able to seamlessly weave in and out of the time stream, making whatever changes he wants. Barry Allen, meanwhile, tore through the time stream like a “savage with a club.”
One of the major lessons of Flashpoint is that the past cannot be changed. A hero has to accept the bad things that have happened to them and move on. But Eobard Thawne proves that if one is skilled enough in time travel, they can affect and change only certain events. Eobard infamously killed Barry Allen’s mother, only changing Barry’s history and not anyone else’s. When the Flash used time travel to change history he spawned the Flashpoint timeline and ruined the entire world. Even after fixing it, Barry ended up creating the New 52 universe, which has had lasting effects for the entire DC Universe. But this didn’t happen as a natural consequence of time travel — it was a consequence of how Barry time traveled.
If Barry learned how to time travel properly, he could undo any tragedy after it happened — with absolutely no consequences. Eobard, for example, literally saves Batman’s family in this story. If Barry Allen simply learned how to time travel as the Reverse-Flash does, then the Flash would undoubtedly be the most powerful DC Comics hero.
Check out Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Flashpoint #1, available now from DC Comics!
The Flash sucks at time travel. Read More