The Negative Speed Force Only Muddles the Flash 27

by Spencer Irwin

This article will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The “emo Peter Parker” from Spider-Man 3 gets a lot of well-deserved flack, but it’s always bugged me when people complain about that being the “evil” version of Peter. No, that’s not how the symbiote works — it doesn’t turn people evil, it frees them from their inhibitions and reveals who they truly are inside, something established in the comics, and at least implied in the movie. The result, in Peter’s case, may be dumb, but at least it’s consistent with how the symbiote works. I wish I could say the same about Eobard Thawne’s Negative Speed Force, because I have no idea what in the world that thing does.

Specifically, I have no idea what it’s doing to Barry Allen in Joshua Williamson, Howard Porter, and Paul Pelletier’s The Flash 27. Barry taps into the Negative Speed Force to escape the plain ol’ vanilla Speed Force and eventually to de-power Thawne (in a moment smartly foreshadowed earlier in the issue when Thawne attempts to suck the power straight out of Barry), that much is clear, but beyond that I’m lost. Why does the Negative Speed Force make Barry so aggressive and mean? That’s not what it does to Thawne, after all — who needs no help to be aggressive and mean — so why does it work that way for Barry?

It’s not like it’s revealing hidden facets of Barry’s personality either, because we know he never forgot about Thawne — in fact, he obsessed over him for years. It’s entirely possible that the next arc will dive more into what the Negative Speed Force has done to Barry and why, but for the moment, it remains completely unexplained.

The Negative Speed Force is especially frustrating because it needlessly muddles an otherwise strong character arc. Barry ends this issue alone in his lab, estranged from Iris and Wally, not because of the NSF or even Thawne, really, but because of his own lies. Barry never needed the Negative Speed Force to bring out his worst qualities — he can do that all by himself.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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