Before the Dark Knight came into my life courtesy of Miller, Loeb, and Sale, there was the Flash. I never took him all that seriously. I mean, how can you? And, yes, I am sorry to say to all you purists out there, the Flash has always been Wally Wallace and not good old Barry Allen, since I came to the franchise through “Born to Run” when Wally was introduced as Kid Flash.
I few years back, I determined that the Flash is one of the few superheroes you can bring to the stage fairly cheaply while maintaining the theatricality of his power: you just slow everyone else on stage way down. I came to realize this through a dramaturgy project that proposed how one could adapt Identity Crisis for theater, and the research thread led me to the this gem of a site, Flash: For Those Who Ride The Lightning, which is arguably the most comprehensive superhero-devoted site out there.
At one point Wally burned calories like nobody’s business. Seriously. He could eat Michael Phelps under the table. But then he tapped into the Speed Force. From the site:
For years it was assumed that all humans with super-speed abilities derived them from a different source. The first Flash inhaled fumes from an experimental chemical. The next two were struck by lightning. Johnny Quick used a spoken formula derived from an Egyptian tomb. The Soviet teams Red and Blue Trinity were given power by combinations of steroids, gene splicing, and other biological experiments.
However, one speedster was able to learn more about the source of the mysterious power: Windrunner, legend of the American West.
One evening, at the absolute peak of his prowess, he felt the night lightning…calling him. Not with his eyes or mind—but deep in his heart—he sensed a strange beckoning…and chased it. Into the unknown, Windrunner raced faster and faster. He shattered all limits. He moved quicker than the hurricane, more swiftly than the thunderbolt…faster than light itself. Reaching supreme velocity, he approached the threshold of a new communion. For a span razor-thin even to him, Windrunner touched the very source of his great power—and was transformed. The speed force drew Windrunner in…without words, inviting him to the other side of light, to become one with the power…as others had before him. —(Max Mercury, Flash v.2 #97, January 1995)
The way the speed force seems to work is that it powers any super-fast being not naturally fast. A cheetah, for instance, is naturally fast. Superman’s speed is also a natural consequence of his Kryptonian heritage. All Flashes, however, have been normal people “noticed” by the speed force through accidents (lightning, supersonic flight, etc.) or intentional experiments (magic, steroids, etc.).
Damn I love this site.
So I have been going to the gym pretty regularly, trying to be a good Californian. I’m trying to get rid of the Think Belly before going home for Thanksgiving. And my new thing has been to listen to musicals on the treadmill (this begun with my reintroduction to Violet a couple weeks ago). Good recent musicals–I am not talking about Oklahoma!–are perfect for running because they have THOSE SONGS that just make your pores percolate, that send electricity coursing through your body. A field of electrons collects just above your skin so that when you touch the heart-rate monitor you get shocked. You’re convinced you’re glowing. You are convinced that you can send your aura out and hack into the brains of everyone around you. You forget you’re running. Well, until you get tired.
There’s a guy at work who calls himself the only true “musical loving-homo” there, and he got a bunch of us cheap(ish) tickets for Spring Awakening. Awesome first act; disappointingly flawed second act. But I cannot stop listening to the soundtrack. I’m listening to it right now! I am wondering if I can sweet talk my way in again some Tuesday night.
What other genius musicals are out there? Has 13 recorded yet? Hook me up.
I wonder if the Speed Force is addictive?