7 cliches in the Flash comics
the flash the comics have evolved over the years with several iterations of the scarlet speedster. However, given the similarities that each Flash version shares, the comics are bound to have recurring tropes that might have overstayed their welcome.
From using time travel as a convenient plot point to character deaths for shock value, The Flash-centric DC Comics stories have their fair share of cliches that can frustrate some loyal fans. Readers can argue that these cliches are determining factors of the character arcs of the flash universe. But given the character’s rich mythology and the presence of several other lightning-fast metahumans, the series can incorporate a few new changes.
A new flash for every generation
Passing the baton from one version of the Scarlet speedster to another has proven to be a staple of his character since his debut. While Jay Garrick had a distinct visual style with his winged helmet and vintage costume, subsequent heroes like Wally West, Barry Allen, and Bart Allen must have had different personalities (because they sported more or less similar costumes and powers).
Even though teenage speedsters like Kid Flash and Impulse add some diversity to the speedster roster, their powers end up being very similar. It can be tedious for some readers to watch writers borrow traits from each iteration and virtually recreate the same hero over and over again.
Mess up the timeline
The Flash can use his super speed to reverse the very fabric of time, going back in time in the process. However, as time travel fiction has shown, interfering with the space-time continuum is likely to have negative consequences. The speedster is aware of the repercussions and is always ready to go back in time, to create more trouble.
Perhaps the greatest example is The Flashpoint Paradox in the 2010s crossover comic issue Breaking point. Through this event, Barry Allen aimed to save his mother but ended up creating an entirely different timeline for the DC Universe. Other Flash comics issues like Crisis on Infinite Earths, Final Crisisand race against time, all deal with similar interference with the timeline. Seeing the same problem arise may seem repetitive and boring to readers.
Captain Cold’s Gray Areas
Most of the main comic villains of the flash comic books have gray areas and his nemesis, Captain Cold, clearly falls into that category. Leading the Rogues, he seems to operate like an anti-hero as he operates under a strict code of ethics. He always ensures that no innocent civilian is harmed in his villainous missions.
So it’s no surprise that Flash and Captain Cold have also joined forces at times. But Cold’s arc has become quite predictable again. Several stories around the character deal with him going down an antagonistic path and eventually changing his mind. At this point, with a starring role in DC’s Arrowverse, Cold looks more like a hero than a villain.
Nora Allen in Breaking point, Iris West in The Death of Iris West, Supergirl in Crisis on Infinite Earths. These are a few examples of the major character deaths in Flash comics over the years. While the saddest deaths of the flash the comics have depth and motivate the speedster to take important action, it’s just a tired and tested element now.
Like other comics from the era, killing off a female character seems like a cheat code to get Flash through a major dramatic phase. This would then be followed by violent explosions or the usual time travel antics. Barry Allen himself died in Crisis and though his sacrifice had some relevance, he was resurrected a few years later. Reverse Flash also dies in the comics only to return in titles like darkest night.
Too many speedster heroes and villains
The villains the Flash faces are either speedsters like himself or possess powers other than super speed. Despite some of the iconic villains in the latter category, they aren’t quite as strong as speedsters like Zoom, Reverse-Flash, Black Flash, and Savitar. When they clash with The Flash, the situation turns into “survival of the fastest”.
It’s almost a laughable cliché now that “the fastest man alive” is no longer the fastest as new speedsters appear from one dimension or the other. What follows is a clash between the two titans speeding up as they clash across the city, leaving colorful trails of lightning behind them.
Death’s Narrow Getaway
Flash’s adventures can sometimes be quite extreme and can even cost him his life. For example, in Breaking point, Barry Allen seeks the help of Thomas Wayne to recreate his now lost powers. The result is an elaborate experiment in which Barry is electrocuted by lightning. In Final Crisisit is revealed that Barry had raced in the Speed Force for over two decades to escape the Death God Black Racer.
With newer the flash comedic questions, these near-death experiences of Flash are becoming quite common. It becomes predictable that the Flash will have a fatal experiment but end up surviving. After all, the Flash will eventually resurrect even if he dies.
The flash loses its powers
From superhuman agility to time travel, the Flash possesses a variety of powers. An obvious theme in classic heroes like the Scarlet Speedster is an arc that involves these super-powered beings losing their abilities.
Recently, the Trickster cut off Wally West’s legs, taking away all of his running ability by Lightning #69. In the Teen Titans crossover series The Lazarus Contract, Deathstroke demands the Speed Force of the Flash and Kid-Flash versions of Wally West. The evil mercenary ends up using his speed abilities to save his son in the past. These are just some of the rare examples of Flash losing his powers.
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