Saren

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"If Flash is so unbeatable, why are all his villains humans?"

Making this blog because a lot of people who don't actually read anything with Flash in it (generalization? maybe) keep insisting that people like Thor and Gladiator and Hulk should be able to tag and defeat the scarlet speedster, simply because 99% of his rogues' gallery consists of humans who don't have super speed but presumably still manage to cope with him. The comments range from.....

I keep telling people this on every Flash thread, if he was so invincible his books would be boring as hell

.....and go all the way to:

SO Deathstroke can Tag Flash but Thor,Or Gladiator can`t ? Dc Fanboys make me sick !

Since I have a major chunk of the second volume of Flash, I've collected showings from Flash's major villains to illustrate how regular humans are able to cope with the fastest man alive. I don't really like the idea of using a few select showings as a concrete indication of how a fight will play out, but these showings have been picked because they give you the general idea of how certain powers can be used by people slower than the Flash to deal with someone as fast as the Flash.

Firstly though, let's get this out of the way: just because Flash can move at speeds faster than light, that does not mean he's always moving at speeds faster than light. Superman doesn't hit Toyman as hard as he hits Darkseid. Thor doesn't hit Ulik as hard as he hits Mangog. So why would Flash move at the speeds with which he fights Superman-level opponents against people like Captain Cold and Weather Wizard? Flash only really gets tagged while moving at slow to moderate level superhuman speeds. Moving at the peak levels of his speed, he is simply too fast for Thor or Superman or Gladiator or *sigh* Hulk to do anything about it. You'll also notice in several of the scans below that Flash is often fighting several members of the Rogues at once. That's because the Rogues aren't like the Batman or Superman villains. They're going up against an opponent who can have them in cuffs before they blink, so they band together most of the time to stand a better chance.

That said, here are the rogues in action:

Captain Cold

Firstly, Captain Cold is very fast for a human. His reflexes are a major aspect of his character that's been brought up in the comics several times. He's commented on them as well:

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Cold's strategy is usually either icing the ground that Flash runs on so that there's not enough traction for him to run (scan 1) or creating a "cold field" that greatly slows down the molecules of anything inside it or anything that passes through, including Flash (scans 2 and 3).

Weather Wizard

In the past, the Wizard has taken advantage of Flash not being in a position to let civilians get hurt by creating a thick fog that reduces the area's visibility to practically nothing (scan 1). The extreme heat and lightning that he produces quickly causes leg cramps that make running tough (scans 2 and 3).

Mirror Master

Out of all the Flash rogues, it's easy to see why Mirror Master gives him so much grief. He has one of the most amazing powersets in comics: he can teleport through mirrors, create holograms and vivid illusions, produce a nearly infinite number of mirror copies of himself, and enter and leave dimensions as well as trap people inside them. The following three scans show Flash's biggest problem with Mirror Master: it doesn't matter how fast you can run through a group of opponents if your opponent isn't really there. Flash can't hit McCulloch, but McCulloch can hit Flash.

The Top

Dillon has a degree of superhuman speed that's enough to impress Wally (scan 1) and can alter someone's perception of reality in an area around himself (scans 2 and 3). Get near him and your world turns upside down.

Abra Kadabra

Like a typical stage magician, Kadabra is big on misdirection. He uses illusions and holograms to lure Flash into dangerous traps......and that's pretty much his whole schtick.

Doctor Alchemy

Alchemy's strategy is usually similar to Captain Cold's (making the surface that Flash runs on, hard for him to run on, like in scan 2) but he can also protect himself with transparent, practically invisible walls (scan 1) and create deadly gases that Flash can't safely breath (scan 3).

Grodd

Grodd's not human, nor is he a Rogue for that matter. But I'm including him here because he's a prominent Flash foe nonetheless. Firstly, Grodd has an astonishing level of strength and durability that lets him take several hits from Flash and still stand, even with a shattered jaw (scan 5). Flash can run or accelerate his thoughts to a level where telepathy doesn't affect him or only affects him a bit (scan 4), but he doesn't usually move at those speeds, and so Grodd can stop him from running by sticking nightmares in his head (scans 1 and 2).

Deathstroke

Not a Rogue or even a Flash villain, but I'm including Slade here because he's the one person whose Flash-tagging feats are brought up most often on the battle forums. But there's not that much to add here since it's the same principle at work: Flash usually moves at low to moderate superhuman speeds, and Slade's reflexes are superhuman enough to tag Flash at those speeds. In the most famous/infamous example quoted, the fight in Identity Crisis, you get some idea of how fast Flash was actually moving since several explosions go off before he reaches Slade:

I like to think writers leave in minor details like this to explain feats that seem unlikely at first glance. Devil's in the details.
I like to think writers leave in minor details like this to explain feats that seem unlikely at first glance. Devil's in the details.

That's not very fast by Flash's standards. Even Quicksilver's faster than that. I'm not 100% on this, but I think even Krypto's faster than that.

Another factor that goes into this is that Slade is familiar with Wally's movements from his days as Kid Flash, and can thus predict with some accuracy where he'll go:

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At the same time though, Slade isn't remotely fast enough to keep up with Flash moving at his best or close to it. This is what would actually happen in a fight between Slade and Flash moving at speeds beyond his ability to react:

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You have your Thawnes and Zolomons as well, but they need no explanations. That aside, the majority of Flash foes are people without superhuman reflexes. They can cope with Flash for three reasons:

  • Flash rarely ever uses the upper limits of his speed against them, unless he's pissed
  • They have abilities/powers/skills/tech that affect his ability to run directly (like Top's perception warping and Cold's cold field) or indirectly (Weather Wizard's extreme heat)
  • Failing that, they have abilities/powers/skills/tech that affect his ability to hit them (like Abra Kadabra and Mirror Master's illusions) or that take advantage of his unwillingness to let civilians come to harm (Wizard's fog and Alchemy's poisonous gas)

Thor, Gladiator and the like could only tag Flash if they were moving at their best and he was moving like he normally does. In other words, if the conditions were slanted in their favor. In a setting where they're all moving at their best, they cannot tag Flash. Simple as that. And that's leaving out the more eccentric abilities that the Speed Force grants.

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