Just finished Season 1 of The Flash.

Loved it!!!

The Flash time-travelled twice, once by himself and using the particle accelerator.

Can Superman reach the same velocity to do the same?

Is there such a thing as Speed Force in the Superman comics?

  • Note the first superman movie in which he saves Loise by time traveling to dig her out. It ends without saying anything about the implication of his existing as a duplicate of himself or if he continues to do so as a "time loop before continuing to exist after that point. Apr 25 '16 at 16:18
  • To be clear, you are asking solely about the comics, right? The comics, Flash 2014, and Superman movies (where he flys around the world to turn back time) are all in different continuities. Also, are you asking if Superman uses the Speed Force? Flash uses it in the comics, meaning there is such a thing since Superman lives in the same world, but not necessarily that Superman uses it. Apr 25 '16 at 16:31

The televised Flash is much slower than his comic counterpart and does not rely on speed to time travel (forward or backward) nor dimension-jumping to parallel Earths. At his fastest, he has been clocked at a pokey eight times the speed of sound, nowhere near the speed of light...

  • The television Flash has time-traveled by aligning his molecular vibration with other temporal periods allowing him to move through time without needing to move at the speed of light.

  • A similar but decidedly more complex vibration-alignment allows him to move between parallel worlds, accompanied by the right technology.

The Speed Force

The Speed Force was the extra-dimensional energy that powered all of the Flash's superhuman abilities. It is a fixed element of the DC Universe, but it is not like gravity or any other fundamental electromagnetic phenomenon. It's origin is likely the same as most superhuman abilities found in the DC Universe, a byproduct of the mysterious omni-energy known as The Source/The Godwave. The Speed Force allows speedsters to perform feats of movement beyond the range of the laws of physics such as:

  • changing direction instantly,
  • no need to worry about conservation of energy,
  • no atmospheric disruption caused by his speedy movement through the environment, no sonic booms or shockwaves of air unless the Flash desires them to happen.
  • the ability, when properly trained, to vibrate his molecules allowing him to pass through matter unharmed due to being out of phase with objects he runs through.
  • There are many other feats speedsters are capable of, depending on the mechanics of their powers.

    • All Flashes (and a number of other speedsters in the DC Universe, i.e. Max Mercury, Johnny Quick, and Jesse Quick) are attuned to the Speed Force in varying degrees. The more synchronized the speedster, the better their connection to the Speed Force and the better the feats they are able to perform.

    • It is theorized (in the television show) as Barry's connection to the Speed Force grows, his ability to perform greater feats of speed and molecular control will also increase.

In the Comics

It has been theorized the Speed Force is somehow related to Barry Allen and the Source and the Godwave (an extra-dimensional powerful energy associated with all metahuman ability in the Multiverse) as the origin of a Human connection to this previously god-like ability.

  • As such, Barry has exhibited one of the strongest connections to the Speed-Force, since it is likely he is technically the point of origin for its existence and its connection to the Source.

    • However, in the comic universes, Wally West has proven to have had the greatest level of facility with the Speed Force and for at time his abilities were said to eclipse even his mentor's, performing feats Barry had been unable to do, such as returning from the Speed Force dimension (thought to be impossible).
  • In varying degrees in the comics, the Flash could move through time haphazardly and without a great deal of precision by achieving faster than light speeds. After the creation of the Cosmic Treadmill, the Flash was not only able to time travel but could travel precisely to exact moments in time and space.

  • The Flash was also able to move between parallel worlds (once he knew of their existence) and was responsible for the discovery of Earth-2, the parallel world where all of the Golden Age versions of DC's heroes were assigned before the Crisis on Infinite Earths temporarily destroyed the Multiverse and those worlds.

Superman, Superspeed and Time Travel

Currently the mechanics behind Superman's super-speed have not been revealed. Like many of his abilities, he acquired it during the Silver Age growing faster and faster over time until he and the Flash would race periodically for the title of Fastest Man Alive. (In most cases, the Flash won or allowed Superman to tie...)

  • While Superman is capable of being super-fast, it is not without consequence, since when he does move at superspeed, he does not gain the environmental protections given to speedsters via the Speed Force.

  • When Superman starts approaching mach speeds, he creates sonic booms and other environmental destruction.

  • Should he try to reach any significant percentage of light-speed in atmosphere, he can actually ignite the air he passes through, like a meteor does in re-entry. This could be undesirable if he is trying to save your life, for example.

  • During the Silver Age of Comics, Superman was capable of precise time travel by vibrating his molecular structure in a fashion similar to the Flash's while traveling at the speed of light.

  • Since the Speed Force had not been fully realized in its current form then, this was merely one more power Superman shared with the Fastest Man Alive.

  • In later versions of the DC Universe, the power was considered lost though Superman would retain the ability to travel FAR faster than light while in space in most of his iterations. The ability to travel faster than light, is in effect, a form of time travel, since he is technically cheating the relativistic effects normally associated with interstellar travel and the speed of light limitation.

Other Flash and Super-Speed Reading


In the comics, the Speed Force does exist. DC comic speedsters generally derive their abilities from the Speed Force granting them speed, inter-dimensional travel, and time-travel (as well as a myriad of others). Characters like Barry Allen, Wally West, Bart Allen, Eobard Thawne, and Max Mercury all have connections to the Speed Force.

Superman, however, does not derive his speed from the Speed Force and therefore cannot time travel, no matter how fast he goes. Superman's abilities are extra-terrestrial and tied closely with the radiation from a yellow sun.

This disconnect is confirmed by the Marvel/DC crossover, JLA/Avengers. In the story, when the DC heroes arrive in the Marvel universe, The Flash loses his abilities because the Speed Force doesn't exist there. Superman's abilities are unaffected:

no speed force

It's worth noting, though, that while Superman cannot time travel like The Flash can, the Silver Age Superman was able to travel through time when traveling at speeds faster than light; an ability that was retconned away decades ago. More info on that can be found here: Can Superman reverse time in comics by flying faster than speed of light?

  • I can't seem to find a screenshot of it at the moment. I think I have the trade at home somewhere. I'll have to dig it out tonight. Apr 25 '16 at 17:48
  • @Thunderforge - Aha! Found one. Apr 25 '16 at 18:01
  • 1
    Silver Age Superman could and did time travel. Of course, at that time, a) the concept of The Speed Force had not been introduced, and b) Silver Age Superman was effectively omnipotent aside from the effects of kryptonite, red solar rays, and magic.
    – Politank-Z
    Apr 25 '16 at 18:24
  • @Politank-Z - Thank you for pointing that out. I had forgotten all about all the overpowered stuff they did with Superman back then. I'll add a bit to my answer about it. Apr 25 '16 at 18:28

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