Lending Club 2015 Data Viz (pt.1)

data is Bae

The fintech (Financial Technology) industry is in hyper-growth and there are many players entering the space. The biggest company in the industry right now is Lending Club, with over $13 Billion in loans issued as of 9/30/2015. Fortunately, Lending Club provides their data files to the public and after importing the 2015 loan data I was able to create a couple of data visualizations.

The following Tableau Public dashboards provides insight into the types of jobs Lending Club’s borrowers possess. I provided filters so you can look at the data based on different loan purposes, i.e. The loan will be used for a car, wedding or debt consolidation, just to name a few. (Note: I did not change any of the field names and used only the field names that Lending Club provides publicly). One insight that came from this data is that teachers are the highest rank for sum…

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Does anyone notice that his/her quality of writing diminishes through the course of NaNoWriMo?

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

Quality may have taken a hit. But that's not the problem.

It's your enthusiasm you have to worry about.

When you started, you were filled with the zeal of a new idea, a tale untold, trapped within you, ready finally to be freed with the thought of  National Novel Writing Month to buoy you though the trying times; the camaraderie, the gatherings, the laughter and tears of your mutual tribulations.

It sounded glorious!

If you were diligent, you gathered your research around you. If you were writing mysteries, you gathered data on pathology reports, investigative techniques, and ten of your favorite gumshoe novels for inspiration.

If you were planning for a space opera, you had already decided which laws of physics you were going to violate, whether your aliens spoke the same languages, how different aliens needed to be sure they wouldn't poison each other at the dinner table (or how they could…). You had already created the circumstance where these three aliens would come to blows and maybe intergalactic war!

Whatever tale you planned to tell, you had prepared your notes to help you remember how to pace your story. You had your timeline of character movements in the story, how they would cross your world and ultimately where they would meet their final fate, in the case of those unfortunate ones. You knew how the story started, where it turned, how it moved, where the bumps in the road and the major betrayals would take place. After all, that's what an outline is for.

Or you might be one of those rare creative types which eschews anything as formal as an outline (hurumph) no self-respecting panster would be caught dead with one on their person. Pantsters live by their ability to create tales of magic, mystery and wonder literally by willing it into existence while you wait.

They don't need structure, the tale will unfold itself, in its own pace, at its own time; the characters will reveal themselves to the author, unfolding like the single page of paper the pantster refuses to admit they used to flesh out their characters. A sentence, nothing more. The pantster is often as surprised as the reader when they read their work at the end of the day.

No matter your route to this point, the challenge of preparing yourself to write and the actual ACT of writing, has saddled you with the realization, that you knew in your heart, and only remember when you get about ten thousand words in.

Writing is hard work.

Your brain uses 30% of all the oxygen you breathe in on a given day. All the other parts of you, your face, arms, hands, digestive system, lungs, heart, liver, legs and feet, get the rest. The brain is like the government. The lungs bring in 100% of the oxygen but the Brain takes 30% right off the top. No questions asked.

The brain is using its 100 billion neurons to allow you to alter reality. To imagine a thing which does not exist. To create a realm of existence filled with whatever you can envision in your mind's eye and can convince your fingers to push past your fear, your trepidation of not being good enough, smart enough, capable enough to create something out of nothing more than a dream you shared in November.

At the 10,000 word point, you are looking around and saying: How did I get here?

You are wondering if you can move your hero past the beginning of the journey, where he must leave the safety of home and head out into the world. His perils must be enough to compel the reader to feel sympathy but not so dangerous, he would, if he had good sense, return home. Unless you were ruthless and burned his home, nay his entire village to the ground.

So you must go on. Can you make those journey's interesting? The energy of your early writings, the adherence to fanciful language has now fallen away to the drudgery of the task. To get your hero through the rising action of the story, the difficult part of making things happen, which reveal parts of the story, introduce the villains, throw out a few plots to resolve along the way until you can reach the awesome most terrifying, most intense part of any book for any writer.

The Climax. Ohhh. Sounds so dirty, doesn't it? The part of the story you KNOW you have been trying to get to since your character left home. You have this part in your head, or your heart. You know what you wanted to happen, you have been working toward it and thus the book feels lighter than the crushing ball of internal lead you have been carrying up to this point.

For the first time, you have crested the mountain and can see the other side. The End is in sight. It's probably November 25 at this point. You are weary. Creatively bone weary. Your hero's journey at least for this first book in your tetralogy is drawing to a close.

His denouement and yours are coinciding. You weary of his complaints. You sicken of you need to coddle him or torment him further, in preparation for his next book of adventures.

You walk him to the hospital, bleeding from untreated bullet wounds, trying to have him have clever one-liners as he's wheeled in. He makes eye contact with the nurse helping him and they share a mile as she jabs him with a number ten I.V. needle…

Your hero grabs his dying companion who pushes a small gem to him. The secret of the quest. You knew he had it and it was finally time for your hero to take up his destiny. As he touches it, the energy stored from his dying companion suffuses his body. The gem takes up its residence on the brow of your hero. He rises as he hears the enemy dragons in the distance…

You're thinking to yourself: Oh, God (Noodly-appendaged-One, Goddess, Horned Diety from a Dismal Dimension, other patron deity of writing as needed), its almost over…

It will take a lot of energy to get to this point. So you are to be forgiven if your lyrical prose in your early writing starts to get a bit saggy near the end. The effort of remaining wonderful, magnificently creative starts to wear on even the most fertile of minds, once they begin writing on a work.

This is perfectly normal and you can fight this feeling if you are writer by thinking about your writing during the course of your day instead of waiting until the moment you are about to start writing, to consider the work for the first time. Your brain is cold. The engine sputters, coughs, wheezes to life.

What kind of writing could you expect to get out of your work-weary, mass-transit traumatized, hellscape on wheels, hours-in-traffic-addled creativity well of a brain to be able to produce at the end of the day?

Not much.

Patterson, huh. We can do better.

How about you consider the next scene in your book when you get up in the morning while your brain is still fresh?

  • Play it over in your shower and then off to work. Mess with your dialogue and where you want the story to go while you are standing in line for lunch.
  • Get excited over what story that particular scene, chapter or event will have in the overall flow of your story.
  • Hold on to that enthusiasm while you are writing this thing you have played with all day, this idea you have looked at from all sides, protagonist wanting something, antagonists taking something.
  • Your enthusiasm for a crafting a well-viewed scene should be palpable.
  • And your story should feel more alive because you are writing it when your brain is more alive and playing with the story while your brain is more active, spreading creativity like fairy dust on all of your work, not just your writing but at your job.
  • People may notice this creative approach to your work and look forward to November when you begin creating something anew, with enthusiasm, zeal and vigor through out the month.

It should make torturing your hero, overheating your brain and starving your cat totally worth it.

You've got this. Write like a beast and remember: The dream is free. But the Hustle costs extra.

This is what you'll feel like when you're done. Stop pontificating and get back to work.

About the Author:

Does anyone notice that his/her quality of writing diminishes through the course of NaNoWriMo?

Has any Green Lantern ever used his ring with notable efficiency?

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

Not until the Modern Era

But there are always exceptions in every era. A Green Lantern's weakness is not the ring (s)he's wielding but the writers who's telling the stories.

One of the more impressive feats of the Modern Age Green Lanterns was when John Stewart managed to have more willpower than the Power Ring could utilize in his attempt to restore the destroyed planet of Xanshi. A mark of shame for him as the world was destroyed due to a moment of overconfidence and stands, to him, as a testament of failure during his tenure as a Green Lantern.

In the Golden Age

Overall, Green Lanterns weren't incredibly impressive besides the fact there were, for the first time, more than one of them (unlike the Golden Age, when there was only Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern).

Early Alan Scott's Green Lantern used his ring in a number of relatively simple ways including:

  • the ability to instantly change into his costume,
  • the power of flight,
  • a bit of enhanced strength,
  • projection of the Green Power, usually as flames or later beams of force.

With a 1930-1950s audience, this was usually quite sufficient to satisfy the readers.

His power was later claimed to have been derived from the Starheart, an alien construct made by the Guardians of Oa after they gathered rogue magic from the Universe to establish a more scientifically structured reality. This retcon connected the Golden Age Green Lantern with his Silver Age counterpart.

In the Silver Age

Silver Age Green Lantern, Hal Jordan was never depicted using very complicated or interesting shapes, forms or constructs. I always imagined him as a guy who used the least amount of effort required to solve a problem.

​​​To be fair to the character, Hal's creativity was limited by the writer and a writer's willingness to think deeply on the Green Power and what might be able to be done to create more interesting feats with it.

The Silver Age is quite long and there are many times Green Lanterns in the hands of more creative writers might do more interesting things with the ring than just simple force projections.

For example: Hal protects himself and the rest of the Justice League from a SUPER NOVA, and then converts his friends to Negative Radiant energy to ride out the supernova and escape an energy being intent on eating them:

In a Silver Age Green Lantern story written by Larry Niven, Hal uses the power rings to go many times the speed of light and was able to go far enough, fast enough, for one of his energy beams to undergo a redshift and turn from green to yellow in a matter of seconds. For me, this was an outstanding and creative use of the ring. Probably one of the most interesting of the Silver Age.

Hal uses his ring to force realign the molecular structure of a cage designed to prevent the Flash from using his vibration powers to escape.

  • The cage changes every time the Flash tries to harmonize his vibrations with it. Since Hal is a non-scientist (his greatest weakness) he doesn't quite understand what the Flash wants to do.
  • But he uses the ring to create a super-microscope, able to see down to the molecular level and once he understands the problem, realigns and forces the molecules in the cage to stay in a single configuration.
  • Then its back to giant mallet time. Writers, you can't live with 'em, you can't shoot 'em. How do you go from using the ring so creatively back to swinging a giant green mallet…

The Modern Age

After the League was thrashed around in the Watchtower (and the Fortress of Solitude) by Fernus:

  • Green Lantern, John Stewart recreates a "fully functional and self-sustaining communications/scanning station" which even taps into the JLA teleporters, with his ring.
  • John essentially uses the ring's internal database to replicate the technology of the JLA satellite and recreate it and all of the services that technology provided.
  • Hal Jordan and Superman effectively tow the Earth against the pull of a powerful alien force, all 5.972 sextillion (1,000 trillion) metric tons of it. Knowing Green Lantern, he let Superman do all the heavy lifting. He just protected the entire planet from being torn apart and stuff like that.

Modern Era readers are blessed with a more diverse group of writers and a more extraordinary opportunity to see the power of the Emotional Electromagnetic Spectrum used in far more interesting ways than ever before. A cornucopia of different and novel uses are shown across the Blackest Night Saga.

While readers are always seeking new ways of seeing their characters perform, they tend to ignore previous generations of writers as limited, not understanding that in the era those stories were told, writers were, at the time considered just as cutting edge as our modern writers are today.

A generation from now, the uses of the Green Power (assuming there are still Green Lantern comics) will be as different, strange and anachronistic as the early depictions of Green Lantern appear to us today. During the Blackest Night saga, there was the first real depiction of Green Lanterns interacting with the Green Energy in different and very personal ways.

Our sector's five official Green Lantern Corps members are:

  • Hal Jordan: The first Green Lantern of Earth, test pilot, adventurer, superhero; longest history as a Green Lantern, known for his superior will power and mastery of his personal fear. While Hal gets a lot of flack from writers about his lack of imagination, the character is an everyman, a test pilot, not a scientist. He is a man whose flaws are exceeded only by his supreme willpower, arguably his will is equaled by only a few Green Lanterns anywhere among the Corps.
  • Guy Gardner: The second Green Lantern of Earth. He started as a backup Lantern and after saving the day a few times, got to stay active. An insufferable ass for many years, he suffered brain damage which altered his personality, some thought for the better. When he recovered his perspective had changed a bit but he was still loud, brash and barely restrained. His use of the Green Power is also considered similarly, barely contained, with power splashing out from it randomly.
  • John Stewart: A replacement for Guy Gardner; Stewart was an architect and former Marine, former Guardian (in a different continuity), and a total badass; blessed with an incredible willpower and a keen analytical mind, he creates the most realistic and effective constructs of all five. His architecture and military training would have him using the Green Power surgically and creatively as a weapon of war. He is also the only Green Lantern to ever wield the power as directly as an actual Guardian of Oa, brief though it was. See: Green Lantern: Mosaic.
  • Kyle Rayner: After the destruction of the Corps, the Last Guardian, Ganthet creates a new ring and gives it to Rayner. Rayner restarts the Corps and ushers in a new age of Green Lanterns. And a whole lot of other stuff. Kyle is the most imaginative of the five and uses his ring in ways none of the others ever did. His imaginative creations were so diverse, it was said he never created the same construct twice. He has effectively become the most powerful Lantern ever now that he is the wielder of the White Power, the most capable of all the Emotional Spectrum Powers.
  • Simon Baz: Newest Green Lantern of Sector 2814, assigned due to the difficulties the Corps was undergoing and the long periods where Hal, John, and Guy were off-world on Guardian business.

Other Legendary Green Lanterns:

  • Kilowog is not a member of the 2814 crew but he has been considered one of the most powerful Green Lanterns to have ever used a ring. He has been a trainer of Green Lanterns for many years and trained Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner.
  • Sinestro was also considered one of the most powerful and most creative Green Lanterns to have ever been a member of the Corps. His willpower was unmatched and his constructs were considered the best ever seen. Sinestro has also been a user of various other Lightsmith Corps rings including the Yellow Ring of Fear.
  • Abin Sur was the Green Lantern who died on Earth recruiting Hal Jordan. His mastery of the ring was so great, Sinestro who learned from him considered him one of the greatest of all Green Lanterns.

Has any Green Lantern ever used his ring with notable efficiency?

Black Americans Wearing African Clothing Is NOT Cultural Appropriation

Our Legaci

Maya Angelou and Malcolm X Maya Angelou and Malcolm X in Ghana

The internet has unfortunately become a cesspool for the most simplistic arguments to be sensationalized. The latest finger pointing bandwagon phrase to hit the net is “cultural appropriation.” It’s being slaughtered, with a slew of would be  writers refusing to actually research the meaning of the term before tossing it around carelessly. So is the case with a recent article declaring, that Black Americans were culturally appropriating African cultures by wearing African clothing. It goes without saying, that this bold assertion is as deprived of history, logic and critical analysis as “reverse racism.”

Part I: Let’s begin with the definition of appropriation.

Cultural appropriation is when a dominant culture takes, claims and establishes itself the creator of the cultural heritage and artifacts of a minority and or marginalized culture thereby erasing the history of the marginalized culture.

In Neo-Slave Narratives: Studies of a Social Logic…

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Dammit, just watch Steven Universe Already!

Steven Universe:

Still the best show you aren’t watching. Presented in HD, a new longer Steven Universe open. Something that reveals a bit about the characters, their reasons for doing what they do and in glorious high-definition sound. We even get a glimpse of a new threat from the Homeworld Gems.

Could it be Yellow Diamond? Brrr…

If you watch this show and this new intro doesn’t make you weep, TURN IN YOUR UNIVERSE CARD. Never let us see you again. For the rest of you rabid fans, you didn’t make it to San Diego Comic Con 2015, enjoy!

We love you, Rebecca Sugar (and her amazing team)!

My son asked if The Flash moves so fast, how can he see things. How can I easily explain this?

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

Because Light is Faster than the Flash!

You can assure your son, Barry Allen as the Fastest Man Alive, is rarely in danger of running faster than he can see because light is almost always faster. In our universe, light is faster than everything!

The Speed Force

The standard answer to most things about the Flash is his relationship to the Speed Force, an enigmatic superset of cosmic energy in the DC Universe, which allows the Flash to perform abilities beyond the laws of physics.

  • The Speed Force is a concept presented in various comic books published by DC Comics, primarily in relation to the various speedsters in the DC Universe.
  • The Speed Force was the extra-dimensional energy that once powered all of the Flash's superhuman abilities. It is not like any other fundamental force.
  • Its 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 and The Godwave.
  • The ability to access the Speed Force has been limited to only a few individuals in the DC Universe and when DC characters travel to the Marvel Universe, they are unable to access the Speed Force.

The faster the Flash moves the more likely the Speed Force is allowing him to manipulate the laws of physics such as inertia, momentum and force. However, if the Flash should start to approach the speed of light, he would have problems if he was not assisted by the Speed Force. The speed of light is the fastest speed in the Universe, that we know of at 186,282 miles per second or 300,000 kilometers per second.

  • When the Flash is patrolling Central City, he is rarely moving anywhere near his top speed. Most times, he is traveling well below the speed of light, probably no faster than a really nice race car, about two hundred miles an hour. This speed is fast enough he can get anywhere in just a few minutes. He doesn't have to stop for lights, or traffic because he is small enough to fit almost anywhere.
  • A quick way to think about how fast he is moving… 60 miles per hour means he is moving about a mile a minute. A trip to someplace 10 miles a way at a leisurely pace of 60 miles per hour means it takes about ten minutes.
  • If we think of the Flash moving about four times that speed, he could cover that same ten miles in a little over two minutes. More than fast enough to move around a fairly large city with no real traffic restrictions. This is also slow enough so he can get instructions from his friends at Star Labs over his radio. Even if something were twenty miles away, at a safe cruising speed of 240 mph, he is never more than five minutes from anything.
  • In an emergency, if the Flash really wanted to turn on the speed, he might increase his speed to just over the speed of sound at about 760 miles per hour (Mach 1). At this speed though, his ability to change direction is a bit harder so he uses speeds like this when he has lots of straight or gently curving road.
  • While this may seem very fast, race car drivers and pilots control their vehicles, at these speeds, with their well-trained human reflexes.

The Speed Force at work

The source of all human speedsters superhuman abilities is their connection to the Speed Force. Believed to be a subset of the Source, a cosmic repository of energies which power all superhuman ability, this power is uniquely reserved for and accessibly by Human speedsters and anyone utilizing technology which can also access this energy field.

And yes, there is a question of how people like Superman and Wonder Woman have super-speed but don't use the Speed Force. It appears they are able to, as a subset of their own abilities, use greater than human speeds but without the protection and limiters the Speed Force allows. This means when they use their powers, if they aren't careful, they can cause more harm than they might want.

When the Flash is running, the Speed Force surrounds and envelops him in a protective aura.

  • He can extend that aura to people he is carrying, so they are also safe from flying debris, wind burn, friction and other associated speed related issues. All of these energies are bled into the Speed Force and have no effect on the Flash or his surroundings, unless he wants them to. He can withdraw speed from other things or people and add that speed to his own.

Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash, steals speed from Superman, slowing him down and boosting himself ahead of the Man of Steel.

  • Most importantly, the Speed Force is augmenting the Flash's brain and his perception, speeding up his thinking process, helping him to organize and coordinate his movements, extending his awareness of his body so he doesn't touch anyone at the speeds he is moving. It would be disastrous.
  • Once the Flash starts moving at speeds faster than sound, the Speed Force goes into overdrive. Once the Flash is opening up his speed, he is faster than a bullet. To outrun a bullet he needs to be able to reach speeds of up to 1,700 miles per hour!
  • His reflex time is so good and he is so fast, he can, using the Speed Force, remove the momentum and energy from a bullet and pluck it out of the air, like a raindrop. Only the Speed Force would allow him to steal the momentum and energy and add it to his own.

  • When the Flash has to kick it up a notch, he might need to move at 4,000 to 8,000 miles per hour, and he still won't have any trouble seeing things. He reserves speeds like these for long distance country running because it is harder to navigate tight streets, particularly at these speeds.
  • When he starts moving this fast, nothing around him will appear to be moving in relationship to him. He is so fast, the normal world may as well be standing still. At these speeds, he is moving as fast as one of our nation's fastest fighter jet (Mach 5 to Mach 10).
  • Walking people and moving cars will appear to be almost motionless to him. And he is moving so fast, he will be invisible to them.

Here's where the Speed Force's effects become clearly evident to the external viewer.

  • Once the Flash reaches the speed of sound (about 700 mph at sea level) he should be capable of generating a sonic boom and a pressure wake capable of knocking people off their feet as he passes. But he doesn't.
  • Bugs striking him at this speed should have the ability to feel like bullets and anything hitting him from the road like gravel would have the damage dealing capacity of small grenades. But they don't.
  • Gravity no longer pulls him down from the sides of buildings and he is able to skip across the surface of the bodies of water, treating it just like a normal surface for him to run on.
  • At these speeds, his reflexes are so fast that high speed projectiles such as bullets are moving slow enough for him to actually track their movement and avoid them completely. But he won't do that, for fear they might hit innocent bystanders. He just grabs them out of the air and drops them on the sidewalk.

The Speed Force channels all of the effects of his motion, save the ones he wants to manipulate into the energy which powers the Flash. He is able to channel the energy of his movement through though the air and thus causes no disturbance he doesn't want to.

 One of the benefits of his powers, however, will allow him to maintain the ability to think, move and react at those speeds. Even though he is as fast as a fighter jet in the middle of town, the Speed Force helps him compensate and think fast enough to maneuver.

So when is vision a problem for the Flash?

The Flash ran from Central City to Singapore and back in just over three seconds. This means he covered 9,300 miles there and back moving at an estimated 6,000 miles per second!

  • Remember when we said the speed of light was 186,282 miles per second, earlier, the Flash was barely moving in comparison. We measured in miles per hour. Now he is moving in miles per SECOND.
  • He could be said to be moving relativistically: moving fast enough to be measured as a percentage of the speed of light. This means when he ran to Singapore and back, he was traveling at 3/100ths of the speed of light.
  • At this speed, he may begin having difficulties seeing things that are not directly in front of him, because he is now moving fast enough he is distorting light as it approaches him. But this speed isn't really enough to worry about.
  • It's when he reaches extremely close to the speed of light, where he may only be able to see things directly in front of him because he is now faster than the light of things alongside of him.

This is the most extreme representation of the Speed Force, it gives a speedster who can sustain such speeds, the capacity to move, understand, think, act and react at those speeds. Such speeds are very difficult to control and it is unlikely most speedsters can maintain them for long.

Name a time the Flash's vision is affected by his speed?

In a battle against other speedsters, the Flash's powers are pushed, often to their limits.

  • A speedster calling himself ZüM, along with a group of other superheroes (the Hyperclan) wanted to replace the Justice League, and fought the league members. Secretly, they were White Martians, each with powers capable of making them nearly as strong as Superman. Each, however, seemed to specialize in their use of their powers and ZüM, specialized in Speed.
  • The speedster, ZüM and Wally West (the Flash of the era) had an epic battle which showed the Flash was capable of manipulating his own energy using the Speed Force and transferring that energy to an opponent.

  • The Flash mentions when he is traveling at relativistic speeds his vision is compressed so he can only see things directly in front of him. This also means only someone who can react to relativistic effects (like dodging a beam of light) can see or react to him. Zum learned this the hard way.
  • The technique he used to defeat ZüM was dubbed the "Infinite Mass Punch." The mass he channels from approaching the speed of light* would make his fist incredibly massive and capable of transferring enough energy to rival a small nuclear explosion, if the Flash wanted it to. All of this sidestepping of the laws of physics are courtesy of the Speed Force.
  • *Physics Fact: objects made of matter cannot reach the speed of light because the laws of relativity indicate, they would gain infinite mass and would require infinite energy to move them. Thus no object made of matter can reach the speed of light. (Which has weird implications for the Flash, but that's a Flash Fact for another day.)

In summary:

It's safe to say, when the Flash is doing his job from day to day, he doesn't have to worry about not being able to see things around him.

  • The Speed Force protects him from dangerous environmental conditions brought on from his use of super-speed.
  • It increases his awareness, reflexes and reaction time to compensate for his increased superhuman speed. His brain activity must be improved billions of times in order to keep up with his superhuman activities.
  • His awareness has some limitations, since the faster he moves, the less he is able to take in, particularly if he reaches speeds that are a percentage of the speed of light. The closer he gets to the speed of light, the less he should theoretically be able to see.
  • The Flash rarely gets to speeds where he worries about relativistic effects like compressed photons and the like, so there is nothing to worry about as the Flash fights the forces of evil.


The Flash does have feats where he is faster than light. In many cases, much faster than light.

Over the decades, the Flash has been shown to be faster than a beam of light which means he must somehow act as a form of energy capable of moving faster than light. (In comics, its possible, in reality, it isn't. At least not yet.)

  • In this interstellar race, Wally is running many times faster than light. He is moving so fast, he is able to see the boundary to the Speed Force (the pretty rainbow colored wall). This barrier is where all speedsters who can access the Speed Force can end up if they travel too fast…(whatever too fast means for a particular speedster, it varies for each one). Objects which travel into the Speed Force enter a kind of nirvana or heaven and are reluctant to return to the world.

A last minute save by Krackl keeps Wally West from falling into the Speed Force.

  • In those comics where the Flash moves faster than light, we are forced to accept that somehow, the Speed Force compensates the Flash for the information he should no longer be able to see visibly and allows him to continue operating at peak efficiency.
  • There are too many feats to mention where this happens, so we, as readers, are forced to accept that the Flash and his abilities are the stuff of comics and pseudo-science, powered strictly by imagination.

There's nothing wrong with using your imagination. The great scientist and thinker Albert Einstein once said:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Just because the Flash is imaginary, doesn't mean you can't learn a Flash Fact or two related to speed, motion, momentum, relativity, gravity, mass and the other laws and effects of physics the Flash gets to thumb his nose at.

Lucky guy, eh? Now who's running to Italy to get me a pizza?

My son asked if The Flash moves so fast, how can he see things. How can I easily explain this?

To those who have been reading Marvel and DC comics for the past 30 years, how has the quality of the stories (plot and writing) changed?

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

Robert Frost's answer sums up a part of my personal perspective but I wanted to go just a bit further. I was hoping someone else would chime in because I feel so old talking about the reduction in overall quality of comics.

But the reduction in quality is not in their production values. Comics are more beautiful than they have ever been. Printed on better paper, colorful in a way the old comic creators would have given a limb to be able to create, they are a visual extravaganza, whose decades of technique can be (not always) shown by the proper artist/writing/editing team of creating works whose like has rarely been seen.

More modern works by George Perez, Geoff Johns, Mark Millar and many other legendary names have been responsible for some of the best and brightest events in recent comics. And yes, I know there are many others.


What had changed for me in the comic industry was the change in the perspective of the heroes and the story themes.

They have become dark anti-heroic versions of themselves. They lack hope, most no longer believe in a brighter future and if there were characters among them that did, (Charles Xavier, for example) they seem to meet an untimely end… (Yes, Xavier has died before…so he may not stay dead.)

The stories in modern comics are patently less cheerful, less hopeful and more about a creeping despair, not a climb toward the top of a mountain of challenges, but more of an inexorable movement toward an unchangeable world whose inertia has become unable to stop its slide toward defeat.

Extreme fans whose perspectives are being catered to have reduced the overall quality of the work for the rest of us. Such catering/pandering seem to effect even the slightest changes to long standing characters such as Wonder Woman who after forty years, still can't get a full pair of pants or a jacket, without incurring fanboy outrage.


The most pressing changes I notice in the comic industry include:

  • Superheroes don't fight villains exclusively. As a matter of fact it is increasingly difficult to determine where the line between hero and villain is drawn.
  • Is Doctor Doom a heroic villain? Is (was) Wolverine a murderous hero? How about the Punisher? He's killing mobsters who have no problem murdering the average citizen for wealth and power. Is the Punisher the solution or part of the problem. How about Spawn? He fights evil in some of its purest forms, using powers derived from Evil. He uses the same methods his foes use including torture and torment. Ghost Rider does as well. This widening of the grey moral boundary is one of the most exciting thing (to a lot of readers) to happen in comics. I still question if it is good, right or necessary.
  • When I grew up reading comics, it wasn't unusual for the occasional superheroic dust-up when two heroes who hadn't met before or when a costume change might cause a mistaken identity and the two would battle before realizing they were on the same side. Then they would bring the pain to the bad guys, who were clearly defined.

One of my favorite comics of the 80s. Marvel Two-in-One was always a bit of a clash of heroic styles and the occasional hero slugfest before getting down to the business of fighting villainy.

  • Now? Superheroes spend as much time fighting each other as they did villains. What happened to the brotherhood of earlier eras? What happened to the greater good? Why have all of the stories become about hero on hero conflict?
  • I blame Secret Wars, the Beyonder and all of their spinoffs for this trend. Today we have Civil War and a bunch of other superhero conflicts where the ability to tell whose side you should be one is met with a colossal "meh". It would appear the Secret Wars will be making a reappearance in the next couple of years as well. <Sigh.>
  • The superheroes don't break up secret cabals, they now become them. DC had an entire storyline where the Justice League mindwipes its members because of a disagreement about how to handle a rapist. Marvel has a group of supposed super-intelligent heroes who plot how to "protect" the world from threats only they can perceive. They even call themselves "The Illuminati."

Marvel's Illuminati – a secret cabal of good guys? When did good guys form cabals anyway?

  • There are times when superheroes of one universe might be considered supervillains in another. The Authority, an otherworld version of the Justice League, for a time were some of the most feared metahumans on their world and likely several nearby realities as well.

The Authority: as scary a version of the Justice League you ever want to see.

  • Supervillains have now become better heroes than the heroes themselves. Witness both the popularity and effectiveness of the Marvel series: Thunderbolts.

This transformation in the status quo has left me breathless and hopeless for writing where the characters return to their more heroic lifestyles.

But with all of that visual splendor I mentioned earlier, there are ugly politics of race and gender hiring. The Big Two of Marvel and DC have both come under fire in recent years for their lack of diversity in either of their bullpens as far as regular writers, artists or editors are concerned.

The last thirty years has shown how little diversity there is in the hiring of creative talent and how little the medium's color palette has changed over the decades. While our world has grown more complex and racially integrated such change has not managed to creep into the comics themselves. Marvel's recent efforts to bring in some diversity had resulted in the gender-bending of Thor and the recent forced retirement of Steve Rogers and replacement of Sam Wilson in the titular role of Captain America.

The new, more diverse Avengers…

Comic characters created long ago are generating top dollars at the box office. This has renewed creator's rights lawsuits against comics companies for a slice of the ever-growing pie created by movies and those characters. With money being potentially made not through the comic medium but through television, movies, merchandising and advertising, the comic has now become little more than a gateway industry whose primary mission is to set up other media engines for potential financial growth.

Comics, their characters, their themes, their once revolutionary perspectives have fallen by the wayside, secondary to the the overall need to make money for the corporate bottom line.

There are so many things that undermine what was once a simple pleasure created by individuals who wanted to tell heroic and mythic stories. Even the underlying spirit of the characters has been irrevocably changed:

Compare the perspective on my favorite hero, Superman:

  • Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!
  • Voices: "Look up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!"
  • Announcer: "Yes, it's Superman, strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands; and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way."

To his more modern counterpart in the Man of Steel:

  • Faster than a cruise missile, more powerful than an exploding nuclear weapon, able to span the globe in mere seconds!
  • Screams of terror from the ground: Look up in the sky! It's an alien death machine! It's destroying our city! Is he going to save us? It's Superman!
  • Announcer: Yes, it's Superman, refugee from another planet whose inhabitants were too arrogant or lazy, we are never sure which, to determine what was wrong with whatever mishap caused their planet to explode. (Planets don't explode unless you are really doing something terribly irresponsible.)
  • Building a rocket small enough for one, his parents sent a child whose superhuman potential could have rendered the Earth, desolate if he landed in the hands of the wrong people, Kal-El would grow up ostracized and alone before he decided he should help people.

Kal-El, hobo of Steel

  • Discovering renegade Kryptonians want to destroy the Earth, Kal-El chooses to protect Humanity, resulting in the deaths of only millions who will likely revile him and other aliens in general setting up a movie franchise where one of the world's most recognizable icons becomes a character no one wants to admit they actually know personally.
  • Superman, angst-filled hero from another planet who has yet to inspire this latest generation to anything other than wholesale destruction of entire cities, the defeat of another Kryptonian threat with the murder (okay, necessary execution /manslaughter) of an enemy more powerful than himself.
  • Yes, Superman, furthering the fear the common man has of an alien who looks like them, can fly faster than jets, can destroy entire cities in about twenty minutes and completely unable to be held accountable for his actions, by anyone."

​Yes, this pretty much undermines my viewpoint of these iconic characters for me and makes me long for those ridiculous stories like A Tale of Two Supermen.


My biggest feeling about the comic industry is that it reflects the darkness of the real world, reinforced with the horrors capable of being generated by virtue of being a world of imagination.

Where in the real world we contend with terrorists, environmental catastrophe, and the threat of social collapse as our economies become more intertwined.

In the Marvel Universe, we see this reflected in the collapse of the multiversal membranes and other Earths trying to occupy the space of our Earth, with our finest heroes having to defeat and potentially slay versions of themselves trying to protect THEIR Earth.

No matter how you slice this, someone has to lose and this undermines what comics have always meant to me. The underlying theme in comics, which I managed to bring into my own life was this:

Do your best to find a win-win for everyone. Real heroes don't accept the win-lose scenario. We fight for the best possible scenario for everyone involved. When you are forced to make that choice, the hero sacrifices himself before allowing those without the power, the capacity and the responsibility to make that choice in his place.

Today's comics promote the idea there can be no true winners. Only those who lose a little less than those who lose everything.

I thought the idea of promoting mythic heroes was to talk about how they overcame the odds already stacked against them by being clever, strong, wise, unorthodox or thorough just plain cussedness. Determined to find a solution, not only of convenience but one promoting a future worth having, not just the future we have to settle for.

Sadly, I don't see those heroes anymore. I guess they weren't lucrative enough for corporate America. Marvel has taken a page from the DC playbook and begun destroying pieces of its Multiverse, because nothing makes money like destroying the Universe.

For DC it was Crisis on Infinite Earths, for Marvel, the Incursions taking place in New Avengers. Whatever it is, the story will make money but won't demonstrate the heroism we have come to associate with these heroes when I was growing up.

I see this as the twilight of the comic hero, a being who promoted a perspective there isn't room in the future. One where you could resist the inexorable descent into mediocrity, strive for greatness and recognize it wasn't in the achieving of that greatness that mattered but in the striving.

To those who have been reading Marvel and DC comics for the past 30 years, how has the quality of the stories (plot and writing) changed?