Why is the Flash so much slower on television than the comics?

The Short Answer: Because on television, he doesn’t need to run at the speed of light for the television series to exist and tell compelling stories. He is only as fast as he needs to be. Right now, that is twice the speed of sound and it is perfect for storytelling with an ensemble cast.

Why didn’t they start him moving as fast as he does in the comics? It sure would be convenient for getting places. At the speed of light, Barry could circle the globe seven times in one second!

As I have explained in other treatments about the Flash, he doesn’t need to be moving at the speed of light for stories to happen. This is a major boon to the how the television show works. In fact, keeping the Flash slower than he is in the comics offers a few major storytelling benefits:

  • Barry always has something to strive for; he wants to get faster. When he deals with his issues during the series, most of them revolve around him being faster than he is. Since many of his enemies are either immune to his still-developing powers (Girder) or he is slower than his foes (Reverse Flash, Zoom), this gives him a constant need to improve his abilities.
  • Why he’s slower isn’t clear, but we know technology, his state of mind, his belief in his ability all affect his ability to be fast. Honestly, I would like the television series to NEVER allow him to reach the speed of light unless they address his powers in a clean and succinct manner. Right now, his power is too vague and they run the risk of making him a highly unbalanced character just like he appears in his comics.
  • I suspect most television shows are happy with the ensemble support team for superheroes because it allows for cast members who are regularly involved, regularly endangered, and constantly creating sub-threads for writers to weave into the story.
  • A Flash who operates at two times the speed of sound is just fast enough to be fast, and yet still slow enough for stories to require support from Team Flash. The Flash is an ensemble show, mixing science, technology, teamwork, and super-speed into a unique formula for interaction.
  • In most cases, I theorize the televised Flash doesn’t even need to reach the speed of sound inside of Central City. Three hundred miles per hour is more than enough to reach from one side of the city to the other in under a minute. See: How fast can the Flash run a mile?

The More Complicated Answer: If you don’t want to know more about the Flash, his powers, how they work and why the Flash is broken, you have everything you need in that first paragraph.

  • If you still think there is something to be learned after that, you have been warned the reason the Flash is a flawed or broken character is because people who write the character have no true understanding of what his speed will allow.
  • As such, different writers and editors have completely different takes on the character making each interpretation unique and likely never to be seen again unless that writer takes over the book once more.

There are two graphics presented whenever a comic Flash fan wants to tell us how great the Flash is. Here is the first.

Because many Flash fans presume the Flash is ALWAYS moving at the speed of light or faster just to get a loaf of bread from the store. He isn’t. From a narrative point of view he shouldn’t be any faster than he needs to be to tell good stories. Right now, twice the speed of sound is FAST ENOUGH.

Here is the second:

It is THIS particular feat which causes most Flash fans to wet their pants about how fast the Flash is. A nuclear weapon is detonated in a city. The Flash empties the city, two people at a time, moving at presumably trillions of times the speed of light.

These crazed fans figure he did this feat once, he should be able to do it ALL the time. Because he’s the Flash, and that’s what we’re paying for.

As a writer, I reject this premise completely. Let’s look at the character from a successful narrative point of view:

  • If the Flash were operating at this level all the time, wouldn’t that make him an incredibly dull character as he zips through town solving problems so fast no one ever saw them.
  • More important he would be completely crazy since for him, the world is motionless unless he slows down enough to let things happen in the first place.
  • Such a story has taken place. In the Kingdom Come universe, the Flash never stops moving, EVER. A silent blur fighting crime in Central City but never stopping, never resting, completely alone, likely insane as well. (See below.)

Here is the most important thing to remember, the Flash can only resolve issues he can see. He does not have supervision, super-senses or other forms of super-awareness, thus he can only interact with the world at the speed of light. So he solves issues IF he can see them, sense them or have the information relayed to him so that he could take action in the first place.

Yes, we have been told this on more than one occasion when a good writer takes over the book. The Flash when moving at light speed has difficulties perceiving the world around him. It is not clear HOW he senses the world (no writer wants the responsibility for being blamed for answering this question) but some stories handle it better than others.

Even as fast as the Flash is in this scene, circling the world in under a second, the villain still manages to get away since the Flash has to be able to react AFTER slowing down. In his slower state, Inertia simply had the jump on him and escapes.

Thus the earlier mentioned nuclear event in Korea required him to run through the city and FIND every single person. People in hospitals, people in showers, people walking from work, people in any number of inconvenient situations. But he would have to scour every building everywhere physically. Most likely he is using his intangibility to move through the city until he has to grab someone and then racing them to the edge of the city.

  • Yes, under duress, under specific circumstances in the comics, the Flash does move fast, really fast, so fast he violates the laws of physics and moves at the speed of light or faster.
  • He is protected (and so are we) from the effects of such relativistic movement in atmosphere. He would be igniting the atmosphere and ripping the crust of the planet apart as he gained mass with ever step. I’m just saying.
  • Despite most of the senior Flashes (Jay Garrick, Barry Allen or Wally West) in the comics do NOT operate at light speed (and the attendant reaction time) if they can help it. Why? Because moving that fast comes with a bump in their reaction time which slows down the appearance of the world around him.

This means when Barry is moving faster, the world is moving slower. But from his perspective, he is still thinking faster than everything around him, except for other people with enhanced reflexes and/or enhanced movement. This makes his subjective interaction with the world take longer, where for him, mentally days could pass in seconds in this subjectively enhanced state.

The comic series never deals with this psychological issue because it would be inconvenient to explain and most of the time when the Flash is moving that fast, he is also interacting with other people at that speed so he is distracted from what would be long periods of mental stress from being alone for a long time.

That’s an issue for another time.

Let’s talk about the Elephant in the room: How can anyone interact with a character who can move and think at superhuman speed?

Most of the writing related to the Flash simply doesn’t consider his powers the way most fans think his powers work. Part of this is bad writing, part of this is the poorly-managed expectations of the readers. The Flash needs to be thought about the same way you might think of any other physical object needing to achieve high speed.

  • Stop assuming any Flash functions at superspeed all the time. Their minds ramp up as their speed ramps up. Their abilities are like any other athlete, they need room and time to reach maximum speed. It may be only a femtosecond, but it is still a delay no matter how small.
  • As the earlier example indicates, the Flash doesn’t need much time to reach top speed but there is a brief delay depending on what he’s doing. Moving in a straight line works best for him to achieve relativistic speeds.
  • If you assume comic Barry exists, when he was functioning at superspeed,  in a world of NO MOTION (because at high speeds, that is exactly what the world looks like to him, almost completely still) it would be impossible for him to have a relationship to the real world that would not drive him insane.
  • Instead, let’s consider him just a normal man doing normal things until he starts needing his speed. Even his speed reflexes have been shown to have to ramp up and depending on the threat, they can ramp up quickly (like when someone pressed a gun to his head and fired).
  • From a psychological point of view, the Flash is depicted as a regular guy whose powers come online in proportion to the speed he is using to solve a problem.
  • When he is moving at lightspeed (which takes a considerable amount of time, energy and effort) at least when most good writers write him, he is otherwise just reflexively using his power in proportion to the speed he is going. The assumption everyone makes is he can go from zero to lightspeed in NO distance. Most writers DON’T depict this.
  • Most of the time he needs to ramp up, get some distance and THEN go full out, amplifying both his reflexes, his cognitive ability and his intangibility because he can’t navigate at light speed, it’s mostly just straight lines.
  • Since many writers don’t know much about physics, light, the ramifications of superspeed, they just write whatever comes into their heads. The good ones intuit what I just described (Carmine Infantimo was great for describing how Barry thought and interacted at high speeds) but many writers failed to do this.
  • New depictions of the Flash show him thinking ahead, watching the results of actions in his mental prediction engine and then using the least amount of effort, resolving issues at super-speed, invisibly.
  • In confrontations with beings who have enhanced reflexes and hand to hand speed but NO running speed, conflicts between the two of them will occur at superspeed from the perspective of normal humans who cannot react at higher levels of reflexive movement as long as they remain in hand to hand range. Thus Deathstroke and the Flash are mixing it up at superspeed and it behooves Deathstroke to reduce the Flash’s speed and distract the Flash in order to bring his speed DOWN.

Read: Why isn’t the Flash Unstoppable – How the Flash’s Rogue’s Gallery keeps the Scarlet Speedster on his toes.

  • This technique is how ALL of the Flash’s rogues keep the Flash off-balance by keeping his speed low and his reaction time closer to being Human. Under these conditions, the Flash is fast, his reflexes are fast, but they are faster as he gets the opportunity to BE faster or fight faster.
  • If you assume Deathstroke has the same kind of mental speed aspects as the Flash does, when the Flash is approaching him in tight corners in close spaces, he isn’t running at light speed. He’s running at his cruising speed of about two hundred miles an hour. More than fast enough to appear invisible to most people who can’t do what he does, but well within Slade’s enhanced reflexes and prediction rates.
  • Slade doesn’t just match Barry’s speeds, he calculates where he’s going to be, Barry doesn’t see a still Slade, he sees a Slade moving as fast as he is and may take his eye off the enemy due to distractions on the battlefield.
  • This makes interactions with normal Humans completely reasonable as he would be driven mad if he had to suppress his mental abilities in order to eat dinner with his family or take a shower.
  • He doesn’t suppress his power, it simply isn’t active. He is just a normal guy until he charges himself with the speedforce and ACTS. Dinner is just dinner until a need for speed is required. This makes him able to be tricked, distracted, mislead and even hit, if his opponent can get the drop on him before his speed is amplified and he starts fighting at higher speeds.

Truth be told, given the feats performed by the Flash over the decades, it is bizarre how often the comic works given the incredible powers the Flash possesses. But those same feats, written by different writers means the character’s powers are always different, sometimes contradictory.

Ultimately, this is just my two bits. I don’t get paid by DC to clean up their sloppy writing.


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 with J.A.M. Aiwuyor

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?

Why did DC and Marvel change the ethnicity of its characters, Green Lantern and Johnny Storm?

To Reflect the Real World

Soho, New York City – 2015 – Just remember this picture, we’ll get back to it in a moment or two.

I normally stay out of this particular conversation because it makes people uncomfortable. Mostly me. But today I am going to go with the idea this is a troll seeking to provoke controversy and I am going to lay the smackdown on this idea once and for all, political correctness, be damned.

Once upon a time:

There was a nation known for its less than ideal treatment of what it deemed minority members of their population. These populations hadn’t done anything wrong other than exist. There were many social issues around these populations, particularly how they came to be in this nation.

There was much inherent and underlying cultural shame in their being brought to this nation, why they were brought here, the wars fought over their being here and ultimately their release from four hundred years of chattel slavery at the hands of one of American history’s bloodiest wars.

As much as we like to pretend this distasteful part of American history didn’t happen, and revisionists work daily to change its inherent meaning, causation and outcomes, the truth stands. The Civil War was fought over the maintenance of slaves and the Slave State.

What made it worse was once those minorities were released from bondage, they weren’t allowed to have a piece of the pie. They weren’t eagerly embraced by those who wronged them for centuries. They were falsely imprisoned, ostracized, marginalized, segregated and even attacked for decades after their so-called freedom had been obtained. This was not a good time for anyone who wasn’t deemed “White” in America.

What does this have to do with comics?

At the same time this was going on:

Birmingham, 1963: A 17 year old is attacked by police dogs during a Civil Rights peaceful protest.

This was going on:

The mighty Avengers were foiling the threat of Loki.

Now ask yourself: this new mythology of superheroes, heroic legends fighting newly created monsters of science and old mythology wasn’t spawned in a vacuum. These new heroes, related distantly to their 1940 predecessors, were created by White men who had the opportunity and lack of socialized constraints to write these creations who would become legendary in American culture.

These legends weren’t spawned in a place where people were not affected by the social and cultural mores of the world around them. In fact, they were a reflection of that world, as those writers and artists saw it and encouraged to make it so.

  • Thus, do you believe it could be possible that the world that would attack Black people on the street with dogs would empower the same marginalized people with worlds of fantasy and power when the culture they lived in wanted nothing to do with them?
  • That they would have been given an opportunity to show up empowered, able to challenge the status quo, alter the perspectives of White America and be seen as equal both in the real world and this mythic one?

Not a  a chance in hell.

Enter: The Blue Marvel

The very nature of the hypocrisy is such that a character created by Modern Marvel uses this very theme as part of his origin story!

In 1962, Adam Brashear received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President John F. Kennedy on the day the President asked him to retire, since it had been discovered by the public that he is an African-American. As the Blue Marvel, Brashear wore a full-face helmet, but when it was damaged in a battle, his identity was revealed. There was massive controversy as the era of 1962 was too racist to accept a black superhero. Although Kennedy personally approved of Brashear’s actions, the President reluctantly decided to ask Brashear to step down, and the Blue Marvel conceded.

So we are clear on the subject: This hero did not exist in 1962! He was NOT part of Marvel’s lineup of heroes and did not predate the first appearance of Marvel’s first African superhero, the Black Panther (appearing in Fantastic Four #52, July 1966), nor the first African American superhero, the high-flying Falcon (appearing in Captain America #117, Sept. 1969).

This retcon was created to explain why this particular powerful metahuman was not fighting crime at the same time the Fantastic Four was supposedly experiencing their origin story in midtown Manhattan.

Marvel used the specter of racism to explain retroactively why there weren’t more heroes of color in their lineup of mythological beings who could have been any color but were almost exclusively White.

This is not an apology, mind you. But it’s as close as Marvel will ever get.

Black superheroes in the Marvel Universe were already rare. Powerful ones, beings capable of competing with the likes of Thor, Iron Man and the Hulk, were non-existent until the creation of Storm, the mutant weather-manipulator who appeared in Giant X-men #1 in 1975. And she would not grow truly formidable for another fifteen years, give or take.

What does this have to do with race-bending and gender-bending in comics and media today?

What this has to do with and why so many fans rage against the change is simple and has to do with the very first picture in this article. The world we live in does not resemble the ideal world of White America, where everyone is White, minorities are not seen, and the hegemony of White power is omnipresent in this nation.

Instead it looks far more like Soho in that first picture.

Diverse, mixed, people of all sorts of colors, cultures, social groups and religions populate the nation’s largest cities. While the economic power of Whites has continued to grow, their numbers are slowly being eroded and this ultimately means their social cache, their influence, their dominance over all forms of media will also be reduced. But it may take some time.

As media continues to develop, however, the people who are paying to see movies being made already know what many media companies are unwilling to accept.

If all of your heroes stay White, you will lose your audience.
Maybe not today, but as you transition toward the future, this will become an unacceptable circumstance.

Here’s where the problem lies.

The fans will say:

  • But those heroes were always White.
  • Why is it a problem now?
  • We should stay true to the canon.
  • We should just make new heroes for those minorities to aspire to instead of changing the established ones.

My response is simple:

  • Get over yourself and check your privilege at the door.
  • We don’t live in the racially-segmented, culturally-insensitive, radically-offensive time of your fathers and grandfathers.
  • While it may have been considered acceptable to pretend Black people couldn’t be anything other than slaves, servants or entertainers in 1940s, 1950s or 1960s, it is now considered the very soul of racism to continue to promote those ideas today.
  • If these entertainments were created in 1960s I would expect to see an all-white superhero team because Blacks and other minorities were simply excluded from any form of media that didn’t portray them in a negative light.
  • This is the year of our Lord, 2015. We are supposed to be better than this. What we say we are supposed to want, equality and an egalitarian society should be reflected in our workplaces, our streets and in our media. It should be reflected in the hopes and aspirations of all of our citizens not just our White ones.
  • All of our children should have the opportunity to see themselves represented mythically, as idealized constructs, the same way White men have been allowed to do since such media came into existence.

And don’t get it twisted. I recognize the world we live in is still very racially divided. There is still murder and mayhem based on color, religion, culture all over the globe and it is unfortunately not likely to change to the more idealized perspective to which I am espousing. I get that.

But if you tell me it is okay to say, there should never be any representation of people of marginalized groups: women, LGBT, Black, Asian, just to start, and every movie, every television show, every newscast should feature exclusively White men in positions of power and authority…

You have a problem. And you should get some help. Look back at that picture of Soho.

This is the future. This is the world we will slowly come to have everywhere. Different regions will have different mixtures but we are mixing. We are recombining to form new relationships with each other.

And as such, we are asking…no we are demanding our media, our entertainment, to reflect a viewpoint that is not only White or male (of which comic companies are all to unwilling to change) but that it be about something other than White male stereotypes of superiority.

Two of Marvel’s hottest properties are the new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan and Jane Foster as Thor.

The character Cyborg, has experienced a renaissance under the hands of a writer of color, David Walker.

On television, Iris West has become a woman of color.

In the movies, the Fantastic Four has been presented with Johnny Storm as a Black man.

Heimdall, the guardian of the Bifrost has been portrayed by the legendary Idris Elba.

These relatively minor roles have caused the comic and movie fanbase to boycott the publications, stay home from the movies, and rail online as if Ragnarök itself were around the corner. They scream as loud as their tortured voiceboxes will allow: How could this happen? Why would you do this?

The question should be: Why has it taken so long for anyone to notice the lack? It’s right in front of you.

It will be nearly twenty of Marvel’s newest movies before a woman or a Black lead character will be featured. Really?

Has it taken this long to recognize there is a problem? Or is it just White privilege which prevents anyone from seeing the problem. Because to them, there isn’t one.

This is how its always been.

That, my friends, IS the problem.

  • And if you are one of those people railing against change,
  • railing against a diverse representation of people of color appearing in roles they have previously not been seen in,
  • if you are indeed saying only Whites can be superheroic,
  • you are the problem with our world today.

Perhaps you should stop going outside. Stop going to the movies. Stop doing anything which puts you in contact with anyone else. Because the ideal world represented in the racially-insensitive, but oh so popular series, Mad Men, is gone.

This is the future. And the present. Let’s just go ahead and accept things the way they are.

Just like Black people and other minorities had to accept things the way they were.

As for Green Lantern being a White guy…

He started off a white guy named Hal Jordan, test pilot.

If you are young enough, you may have never heard about Hal until recently because this Black Green Lantern, John Stewart, was all the rage in the animated series, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. For nearly a decade and ninety episodes, give or take, he was the only Green Lantern some had ever known.

In recent years, and in the terribly irresponsible Green Lantern (2011), Hal Jordan was returned to prominence, likely for the same reason most White heroes who get replaced for a time do, because the rabid, foaming at the mouth, comic-buying fan base said: We want him back.

Was this because John Stewart wasn’t good enough? Certainly didn’t seem to be a problem for nearly a decade or more. In fact, John Stewart as Green Lantern, was a necessary change for DC to have any diversity in their major lineup of heroes at all.

The same case could be made for the change in Johnny Storm, portrayed by Michael B. Jordan in the recent Fantastic Four movie.

Storm being a step-brother to Susan Richards, doesn’t inherently change the quartet’s dynamic. A change that is not a change, isn’t a change. He’s still the same character, with the same powers, with a slightly altered origin story. Is this a reason to lose one’s mind?

Only if you think you are losing something else instead.

Perhaps the misguided belief that only Whites should have power. Because if you look at the history of metahumans in comics and note that no one has a problem with a White guy having incredible, unbelievable power. There doesn’t seem to be any lack of them.

But the history of comics shows that few, if any such characters of equal power or capacity were ever regularly depicted as heroes of color representing any social group outside of Whites. And when they do have power equal to Whites, it doesn’t last long.

Monica Rambeau was such a character. When she first hit the scene in the Avengers, she was the second person to ever carry the name Captain Marvel (1982).

  • When she first hit the scene, her powers were so great, she was considered to be one of the most powerful Avengers to EVER exist. But it didn’t take long for Marvel to change that.
  • Yes, I said Marvel. It was the decision of writers, editors and publishers who made the changes to the character. It was a conscious choice.
  • Not only was she stripped of the powers that made her the equal of ANY Avenger including Thor, but she was stripped of her codename as well and she became Photon.
  • Far less powerful and less interesting, she was eventually benched and disappeared from view until her recent reappearance in Mighty Avengers and returned to her previous power level by no less than the same Black hero who supposedly hid away for 53 years, Blue Marvel…

Now, she is as powerful as she was before. At least until those aforementioned ‘side effects’ kick in…

You have to remember, all of the decisions made about these characters depends on:

  • Whether they get good writers or not
  • Whether a writer who may be sensitive to the social lifestyle of the character (i.e. women writers, or writers of color) ever has a chance to write the book, and indeed this is invariably NOT the case.
  • Whether the effort to ensure the successful deployment of said characters is made

All of these things are decided by the producers and publishers of said characters. You can be assured every issue of Thor was not a good one. There are plenty of times his book did not sell well, for extended periods. And there are times when his book might even go off the shelves, briefly.

The difference is: Marvel didn’t give up on trying to find an audience for him. They were certain they could sell his book. So they kept trying.

This is why Thor is still on the shelves sixty years later and Luke Cage is not.

Is Thor inherently more interesting? No. But significantly more effort is made to keep him on the shelves.

By any means necessary. (I’m sorry, Malcolm X, but it’s appropriate in this instance.)

The reason we don’t see new heroes of color is because no one is making the effort to create them. No one has decided there needs to be one or two or eight. They currently don’t see any value in diversity.

Or maybe because the creators of comics enjoy the same level of privilege their comic counterparts get and just don’t want it to change.

What about a Latino Superhero?*

What about it? There haven’t been many of them. Goodness knows there should have been more by now. In old school comics, there may have been one or two, but I have to think hard to remember: Superfriends had one, but he appeared in less than ten episodes, and I was never truly clear about what his powers were. These characters got so little screen time between the four of them, any mainstream Superfriend could equal their total time in a single episode.

Apache Chief would later go on to an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law and get more screen time there than he did during his entire time with the Superfriends.

A few other Latinos of note among DC. Fire, appearing in Superfriends #25 and reappearing in the Global Guardians and Justice League. A second stringer for most of her career.

Then I remember Vibe (far right), a break-dancing member of Justice League Detroit during the comic’s less popular eras.

The legacy heroes replacing both the Question (Renee Montoya) and Wildcat (Yolanda Montez) of DC Comics. Both Latina women and both characters languished in obscurity for the most part.

Are there any famous Latino superheroes?

There may be others, but the most famous one I know is most likely NOT KNOWN as a Mexican-American. His name is Kyle Rayner. You may know him as the legacy hero, Green Lantern.

Kyle Rayner was a struggling-but-gifted freelance graphic artist who was raised in North Hollywood and currently lived and worked in Los Angeles. Kyle was raised by his mother as an only child; his father abandoned his mother when she was pregnant. It was later revealed that his father was a Mexican-American CIA agent named Gabriel Vasquez and that Aaron Rayner was merely an alias.

Kyle Rayner would become Green Lantern after Hal Jordan destroys the Green Lantern Corps during one of his many periods of remorse over one such thing or another. At this time, the Guardian, Ganthet, makes Kyle the custodian of the Last Green Lantern and Ring in the universe. Kyle eventually masters the ring and begins rebuilding the Corps.

Kyle Rayner would go on to be considered one of the most powerful Green Lanterns of Sector 2814, possibly one of the most powerful Green Lanterns ever. He would be instrumental in saving the Green Lantern Corps, he would master every color of the Emotional Spectrum, save the Guardians of Oa and nearly all of space-time itself. I am willing to bet, most people don’t know he is considered Mexican-American.

And here in lies the lesson:

  • A hero goes only as far as his writers and editors are willing to take him. The idea that heroes of color sell less well, are less viable, and inherently less interesting is BS.
  • Considering the War of Light series for Green Lantern is a high point in the series entire career, and it stars Kyle Rayner.
  • Before Kyle’s example, there were few minority characters given the opportunity to shine at the level he has. He has proven instrumental and as capable as any White hero before him.
  • Even heroes such as the Green Lantern, John Stewart, were depicted unevenly and were more often failures than successes. The destruction of the planet Xanshi is laid at John Stewart’s feet. Millions died due to his hubris. And he is never allowed to forget it:


The dominant subculture in control of the media knows one thing, if it isn’t aware of anything else:

  • Images are powerful.
  • Media is powerful.
  • It shapes minds.
  • It alters consciousness.
  • It inspires.
  • It changes the dreams of everyone who interacts with it.

If media and advertising didn’t work to do these things, would we spend hundreds of billions of dollars every year worldwide, to keep making it? Absolutely not.

In media, the rule is: Perception is Reality.

Think of comics and movie depictions of superheroes as advertising for the imagination.

When you hear the litany of society saying Blacks or minorities don’t aspire to anything, I have to wonder:

  • If they saw more of themselves reflected in their media,
  • If they saw themselves as able to transform the world,
  • If they saw themselves as instrumental in the shaping of today’s world,
  • If they saw themselves being portrayed in media in a positive light instead of always in orange jumpsuits and handcuffs,
  • if they saw themselves the same way White children get to see themselves portrayed in media, maybe it could make a difference for them.

Maybe it could teach them and inspire them the same way Action #1 inspired a generation or two including mine.

This clamor for representation is not about “political correctness”. It is about the understanding that media can shape consciousness. If you alter media to falsely represent society, then you are responsible for intentionally undermining any group you falsely represent there.

People are tired of that. Fanboys notwithstanding, People have had enough of misrepresentation. Do better or lose future audiences. People aren’t sitting on their hands anymore. Change is coming.

*That asterisk you saw earlier

I may have been remiss in not discussing the major cultural shift when the comic company Milestone Media hit the scene in 1993. It was one of the first major production companies featuring diverse lineups of multiple minorities as lead characters.

  • Milestone Media is a company best known for creating Milestone Comics and securing an unheard of publishing and distribution deal with DC Comics and the Static Shock cartoon series.
  • It was founded in 1993 by a coalition of African-American artists and writers (namely Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Derek T. Dingle) who believed that minorities were severely underrepresented in American comics. Milestone Media was their attempt to correct this imbalance.
  • Christopher Priest participated in the early planning stages of Milestone Media, and was originally slated to become the editor-in-chief of the new company, but bowed out for personal reasons before any of Milestone’s titles were published.
  • By early 1995, Davis had left Milestone as well, to become President of the new Motown Machine Works imprint, published by Image Comics. Cowan soon joined him to serve as Editor in Chief.
  • The shockwaves in the comic industry lead by these prominent African American writers has never been equaled and even when Milestone and its characters were absorbed by DC Comics, it was never forgotten.
  • New rumblings about the resurgence of Milestone Media appear to be in the works but it is an entirely different discussion worthy of time and attention outside the scope of this article. SDCC: Milestone Media Returns to DC Comics as “Earth-M” – Comic Book Resources

Kwezi – a comic from South African writer Loyiso Mkize.

Too late. Change is here.

Originally posted on Quora: Why did DC and Marvel change the ethnicity of its characters (Green Lantern and Johnny Storm)? 

A Prison Nurse’s look at Sandra Bland’s Death

Sandra Bland
by Paul Spector RN, EMT-P, CPT. U.S. ARMY Ret.

I worked as an RN in a California State Prison where staged “suicides” occurred regularly. I fought for my patients, know how the cover-up works and have some insights. In 2012, I was hit by a truck, so this paper is done with a lot of help, individuals risking jobs and lives.

Behind badges and Rank, Sociopaths lurk in American prisons. Cameras are their enemy.
With scant information, some of our conclusions will be proven wrong. As more is known, we feel there will be more lies, inconsistencies and abuse uncovered. With more data will come more clarity, but the Code of Silence must be penetrated.

Prison deaths from mistreatment are mislabeled “suicide”, allowing continued abuse and avoiding lawsuits. I’ve spent 8 years trying to stop the practice that killed Sandra Bland.

Sandra’s capture, abuse and lynching is a hate crime. Usually the facts are buried with the bodies, thousands of bodies, but this is Sandra Bland, Star of Sandy Speaks.

In prison, infliction of mental and physical agony on helpless captives provides sexual pleasure to sick individuals. No penetration is needed, violent predators value power and control more. Sandra’s treatment, particularly isolation, are techniques found in CIA prisons and Guantanamo Bay. They are unbearable and leave no marks. The UN calls it torture.

A big sociopathic thrill is causing the victim so much pain they kill themselves. At my prison, CMC, a sociopath’s playground, practiced professionals using drug overdoses combined with agony in a setting of strict isolation and neglect were used to induced “suicide”. Often the target is provided with a sharp object or a plastic bag. It’s still not suicide. Sometimes though, it’s a murder made to look like suicide.

From the beginning, your driving is fine. Officer Encinia, spots you and does a U turn. Driving his cruiser aggressively, you pull over, unaware he is a predator. His act is for the camera, smoothly creating and escalating a confrontation to disguise your kidnapping as an arrest. He plans to assault you, this is about power and control, not your driving or your cigarette.

Using threats and a weapon Sandra is forced from her car. Everything that follows is for the entertainment of her abductors and has nothing to do with lawful detention whatsoever. After stealing your phone and removing you from camera range the coward attacks. Wearing a sheet, he might be OK with video but he needed the uniform to trick Sandra into surrendering.

The attack is vicious. Serious pain from metal cuffs and a wrist twist forces her to pull away, a practiced technique, part of a take-down. Following you to the ground, straddling you with knee on your spine and neck is the stuff of bondage and humiliation pornography, as is his screaming at you to stop fighting as he inflicts the worst pain of your life.

This sick scenario is experienced primarily by sexual assault victims. I’ve treated these injuries in ER’s, they are consistent with gang rape. Like Sandra, not all such victims survive. Totally inappropriate here of course. Even without penetration, this is a savage, ultimately fatal, sexual assault.

He enslaves your body but not your spirit. That’s why he pounded your head into the ground. When terror and agony couldn’t break you, he went after your mind. A smart, strong Black Woman had no place in his world so he tried to kill you. He was afraid you would Speak.

Others joined in assaulting you off-camera, trusting the “code of silence” to protect them. You now need an ambulance. As an ER nurse and a paramedic, I’m angry your request is denied. Confused and injured, your booking photo reflects trauma, both physical and psychological.

Isolation is used in N. Korea to break POW’s. Victims like Michelle Knight say it’s worse than the beatings, rapes, and starvation. It causes brain damage. Forcing Sandra to endure this additional torture was as cruel and unusual a punishment as can be imagined. It was, in fact, a death sentence, no trial needed.

My patients were regularly poisoned with Gabapentin and other drugs. Your THC ingestion in jail is poisoning too, even if you took it willingly. Cavity searched, you take nothing in and eat what they give you or be force fed. Pot didn’t contribute to your death but may have made you easier to kill and pin your death on drugs. Blaming pot for your death indicates desperation.

The plastic bag, one of the few items in your cell, is too convenient and is not supposed to be there. Deadly as a gun or knife, don’t be fooled or misled, it’s not incompetence, not a mistake, it’s a weapon. It’s there for a reason. Everyone working in prison knows this. Suicided for a traffic ticket! This SCREAMS setup.

3 days and your wounds are still filled with dirt, infected. No TD shot? Pain or fever meds? Antibiotics? Neosporin? Ice? X-rays for your wrist’s, arm, shoulder, ribs and neck? A band-aid? Lab work? A CT after the bad man, happy you had epilepsy, pounded your head into the ground? Ariel Castro took better care of his victims, as, sadly, did most slave owners.

The intake forms with questions on depression, suicide. Who filled them out? It should have been done with medical staff, but they would have treated your wounds, seen you were too traumatized to sign, corrected discrepancies, set up 15 minute checks, a suicide watch and seizure precautions at the very least. Ignoring dozens of cuts? There is no possible excuse, this paperwork reflects not just incompetence but intentional deceit.

In death, your body appears to be dehydrated, probably from neglect, fever, and internal injuries. Video shows guards drinking bottled spring water in front of you! At CMC disabling the sink to force victims to use the toilet for drinking induced dehydration. Using physical and psychological abuse, they sickened and tortured you beyond human understanding.

Fellow prisoners were prevented from cleaning your wounds or God forbid, comforting you. Exchanging your pretty dress for ugly “pepto pink”, Officer Encinia gave your broken body to his co-workers, lying in his report. He doesn’t want you to Speak. Not ever.

An unbroken chain of cruelty striped you, a Champion of Freedom, of all Freedom. From smoking a cigarette to breathing air, no life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness for you. To these uncaring monsters it’s a fun sport, a prison lynching they fully expect to get away with.

Nothing to do with a traffic ticket or cowardly Officer Encinas’s “injuries”, these are the actions of sociopaths and racists. Armed, violent predators using badges as a weapon. Events during and after your killing are the result of planning. It is even possible you were targeted before the phony traffic stop as Officers can track plates.

Locking you in a room with a dead phone and a garbage bag was intentional. Effective in separating you from your loved ones and rescue. The nonworking phone also justifies taking you to other locations, supposedly out of “kindness” but it’s a ruse. If you were removed from camera view, I suspect the worst.

At CMC this would mean humiliation and “phone book” therapy – beatings with objects that leave no mark. Waterboarding and other airway obstruction techniques, like suffocation with a plastic bag are popular and also leave no marks. The rule is keep silent or it will happen again.

In California, Doctors incorrectly certifying “suicides” are paid by the State, Texas seems no different. The organization responsible for the racist Sheriff, Officer Encinia and the incredibly negligent prison staff is given every opportunity to do a through, professional job of tampering with the evidence.

The fact your body did not show signs of a violent struggle is meaningless. Drugged or unconscious, restrained or not, the captive is 100% helpless. Use of a plastic bag to make murder look like suicide is a known prison technique. As a suicide method it’s hard to do with 2 good arms, beyond her now limited physical abilities, not part of Sandra’s knowledge base.

No defensive wounds will be found if the killers are prison workers. A big part of the game is “proving” they are smarter than the law by getting away with it. The FBI teaches them evidence procedure. Gloves on, killing with a plastic bag is easy, no prints, no struggling, no evidence.

Filled with purpose Sandra, release at hand, about to start your dream job, be reunited with your loved ones, your mission and your camera phone, you had zero motive for suicide. For you, it’s party time. Your abusers have the problem. They can’t let you Speak, a potent motive for murder.

Your faith in God, your life’s mission to make Black Lives Matter, made you, like Joan of Arc, unbreakable, a Warrior of epic proportions. With over 30 years experience, including in a Forensic State Mental Hospital, I assure you this is not and, for numerous reasons, could not, be suicide. Her death is a setup, staged. Sandra was kidnapped, violently assaulted and killed. She did not take her own life with a planted garbage bag!

Prisons excel in cover-ups. False reports and coordinated lies now discredit Law Enforcement Nationwide. Black Lives continue to slip away as Grand Jury’s look away. Supported by tax dollars, teams of lawyers and military hardware, the carnage will not be stopped by bad publicity or wishful thinking – not in Waller County, Texas, State Prisons or anywhere else