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Comic Book / Terminal Velocity (DC Comics)

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May the Speed Force be with you.

"Terminal Velocity" is a storyline in The Flash that ran from The Flash vol. 2 #95-100, with #0 leading into it. After tumbling through time, the Flash (Wally West) catches a glimpse of his future. Returning to the present, Wally starts to actively slow down in his crime-fighting, while also taking in his cousin Impulse (Bart Allen, Barry's grandson) as a protégé. Why Wally is doing this and why he's keeping secrets is gradually revealed, as the evil cult Kobra returns to Keystone City.

The story is notable for the introduction of the Speed Force in issue 100. The Speed Force would go on to become a large presence in The Flash, and would be present in all subsequent adaptations of the franchise. After this story, Impulse would also receive his own solo series.

In addition to the usual Flash tropes, "Terminal Velocity" provides examples of:

  • Affirmative-Action Legacy: Wally chooses Jesse as his successor as the Flash. It also has a layer of Secret Test of Character for Bart.
  • Agony of the Feet: While saving Wally, Jesse is shot through the leg by a laser. Being a laser, it also cauterises the wound, meaning it can't be healed. This stops her from using her superspeed at its best, but she can still fly fast, just not as fast as when she runs.
  • Batman Gambit: Wally picks Jesse to be his successor, which surprises everyone and pisses Bart off to no end. Of course, it turns out that he wanted to make Bart jealous so that he'd be more driven.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Wally and Linda have had a couple of kiss scenes before, but the one here at the end is at its most impactful.
  • Despair Event Horizon: When Wally vanishes into the Speed Force, Linda... does not take it well. At all.
  • Earthquake Machine: Kobra's plan is to harness geothermal energies released by their earthquake machine and distribute it to his soldiers.
  • He's Back!: Wally obviously returns from the Speed Force, just in time to stop Kobra's plans.
  • Healing Factor: Speedsters always had this to a degree, but when Wally returns from the Speed Force, it seems to be boosted, with Jesse's previously un-healable wound (see above) completely healing.
  • Legacy Character: Wally decides on his successor as the Flash in this story. While he wanted to pick Bart, it became clear to him that Bart wasn't ready. This leads him to choose Jesse Chambers instead, and she briefly uses the codename and costume. Of course, it turns out Bart WAS still his preference, and this pisses Jesse right off.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: When Bart appears in the present for the first time, he's out of control. Wally has to chase him down all over the world in order to stop him.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The story has Max Mercury tell the Flash Family about his theory of the Speed Force. Of course, since most of them are tied more to science, they think he's just being weird... then Wally enters the Speed Force.
  • The Power of Love: Wally gets stuck in the Speed Force trying to stop Kobra, but gets back just in time to stop them again, thanks to his love for Linda.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Max Mercury reveals that he's actually from the 1800s.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Linda wages a one-woman war against Kobra when she thinks Wally has died. She's actually surprisingly effective at it, but just can't beat them.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Wally's vision of the future is what drives him throughout the story. He reveals that he saw Keystone City destroyed by the Kobra Cult. But what he cares much more about is that he saw Linda Park die.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Wally and Bart cannot stand each other. Of course, Wally has matured from his Kid Flash days and is adamant on stopping Kobra, while Bart is... Bart.

Alternative Title(s): Terminal Velocity