A lot changed for Barry Allen in The Flash #80 and if that chapter wasn’t wild enough, then The Flash #81 introduces some truly frightening possibilities for the speedster. Last issue saw the hero come face to face with one of his old nemeses in Hunter Zolomon. The one they call Zoom looked a bit different than fans may be used to seeing him. That red suit he was wearing was supposed to signal his transformation into the “ultimate” version of The Flash. Now, with some very weighty new powers in tow, the villain is poised to sow some discord all over the timeline if the hero can’t stop him. One big problem lies in the fact that the Speed Force isn’t doing so hot, and Barry might not be able to overcome that sizable disadvantage. Not that Zoom cares very much, he’s pressing along with his quest for power without so much as a second thought. But, it looks like The Flash #81 might bring substantial changes here. *Spoilers for The Flash #81 ahead*
Zoloman is in a fight to the death with the Black Flash as he tries to claim domain over time and space by harnessing the Forever Force. Barry looked to be in rough shape after taking a blow meant for Zoom. But, this issue reveals that he’s still alive for now as the villain does battle with the protector of the Speed Force. This entire conflict comes to a head and the Black Flash gets thrashed in a way that readers probably haven’t seen in some time. The Flash stops his enemy to point out that this entire thing is a setup by none other than Eobard Thawne to place them both in a position to be taken off the board. Now, the Speed Force is in jeopardy and Barry will have to work together with Zoom to figure out a way to undo the damage. But, both of these speedsters can't walk out of this one alive.
Some fans might have seen the words Forever Force and immediately wondered what exactly is going on here. No sweat, the Forever Force is an outgrowth of all the other “Forces” that have made appearances in The Flash lately. There are multiple challengers to the Speed Force including Strength, Still, and Sage Forces. Each of these powers has found a host who used the individual skills dropped to them in various ways since getting the powers. That doesn’t mean every single one of them has been good either.
Also of note is the fact that the Speed Force is being weakened by all the different Forces scattering about as of right now. The Black Flash was dispatched to protect the Speed Force by eliminating all the threats that have become evident. Black Flash has that one directive and will kill to achieve the goal, which Barry Allen obviously has a problem with. The Flash doesn’t want anyone to die, even if it would save the source of his powers. That’s why he jumped in front of an attack meant for Zoom last issue.
The Flash is going to have to get creative if he’s going to figure a way out of all of this. It seems like Zoom already has this pretty sewn up. But, with Barry Allen, he’s always got some kind of hope in reserve.