Speedster (fiction)

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A speedster is a character whose powers primarily relate to superhuman speed (also known as superspeed). Primary abilities shared by all speedsters include running at speeds far in excess of human capability (to varying degrees) and resistance to the side effects (air resistance, inability to breathe, dynamic shock resulting from contact with objects at high speed, etc.) that result from such velocity. In almost all cases, speedsters are able to physically attack opponents by striking them while at high speed to impart huge amounts of kinetic energy without suffering harm. A variety of other powers have been attributed to speedsters depending on the story, the origin of the power, and the established continuity and rules of a given universe.

Cover to The Flash vol. 2 #109 (January 1996), showing the title character, with fellow speedsters Jesse Quick, Bart Allen, and Jay Garrick in the background. Art by Oscar Jimenez.

Plausibility and artistic licenseEdit

The use of speedsters in fiction requires artistic license due to the laws of physics that would prohibit such abilities. Moving at the speed of sound, for example, would create sonic booms that are usually not heard in such stories and generate substantial heat. An enormous amount of energy would be required to achieve such speeds, and as some speedsters can actually move close to or at the speed of light, this would cause them to gain near-infinite mass, according to the laws of relativity.

The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe states that the character Nova maintains speeds which can be considered "modest", especially when carrying a passenger. The Handbook also concedes that a solid object moving in the Earth's atmosphere at several times the speed of sound or faster would wreak havoc on the planet and that moving at such speeds would prohibit Northstar from breathing, while the generated wind/friction would ravage his body. On the other hand, the Handbook states that the character Quicksilver was born with adaptations that make higher speeds possible, such as enhanced cardiovascular, respiratory, musculature, and digestive systems, a more efficient metabolism, better lubricated joints, tendons with the tensile strength of spring steel, unidentified bone composition that can withstand the dynamic shock of his touching the ground at speeds over 100 miles an hour, and a brain that can process information fast enough for him to react to his surroundings at high speed.[1]

In DC Comics, the Flash family of speedsters derive their abilities from an extradimensional energy source known as the Speed Force, which grants them superspeed and various other abilities required to use it, such as durability.[2] However, the Speed Force is not the source from which other DC characters with superspeed such as Superman or Captain Marvel/Shazam derive their powers.

Writer John Byrne maintained modest abilities for the speedster character Danny Hilltop in his series John Byrne's Next Men. Although Danny can keep pace with a race car, the friction generated by his speed melts any footwear he wears, burning his feet. Thus he runs barefoot, having toughened the soles of his feet through a regimen of pounding increasingly harder materials.[3]

Other writers choose not to offer any scientific explanations for the questions raised by the actual use of such abilities. Peter David, whose run on the series Young Justice included the junior speedster Impulse, has opined that speedsters are inherently difficult to write: "Speedsters make me nervous, because if you play them accurately, they're impossible to beat ... I could deal with Impulse because he was easily distracted."[4][5]

In other mediaEdit

 
A webcomic speedster character

Speedster characters appear in other media such as film, video games, anime and manga, the most notable being the video game character Sonic the Hedgehog, and Looney Tunes characters Speedy Gonzales and the Road Runner.

Others include:

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Gruenwald, Mark; Sanderson, Peter (w). The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe 5: 55 & 128 (February 1992), Marvel Comics
  2. ^ Jacobs, Eammon (January 5, 2018). "15 Things You Didn't Know The Speed Force Can Do". CBR.com. Archived from the original on June 18, 2018.
  3. ^ Byrne, John (w), Byrne, John (a). John Byrne’s Next Men 7 (September 1992), Dark Horse Comics
  4. ^ David, Peter (October 21, 2003). "WHAT'CHA WANNA KNOW?". Peterdavid.net. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  5. ^ David, Peter (August 26, 2003). "ANY QUESTIONS?". Peterdavid.net. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  6. ^ Gramuglia, Anthony (March 27, 2020). "DC Vs. DBZ: Is Goku Faster Than Flash (Not Counting Instant Transmission)?". CBR.com. Archived from the original on March 28, 2020. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  7. ^ Godino, Edward (August 30, 2020). "Dragon Ball Z: Does Goku also Have Super SPEED?". Screen Rant. Archived from the original on January 13, 2021. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  8. ^ The character is referred to as a "speedster" on Page 3 of the August 25, 2008 TV Guide, and refers to herself as such in "The Second Coming".
  9. ^ "Characters & Cast: The Speedster: Brea Grant". BBC. 2014. Archived from the original on October 5, 2008. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  10. ^ Francis, Zac (January 3, 2021). "One Punch Man: 10 Fastest Characters In The Franchise, Ranked". CBR.com. Archived from the original on January 4, 2021. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  11. ^ Mazzuca, Anthony (November 1, 2020). "One Punch Man: 10 Things That Make No Sense About Flashy Flash". CBR.com. Archived from the original on November 3, 2020. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  12. ^ Adler, Liz (May 11, 2020). "One-Punch Man: 10 Interesting Facts About Flashy Flash You Need To Know". CBR.com. Archived from the original on May 24, 2020. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  13. ^ Toluanguy (June 15, 2020). "One-Punch Man: Speed-o'-Sound Sonic Could Be the Most Powerful S-Class Hero". CBR.com. Archived from the original on June 16, 2020. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  14. ^ Ahmad, Suzail (August 18, 2020). "One-Punch Man: 5 Anime Characters Who Are Faster Than Sonic (& 5 Who Can't Keep Up)". CBR.com. Archived from the original on January 13, 2021. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  15. ^ Angulo Chen, Sandie (June 19, 2018). "'Incredibles 2' is a super first acting job for 10-year-old". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on June 19, 2018. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  16. ^ "The Incredibles: Characters". The Walt Disney Company. Archived from the original on July 31, 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  17. ^ Caramanica, Jon (February 24, 2012). "Better Child-Rearing Through Chemistry and Genetics". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 29, 2012. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  18. ^ "Disney XD Set to Premiere "Lab Rats," A Comedy About a Teenager and His Three Super-Human Siblings, on Monday, February 27". Disney XD. January 9, 2012. Archived from the original on January 13, 2021. Retrieved January 13, 2021 – via The Futon Critic.
  19. ^ "Fastest Girl in the World". Disney XD. October 19, 2019. Retrieved January 13, 2021 – via YouTube.
  20. ^ McGuire, Liam (November 23, 2020). "The Boys: Homelander Accidentally Killed Their Version of The Flash". Screen Rant. Archived from the original on January 13, 2021. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  21. ^ Liu, Narayan (July 25, 2020). "Why A-Train Is the Top Speedster in The Boys' Universe". CBR.com. Archived from the original on October 4, 2020. Retrieved January 13, 2021.