The New 52 introduced a lot of controversial changes, but it seems like the Flash had a good reason for his updated costume. Flash #0 revealed how the Speed Force influenced Barry Allen’s controversial new look.
In 2011, the DC Universe experienced its greatest change since Crisis on Infinite Earths when the world rebooted after the events of Flashpoint. After altering the timeline, Barry Allen opened up his universe to being manipulated by powerful external forces, ushering in a newer, younger world with an altered timeline and a sleeker look to its many heroes. Fans were quite vocal during the early days of the New 52, critiquing its many changes to character histories and personal relationships. Some fans were also unimpressed with the designs of the DC heroes’ new costumes, which added unnecessary additional lines to their traditional uniforms.
However, it seems that the Scarlet Speedster had a good reason for his new, complex outfit. In Flash #0 by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, fans are given a glimpse into Barry Allen’s new origin in the New 52. Like usual, Barry is struck by lightning after working in his lab late one night, but the traumatic event winds up putting him into a coma. As the Flash reflects on his mother’s death and his father’s incarceration, Barry emerges from his stint in the hospital realizing that he’s been endowed with tremendous speed. Having thought back to his childhood, Barry decides the best use of his powers is to become a hero and sets about creating a costume for his new path. Unfortunately, he realizes simple tights won’t stand up to the air friction when running. However, Barry notices that metals seem to enlarge via thermal expansion when interacting with his Speed Force, with the hero resolving to build his new outfit out of metal plating.
The Flash’s armor-like redesign was one of many updates in the New 52 to give DC heroes a more modern flair for the 21st century. But unlike his allies, Barry had a scientific reasoning behind why his new outfit was so much more complex than previous iterations. In fact, out of all the heroes to receive a redesign during DC’s big shakeup, Barry was the one hero that got an outfit that actually factored in his personality when giving him a new appearance.
Barry Allen is, above all else, a science nerd. If any hero would have a complex rationale for their costume, it’d be Flash. The sad truth about most of the New 52 costumes is that most were overly designed, given accentuations and little touch-ups that did nothing aside from serve as a visual communication that it was a new era for DC. And while Flash seemed no different, making the Speed Force ‘responsible’ for Barry’s new costume was brilliant.
It tied together one of the strongest elements in Flash’s mythos and combined it with Barry’s love of science to create something wholly new that felt natural. Of all the New 52 costumes, Flash’s Speed Force redesign was by far the most inspired.