Warning: contains spoilers for The Flash #766!
In the latest issue of DC Comics’ The Flash, Barry Allen has just been given a new title, and he’s no longer just the Fastest Man Alive. In recent issues, the Flash has been at odds with his old foe Dr. Alchemy, whose powers come from the Philosopher’s Stone, a powerful combination of elements that allow the villain to transmute any and all elements into whatever he desires. In order to combat this incredible power, the Flash hasn’t been able to rely purely on his speed in these latest issues – he’s had to use his intelligence as Barry Allen the scientist.
In recent issues of The Flash from new creative team Kevin Shinick and Will Conrad, Dr. Alchemy has been trying to absorb the powers of his Philosopher’s Stone into his own body. This would make him nearly unstoppable, seeing as how Flash has usually beaten Alchemy by finding a way to remove the Stone from his grasp. However, a great risk that comes from creating the Stone is the insanity that it can cause, resulting in the wielder losing their mind. Even so, Alchemy seems to have found the solution in the unique element that Barry himself created to protect his Flash Ring from the natural wear and tear of the Speed Force, which he dubbed lighzinium. After Alchemy manipulated Flash into recreating the element, Alchemy secretly observed and recreated the element himself, gaining the final piece he needed to absorb the Stone.
Now in Flash #766, Alchemy manipulates Flash even further by making him think that recreating the Philosopher’s Stone is the only way to stop him and his limitless power. Remarkably, Flash does indeed manage to recreate the Stone, and Alchemy is quite impressed, giving the Flash an all new name and title in this issue after Flash uses it to stop Alchemy’s own power. “You go down in history as a supreme chemist,” he says, “It appears you might very well be the greatest chemist of our time.”
After dubbing Flash the Greatest Chemist of the modern era, Alchemy reveals the true reason he wanted Barry to recreate the Stone: all who use the Stone become pawns for Alchemy to control. However, the Flash was prepared for another trick and had prepared accordingly. While Alchemy used the lighzinium to protect his body from the power of the Stone, Barry used his special element to protect his mind, leaving Alchemy unable to to control Flash at all. Flash then runs around Alchemy at a rapid pace and specific frequency, which dissolves the lighzinium in Alchemy’s body, and the Stone turns Alchemy to stone as a result.
Flash certainly seems to have earned his new title in this issue, and not just due to the fact that he created his own Philosopher’s Stone. It’s that he also upgraded it with his special element, giving him the extra protection he needed to win the day. What’s even cooler is seeing the Flash earn both of his titles in tandem as the Fastest Man Alive and Supreme Chemist all at the same time. Seeing Barry utilize more than just his speed is always entertaining, and this issue balances Barry’s skills and powers as a speedster and a scientist perfectly.