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Casting aside the fact that comic-book super powers already violate most known scientific laws, we still face a problem with the Allen family: namely, how did Bart and Jenni inherit their grandfather’s speed, an acquired characteristic? This problem is not just limited to the Allen family; Jesse Quick uses her father’s formula[1] for both speed and flight, yet Wally never exhibited the ability to fly when he used that same formula.

The answer, fortunately comes from DC’s 1989 miniseries, Invasion! In the pages of this series, we discover that many of Earth’s metahumans derive their powers from a genetic anomaly known as “the metagene.” This is a gene that lays dormant through most of life, until the carrier is subjected to extreme stress, such as being fired at by a network of high-powered laser beams. Then, if the metagene is present, it will activate a dormant super-power in an effort to protect the individual from the danger he/she is in.

Fine. How does this help? The metagene, being part of a person’s genetic code, is inheritable. The children of the first Green Lantern, Alan Scott, developed metahuman abilities and became known as Jade and Obsidian. Their powers were not directly related to those of their father. But suppose sometimes the gene is predisposed toward a particular kind of power—such as speed. Wally’s powers definitely stem from the metagene[2], and it is quite plausible that Barry’s descendants also inherited a speed-oriented metagene. Jenni’s powers even exhibited the metagene trait of dormancy until activation by trauma[3]. The metagene could also explain why only Johnny and Jesse Quick are able to fly using their formula: flight is most likely due to their metagene, and not to the formula. This is consistent with the theory Johnny Quick expressed when the rest of the Justice Society returned from limbo: that the power is within them, and the formula is merely a mental focus to unlock it.

Top of Page Footnotes:

[1] Johnny Quick’s formula: 3X2(9YZ)4A

[2] Wally West became ill when a rogue Dominator detonated the “gene bomb,” which contained a virus designed to kill anyone carrying the metagene.

[3] Jenni Ognats displayed no powers until the Dominators began torturing her father.

Text revised August 22, 1997
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