You might not have noticed, but the best DC speedsters are having a moment.
In June DC’s Flashes and other Speed Force (what’s that? keep reading) users are all over the place. Wally West (both of them) look for a missing Barry Allen in the monthly ongoing series that ties into the publisher’s big summer event Dark Crisis. Barry went missing at the edge of the Multiverse even before the Justice League ‘dies’ in April’s The Death of the Justice League.
Plus Impulse is back in action with his Young Justice teammates in both Dark Crisis: Young Justice and the DC Pride: Tim Drake Special.
Plus Kid Quick, the Flash of Earth-11 headlines a new limited series starring Teen Justice, that world’s Justice League.
And finally there are new specials and series in June starring the CW’s Barry Allen, the feature film Barry Allen, and comic book Barry Allen, who teams up with Aquaman in the series Voidsong.
That’s a lot of super-speed stuff going on. But who are the fastest and best speeders in the DCU?
Get ready for some Flash Facts (and some non-Flash Facts) as we run down who are the best (and fastest) super-speedsters in DC comic books (including a supervillain or two).
In the past several years, DC has added several characters who could one day be added to this list of the publisher’s best speedsters, including:
Jess Chambers, AKA Kid Quick, the leader of Earth-11’s Teen Justice, who figured out a formula to access the speed force; Wallace West, the third Kid Flash, whose speed helped defeat the Batman Who Laughs; and Avery Ho, formerly of the Justice League of China who joined the multiversal Justice League Incarnate in 2021, who was quick enough to steal from a Lightning God.
And there’s also the teen XS, a Legion of Superheroes member for many years, but who recently became a character on the CW’s Flash TV series.
Though none of these characters have earned a top ten spot yet, we’ll give them a couple of years and see we’re at.
Now onto that top ten…
Originally a supersonic jet pilot for a developing nation, the man known as Savitar gained his super-speed powers when his experimental plane was struck by lightning.
Naming himself after the Hindu god of speed, Savitar had the unique ability to sap the speed of others – though his nemesis Wally West was immune to this effect.
Savitar also had a cult of followers who worshipped his speed, and in World War II took on Johnny Quick, nearly defeating him before Max Mercury stepped in and trapped Savitar in the Speed Force. Savitar later escaped but was seemingly killed by Barry Allen when Professor Zoom altered Allen’s powers to cause other speedsters to die at his touch.
Savitar re-emerged recently after it was discovered he had found a way to get inside the Speed Force and had been draining away its energy. This caused the Speed Force to break into mainstream DCU and send out surges of energy through those that tap into it – one of those bolts went through Wally West, resulting in the Sanctuary disaster which kicked of the Heroes in Crisis (opens in new tab) event.
Wally eventually found Savitar and excised him from the Speed Force, and put him away in a prison he hopes can hold him.
9. Johnny Quick
Johnny Quick was Flash’s villainous counterpart in the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3. On that world, there are no heroes, and villains rule, with each of the Justice League’s primary members having an opposite, evil number who form the Crime Syndicate.
Interestingly, Johnny Quick was also the name of a Golden Age super-speedster who used a special ‘speed formula’ – “3X2(9YZ)4A” – to access the Speed Force. Johnny Quick, a.k.a. Johnny Chambers, fought alongside the Justice Society and All-Star Squadron in WWII, before retiring with his wife, Liberty Belle, and raising a daughter who became Jesse Quick, and later took on the mantle of the second Liberty Belle.
8. Max Mercury
First appearing in 1940 in a brief appearance as ‘Quicksilver,’ the character of Max Mercury was something of a blank slate. Decades later, writer Mark Waid reinvented Mercury as a time-traveling speedster with a career dating back to the 1830s.
In his later years, Jay Garrick convinced Mercury to come out of retirement to help train Wally West as the new Flash when Barry Allen was killed. Together, the pair took on Professor Zoom as he impersonated Barry Allen and later fought Savitar together.
After being trapped in the Speed Force for years, Barry Allen ran across him during a battle with Eobard Thawne. After Thawne was defeated, Barry helped bring Max (and Jesse Quick) back out of the Speed Force and into the DC timeline once again.
7. Jesse Quick
Jesse Quick (AKA Jesse Chambers) is the daughter of Golden Age speedster Johnny Quick and his wife, fellow JSA member Liberty Belle. Jesse Quick uses the same ‘speed formula’ as her father to access the Speed Force, and also inherited her mother’s super-strength.
Jesse Quick has operated in conjunction with the Flash numerous times over the years, first appearing as something of a sidekick to Wally West. Quick also spent time on the JSA as the second Liberty Belle, taking up her mother’s former mantle, before returning to her identity as Jesse Quick.
In DC’s Future State, Earth-11’s Jess Quick (AKA Kid Quick), the protégé of that world’s Jesse Quick, was the primary Flash.
6. Bart Allen / Kid Flash / Impulse
Bart Allen has had a strange and interesting history. Originally operating as Impulse, Bart is the grandson of Barry Allen from the future. His family tree also ties him to XS of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Professor Zoom, and the second Captain Boomerang. But all of that aside, Bart is a powerful hero in his own right.
As the heir to a great legacy of super-heroics, Bart traveled back in time to become a hero, eventually trading in his mantle of Impulse to become the second Kid Flash, and later even briefly serving as Flash when he aged into adulthood.
Bart recently returned as Impulse thanks to the recent Young Justice comic book series. And he and his Young Justice teammates will be back in action on a Dark Crisis tie-in series and a Tim Drake special celebrating the character during Pride Month.
The second ‘Reverse-Flash,’ Hunter Zolomon was a police profiler who was paralyzed in a battle with Gorilla Grodd. When Wally West refused to go back in time and prevent the accident, Zolomon tried to use Flash’s Cosmic Treadmill to do it himself, resulting in an accident that gave him time-altering powers that mimicked super speed.
Zoom, driven mad by the accident, set out on a course to ‘improve’ Wally West as a hero, seeking to deliver him personal tragedy that would steel his determination and make him fight harder. His twisted logic brought him to cause Wally’s wife, Linda, to miscarry a child.
Zoom lost his powers when they were stolen by his would-be sidekick Inertia, a clone of Bart Allen, who used Zolomon’s power to menace Bart Allen in his time as Flash.
4. Jay Garrick / The Flash
Jay Garrick is the original Flash, the old veteran who spent decades serving as a member of the Justice Society and mentoring younger heroes. In DC’s original continuity, it was stories of Jay Garrick that inspired Barry Allen to become the Flash, and later, it was Jay and Barry who first crossed the bridge between Earth-One and Earth-Two.
Garrick recently returned to comic books as part of the reintroduced Justice Society.
3. Professor Zoom
Eobard Thawne was the first ‘Reverse-Flash,’ a man from the future who traveled back in time to meet his hero, Barry Allen. Driven insane by the revelation that he was destined to become a villain, and having used plastic surgery to become Allen’s spitting image, Thawne attacked Central City, masquerading as Allen before being defeated by Wally West.
Thawne later traveled back in time again, this time trying to prevent Allen from becoming Flash in the first place. When this failed, Thawne went back in time and framed Allen’s father for the murder of his mother. This action led directly to Flashpoint, which saw Allen and Thawne fighting throughout the timestream, leading to the DC reboot known as the ‘New 52.’
After decades of terrorizing the Flash, Eobard Thawne was finally beaten (it seems) in 2020’s ‘Finish Line (opens in new tab)‘ storyline. Barry does it by tricking Thawne into resetting the villain’s own timeline and making it so he never had the desire to become more than a Flash fan from the 25th century – and in actuality, becoming the curator of a Flash museum.
2. Wally West / The Flash
While his mentor Barry Allen was the first to tap into the speed force, in classic continuity, his first sidekick Wally West was the first to truly master it.
Wally eventually learned to use his speed in ways no other Flash had previously imagined, and while he took some time growing out of his teenage Kid Flash sidekick years, he eventually lived up to Barry’s legacy as one of the universe’s greatest heroes with a long run as the Flash.
Wally’s the main comic book Flash of Earth once again, as Barry Allen joined the multiversal super team Justice League Incarnate earlier in 2021, though his tenure was very short-lived and he’s currently MIA. But Wally is going to start looking for him in the pages of the Flash ongoing series starting in June.
1. Barry Allen / The Flash
And speaking of…
Barry Allen is the first hero to tap into the Speed Force. And while he didn’t reach the heights that Wally West was able to reach through the Speed Force in his lifetime, since his resurrection prior to the ‘New 52,’ Barry reclaimed his mantle as the one true scarlet speedster, for a few years anyway.
Barry wasn’t the first Flash – at least not historically. In current continuity, he’s now predated by Jay Garrick – but he was the hero who set the bar among all of DC’s pantheon, even going beyond Superman’s heroism by sacrificing himself to save all of reality in Crisis On Infinite Earths.
Barry was even responsible for saving reality again, by creating the timeline that became DC’s ‘New 52,’ where Barry was once again the Fastest Man Alive. Barry also headlines his own TV show on CW, which anchored a television version of the fateful Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Now, in comic books, Barry left Earth in 2021 to become one of the members of Justice League Incarnate, a super team made of heroes from various worlds across DC’s Omniverse and is lost somewhere beyond the known Multiverse. This has left his protégé, Wally West, as the number one Flash of Earth.