When it comes to going fast, there are none more suited for the job than Barry Allen AKA The Flash. The Scarlet Speedster has been on the pages of comics for decades now, and he has always been the fastest of the fast. He has also slowly evolved into having his own show on the CW, and is set to be included in the Justice League movie later this year. Always the source of optimism on the league, the Flash’s light-hearted and bright nature often helps him perform better when the situation becomes dire.
We’re not here to discuss his personality quirks though. We’re here to discuss his speed. Faster than nearly anything in the DC Universe, the Flash has access to the Speed Force which makes him reach top speeds that are essentially unimaginable. During his debut, there weren’t many who could even compete with him.
As comics usually go, the Flash has actually grown into what is called the Flash Family. This family is full of different speedsters (each who have their own access to the Speed Force) who work together to fight bigger and badder villains. Speaking of villains, there are several speedster villains who have also been introduced to give Barry Allen a run for his money, if you know what I mean.
Believe it or not, this has led to a lot of speedsters who can actually outrun the Flash in all of his glory. I know, I know, it certainly sounds unbelievable but here are 15 of these powerful speedsters.
15. Jay Garrick
Before Barry Allen, there was a Flash in DC history. His name was Jay Garrick and he is mostly known for his run during the Golden Age of comics. Designed with a lightning bolt shirt and a silver helmet, this character closely resembled the god Hermes in his appearance. Make no mistake, though, Jay is arguably much cooler. Using the power of the Speed Force, he was able to take down numerous criminals, and this eventually earned him a spot as one of the founding members of the Justice Society of America. Long after Barry Allen was introduced, Jay actually met up with this newer version of himself. It was revealed that Jay Garrick actually existed on a separate Earth dubbed Earth-2. As such, this explained that despite having the same name and powers, both Flashes had different villains and challenges to overcome (not to mention that Barry was part of a Justice League instead of a Society). Jay Garrick has since then been a very helpful member of the Flash Family, often taking on the role of the mentor and counselor considering he’s had an unnaturally long life. He has also appeared in a few TV shows, such as the aforementioned The Flash on CW as well as Young Justice.
14. Wally West
During Crisis on Infinite Earths, Barry Allen did everything he could to stop the cannon of the Anti Monitor from destroying the Earth. In the process, he ran so fast that he actually disappeared into the Speed Force as a bolt of lightning. Presumed dead by his colleagues, it was his apprentice Wally West (Kid Flash) who took on the mantle of the real Flash. While a bit rough around the edges at first, Wally West came into the role quite well and earned the title of The Fastest Man Alive. His powers are so great that they have even surpassed Barry’s and that makes him all the more impressive. During the Flashpoint event, Wally had actually been sucked into the Speed Force for a lonely ten years. Because the universe had been reset, nobody remembered him and he could never get out. However, in DC Rebirth, Wally manages to get one last message out to Barry who actually remembers him. After an incredibly long hiatus, Wally has returned to the comic world triumphantly with a new getup, even. Because he is known to be faster than Barry, one can only imagine the great things he’ll accomplish now.
13. Future Flash
Set in an incredibly bleak future, Barry Allen (The Flash) was on a mission to take down the Reverse Flash. Along for the ride was his cohort Wally West. During the fight, however, Reverse Flash actually killed Wally and escaped, sending Barry into a grim depression. He decided that he had been taking it too easy on all of the villains he faced, and chose to take matters into his own hands. Not only did he kill the rogues in his time, he went back in time to various other points where he fought bad guys. Instead of placing them in jail, he simply killed all of them. This brought him to the present day where the actual Flash was operating. However, the two of them didn’t get along very well, and the Flashes fought brutally. Helping present-day Flash was Wally West, and despite both of their efforts, neither of them were fast or strong enough to defeat the Future Flash. After sending Barry into the Speed Force, Future Flash then took on the mantle of his present-day counterpart (yeah, I’ll admit it doesn’t always make sense to me either).
12. Max Mercury
Once an old cavalry soldier in the 1800s befriended a native tribe of Indians. However, they were all slaughtered by his commander. Knowing he couldn’t save them, he simply stayed on in grief. One of the shamans present knew of his good heart and blessed him with the power of super speed. From then on, he was known by many names before eventually settling on Max Mercury. Mercury was an incredibly fast speedster, but had a mental block that prevented him from entering the Speed Force. Despite bouncing off, he had no problems jumping through various time periods. This eventually led him to become a mentor figure to both Wally West and Bart Allen. With the help of Jay Garrick, he even helps fight the Reverse Flash who was disguised as Barry Allen for a time. However, these battles sent Max Mercury on a one-way ticket into a darker Speed Force that was created and controlled by the Reverse Flash. It wasn’t until Rebirth that he was pulled out by Barry. That said, it is unclear if he still has some troubles with his nemesis, or if he’s really back for good this time.
Dr. Ivo knew that he alone would not be able to take on the Justice League. As such, he used his vast intellect to create a robot that could do it for him. This robot’s name was Amazo, and for lack of a better word, it was truly amazing. The robot had an impressive adaptive capability that allowed it to observe the powers and skills of its opponents and copy them into its own programming (think Taskmaster but it can copy powers too). This led Amazo to be one of the strongest villains fighting the Justice League. Having the strength of Superman, the fighting prowess of Batman, and the speed of the Flash, it took all hands on deck in order to bring this mechanical titan down. What’s even scarier is that when he copied the super speed of the Flash, he was not only as fast as Barry, he was even faster. It is a complete marvel of Dr. Ivo’s abilities that he was able to create this robot who could not only copy but surpass its opponent’s superpowers. Amazo has since appeared in a few media, including Young Justice. Whenever it shows up, be sure that the DC heroes are prepared to deal with a long and tiring battle.
10. Jesse Quick
Most people are familiar with Jesse Quick because of her incarnation in The Flash TV show. While that version is fine and dandy, that’s not who I will be talking about here (although it’s not hard to see that she could become faster than Barry Allen). The Jesse Quick from the comics has a much different story to tell. Her parents were former Justice Society members Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle. Johnny held the powers of super speed and flight due to an impressive formula that he had perfected. Liberty Belle held the powers of super strength. Being the daughter of both of these legends, Jesse managed to acquire both sets of powers. She quickly became one of the fastest speedsters around and is without a doubt one of the strongest as well. She has since become a good friend of Wally West, and is present for a lot of huge events in the DC canon, such as Blackest Night. She is eventually tormented by the death of her parents, but took on her mother’s name and costume at some point in order to honor their memories. She has since changed back and forth between the two identities.
While there is a confusing duality for Professor Zoom and Reverse Flash in the comics, I have decided that instead of Professor Zoom, I will be including Zoom from the CW show. Spoilers for season 2 ahead. Zoom is something of a speed vampire. He constantly seeks to get faster, but this desire eventually led to his downfall. After conquering Earth-2, Zoom moved on to Earth-1 in order to antagonize Team Flash. When he first confronted Barry, he managed to break the speedster’s back and dragged him all across town to prove to Central City that he was the fastest man alive. Zoom went on to further torment Barry by killing his father and even getting one his partners to take away some of his speed. He often takes on a monstrous appearance to instill fear into his enemies, and that alone led to some particularly chilling moments. It took everything Barry had in order to defeat Zoom, as well as some help from a Tachyon device that increased his speed. For excessive amounts of time travel, Zoom was aptly taken away by Time Wraiths and thrown into the Speed Force, where he will likely reappear once again.
8. Black Racer
The universe functions at equilibrium, and this is true even of the DC Universe and the Speed Force itself. This is evident in the Black Racer. As Captain Atom once said, “he represents death as inevitability.” The Black Racer is simply a necessary force of darkness. However, he tends to stay out of the matters of regular mortals and people not associated with the Speed Force. He instead goes after those that travel fast, and because of this, he has to travel fast himself. Using a set of skis, he can actually track down and outrun many of the DC universe’s greatest speedsters including the Flash himself. Because he doesn’t run on the ground, the Black Racer is completely free of friction, which enables him to move much faster than anyone else can. However, he is tied to the body of a mortal, Willie Walker. Whenever the Black Racer isn’t carrying out the toll of death, he returns to the crippled Walker lying in bed. Black Racer has been the source of a huge conflict for the Flash at one point, and played a big part in the Darkseid War event.
7. Black Flash
While there are many people that say Black Flash is the same person as the Black Racer, this is not true according to one of the character creators. Where the Black Racer can be a problem, the Black Flash is a catastrophe. He is, for all intents and purposes, the Grim Reaper of the Speed Force. Every speedster that has ever come close to death has reported seeing this strange entity present. Those that die also remember seeing him right before their final moments. However, this character is not without his weaknesses. Once while stopping time to kill a speedster, he was subdued by a whole team of speedsters. Eventually, the Black Flash was found to be dead (somehow), but his legacy was still intact. He could run so fast that he could travel through dimensions and the Speed Force as he pleased. During the Darkseid War, the Antimonitor would fuse the Black Racer with Barry Allen to become the new Black Flash (one of the New gods), and it was a terrifying moment to see on the pages. However, Barry would figure out a way to rid himself of the Racer; but of course a new Black Flash would eventually come in the Black Lantern form of Reverse Flash.
6. Bart Allen
Barry Allen lived a long time thanks to his connection to the Speed Force and he left an impressive legacy behind during those years. Perhaps his greatest legacy is his grandson Bart Allen. Bart also has some bad blood in him as well, being a descendant of Professor Zoom. He was born in the 30th century, and had a set of new struggles to deal with in this time period. He began his career as the Kid Flash to Wally West. But after Wally disappeared into the Speed Force, Bart took on the mantle of the Flash. He is much more than the grandson of Barry Allen though. Bart is incredibly fast and powerful, despite being killed fairly early in his career. Like all characters in comic books, Bart eventually returns and suffers some major changes that have helped him to become incredibly fast. He has an ability where air friction has no effect on him as he runs, making him capable of top speeds much greater than the other speedsters, including his grandfather. To make matters even more impressive, Bart in a way becomes the Speed Force after a while, making his connection all the more potent.
DC is no stranger to bringing in characters from various mythologies into their stories. Their biggest example of this is Wonder Woman (Diana Prince). Being one of the best of the Amazons, she has since gone on to be a staple of DC and the Justice League. Other than the Flash, DC has also brought in another speedster that has been around for quite some time. Living in the same native world as Wonder Woman is the god Hermes. Known as the “Messenger of the Gods,” Hermes is the fastest of all the Olympians, and being a god as well, you can imagine how fast he can be. In the continuity of DC, Hermes and the other Olympians are beings who live outside of dimensions and have powers beyond comprehension. The ancient Romans and Greeks marveled at these abilities and worshiped them as gods. On top of being incredibly fast, Hermes also has various other powers that give him an edge over Barry Allen, such as flight and teleportation. Interestingly enough, Hermes also has a particular attraction to Wonder Woman, but understands that the gods and the mortals need to be united in some way, so he doesn’t pursue her very much.
4. The Rival
No good version of the Flash is complete without a bad guy to constantly challenge and push him to his limits. Jay Garrick has the Rival. Edward Clariss was a former professor who was obsessed with Garrick. He spent much of his time working on a way to recreate a formula that gave the Crimson Comet his powers. After being ridiculed for his ambition, Clariss decided to take the formula anyway and was given super speed, albeit for a limited time. Taking the name of the Rival, Clariss was a dark version of the Flash and turned to a life of crime after being mocked. He has been defeated due to the formula not lasting very long, but the abilities he acquires are truly impressive. After countless battles with Garrick, the Rival had to become so fast that he even reached the speed of light. This increased amount of speed caused him to disappear and send him straight to the Speed Force, where he would meet other speedsters such as Max Mercury and cause all kinds of havoc for them to deal with. The Rival was also featured on The Flash, but he wasn’t nearly as cool there as he was in the comics.
3. Reverse Flash
Sometimes a villain is defined by the heroes they fight. Other times, the hero is defined by the villain. As a young boy, Barry Allen witnessed the death of his mother at the hands of a strange lightning storm and a man in yellow. This led him to become a CSI so that he could find his mother’s killer, and led in turn to his becoming the Flash. When he began his adventures, he was faced with another powerful speedster dressed in yellow. Dubbed the Reverse Flash, he was the opposite of everything Barry was. Once Barry put two and two together, their rivalry quickly became legendary and personal. Reverse Flash often toyed with Barry, being much faster than the hero. It took an extensive amount of training and wit in order for Barry to eventually come out on top. This didn’t stop his enemy, though. Reverse Flash constantly messed with Barry’s mind and even convinced him to go back in time and save his mother, which ended up changing the entire continuity of the DC Universe. Eobard Thawne will always go down as the man who changed the Flash’s life.
Taking the name of the Hindu god of motion, many people say that Savitar is the first man to ever be given the powers of the Speed Force. He was so obsessed with becoming faster that he was constantly seeking ways to increase it. When a speedster named Johnny Quick came into the picture, Savitar took it upon himself to attempt to bring him down. Savitar’s abilities grew over time, allowing him to take the speed of others. Stories were told about him and passed down generations, leading to a Savitar cult being formed. Because of his desire for more speed and his incredibly long life, Savitar is one of the fastest speedsters alive. His appearance in The Flash showed that he was able to travel so quickly in and out of the Speed Force that it appeared as if he was in multiple places at one time. Since he is being portrayed as a completely all-powerful god, there is no doubt that Barry Allen will have met his match with this new villain. Not much else is known about Savitar, but we know that his impact will have severe repercussions on Team Flash and their future.
DC is killing it with their Rebirth series thus far, but none have been quite as well received as The Flash Rebirth. In it we are given an entirely new villain for Barry Allen to fight. His name is Godspeed, and he kills speedsters and takes their powers. While that seems typical of a Flash villain, the way he goes about it is all new. Various Speed Force storms take place all around Central City and a plethora of new speedsters are created. Barry and his newly-created partner August Heart decide to train these new superheroes in the ways of super speed. However, it’s not long before many of these new recruits are found dead and drained. Then the mysterious Godspeed shows up. Bearing a white and yellow costume, he is as cool as he is scary. Their battle continues through multiple levels before Barry discovers that Godspeed is actually his new partner August Heart. Barry, shocked, asks Heart to explain how he managed to be with him while still appearing as Godspeed at the same time. Godspeed then reveals that he is so incredibly fast that he can simultaneously appear in two places at once. From the get go, it’s clear that this villain has already surpassed Barry in his abilities and will go on to be one of the greatest villains in the Flash’s rogues gallery.
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