The DC Universe is a place with no shortage of characters who possess super-speed in their arsenal of superpowers. Whether they are aliens from outer space, outright Gods or regular humans with a strong connection to a mythical energy known as the Speed Force, the streets of Earth are zipping with bursts of yellow and red as hero and villain alike run around either wreaking havoc or saving the day. So much so that a lot of villainous characters out there are trying to one up each other and declare themselves the fastest man alive, creating competition and rivalries just to see who is the fastest.
Whether you’re more familiar with speedster characters thanks to The CW’s The Flash television series or with the most obscure runners in DC’s library, everyone has wondered, one time or another, who was the fastest. People will draw a hypothetical race between two characters they know to have super-speed and will argue the winners. You could have Flash going up against Reverse-Flash in Injustice 2, or you might be reading DC Rebirth just to see Jay Garrick run again. No matter who your favorite is, today, CBR rides the lighting and ranks the 15 fastest speedsters in the DCU. Everybody on your marks. Get set. Run!
With all of the superpowers he has — including flight, super-strength, heat vision, x-ray vision, freeze breath and invulnerability — it’s sometimes easy to forget that Superman also possesses the power of super-speed. Under the yellow sun, the Kryptonian Kal-El can reach speeds beyond that of any human, although it is rare to see him use this power alone, considering it’s much faster for him to fly around than run.
But the fact remains that Superman is also one of the fastest heroes in the DC Universe. You need look no further than the very famous Flash/Superman races, both iconic and classic moments throughout the many years of DC Comics publishing that are done more so as a fun event than a true rivalry. The real winner of this race is a source of debate not only among the heroes of the DCU, but also its fans and readers.
14. THE RIVAL
In the comic books, Edward Clariss, The Rival or Rival Flash (a precursor to the Reverse-Flash), was a villain that fought Jay Garrick, the original Flash in 1949. He was able to recreate Jay Garrick’s speed thanks to his invention of the speed formula Velocity 9. Though he was ultimately defeated, The Rival saw new life not only in the comics, but in live action television.
In the third season of The Flash, Edward Clariss appeared as Kid Flash’s main antagonist in the Flashpoint timeline. It was never confirmed if he was in fact a metahuman or using Velocity 9, but that didn’t stop him from turning into a formidable villain that managed to fatally wound Kid Flash, a disastrous action that convinced Barry Allen to return everything to the way it was supposed to be.
13. THE ATOM
When it comes to DC Comics and speedsters, one might never even consider Dr. Ray Palmer. You might even find yourself wondering why he is featured in this list at all, considering speed isn’t in his power set. That may be true, but one thing that is in his power set, however, is his ability to travel across phone lines.
If a phone is connected to another, The Atom can shrink down and travel through the phone and come out of the other end of the call in mere seconds. We’re not exactly certain of the limits of those powers (what if a phone is connected on Mars?) and he might never win a race against The Flash, but that feat does make The Atom one of the fastest travelers out there. Even if his manners are a bit unconventional.
Hunter Zolomon has been a long time rival of The Flash. He’s such an important character to The Flash mythology, so much so that he was made the main antagonist for the second season of the CW series The Flash. In that series, Hunter Zolomon was a speedster from Earth-Two who secretly traveled to Earth-1 in the hopes of befriending The Flash and training him to become faster… only to steal his speed.
Zoom always had the upper hand against Barry Allen and managed to viciously beat him to a pulp. Using a mixture of his own super-speed and artificial super-speed from the Velocity 9 serum, Zoom proved to be faster than The Flash at every turn. That is, until The Flash found a way to beat him. But it wasn’t speed that would win the day. Like in every good race, it would be strategy.
11. JOHNNY QUICK
Jonathan Chambers, aka Johnny Quick, is the evil speedster from Earth-Three and counterpart to Barry Allen’s Flash. He is a member of the Crime Syndicate of America, the evil version of the Justice League from this parallel world filled with villains and only one hero. He has the same powers as the Flash, but none of his restraints.
Johnny Quick is so fast and powerful that he can hold his own against any member of the Flash Family. In fact, in the Forever Evil event, he was seen fighting against Bart Allen, aka Impulse. Through vibrational frequencies, Quick was able to deduce that Bart hailed from the future and he was able to vibrate him back to his own time in a very powerful display of super-speed.
Billy Batson, aka Captain Marvel, aka Shazam, is another character whose more recognizable powers end up becoming his signature. You’ve seen him summon lightning and you’ve seen him fly and hold his own against the might of Superman. So, it’s easy to forget that Captain Marvel has six different powers, all of whom come from a different God; The wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, and the courage of Achiles all among them.
However, in this case, it’s important to consider the letter “M” from the Shazam moniker, a letter which stands for the speed of Mercury, the Roman messenger God. This power may allow him to fly, but just like Superman, it also makes him incredibly fast on his feet.
9. JESSE QUICK
While you may have come to know her as the daughter of Harrison Wells on the second season of The Flash television series, Jesse Quick, aka Jesse Chambers, has been a speedster for a very long time in the comic books. While she may have gotten her super-speed in a particle accelerator explosion on television, Jesse is a very different speedster in the comics.
Contrary to The Flash or The Rival, Jesse did not get her powers in an accident. On the contrary, she is one of the only ones able to access super-speed by merely speaking an mathematical equation out loud: 3X2(9YZ)4A. Whether it’s math or the Speed Force, Jesse is a true hero and member of the Flash Family, one ready to leave home and love behind to give a hero-less Earth new hope.
8. BLACK RACER
Black Racer may not be the fastest speedster in the DC Universe, but he is no doubt one of its deadliest. Not to be confused with the Black Flash, Black Racer is the avatar of Death as part of the New Gods mythology. While you may not know much of the New Gods of New Genesis, you might be more familiar with their opponents on Apokolips, led by Darkseid.
For these New Gods, death has a different meaning, and it is embodied by a different entity. In their case, that entity is the Black Racer. Imbued with the power of super-speed and connected to the Speed Force, the Black Racer is often depicted running with cosmic ski poles. He is actually so powerful and fearsome that he has recently been seen merging with Barry Allen to kill Darkseid in the pages of Darkseid War, something not so easily done.
Superman may be the world’s greatest superhero, but he certainly isn’t the only one. While Kara Zor-El appears to be younger than her Kryptonian cousin Kal-El, one thing that has been established both in the comic books and in her own television show is that she is actually stronger than her cousin — if a bit more inexperienced.
With the both of them possessing the same abilities, that can actually mean that Supergirl has the potential to be more powerful than Superman in every way. Among those powers is super-speed, something which allows Superman to keep up with The Flash. However, if Supergirl is stronger than Superman, that also means that she is faster. Case in point, it was only with her help that Barry Allen was able to return home when he visited her Earth back in the first season of Supergirl.
6. JAY GARRICK
Before Barry Allen was created, their was the original Flash, Jay Garrick. Originating from Earth-Two, Jay Garrick is an older Flash than Barry. He is much more experienced and has a better understanding of the Speed Force. He is a founding member of the Justice Society of America and the most stable figure of the Flash Family, the one all other Flashes can come to for advice.
He may not be the fastest Flash out there, but that doesn’t mean he is not the best. One need look no further than his appearances on The Flash television series — where he sporadically appears as a father figure and mentor to Barry Allen — to see, in a nutshell, exactly who Jay Garrick is. Whether in the comics or on television, he is the one who has been running the longest, and it seems he will never run out of steam.
In the pages of The Flash: Rebirth comics, August Heart was a friend of Barry Allen who gained super-speed during the Speed Force storm that shook Central City and its citizens. Donning a maroon suit, he fought alongside The Flash as his sidekick. At the same time, secretly, August was also the white and gold colored Godspeed, a new villain who appeared to be much faster than The Flash.
His increased speed was due to the fact that August wasn’t the only speedster created during the storm. In fact, many other citizens had been affected, and Godspeed was running around the city, stealing their speed one by one and taking it for himself, adding more and more on top of his own. This powerful feat made him a formidable opponent and it would take the combined forces of Barry, Wally West and the speed energy of the other citizens to defeat him.
4. BARRY ALLEN
Barry Allen may introduce himself as “The Fastest Man Alive,” be he is actually anything but. The truth is that there are quite a few characters out there who are or appear (at first) faster than he is. But what makes him a hero is his ability to overcome their superiority and save the day. He may not be the fastest man alive by definition, but he is the most heroic man with super-speed you can find.
Thanks to his television series, Barry Allen has become the most recognizable character to bear The Flash name. One way or another, by himself or with the help of his friends, he has managed to defeat every speedster villain he has come across, and he even saved the multiverse as he ran himself into oblivion in the pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths. “Fastest Man Alive” isn’t a title. It’s an idea.
In the comic books, the villain known only as Savitar was a pilot who gained the power of super-speed in a storm. Naming himself after the Hindu God of motion, he became so fast that he had powers no other speedster in the DC Universe possessed. Similarly, in The Flash television series, Savitar was more powerful and much faster than any speedster, be it Barry Allen, Wally West or Jay Garrick.
In the television series’ case, his speed was greater thanks to his armor. However, in both the comic books and in the television series, Savitar was obsessed with speed and unmatched by his opponents. While we never did find out Savitar’s real name in the comics, season 3 of The Flash gave us a name: Barry Allen. Or rather, a time remnant from the future. Which means that Barry Allen is faster than even himself.
2. WALLY WEST
Whichever version of Wally West you are familiar with, you know that he is ultimately faster than Barry Allen. Whether you know him from the Justice League animated cartoons, the classic comics, the New 52 comics or The Flash television series, the truth of the matter is that this sidekick has managed to become faster than his mentor.
Seen by some fans as the one true Flash, Wally West is the best definition of what a hero truly is. He had been lost in the Speed Force for years and he has come out of the other side better, and stronger, than ever. He is so fast that he was able to save his Titan friends, scattered all over the world in only a few seconds, pushing himself well past his limits in the pages of Titans: Rebirth.
In all of DC Comics, there is no other villain like the one who calls himself the Reverse-Flash. Eobard Thawne is a man who comes from the far future, obsessed with The Flash and their very long rivalry. He is the one responsible for the death of Barry’s mother and is, in part, responsible for creating The Flash. Without him, there would be no Flash, and without Flash, there would be no Reverse.
Both rivals have created one another. When it comes to a foot race though, the Man in Yellow (as he was called in the early days of The Flash season one) is always a few good steps ahead. He is much faster than Barry Allen in every way, able to create duplicates of himself and time travel much more easily than Flash ever could, and it can take the entire might of the Justice League to stop him. Or Dr. Manhattan.
Who is the fastest character in the DCU? Let us know in the comments!