The Fastest Man Alive, the Flash is one of DC Comics’ flagship characters. Easily one of the most recognizable heroes in all of comic books, the Flash maintains an incredible fan-base that grows and grows with each passing day. The Flash is more than just a super fast superhero; he was the building block DC rested its foundation on. Jay Garrick was the first Flash, appearing in Flash Comics #1 in the early ‘40s. When he debuted, there was an explosion of speedster characters as comic companies tried to create the next Flash.
Yet the superhero hype died down after World War II and comic book companies needed to reevaluate their course. In one final attempt that would introduce the Silver Age of comics, DC attempted to modernize its heroes and comic book line. They started with Barry Allen’s Flash and he became was the first hero to get revamped in a dramatic fashion. Similar to Jay Garrick and the impact he had on comic books, Barry’s introduction was so successful DC realized they could continue updating their other heroes, in turn cementing DC’s foothold in the industry. Over the years, the Flash has gone on to inspire a range of characters and today we’re looking at 15 Flash rip-offs.
15 FASTER: SPEED DEMON
In one of the few crossovers between Marvel and DC Comics, the two powerhouses decided to mash up some of their favorite characters and create entirely new and different heroes in a line called Amalgam. Superman was mashed-up with Captain America, Spider-Man with Superboy, and the Flash merged with Ghost Rider to transform into Speed Demon. There were actually three versions of this creation and they all failed miserably. Even so, his strength was awesome.
Ghost Rider alone has tremendous power; his might restricted only by his human host. Doctor Strange has gone on the record stating Ghost Rider’s power is potentially limitless. Now you had the same level of power, fused together with all of Flash’s his neigh limitless speed and abilities. Though the character was a flop, brought on by an ill-advised PR stunt, Speed Demon’s power wasn’t.
14 SLOWER: SILVER STREAK
One of the first speedsters to make their way to comics, the Silver Streak first appeared in Silver Streak Comics #3. The comic was published just two months after the debut of the original Flash Comics #1, featuring Jay Garrick. Though Silver Streak maintained a long career as comics’ second speedster, he was still second place in the race to relevance and would become overshadowed to the Flash’s popularity.
The Silver Streak was an unnamed taxi driver who got hypnotized by a swami into becoming a racecar driver. The driver ends up dying in a horrible wreck, but the swami returns for some reason and resurrects him with a formula that granted the dead driver super speed. Adopting the persona of the Silver Streak, he would use his powers to mainly fight crime and Nazis.
13 FASTER: MAKKARI
Makkari is an Eternal who’s also nearly the fastest speedster in the Marvel Universe. Second only to the Runner, one of the Elders of the Universe, Makkari’s speed is otherwise unmatched. Unquestionably faster than Jay Garrick and Wally West, both of whom claimed the mantle of the Flash at one point or another. Makkari’s even proved his mettle against the fastest mortal speedsters in the Marvel Universe. At one point he participated in a race arranged by the Runner to decide who was the fastest speedster of Earth.
Though Makkari did lose to the extra-dimensional speedster Buried Allen (who was really just Barry Allen) he came in second, technically proving he was the fastest speedster, interdimensional beings and gods aside. Other participants in the race included Quicksilver, the Whizzer and Speed Demon and Makkari beat them all.
12 SLOWER: THE WHIZZER
The Whizzer appeared during World War II in U.S.A. Comics #1, a year after Jay Garrick debuted as the Flash. With speedster superheroes hot as the surface of the sun, comics kept churning them out. Additionally, superheroes were prone to getting their powers through bizarre accidents and Robert Frank was no exception.
As a child a cobra bit him. His father, thinking the boy was poisoned, tried to cure him with mongoose blood. The transfusion kick-started his latent mutant power and he became the Whizzer. Often mocked on account of both his name and costume, the Whizzer fought alongside Captain America during the Second World War and then fought with the Avengers. Only able to clock in speeds at a little over 100 mph, Frank was a poor man’s Flash rip-off.
11 FASTER: FASTFORWARD
In issue #8 of Crisis on Infinite Earths the Flash dies, sacrificing himself to save all of reality and the entire multiverse. His death was so impactful, that not only did DC mourn their fallen hero, but Marvel Comics did too. After Barry Allen died, Marvel Comics created the character Buried Alien as something of a bizarre way to pay tribute to the character.
Buried Allen donned the iconic colors, suffered amnesia, and somehow remembered running into this new universe, i.e. the Marvel Universe, from another universe (which everyone new was the DC Universe). He named himself Fastforward and was called “The fastest man in the universe”. Faster than anyone around, the hero would even beat the Eternal heroes Makkari and Runner in races. Marvel's Flash was faster than Barry had ever been.
10 SLOWER: QUICKSILVER
The Flash is among DC Comics’ fastest characters; he isn’t called the Fastest Man Alive for nothing. In Marvel Comics, the title typically goes to the mutant hero Quicksilver. With a haughty attitude and enough power to back it up, Quicksilver rarely comes across anyone or anything that can challenge his speed. Over the years, the mutant has gotten faster and faster as he and his stories have evolved.
In Marvel’s Ultimate Comics line, the Quicksilver in that universe might be even faster than his mainstream counterpart. Yet despite all the speed of either version, they simply don’t have what it takes to outrace the Flash. The two speedsters even battled it out during DC/Marvel crossover. Throughout the fight, the combatants start off evenly matched and even though Quicksilver gets the upper hand, it’s momentary. The Flash is simply too fast and took the victory with little trouble.
9 FASTER: XS
The granddaughter of Barry Allen, the Flash, Jenni Ognats maintains the family tradition of saving the day as the speedster XS in the 31st century. Drafted by the Legion of Superheroes shortly after receiving her speed powers, XS quickly became an important and valued member of the team and helped taken down terrifying foes like Superboy Prime. Since XS hasn’t yet reached her full maturity, her powers aren’t at their highest point. That said, she’s capable of performing feats even her grandfather cannot.
Similar to her grandfather, her max speed is unknown, but unlike nearly any other Flash, she’s fast enough to break through the timestream without the aid of the Cosmic Treadmill. Additionally, being a Legionnaire has a few added bonuses, as Jenni carries a flight ring and a utility belt, both of which affords her other abilities the Speed Force does not.
8 SLOWER: THE HURRICANE
The Hurricane was Marvel’s second speedster character and was one of the fastest speedsters Marvel would ever create. He wore a Hermes-like headpiece and was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, the two men also responsible for Captain America. Unlike the Whizzer, who would appear many more times in comics, both in the Golden Age and beyond, The Hurricane didn’t. In fact, his impact on comics and the Golden Age was hardly felt.
While his speed certainly earned him recognition, it wasn’t enough to make him at all memorable. Eventually, the character fell away to obscurity, like many Golden Ages characters did, and had to be retconned. Decades later, the Hurricane would be re-outfitted as the Eternal Makkari, another Kirby character with staying power. As the Hurricane, while he was an imitation of the Flash, he couldn’t match up to the hero’s speed.
7 FASTER: VELOCITY
Coming right out of creator Marc Silvestri’s Cyberforce, it was a team made up of cybernetically enhanced super soldiers. Of course, they also had a speedster. Velocity was actually Image Comics’ first speedster and would become one of the most popular members of the Cyberforce comics. She appeared in two different miniseries and began her heroic career at 16.
As the series progressed and continued, Velocity also matured as a hero and a character. On average, Velocity would run at about 3,300 mph, but it’s far from her maximum speed, which is unknown even to her. While there are some Flashes she might not be faster than, there are several she is, including a bunch of other DC speedsters like Max Mercury, Jay Garrick when he first acquired his powers, and even Wally West when he was first starting out.
6 SLOWER: DASH
The Incredibles was Pixar’s swan song to superhero movies. Featuring a magnificent ensemble of characters, Dash Parr was the young son to Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl. Clearly modeled off character like Sonic the Hedgehog and even Wally West’s Kid Flash and Bart Allen’s Impulse, Dash couldn’t help but find delight in cutting loose and running at his maximum speeds. Capable of running fast enough to easily run over water, Dash can approach subsonic speeds, but it also appears he can move faster than the human eye can register.
This was seen when he was at school, got out of his seat, ran to the teachers chair as he was sitting down, put a thumbtack on the chair, and ran back to his seat, without being seen by any people or cameras. Clearly, his speed doesn’t involve just running. As he gets older, it’s likely his powers will evolve too.
5 FASTER: (SUPER) SONIC THE HEDGEHOG
When thinking about speedster characters, it’s easy to forget about Sonic the Hedgehog. The blue, video game centric hedgehog has saved his world multiple times from mad scientists and evil doppelgangers. With his average speed clocking in at about 765 mph and even beyond with the help of his Figure 8 technique, Sonic’s proved time and again why he’s the protector of his planet. Despite his incredible speed, it would be nothing compared to the Flash. Unless of course he turned into his ultimate form Super Sonic.
Looking like he emerged straight out of Dragon Ball Z, when Sonic achieves this form thanks to the Chaos Crystals, he speed increases a thousand fold, he can fly, and he becomes invulnerable to any and all attacks. Even if the Flash could potentially get faster, once Sonic reaches his ultimate form, it’s game over!
4 SLOWER: SPEED DEMON
Spider-Man doesn’t have an especially large rogue gallery where speedster villains are concerned. In fact, speedsters seem out of place in a Spider-Man comic. Marvel’s Speed Demon, which shouldn’t be confused with the Marvel and DC Amalgam character Speed Demon, was a villain through and through. A rip-off more of one of the Flash’s super fast villains like the Reverse-Flash, Speed Demon only presented a marginal threat to the Web-slinger.
Speed Demon had a knack for getting on Spider-Man’s nerves; his super speed made him difficult to catch. Without much ambition, he’d spend most of his time committing small crimes and petty robberies. Regardless, Speed Demon could barely reach speeds beyond the speed of sound, which for a speedster isn’t terribly impressive; it was about the same level of Kid Flash in the early days.
3 FASTER: THE RUNNER
The Runner is one of the Elders of the Universe and is well over five billion years old. Though much of his history is unknown, the Runner had an affinity for the sense of freedom that running allows him as he runs across the universe. The Runner’s known history is pretty convoluted and deals with beings on the level of Galactus and Thanos. While he, like most speedster characters, is pretty much a copy of the Flash, good looks and all, his power is greater than that of the Scarlet Speedster.
Fueled by the Power Primordial, it grants the Runner a myriad of superhuman abilities far and beyond that of even cosmically powered beings like the Silver Surfer. Easily able to reach and exceed the speed of light without breaking a sweat, the Runner is considered the fastest living being in any galaxy or universe.
2 SLOWER: WHIZZER (SQUADRON SUPREME)
An unabashed analogue to DC Comics’ the Flash, this version of the Whizzer was a member of the Squadron Supreme and the team’s resident speedster. The third character to use the name, Stanley Steward was casually jogging through a luminescent fog bank when he suddenly discovered he’s acquired super-speed. One of the founding members for the Squadron Supreme, he originally, like the rest of his teammates, were portrayed as villains and fought the Avengers and other heroes.
Like with most speedsters, the Whizzer was prone to running at high speeds, although he could only get to subsonic levels. This allowed him to run across water and up walls, but his abilities weren’t terribly impressive as far as speedsters were concerned. Like the Flash, he too could vibrate through objects by way of quantum tunneling, create small vortexes, and make his body frictionless; all powers copied from a superior character.
1 FASTER: HIMSELF
Jay Garrick was the Flash during the Golden Age of comics. When the hero made his debut in Flash Comics #1, he was a breakout sensation. Many comic book companies did their utmost to create a similar character, but the majority of them failed. Jay Garrick’s speed powers were impressive as he could outrace a bullet, but as the years went on he became nearly as fast as Superman.
However, after the rise of comic books in the '40s, interest in the medium and superheroes in general was on the decline. DC tried one last push by rebooting their universe for the first time. DC started with Barry Allen’s Flash, who in turn was a rip-off of Jay Garrick. Barry would prove exponentially faster than Jay and more popular.
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