FastForward: Marvel's Fastest Man Alive & His Connection to DC's Crisis

When it comes to speedsters, DC Comics has taken the lead over Marvel with its several heroes called the Flash and their family of characters and villains. Most of DC's speedsters draw energy from a powerful cosmic force known as the Speed Force, which can very unpredictable things to the speedsters who run too fast and get lost in the Speed Force, as we've seen a number of times over the years with the Flash.

Now, CBR is taking a look back at a minor moment of Marvel history that teases at how much the Speed Force is truly capable and nods to DC's iconic 1985 maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths.

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Quasar #17's "Reborn to Run" by Mark Gruenwald and Mike Manley crowned Marvel's Fastest Man Alive, a mysterios speedster named Buried Alien/FastForward. While this comic featured Buried Alien's first appearance in the Marvel Universe, several clues hinted that this wasn't his first appearance in the world of comics.

"Reborn to Run" follows Quasar and his speedster friend, The Eternals' Makkari, as they escort a ship filled with members of the Squadron Supreme, Marvel's alternate reality analogs for DC's Justice League. En route, Quasar and Makkari encounter an Elder of the Universe known as the Runner who organizes a race among Earth's fastest characters for the chance to win a great prize and prove themselves among the other speedsters.

Makkari joined other Marvel speedsters like Quicksilver, Monica Rambeau's Captain Marvel, Speed Demon, Blue Sabre, Black Racer and the Squadron's Whizzer in a race to the Moon. Quasar soon detected something penetrating Earth's atmosphere, finding a human speedster with long blonde hair, a beard, and a tattered red and yellow costume. The new arrival began to run the race, though he revealed he didn't remember who he was. His last memory was of running, and energy like lightning in his body pushed him to run the Runner's race.

The racer shot past all the other contestants in the race who had started well before him and then blew past Makkari at the last minute to win the Runner's race. He reveals that his name is "something like Buried Alien" and responds with "it feels... right" when the Runner names him the "Fastest Man Alive."

Having previously dealt with an alternate reality team with the Squadron Supreme, Quasar is able to determine that Buried is also an extradimensional being, likely from an alternate Earth. Buried would appear again in Quasar #58 for the Galactic Marathon, where he would again race Makkari against the Runner to see who is the fastest being in the galaxy.

Buried has adopted a new costume (red and yellow) and adopted the name FastForward by this time, though he still doesn't recall many details of his past. Shadowy impressions of people he once knew who have been altered beyond recognition are all he can recollect.


Comic fans would have obviously seen the implied similarities to DC Comics' Barry Allen/The Flash, though Gruenwald takes a different approach with this character than he did with the Squadron. Buried Alien is not just a pastiche of Barry Allen who conveniently drops in to throw some shade at DC, but is meant to be a loving tribute that borrows several elements from, but is legally distinct, from the iconic DC hero.

In 1985. DC released  the iconic series Crisis on Infinite Earths, which featured a number of crucial moments that greatly affected the DC Multiverse and timeline, including the death of Barry Allen. Barry was forced to run faster than ever before to destroy an anti-matter cannon after a pitched battle with the Anti-Monitor, though the act costs him his life.

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Over two decades years later, Final Crisis would reveal that he had actually been trapped in the Speed Force for the duration of that time. However, in a very unofficial way, "Buried Alien's" time as FastForward suggests that Barry Allen could probably make a good claim to being the Fastest Man Alive in the DC and Marvel Universe.

The saga of Buried Alien was never resolved past fellow speedster Makkari's promise to help FastForward return home. We never actually saw that happen, and FastForward has not appeared since his follow-up appearance in Quasar. While Buried Alien's brief time in the Marvel Universe made a lasting impression and holds a tantalizing link to Crisis, the speedster was ultimately gone in a flash.

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