Who is the fastest superhero in comics? Fans of Marvel and DC have debated the answer to that question for decades, and the debate has even fueled storylines, such as the recent Flash War that saw a few of DC Comics' super speedsters matching up against each other to see who was the fastest. With so many speedsters in both the Marvel and DC Universe, there are plenty of reasonable candidates in contention for the title of fastest speedster around.
Now, CBR is going to a closer look at a few of the top speedsters from both the Marvel and DC universes to see who is the fastest in those respective universes and why. Then, we will take those two speedsters and pit them against one another to finally figure out which Marvel or DC character is the fastest. There are a few restrictions here, of course, to make everything fair. When discussing speedsters, we will be looking at characters who actually run to generate speed, as opposed to flying or skiing or surfing. So with that clarified, let's see which Marvel or DC character is the fastest speedster.
DC Comics has been the place for speedsters since Jay Garrick first suited up as the Flash in 1940's Flash Comics #1, with Barry Allen following in 1956's Showcase #4. As the legacy of the Flash developed over the years, more and more speedsters, heroes and villains alike, were added to the growing mythology. Characters like Superman are considered speedsters as well, and while his super-speed while flying can presumably match our top speedsters, when running he falls behind.
While Hunter Zolomon/Professor Zoom has also used the name of Reverse-Flash and is technically faster than Eobard Thawne, his speed comes from a form of "chronokinesis" or localized time manipulation. Thawne's use of the Negative Speed Force allows him to run as fast as the Flashes but not overtake them unless he steals their speed. Barry Allen takes the number two spot as he can run faster than almost any character in the DC Universe, and was even responsible for the creation of the Speed Force in Pre-Flashpoint continuity.
However, his successor Wally West wins the race among the DC speedsters. Wally started his career as Kid Flash in 1959's The Flash #110, where he learned at Barry's side until taking over as the Flash following Barry's death in the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Wally has a unique connection to the Speed Force that allows him to draw more energy from it than any other speedster. As it has been explained by writers like Joshua Williamson in the June 2018 edition of DC Nation, "...he doesn't run through the Speed Force, the Speed Force runs through him."
Marvel has introduced its fair share of speedsters over the years. However, without powerful energy like the Speed Force in the Marvel Universe, its speedsters are less connected and generally not able to reach the same speeds as some of their DC counterparts. And while there are a number of incredibly fast characters like Captain Marvel and Silver Surfer, those characters use flight or cosmic powered surfboards to reach incredible galaxy-crossing speeds.
So when discussing running speedsters of the Marvel Universe, there are a number of different races and types of runners. The third fastest is the mutant/evolved human Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver. While Quicksilver is often compared to DC's Flash, Pietro has definite limits to his speed, and without a Speed Force to draw from Quicksilver tops out at less than faster than light travel. The top two spots are a bit more difficult to determine, as both the Eternals' Makkari and the Elders of the Universe's Runner have pulled off incredible feats of speed.
Makkari was formerly able to run FTL and during a "Galactic Marathon" he was even able to push himself into becoming Absolute Speed and beat Runner in the pages of Quasar #58. However, Runner has proven over the years that he is capable of running many times faster than the speed of light while Makkari has been reduced in power after the Eternals received a retconned origin.
WHO IS THE FASTEST SPEEDSTER?
That brings us to the final race between DC Comics' Wally West/Flash and Marvel Comics' Gilpetperdon/Runner, which is not an easy matchup to evaluate. First of all, for this race to allow for each runner to achieve their maximum potential, it would have to take place in space like Quasar's Galactic Marathon. The Runner has proven to be able to run at speeds many times FTL and hasn't really shown the limits of his speed, except when Makkari was able to tap into Absolute Speed and win their race.
Considering Wally West's former accomplishments as a speedster in his own reality, and assuming he would still be able to draw on the nearly infinite energy of the Speed Force, it is very likely that Wally would be able to reach a similar level of Absolute Speed that Makkari had managed before his retcon. Given the the power of the Speed Force to draw from and assuming that he's not in an endurance race against Marvel's fastest being, Wally West is the fastest man alive in any comic book universe.